– You can (and should) watch this week’s episode here.
– We just finished our retro recap of NXT season 3, so check it out. There’s a surprising amount of quality there, plus all the horrible stuff you kinda remember. Next week we start season 4 (the Derrick Bateman/Johnny Curtis season), so make sure you’re here for that.
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Thanks! Please click through for the Best and Worst of WWE NXT for October 2, 2014.
Best: Bayley Vs. Charlotte, The Rematch
The first Bayley vs. Charlotte match sent me into a fandom tailspin. It took me like five days to recover. I … may care too much about this. The rematch wasn’t the emotional powerhouse of the Takeover match, but it was very good, and another tiny baby-step towards holding up a legitimate WWE women’s division like a Barker’s Beauty and whispering “do this instead” through a toothy smile.
Both womens’ gameplans made sense. Charlotte is NXT’s Alpha Female and controlled the pace, wrestling the kind of match she wants to wrestle. “Natural Selection” is still a super dumb move, but it works when the match is built around incapacitating her opponents’ legs so they can’t recover quickly enough from her neckbreaker. She snaps them into place, and they’re so tired and damaged they can’t move out of the way when she lines it up and cutters them into the ground. She’s confident, and whether or not she respects Bayley is irrelevant; she’s simply better.
Bayley claims that she came a little bit closer to winning the championship than in their first match, but I disagree. She had a great nearfall near the end (made valid by Charlotte’s amazing facials), but she didn’t have the months and months of built up enthusiasm, confidence and frustration she had at Takeover. She was as confident as she should be, gutted out some gnarly leg damage to hit a flurry of moves and had the crowd behind her, but as I said, Charlotte’s simply better. Bayley can and should be the NXT Women’s Champion, but right now the toughest woman to come through WWE in years is holding the strap. She might be next, but she’s not gonna beat her.
Great stuff. Charlotte might be one of the 10 best workers in the company right now, male or female, and I hope she stays on NXT for a while to get something out of it.
Best: Charlotte’s Figure-Four Should Make Miz And Ziggler Feel Like Backyarders
Look at that thing. When she’s not bridging, it’s applied perfectly. When she bridges? Next level.
Anybody else hoping to apply this in WWE should be watching tape of Charlotte. Ric Flair included.
Best: The Ascension Stomps A Mudhole In Hideo Itami And Walks It Dry
The second match of the show is supposed to be Hideo Itami vs. Viktor, but The Ascension just jumps him before the bell and beats him to death. This might be the most I’ve ever liked the Ascension, not because of any ill-will towards Itami, but because it should be what EVERY wrestler who loses via distraction should be doing to distractor. “You play your music during my match and wander out all threatening and get me rolled up? Me and my giant friend here are gonna punch you in the face until you can’t move.”
It’s also nice to see them at least attempt some violent offense. Instead of Fall Of Manning him, The Ascension does a backdrop/splash combo to put him down. It still looked gentle as hell, but at least it’s a combination of wrestling moves and not just WE RAN BY YOU REAL FAST AND THE WIND BLEW YOU OVER. Itami selling it by going glassy-eyed and lying around helplessly for several minutes helped out a lot.
I love where this is going. And yes, thank you to the hundreds of people and websites who spoiled where it’s going the instant it went there.
Worst: These Referees All Have The Same Animations
To stop the Ascension’s attack, the referee starts doing a backstroke. When he waves out the other refs, they all stand in a line doing the same motion. It’s weird. I’m not expecting Drake Younger to start swinging light tubes or whatever, but come on, they gonna stop because of your sweet air guitar moves.
Best: Michi Pro In The House
In one of the more unexpected moments in recent NXT history, Itami’s nursing his injuries backstage and gets greeted by SMACKDOWN NUMBER ONE ANNOUNCER FUNAKI. Funaki says he has Itami’s back, Kai En Tai DX style. I added in the last part. Itami’s reaction of “really?” is GREAT, and oddly one of the more believable reactions I’ve seen to someone getting a sudden tag partner.
I have a soft spot for anyone who was in Michinoku Pro, which is one of my wrestling fan life’s most influential promotions. I’d give anything if The Ascension got jumped backstage by SATO, Shiryu and Terry Boy. Give Gran Hamada a developmental contract.
Best: Don’t Post That One
As previously mentioned, I wish NXT was a two hour show where the first hour’s nothing but Colin Cassady filming shit on his phone and narrating it.
What’s great about these segments is that they allow Enzo and Cass to be the most cartoonish people in the world, which (somehow) makes them more real. Usually we only see NXT people in the context of “The NXT Arena,” whether it’s in the ring or backstage. By allowing the characters to go out into the world and still be their characters, it opens up the universe and enriches them. Seeing them show up at the NXT Performance Center in the middle of the night to train an irate lady who has them by their balls is GREAT. Carmella’s never appeared anywhere but on Big Cass’s phone, but in three vignettes we’ve learned (1) she’s a (former) hairdresser from Staten Island, (2) she’s physically fit and won’t take Enzo’s crap, and (3) she’s a wrestling savant. Enzo underestimates her because he wants to sleep with her, so she dropkicks him out of the ring.
Enzo and Cass are managing to almost be heel and face characters simultaneously. They’re not really good people. They lie, they manipulate, they insult people, they endanger dogs … but they’re so damn unusual that spending more than a minute or two with them makes them feel real. They’re simple and complex. “If this, then what?” If Enzo is a scrappy guy with a Napoleon complex, how would he react to a beautiful woman he’s friends with? By trying to be a big shot and failing miserably. I like him BECAUSE he’s a terrible person. It’s like WWE finally figured out why jerks like me cheer for heels, and turned the kind of heels I like into babies.
