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Please click through for the Best and Worst of WWE NXT for October 16, 2014. How you doin’.
Best: Baron Corbin Crucifies Heavy Metal Jesus
The opening match of this week’s show is Baron Corbin, now with an emphasis on “wolf” and deemphasis on “motorcycle stuff,” squashing newcomer Elias Samson in about 10 seconds. He pushes him into the ropes, hits the End of Days, pins him with authority.
If you don’t recognize Samson, he’s former International Wrestling Cartel star “Heavy Metal Jesus” Logan Shulo. You might’ve seen him at the first National Pro Wrestling Day. The joke, if you couldn’t pick up on it yet, is that he looks like Jesus. Imagine Adrian Neville, but replace all the cool moves with fat guys in the crowd who think they’re funny going “JESUUUUUUS! YOU LOOK LIKE JESUUUUUS!” I imagine the top knot he was rocking was to keep people from doing that. I also imagine he walked into creative asking to be called “Jesus,” and when they said no he said, “just give me the most Bible name you can come up with.” Dude’s lucky his name isn’t JUDAS GOLIATH.
Best: Tyson Kidd With The Best-Worst Pipe Bomb Ever
Wearing your opponent’s shirt is an extremely underrated way to get heel heat. Even better is throwing shade at the person for not being good enough to compete with you, and suggesting they should go “make some cash selling these sweet t-shirts.” I don’t know how Tyson Kidd managed to get more condescending than “I hate my wife but care deeply for her housecats,” but he’s doing it.
What I like most about the Zayn/Kidd back-and-forth here is that Tyson’s not wrong. He’s astutely pointing out that Sami Zayn can’t get the job done in big matches. It’s something we complain about a lot in these columns. He’s got all the heart and determination in the world, but if he’s put in the ring with a title on the line, or against, say, a main roster WWE Superstar like Cesaro or Titus O’Neil, he loses. In the real world we know he loses because he’s a bulletproof in-ring performer and can make gangly dogmen like Titus look great, but in the NXT Universe, he’s not getting the job done. What brings it all together is that Tyson’s a total hypocrite. We’ve just seen him lose how many championship matches? Wasn’t he just catching grief for not making the most of his main roster show appearances? It’s great, because the heel’s doing a good enough job for me to notice it and love what he’s doing, but not want to cheer him over the face. That’s how you do it.
Zayn’s insults are a little more predictable: Tyson has to ask his wife’s permission to wrestle, he’s on Total Divas, etc. I wish Sami (the character, I guess) would try a little harder than that, but I’ll allow it because Tyson’s response is just “ooh, okay, who gives a shit, I’m on television and you’re a loser.” Not in those words.
Best: “Why would Tyler Breeze have Nattie’s number? That’s ridiculous.”
I apologize if this becomes the Tyson Kidd Fan Page, but the guy’s on another level right now. Bonus points for his incredible read of that line, him saying he doesn’t have to call her and then suspiciously having to go make a bunch of calls, and for the big rap battle “OOOOHHH” he gets from the NXT crowd now when he says “fact.”
Worst: TEAM THICK
The second match on the show is a non-title tag team match between the champions, the Lucha Dragons, and the challengers, Buddy Murphy and Wesley Blake. I was going to do my normal rant about how Murphy ruined the “real live cowboy” jokes, but Alex Riley says he talked to them before the match and they call themselves “Team Thick.” The sound you hear is my brain shutting down from secondhand embarrassment and my body hitting the floor. Serious question: why was Alex Riley talking to these guys about how thick they are?
Unless you’re gonna change your names to “Alan” and “Robin,” don’t call yourselves Team Thick.
Worst: Sin Cara’s Power Rangers Jump
I’m on to you, NXT. You can take the man out of the Sin Cara, but you can’t take the Sin Cara out of the … different man.
The Lucha Dragons entrance is a tag team version of Sin Cara’s old trampoline gag. They run to the ring, bounce on an invisible trampoline outside of the ring, flip over the top rope and do a pose. Kalisto goes first, flips all crazy, lands and poses. Sin Cara runs to the ring and they suddenly cut to this floor cam to watch him go up and over. When we cut back to the ring, he appears from somewhere behind Kalisto and does his pose. If you aren’t sure what I’m talking about, remember Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers? Remember how the Rangers were just stunt people in suits without mystical jumping powers, so to make them look like they were super ninja jumping they’d get under them and shoot up at the sky?
Here’s a comparison shot:
Notice that you can’t see any fans during the jump. Sin Cara botched the entrance and you had to retape it, didn’t you?
Best: Mojo Rawley Gets Taken Off TV For “What Are We Supposed To Do With Mojo Rawley” Retooling
Me listening to this promo:
Worst: What Is Up With Mojo’s Accent?
“IT’S ALL GOOD DOE”
“DON’T GET IT TWISTED I AIN’T EVER GONNA FORGET”
“I’M COMIN BACK … WITH A VENGEANCE … WIT DA RAGE!”
It was like an NXT season 4 Brodus Clay promo. Is he doing an angry John Cena impression? At one point he says you have to “take one step back so you can take two steps forward,” which makes me want him to come back with an MC Skat Kat gimmick. When things go wrong, NXT makes corrections. To keep things moving in the right direction.
