Sw3rve the Realest vs. Nick Wayne (DEFY 50 2/26/22)

Match Reviews

Featured image by West Smith

This review was commissioned by Zeke over on my Ko-fi account.

If there’s anything to take from this match, it’s how much Sw3rve gets out of a match where he’s tasked with making someone. For all my criticisms of either man, there is at least a real focus to what this match wants to accomplish that both men stick to. Wayne is meant to be the star of the show, the young hero for the hometown crowd to get behind, and they primarily work towards that goal with everything they do here.

It’s a very strong Sw3rve performance here, arguably better than some of the ones he’s turned in matches where he took away most of the acclaim. It’s a mostly down to earth, antagonistic performance that doesn’t suffer from too much melodrama or mechanical awkwardness that might plague his other work. For the most part, Sw3rve is sticking to the things I like best from here. Those crunchy body shots, a real swagger to his character work, and some of his finest bumping including a truly grotesque head spike right into the apron.

Sw3rve also gets to the emotional core of his character here very well too. Starting from a place of cool respect moving towards more spiteful anger at this young kid refusing to stay down. Even the much maligned “NXT Face” reacting to a big kick out in the final stretch isn’t really the worst example of that trope here. Sw3rve at least keeps himself away from the histrionics of it all and keeps a fairly cool cap on it to make it function within the narrative.

Most of the problems come from Nick Wayne here.

That shouldn’t be too surprising give where he is in his career and the influences he’s clearly drawing from. Here’s a young kid, not even eighteen, pulling from Shawn Michaels and 2010s era BritWres. Not exactly the best cocktail for success there. As happens with so many Ospreay acolytes as well, Wayne fails to live up to the physical standard set before him. He’s more floppy than flippy, and the offense lacks impact and weight across the board. Wayne only really gets to shine off the back of Sw3rve’s bumping here, not really off the merit of his own offense.

There’s some structural choices to quibble as well. The transition into Sw3rve’s early control feels cheap and disproportionate to both Wayne’s selling and how much of an advantage Sw3rve gained from it. To that point as well, Sw3rve’s control doesn’t last nearly long enough to really engender the sympathy the match is clearly aiming for. There’s gestures at arm work that don’t really go anywhere except for an arm snap tease in the back half that leads to a real clunky Mother Wayne cameo and a truly contrived comeback from Nick.

That comeback too follows a real obvious and blunt attempt to grant Wayne some shine. Sw3rve repeatedly knocks his lights out with the Last Call, only for the kid to get the big kick out. At this point, the big kick defiant kick out is a cliché on its own and it’s a shorthand here that doesn’t feel earned at all. And the second wind from Wayne too feels like it mostly comes out of nowhere. I could see reading it as rage that Sw3rve’s shittalking his mom, but the sudden leap in energy from basically dead rings hollow by match end.

Not the worst thing in the world.

Rating: **1/2

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