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Ricky Jackson

[2017-07-05-WWE-NXT] Bobby Roode vs Roderick Strong

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What a great match! The perfect mix of long-term story, in-ring story, and outside the ring story in one match. The long-term story is the Strong life story/quest for the NXT title tale that has unfolded over the last month or so. If you haven't watched NXT TV regularly lately please watch the pre-match video for the Coles Notes (Canadian expression) recap, because knowing the context going in is important. The in-ring story is great, with Strong hurting his leg early on and struggling through the rest of the match, as Roode (as has been the story of his success over the months) capitalizes on the injury and targets it throughout. The outside the ring story is that both Strong's mother and fiance are front row cheering Roddy on, which really amps up the drama. The finish is also great, as Roddy thinks he has won, but Roode had his foot under the rope as the ref counted three. The ref realizes his mistake immediately and rushes over to tell the announcer the match isn't over. However, Roddy thinks he has won the title and in his excitement goes to embrace his fiance at ringside. Roode again capitalizes and takes advantage of the ref being distracted to take out Roddy and score a controversial pin. Roddy's fiance screaming "you cheated" at Roode after the match was great and overall she was superb in conveying a rollercaster of emotions throughout.

 

This match really takes you on an emotional ride like few from the WWE do these days. In a way, with the storytelling and drama, the match was a throwback to the old days. This wasn't about getting "this is awesome" chants from the crowd, this was about getting an emotional reaction from the crowd. And they succeeded in that regard brilliantly. I loved this match. Yes, I'm not sure Roddy was consistently selling the same leg, but I really don't care. Roddy has been great as a babyface lately and I think Roode is actually making a solid case for wrestler of the year. Everyone, watch this match. Easily top 5 WWE match of the year, and I think my favorite match of the year so far

 

****1/2

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The build up to this was sooo good. Roddy gave a really good sympathetic babyface performance & Roode was really good going against that. The leg work was good & Roddy sold it well. The foot-under-the-rope false finish was done super well & the stretch after that was just great. Really good match. Really should've been the Takeover Brooklyn main event. ***3/4

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crossposting:

 

Simple, straightforward wrestling works for a reason. This was meat and potatoes. Roddy started strong. Roode kept getting advantages by taking a powder or using space or the ref as a distraction. The babyface outwrestles the heel in the shine. The heel gets advantages in underhanded (but not necessarily chickenshit) ways. The face powers through it. Roode was great at stooging throughout this, at drawing heat, at making the babyface look good. Their timing and crispness was solid the whole match. There was polish throughout. Everything looked like it it like it was supposed to but always organically. There was just base professionalism in that regard. Strong made up for the size disadvantage with speed and finesse and by focusing right from the get go on the back. The first act ends with a bit of heat and comeback/cut off spots before Strong's comeback. He gets his foot caught in the stairs. Roode capitalizes and we're into act 2.

Legwork is used so often for a reason too. It's highly visual, with the whole body coming into play. There's a ton you can do to the leg (and Roode does both simple and more complex things). The selling works for the back rows. And it's so, so easy to set up cut off spots with it. Even a crowd so smarky can be taken up and down (especially given the emotional build and use of the family), and they do that, with Roddy fighting back repeatedly, occasionally getting in shots on Roode's back, only to get cut off with a kick to the leg, or by not being able to lift Roode up correctly. They use this to foreshadow him eventually hitting moves, thus giving everything meaning. Ultimately, that sort of thing is what I loved about this match the most. Nothing in the match happened without reason. They didn't do any spot just to hit a spot. Everything had a narrative reason behind it or at least in shaping it. Nothing was done because it was cool. I'm not just talking about transitions here. The first glorious DDT didn't end the match because Roode had just eaten a bunch of backwork and made sure to sell just for a couple of seconds before trying for the pin. It wasn't just another finisher kick-out; it was worked as part of the match. That foreshadowing? It was for a fireman's carry lungblower, and when Strong DOES hit it, it's by the ropes and Roode rolls out. By the time Strong gets him back in, he can't get the 3 count. It protects the move, protects Strong to a degree (if only he hit that in the middle of the ring!), makes Roode seem both vulnerable and canny at the same time, and furthers the escalation of the match. The kickouts, even finisher kickouts, aren't WWE MAIN EVENT STYLE (or, I assume, NJPW style), but instead something explained and organic. It's not about workrate or fighting spirit. It's about storytelling. That's why this works.

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