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Please click through for the Best and Worst of WWE NXT for March 25, 2015.
Best: Sorry You Lost Your Home-Field Advantage
On last week’s episode from Columbus, Ohio, precious fitness sprite Alexa Bliss rode a home-field advantage to a surprise count-out win over NXT Women’s Champion Sasha Banks. William Regal showed up all chummy and was like, “sunshine, Alexa Bliss will get a title match next week, toe-rag.”
On this week’s episode, Ohio is very far away.
There’s always a moment when I’m watching NXT where I stop being “too aware” of it and start paying attention. This week’s was the moment when Alexa went for an up-and-over in the corner and Sasha just side-stepped and kicked her in the damn face. I’ve typed some worried paragraphs about it already, but I generally like Alexa and what they’re going for with her. She’s got a lot of fire, great facials, and she’s putting it together in the ring. In a year, she could be one of those Sasha Banks stories where a person who had one thing going for them suddenly has ALL THE THINGS, and you’re crazy if you can’t see it. The thing, though, is that Sasha Banks is currently Sasha Banks.
I liked the finish a lot, too, with Sasha doing a basic amount of homework and knowing to counter Alexa’s 450 splash feint by just yanking her off the top rope and Bossfacing her to death. Sasha should murk all of these girls until Bayley’s done with whatever stories she has to tell and can laser-focus on taking her out.
Best: Dead-Inside Emma
Speaking of Bayley, she gets another run-in with our new favorite character: jaded, coldhearted failure Emma.
I am SO INTO this character. She shows up pitch-perfect as a woman who has colossally f*cked-up her career and feels bad about it, but has come to terms with it. She got called up to the majors as one of the faces of a new generation of quality women’s wrestling and all she got for it was a pink sock puppet and a boot in the ass. Now she’s back in the minors as a harbinger of doom. She knows firsthand what the main roster does to NXT Divas. “You don’t want to go down that road,” she might say. “That road’s haunted.”
Bayley’s great too, because she loves and respects Emma but has grown confident enough to disagree with her. She’s nice to the fans because she genuinely loves them. Bayley and Sami Zayn are the only people I don’t roll my eyes at when they start yammering on about how they love the WWE Universe and This Business, because there’s a greater context allowing me to believe it. They’re the kind of person who would. So Bayley’s all, “no, giving headbands to handicapped kids is awesome, what’s your deal” and Emma smacks her in the face. Because Emma is DEAD INSIDE. Give me all of this.
Best: NXT’s Precedent Of 2 Out Of 3 Falls Matches
1. Tyler Breeze calling Hideo Itami “Hideous Itami” is the greatest.
2. Breeze being challenged to a 2-out-of-3 falls match by Itami is ALSO the greatest, because it feels like their chance to finally put this all together. I feel like I’m growing to understand Tyler Breeze more, you know? He’s main-roster ready. There are a lot of guys in NXT who we love and who are great because they’ve wrestled around the world and gained notoriety putting on these long, amazing matches on the independents or in Japan. I’ve seen so many amazing KENTA matches I can’t name them. Same with El Generico, PAC, Steen, Prince Devitt, hell, even Sami Callihan. Breeze is great in the ring but doesn’t have a lot of “classic matches” under his belt, and honestly? I think that’ll be good for him. He’s a role-player. He’s the midcard heel who’s good enough at his job to get a small fan following. He’s not the guy you hope and pray wins the championship, he’s the guy who figures it out, stays on the roster for 15 years and buys a bunch of big houses and car dealerships.
So yeah, if Breeze/Itami 2-out-of-3 doesn’t blow us out of the water, I’m okay with it. It’ll still be good. The reality that this is WWE Developmental is lost on us sometimes because it feels so different from WWE.
3. I want an entire hour of Tyler Breeze insulting Devin Taylor and her just kinda standing there with a blank look on her face because the thought hasn’t yet gone all the way up her arm to her brain.
