Best: He Still Needs Five
This week’s episode of NXT begins with the tried-and-true “this guy lost a big match, so now he’s AGGRESSIVE” WWE trope, the one you may have seen during Ryback’s match with The Great Khali on Raw, and in every other instance of a strong guy losing in modern WWE history. I mean, it works. If a guy with tons of credibility loses, having him beat a bunch of guys like they’re nothing immediately afterwards is a nice reminder that he’s not just a bystander in John Cena’s Unstoppable Pinfall Parade. Here, John Cena is being played by Bo Dallas. That’s not as broad a leap as it sounds.
I’m not a huge fan of the trope (I think a decisive win over somebody who actually MATTERS is a better indicator of recovery … the difference between Antonio Cesaro beating a guy like Orton and him complaining about a lack of competition after beating Zack Ryder), but I love me some Big E Langston jobber squashes, so I’m giving it a Best. I’m not sure why Big E even still needs to be around, though. He’s a regularly occurring Raw character who gets to hang with guys like Alberto Del Rio and/or dress up as himself in dramatic reenactments of Kaitlyn segments, so he probably could’ve moseyed on over to Raw forever after the Bo Dallas loss and nobody would’ve thought ill of him. Leave the guys who aren’t doing anything on Raw to get NXT TV time.
Like, uh, Antonio Cesaro.
Best: Aiden English, The Street Fighter Joke Character Of NXT
While I’m mentioning things I love, I’d like to give a formal Best to Aiden English, aka “Claudio Castagnoli before he went bald and got a tan.” If you aren’t familiar with English, he’s a nerdy, legitimately intelligent and tolerant dude who once described himself as “Liz Lemon in trunks.” He’s exactly the kind of wrestler you should support, even if he’s aping Marion Fontaine’s gimmick in the big leagues.
It would’ve been nice to see him get in more offense than “goofy roll for no reason,” but whatever, HE NEEDS FIVE.
Best: Hold Emma’s Bubbles, But Don’t Play With Them
Hulu, you are the worst people on the Internet for not putting Emma and Renee Young’s promo on the Internet.
Emma is my heart’s joy given life. Her part of the show this week begins with her being too busy dance chopping bubbles from her own bubble gun to talk to Renee, then calming herself long enough to announcer her strategy in the NXT Women’s Championship tournament (“uh, I’m gonna WIN”) before getting distracted by the bubbles again and spraying them in poor Renee’s face. Then she realizes she can’t bring the bubbles WITH her, so she gets Renee to hold her gun … but Renee can’t USE it. She can HOLD the bubbles, but she can’t HAVE them. Renee considers it (twice!) because she is also delightful, and yep, aside from Mark Henry lying about retirement this is my favorite non-wrestling thing on wrestling TV this year.
Emma’s great in her match, too, despite being in the ring with the very worst wrestler in WWE, Aksana. She doesn’t get to do a lot, but she gets distracted by the Emma chants and just tries to dance away in a semi-circle and she breaks out her gorgeous Muta Lock, which is great because she actually wrenches it in, instead of bridging back and holding her opponent’s face like 99% of other Divas might do. You are my favorite, Emma, and the loss of you in transition from NXT to Raw would be even sadder than Bray Wyatt saying “f**k it, my name is HUSKY AXEL.”
Worst: Aksana Is Still The Worst
But no, Aksana blows. She’s f**king horrid at every part of this, and I’m still pretty mad that whoever put the NXT Women’s Championship tournament together set up the entire first round to be terrible. The tournament did not need Tamina Snuka and Aksana. Replace them with Natalya and Naomi and you get the exact same thing, only competent. And while you’re at it, replace Summer Rae with ANN DANGO BECAUSE F**K YOU.