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Please click through for the Best and Worst of WWE NXT for October 30, 2014.
Best: Lord Loves A Boring Battle Royal
A battle royal — especially a boring one that’s just guys holding each other by the thigh and leaning into the corner for 10 minutes — are my critical blind spot. They’re my favorite thing in the world. For all the complaining I do about storytelling minutiae and social responsibility, I’m at my happiest watching 20 guys in different clothes stand in a square and throw bad punches.
This was for a shot at the Lucha Dragons and the NXT Tag Team Championships, and for once the distraction finish served a purpose; it allowed a less obvious team than The Ascension to win without making The Ascension look like they lost. Besides that, it was a nice showcase of NXT’s secretly-pretty-baller tag team division. You’ve got the notable teams like Konnor and Viktor, The Vaudevillains and Enzo and Big Cass, but you’ve also got some Might Be Something teams in there like J.J. Dillin and the Real Thick Cowboys. It’s a pleasant way to spend a few minutes when you’ve sat through Raw’s title scene having exactly two teams for the last three months.
Quick question, though. Where are The Mechanics? They haven’t really done a lot since their initial appearances, and I’ve got so many jokes in the queue. Here’s one I would’ve used: They should debut their catchphrase in this match. “We’re FIXIN’ to win this battle royal!”
(Maybe keep them out for a few months while I tune up these jokes.)
Best: Good News, Everyone. This Ends Next Week.
So yeah, when it’s down to The Vaudevillains and The Ascension, Hideo Itami shows up and casts GLARE. It’s super effective! The Ascension get distracted waiting to give him this week’s Krustyburglar beatdown and get surprise shitcanned, giving Gotch and English a shot at the tag straps. The Ascension is AWFUL SORE about losing the match, so Hideo’s all, “sure, I’ll run down and stand between them and aimlessly throw elbows, it worked for me last time!” He runs down, gets beaten up again (AGAIN) and Konnor comes right out and says they’re gonna murder Itami for real and ship his carcass back to Japan in a crate. That’s … pretty hardcore. I can dig it.
As I’ve said before, this would be incredibly frustrating if we hadn’t been spoiled on where it goes. And the good news is that later on in the show, Itami says that he’s tired of the 2-on-1 beatdowns (that, uh, he’s instigated most of) and will “bring a friend” next week. Like I said, I know who he gets, but man, I wish it was Funaki again. They get all hyped up backstage and run down the ramp, but Itami gets to the bottom and he’s by himself. Looks back, Funaki’s just passed out and motionless on the stage for no reason.
Worst: The Best Part Of This Is Albert Calling Her CAMILLER
So depressing. Dancer in the Dark wasn’t this depressing.
Remember last month when Emma returned to NXT to face Charlotte with no enthusiasm and nothing left in the tank? Pretend they pulled her aside after it and said, “do it again, but against a brand new person who barely knows how to wrestle.” Enter: Emma vs. Carmella, which is kinda like watching John Morrison wrestle Jumbo Tsuruta. But sad, late-90s comedy Jumbo dying from kidney failure.
Carmella has potential, but she seemingly has no idea what “pretending to be hurt” means. She takes Emma’s offense, sure. She lies on the ground making an upset face and holding her stomach, sure. But then she just gets up and does the moves she knows how to do and poses like she just stepped out onto the stage. It’s all the bad parts of John Cena without the decade-plus of being top dog and having a deep arsenal of wrestling talent he can occasionally draw from to prove a point. Just “wrestle wrestle wrestle, whoops, time to hit my finisher.”
And poor Emma. If she loses like this on Raw it’s one thing, but on NXT she’s supposed to be the Randy Orton of their women’s division. Her and Paige were the top dogs during NXT’s big explosion of relevancy, and snake puppets be damned, in NXT she can go. I guess the penalty for briefly embarrassing the company is having your dream job, but being asked to do it as badly as possible. Just gonna type a frowny face here and move on. :(
Worst: As A Reminder, Bayley Is Being Sting Stupid Right Now
I wrote about this a little last week, but Bayley is reaching Stinger levels of gullible ignorance. It goes from endearing to frustrating pretty quickly.
To clarify, Sting (specifically late-80s, early-to-mid-90s surfer Sting) is one of the greatest pure babyfaces of all time. He’s also the dumbest wrestler of all time and kept putting himself into positions where people could (and would) turn on him. For example, I just watched and wrote about Halloween Havoc 95. Ric Flair needs a tag team partner to face Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman. Sting agrees to do it. The problem is that Flair and Anderson have been best friends for like a decade at that point and ran The Four Horseman, a group of backstabbing elitists who made a living out of mauling Sting. A few years earlier they’d asked him to join the team SIMPLY SO THEY COULD TURN ON HIM AND BEAT HIM UP. But Sting’s like, “yeah, this situation where you’re suddenly feuding with The Four Horsemen and nobody but me can help you seems legit” and throws in. As soon as they have a match together, the Horsemen turn on him and beat him up. This is a man who once received GIANT, MAN-SIZED BIRTHDAY PRESENTS and didn’t expect anyone to come out of them and assault him. Sting’s a dolt.
Bayley’s doing the same thing. I haven’t read the spoilers and don’t actually assume it turns out this way, but think about her situation. Last week, Becky Lynch turned on her to team up with Sasha Banks. So Bayley cuts this backstage promo saying she’s had friends turn on her before, but NEVER thought Becky Lynch would. So if Becky wants to team with Sasha, she’ll team with Charlotte. The only problem? CHARLOTTE IS THE OTHER FRIEND SHE’S REFERENCING.
Charlotte’s entire current character arc is sprung from the time she teamed with Bayley and turned on her to team up with the heels. So now Bayley’s teaming with literally the only person who has done her wrong in this specific fashion to face a person who JUST did it and a heel lady who was involved the first time.
