– It’s looking like I’ll be headed back to Full Sail for the December 12th set of tapings. I won’t be able to get into the live special, so I’ll be here running a live thread and writing that up. But hey, if you’re in the Orlando area and want to give me a high-five, that’s the time and place to do it.
– You can watch this week’s episode here. All of our NXT content can be found here. Make sure you’re keeping up with our retro recaps of NXT season 4 as well, with new reports going up on Friday afternoons.
– Shares, likes, comments and other social media things are appreciated.
Please click through for the Best and Worst of WWE NXT for November 20, 2014.
Worst: A Whole Lotta Nothing
The worst episodes of NXT are the ones where nothing happens.
That’s one of the things I love most about the show. Stuff happens. People debut, they change, they get characters, they have motivations. They win, they lose, they finish up their stories and the “graduate,” or they stagnate and start the process again. That’s a sense of purpose to it. But sometimes you get these filler episodes that’re more or less a “resthold” for a 4-hour taping. They’re infuriating, but not because they’re bad; it’s because they exist in place of a real episode.
The show opens with Bayley vs. Becky Lynch. Normally, that should be pretty good. They’re sorta serving as the Number Twos of the NXT Women’s Champion and her top challenger. They both can go. Instead of getting a good match (or something that moved along the story, or anything), we get a short, Raw-esque match with a finish that barely makes sense and goes nowhere. Bayley goes up top to hit a move, but Becky’s already up and moving out of the way before she’s ready. So Bayley kinda jumps off with a knee to nothing and Becky wanders out onto the apron. There’s no reason for her to, mind you, besides “it’s part of the finish.” Sasha gets on the perpendicular apron and distracts nobody, allowing Becky to choke Bayley across the top rope, roll her up and pin her with a handful of tights. After the match they tease her, and Charlotte runs them off.
See? I can’t even write passionately about that. It’s not “bad” necessarily, it’s just a thing happening. When you have four dynamic women with this level of personality and talent, there’s no excuse for a boring placeholder.
Worst: Bayley Gets Advice From Her Mom
1. Bayley finds Charlotte backstage to thank her for “earlier tonight,” which was like two minutes ago. Charlotte gives her a stern warning: stay away from Sasha Banks. She’s bad news! Don’t challenge her to a match! Uh, even though you’ve beaten her in SEVERAL MATCHES! Now that Bayley isn’t in title contention I guess she’s back to being helpless and depowered?
2. Charlotte says that Sasha was her “best friend.” If you watch the shows, that has never, ever been the case. SUMMER and Sasha were best friends, and even that had a clear leader/follower dynamic. When Charlotte joined the group it ruined the dynamic and they broke up. Sasha only followed her around because she’s sycophantic.
3. Charlotte looked at least 10 years older than Bayley here. It’s weird that Charlotte’s 28 and has 2 years of experience. Bayley’s 25 and has 7.
Best: The Vaudevillains Acting Like Heels For Once
My only complaint about The Vaudevillains since their formation is that they’re a “heel” team because of Aiden English’s pre-team antics, and not because of anything they’d done. They weren’t really heels, you know? They were just weird guys with weird interests and a costume theme.
For me, one of the highlights of this episode was the Villains actually being villains. They challenge the Lucha Dragons to a match, and instead of the Dragons they get two little people in Nacho Libre masks. They then TURN on the little people, attacking them and forcing them to wrestle a match. Sami Zayn can’t wrestle if he bumps his head too hard, but PARODY MIDGET TAG TEAMS are cleared to compete. Must be that same drunken GM signage that got Mr. NXT a job. Anyway, they take turns humiliating little people, hit them with some wrestling moves and triumphantly pin them.
The announce team really pushes that it’s one thing to put on a show, but that they’ve “gone too far.” I love these guys, but it’s a step in the right direction. I don’t want every heel on NXT to be adorable. Tyler Breeze is adorable. Tyson Kidd is funny and loves cats and hates his crabby wife. Up until now, the Vaudevillains have been corny and adorable. We need some cutthroat motherf*ckers on this show. We need brute force jerks who are going to take the shortest shortcut and undercut the people we love and make their lives miserable. I’ve got enough people to love. Give me some people to hate.
Worst: DO NOT CHANT KILL OWENS KILL
But Seriously, Best: Kevin Owens
In case you missed it earlier today, former ROH Champion Kevin Steen got his first teaser vignette on this episode. There isn’t a lot to it — he’s the future, and he’ll fight everybody — but it’s exciting for anyone who likes his pre-E work. Steen was never one of my favorites, but he and Sami Zayn make undeniable magic together and should not be kept apart.
Best: The Baron Corbin/Bull Dempsey Pissing Contest
There weren’t many (read: any) wrestling highlights on this episode, so I’ll go ahead and say my favorite in-ring part of the show was the pissing contest between Baron Corbin and Bull Dempsey, Undefeated Monster Character Types At Large.
Baron gets a rematch (if you would call it that) against Judas Goliath and beats him in 22 seconds. The crowd does their counting chant-along to make it official, and chants “TWEN-TY TWO! TWEN-TY TWO!” when it’s over. As he’s leaving, he’s interrupted by Bull Dempsey’s music, and they briefly cross paths on the ramp. By “cross paths” of course I mean “Baron glared and smirked at him and Bull just kinda walked by without making eye contact, because Baron’s a big cool jock and Bull plays D&D.”
They switch out the jobbers and Bull gets his turn. The crowd chants with HIS match, and when it goes longer than 22 seconds EVERYBODY BOOS. It’s magical. He got a ton of heat for being the lesser of two unstoppable hosses. How perfect is that? You’re not even the best YOU, Bull.
