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Please click through for the Best and Worst of WWE NXT for March 11, 2015.
Best: Anybody Beating The Lucha Dragons Right Now Gets A Best
This week’s opening match is a tag team match to decide a new #1 contender to the NXT Tag Team Championships, because even though NXT is fun and cool, it’s still bogged down with a lot of WWE trappings. Teams that previously could never win are suddenly unbeatable because they’re being positioned as “#1 contenders,” and #1 contender matches seemingly happen at random with no prerequisites. See also: Los Matadores and The New Day getting slotted into a WrestleMania match.
Regardless, the opener had two of my favorite things:
1. Colin Cassady tag teaming with what is more or less a really flamboyantly obnoxious foreign object, and
2. The Lucha Dragons losing.
Number two is easy to address. The Lucha Dragons hit the skids pretty hard when they got Roman Reigns’d in a match with The Ascension and ended a massive winning streak/won the championships because dot dot dot reasons. They don’t have characters beyond their costumes. Like, what motivates the Lucha Dragons? The chance to nonchalantly pump their arms? Keep in mind this is like 100% Sin Cara residue and not necessarily a condemnation of them as performers. Although at this point I’d rather sit through an Alex Riley match than hope Cara can get all the way around on a headscissors takedown without lawn-darting himself into the ground, so what does that say?
Number one is great. I’ve written about it a bit before, but Cass and Enzo have the perfect tag team dynamic. You think it’s little guy/big guy, but it’s not about that. It’s a little guy who can’t wrestle but has endless confidence teaming with a giant guy who could beat anybody in the company if he had any confidence whatsoever. They’re two halves of a whole, and that’s what a great tag team should be. Also, they called the Lucha Dragons the GEICO Lizards and told them they should save them 15% or more on car insurance or get out of their way. Remove Carmella and get them to the ring fast enough to add fresh dialogue to their entrance singalong and they’re perfect.
Best: NXT Away Games
Next week’s show comes to us live on tape from the ARNOLD CLASSIC, aka The Wonder Years.
I like the idea of NXT going on the road and doing Actual Important Shows instead of just taking talent to Ohio and having them far around for a live audience. It makes NXT coming to town feel special. You know things of consequence could happen if you’re there. An important match could take place, or maybe some leapfrogging randos will win the tag titles, or who knows? An old ECW guy could show up. CW Anderson could do a run-in and spinebuster Hideo Itami. You never know. Deuce and Domino could return as SUPER INDIE WORKERS and get YOU STILL GOT IT chants. YOU NEVER KNOW.
I want it to continue, but I want it to have equal respect for home games and away. Whenever Impact Wrestling gives up on the Impact Zone and becomes a traveling company, they treat it like they’ve finally made it. When they come home, it’s like they’re ashamed. It’s like moving in with your parents. Instead of treating it like that, NXT should go to the Arnold Classic and go to The Agora and do a live show in San Jose on WrestleMania weekend, and treat it like they’re in Full Sail. When they’re in Full Sail, treat it like they’re in front of a brand new audience. That’d be cool as hell.
That inevitable show at the ECW Arena is really going to tie a bunch of timelines together, isn’t it? COME TO TEXAS AND RUN THE SPORTATORIUM! It’s like, a parking lot now. But run it anyway!
Okay, so there are a lot of obvious problems with Carmella. She wrestles like an actress instead of a wrestler, she’s doing Enzo’s act without adding anything to it and she can’t stop doing the “sexy lady” prance where she Beyonces her head to the side and snaps her hair over as she high-steps. It’s weird. The worst part, though, is that she doesn’t understand the purpose of pinfall attempts.
It’s not Cameron bad, mind you. She’s not trying to pin Alexa Bliss on her stomach. She just doesn’t get why pinfall attempts happen. She’s like a singer that forgets to breathe. Watch the match and you’ll see what I’m talking about. She never stays down for 2 1/2, she’s always kicking out at or before 1. Bliss will slam her and get 0.75. She’ll do a f*cking front flip off the ropes into an armdrag into a pinning combination from the damn Drago playbook and Carmella will kick out at 1. She doesn’t get that the 2 1/2 is a pause, like a period at the end of a sentence. It gives the audience a second to absorb and understand what just happened. If you breeze through it and kick right out, nobody cares. That doesn’t even begin to explain the drama or someone maybe or maybe not winning a match, or the value of match rhythm. It’s just these strong ass hoss kickouts of everything.
Let me put it to you this way: if Brock Lesnar can take a two count off a Seth Rollins kick, Carmella can take one for Bliss.
Best/Worst: THE SPARKLE SPLASH
First of all, that name is BOW DOWN TO THE QUEEN bad. If she’s gonna call it the Sparkle Splash, she needs to unleash a glitter sneeze as she’s flipping over. Second of all, who thought Alexa Bliss needed a Bam Bam Bigelow crooked moonsault as her finish? She’s not even jumping off the top rope. She’s falling from it. On top of that, she’s putting her arm straight down to try to brace herself as she goes over, so before she’s even halfway through the rotation she’s almost to the ground. Bliss having a big impact finisher is a great idea and she desperately needs one, but yo, this promotion has Sasha Banks doing suicide dives and Bayley throwing top rope hurricanranas. If you’re gonna jump off the top rope, jump.
