I wrote recently about how the worst of NXT feels like a cynical exercise in repackaging and weaponizing the best of its own moments. At its worst, NXT cannibalizes itself, memeing itself into a hollow photocopy of the promotion that it used to be.

This is not that. Praise be.

Unburdened by the demands of the NXT epic (which has quickly eclipsed the New Japan epic as the most excessive, painful, hated style in pro wrestling today), this match gets to cut all fat and go straight to the good stuff. Kai jumps Nox at the bell which leads to one of the better walk and brawls we’ve seen in a recent while. Instead of lame punches, we get heads into the barricade and spears through the barricade. Good stuff that establishes how vicious and hated this feud is right from the go.

Nox displays all the great babyface fire that you could want out of a wronged worker. She’s aggressive, brutal, and punishing to Kai. Highlights of this include her recklessly cannonballing into Kai with a trash can on her. She injures her own back doing it but the rage takes over any sense of reason within her. I can buy into that. It’s urgent, creates a sense of danger, and totally plays into the story these two tried to build.

We get some more great punishment spots like Nox superkicking Kai repeatedly on the apron and Nox dropping Kai onto a trash can with a German Suplex. We do get a brief flash of NXT Internal Conflict Melodrama in the second act as Nox questions whether “SHE’S GONE TOO FAR” but it passes by quick enough to not be offensive. In many ways, it’s even subtler than the similar spot in the Kylie Rae-Robert Anthony match I recently raved about.

And besides, once Nox gets over her case of the Shawn Michaels Agentings, she returns to the brutality. She ruins Kai’s leg by stomping it in with a chair. Looked great on camera and projected Nox’s rage well. Nox in general, came off really well in this match. Kai’s offense was serviceable too but I guess I’m not entirely sold on her as a heel quite yet. Kai wasn’t bad in this match at all but I’ve yet to reconcile this new heel persona with what I know of her to be true–that she’s an incredibly charismatic and rootable babyface. WWE’s insistence on trying be too clever for its own good rears its ugly head even in bright spots like this.

The only thing left to really talk about here is the finish. Very meh. Raquel Gonzalez didn’t have enough name value to pop the crowd and the table not breaking ruined the spot on television. All in all though, a very brief blip on a tight, well-worked WWE style brawl. Damn, it’s almost like good wrestling doesn’t always need to go 30 plus minutes or something.

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