The Best And Worst Of WWE NXT 8/3/16: Glorious Bastards

Previously on the Best and Worst of WWE NXT: Blake and Murpy got eaten alive by the stars of New Japan Pro Wrestling. Also on the show, William Regal decided that Shinsuke Nakamura’s getting a shot at the NXT Championship at TakeOver: Brooklyn II whether Samoa Joe likes it or not.

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And now, the Best and Worst of WWE NXT for August 3, 2016. GLOOOOOOO rious!

Best: Welcome Back, Hideo!

This week’s opener is the returning Hideo Itami versus the Cruiserweight Classic’s Sean Maluta, who answers the question, “How good of a wrestler would Jimmy Uso have been if he’d grown up watching CIMA instead of watching Jey Uso?”

Man, a lot has changed since Itami got injured. The last episode he wrestled on was May 13, 2015, a week before NXT Unstoppable. Charlotte, Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch were still on the show, and the Divas Revolution hadn’t started yet. Shinsuke Nakamura, Austin Aries, Samoa Joe and Apollo Crews hadn’t debuted yet. Solomon Crowe and Bull Dempsey were around. Kevin Owens was the NXT Champion and Blake and Murphy were the tag champs.

Now Itami has to step back into a completely different roster on a completely different show. Owens and Finn B├ílor are gone. Itami had feuded with The Ascension for a while, but they’re long gone. He’s got to reestablish himself and show us what’s special about him again. When he debuted, he was a hard-striking Japanese star that stood out. Now, he’s sharing a spotlight with Nakamura and Asuka, so he’s what, instantly the third most impressive or popular hard-striking Japanese star on the roster? To make it even more specific, he’s the second most impressive and popular with a running knee finish.

I’m not too worried about it, because Itami is a singular and special performer who can and repeatedly has stood out on his own. Let’s hope circumstance doesn’t cause him to stall out again, and that NXT creative has something cooler for him to do than hold his hands out and go RRAAAHHH? to the crowd after every move.

Note: I guess that means Samoa Joe’s definitely the one who injured him now, because he’s the only other person from that angle left on the show.

Worst: Zack Sabre Jr.’s Tie

He knows all the escapes, including clicking X on the wikiHow for how to tie a tie.

Worst, Then Best: Smojo Rawley

NXT’s gotten pretty bad at telegraphing the, “why is this happening?” match. They did it with the Hype Bros vs. Blake and Murphy a few weeks ago to re-debut Rhyno, and they did it again here with Mojo Rawley vs. the worst wrestler in the history of NXT, Chris Atkins. Seriously, the dude is named after the guy from The Blue Lagoon and loses to Mojo in one move. The ref sees Samoa Joe getting into the ring as he’s counting to three, but he just counts to three anyway and doesn’t actually call for the bell until Joe interferes. So like, Atkins is the only person I’ve ever seen be so unimportant that nobody paid attention to the pinfall. Hollis and Skyler are American Alpha compared to this dude.

Anyway, the good news is that the segment gets really good really quickly. Joe attacks both men and sh*t-cans them to cut a promo about how mad he is at William Regal giving Shinsuke Nakamura a title shot. Before it’s over, Mojo gets back into the ring and attacks Joe, because I guess he’s the one person ever to get dismissed as an afterthought in a set-up to a promo and feel bad about it. Good for him. Mojo gets one up on Joe and tries to leave, so Joe chases him down, cheapshots him and puts him in the Clutch on the ramp. I’m not really into a Mojo Rawley NXT Championship program or anything, but I like that the character had enough self-respect to stick up for himself, and that Joe immediately, hatefully responded. That kind of attention to motivation will get me into anything, especially when it’s done as succinctly and effectively as this.

Best: Dickhead Asuka

The best non-song moment of the episode goes to Asuka in a walk.

Bayley’s backstage talking to Cathy 3 about wanting the NXT Women’s Championship back, so Asuka interrupts and tells her to follow her out and watch her match. Bayley agrees, because she’s an affable sort, and heads to the announce table. Asuka’s like, “no, not up there, you need to stand dead center at ringside.” That alone is a great, great dick move.

