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Please click through for the Best and Worst of WWE NXT for September 4, 2013.
Worst: This Is Probably The Best Aksana Match Ever, But That’s Not Saying Much
Before I start getting sad about the depressing-ass first 45 minutes of this week’s NXT, allow me a paragraph about Aksana’s TitanTron video. If you’ve never seen it before — and it’s Aksana, so you might not’ve — it’s billowing bedsheets. Thats it. No wrestling, no clips of her hitting a finisher, no important moments in the history of Askana, nothing. Keep in mind that she’s been on WWE TV for almost FOUR YEARS now, having debuted on the same episode of NXT as Kaitlyn, AJ Lee and the better Funkadactyl. All she has to show for it is an “I have SEX” gimmick that doesn’t work in a PG environment, because these women are all supposed to be adults, so we can assume that MOST of them have sex. I love you, Aksana’s stupid TitanTron video.
Anyway, as the boldface says, this is probably the best match Aksana’s ever had, but that’s not saying much. She teams up with Alicia Fox to take on the adorable, easy-to-love team of Bayley and Charlotte. It’s not the worst thing you’ll ever see, but man, if I could go the rest of my life never seeing Aksana crawl around a downed wrestler in a slow, slow circle before gently touching them and making them sell it like she DOESN’T have the striking power of a three-year old, I’d be happy.
Best: Lil’ Naitch, Still Favoring The Flairs
The good guys get in some cute offense, like Bayley turning a hug into a belly-to-belly suplex and Charlotte doing her dad’s “oh no, somebody caught me by my sternum and dick, time to get thrown” top rope spot, but they also get in a lot of ugly, ugly stuff, like Charlotte’s jumping knee-tuck clotheslines (who is STILL teaching women to do that?) and this roll-up that ends the match.
I think what it was supposed to be was Bayley getting shoved into the heel corner, dodging an Alicia Fox kick, Alicia accidentally hitting Aksana with it and Bayley rolling up Alicia for a clean three. What it ended UP being was LET’S RUN INTO THE CORNER TOGETHER, Alicia’s leg going up over Bayley’s shoulder for some reason and grazing Aksana, Aksana selling it like she’s jumping out of an airplane and Bayley awkwardly rolling Alicia up with her feet all tangled in the ropes. Of course, ace referee Charles Robinson still counts the three, because he is forever and always a mark for the Flairs. Lil’ Naitch reffing Charlotte’s matches should be a conflict of interests, shouldn’t it?
Worst: Alex Riley
Here are four horrible things Alex Riley did this week.
1. He used the word “irregardless.” The exact quote is, “a little confusion there, but irregardless, they pulled it off!” This is a person WWE is paying to speak on television. The Internet. Whatever.
2. He would not stop talking about The Miz. I’ve joked about this before, but holy shit, dude will not stop namedropping The Miz. One match into the show he sees Alicia Fox and Aksana making frequent tags, so he drops, “I used to tag with The Miz a lot, and that’s what we did!” And you think, okay, cool, he got it out of his system. BUT THEN IN THE SECOND MATCH, IN THE VERY NEXT MATCH, he explains why you should do something with, “I used to do that all the time with The Miz!” Were you ever with The Miz, Alex? YOU HAVEN’T MADE THAT CLEAR.
3. He got all Accidental Racist. When Alicia Fox is making her entrance, Alex notes, “She reminds me of Jackie Joyner-Kersee who is an Olympic sprinter for the United States, and she’s built JUST LIKE THAT” The black girl reminds you of Jackie Joyner-Kersee because when she wrestles she looks like a sprinter (?), or because you’re a Frat Bro from the 90s and that’s the only non-wrestling black female athlete you can name? Later in the match, he expounds, saying that if you went to any local school and looked at their track team, they’d look like Alicia Fox.
Question 1: What the hell are you doing scoping out local female track teams at schools, Alex Riley, and
Question 2: Did you learn Accidental Racism from The Miz, because he used to do that shit all the time on The Real World.
4. Oh, and he won’t stop talking about how good the wrestlers are at sports that aren’t wrestling. In addition to “Alicia Fox is probably good at track,” he wouldn’t shut up about how cool it was that Aksana has done well in bodybuilding, finishing with “best form” at the Arnold Classic. Can we talk about how they’re good at wrestling? Even if we’re lying? Furthermore, is that why her TitanTron video is bed sheets?
Worst: The Most Boring NXT Match Ever
So hey, I know I’ve typed “Corey Graves sucks” enough for people who skim the column to leave me “you hate Corey Graves for no reason” feedback, but Corey Graves sucks a lot, and if you need evidence of that, please consult this 80-f*cking-minute Rick Victor match.
I don’t think I’ve ever been so bored by a match on NXT. All they do is take turns punching each other. Victor punches a bunch, does some clubbing forearms and stands around while Graves recovers. Graves punches him back, holds out his stupid Stay Down knuckles and punches some more. One gets on their knees and gets punched, then they switch. Sometimes stomping happens. And this goes on FOR-EV-ER. I know I’m not alone. Watch the crowd during the match. They’re sitting on their hands so hard the doctors at Full Sail had to perform amputations. There’s some aimless chanting, but it usually happens when no fans are on screen. So, the match has THAT going for it.
