– You can watch this week’s episode here.
– I’ll be at Full Sail for the December tapings (December 12), so if you’re gonna be there too, make sure you say hi. Also, make sure you point at me whenever WWE employees are nearby and say THAT’S BRANDON STROUD, HE’S GREAT.
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Please click through for the Best and Worst of WWE NXT for November 27, 2014.
Best: Tyler Breeze Vs. The Uggo Of Uggos
This week’s opening match is barely anything, but it’s fun as an intersecting of perfectly opposite characters. Tyler Breeze is obsessed with his own beauty, so much so that objectively beautiful people like Alexa Bliss are formless gray blobs in his way. Marcus Louis has been driven to madness by an accident that turned him into a gargoyle. There is nobody in the world — especially not the WWE Universe — who should make Louis feel worse about himself than Tyler Breeze.
I’m not sure where they’re going with Louis (if they’re going anywhere), but I’m okay with the continued trend of Breeze steamrolling anyone who isn’t top-shelf NXT talent. Marcus Louis? Beaten in under a minute. Mojo? Beauty shat in seconds.
I’m also all-in with Breeze being a secret dork who is into Lord of the Rings. I want Breeze’s references to get more and more obscure until he’s calling Bull Dempsey “Forlong the Fat.”
Best: The “This Is Awkward” Chant
The best chants are the ones that’re true.
Best: Speaking Of LOTR, I Finally Figured Out What Finn’s Normal Resting Face Reminds Me Of
I mean, yeah, Adrian Neville is the one that looks like a hobbit, but Bálor has the perfect combination of pale skin, big pale eyes and concerning levels of redness.
Best: Blue Pants Returns
Back in October, Carmella made her NXT debut against “blue pants,” aka delightful cosplaying independent wrestler Leva Bates. This week, Enzo and Big Cass have organized the biggest rematch in Divas history: Carmella vs. Blue Pants II.
The interesting thing is that Blue Pants is OVER. She’s fun to watch and has an identifiable trait. She’s wearing some blue-ass pants. What’s funny is that she’s almost too over, and exposes how little Carmella’s accomplished since her debut. Carmella had a lot of story before her debut, sure, but since her debut it’s just been “do Enzo’s catchphrases.” Her wrestling hasn’t evolved either, as this match is the same “wait, wait, wait, do my finish” as the first.
If the crowd’s reaction can be believed, I’m not the only one who’d rather see Leva getting the squash win and Carmella getting whomped in primary colors.
Best: Teamwork Is A Virtue
20 minutes in and we’re already on our third match of the night. Remember how Raw began with a 30-minute sassy conversation? NXT’s done a bunch of character work and showcased two non-Heavyweight singles divisions in 2/3 the time.
The Lucha Dragons get a strong win over Jason Jordan and Tye Dillinger and it’s focused on the importance of teamwork. The Dragons aren’t a big, dominant team like The Ascension that can just roll over their opponents. At the same time, they aren’t fragile baby underdogs, they’re the tag team champions. They’re gonna lie or die based on how well they work together as a team, a story missing from WWE tag team narratives for ages and ages. In WWE, “good teamwork” usually means “matching gear” and “came up with two or three tandem moves.” Very little to do with actually working well together as a unit. The Shield did it better than anybody, but they were barely in the tag division, even when they were tag champs.
Dillinger and Jordan are bigger and stronger, but can’t get on the same page. They take an early advantage but end up actually kicking each other in the face, so Sin Cara and Kalisto just one-two punch them until they’re done. That’s great. That’s great.
The value of the Vaudevillains challenge is that they’re probably the only other tag team with the same modus operandi.
Best: I Am Already Into Kevin Owens
The second Owens vignette is a huge improvement on the first, as it should be. In the first, Owens says I WILL FIGHT ANYBODY, SWEAR TO GOD. In the second, he explains that fighting guys for money is the only thing he’s been able to do to support his family, and now that he’s in the big leagues of fighting guys he’ll do whatever it takes to stay there.
I’ve always thought the best and most identifiable thing about Steen is that he’s a good dad who loves his adorable family, but occasionally puts on tassel-pants and breaks peoples’ necks with convoluted Young Bucks piledriver combinations. I’m excited to see that in NXT.
(Would also be excited to see the Bucks, not gonna lie.)
