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Please click through for the Best and Worst of WWE NXT for October 9, 2014.
Best: Mojo Rawley’s Helplessness Continues
The opening match of this week’s episode is Tyler Breeze vs. Mojo Rawley, and, like most of Mojo’s matches as of late, is over in about a minute. You see, Mojo reaggravates his injured shoulder — injured two weeks ago when Breeze tossed him into the ringpost — and Breeze locks him up in a Fujiwara armbar for the win.
I’m giving it a Best because:
1. Seeing Tyler Breeze get serious and beat somebody’s ass is great, and
2. I hate Mojo Rawley and want to see him instantly defeated
… but there are so many questions here. Mojo was medically cleared to compete, obviously. His “injury” was a thing that happens to wrestlers ALL THE TIME. How many times has John Cena gotten thrown into the steel steps? Have you ever seen him not be able to last 60 seconds against a guy half his size because of it? Is the issue here that Mojo Rawley is just TERRIBLE at wrestling? Think about it. He got a lot of victories in a row, but they were all him hitting a bunch of offense and a jumping asshole for a quick pin. I don’t think he’s ever been in the ring longer than three or four minutes. Is the rub that he’s got a 100 in offense, but a 0 in defense? If you hit him with anything, does he instantly lose? Is he King Hippo, with a bandage over his entire body?
The other weird thing is that Mojo doesn’t tap out. He’s just lying there on his stomach making a distressed face going “aaah, aaah,” and the referee calls it. Is the “I ran into the post two weeks ago and am now in the first submission of the match” really such a dread situation that the ref has to make a controversial judgment call? Are they afraid of Mojo looking weak? They can’t be. He’s lost like five 30 second matches in a row. Did Mojo just forget he was supposed to tap out?
Best: Bill Regal Makes A Judgment Call
The next step in getting Carmella an NXT tryout is for Enzo Amore to go bother William Regal and coerce him into watching her train. He does so, does a dramatic finger-on-the-chin gesture (because Regal is a fantastic actor) and tells Enzo to bring her next week. For once, my favorite part of this isn’t something stupid Enzo says; it’s Carmella’s sparring partner.
Look at her.
SHE’S IN A HELMET. Workout capris, a Performance Center shirt and a DAMN HELMET. Forget Carmella, I want to know this lady’s story.
(Supplemental Best for Enzo knocking on a door that clearly leads to a stairwell and Regal immediately showing up from behind it like it’s his office.)
Worst: Me Having To Give Worsts To Hideo Itami Matches
Let me put it to you this way. Remember Sin Cara? The real one. He was Mistico, right? A can’t-miss prospect. One of the biggest box office draws in the world. Unique, a great look, a cool character, impossibly talented. Instead of going into developmental and working out the kinks, he gets put on Raw and Smackdown. He doesn’t have a comfortable place to figure out what works and what doesn’t, so he just f*cks up repeatedly and keeps hurting himself. Fast forward a couple of years and he’s one of the biggest jokes in wrestling.
KENTA is one of the best wrestlers in the world. He has been for a while. The good news is that he’s not being Sin Cara. He’s in NXT working out the kinks, figuring out what works and what doesn’t. He’s tuning his moveset, adjusting to the WWE ring, learning to work in an English-speaking environment against (mostly) exclusively English-speaking opponents. That’s awesome. The bad news is that … well, there are still kinks. The match against Viktor here is better than the one against Justin Gabriel, but it’s still not “right.” It doesn’t feel like KENTA. He’s not moving right. I don’t know if he got his bell rung or something during the match, but he kept falling into things and getting checked on by the ref. I could’ve done a better running dropkick in the corner than the one he busted out. None of this is his fault, really, there’s just so much awesome shit happening in developmental that a wrestling fan like me wants f*cking KENTA to just jump right in and start having 30-minute classics. There’s a necessary learning curve and I’m glad he’s on it, but what is wrong, give me my awesome KENTA. By the sound of that upcoming episode everybody on the Internet freaked out about and spoiled, we don’t have to wait very long.
Supplemental Worst goes to Funaki for being a total Red Shirt. Last week he’s like, “I’ll be your partner!” and before they even have a match, he’s totally destroyed by the one team he’s supposed to help against. GREAT WORK, FUNAKI.
Best: The Best, Most Nonsensical Series Of Threats Ever
I’ve been worried since Enzo Amore came back as a babyface that WWE was planning to turn him and Big Cass into the New New Age Outlaws; guys who are charismatic on the microphone, but only say one thing so the crowd can say it along with them. There’s a huge market for that kind of thing in wrestling, and not a lot of people are doing it. For the last couple of months, it’s been mostly “my name is Enzo Amore, and I’m a certified G and a bonafide stud” and lots of “you can’t teach thats.”
