Best: Antonio Cesaro’s Secret Plan Is “Say Sami Zayn’s Name Weird A Bunch And Then Run Up And Hit Him From Behind Once”
The show opens with Leo Kruger inquiring about the application process for the Real Americans stable. That alone would’ve given this a Best (although honestly I wish Cesaro’s response had been, “uh, well, first off you have to be an American” and scoffing). What it turns into is spectacularly weird, with Kruger and Cesaro saying “Sami Zayn” over and over in foreign accents so you’re not sure if they’re saying “Sami Zayn” or “Zami Sayn.” Listen to it, it’s like that Bill Nye video where “Bill” becomes “mayo.”
I also love that they dedicate a couple of minutes to Cesaro figuratively scratching his chin and hatching a master plan before whispering it to Kruger, and then the plan turning out to be RUN UP BEHIND SAMI ZAYN WHEN HE ISN’T LOOKING AND HIT HIM ONCE. How amazing is that? Cesaro’s all, “hey, this guy who may literally be a murderous bounty hunter wants to team up with me, let’s see if able to blindside a tired guy and walk away muttering. Only THEN will he prove himself!”
Supplementary Best goes to Cesaro’s awesome William Regal impression, which might as well have been Paul Rudd in Forgetting Sarah Marshall.
Worst: I’m Sorry For Everything Bad I Said About Alexa Bliss
A few weeks ago they replaced the regular bad lady NXT ring announcer with Alexa Bliss, a beautiful woman in training who sorta looks like a Bratz doll but reportedly has some promise. I talked a little shit about her because of how WWE makes less-talented Divas multitask (see also: Krystal, Maria Kanellis) instead of hiring actual hosts and television personalities. This is one of the reasons I love Renee Young so much. She’s an anomaly.
Anyway, I take it all back. The woman they have ring announcing this week sounds like Dee Dee from ‘Dexter’s Laboratory’ and I’m not sure she knows what words are. She announces matches as being scheduled for “onefall,” one word, and listen to how she over-enunciates the T in “Alberta.” It’s like Randy Orton saying “title.” Did WWE have a “saying T” workshop?
Best: I Might Not Hate Natalya If This Was Ever The Natalya We Got
This week’s opening match was an NXT Women’s Championship match between Paige and Natalya, and I liked it a lot, mostly because I didn’t have to write about that awkward promo from last week where Natalya does that obnoxious Lena Dunham “no okay but I’m going to TELL you how I FEEL now” thing and stares at the floor the entire time.
As regular readers of the Best and Worst of Raw might know, I’m not a fan of Natalya. This makes me a weird type of Internet wrestling fan. I’m supposed to throw in with whoever we decide is good, which is why people are still asking me why I bag on Kofi Kingston so much despite nearly three years of paragraphs about why he’s bad. I’ve always felt Natalya was spectacularly overrated, and every chance she’s gotten to break through and not be horrible on television has been wasted by temporary ineptitude or bad acting or whatever. She just doesn’t do it for me, and if she didn’t have a “Neidhart” at the end of her name she’d probably be slumming it on customss with Kowgirl Kissey. Note: don’t google Kowgirl Kissey.
That said, I also get that a lot of the negativity I feel is based on what I see on television, and no, I’m not at practice or whatever where she gets to tear it up with Sara Del Rey and show that in a better world she’d be stretching Kana and throwing discus clotheslines at Madison Eagles somewhere. NXT has a way of easing back on the WWE negativity throttle and allowing “misused” talent to shine, so I’ll openly admit how much I enjoyed Natalya’s title challenge against Paige. There was a lot of well-executed science~ going on, a lot of really good fundamental pro wrestling and more selling than the last six months of Ring of Honor. That’s all very good.
I’ll also say that I didn’t think this was as good as Paige’s matches with Emma, but Paige looked better in a lot of important areas … she looked motivated, she paced herself well and stayed engaged, and her finisher coming out of nowhere eliminated the stunted way she usually just moseys over and does it. All very good.
So yeah, good match. Although the “Natalya’s the only woman to train in Stu Hart’s Dungeon, that says something about her!” only says “I am related to somebody in the Hart Foundation” about her. Once the Harts trained Teddy’s crazy cat-loving ass they kinda forfeited the prestige.
Also better than what we usually get in ROH was the post-match hug between Natalya and Paige, which was a welcomed moment of sincerity for the Paige character and did a lot to make her seem like the next important cog in WWE women’s wrestling. Renee getting to talk about Natalya as a person and not as a wrestling character helped a lot, too. It seemed like it really meant something, because it did. It wasn’t the forced “hold up their arm and point at them to get them over” jazz. I love you, pro graps sportsmanship.
Worst: Kicking A Man While He’s Down
I do not feel comfortable giving a Worst to something involving Tyler Breeze, but man, him calling Kassius Ohno a “bit of a fatty” felt a little too insider for my tastes, and wasn’t a good look for NXT. Maybe it’s just me and all the Internet I consume. Maybe my brain was messed up from all the “background lady on Archer” dialogue coming out of Lana. One or the other.
It’s fun to pretend that’s Alexander Rusev’s bedroom, though, with all those WWE posters.
I want more like this!
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