Worst: The Baron Corbin Gimmick Is Never Going Where I Want It To Go
1. So THAT’S Troy McClain. The guy’s been on NXT promotional material for ages and I don’t think I’ve ever seen him wrestle. If I have, I’ve forgotten it. He was released last week, so … happy I got to see him wrestle, I guess?
2. We’re all on the same page with Baron Corbin, right? He should become the leader of a werewolf motorcycle gang. That’s what everybody’s thinking, isn’t it? A bunch of big, tough guys who ride motorcycles around and occasionally transform into wolves to win battles. They’re like the Visionaries, and those terrible chestpieces are their holograms.
No matter what, I want the payoff to Corbin’s win streak to be someone getting in a bunch of offense on him, him huddling in the corner, letting out a big AWWOOOOOOOOOOO and suddenly being covered in hair. Make this happen, Full Sail students. Do it in post if you have to. Lie to me. He’s a MOTORCYCLE WEREWOLF.
Worst: The Problem With Legionnaires Feuds Is That They Lead To Legionnaires Matches
LEGIONNAIRES, KNIGHTS OF THE MAGICAL LIGHT
LEGIONNAIRES, WITH MAGICAL POWERS THEY FIGHT
I think two hapless French guys saying “revenge” as ROVANSH is as funny as the next guy, but Legionnaires promos and feuds lead to Legionnaires matches, and those are never good. If Marcus Louis changes into that dandy fop wig and becomes a 17th century Frenchman with a grudge, I reserve the right to change my mind.
Best: Dux, Like, Put Up Your Dukes, Right?
First things first, big ups to Richie Brennan for properly identifying a penny farthing. That automatically places him ahead of all other employed play-by-play guys.
Second things first, while I’ll miss the original, I enjoy the new Vaudevillains theme. It’s a better fit for the gimmick, and if you ever want them to get booed you can’t preface and end their matches with a jaunty ragtime number. People are gonna happily clap to it. With this, they can do whatever they want without risking the crowd Fandangoing all over it.
Third things first, they aren’t heels, right? I’ve gotten into arguments about this before, but the only reason we’ve assumed the Vaudevillains were heels is because Aiden English was a heel. Since joining up with Simon Gotch, they’ve been nothing but precious old-timey, straight-up tag team guys. They aren’t cheating a bunch and are loved by the crowd, so … good guys? Yes? It’s not even that Tyler Breeze line where they’re overtly heels and getting cheered for being good at it, they’re just goony Chikara babyfaces. How do you boo turn of the century stage performers, anyway? Who has heat with antiquated entertainment of the 1900s? Who’s gonna boo them, Ken Burns?
Best/Worst: Sasha Attacks Bayley Backstage And Ruins An Upcoming Devin Taylor Joke
From a critical perspective, I can’t wait for a marquee Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks match. That’s going to tear the damn roof off. From a fan’s perspective, Bayley’s failures are turning me into one of those grannies that sits in the front row of local shows and tries to hit the heels with my purse.
Best: He Just Needs ONE MORE SHOT, I’m Sure Of It
This week’s main event is the last in the Adrian Neville/Tyson Kidd NXT Championship series, and it’s 13 minutes of goodness. So much good wrestling on this week’s show. Imagine if Raw was just three episodes of NXT back-to-back-to-back? Three episodes of NXT where every single player’s a big leagues performer. They are so close.
I’ve said it before, but it deserves to be said again: there’s no performer in professional wrestling who’s changed my opinion of them and caused me to do a 180 as hard as Tyson Kidd. That guy deserves all the acclaim in the world for what he’s done at NXT. He’s always been “a good wrestler,” like Natalya’s always been “a good wrestler,” but by being here and working with these guys and developing a distinct, unforgettable personality, he’s finally become A GOOD WRESTLER. He’s not just good, he’s exceptional. He took everything about him that I didn’t like and made it work, and he’s developmental’s best success story since Bo Dallas. I hope Tyson gets a steady main roster gig again, if only to show how perfectly he’s combined three different WWE personalities (Raw, Total Divas and NXT) into one “brand.”
Neville’s great here too, obviously, in the way Neville’s always great. He’s still never, ever selling on offense, but when your selling point is I CAN DO RIDICULOUS PHYSICAL SHIT NO ONE ELSE SHOULD EVEN ATTEMPT, do your ridiculous physical shit.
Best: Sami Zayn Is The Nicest Person In Wrestling
I love that Adrian Neville is getting heel heat from Full Sail for hurting Sami Zayn’s feelings. What I love MORE is that Sami Zayn is still handling it like Sami Zayn, running out to boot Titus O’Neil in the face for interfering and cheering the champion back into the ring. Zayn and Neville are longtime friends, and when he said he wasn’t mad at Neville for what happened at Takeover, he meant it. When Neville pulled the “that’s why you’ll never be NXT Champion” card, Sami took it hard, but not hard enough to compromise who he is. That’s AMAZING. Sami Zayn’s one of the only people employed by WWE who gives you actual, decent reasons to cheer him and hope he wins wrestling matches. He’s not the hero the WWE Universe deserves, he’s the one they need.
Worst: “Tyson Kidd Has No More NXT Championship Opportunities.”
Damn, Jojo, way to rub it in. Wait until Fantasy Booker Natalya hears about this!