Worst: What Happens When You Sell Out Your Characters
Sasha Banks and Bayley are two of the best performers on the show, and (as you know if you’ve read even one of these reports) two of my favorites. That’s what was so disappointing about this for me. It was a rare example of NXT having nearly bulletproof characters and not giving them anything good to work with.
Bayley cuts a short promo saying she’s ignoring Charlotte’s advice to stay away from Sasha and Becky Lynch, because bullies are just cowards and should be stood up to. She also could’ve ignored it because she’s a wrestler who’s beaten Sasha on multiple occasions, but whatever. Sasha and Becky confront her, dropkick her in the knee and then stand over her taunting. That’s it.
I get the point. The point is that Charlotte’s right, and Sasha’s turned into this dangerous person who operates beyond her threats. Bayley’s naive and Sting Stupid, so she doesn’t listen and gets beaten up. Instead of illustrating that in any kind of exciting way, they do the most bare bones version of it ever and sell out the characters. Bayley looks dumb and helpless, and ignores months of character development as she’s back to being a dork that can’t defend herself. Sasha doesn’t do anything and looks the same as she always does. It’s so empty that the Bayley-obsessive Full Sail crowd doesn’t care and chants a Family Guy joke to make fun of it.
NXT’s Divas have worked hard enough to deserve better material. I’m typing that here because I usually don’t have to.
Best: Tyson Kidd’s Shirt
He’s the new Hitman, and he can’t be bothered with his shrew wife because he’s gotta go FaceTime with his cats. Tyson Kidd is my favorite awful person in the world.
Best: Vaudevillain Pictures
I hope your first thought when watching this (besides a vague sense of swelling joy) was “Brandon’s going to Best the shit out of this.” Because Brandon is going to BEST THE SHIT OUT OF THIS.
I mean, technically it’s not a great idea, as The Vaudevillains are following up their first sincerely heel act as a team with the least heel thing in the world, but I love it so I’ll allow it. They’ve written and starred in a short silent film about the Lucha Dragons trying to blow up a bank. It features stock footage of a nuclear bomb exploding and Simon Gotch going full Nick Arcade to fight a bear.
Also, it ends with the Vaudevillains laughing and holding toy belts and the mini Lucha Dragons being dead from a nuclear explosion. WWE Network should pay whoever put this together to do an entire series of them.
Worst: Jason Albert
I usually like Albert, but he was terrible this week. Two big reasons:
1. He doesn’t get the joke behind the name “The Vaudevillains.” He keeps saying “vaudevillians.” They’re Vaudeville guys who are villains, Albert. THAT’S THE JOKE. UP AND AT THEM.
2. Renee starts talking bout Tyson Kidd’s experiences in Japan, mentioning that he was partially trained by Stampede Wrestling Hall of Famer Tokyo Joe, and that Joe “trains Triple Crown Champions.” It’s true. Dude trained Shinya Hashimoto. Albert chimes in with “Finn Bálor’s BEEN a Triple Crown Champion. Numerous times.” So what, we’re just making stuff up now? Is he also a five-time WCW Heavyweight Champion? Why the hell not?
Bro, didn’t you wrestle in All Japan? Shouldn’t you be the one guy in NXT who KNOWS this?
Best: Finn Bálor Is Already Ready
Bálor vs. Kidd was just an excuse to get The Ascension out there and build to the tag match at the next live special, but it was fun while it lasted. The entire time I was watching it, though, all I could think about was how Bálor’s ready. He’s one of the few guys developmental isn’t going to help. He’s the very best version of what he’s gonna be. Spending 8 months down there isn’t going to turn him into Enzo Amore on the microphone, so let’s showcase him a few times and move him the hell up.
The key tell is how well he takes WWE offense. Hideo Itami has 14 years of experience competing on a high level against some of the best wrestlers in the world, but he looks a little lost taking Konnor shoulderblocks. Bálor doesn’t do that. He moves and shakes like a WWE guy, and his offense can be WWE appropriate and still feel exciting. How many guys do that Sin Cara kick on the apron now? I feel like everybody does it, but Bálor bouncing over the top like a damn pixie gymnast to set it up is a thing I want to see on Raw. Good stuff.
Worst: Let’s Take A Second To Note How Stupid A Name “R-Evolution” Is
Are we seriously calling it that? When the show’s over are they porting it to the Neo Geo?