Best: Despite All His Rage He Is Still Just A Douchebro In A Cage
Alex Riley’s backstage promo about how he’s been TRAPPED IN A CAGE and STARVING while EVERYONE AROUND HIM EATS is perfect pro wrestling melodrama. Not sure why he has to scream it when he’s alone backstage with a cameraman, but if Creepy Greg is just offscreen, I’ll allow it. That guy should get screamed at for waking up in the morning.
Anyway, Riley’s promo is good. He’s always been a good promo. The problem is that his character doesn’t totally make sense. He got taken out of the ring and shuffled over to commentary because he wasn’t hot shit in the ring, but he could talk and has sportscasting in his blood so they were like, “maybe you’re better at this.” Like when they give bad Divas ring announcing jobs. Jojo, I’m looking in your direction. Alex Riley isn’t Daniel Bryan. He’s not Cesaro. He’s not a guy with all the upside in the world being ignored by The Man. So when he starts screaming about being passed over, it just sounds like an entitled guy who thinks he deserves everything he wants because he cares and works hard. Guess what, A-Ry? We can’t trust you to call a match without f*cking it up. “Caring a lot” is awesome, but it’s not a substitution for being good at your job.
Alex Riley’s TitanTron video is No Fear eyes over the word RAGE in the world’s most basic font and it’s ALL ON FIRE. It’s basically ‘Say It To My Face’ as a Geocities page from 1998.
Worst: An Alex Riley Match Is An Alex Riley Match
That’s the truth.
Alex Riley is Captain Planet for 2000-2010 pro wrestling. He’s got the physique of an aging Rob Conway, the stamina of Billy Gunn, John Morrison’s Moonlight Drive and Buff Bagwell’s finish. He wrestles the only guy more hopelessly stuck in developmental forever than him (CJ Parker) and wins, and … it’s an Alex Riley match.
That’s all it can be. If Riley takes years away from the ring and busts his ass every day to get back, he’s going to be Alex Riley when he gets back. There’s only so much that guy can do. When Riley was in NXT in 2010 they had Bryan Danielson there, sure, but he was just there to Make An Example Of. It was guys like Michael Tarver and Skip and Justin Gabriel. They were replaced by Michael McGillicutty and Titus O’Neal and Lucky Cannon. In that environment, Alex Riley looks like a star. The world has turned and left him there. Now the NXT crowd gets El Generico and Kevin Steen and Prince Devitt and KENTA. If the crowd had gotten those guys in 2010, Riley would’ve been a commentator before he bought his first pair of white boots.
He’s not BAD, he’s just not on trend. He’s an older model. He’s the DVD player when you’ve got blu ray. Mello Yello when you’ve got Mountain Dew.
Best: A Little Kevin Owens Real-Talk
I normally hate when guys are like HERE’S EVERYTHING THAT’S ACTUALLY WRONG WITH YOU because it makes the crowd too aware of a babyface’s flaws. It’s why you don’t call Hulk Hogan bald, and why you say you respect Dusty Rhodes before you say you’re gonna kick his ass.
At the same time, I consider myself a citizen of 2015. Kevin Owens waltzing out with his gut and cutoff t-shirt to show pointless, massively muscular and bred-for-success Alex Riley the WWE title belt he won two months into employment is epic, crucial heel work. Riley’s been here forever and doesn’t have shit to show for it. He’s gone to the gym so much. Kevin Owens hung out at Universal Studios all day and was like, “oh, hey, time to defeat the most popular wrestler in the company by knockout and piss in everybody’s faces.”
Plus, all the stuff Owens says is true. Riley’s tattoo is dumb, he’s lucky he’s muscular and there’s no way Riley’s good enough to derail him. He’s already thinking about Finn, as he should, because that guy will be employed this time next year. The best part? He says it to Riley’s face.
Be sure to join us again here next week for the Arnold Classic, as Kevin Owens main-events a show full of body-builders at a body-building convention.
Best: Everything But The Crowd And The Finishers
The main event is Tyler Breeze vs. Hideo Itami, with Breeze getting arguably the most important win of his NXT career. It’s a good match that doesn’t quite live up to their last encounter, but peppers in enough callbacks and knowing counters to make it a legitimate and important episode in their rivalry.
Two things, though:
1. This would’ve been helped tremendously by a hot crowd, but there’s only so much you can do when you’re in the 15-minute main event on the fourth episode of a taping. You’ve been there for four hours and have seen like 3-hours-30 of good-to-great wrestling. There’s only so much you can take. You like it and you’re happy it’s happening, but you probably aren’t gonna stand up and woo about it.
2. Both of these guys need real finishers. Itami will get the GTS one of these days and it’ll be the best thing that ever happened to him. Breeze had something going with the Supermodel Kick into the Beauty Shot, but he’s separated them again. The jumping spinning heel kick with furry boots is not a knockout blow. A stiff-ass superkick followed immediately by a jumping spinning heel kick, though? Furry boots or not, I can buy that. Put them together again, Breezy!