Worst: Aw Man, This Is The Last Show For Everyone Who Got Cut, Isn’t It
I suppose I shouldn’t be happy for the loss of Audrey Marie when this episode of NXT also marks the last (for now) appearance of my favorite NXT guy ever, season 4 rookie and season 5 protagonist Derrick Bateman.
Here’s a guy I liked when he was wrestling in Cleveland as THE DEVIANT~. Tilde added by me. He gets a WWE gig, shows up on NXT as the rookie of my favorite wrestler, films the shoot funniest backstage vignette in WWE history, is integral to making NXT Redemption my favorite WWE thing in a decade (seriously, it was absurdist and wonderful … one episode had a f**king ‘Glee’ opening), works on the easiest-to-love character this side of Emma (the USA Guy) and then … he’s gone. Both boo and hiss to you, WWE. At least I’ll get to enjoy Michael Hutter on the independent circuit for a while until they wise up and rehire him. And hey, if you’re in Tampa next Thursday you can watch him judge Air Sex.
Bateman gets killed by Big E Langston with the quickness here, which is disappointing. That’s not meant to take anything away from how great the NXT version of Big E is, though, don’t get me wrong. The guy gets to have an in-ring energy he can’t show on Raw, where he’s just always about to EXPLODE and the crowd gets his schtick and encourages it. My kingdom for a Raw crowd wise enough to start chanting FIVE, FIVE, FIVE, FIVE, FIVE and make him do it.
Best: Battle Royal!
The main-event of this week’s show is an 18-man battle royal for a shot at Big E Langston’s NXT Championship, wherein we get to see a lot of cool people we like (Sami Zayn! Kassius Ohno! Briley Pierce, also in his last appearance!) and must pretend like these shows aren’t taped a month in advance and Wikipedia spoilers aren’t updated on the reg. NXT exists in a time warp. One time Antonio Cesaro showed up to defend the United States Championship a week after he’d lost it. It happens. Longtime readers may know that I love a battle royal, good or bad, and will almost always give them a Best. This one would’ve gotten a best just for Big E and Brad Maddox on commentary alone.
The story of the match is set up simply: Mason Ryan is a thousand times bigger than most people and eliminates over half of the competitors by himself, doing what we’ve been begging guys to do since battle royals were created and just grabbing dudes and chucking them over the top. None of that “lean them against the turnbuckle and hug their legs” stuff people do when they’re pantomiming elimination attempts. People get thrown out of the ring all the time. All you have to do is run them toward the ropes by the hair and toss them. AJ Lee could eliminate The Great Khali from a battle royal with no problem if she was tall enough to grab his hair and Khali was agile enough to run 8 feet before collapsing.
The other story is that Adrian Neville (who you may remember from his time in PWG, Dragon Gate or New Japan as PAC, the man gravity forgot) is adept at eliminating monsters. He eliminates the match favorite (Bray Wyatt) late, and he eliminates Massive Eliminator Mason Ryan with a rana when Ryan tries to powerbomb him out of the ring. It sets up a cool monster vs. underdog story, which is then kinda sorta ignored because of the third story:
Worst: WWE Loves Itself Some Bo Dallas
Of the final five guys in the match, four are legit, top-level NXT guys who could win the championship. Neville, Bray Wyatt, Kassius Ohno and Corey Graves. GUESS WHO WINS.
That’s right, it’s Bo Dallas, the guy who made everybody facepalm when he won the chance to compete in the Royal Rumble over guys like Neville and Wyatt and Ohno and Graves! Now he gets a shot at the NXT Championship, which he will obviously lose because spoilers do not exist in this dojo.
Anyway, the Rise Of Bo Dallas is legitimately disheartening, so I’ll end the column with one of my favorite NXT talking points: the fact that one of the worst guys on the show and one of the best guys on the show are brothers.
Best: Masked Bray Wyatt Is Somehow Even Better Than The Regular Version
I haven’t gotten a chance to write about it yet, but you know that cool, weird looking Cape Fear Bray Wyatt you saw on the Raw commercial and got excited about? Well, in NXT he’s evolved into something EVEN BETTER THAN THAT SOMEHOW with the addition of a SCARY MASK and PSEUDO BUTCHERS CLOTHINGS. Not sure where to stop pluralizing there but DUDE LOOK AT HIM.
He got his nose broken, so like a lot of athletes, he started competing in a plastic face mask. Wyatt turned it into something special: a statement about how he no longer saw a human being when he looked in the mirror, but a cold, faceless killer. The true face of the Eater of Worlds. If THAT doesn’t get you excited to see this guy on Raw, I don’t know what will.
(and if you are not excited to see Bray Wyatt on Raw, perhaps this Bo Dallas fellow will entertain you!)