Best: Bring The Demon
I think the true highlight of this week’s show is this short, extremely Canadian interview with Kevin Owens, wherein he says he’s not afraid of Finn Bálor and encourages him to “bring the demon.”
He’s referring to Finn’s “big match” war paint and suggesting that he can wreck him no matter how powered up he pretends to be, but if you want to look more deeply into it, there’s so much there. I am in love with the idea that Bálor’s paint isn’t paint at all, but some sort of summoned monster he uses to increase his power level. Before the match with The Ascension where the WWE version of the paint debuted, he wasn’t like, “I’m gonna play mind games,” he said he was going to “bring something” The Ascension had never seen before. What if he was bringing an actual demon? What if Owens knows that, knows that he’s wrestling against a man with occult summoning powers and is totally fine with it? That’s the most bad-ass thing in the world, right?
When they wrestle, Bálor doesn’t bring the demon. Maybe he has to store up energy to use it, which is why it only shows up on the big shows. Maybe he can only use it so many times or it overcomes him. Holy shit I love pro wrestling.
Worst: What Is With All This Filler
Okay, so this week’s show is two matches, a couple of promos and like 25 minutes of video packages. It’s the show before WrestleMania and the week after the Arnold Sports Festival, so it’s basically a Christmas episode. They don’t do it every week so I’m not especially bummed about it, but jeez, if I wanted a 5-minute WrestleMania commercial I’d watch every 15 minute chunk of a 3-hour Raw.
Best: Totally Heterosexual Wesley Blake And Buddy Murphy
I don’t know which I like more, jumping into the middle of an Enzo Amore anecdote that makes no sense or watching Wesley Blake and Buddy Murphy pretend they like girls.
Seriously, watch this segment. Look at them. Those dudes have NEVER, EVER liked girls. Suddenly having them give Carmella jewelry and pretend to be these lecherous chums will ill-intentions is hilarious, because when they’re around her they turn into Milton from Office Space. Deal with it, NXT, you made a loving gay couple the tag champs. Stop trying to make fetch happen.
Best: You Didn’t Bring The Demon
This week’s main-event is the kind of match I want to go back and watch again to make sure I soaked it all in. If you missed it, they wrestle for the entire second half of the show. It’s one of the most epic matches they’ve done outside of the live specials in ages.
The story is simple: Finn is kinda naturally overpowered to begin with, and he’s challenging a guy specializing in shockingly obliterating NXT’s top stars. Owens told him to paint himself up and Bring The Demon, but Finn didn’t, either because he was confident in his abilities to straight up punk the bully or those wacky fanfic reasons I listed on the last page.
He should’ve brought the demon.
The best part of the match is that it makes sense as physical storytelling. Owens has trouble incapacitating Finn enough to keep him down, but gets lucky when Finn dives onto him on the outside and bashes his knee on the ramp. They build up the match like it’s going to end, then change the dynamic, slow it down and work another 10 minutes. That’s so damn good. Finn powers through the injury and kicks out of a lot of big moves (including that fisherman buster from the second rope, which I would’ve bought as the finish), but blows it out again trying the coup de grâce. That gives Owens just enough time to get to a vertical base and catch Finn coming in, and that’s all he needs to hit the pop-up powerbomb. Three seconds later and Finn Bálor goes down for the first time in NXT.
I love the decisions they make here, because Bálor absolutely does not need the NXT Championship. He was WrestleMania ready the second he stepped onto the show. He’s not the story, he’s an attraction. He’s not much of a character, even, he’s just cool as shit. That’s a great spot to be in. The story is Kevin Owens, who murdered Sami Zayn and is now systematically eliminating everyone who could take the title away from him in Zayn’s absence. The end of that story, I hope, is Zayn channeling the fury that got him to the championship in the first place and putting the bully in his place. I can’t wait to see it happen, because it’s happening on a show where I can trust things to happen.