So this is what it’s like when Worlds Collide.
The previous iterations of Worlds Collide really haven’t done it for me, and I’d venture to guess they haven’t done much for most people. Unless the card is incredible (think prime era PWG), it’s hard to get excited about something with little stakes and less of a story. This version, however, is different. There are some stakes and there has been at least some loose builds towards the matches.
Plus, this is kind of like a prime era PWG card. Plus, plus there are two titles on the line. Plus, plus, it’s been awhile since I typed out like a thousand words about wrestling into a Google doc. So there it is, and here we are. Let’s run through this tasty treat of a Worlds Collide card.
NXT Cruiserweight Champion Angel Garza vs. Travis Banks vs. Jordan Devlin vs. Isaiah ‘Swerve’ Scott in a fatal four-way
If this goes on first, it is going to be hard to beat. All four can absolutely go and it’s an interesting blend of styles. Banks and Devlin bring a well-defined super junior style that should mesh well with Swerve’s outrageous smoothness and Garza’s lucha background. One of the issues with Worlds Collide is that the domestic version of NXT is largely considered superior to its UK counterpart. This creates a fairly defined pecking order that makes it hard to find a place where the UK folks can come out on top. This match has a pretty clear pecking order of:
Of course, your mileage may vary with that ranking, but by all means, please get your own wrestling column if you’d like to present your personal ranks (for the record, my personal ranking of them is Swerve, Devlin, Garza, Banks but all of them are great!).
This is far too early for Garza to drop the belt (maybe Lio Rush gets involved?), so look for him to retain in a wildly entertaining sprint.
Ilja Dragunov vs. Finn Bálor
This might be the first exposure some people are going to have to Dragunov which is totally fine and also totally unfortunate. My man goes full tilt full time, and has such a unique style and vibe. He’s very much in the Kota Ibushi-led group of “crazy dudes who might die in the ring and no one would be surprised”. He’s frantic. The UNBESIEGBAR (rough translation: invincible) stuff isn’t a gimmick. He lives it. He believes it. He wrestles with the urgency of someone desperate to feel something, to feel anything, and it’s a treat.
He also gets to take on the fully realized version of Balor. His best match in WWE was against Jordan Devlin at NXT UK TakeOver: Blackpool and I’m hoping going against another NXT UK bro brings out the best in him yet again. I’m interested to see what the endgame is for Finn in his NXT return. Is he back for the long haul? Or, is he here for a good time, not a long time, and just long enough to get some reps as The Prince.
There’s just no way Balor loses this. He’s too big and too important. But, he will sure let Ilja get his offense in, and both should come out of this looking good as hell.
NXT Champion Rhea Ripley vs. Toni Storm
The growth of Ripley from a green NXT UK champion to what she is now is staggering. She owns her character and demands your attention and commands the screen. What a testament to her talent, and the developmental system. Her ascent to the top was as well executed as it gets, so shout-out to her for being great, and shout-out to NXT for recognizing an absolute supernova and pulling the trigger on her.
If Ripley is a supernova, what does that make Storm? Probably a star, right? Where Ripley had to grow into her role as a top star in the company, Storm has quietly been there since she started with NXT. She was a semi-finalist in the first Mae Young Classic and won the damn thing the following year. Her being a top level performer isn’t a secret, so it’s surprising she hasn’t made more noise stateside.
This is a nice revisiting of the first major women’s program in NXT UK. Ripley beat Storm to become the first champ, and Storm took the title from Ripley. They have done some good acknowledgment of that and it’s worth wondering if this is a reintroduction of Storm to the larger NXT domestic audience. This is Rhea’s first title defense and, like with the Cruiserweight title match, there is just no way they take the belt off of her so soon.
#DIY (Tommaso Ciampa & Johnny Gargano) vs. Moustache Mountain (Tyler Bate & Trent Seven)
This is a match that wouldn’t be out of place at the top of one of those classic PWG cards I mentioned earlier. MM is the perfect idea of a tag team: the preternaturally gifted Tyler Bate and his relatable, handsome dad with perfect hair. They are two pure white meat baby faces who are as good as it gets.
Also as good as it gets? #DIY (other than the forever terrible name). British Strong Style is synonymous with NXT UK much like Gargano and Ciampa are with the domestic brand. One team helped establish a new brand and the other elevated one to a different level.
DIY might not be the perfect idea of a tag team. Even though they have had some incredible matches as a team, they still feel like two singles competitors who just happen to be teaming up. There is a difference between a team and ‘A Team’ and this match illustrates that. Even though they aren’t one functioning organism like MM, Johnny and Tommy are two great tastes that go great together.
NXT domestic has taught us that Gargano and Ciampa are superpowered final bosses who wrestle street fights, 2 out of 3 falls matches, Ironman matches, or whatever. Maybe their weakness is a regular tag team match after such a long layoff? Nah, they just got new merch. DIY wins in what I think will be the match of the night.
Imperium (WALTER, Alexander Wolfe, Fabian Aichner & Marcel Barthel) vs. Undisputed Era (NXT Champion Adam Cole, Roderick Strong, NXT Tag Team Champions Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly)
It would be a fundamental failure if I did not include a link to the chop that ended Adam Cole’s life on Wednesday night. I know WALTER’s thing is the big boy chops, and I’ve seen just about all of them, but man alive, was that a horrifying sound. A full flip bump for a chop seems like a Dolph Ziggler level of oversell… but it really wasn’t.
This brings us to the showdown between the beautiful, tiny, wonderful, UE boys and their faction counterparts from across the pond; the not as beautiful, certainly not as tiny, and slightly less wonderful Imperium. All eight of these guys have worked at the highest level of every promotion they’ve been in, so this should be another well put together multi-man match.
Still, for some reason, I can’t find myself getting worked into a lather for this one. I know it’s going to be good, and I know these are the two biggest factions on either side, but here I am doing the Pete Dunne shrug whenever I think about this.
I could see this match being a clean Imperium win. NXT has been trying to balance the build toward Worlds Collide with the build towards TakeOver: Portland, and Imperium winning would continue the story of the Undisputed Era’s golden prophecy coming to an end. Let’s say Impermium closes the show standing tall; the mat is sacred, after all.
Mike DellaCamera is on a never ending hunt for some leftovers. If you have any, let him know here