Worst: Welp, I Guess We’re Starting Off This Week’s Show With Mason Ryan Dancing
The opening segment of the first NXT show in a set of tapings that includes Sami Zayn vs. Antonio Cesaro having a 2-out-of-3 falls Match Of The Year is Enzo Amore announcing a dance contest, Tons of Funk showing up randomly to beat them up and dance and Mason Ryan pulling a Rikishi. This was the first thing I saw at my first-ever live NXT show. For a moment, I thought I was having Nam flashbacks about Raw.
The good news about NXT is that even the bad stuff isn’t so bad, because it doesn’t have years and years of horrible memories attached to it to justify pessimism. On Raw they can do something positive, like have Daniel Bryan main-eventing, and there’s still this creeping feeling that Stephanie McMahon and Triple H are gonna show up to give him a makeover. On NXT, Brodus Clay beats up a developmental guy and dances and it’s not great, but at least he’s gone quickly and you don’t see him again for 3.8 shows.
I thought BADABOOM, REALEST GUY IN THE ROOM was going to be the defining Enzo Amore catchphrase, but nope, it’s S-A-W-F-T. Sawwwwwft!
I’m not sold on Amore as a wrestler yet, but God, that dude is a catchphrase machine. He’s almost horrible on the microphone, but it’s that purposeful kind of horrible that lets you know he’s doing it intentionally. SAWFT works because it (1) allows the crowd to demean a wrestler of their choosing a la the “what” chants with a succinct, easily heard shout-word — see the Tyler Breeze promo, where random people start yelling SAWFT to let the video screen know what they think of him — and (2) it makes wrestling fans sound like the seagulls from Finding Nemo. SAWFT, SAWFT, SAWFT
Worst/Best: A Dance Contest To Set Up Another Dance Contest (But At Least It’s Full Of People I Like)
As a rule, I do not like dance contests. LOOK AT THE FUNNY DANCING has never done it for me, especially when funny dancing is used to determine title shots or whatever like it is here.
That said, a bad wrestling segment can be made wonderful by upping the talent of the people in it, so when Emma and Dusty Rhodes are in the same place at the same time, wonders happen. There’s a lot of good and bad to this dance-off storyline (which I’ll get to in later weeks as it plays out), but seriously, here are three GIFs to concisely explain what I’m talking about.
1. Summer Rae thinks it’s stupid that Emma gets title shots and wants to make fun of her dancing. Summer, however, is a master of dance, so she can’t do the Emma dance properly and looks like she’s doggypaddling.
2. Emma proves her dancing ability by doing The Cabbage Patch. She is super, super hot. And then DUSTY RHODES STARTS DOING THE CABBAGE PATCH WITH HER TO THE DISMAY OF EVERYONE ELSE.
3. Dusty thinks Summer’s idea of a dance contest is stupid, but he also thinks it’d be kinda entertaining and funny, because Dusty Rhodes understands wrestling fans better than anybody in wrestling and is allowed to be honest. The GM knowing it’s a sorta bad idea but going with it anyway works when they’re just being upfront about it. Also, when they’re likable wrestling legends.
Oh, right, the third GIF. Emma dances away with Dusty and the camera lingers just long enough to catch Summer Rae corpsing her ass off. This is probably the most I’ve ever liked Summer Rae.
Send for the man.
Best: Charlotte’s Chops
If you read last week’s column, you were privy to the surprisingly awesome debut of Ric Flair’s daughter “Charlotte.” That continues this week, with Charlotte taking Sasha Banks to the woodshed with a combination of gymnastics flips, creative offense and brutal chops.
Jump to the very end of that video. If you need proof that Charlotte’s the Flair kid who got the wrestling ability, listen to that pop across the chest. She’s got it. Remember David Flair trying to throw strikes? Here, I’ll remind you. It was the worst thing in human history. Worse than famine.
What’s weird is that the NXT crew of Divas are so well-trained and get such a comfortable place to perform that they’re already head and shoulders above the ladies on the USA network. In a perfect world, Sara Del Rey keeps Charlotte, Paige, Emma, Summer and whoever else in developmental for another two years, axe kicks them until they’re fighting like joshis, then unleashes them on the unsuspecting WWE Universe.
Uh, who’ll probably chant “we want puppies” at them. But still, at least I’d be happy.
Best: Everything About This, Not Counting CJ Parker
This is my motherf**ker right here.
It’s hard for me to explain why I like Tyler Breeze so much, but this Jason Schwartzman thing he does with Renee sorta speaks for itself. So many gems here.
– Taking FOUR ATTEMPTS to find the proper adjective for a debut Renee’s already called “magnanimous.”
– A solid minute of improv about how he’s gorgeous while CJ Parker acts like an asshole in the background
– HIS VOICE. He almost sounds like Eugene Levy describing Crabtown in A Mighty Wind
– “Do you feel that? I think we’re done here.”
– “You just stay being … you, and I’ll just stay being me. Tyler Breeze.”
– “Tyler Breeze has left the building.” The best part of this is that he had a match shortly after that, so Byron Saxton had to stand in the ring “getting a message from backstage” that was ultimately “Tyler Breeze has re-entered the building.”
Also important: all of Kassius Ohno’s parts in the NXT open have been replaced by Tyler Breeze clips. I’m not sure how to feel about that, so I’m gonna lean toward the positives of “Tyler Breeze is in the open” and shy away from the colossal negatives of “WWE is Taeler Hendrixing Chris Hero.”