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NXT recap & reactions (Jan. 9, 2024): Welcome to Oba time

The Tag champs defend, the Dusty RhodesClassic begins, and Dragon Lee’s reign ends on this week’s NXT.

Daytime Drama

Lexis King is an interesting cat. He hustles his way into big spots and seems less concerned about winning than he is about just being there. Winning the main event isn’t as important as having a spot in the main event. Of course he’s not there for losses, but he recognizes mentioning his name is enough. That’s not only antithetical to most wrestlers (in kayfabe) but also a little meta for society today. The benefit of a character like that is since he doesn’t need the win for effectiveness, he can bat leadoff for someone else.

And that’s exactly what Lexis did tonight. He wormed his way into a North American championship match with Dragon Lee. He rolled out the ring after taking the L and guess who showed up with a contract in hand? Oba Femi.

The big man picked remained on Dragon’s bones and walked out of Orlando with the North American championship. I didn’t see that coming and definitely not this week. Why? Because Lexis is great at the smokescreen. He draws so much attention that someone like Oba, who is a bigger threat to Dragon, goes unnoticed. How a man that big goes unnoticed is beyond me, but it speaks to Lexis’ personality that it’s even remotely possible.

I’m ready for Oba’s run because I think the man has ton of potential. But it’s still just that at the moment. Can he carry a 15-20 minute match? I’m not sure. He ran through his Breakout Tournament opponents and Dragon Lee didn’t put up much of a fight here. He’s high impact offense that gets more “ahhhs” than a dentist because of the raw power. Even the way he finished off Dragon made me say “wow.” Not many people can carry someone on their shoulder and spin them around into the powerbomb position, and then execute the finishing touches. Clearly someone in NXT believes in him because he’s the new North American champ. And he did dethroned a man who barely got any reign whatsoever.

But none of that is possible without Lexis King, messiness personified. If there’s a wrestler for the TikTok generation, it’s that guy. Any attention is good attention and as long as you’re talking about him, he doesn’t care what you’re saying. That’s also the reason he leaves Orlando without a belt strapped around his waist and Oba does.


B-Sides

Get On Your Knees

Thank you. Thank the maker for a grudge match that started with two people who hate each other acting like it. Blair Davenport vs. Nikkita Lyons didn’t maintain that energy and pace, but it started with a bang. Blair attacked Nikkita in the parking lot and they carried that brawl to the ring. The bell went ding and these two whooped each other senseless for about 15 minutes.

The pace slowed after Nikkita’s knee buckled, which creates a built in reasoning for a slower match. While it’s not what I prefer in this situation, I completely understand it and can’t refute the logic. That said, starting the match with all that fire then slowing down is the opposite of good pacing. If you start slow, end fast. And if you start fast, you gotta maintain that level for the duration. It’s not a minor quibble but like I said, I get why they went that route. And they at least made it mean something when that knee kept Nikkita from walking out with the W. This feud isn’t over and I’m down for that.

Just the Two of Us

Can they co-exist?! That’s obviously the thing going into the Dusty Classic so far as Bron Breakker & Baron Corbin go. Especially when facing actual teams who, ya know, like each other. They drew the Gallus boys for their first test, so yeah, not an easy test.

But they passed! And they did so because both men just want to win. Pure ego drove them to defeat Gallus in a very fun and physical tag match. Plus, we got Bron suplexing two men at once, which was well worth the watch by itself.

There’s an interesting dynamic between these two that I dig. They’re both jerks and know it, which means the crowd will no doubt love them (as they loved Bron this week).

FRIENDS

Our first night seeing Josh Briggs dolo in earnest. I still like his style and of course he’s not losing to Oro “Main Man” Mensah here. Why? Because Josh wants another shot at Noam Dar and he’s gotta go through the sub bosses before getting to the big guy. That said, I wonder what defeating Mensah now does for the rest of the story. Their match was fine, if quick, and Josh essentially dominated. But who’s next? Josh vs. Jakara Jackson or Lash Legend is out of the question for obvious reasons. Going through Pro again makes no sense, and Noam clearly doesn’t want to fight him again.

Questions upon questions.

You Know Now

I wanted a bit more from this tag team championship match. Besides the fact that we got some sloppiness at points from Out the Mud, I never once felt like the champs were in jeopardy. In retrospect, that might have everything to do with the fact that we haven’t seen enough from OTM to truly make them a credible threat. The match devolved into chaos towards the end, which makes me think a tornado tag or a street fight between these four might give me more what I want and make it more competitive.

But the match highlighted Adrianna Rizzo’s value to the team, which seemed like the big plot point here. She’s officially down with the team after finally getting her name mentioned on screen last week. She’s an important piece of their puzzle, so it’s good seeing her throw Reggie off his game, literally, and help her boys retain.

Adding Jaida Parker to OTM? I’m so intrigued. Also...Jaida Parker....that’s all I need to say before I lose my job. Yes, Lord. Although her asking them who’s got rizz felt odd as hell based on the context. But I’ll complain about that during one of my many inner monologues.

Just So You Remember

Cora Jade cheats. That’s something to remember going into this match with Gigi Dolin. It’s also something Gigi will remember the next time they meet. I really dug this match, as short as it was. I love Cora in the ring as everything she does has purpose and completely matches her persona. Gigi works better working form underneath than she did early in her face run. It’s easy rooting for her, especially against someone like Cora. They worked a solid, clean match with the heel doing heel thing for the W, opening the door for a rematch. No complaints.


Right up until the end, this felt like an inconsequential episode. We got more Tatum Paxley weirdness when she helped Lyra Valkyria fend off Lola Vice & Elektra Lopez, and the obligatory Carmelo Hayes & Trick Williams nonsense that I’m not even going into at the moment. Oh, and we saw Tiffany Stratton being an awful farm hand. But nothing felt like must-see tv. Even the matches moved briskly and the show just went along its way. Everything is building to the next big event and then, of course, Stand & Deliver, so I expect the territory to hold serve for a bit. Which means more nights like this, which is perfectly OK.

What say you, Cagesiders? Did you want more from Dragon Lee’s reign, meaning an actual reign? Is it too soon for Oba? Who comes out the Dusty Classic?

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