Best: Rich Brennan Just Cold Trolling Renee Young
God bless Richie Brennan. CJ Parker shows up with a sign about recycling and Renee starts in with the old announce team’s “UGH CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS GUY, HE’S TELLING PEOPLE ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT, WHAT A WEIRD JERK, SOMEBODY SHOULD KICK HIS ASS” THING. Brennan reads the sign — 73% of your trash can be recycled — and responds with, “I’ve gotta be honest, there’s not really anything wrong with that message, is there?” BOOM. Renee rambles through a response about how he’s not DOING anything, he’s just PREACHING to people and trying to force them to do what he wants, and generally sounds like one of those people who says they hate Obamacare and support the Affordable Care Act. Rich’s response to that: “He’s trying to create awareness.”
I see you using your human being brain, Rich, and I appreciate it.
Worst: Let’s Just Pretend It’s Next Week Already
The match itself was kind of a waste of Tyson Kidd. The finish is kinda cool, with Kidd giving Parker a dragonscrew leg whip on the apron through the ropes and, uh, locking in a submission hold that hurts the back.
But yeah, the money here is that Kidd is challenging Finn Bálor to a match next week. I am BOUTY BOUTY AND ROWDY ROWDY that match. WWE Network should have a service where Platinum Diamond Members or whatever can pay a little extra and get the entire batch of NXT tapings at once. Or like, a live feed of the tapings as they happen. Let me feel elite without having to live in Florida!
Worst: AND THE REST
I’m so sad when an episode of NXT isn’t great. I don’t even want to write about it, because being anything less than intensely enthusiastic feels wrong.
That said, this week’s main event wasn’t much. Enzo and Big Cass team up against The Mechanics. Yes, the Mechanics still exist! They’re barely Mechanics, though. They aren’t playing up the mechanics thing anymore, though, they’re just guys in matching trunks who get trounced. It’s hard to keep an honest job in this economy. Enzo and Cass aren’t that great either, because their intro is one of the super singsongy ones that takes five minutes and doesn’t provide enough original material to be notable. I think the key to a good Enzo and Cass promo is to get through the intro as quickly as possible and finish up without doing the “how you doin'” game. It’s good on paper, but in practice you’re just making me say their catchphrase 30 times instead of 20.
Cass and Enzo win — note: they really need a tag team name — and that brings out The Ascension. They beat up everyone and promise to RISE AGAIN, because they are now THE AMERICAN SOUTH, which is honestly not any weirder than occultist Egyptians from the Dark Ages or whatever the hell they are now. They promise revenge on Hideo Itami and Finn Bálor, clearly unaware that Cat Facts already called it.
There were six matches on this show, and you don’t need to see any of them. I’m sorry, I love you.
And Ron White gets a developmental deal!
Best: Sami Zayn Puts His Career On The Line
There’s nothing I love more than logic being applied to a wrestling trope and fixing it up.
Sami Zayn asks Adrian Neville for one more shot at the NXT Championship, saying that if he can’t beat Neville and prove the nay-sayers wrong about not being able to “win the big one,” he doesn’t belong in NXT. Now normally, the champion in this situation would give a gruff YOU’RE ON!!! and the match would be made official by magic. Here, it all makes sense. Every bit of it.
The stipulation isn’t being forced on Zayn. He’s a guy who gets obsessed with causes to a fault. Remember when he was willing to kill himself to get Cesaro’s respect? He lost the match, but he got what he was looking for. I mean, he didn’t know Cesaro would be getting DDT’d with pumpkins on his head within the calendar year and wasn’t really the guy you needed respect from, but you get what I’m saying. Now he’s obsessed with the NXT Championship, and there’s no ending where he loses but still gets to be champ. He HAS to do this, or his brain’s gonna break.
William Regal shows up and says there’s another live special coming up, and Zayn vs. Neville for the NXT strap seems like as good a main event as any. Neville agrees, but says that he’d wrestle Sami whenever Sami wants. They’re friends, and they respect one another. Their feud has never been about hatred or malice or jealousy or one guy being better than the other … it’s a guy who has it figured out being chased by a guy who doesn’t. An emotionally level-headed champion dealing with his f*cked-up, big-hearted friend. It’s beautiful. So yeah, Neville agrees, but he doesn’t want Zayn’s career on the line. He doesn’t want to be responsible for ruining something Sami’s worked so long and hard for.
What’s great about that is that it’s another example of Neville being a huge heel by being a nice, fair dude. At Fatal 4 Way, he prevented Sami from winning the championship by pulling the referee out of the ring. It’s only seen as “heelish” because of who it hurts. On NXT last week, Neville hurt his knee. Zayn stopped to check on him and got rolled up for three. Neville wasn’t faking. He’s actually hurt. He’s limping to the ring here. He was just being focused and ruthless, traits Sami Zayn never seems to utilize. Here, he’s saying he doesn’t want Zayn to give up over a developmental title match, but what he’s really saying is I’m obviously going to beat you, so you shouldn’t do this. It’s GREAT.
Also great? Zayn declaring that he’s going to leave “whether it’s in the contract or not,” which solves the last logic problem. Why would William Regal want to lose one of his big NXT stars? Why would he possibly sanction that? It’s developmental. You shouldn’t encourage people to get emotional and quit in developmental. They haven’t even STARTED. By placing the choice 100% on Zayn, you make it about a man’s quest, and not a weird authority demand.
Great stuff to end an otherwise not-super-great show.