This week’s “Enzo and Cass are walking to the ring and saying threatening things” promo felt a soldier returning home from the war. If you ever need an example of why NXT regulars fell in love with Enzo and blow his mic skills so hard, use this. He shows up, declares himself “Smacktalker Skywalker” and launches into a series of threats that make zero sense and simultaneously manage to tear down his opponents, make them more interesting AND bring up a lot of pertinent questions. The exchange, verbatim:
Enzo: “VaudeVILLAINS!!!! I see that you have managed to transcend time. Well I got news for you, Laurel and Hardy, prohibition is over, loosen up. Why don’t you do me a favor, hop back in your DeLorean and go back to the future.”
Their reaction to it is great:
Aiden’s like, “oh, right, I get that reference,” because he’s a professional singer who’s just hanging out with his friend Simon and doing a fun gimmick. Simon’s like, “SHIT, HOW DOES HE KNOW ABOUT MY TIME MACHINE.”
Big Cass then proceeds to pop a wrestling crowd in 2014 with a ‘Hey Arnold’ reference. I am not kidding.
Cass: “How bout you two sloppy jalopies go all the way back to Pumping Iron, cause you’re comin’ out here flexin’ like you’re Arnold. More like HEY ARNOLD, you shoulda never stepped off the stoop!”
For the uninitiated:
Worst: “The Bank Statement”
That’s what Sasha Banks calls her finish. I don’t know how NXT can do so many things so absolutely right and not employ ONE DUDE to tell them their finisher names are stupid. “Bow Down To The Queen,” “The Bank Statement,” a move that is literally just a man falling down called “The Fall Of Man.” It doesn’t work unless her name is “Sasha Bank.” “The Banks Statement” doesn’t work, either. BOSSFACE is RIGHT THERE.
Best: The Damn Boss, Though
B-A N-K dolla sign wrestles Becky Lynch and gets a strong win, something I can’t remember her getting a lot of in the past. If you’re going to build her as Charlotte’s next challenger — and you absolutely should — she’s gotta be able to dispatch the lower-level NXT ladies. One of the challenges is that the aren’t a lot of them. What’s she gonna do, beat Alexa Bliss six times in a row? This isn’t Raw. NXT needs some female jobbers. Does Phillip Gooljar have a sister? Is it that lady wrestling in a safety helmet?
I’m excited for the day when Becky Lynch gets a fleshed-out character we can identify with and understand. She was Irish and jigging everywhere, and all of a sudden she was headbanging in plaid pants. That’s really all we’ve gotten. Renee isn’t helping, with her “all women are jealous!” and Orgazmo-esque “I DON’T WANNA SOUND LIKE A QUEER OR NOTHIN’ BUT BECKY LYNCH IS HOT” talking points. Suggestion: if she’s gonna keep hitting people with her hair, call her “Kabuki Quantum Fighter” Becky Lynch.
Best/Worst: The Most Logical Titus O’Neil Match Ever
Here is a truth about wrestling: sometimes, the boring match is done on purpose. Whether it’s to cool the audience down or tell a specific story, not everything is supposed to be main-event thrilling.
Sami Zayn vs. Titus O’Neil was kinda boring and it is super ridiculous that Titus is cleanly beating the most popular guy on NXT, but it was also the most logical Titus O’Neil match ever, and probably the best use of him WWE’s ever managed. Normally they book him like a black Sheamus … a guy who has some funny taunts and a lot of natural strength, so he does lots of Irish whips and shoulderblocks and clotheslines. He hasn’t gone anywhere in four years because none of his versions of those things are especially good. He’s clearly trying very hard and has some awkward natural charisma, but he also kinda wrestles like a dog somebody taught to walk on its hind legs.
The match with Sami approached it from a new perspective: Titus is massively, superhumanly strong and dangerous, but has no idea what to do with it. Sami is quick and has a lot of heart, but he’s half the size of his opponent and about 1/20th the strength. It’s not like wrestling Cesaro, where you can outwit him or counter him or catch him off guard. Titus just punches at you and grabs you and throws you down. It’s like trying to wrestle a bear. Eventually he’s going to grab you and maul you to death.
That’s what happens here. Sami keeps trying to build momentum, but Titus isn’t build to HANDLE momentum, so it’s like trying to do a bunch of dropkicks to a brick wall. To a big pile of dirt. Eventually Titus has picked him up and thrown him down so severely that Sami has to give up. It’s weird and not especially entertaining, but it makes absolute sense.
The ending is also interesting, with Titus getting mad at a guy in the front row and trying to decapitate Sami by dragging him to the ring apron and climbing to the top rope. Titus hasn’t come off the top rope with ANYTHING before, so I kinda wish Adrian Neville hadn’t ran out to make the save. Was it a big Undertaker-style guillotine leg drop, but off the top rope? I’d pay money to watch Titus O’Neil throw that and not hurt himself.