Asuka’s victim is Aliyah, who I’m still pretending is the kayfabe daughter of Rey Mysterio. Asuka beats her within an inch of her life, picking her up from obvious, dominant pinfalls and making surprised bug-eyes just to piss Bayley off. Eventually she yanks her to the ground like a mom yanking a disobedient toddler out of a grocery store and Asuka Locks her for the win, making sure to hold it on until Bayley’s forced to physically get in the ring to stop it. When that happens, Asuka grabs the belt and makes Japanese horror movie character faces at her from like half a foot away. It’s so good. I love Bayley and I wish her the best, but she is gonna get Grudge‘d at TakeOver. If she shows up to fight Bayley wearing the scary clown makeup, it’s OVAH.

RIP Aliyah. CM Punk’s singing happy birthday to you in Heaven now.

Best?: Oney Lorcan Is Going Back To His Roots

I hope this means he’s dropping the “Oney Lorcan” name, but I’m also okay if he returns to NXT with a full head of luxurious, unexplained hair.


If for some reason you missed or haven’t seen this episode of NXT, devote the next hour of your life to listening to this, making a surprised happy face, then hitting “replay.”

It’s one part CHRISTIANNNN, one part Queen cover band, one part butt-rock WWE entrance theme and probably the best entrance theme of all time. It’s at least up there with the best. Imagine the WrestleMania entrance version, with a full orchestra and the Randy Orton pyro sparkles. Imagine it.

Nothing will ever top Kevin Owens ethering Full Sail for being the John Cena of wrestling fans, but I love any promo or moment that openly manipulates them. What Roode did here was MASTERFUL. He shows up with that beautiful theme and everybody goes crazy. As he’s walking to the ring, they’re chanting his name. For the first third of the promo, the crowd cheers loudly during every pause. Then, the promo starts to drag. It gets boring in the middle, on purpose. The cheers become a little less loud. Roode’s topic goes from “NXT is the place to be” to “Bobby Roode is probably the most important thing happening in NXT.” It ramps up slowly, and just as the promo reaches its breaking point and the “what” chants start up, Roode pulls the trigger: everyone there is ugly and sucks, and he’s going to make the brand so popular they’re replaced by Presidents and business people. It’s so f*cking pitch-perfect for this crowd, and the best perversion of the undeserved TNA Guy Showed Up And We Like Him Now For Some Reason pop. A-plus. This and the Asuka segment back-to-back are as good as NXT — and wrestling — gets.

Put Roode and Aries together immediately.

Best/Worst: The Tag Teams

So somewhere in the middle of the episode, the Revival is backstage being interviewed by Cathy 2 when they’re interrupted by TM-61 and Gargano and Ciampa. It gets absolutely brutal, thanks to a combination of badly written comedy and TM-61 sounding like Synths that just learned human speech. “We’ve been traveling the planet to face the best, and those belts say you’re the best, so since you’re the best and on the planet, vis-a-vis, how about proving you’re the best by stepping up and accepting our challenge to decide to face us!”

That’s followed by a very good main event, with The Revival beating TM-61. The Revival could have a great tag team match with Eva Marie and a laundry hamper right now, so that’s not a unique observation. That sets up Gargano and Ciampa interrupting them AGAIN, doing some level 1 improv object work and namedropping Miss Piggy in NXT’s second best instance of this happening. They also mention Pikachu and Charmander, because Pokemon are a popular thing. Get it?

Two things:

1. The Revival must be ground types if they beat Pikachu AND Charmander. Ground and pound types?
2. I hope the TakeOver match ends with Golden Truth interfering now, just to tie this all together.

The match that results is undoubtedly going to be spectacular, but Gargano and Ciampa are such sarcastic little cornball baby-men right now I want The Revival to figuratively put them through a wood-chipper. Just wreck ’em and break their legs. That’ll teach you to compare real men to apps.