Best: There Is SO MUCH WRESTLING On This Show
We move quickly on to match #3, which is a rematch between Charlotte and Becky Lynch. Seriously, there is SO MUCH wrestling happening. We get six matches in a one-hour program. A couple of them are very short — the opener was maybe 10 seconds long, and the Legionnaires tag coming up doesn’t last much longer — but having this much content on the show allows a casual viewer to see EVERYBODY, and get enough of a gist to decide who they might like and who they might not. The people who needed to wrestle wrestled. Charlotte and Becky get a few minutes to work, as do Sami Zayn and Tyson Kidd in the main, but a lot of characters get their point across without belaboring it. Enzo and Cass are funny and in a wacky hairlessness story. Carmella’s new and prodigious. Baron Corbin’s a monster. It works.
My only problem with the match is that I don’t buy Becky Lynch as an “almost got her” situation. She didn’t. She got in some good offense, Charlotte kicked out of stuff, and when it was time for her to win, Charlotte just hit her neckbreaker and the Natural Selection and pinned her clean. There wasn’t a sense of desperation, despite the announce team vehemently trying to put it over. I mean, we saw Becky lose to Sasha Banks last week, I don’t know why (1) she’s getting a match with the champ at all, and (2) she’s being built up a contender. As a SCRAPPY YOUNG contender, to boot.
I think Becky’s very good and already has the tools to be a great opponent for Charlotte, but she doesn’t have the rest of it. The story, the character, the purpose. If she was a Raw Diva, sure, go ahead and throw her into meaningless matches where someone distracts the champ and she gets a rollup. On NXT, we’ve got Bayley and Sasha with these huge histories and backstories with Charlotte, and saying Becky Lynch has the same does not make it so.
Best: THE MIRROR
Becky Lynch heads backstage and informs Sasha Banks that what she did to Bayley was “disgoostin” (swoon) and that she hopes she gets what’s coming to her. Sasha’s response is one of her better pieces of dialogue, explaining that Becky loses all the time and SHE is on the path to become the next Women’s Champion. See, Sasha’s smart, and has figured out that “interfere in what the champion’s doing and cause a scene” gets you title shots way quicker than “working hard and winning matches.” And yes, in the middle of it she decides to stare at the ceiling for some reason.
The Best here, though, is for the return of the NXT DIVA MIRROR. As you may remember, this is a visual motif NXT uses as a sort of Siege Perilous for its women. When it shows up, something serious is about to happen. Last September, Sasha was looking into the mirror when Summer Rae planted the seeds that turned her evil. It returned in July, with Summer looking into it and realizing she no longer had her spot as the leader of the BFFs. Tonight, Sasha tells Becky Lynch to look at herself in the mirror and ask herself if she’s willing to do whatever it takes to make it to the top. Maybe Becky’s getting that character development she needs after all.
Interesting thing: Sasha Banks is the connection between all three mirror appearances. Does she have mirror powers? Do they store the Oculus at Full Sail? It could explain why Adam Rose and the Rosebuds stumbled onto it that one time.
Best: LA RAGE
The Road Dogg Enzo Amore and Big Cass Billy Gunn are scheduled to take on The Legionnaires, but Sylvester LeFort accidentally scalps Marcus Louis as they’re tagging in and out. That turns Louis into a CRAZY RANGE MONSTER, and he attacks his own partner. Eventually referees and security types have to break it up, and Louis staggers into the darkness like f*cking Quasimodo. It’s actually pretty great, and skips a bunch of steps to making Marcus Louis a weird, interesting monster character instead of “guy #2 in the maybe gay French tag team.”
You can get a lot of mileage out of a darkness monster in NXT. There aren’t a lot of characters like him. Even the “monsters” are these very WWE type guys like Baron Corbin or Bull Dempsey. Louis is just a hideously ugly guy, so having him be a normal person when he has a bad fright wig with wrestling gear on his head but a crazy killer when he’s embaldened (is that a word?) is a lot of fun. He’s like a neo-Festus. He desperately wants to keep the wig on his head, but with the wig on, he’s bad at wrestling. With the wig off he’s unstoppable, but he’s also scared and miserable.
Outside of that, the high point of the match was Cass and Enzo’s reaction:
Best: Leva Bates On NXT!
Enzo and Cass realize their match is over, so they bring out a girl they saw backstage — identified only as “blue pants” — to face Carmella. Blue Pants turns out to be LEVA BATES, cosplaying independent wrestling star, co-host of The Geek Soapbox and one of the very nicest people in wrestling. All she does is get put in Carmella’s finish and immediately tap out, but seeing her get an opportunity as a role player (cough) on NXT makes me very happy.
NXT should use local wrestling stars as enhancement talent more often. Florida’s a hotbed for talented women (Shine runs there, after all). We’d see a lot of fresh faces, ladies like Bayley and Sasha wouldn’t have to always wrestle each other, and hey, maybe you’d find a lady or two you like enough to keep.
Colin Cassady gets a supplemental Best for singing the ‘Price Is Right’ theme while Leva walked to the ring. I see you trying to top your ‘Hey Arnold!’ reference, and I appreciate it.
Best: The Sami Zayn Road To Redemption
The main event is built around the confrontational (and unrealistic) idea that people have noticed Sami Zayn’s losing tendencies, and that if he doesn’t turn things around with a win, there’s no telling how many more opportunities he’ll get in NXT. That’s absurd, but it adds gravitas to last week’s loss to Titus O’Neil, and gives him a very low stakes “career threatening match” series against guys like Tyson Kidd.
Kidd and Zayn is great, of course. I like the ending sequence a lot, with Zayn basically getting his ass handed to him and only succeeding because he’d done his homework and could get out of the way of Kidd’s signature moves. Once Kidd’s missed a few, he gets caught in the corner with a Helluva Kick, and that’s that. Zayn picks up the first win on his road to redemption, and damn, I hope they call the next live special NXT REDEMPTION. Give me that thematic closure, wrestling show!