This may be a divisive opinion, but this innocuous tag match on NXT TV outshone all from NXT: WarGames 3, Survivor Series and AEW Dynamite. Now don’t get me wrong, WarGames was as excellent as always, Survivor Series even delivered the goods, but what Kyle O’Reilly, Roderick Strong, Keith Lee and Dominik Dijakovic pulled off, after Bobby Fish’s injury, was something special.
The impromptu match started after Lee & Dijakovic challenged Fish & O’Reilly for a shot at the NXT Tag Titles. It started as expected with Fish & O’Reilly trying to take down the bigger team, when Fish took a nasty looking bump after being thrown over the top rope, and landing short of O’Reilly’s attempt to break the fall. He looked to hit his head quite hard on the ringside floor. It was a spot that I’m sure they’ve done a thousand times, but this time it went a bit awry, all credit to the officials, backstage team, management and talent for reacting as quickly as they did.
The fall came during an ad break and by the time they went live again Roderick Strong was in the ring wearing his jeans and normal shoes. The swap came so quick in fact it took me a minute to realise the switch, impressive stuff. You’d think from here it’d be a case of calling the original finish on the fly and finishing things early? No, instead they went on to pull out a wonderful tag match that would’ve been a match of the week contender even before the injury.
A brilliant match on NXT is expected, you normally see a well booked and choreographed display from any of the talent on NXT’s packed roster, but this time we got to see how a match is crafted. Back in the day, all matches were called on the fly, it showed as well with the amount of rest holds and headlocks you’d see, but when Savage & Steamboat’s fully choreographed WrestleMania match showed what could be achieved between the ropes, things changed. So pulling off a high paced, modern match on the go – with four men rather than two to boot – puts into perspective what was achieved here.
The match as a whole flowed as well as any NXT tag match does, with a constant pace and clever tag psychology. The smaller team in Strong & O’Reilly worked to take down the bigger men, working their legs with strikes and submissions. Of course, Lee and Dijakovic got in their power offence with displays of strength and impressive agility. The only times the match paused was when O’Reilly would call the next sequence to Strong whilst on the outside, though this was disguised as the duo regrouping after their attack had been repelled.
The true highlight of the match came when Adam Cole appeared to try to assist his Undisputed Era comrades. Out of nowhere, Keith Lee barrelled into him on the ramp, knocking him into the front row in one of the most hilarious moments I’ve ever witnessed in wrestling.
From the amount of height generated, to Adam Cole’s out-of-it reaction while sprawled across some poor woman, it was poetry in motion. An absolute must-watch match with an absolute must-watch moment, glorious.
– The Women’s NXT WarGames Match: This was my match of the week before Wednesday night came around. Wonderfully booked from start to finish, Rhea Ripley proving what a star she is. Just a shame it went so short.
– The Men’s NXT WarGames Match: An exciting return, well-booked carnage and a terrifying finish. Both WarGames matches lost a lot of tension by the obvious results. Cole and Baszler had matches at Survivor Series the next night and there was no way both were pulling double duty on one show the day after a pay per view, ridiculous.
– The Fiend vs Daniel Bryan: The best Fiend match by a mile. Kinda wish it didn’t end as it did with Bryan looking weak straight off a face turn.
– Balor vs Riddle: This surprised me. I never expected the amount of excellent, pure wrestling we were given here. Not the most crowd-popping, but technically great.
– Dunne vs Dain vs Priest: Managed to avoid the usual triple threat trope of one man on the outside while a singles match happens in the ring. Well worked, correct winner.
– Dunne vs Cole: Managed to bring a dead crowd to life. How Adam Cole is still alive at this point is baffling.
– Men’s Survivor Series Match: Wouldn’t have been near this list if it weren’t for Keith Lee’s booking near the end. Properly tense.
– Lio Rush vs Akira Tozawa: Lio Rush is on fire in NXT. Really solid action throughout.
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