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And now, the Best and Worst of NXT TakeOver: London for December 16, 2015.
Best: The Value Of Not Doing The Same Finishes All The Time
First of all, Emma has added sunglasses to her entrance, confirming her as 2015’s Wrestler Of The Year.
Second of all, one of my favorite things about NXT is how they provide a believable context for everything that happens, even their versions of tired WWE tropes. For example, here’s a Divas match that ends in a distraction. Not only is the distraction turned upside down — Dana Brooke tries to slip Emma a chain, Emma tries to use it twice, fails both times and gets kicked in the head for the loss — but it’s complex. Dana and Emma aren’t just arbitrarily cheating because they’re heels, they’re cheating because they’ve already run into Asuka a few times and know they can’t beat her 1-on-1 (or even 2-on-1), so they’ve got to start breaking the rules. It works with everyone else, why wouldn’t it work with Asuka? Dana’s weird inability to operate like a human being gives the failed cheating its own context, as she can’t do anything right, and of course Asuka would stay ahead of the curve. Hell, they even did an inverse of the Eddie Guerrero phantom cheating spot to force you to think one of these attempts would work. Masterfully done.
That doesn’t even get to the meat of the match, which was fantastic. Samoa Joe is the most improved wrestler of the year in a walk, but Emma’s pretty close. When she returned to NXT she was dead behind the eyes and felt like she was just treading water until they cut her. Now, she’s better than ever. She rose from the ashes of Dancing Emma and Pink Lady Snake Puppet and became a conniving, evil badass who can legitimately hang with MOST DANGEROUS f*cking Kana in a match full of hard strikes and submissions. That lariat she threw that almost took Asuka out of her shoes was great, and she leaned into everything Asuka was throwing. When you can make 10,000 people in an arena go “OOOOH” to a spinning fist, you know you’re doing something right.
Thanks to a great match and the ongoing story, they’ve actually created a situation where a babyface can enter a 2-on-1 handicap situation against her top heel rivals and be the favorite to win, without making her opponents look bad. She just looks really good. That’s a f*cking tightrope.