– I’M AFRAID I’VE GOT SOME BAD NEWS. In prep for the WWE Network launch, Hulu has made NXT exclusive to Hulu Plus again. If you’re like me and didn’t mind paying $8 a month or whatever for good wrestling, you can check out this week’s episode here. If not, good luck with your Daily Motion.
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Please click through for the Best and Worst of WWE NXT for February 5, 2014.
Worst: Alexander Raw-sev
This week’s opener pit The Bulgarian Brute Alexander Rusev vs. The Miscellaneous Mexican Sin Cara, and if I were betting man, I’d say this is exactly how Rusev’s Raw debut will play out. Probably against the same guy.
We’ve seen Rusev do some cool stuff in the past, but this match featured very little of it. Just a lot of knocking Sin Cara down, wandering around him in a circle and dropping headbutts. Just a straight-up dress rehearsal for Raw. There are two problems with that, sadly, and they are:
1. It’s not terribly exciting, and
2. The crowd doesn’t like or care about Sin Cara, so that connection you’re supposed to get when the new monster kills your favorites (see: Brock Lesnar mauling the Hardy Boyz) isn’t there. Lots of Sin Cara jumping onto Rusev’s shoulders and waiting to be thrown down.
At least we’ve confirmed that Lana is a part of the Rusev Raw package, so that’s good. Expect at least one shifty Best a week about her shade of lipstick and exaggerated hand gestures. I want them to eventually break up because she’s signing him spoilers from Bloodlines of Conquest.
Best: Alicia Fox Wristlocks
Match two put another recent Raw debutee (debut-tante?), Emma, against the world’s most allegiance shifting foxy wedding planner, Alicia Fox. Fox works heel here, because I guess being in AJ’s “we’re jealous of the PRETTY girls” posse on Raw made her that way. Uh, even though they seemed like the faces.
Regardless, the match is short but a good reminder that a lot of the women we see on Raw are probably really good at stuff, WWE’s just not interested whatsoever in showing us. The match starts with Emma dancing too much and Alicia grabbing a wristlock, and it is a GREAT wristlock. So good that it made me notice a good wristlock, if that tells you anything. I’m going to be pissed if it turns out Alicia Fox is the next Sara Del Rey or whatever and we’ve spent eight years — holy shit, eight years — with “once wore a sailor suit” as her deepest character trait.
Best: Emma In Her Natural Environment
If you missed this week’s Best and Worst of Raw, Emma made her formal Raw debut in a dance contest and it was … not great. The short version is that Emma’s dancing needs context, as we don’t like her because she does a stupid dance and we laugh at it, we like her because the stupid dance came from an awkward, enjoyable character development and we got like a year to embrace it fully. Having her dance like an idiot beside Santino makes her no different than Betty White dancing next to Santino, and Betty White ain’t gotta be here after next week.
This match was different, though, and shows how Emma’s goofiness really works when combined with her ability to splash you and Muta Lock you to death. The Emma Lock is absolutely the best submission finish in WWE, both because it reminds me of the Great freaking Muta and because she locks it in with authority. Dance on the bridge back, lock it in deep, flex the legs to apply pressure. If Emma’s dance debut had been nothing but Santino dancing, but Summer jumped her at the end and ended up in the Emma Lock, I probably would’ve loved it.
Just don’t forget that these women you’re bringing up are a new kind of great for you. That’s a good thing. That’s the result of careful scouting and years of hard work.
Best/Worst: Divas Trios Action, Or “They’re Doing Everything To Keep Charlotte Out Of The Ring, Aren’t They”
The BFFs attack Emma after the match and she’s able to fight them off until Alicia Fox throws in, bringing out Bayley and Natalya to set up a 3-on-3 match (I’m assuming) next week. That’s awesome. The only problem is that man, Charlotte must really suck ass if they’re turning Bayley trying to get revenge on her into Hogan trying to goad Sting down from the rafters.
Worst: Awkward Mason Ryan Flexing
The Mason Ryan/Sylvester LeFort courtship ends with — you guessed it — Mason Ryan squashing him and not being his client. So … that’s a thing we spent several weeks doing!
The best part was Ryan walking up the ramp backwards to make sure LeFort saw him, explaining the story to nobody in particular and pulling the most awkward flex you’ve ever seen. Look at his face. He just doesn’t know what else to be doing. “They like my muscles I guess, HERE’S THOSE!” I still think this is going to end with them f*cking.
Best: Aiden English vs. Tyson Kidd
Aiden English vs. Tyson Kidd was really short, but did a lot of things right. Just like Tyson Kidd!
These guys are both great wrestlers, but I was surprised at how well English does the little thing. Watch his back body drop. Perfect. Watch how he does a vertical suplex. It looks like the animation in a video game. Kidd is obviously just as good, so I kinda wish this had gone on for fifteen minutes in place of the Adrian Neville/Corey Graves main-event. I also really liked how hard Tensai put over Kidd, calling him a “20-by-20 assassin.” That’s pretty hilarious when you look at Kidd’s matches and win/loss records over … uh, his entire WWE career (and even more hilarious when you remember Kidd “assassinating” Tensai with Diva roll-ups way back when), but sometimes all you’ve gotta do to convince me a guy is good is say it over and over.
The finish was fun, with Big Cass farting around with English’s dress props on the outside and causing him to walk into an attack from Kidd. The heel action -> heel comeuppance ratio is 1:1, which makes a lot of sense, keeps the story moving forward and doesn’t make Cass look like a butthole for repeatedly come-upping the guy. If this feud happened on Raw, English would cost Cass a match in week one and get beaten down and humiliated the next four weeks in a row.
Worst: The Part Where I Hate On Corey Graves For No Reason
Super boring. I don’t know what to say. Even the crowd can’t muster a “boring” chant. Just one dude goes “boooo-reeehhh” and gives up and goes back to whatever he’s doing. At some point they’re gonna have to let Hard To Reach Chip Corey Graves go.
The problem I have with the match is the problem I have with every pairing of these guys. Graves’ offense is 100% targeting the leg, and Neville’s offense 100% requires functional legs. On paper, Neville should never win. In the ring, he sells his ass off, but still uses the leg whenever he needs to. It’s like wrestling Zach Gowen. He’s got ONE LEG. If you break that one leg, f*cker is immobile. Can’t Graves learn a move that doesn’t require him to jump off something or use the “bad leg” as a fulcrum to attack with the good? Don’t build an entire match and feud around the logistics of an injured knee if you’re just gonna twisting shooting star press a guy anyway.
Best: All Business Bo
Bo Dallas stalks down to the ring unbuttoning his cufflinks and OH MAN did I want to see him get all Four Horsemen on Neville. Unfortunately Triple H interrupted to make the Neville/Dallas match at the live NXT show a ladder match, which should be a lot of fun besides that whole “Neville gets his leg worked over and still twisting shooting star presses people from ladders.”
I’m going to keep staring at my blank Hulu screen in the hopes that it comes back on with Bo rubbing Neville’s face in the concrete.