– With Leather will have an open discussion thread, results and a Best and Worst recap for NXT Takeover, so make sure you’re here for that.
– We’re halfway through our retro Best and Worst recap of NXT season 2, so check that out. Husky Harris just ran an obstacle course and you should probably see him do it. They kiss fat ladies soon!
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Please click through for the Best and Worst of WWE NXT for May 22, 2014.
Best: Bo Dallas Says Goodbye
This week’s opening match was a 15-ish minute affair between former champions Bo Dallas and Big E Not Langston. I had a few problems with it, but I mostly dug it. NXT’s got a great way of making one-on-one matches seem important, whether setting the stage with history and intriguing stipulations or simply treating it like a big deal when it’s happening. That’s a lot art these days. On Raw, guys wrestle each other five times before a pay-per-view, and the announce team just has to roll with it. They seem like they’re barely aware it’s happening. On NXT, the announce team is allowed to treat their superstars like superstars, and their in-ring confrontations as reasoned and purposeful.
The highlight, of course, was Bo Dallas saying goodbye to the NXT Universe. It feels like the true end of Full Sail’s first chapter as a developmental territory. Bo has the perfect NXT trajectory — brought in because of who he’s related to, saddled with an endless string of go-nowhere gimmicks, pushed against all good reason, turned heel when the negative crowd reaction became too much and absolutely FLOURISHING with a final character that winks at wrestling convention without outright defying it. He is trial and error, The Character.
He loses to Big E in poetic fashion, removing the top turnbuckle pad as he did when he stole the NXT Championship but ending up being thrown into it himself, Bigly Ended for the three-to-five count. The pre-match stipulation stated that if Bo lost he would have to “leave NXT,” so we got a melodramatic meltdown that featured spittleface, Bo hurting himself trying to kick the ring steps in anger and an INCREDIBLE call and response where Bo thinks you’re the reason he lost and that you should leave. Bo apologizing to the crowd for his language before telling them they “stink” is basically Brandon’s heart in wrestling promo form.
Worst: I Still Don’t Understand The Difference Between An NXT And A Raw Superstar
The first problem I have with the match is that wishy-washy difference between “being on NXT” and “being on Raw.” Since NXT debuted on the network, the problem has gotten worse. Before, there was developmental. You were there to learn and grow and figure out what worked. Then you got called up, and things either started over or you caught on. Now, an NXT Superstar is basically already a WWE Superstar. Tyson Kidd is a former tag team champion currently claiming that his “destiny” is to win the NXT Championship. Natalya, a former Divas Champion who stars on Total Divas, wants to be NXT Women’s Champion. Paige won the NXT Women’s Championship and the Divas Championship at the same time, but was forced to relinquish the NXT strap because of her commitments on Raw. Commitments she should probably share with people like Tyson Kidd and Natalya. So she gives it up, and now she’s back on NXT wrestling Tamina. Couldn’t she have, I don’t know, defended the NXT Women’s Championship against Tamina when she was on NXT?
It’s just confusing. Bo Dallas wants to be NXT Champ because he’s an NXT guy. He gets put into a match where if he loses, he has to leave NXT. His opponent? Big E, a guy who left NXT and can come back whenever he wants. Does that mean Bo can come back whenever he wants? Did he have to “leave NXT” for just that set of tapings? Is that what that meant? “If you lose the match, you cannot hang out afterwards and talk to people, you have to drive home and go to sleep.”
NXT guys are on Raw and Raw guys are on NXT. That “the future is now” stuff is great, but can we put a little effort into determining what constitutes “the future?”
Worst: The Weird Editing
The other problem is this week’s shifty editing. NXT production is usually great, so when it’s not, it’s noticeable.
The big editing gaffe this week was the ending to Big E/Bo. Bo takes off the top turnbuckle pad, but when he turns around, Big E grabs him by the throat, launches Bo backwards into the steel and Big Endings him for the win. When they show the replay, Bo takes off the top turnbuckle, then we jump to WAY EARLIER in the match with Big E crushing Bo in the corner … then back to the Big Ending and the three. What’s with that? Were they not happy with how Bo bumped into the buckle? Is there a reason to be revisionist with history we JUST WATCHED, in real time?