Don’t be Sting, Bayley. YOU’RE TOO NICE TO BE STING.
Worst: So Who Goes Where?
The next match is Bull Dempsey vs. Justin Gabriel. It was absolutely nothing. They could’ve played a Susan G. Komen video here and it would’ve been the same thing. Part of that is my unnecessary grudge against Bull, but the other part is the alignment being all screwed up.
On NXT, people can change alignment pretty quickly. One week you show up and you’re a face. The next week you show up with your hair dyed black wearing cowboy boots and you’re a bad guy. It happens. I’m fine with that. Justin Gabriel isn’t doing that, though. He’s going Full Alicia Fox, showing up for no reason with no motivations and announcing his alignment by either pointing at the crowd or frowning. The last time he was a character of note, he was tagging with Tyson Kidd as paranoid veterans trying to keep young guys down to protect their spots. His most recent appearance was a loss to Tyler Breeze where he was somewhere in the middle, because Tyler’s wedged firmly between “80s model heel gimmick” and “progressive local favorite.” Here he’s TOTAL BABYFACE, doing airplane poses on the ramp and more or less cosplaying Evan Bourne. So what are you supposed to do?
Bull doesn’t know what he’s doing, either. He’s a big mean heel guy who uses an iffy flying headbutt as his finish. He “decides” to be mean sometimes. It happens in his face. The announcers have even picked up on it. He remembers to make a mean face instead of taking heat and Richie Brennan goes OHH LOOK AT HIM THERE IT IS THE INTENSITY. Bull Dempsey needs a pageant dad on the outside coaching him through his moves. “Okay honey smile! Smile! Now do your mean face! THERE’S YOUR MEAN FACE! WHO’S THE MEANEST??”
Best: The Baron Corbin Match Time Count
Baron Corbin steps into the ring against TONY BRIGGS, a gym teacher dressed like a member of the Spirit Squad. Corbin hits him with the End of Days in roughly 20 seconds and wins the match. I know it was 20 seconds because the crowd has started COUNTING OUT LOUD from the beginning of the match until the end. They know it’s so short they’ve turned into a hive mind Green Lantern Fan, and I don’t think I could like anything more.
The best thing is that when Corbin runs into one of those Goldberg vs. Lord Steven Regal matches where the can puts up a bigger fight than you expected, the crowd’s gonna be stuck counting monotonously for like five minutes. “THREE HUNDRED ONE, THREE HUNDRED TWO, THREE HUNDRaw there we go.” Love it. Baron Corbin should wrestle Bull Dempsey and beat him faster than he beat Coach Briggs.
Fantasy booking: Bull can then go on the same downward spiral as Mojo Rawley, and they can BOTH end up as oafish, fashionisto cronies for Tyler Breeze. Just two big stupid weird guys in lavender jumpsuits and feather boas, arguing with each other about how many shots Breeze wanted in his PSL.
Best: The Lunatic French
The next match (because NXT once against had six in one hour) is the blowoff for Sylvester LeFort and Marcus Louis. Louis mauls him in a matter of moments and puts him away (hopefully all the way away), but the highlight is Louis constantly yelling “YOU! DID THIS! TO ME!” He yells it like four times before he hits his finish. I am SO INTO that as an esoteric pro-Louis chant. YOU! DID THIS! TO ME! YOU! DID THIS! TO ME! MISSILE! ASSAULT! ANT!
Best, I Guess?: Sami Zayn Beats Titus
The main event is the next stop on the Sami Zayn Road To Redemption: Coming Out Of Our Shells tour. He gets a rematch against Titus O’Neil, and if you’ve seen the first one you’ve seen this one. More slow clubbing forearms from Titus, more bearhugs, more Sami selling both like shotgun blasts to the chest. The only difference is that this time Sami’s done his homework (read: watched the Adrian Neville match) and comes out on top. He takes advantage of O’Neil’s dopiness in the corner, Exploders him into the turnbuckles and Helluva kicks him to knock him out. Like the first match, it’s very well wrestled, if not terribly exciting.
Really the only issue I have with Titus is that he exists outside of this bubble. He’s not really a big, tough guy in kayfabe. He’s supposed to be, but we’ve seen guys like The Usos beat him with almost nothing. Kick him once, he’s down. The guy teams with Heath Slater for God’s sakes. It doesn’t take 15 minutes of gasping offense to put him away unless you’re severely minor league. I like the idea of taking him as seriously as his frame and strength suggest, but damn, guys, it’s Titus O’Neil. If Diego shows up in NXT he shouldn’t suddenly be impossible to beat.
Best: Tyler Breeze, Even If This Story Feels Really Convenient
That brings out Tyler Breeze, who announces that he’s talked to William Regal and next week it’ll be Zayn vs. Breeze. Zayn’s never beaten Breeze, so if he wants a redemption that means something, he has to do that. I’m giving it a Best because another Breeze/Zayn match is going to happen, meaning we’ve got another shot at hitting that double clutch butterfly Orange Crush thing on WWE TV again. I’m tempted to give it a Worst, though, because it’s way too convenient.
Don’t get me wrong. Wrestling storytelling is always hokey like that. Zayn has to beat a particular set of guys, so he’s gotta find immediate reasons to wrestle them. Having Breeze personally find Regal and set up a match to help Zayn’s story progress just seems a little too on-the nose, like he’s beaten a level in a video game and reached a new boss. If he beats Zayn, is Cesaro gonna lower down from the ceiling? “I, CESARO, WILL KNOCK YOU DOWN!”
Note: I will go back and forgive all of this if Zayn pulls the Power of Self-Respect sword out of his chest at Takeover and turns Neville into a bunch of coins.