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Sunday, January 16, 2022

NXT UK Worth Watching: Noam Dar! Ashton Smith! The Outliers?

Noam Dar vs. Ashton Smith NXT UK 11/15 (Aired 11/28/19) (Ep. #70)

ER: I really liked this as a Dar showcase against a guy larger than him without being super heavy. NXT UK isn't really a superheavyweight roster, so Eddie Dennis is one of their biggest guys (and he would be maybe the 3rd highest member of the Spirit Squad). But it's cool seeing Dar adjust the slot he throws strikes from, kicking out the front of Smith's knee to throw downward elbows at his jaw. Dar is also really great at running headlong into Smith's big stuff, getting where he needs to be in skilled style. Smith hit a real sick Death Valley driver, powering to his feet and rolling through it like a Finlay roll. Later Dar runs in with the Nova Roller and gets swung up and planted with a great blue thunder bomb. So Smith's big stuff looked great, but I love how all of Dar's stuff looked. He cuts off Smith with a vicious elbow on the floor, knocks him believably around with hard dropkicks and whipping body kicks, and runs that foot right across the bridge of Smith's nose when he does hit that Nova Roller. I thought this was going to have a lot more matwork, with Dar working over Smith's knee to lock in his nice kneebar and cutting down Smith's tree, but I like that we got to see Dar in more of a slugfest with a larger guy but not putting him away easily. 

Dorian Mak/Riddick Moss vs. Wild Boar/Primate NXT UK 11/15 (Aired 12/5/19) (Ep. #71)

ER: This was an awesome debut for The Outliers, two guys from the northern United States who are larger than any other person in NXT UK who only made one more appearance in NXT UK. Mak and Moss were longtime NXT developmental guys at this point. Moss had a couple of small pushes derailed by injuries at this point and was constantly getting slightly repackaged (which has continued, only with promotions). Mak was a Nathan Jones motherfucker who was kept off TV for his entire 5 year WWE employment, except for his two NXT UK matches. The Hunt are one of my favorite NXT UK teams, but The Outliers were positioned as a team that was clearly going to be a force going into the new year. You watch this match, and you would have never guessed that they didn't even make it to that new year, less than one month away. Moss and Mak really ragdolled Wild Boar around the ring, and it was such a mauling that it made me excited to see more of The Outliers (welp). As I said, upon arrival they were instantly the biggest two guys in NXT UK, and The Hunt are like 5'6. Watching two huge muscle guys throw Boar around like a bag of laundry, and Wild Boar is one of the best underdog babyfaces under WWE contract. He has good offense that makes use of his density, but is good at making opponent offense look good. 

Moss and Mak pummel him with clotheslines and boots, Moss smashes his nose with a back elbow, and Boat gets lifted up to some great heights on slams. The Mak vs. Boar sections were nothing but hits, with great stuff like Mak bouncing Boar off his own knee with a chokeslam, and what I have to assume was the greatest bearhug in 2019 professional wrestling. I used the word "ragdolled" earlier and I defy you to find a better representation of that word than Mak exorcising Boar with this bearhug. Moss has a great habit of missing as hard as he hits, so you get to see him break ribs on corner shoulderblocks but then flies as hard or harder shoulder first into the turnbuckles (see: derailed pushes due to injury), and it sets up a big house cleaning from The Hunt. Primate's hot tag is the weakest portion of the match but they make up for some offense that doesn't really make up the size difference by tossing out a lot of it. Primate and Boar don't just run through their typical comeback, instead repeating some moves in triplicate before finishing with a fun string of top rope diving headbutts. This is one of those real hidden gems that showcase NXT's great use of the 8 minute match, while giving us a look at a seldom seen tag team that looked better than 80% of the current WWE tag team roster.  

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