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Please click through to enjoy The Best and Worst of the 200th episode of WWE NXT.
Best Somehow: We Didn’t Pay To Hear Triple H Talk
I spend a lot of time in these columns justifying NXT Full Sail as a canonical part of the WWE Universe — “they mention it on Raw sometimes” and the Shield debuting are really my only solid links — but I’m increasingly okay with it being a standalone, “Steampunk Batman rides a dinosaur and fights Dracula” Elseworlds thing where wrestling shows are happy and great and everything bad becomes good.
Case in point: the 200th episode of NXT began with Executive Vice President Of Ruining My Good Time Triple H coming to the ring and giving a speech, but it was … nice? He put over NXT, name-dropped a bunch of talent that has come through it and made it on the main rosters, reiterated the importance of the Performance Center and even openly acknowledged that we’d rather watch wrestling than hear him talk. He did a little soft-shoe with his D-X catchphrases and he was done.
I don’t get to say this a lot, but since we’re in Elseworlds, I’ll say it here: The Triple H you see me hating on week in and week out is “The Game,” the fictional man on the television who sorta merged with the Internet’s perception of himself to represent everything hopeless and self-serving in professional wrestling. Paul The Real-Life Machiavellian Pro Wrestling Magnate seems like a pretty f*cking cool dude.
Two complaints for the opening tag team match:
1. The running boot in the corner should not be Sami Zayn’s finish, it should be the exciting thing that sets UP the finish, and
2. I’m doing that thing I do with The Shield with Sami Zayn now where he’s had so many good matches it’s hard for me to objectively pat him on the back for stuff like this, because it isn’t exceptional, which is the most unfair thing in the world.
That said, Zayn teaming up with Tyson Kidd to take on Leo Kruger and Antonio Cesaro was as enjoyable as you’d expect, and I continue to like Tyson Kidd a thousand times more when he’s down at Full Sail throwing cannonball topes con hilo instead of on Total Divas or Raw, where the best thing he gets is showing Eva Marie a hammerlock so he can rub his junk on her butt. I wanted a little more from the match, especially with Adrian Neville’s title quest coming to an end and Cesaro/Regal looming, but it was good. If we’re gonna run Cesaro against Kidd, might I suggest “handcuffing Tyson Kidd to the rope and giant-swinging Natalya until she turns into Summer Rae.”
Worst: Emma. Is This Opposites Day?
I gave a Best to a Triple H speech and am giving a Worst to an Emma backstage segment. What’s wrong with me? Am I dying?
Nothing makes me madder on a wrestling show than when people I love do bad things. I give Chris Jericho, CM Punk and The Rock the most grief for their face personalities because their heel personas are so near and dear to me (and because “face personality” means “acting like an illiterate goober”). When I see Emma my heart goes !!!!, and when I see her mumble through some bad improv and worse line-reads with Natalya it goes :(((((. I need to figure out how to use emojis in wrestling reports.
If you didn’t watch it, Natalya is backstage watching Tyson Kidd’s match (which is over, so she’s in theory just watching herself watch a television screen) and Emma comes dancing in. Natalya illogically accuses Emma of almost poking her in the eye, which never comes close to happening, and Emma illogically accuses Nattie of being “too good” for NXT despite having been on the last several weeks, teaming with Bayley and wrestling Paige. This turns into an argument about dancing, a challenge for a match and that horrible “I’m leaving! Good! Great! SO GO! I AM!” shit hacky writers use when they can’t figure out how to get out of a scene on ‘Family Matters.’
Awful, awful stuff. I need something happy involving Emma to get this taste out of my mouth.
There we go.
Best: NXT Retrospective Videos
Throughout the show we get these cool little recap videos taking us back to important moments in NXT history, and as 1) a wrestling history and continuity obsessive and 2) an NXT mark, I really loved them. We got a look back at Daniel Bryan vs. Chris Jericho on NXT s1e1, the game show-to-Full Sail transition episode and Seth Rollins winning the NXT Championship. Next week’s supposed to mostly be a clip show, and I am surprisingly okay with that. Derrick Bateman and Daniel Bryan cheating to win immunity challenges, please.
Happy 200 episodes to my favorite WWE show. And hey, 150 more and you’ll have as many episodes as NXT Redemption.
Best: THE BOSS
They’ve done a great job solving nearly every problem I had with Sasha Banks, and they did it by giving her five additional extraneous accessories a week. Tremendous.
One thing I like about Sasha in the ring is that she just feels like an athlete. When she moves, she moves with a bounce. When she runs, she seems quick. When she jumps, she seems like she can jump high. That’s honestly missing from a lot of women’s wrestling, and if Sasha can maintain a ridiculous character while burning it up in the ring and never acting or having backstage interviews ever, she could be one of the very best.
Supplementary Best: Paige
I liked the Women’s Championship match a lot and I think Sasha might be Paige’s best non-Emma opponent. Sasha’s quickness sorta demands Paige keep up with her and stay moving, which is good for Paige, because she often looks like she’s trying to slow herself down and match the skill level of her opponent. Sasha can also eat the shit out of the Paige Turner, which randomly got a Christian Cage “let’s set this up for day” preface and a pretty lovingly sick arm swing that made it all okay.
