This week we got the Malik Blade & Edris Enofé coming out party. Wrestling Pretty Deadly for the NXT tag titles is the biggest moment of their careers and they answered the call with the speed of a 911 operator. I’m putting it this high because it was a great match that everyone reading this should see, but I also feel like my words won’t do it justice. The simple summary is they put the champs on the ropes and the match subverted expectations at several moments where the heels normally prosper. While they eventually did, it took a lot out of them.
There’s never shame in losing to the champs and I believe this showing did a lot more for them than it did for Pretty Deadly. And that’s taking nothing away from the tag champs, either. They made Malik & Edris look really good, especially as a team who took their opponents way too lightly. And their priceless facial expressions at several moments said it all. To borrow a phrase from my favorite football coach, Malik & Edris took the champs to the deep end and almost drowned them.
Rarely do we get to see wrestlers take that next step right before our eyes. Take this opportunity to do just that.
Ava Raine is the newest member of The Schism! She’s the mystery person! A true “holy sh*t” moment if there ever was one. The Schism just got a lot more interesting. And by that, I mean they just got interesting.
Ilja Dragunov did all in his power. But with busted ribs and battle scars from Halloween Havoc, he never really stood a chance against JD McDonagh. The match started perfectly with The Czar going after JD during the latter’s entrance. Eventually, the battle took a toll on Ilja’s body and the medical team almost stopped the match. I initially thought that was a bad move, especially coming so early into the match, but it worked. Once the match continued, things went to another level. JD took control but Ilja showed the fire for which he’s famous, even while selling the psychology of the injury and JD going after it constantly.
Eventually, Ilja just gave in to the pain. Not voluntarily, mind you. His body gave out during a submission and the ref called the match. Too much punishment from JD and too much strain made this one academic. Ilja’s bloody face and going out of the ring on a stretcher was a nice touch too, selling the match’s brutality and the utter distaste these men have for one another.
Great main event even if it didn’t have the best flow due to the early stoppage.
Still the Champs. Still a Real Team
I clapped when this match ended. One because I’m a fan of Katana Chance & Kayden Carter. Two, because it was a really good match with an unpredictable finish. Nikkita Lyons & Zoey Stark got close. They got really close. In fact, they actually won for a moment. But the match restarted when the head ref notified the other ref that Chance wasn’t legal when Stark pinned her shoulders to the mat. I always find it weird when WWE employs this device. It’s like if you can do it once why not always do it? But, alas, here we are.
Once the match restarted, all hell broke loose. Chance & Carter played a little game of divide and conquer, exercising their experience as a tag team over their opponents’ inexperience. Despite the fact Stark & Lyons dressed alike, which was a very nice touch, they weren’t quite as ready as they believed.
Shotzi took on Lash Legend this week since Ms. Legend disrespected Shotzi at Halloween Havoc. The brawling was the match’s highlight, as Legend is still getting the hang of transitioning from move to move. But, she’s getting better and Shotzi is a good dance partner. Another reason the brawling worked so well is because it feels like legitimate distaste between the two. Some feuds are just better as a fight than a wrestling match. This might be one of them if it continues beyond Shotzi’s win.
Curiouser and Curiouser...
I agree with Ivy Nile here...why. Sanga & Veer attacked the Bros. Creed after Julius & Brutus celebrated the Halloween Havoc win and told Damon Kemp to come get him some. Sanga hesitated for a minute while Veer egged him on, which also hints at some larger issues between the two. Ivy wants to know why and yeah, I agree.
Back Like I Never Left
Elektra Lopez is back! After getting summarily dissed for Zelina Vega, here she is back in NXT and beating up Indi Hartwell and Sol Ruca.
R Truth killed it this week. Dressed as the Joker, Truth interrupted Wes Lee & Grayson Waller to host Halloween Havoc. Of course that was a few days ago so Truth, as per usual, was tardy to the party. Truth vs. Grayson next week and I’m not sure how I feel about that yet.
We often talk about these shows in the Cageside office in real-time. And we all think NXT is in this weird place where a show like this week provides at least two great matches, but then the show overall just does way too much. We got at least two mystery angles, a Toxic Attraction segment that’s type played out at this point (we get it, they’re gorgeous), and a bunch of incongruent things. I know NXT is developmental but the show itself needs to feel coherent like any television show. NXT is like throwing a bunch of jell-o to the wall and watching it all slide down very slowly. Occasionally, something sticks because several wrestlers are quite good at what they do, but the presentation and vision is lacking.
That’s my grade and I’m sticking to it. Your turn.