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Please click through for the Best and Worst of WWE NXT for February 4, 2015.
Worst: More Of The Same, And Not The Good Kind
Back in October, Emma made a surprise return to NXT looking to revitalize her career after a shoplifting arrest and a dopey run as Girl Santino. She faced Carmella and got squashed despite Carmella having no experience and even less charisma. On last week’s episode — almost four months later — Emma announced that she was returning to NXT to make a fresh start and revitalize her career. We’d hoped they’d throw Emma a bone and give her something to work with. Instead, she gets squashed by Carmella despite Carmella having not grown or evolved or developed 1% in four damn months.
I don’t want Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady to break up over “girl problems” and I want romance and jealousy angles even less, but it feels like Carmella’s on a treadmill. She had a ton of story and character development before she debuted, but as soon as she got in the ring she became Physically Awkward Girl Enzo. It’s not good. There’s a reason the jobber they brought in to eat her offense got over and she didn’t, and why a match with Emma didn’t get any better despite a third of a year of practice.
Worst: Alex Riley Just Heard ‘All About That Bass’ And Has No Idea What It Means
Alex Riley was driving his PT Cruiser to Full Sail before this set of tapings and Meghan Trainor’s ‘All About That Bass’ came on the radio. Normally Alex preps for these tapings by marathoning Fast and Furious movies with his thumb in his ass, but the beat was catchy and he caught like 10% of the lyrics and thought it’d make for GREAT REFERENCES THE KIDS WILL ENJOY.
The problem is that dude has no idea what the song’s about. When Carmella shows up he chuckles about how she’s “all about that bass, no treble!!” when she’s entirely treble. There’s actually no person in NXT with less bass than Carmella. After the match is over he ties it all together with, “she had all the right moves in all the right places!” It’s so bad it borders on the absurd. My only other theory is that Riley gets fed lines all show and his handler was tired of dealing with him, so he just turned on the radio and propped the microphone against it and Riley was reciting whatever he heard. “BULL DEMPSEY’S GOT THAT UPTOWN FUNK, AM I RIGHT?”
Riley deserves a special award for shitting an entire Rooms To Go full of beds on this episode. More on that during the main event.
Worst: What, Did Buzzfeed Not Say Anything New About You This Week
*quietly deletes the last 2 1/2 years of compliments*
Best: Bull Dempsey’s A Mega Heel To That One Lady In The Crowd
When they’re on the outside and they tease the count-out, keep your eye on the lady in blue in the front row. She’s the only one who cares, really, and she’s doing everything she can to will Baron Corbin back into the ring. C’MAWN BARONNN! When Bull runs out to interfere she does the big Body Snatchers point, and is SO UPSET when Bull shoves him into the ring post. To that one person in the building, Bull Dempsey is the devil.
For some reason I was expecting more from this, and I’m not sure why. I got my expectations up too high. I wanted Neville and Corbin to tear it up, and I guess Corbin’s not at the point yet where he can tear anything. It’s mostly Neville bouncing around alternately avoiding and jumping into him. That works because of the experience levels: Neville is smart in the ring and knows how to take out bigger opponents (because almost every opponent is a “bigger opponent”), and Corbin’s got this freakish intensity and moments of scary power but doesn’t really know his way around the ring. He hasn’t been challenged. Having him hang with the former champion and get screwed out of a win by his goofy, subspecies arch-rival is a good call. I liked that Dempsey’s interference led to the finish, but that Corbin beat the ten count to make him look resilient in spite of it. On Raw they would’ve just done the count-out and thought it was fine. Here, they know a tournament needs decisive finishes, and that Corbin’s eventually gonna take a pinfall so he might as well take one from the longest-reigning NXT Champion in history.
Also fun: the continuation of Neville as a guy who is totally okay taking crummy shortcuts as long as he isn’t technically breaking the rules. He isn’t the “ultimate opportunist,” but he’s on the list.
Best: Relationship Goals
Best: Furious Revenge
This is how you give a babyface character an edge.
Basically the only thing of note Becky Lynch has done since her debut besides stumbling into the dark grip of the NXT Oculus is help injure Bayley’s knee. That knee’s been in the red for a while now, so when the match starts Becky goes right after it. It’s not “cheating” and it’s totally logical and reasonable, but it’s also kind of a dick move. That sets up a great moment when Bayley goes on offense where she’s sick of getting her knee stomped all the time, so she just starts MANHANDLING Becky and wrecking HER knee. Bayley’s hobbling around between moves but she doesn’t give a HOOT because she’s HOT and it’s time for Becky to GO TO SCHOOL. I love it.
I wasn’t a huge fan of the finish with Sasha coming down to ringside and rolling Becky in to take the loss immediately following Bull’s interference on Corbin, but Bayley getting a strong win is good. She needs it. There’s a fine line between rooting for the underdog and delusionally cheering for chumps. The difference between Daniel Bryan and Heath Slater, you know?
Best: Corey Graves
Bonus points to Corey Graves for calling Becky Lynch out on being a poser. He describes her as the kind of person who wears a band’s t-shirt to the band’s concert and runs her down for her pointless (and constant) throwing-up of horns. I’m hoping it’s unspoken animosity for her yanking Lucky 13 from him. Honestly Graves would be a pretty great manager for Becky, as they both run with the same general aesthetic and she’s using his moves. He can talk a little, and she needs somebody to stand next to her and say THIS IS BECKY LYNCH’S CHARACTER AND A GOOD EXPLANATION OF WHY SHE’S DOING STUFF.
