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    Monday, January 25, 2021

    The NXT Fanboy (1/20/21): Rub Here, Rub There, Rub Everywhere

    My name is Jacob and I identify as an NXT fanboy. As someone who has been following the black and gold brand for a while, I can honestly say that it has been the most consistent pro wrestling program in a very long time. That is why when it was time to make my return to the Smark Henry active roster, I jumped at the opportunity to cover the show with an acronym that doesn't stand for anything. 

    NXT has always been a future-forward product. A show that isn't afraid to build new stars and 'pull the trigger' when they need to. That is why it is no surprise that this installment saw many up-and-coming superstars receiving the goof ol' rub from some more established veterans. 

    Dusty said, "Put them over, would you?"

    With this episode being the inaugural installment of the Dusty Cup women's bracket, it was nice for NXT to give this tournament its due by looking at the past, present, and future of the NXT women's division. As Beth Pheonix continued listing down the names of NXT's most popular female alumnae, it makes you wonder how insane the farm system has been, especially for women. 

    In the inaugural match-up, young newcomers Kayden Carter and Kacy Catanzaro faced off against Mercedes Martinez and Toni Storm. The match itself was pretty classic heel-face wrestling with the eventual upset screwing up everyone's bracket. Chalk up the assist to Io Shirai who had unfinished business with Toni Storm. By the way, that Kacy Catanzaro's final high-flying spot makes you wonder if Ricochet gave her some of that magic juice that makes you defy gravity. 

    The two men's bracket Dusty Cup matches saw some insane upsets as former tag champs Imperium lost to Lucha House Party and The Way lost to Kushida and Leon Ruff.  No one I mentioned in that sentence is by no means a rookie, but the more substantial picks to win being Imperium (former tag team champions) and The Way (a faction that's being pushed so hard) were a lot of people's favorites going into the match. In particular, the Imperium and Luha House Party match was absolutely fantastic with an amazing blend of the Lucha Libre and the no-frills British-style. Plus, I will always appreciate myself an Alexander Wolfe cameo.

    Rubbing alcohol

    If you think squash matches are like the "rub" that the company gives you, then I would make the argument that most squashes are like rubbing alcohol on open wounds. They hurt.

    The biggest low point of this show for me was the squash match between Ashane "Thee" Adonis and Karrion Kross. Karrion Kross is already such an imposing figure that putting him in easy match-ups like this hurt his value more by taking away his mystique. I liked how until this point he only came out to face killers on the likes of Ciampa, Lee, and Priest. No one needs to see him crush a random jobber. 

    The semi-squash where we saw a beefy Bronson Reed go against Tyler Rust was an alright match for the most part, with hard-hitting shots from both sides until the end where it seemed like Rust forgot where he was. It was a good match to build up both up-and-comers. However, I feel that the benefit of this match is in the pursuit of their future storylines. With Rust being Malcolm Bivens's new client and Reed being poised to be in a program with Isiah "Swerve" Scott, the snowball effect from this match could learn to pay dividends. 

    Rubbing out my issues

    I think Legado del Fantasma is one of the best stables going right now. With some amazing matches under the belt of both Escobar as a champion and Wilde and Mendoza as a tag team, it is hard to deny the dominance that the trio has explained. This materialized on-screen when Escobar pointed out how he was clearly the most dominant champion in NXT by looking at the defects of every other champion. The thing is I kind of agree with him—or at least, he was enticing me to agree with him. With a run-in by Lucha House Party, their eventual Dusty Cup match is sure to make any admirer of lucha libre proud.

    Finally, the grandaddy of the rubs tonight came when Ciampa gave the rub by putting over Timothy Thatcher in a hellacious match taking place in the NXT Fight Pit. In my opinion, the fight pit as a structure is lackluster, but the two levels work well in creating a story about space and levels of intensity. With both men not seeming to give an inch, the match genuinely became hard to watch at times, but in the best way. The final moments gave me goosebumps as both men looked at each other with a newfound respect for one another. This after of course Thatcher was trying to rip out Ciampa's freaking leg.

    NXTea: With solid matches throughout, NXT was able to advance their storylines while staying true to their goal of building new stars. Great showing from the black and gold brand. 

    Grade: B+


    Image from WWE

    Jacob Tambunting is a freshman at the Ateneo de Manila University currently studying BS Psychology. In his high school years, he authored plays for competitions, essays for projects, and fan fiction for fun. He currently lives with his two parents, his two siblings, and his two dogs, and is probably writing something angsty on his 10-year-old laptop. He breaks down SmackDown and writes The Supercard, where he presents a three-match card of wrestling matches from different promotions based on a certain theme.
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    Item Reviewed: The NXT Fanboy (1/20/21): Rub Here, Rub There, Rub Everywhere Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Jacob Tambunting
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