For double the fun, compare and contrast that to the crowd during the Sami Zayn match. This is why some people will make it, and Corey Graves won’t.
Worst: Sasha Banks Didn’t Get Any Better At Acting Over The Last 7 Days
I take back all that nice stuff I said about Summer last week.
This week, she sneaks up on Sasha Banks (who is applying make-up to NOT appear on TV, in a dressing room lit like the Next Generation movie version of the Starship Enterprise) and expounds upon the more retreadable aspects of last week’s effort, telling Sasha that she’s got a SILENT RAGE inside of her, and that she’s irrelevant unless she physically murders Paige.
Sasha, who has not taken any acting classes since last week’s show, does this hilarious thing where she can’t seem to understand or react to a full, contextual sentence, so she responds to individual words. It’s like this: “Sasha, you’re AWFUL [Sasha makes a concerned face] but you’ve got a chance to beat Paige [Sasha smiles] if you get MEAN [Sasha makes a confused face] and listen to what I tell you [Sasha starts scratching the ground in front of her because she smells something bad]!” Just horrible.
Worst: This Is Probably The Best Mason Ryan Match Ever, But That’s Not Saying Much
What is going on with this episode of NXT? This is not my beautiful house. This is not my beautiful wife.
The next match, after an Askana tag and 170 minutes of Corey Graves punching, is Alexander Rusev against MASON RYAN, buffered by another in an endless series of Sylvester LeFort What-gettings. The announce team tries to get Mason Ryan over as “the strongest person on the NXT roster,” which is total, total bullshit, both because of Mason’s powerless vanity muscles and because Antonio Cesaro was JUST here. Cesaro could lie down on a couch and pick Alexander Rusev up with one arm, Mason Ryan couldn’t pick up Paige without her doing a push-up on his shoulder.
The match is … okay, with Rusev getting in some of the cool power offense that seemed a lot cooler when Dolph Ziggler was selling it and Mason trying desperately to do everything in order. The ending features not one but TWO distractions, leading to a running rump to the stomach from Rusev and about a quarter-second of a camel clutch before Ryan taps out. Did WWE send out a “tap immediately, we don’t want to see you struggling in submissions” memo? Because the difference in tapping immediately and at least TRYING to fight it before tapping is night and day, with the struggle making the winner AND the loser look tougher. The way they do it now, it’s like you’re tired being in the ring and just want it to be over.
Best: And Now, Here To Save The Show, It’s Sami Zayn Vs. Jack Swagger
Watch this match. It’s the Survivor Series ’96 Bret Hart vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin match to Zayn/Cesaro’s WrestleMania 13. Mania 13 is the one everybody’s gonna remember, because it’s the crux of an important story and filled with all these unforgettable moments. Objectively, though, the Survivor Series match might be better, because it’s just two guys who are great at wrestling wrestling their asses off. I’m not saying Zayn/Swagger is objectively BETTER than Zayn/Cesaro, but it’s in that league, and should be seen and remembered by the same amount of people.
I want two things:
1. Sami Zayn to stay like this forever, because he’s making some serious magic right now, and
2. Jack Swagger to get an extended stay in developmental. Not because he isn’t good, but because he’s TOO GOOD to be where he is in WWE, and could stand a cool 6-month-or-so prestige run down at Full Sail where he tears it up against every person there who can work. Then, when he’s done preferring pot or astronaut work to his big leagues success, bring him back up and let him unleash that shit on Bryan and Punk and whoever else.
Loved everything about this match. The crowd, Zayn’s ridiculous sells of Swagger’s clotheslines, the dive feint that got a bigger response than anything most people in NXT have ever done, the PAYOFF to the dive feint, everything.
Well … almost everything.
Best/Worst: Bo Dallas Is The Worst Human Being
Bo Dallas shows up right at the end of the match, right when people are losing the last, tiniest pieces of their mind, and invokes the I’M HERE, YOU’RE DISTRACTED, NOW YOU LOSE pro wrestling trope of doom. It happens. He doesn’t really DO anything, but he’s there, so he gets hated for it. That’s Bo Dallas in a nutshell, isn’t it?
As a fan, this is infuriating, because there is no reason why Sami Zayn should’ve lost to BOTH Real Americans. That guy is HOT FIRE right now, and I’m sick of seeing him get beaten all the time. As a guy who writes wrestling columns, I LOVE this, because sure, you can’t let your Raw guys go down to NXT and job for everybody all the time, but you CAN get Sami Zayn so f*cking fired up that he pulls a Ron Simmons vs. Vader and just MAULS Bo Dallas in their eventual NXT Championship match. Oh man, that’s going to be the greatest moment ever. I want the entire match to go “running boot in the corner, second running boot in the corner, third super-gross running boot in the corner, debut of the top rope brainbuster, title change.” Give it about 40 seconds. Send Bo up to Raw to be Bray Wyatt’s Kerwin White brother or whatever and let Sami spend a while being the biggest, most kingly fish in our beautiful little golden pond.