Best: I Want Enzo, Big Cass And Aiden English For Three Hours
Seriously. Three hours. Three full primetime hours of Enzo and Big Cass trying to interact with Aiden English and failing, but also succeeding like mad. Highlights from this include:
– Enzo having a MOTORIZED WHEELCHAIR, which makes him even smaller and quicker and weirder than before.
– Enzo furiously explaining how he’s going to sue somebody for not being handicap accessible
– SAWFT T-SHIRTS. GET ON MY BODY.
– “You puttin’ the wall to sleep over here pal?”
– Aiden English dreaming of Broadway and ending up on Vaudeville
– “holding a microphone and belching into it”
– Enzo’s amazing EH WHA BUH HUH UH WHA BUH start to sentences he can’t quite get out because he’s so excited to be mad
– pipes that blow EXHAUUUUUUST
– “I’m gonna drop you like an unnecessary theater elective. HOW YOU DOIN’.”
– suh suh suh suh suh suh SAWFT
If Bo Dallas hadn’t given that slideshow presentation about cookies this would be the best non-wrestling NXT thing of the year. Let these characters interact more often, and give me as much Aiden English vs. Enzo Amore feud as I can handle.
Best: THIS IS AWESOME CLAP CLAP CLAPCLAPCLAP
THIS IS WRESTLING CLAP CLAP CLAPCLAPCLAP
THIS IS WRESTLING CLAP CLAP CLAPCLAPCLAP
This is the week we’ve all been waiting for, folks, when the two men who define Ring of Honor most — incessantly serious karate kick-out king Davey Richards and his tag team partner Eddie “Eddie Edwards” Edwards — debut in NXT as the “American Pitbulls,” a name that almost works like American Wolves and suggests that both the ECW Pitbull and Kid Kash/Jamie Noble combinations were made up of foreigners.
And oh God, it was beautiful. They aren’t even trying to pretend they aren’t the Wolves, they have the matching gear and the way-too-busy stage taunting and the “THEY’VE WRESTLED IN THE ORIENT” reputation. They get to throw running kicks and do dives. All we needed was Cheeseburger and a crowd that shames women simply for being women and we’d be 40 minutes into ROH TV.
Honestly? It was pretty fun. The Ascension’s “we challenge anybody in the world” gag is a great way to bring in a bunch of fresh faces to an otherwise empty tag division, whether you keep them around or not. Run them against seven or eight “worldly” teams we’ve never seen before, keep three of four of them, give everybody stories and we’re fine again. On top of that, Richards and Edwards are guys who could probably really benefit from WWE Developmental. Some guys show up ready to go (Danielson, Sami Zayn) but others, as popular as they are, need help. Tyler Black’s a great example. Tyler Black is about a billion times better as Seth Rollins as he ever could’ve been doing phoenix splashes in armories for another ten years, and maybe two years from now we’ll be marking for TAFKA Eddie Edwards on Raw. Stranger things have happened.
Worst: Way To Almost Kill Davey Richards, “Viktor”
Somewhere at home, BJ Whitmer wonders, “was that a shout-out to me?”
Worst: Nice Lumberjacking, Jobbers
The main-event was a lumberjack match between Bo Dallas and Adrian Neville for the NXT Championship, and I guess everybody on the NXT roster was out to lunch because the lumberjacks were all HILARIOUS NOBODIES. Guys even I can’t identify. Their job was to stand around mindlessly, roll Bo Dallas back into the ring once and provide a nice landing surface for Adrian Neville near the end. That’s it. Just a collection of weird Draugr motherf*ckers in colored panties and sometimes cowboy hats. Wonderful.
Best: Tyler Breeze Gets Telegraphed So Hard
Sorry, the lumberjacks were 14 guys you’ve never heard of and ALSO TYLER BREEZE RANDOMLY, which has got to be the most telegraphed moment of interference in WWE history. Seriously, why else would ONE GUY we know and like be out there amongst the biggest possible bums? It’s not like CJ Parker and Corey Graves and all those jerks were out there too. It was like on an 80s cartoon where a character is in a grocery store and they approach a bunch of tomatoes, and all the tomatoes are blurry and faded into the background except for one RED ASS TOMATO right in the middle, so you know that’s the one the character’s interacting with. Tyler Breeze was the tomato you noticed.
Adrian Neville deserved what he got, too. When Bo Dallas rolled out of the ring, the lumberjack simply grabbed him and rolled him back in. No unnecessary punching or kicking, just doin’ their job. Breeze did the same thing. Neville goes to the outside so Breeze picks him up and tries to roll him back into the ring. Neville blocks it and slaps Breeze in the face. What for? Breeze wasn’t interfering. He is the only notable lumberjack and you slap him in the face? Of COURSE he’s going to f*ck you over, dude, didn’t you learn anything from teaming with Cool Corey?
So now we move into the new year with an Adrian Neville/Tyler Breeze beef, Paige vs. Emma still bound to happen and the Bo Dallas title defense schedule cleared up nicely so Sami Zayn can run in boot raised and take it away. 2014 is going to be really great. I am agreeing with Triple H and I’m excited for wrestling.
I really might be dying.