One of the reasons I stopped collecting comic books as a kid is a lack of consequence. Nothing “happens.” Characters change allegiances and die and are brought back to life and it’s always marketed as this grand game-changing thing, but everything gets rebooted and nothing matters. History gets changed. Even when it has denied its own history, wrestling has allowed me to go back and piece things together. Now though, the WWE Network is homogenizing the past AND the present, creating this flat, bland history that goes back six weeks and resets, and remembering anything beyond that makes you a “basement-dwelling nerd” or a “virgin” or whatever. It’s increasingly insulting, and if the Network truly has the power to go back and “fix” what WWE doesn’t like, what’s the point in getting invested in anything happening now? In ten years, will Bo Dallas have defeated Big E here because WWE found a reason not to like Big E?
I know that’s probably going too far with it, but guys, it’s okay to show things that happened and remember them, even if they weren’t perfect.
Best: Let’s Ask The NXT Universe What They Thought Of Bo’s Goodbye
Best: Tyler Breeze Is Headed To A Ball
Yo Devin, what’re you looking at?
Sami Zayn put on his best DID YOU SEE THE SHIRT HE WAS WEARING shirt to talk to Devin Taylor and got interrupted by Tyler Breeze, the only guy on the show who seems to truly piss him off. They go back and forth and decide to have a match, but Tyler can’t have it right now; he’s got things to do, such as “buy new iPhone covers” and GO TO A BALL. TYLER BREEZE IS GOING TO A BALL.
I might like Tyler Breeze on the microphone more than I like anything.
Also, shoutout to Devin Taylor for looking way more comfortable as a backstage interviewer than she used to, and REVERSE NEGATIVE SHOUTOUT to NXT for bringing in Veronica Lane for a week and then depriving us of her. Oh, one more thing that bothers me … you know how the interviewer has a microphone, and points it at the person speaking? Why is it that you can hear everybody the same whether she’s pointing a mic at them or not? I know it’s a kayfabed mic and that they’ve probably got a boom guy, but pay attention to that stuff!
Worst: Tamina, Jesus Christ
Here’s footage from the match. Paige is Bela Lugosi. Tamina Snuka is the octopus. The referee is Ed Wood.
Worst: Think About This Match For A Second
A Tongan pretending to be Mexican is wrestling a South African pretending to be British. WWE should organize the Kofi Kingston Cup for guys like this.
Best: Rose/Camacho Was Actually Pretty Good While It Lasted
Somehow this ended up being my favorite match on the show. The finish was a purposeful heel countout to build to another match between the two and it loses tons of style points of that, but the stuff before it made a lot of sense … Rose is furious because of what Camacho’s been doing to his friends but he’s also kinda stupid, so his rage manifests itself in weird gestures and these big, sweeping moves like leaping headlocks and his dangly foot-waggle on the ropes, now expertly named the “Rose Pedal.” Camacho wants to make a name for himself by beating up the party guy, but he’s Camacho, which means his natural strength and ability are tempered by a constant feeling of embarrassment. Watch how he moves. A guy like that should be KILLING it, but he’s got zero confidence as an athlete, or as a SOMETHING, and it just doesn’t work out.
Camacho’s got great offense, though. He hits things hard without looking sloppy, and his running Samoan drop looked good for the first time as a counter to a corner ten-punch. Of all the guys on the NXT roster, Camacho’s the one who needs to be sat down and given the “okay, we’re gonna make you start screaming and death-gripping people” conversation. That guy should be the new Big E, not the browner Baron Corbin.
