Best: Number One Contender Matches For The Women’s Championship And The Accompanying Explanation
First things first, “Bayley’s gonna hug you” chanted in the style of “Joe’s gonna kill you” is the best NXT chant of the year. Its only real competition was the dueling “Party time/All the time” chant for Adam Rose, and Raw and Smackdown (and Twisted Tea) made sure that was never a thing we could enjoy again.
Second things first, I not only enjoy a solid match to decide the number one contender for a championship belt — in a functioning women’s division, no less! — I enjoy an explanation for why the two people fighting are fighting. The announce team brings Summer reappearing in NXT and immediately getting title opportunities and how weird that is. By itself, that would’ve been a Best. Albert even mentions the logic of having someone that’s proven themselves somehow being rewarded for being a valued member of the team or whatever. But then they explain that Summer went to management and somehow convinced them to give her this shot, which not only gives her a logical reason to be here, it plays right into Summer’s manipulative, gold-digger character. Perfect.
The match itself was enjoyable. It wasn’t on the level of Paige/Emma or Charlotte/Natalya by any means, but it didn’t have to be. The crowd will love and support Bayley in basically anything she does these days. Summer was a little iffy, but I’m gonna let that slide this week and assume spending a few months slumming it in catfight feuds with Layla and Reality TV’s Eva Marie creates an abnormal amount of rust.
One major problem, though:
Worst: Rudy Charles Is Still F*cking Up These Matches
If you saw Raw on Monday night, you watched former TNA referee Rudy Charles (now WWE referee “Dan”) go full Gooby in two different matches: he mixes up the legal men in the Usos/Wyatts tag match, then allows Cameron to tag in while she’s halfway down the ring apron. Terrible officiating. Some of it on purpose, some of it not.
On NXT, Rudy Charles reffed Bayley/Summer Rae. TWICE he interrupts crucial pinfall attempts to check if Bayley’s shoulder is up. Normally I’d congratulate a ref for paying attention to that shit and making sure the wrestlers are on the level, but man, he just straight nuked the match’s momentum. The camera was in position to hide Bayley’s shoulder both times, too. The first one I can understand, but for the finish — a finish he knows is the finish — he stops in the middle to jam his hand between Bayley and the mat. There is no way Bayley’s shoulder was up enough to tank the ending like that. Summer’s death glare tells you everything you need to know.
Does Rudy know how WWE officiating is supposed to work? Is he confused because people aren’t bumping him three times per match?
Best: Tyson Kidd Stink-eyeing This Entire Interview
1. Hey Justin, pretty sure I don’t need to see your entire mons pubis while we talk.
2. Tyson is INCREDIBLE here. He doesn’t say a word, but he reacts to everything Justin says in pitch-perfect character. You know that thing I give Sasha crap for where she reacts to parts of sentences and not the points of the statements? This is the opposite of that. Him making “really” face and doing “so-so” hand when Gabriel says NXT has lots of great talent was superb, and his “hold on a second”-to-bail was probably the best way to handle Devin Taylor.
Best: Visual Continuity
What are you doing with your eyeballs, Sasha?
If this scene of Sasha Banks and Summer Rae having an argument in a mirror seems familiar, it should; it’s the same visual they used back in September of last year when Summer was convincing Sasha to stop being a hapless babyface and be her lackey. See?
I appreciate NXT for being the only thing WWE makes that rewards you for paying attention.
Best: Wild And Younger
REAL LIVE COWBOY ALERT
So hey, is it weird to anybody else that Sin Cara’s winning jobber squashes on NXT? It’s not the original Sin Cara, who’d have enough box office clout or whatever to make special appearances and Sheamus people. At the same time, Sin Cara II is still enough of a presence on Raw and Smackdown that he should be treated like a special guest, right? What’s odd is that NXT place is the last place you could do that, because it’s WWE’s only smart crowd, and that’s where Hunico wrestled for a long time and everybody knows what’s up. So why’s this happening? Is Sin Cara getting an NXT-specific character, or did they just want to put Wesley Blake on TV again and fired all the Clay/Hawkins/JTG types that might otherwise beat him?
Best: Referee Drake Wuertz
That new referee seems cool. Want to see him take a powerbomb onto a bed of nails and stab somebody through the face with a syringe?