Worst: Conor O’Brien vs. Alex Riley For Worst Match Of The Year
Okay, maybe it’s not the worst match of the year, but it’s the worst match I’ve seen on NXT in a long time.
As you may already know, Alex Riley is garbage. Just straight-up garbage. The announcers calling him a “main roster WWE Superstar” was pretty funny, since I think the only time he’s been on Raw this year was when he tried to get Yoshi Tatsu to make fun of Big Show for looking like a “traffic cone” and got punched in the face. Before that, the last time I can remember him on TV was when he was tattling to Chris Jericho about CM Punk. Guess what? I was in the WrestleMania XXX press conference video, which means I’ve been on Raw and Smackdown as much as Alex Riley this year.
Conor O’Brien is what we like to call Bad Hoss. There’s a Good Hoss, a big, powerful, sometimes fat guy who throws around little guys and can have great matches whether the cruiserweight-loving Internet believes it or not. Big Show, Mark Henry and later-run Dave Batista are examples of Good Hosses. A Bad Hoss is that guy who has a WWE job simply because he’s big, possesses no actual pro wrestling ability, and will be gone/forgotten within a couple of years. The Bad Hoss list is much longer and features names like Nathan Jones, Heidenreich, Jackson Andrews and so on. Mason Ryan is one of these guys as well, and had a squash match on this episode so inconsequential I’m not even gonna write it up.
The match starts with O’Brien doing a Fandango pose and just standing there. That’s his thing. He just stands there like a statue until you run up to him and let him put you in a wrestling move. Riley charges in and immediately gets headlocked, and they do an embarrassing running sequence where O’Brien just keeps running the ropes and Riley has to sorta roll around and fall a bunch like he’s being hit or can’t get out of the way. They do some bad mat wrestling after that, and that’s when you gotta throw your hands up and walk away. You have too many talented people on the NXT roster to be doing Conor O’Brien/Alex Riley matches, guys. Alex Riley should already be competing in LEGENDS OF WRESTLING carny indy shows with John Morrison or whatever.
Worst: Hulu Doesn’t Even Pay Attention To What They’re Clipping
They can’t seem to get it right. When WWE Fan Nation uploads a video, it’s usually the last 40 seconds of a match and the 2 minutes or so of post-match shenanigans. When Hulu uploads a video, it’s the first 40 seconds of the “feeling out process,” which tells you absolutely nothing about the match or what happened. You miss the good wrestling AND the story. Why even upload clips like that? I’m not going to convince a stranger to watch NXT with a minute of Kassius Ohno doing collar-and-elbow tie-ups.
Best: Bray Wyatt’s “I’m Gonna Be On Raw Soon” Recap/reboot
The main event of the show was a tag team title match between the champs, The Wyatt Family, and the challengers, Corey Graves and Kassius Ohno. The match itself was fine — easily the best match on the show, which isn’t saying much for this episode — but the highlight was the simultaneous continuation and reboot of Bray Wyatt.
If you’ve been following NXT (or if you read last week’s column), you’ll remember that Wyatt had his nose broken and started dressing like a cross between a butcher and the Phantom of the Opera. Then, Wyatt Family videos started airing on Raw. So now this week, Wyatt returns to his Cape Fear hat and Hawaiian shirt, delivers a largely inconsequential but probably necessary “I’m Bray Wyatt, here are some things I say!” promo before the match, then does that amazing thing he does where he sits on the ramp in a rocking chair and watches his Family wrestle. That alone should get him over as the scariest guy on Raw. But yeah, it felt like a summarization of the Wyatt character up until now, a fresh “jumping-on” point for when he shows up on Raw and more or less has to start over.
The cool thing about Bray is that he seems like the most important guy in the arena even when he’s not wrestling. He doesn’t detract from the action here, but when it’s time for him to distract Ohno or smash somebody in the back of the head, it works. He does it with the same fury and character he would an exchange in his own match, and that adds a lot. Thankfully the Wyatt Family win the match and retain the tag straps, because I love them, and because I spent 15 minutes trying to come up with a funny tag team name for Ohno and Graves and totally failed. “Stay Oh” was the best thing I could come up with. Don’t ever give tag titles to a team like that.