Swerve Strickland vs. Nick Wayne (DEFY The Realest 4/8/23)

Match Reviews

Featured image by Nate Watters

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

So much worse than the first match. The first bout at least had the benefit of a clear narrative aim: make Nick Wayne. The issue with this second bout is that it assumes that Wayne is made. If one squints, the narrative progression from the first to the second can be seen. There’s direct callbacks to the first, both men have counters for things they endured in the original match. There’s even the overall story of Wayne having progressed so much that Swerve’s no longer able to enact any real sort of gameplan against him here.

The problem is that in execution, this reads as just another of a thousand lazy indie epics. All the most annoying tropes are in play here: from the “dramatic” shots of both men clinging to each other ripped straight from the NXT production playbook to the insistence on the big nearfalls in the final stretch. Even the addition of non-WWE tropes such as a bladejob can’t add much substance to what is essentially just a back and forth, “your turn, my turn” match.

A big problem at the heart of this stems from allowing Wayne to control so much of it. There’s less room for Swerve to apply the offense that made his performance enjoyable in the first bout. It also allows the match to get so much stupider. Large chunks of offense ignored, even worse and more contrived spot set ups (that Code Red to the chairs is especially awful), and leaning way further into the melodrama. Unfortunately, Swerve himself is even worse here from an input standpoint. It’s hard to overlook the time he’s spent under Shawn’s learning tree and how that creeps into this match, or even the extended bout of posing with Wayne’s lifeless body and jaw-jacking with the camera.

Wayne’s selling is just as ineffective as the first match too. Only ever vacillating between popping right up in acts of “defiance” or flopping straight dead with no real nuance. That makes the eventual heat segment—which kicks in a full twenty minutes or so into a plus thirty match!—feel like it comes out of nowhere. The spot that leads into it as well isn’t nearly violent enough to necessitate what it leads to. I can understand Wayne getting cut on the radiator but not that he’d be flopping about drained of spirit for so long after.

Then there’s the arm work!

Wayne basically shrugs off his arm snap to go right back into a short lived comeback on the stage, and Swerve barely registers his at all. That makes it all the more frustrating that it’s meant to be the foreshadowing of the finish, with Wayne getting a big tap out on Swerve to wrap this up.

Bloated and dumb in a way the first wasn’t. Avoid, avoid.

Rating: ½*

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