Best: The Real Rosebud Bunny
I’m so happy whenever Adam Rose appears on NXT and we get our real Rosebud Bunny. The one on Raw and Smackdown has reportedly been played by Zack Ryder and Justin Gabriel (which would explain all the breakdancing, at least), but the guy in the suit at Full Sail is legit, and should be flown around to be it permanently. Maybe I’m watching it with a psychotic eye, but he’s always doing something entertaining. When he gets into the ring with Rose after the match he doesn’t just put his arms up and dance like everybody else, he hops in place because he is a bunny rabbit. It’s awesome.
I also love that we’re slowly learning about the Rosebuds … we know the bunny, we know Captain Comic, and now they’re drawing attention to the Fez guy. Eventually we should know all of them, right? That’s what makes it a party.
Best: Sasha Banks Is The Second Best Wrestler On This Show
It’s Sami Zayn, and then her.
A few weeks ago Sasha Banks had a match with Bayley, and it was outstanding. Natalya had a match with Layla on that same episode, and it was garbage. This week, Sasha Banks has a match with Natalya and it’s really good. What’s the connection, you think?
It’s not quite the Paige/Tamina situation where Paige has to independently work all four of Tamina’s limbs to get her through a match, but Sasha can go, and Natalya benefits from that. Watch how Sasha moves throughout the match … watch her get her head into position for Natalya’s butterfly suplex. Watch her visibly setting up spots that most Divas don’t get up for. Watch her hit the ropes with velocity. These are things that are missing from a lot of WWE women’s wrestling matches, and it ain’t Natalya in there telling her what to do.
I’m disappointed that the finals won’t be Sasha vs. Charlotte (or, frankly, Sasha vs. Bayley, or Bayley vs. Charlotte), but I hope the important NXT types are watching and see what a workhorse The Boss has become. I don’t think I’ve seen a female performer develop as quickly as an in-ring performer as Sasha has, and if she can ever learn how to speak into a microphone without sounding like Gomer Pyle she’ll be the best in the world.
Worst: Seriously, Cut It Out, Renee
Renee’s explanation of why Sasha continues to be okay with Charlotte is a great example of why Renee should not be doing color on women’s matches. I don’t know what Jeff Dunham Facebook fan page she clicked “like” on to get her material, but if I never again heard her break out chestnuts like “THERE’S JUST SOMETHING IN A WOMAN’S BRAIN THAT LETS HER PICK AND CHOOSE WHAT SHE REMEMBERS” it’d be too soon.
Best: Charlotte Face
“Oh great, I just gave Natalya a match at Takeover.”
Best: Curt Hawkins Is About A Billion Times Better Than Zack Ryder
WWE Fan Nation chose to join this match in progress right as Neville is hitting a series of moves to win, but I’m giving a Best to Curt Hawkins. If WWE’s ever going to give that guy a legit shot at success again, now’s the time. He’s better than he’s ever been, looks great, has Zack Ryder’s personality without all the things that make Zack Ryder’s personality the worst and raises the chances of Mr. Met appearing on Raw by 100%.
He’s managed to slow his “I’M JUST LIKE AJ STYLES, BUT WWE” roll enough to make it work, and everything he does looks great. I don’t know if that’s a situational thing or if he could translate that into something Raw crowds would care about, but he should at least still be showing up on the main-rostered shows to lose one or two of Heath Slater’s matches. Hell, give 3MB that megapush they’re always a second from receiving and have Hawkins head up a 3MB cover band.
Best/Worst: Tyson Kidd Is Horrible On The Microphone, FYACT!
LOL so hard at Tyson Kidd. I can’t with this guy.
He is so cripplingly uncool I don’t know what to do. In the middle of his weird I WAS ON RAW, FACT! I WAS ON SMACKDOWN, FACT! I wanted him to really hear what he was saying and get depressed. I’M A FORMER WWE TAG TEAM CHAMPION, FACT, AND THAT MEANS I SHOULD … uh, probably … uh, probably not be on the minor league show, ughhh. And then the rest of the episode is him backstage forlornly eating cereal and watching WrestleMania 26.
I love that the crowd picked up on what a goober he was and started chanting FACT~! after Neville’s responses. I love you, Full Sail crowd. I wish you were the crowd for every WWE event. Fact.