Previously on The Best and Worst of NXT: Wow, it’s been a while, hasn’t it? NXT TakeOver: London happened, and the last new episode was the bonus hour from it. That gave us the in-ring return of Sami Zayn, Chad Gable and Jason Jordan being British folk legends and the NXT announce team having no idea what the Fourth Doctor looked like. Two Best of 2015 specials later, and here we are. A new year, and real shows!
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And now, the Best and Worst of WWE NXT for January 13, 2016.
Best: History Of The World
NXT opens with William Regal returning from neck surgery, announcing a battle royal for the night’s main event, and welcoming Sami Zayn back to Full Sail. I’m not sure you can design an opening segment I like more on a wrestling show, unless you go full Lucha and have a pissed-off ninja skeleton summoning his dark master in a dojo to help him assassinate a vampire. Even then I’d be like, “that’s awesome, but Sami.”
Aside from the basic joy of seeing characters I love, what I liked the most about the opening segment is how NXT isn’t afraid of its own history, and uses it to make what’s happening now seem more important. Raw and Smackdown love to do the “one guy’s talking, oh no someone interrupted him, oh no someone interrupted them” thing, but it rarely makes sense. It’s just guys getting their verbal sh*t in. “Here’s exposition.” “Well, here is an insult!” “Catchphrase!”
Let’s break down why this opening works so brilliantly. First, you’ve got Sami Zayn’s return. He gives us an adorable callback — The Zayniacs — and clearly states without a lot of bullsh*t why he’s here: he wants to become the first 2-time NXT Champion. He helped build NXT, and while it’s kinda funny to hear him babyface a statement Kevin Owens would use to get heat, he’s right. Hell, the first Best and Worst of NXT report was for Sami’s debut. He built this site’s interpretation of NXT, at least. He’s interrupted by Samoa Joe, who brings up the very valid point that the last time Sami was in the ring fighting for the belt, Joe had to show up and save his life. Joe just lost his big title opportunity, so he’s looking to lash out, and Sami’s an easy target. They get interrupted by Baron Corbin, who throws shade at Zayn for getting injured, accurately points out that he’s gotten much better since Sami went on the shelf, and inserts himself into the title conversation. Joe brings up the fact that he choked Corbin out in Brooklyn. That happened FIVE MONTHS AGO, which is a decade in WWE main roster time.
What does that leave us with? Three guys with valid points and differing, conflicting alignments and something to prove. William Regal sets up a triple threat between them for two weeks from now, because NXT makes sense and I love it with my whole heart.