Hi, kids. It’s the Botching One and the Here and Now is absolutely on fire. This week’s episode looked like a lot of fun as planned but I had no idea how much fun it’d truly be. Let’s dive in, shall we?
In-ring segment – Johnny Gargano, Tommaso Ciampa, & Velveteen Dream
I love that Gargano. He has such heart. Ciampa came out and challenged Gargano’s “face”-ness. Gargano doesn’t need Ciampa. There you go. Love that. Dream’s character is just such money. He’s become a little more forceful and I’m not too mad at it, as long as they don’t take it too far. He could slip toward mundane real quick if it goes too far. It’s a slight tweak and it works. The way Dream just dispensed with Ciampa was fun.
Gargano will take no stuff from anyone and he went toe-to-toe with Dream incredibly well. This is a difficult balance to strike because the crowd loves both. Gargano plays between the lines so well that he makes it work. Will Gargano side with Ciampa or will he stand on his own? We don’t know yet…and I absolutely love it. I remember Steve Austin once saying something about people jawing at each other while holding their mics down at their sides and how silly that was.
Jaxson Ryker (w/ Forgotten Sons) vs. Mansoor
Well, this is clearly a squash match. That’s what we got too. He did further damage when the match was over. I get it. Jaxson is supposed to be a heartless beast – big, angry dude. We’ve had a metric ton of those. I just don’t care yet. Interesting is that Mansoor came out…without wet hair! This is notable. Okay, maybe it isn’t. Next…
Backstage segment – Adam Cole (Bay Bay) & Ricochet
Fun segment. Ricochet is waking up on the mic and it’s cool to see. Adam is platinum so he has that covered. Short and sweet. Better yet, we’ll get a match between them. How bad can that be, right?
Drew Gulak vs Eric Bugenhagen
It’s so cool to see Gulak in an NXT ring. As for Bugenhagen, I want to hate him. I really do. He’s rather derivative of Heath Slater’s 3MB thing but he’s a far bigger fool than Slater ever was. Think Buck Zumhoffe on speed.
I want to hate him…but I don’t…
I know, I know…I feel so…dirty. I like his name. It’s great to chant and the Full Sail audience did just that. Better yet, watch the match. Given that Gulak is the guy who plays it as straight as it does, the over-the-top thing of Bugenhagen is perfect here. Watching Bugenhagen play guitar on Gulak while he had him in the abdominal stretch was a riot. Gulak, of course, took this and then…
Drew Gulak vs. Matt Riddle
Gulak called for some to “get stretched” and out came Riddle. Riddle did his “bro” and Gulak almost laughed. LOL! His talking here wasn’t a travesty but it wasn’t good either. It did set up this match, though, and what a match it was.
This was all about grappling. Rarely do we get a pure grappling contest in WWE but we got one here. This match was most slow and easy for quite a while and I really liked it. The stretches to Riddle was just cold-hearted. Great story told here all around. Gulak is just sadistic. Matches don’t get much more old-fashioned than this and the crowd was all about it. This is quite simply Gulak’s best match in WWE – even though he didn’t win. The handshake at the end was a nice touch too. Here’s hoping we see far more of Gulak in NXT. He needs new people to play with…badly.
Io Shirai, Kairi Sane, & Bianca Belair vs. Shayna Bazsler, Marina Shafir, & Jessamyn Duke
Oh, geez. The steering wheel is back. Why, Kairi, why? The telescope looked so much better. Io is a machine in there and Bianca is absolutely gorgeous. Montez is doing very well for himself.
Bianca was working in the ring getting ready to face off with Shayna again and Shayna just nonchalantly moved on and tagged Jessamyn. Too funny. LOL! That was hilarious. This match and matches like this are great for Duke & Shafir as they’re both still pretty green. Shirai and Sane have been all over the world so they both benefit from working with them. Neither of them looked great here but they were sufficient.
The story told the ended the match was interesting too. Shirai tagged herself in to hit her moonsault on Bazsler and win. Belair was less than thrilled. Not mad, but not thrilled either. Great nuance.
This was a really fun show. You MUST see the Gulak/Riddle match for sure. It was that good. See you all next week for another look at “The Here and Now”!