Worst: Let’s Ask The WWE Universe What They Thought About Bayley Vs. Becky
Man, sometimes I wish NXT still only aired outside of the U.S. and you had to have Hulu Plus to watch it.
Worst: Alex Riley Decides To Do A Book Report In The Middle Of The Main Event
If you want Alex Riley at his very worst, listen to him obsessively ignore everything happening around him and ask Adrian Neville’s disinterested-ass 10 variations of the same damn question for the entirety of a hot main event. It’s like he’s from another planet. Neville’s only out there for the post-match reaction shots. He should’ve said “both of these guys are great competitors and I’d be honored to face either of them” before the match started and sat quietly until Finn walked up the ramp and looked at him. That’s what he tried to do. But nope, here’s The Analyst yelling NO REALLY ADRIAN WHAT ARE YOU SPECIFICALLY LOOKING FOR WHILE YOU’RE OUT HERE SCOUTING YOUR COMPETITORS. PLEASE LIST THEIR STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES AND GO INTO DETAIL. THERE’S A MICROPHONE IN FRONT OF YOU, LEAN FORWARD AND USE IT TO TELL US WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT YOUR UPCOMING MATCH. Finn Bálor and Hideo Itami are ripping it up in an important match with championship implications and Riley’s garbage brain thinks he’s in the middle of a podcast.
Oh, and before the match started Riley said Itami and Bálor grew up together. Yeah dude, they’re the white boy and Asian boy from ‘Kelly’s Kids’ all grown up. At some point I wanted Rich Brennan to brandish a hatchet and chop off the end of the announce table, and for Riley to somehow drift out into the ocean on it like he’s Rose in f*cking Titanic.
Best: The Match Itself, Though, Jeez
You know what made this so special? The crowd chanting whatever they could think of nonstop.
I’m kidding. What made this special was that it was just two babyface WWE stars in a high stakes match without any bullshit. No personal grudges. No cheating. No distractions. No interference, nobody holding anybody’s tights, nothing. Just two badass motherf*ckers who know and respect each other going full blast.
This is what wrestling could be, you know? This is an option. It’s not the only thing wrestling should be … wrestling should have all the nonsense I listed to make certain stories work, but they don’t all need it. Sometimes what you might consider “wrestling for the sake of wrestling” becomes making an audience familiar with how a wrestler wrestles. How he reacts in new situations. A chance to show the crowd something they haven’t seen before and create one of those little lasting memories that connects a fan and a performer forever. I still remember throwaway moments from matches I saw as a kid, because that stuff’s important. I remember a random clothesline Stunning Steve Austin threw on Dustin Rhodes that turned him inside out so bad it made my dad stand up, laugh and clap his hands. Some kid just watched that GTS tease into a rolling elbow counter into a Bloody Sunday counter into a roundhouse into a Pelé kick and he’ll remember it forever. Maybe he’ll remember it popping his dad. Maybe he’ll remember that first dropkick that caught Itami in the mouth popping his entire family.
This was so good. I’m going to watch it again and pretend Alex Riley’s voice is some kind of production error.
Best: Zayn Vs. Owens Forever
The show ends with an INCREDIBLE 5-minute video package recapping the history between Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens, the debut and heel turn at R-Evolution and the challenge and contract signings that set up their match at Rival. Real quick, “NXT Takeover Rival” is somehow even more awkward than “NXT Takeover: R-Evolution.” I hope next February’s show is called “NXT Takeover: R-Rival.”
Anyway, yeah, they lay out Zayn and Owens as complex human beings with a long history and the strongest-possible personal motivations to win their match. It’s beautiful. Zayn admits that he should’ve seen what Owens did coming, knew he was being manipulated as it was happening and explains that Owens having a family is what messed up their timing and got him to WWE first. Owens says he respects Zayn and is happy for him, but Zayn only fights for himself … he doesn’t have anyone waiting at home, so he can’t understand. I want to kiss whoever put this video together on the mouth. I can’t wait for the match, which OH MY GOD IS NEXT WEEK.
One thing I don’t understand: if you’re gonna end the show with this boss video package, why have those shoehorned-in interviews with Zayn and Owens during the show where they clumsily reiterate everything this explains in perfect detail? Did it need a bunch of bonus exposition?
Bonus: CREEPY GREG IS IN ON IT
Hideo Itami is backstage after the show taking off his kneepads and minding his own business when CREEPY GREG, new backstage interviewer and Todd Chrisley’s eldest larva, interrupts him with questions. The good news is that Greg has improved since last week, when he tried to interview Adrian Neville by spooning him in the middle of the ring. The bad news is that he’s a decoy for TYLER BREEZE, who jumps Itami and beats him down.
I’m excited for Breeze vs. Itami at the live special, but I’m more excited for Greg to reveal himself as Breeze’s Rip Rogers-esque valet. I want Greg just creeping up behind people pushing his junk against their butts to ask them how scared they are of Tyler Breeze. HEEL BACKSTAGE INTERVIEWER. MAKE IT HAPPEN.