I like Oney. I really do. And I will make you like him if you don’t do already. Saying that, the audience’s reaction to his match against “El Vagabundo” was kind of strange. But for me it was the funniest match of the year so far. And so I needed to write about it. Enjoy!
Episode: NXT #242
Recorded: 01 April 2017
Aired: 05 April 2017
Match duration: 3:43 minutes (plus one commercial break)
Pre-match: 4:41 minutes // Post-match: 1:45 minutes
In the pre-show to NXT TakeOver: Orlando, also Oney Lorcan would have had a match. He was interviewed backstage but didn’t know his opponent. But he didn’t really care because Oney Lorcan is there to do his job and finally get the win. So, he went out and waited for his opponent.
Now, if you’ve got just a tiny sense for language, you instantly knew what was going on when only the name of Oney Lorcan’s mysterious opponent appeared on the big screen: El Vagabundo, basically the Spanish translation of The Drifter. It took me less than a second to realise, and I was rolling on the floor laughing when El Vagabundo wasn’t even out to present himself to the crowd.
When El Vagabundo indeed appeared with a new guitar (his latest had been just recently destroyed by Kassius Ohno) and a Luchador face mask on his head, everyone knew it was The Drifter. And I was laughing even more. I very much suspect William Regal himself for this idea. It’s exactly the kind of ridiculous humour that I guess the man owns (besides being sarcastic as hell at times).
So, El Vagabundo entered the ring and introduced himself to the crowd. Then he started to sing a song to the people that basically insulted them. And finally Oney Lorcan interrupting him, saying he is actually The Drifter and he should drift away. Of course, El Vagabundo didn’t give in but went for Oney Lorcan instead. So the match started.
The match itself only lasted for not even four minutes. But it was full of action. First, Oney Lorcan got punished all around on and off the ring, only interrupted by a commercial break. But then, Oney Lorcan had been able to avoid an attack by El Vagabundo and instead countered with seven running uppercuts (kind of). He prepared for the eighth but there El Vagabundo came back. Just for Oney Lorcan to finally remove the mask and reveal The Drifter.
The short distraction Oney Lorcan used to hit his finisher, the beautiful running blockbuster, to get the win. Since it was rather obvious now that The Drifter drifted himself illegally into this match, once again he had been removed, this time by a security lady.
Winner: Oney Lorcan
There had been times in the past when I was reading NXT spoilers but I didn’t do that recently. And I was very glad that I didn’t because of this very match alone. It would have taken off a lot of fun. So, as long as NXT isn’t aired live, I will continue not reading spoilers but let the show itself surprise me.
If NXT had done this scenario with Oney Lorcan and Elias Samson in a regular show, in front of the mostly regular crowd, the reactions possibly would have been entirely different. Every time The Drifter had been appearing in NXT, he was always greeted with a deafening orchestra of boo calls, slowly turning into “Drift away” chants. He was basically treated like Eva Marie. Elias Samson always didn’t receive heel hate, he simply wasn’t wanted. And the NXT stood firmly by their opinion.
But for this match we had a different crowd. It still happened in Orlando but there possibly attended a lot of people who took a long journey to be there for WrestleMania weekend. A lot of people who usually just see WWE and occasionally NXT on TV.
So, the expected reaction was: Oney would get a lot of love, the crowd would join into his statement about El Vagabundo being actually The Drifter, lot of “Drift Away” chants, then the match starts a lot of hate for El Vagabundo and finally a lot of love for Oney again when he won the match. And finally “Drift Away” chants again when the revealed Drifter was led out of the arena by the security lady.
That’s the way I have seen and watched the match. But the crowd’s reaction was quite the opposite. They actually booed Oney when he made El Vagabundo stop playing his guitar and singing insults to the crowd. Just to point that out again: the crowd loved El Vagabundo for insulting them and they hated Oney for making El Vagabundo to stop bullying the crowd.
Sounds ridiculous? Well, wrestling itself is ridiculous. And so are some crowds I suppose. Because they were kind of disappointed about Oney Lorcan winning the match and The Drifter being guarded out for a second time in just one week.
Elias Samson lost a match against Kassius Ohno with the stipulation being “Loser Leaves NXT”. He lost, so I thought he would get released, so he could go the independent path like so many others before him already. Others thought he would get drafted to RAW or SmackDown. And a couple of weeks before I’ve written somewhere that I thought it would be best for The Drifter to be drafted, so he could try his gimmick in front of different and a variety of crowds. Because the rather generic NXT crowd just wouldn’t ever accept Elias Samson like they never accepted Eva Marie.
Now I’m not really sure anymore what’s going to happen with Elias Samson. If that would be WWE, he’d probably sent the Damien Sandow path. Elias Samson already looks similar to the guy. Now he possibly would have been forced into a lot of different characters to ridicule himself. Damien Sandow did everything he was asked for any every single one of those three-minute appearances had been brilliant. This strategy was supposed to break the guy, but it made him into one the most popular guys in WWE.
The Drifter always had a terrible standing in NXT. But El Vagabundo was an instant hit. This whole story, this scenario made me laugh that much like I didn’t laugh since Tommaso Ciampa vs Bull Dempsey possibly. It was great and hilarious. But one thing is for sure: Elias Samson can’t do El Vagabundo again. It only worked one time. So whether he goes for De Marauder (Dutch) or I Labaphangi (Zulu), always dressed like a drifter to the very culture or he goes for different ways to enter the ring, so he can do what he loves but ultimately is carried out the arena time and time again, all this is just a dead-end road for Elias Samson.
I don’t know what NXT officials expected from this match. Maybe it was just thought as the final punch out for Elias Samson because his Drifter gimmick just didn’t work. Now, all of a sudden, people loved him. And maybe that’s reason enough to already write him a comeback story. I’m just afraid, that he will receive the same hate when he’s back in front of the “real” NXT crowd. But maybe we haven’t seen El Vagabundo for the first and last time.
At least, you never know with WWE, even though it’s NXT.