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And now, the Best and Worst of WWE NXT for July 1, 2015.
Best: The Mechanics Should Stop Reminding You Of The Minnesota Wrecking Crew And Start Reminding You Of The Mulkey Brothers
I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it before, but my favorite thing about the Vaudevillains is their color scheme. That grey and forest-green gear is the best and unexpectedly makes them look modern as hell, especially when teaming against Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder, aka The Dream Of Developmental 2009. The Mechanics are the most Cade and Murdoch team I’ve ever seen, including Cade and Murdoch, and (again) I refuse to take them seriously as “throwbacks” or whatever until they’re managed by a dude named Mike.
Anyway, the Vaudevillains are building momentum (and creating separation, I assume) as they work up to a shot at the Tag Team Championships. I write this column every week and I had to spend 30 seconds staring at my desk to remember who the tag champs are. Tag-team wrestling has never really been a part of what makes NXT great, but I like the recent emphasis on tag teams actually featuring guys working together. The Vaudevillains have a ton of double-teams, Blake & Murphy’s only character trait besides lecherousness is “teamwork,” and like 80 percent of Enzo Amore’s moveset is being thrown around by his partner. Gotch and English wrecking Enzo for 10 minutes building to a hot tag is basically all I’ve ever wanted from tag-team wrestling.
Real quick though, Simon Gotch is great and all, but every time I see Aiden English making orchestra hands during their entrance I get homesick for his old solo heel schtick. There is a severe lack of “DABBLE-you DABBLE-yoooooou” in my life. That character never got the love or time it deserved, even if it was a ridiculous violation of copyright or whatever. Rent and Les Miserables parody songs > old-timey strongmen.
Nothing: Baron Corbin Rolls On
I think the only move I’ve screencapped more than the Emma Lock is the End Of Days.
For some reason we are still doing Baron Corbin squash matches. They don’t really do anything and don’t advance his character or story at all, and they don’t even fulfill the basic obligation of the squash. Squashes are supposed to impress a crowd by making the squasher look exceptional. Corbin’s just doing the same match he was doing last summer or whatever to no crowd response. The counting is gone, and if Full Sail makes any noise it’s to tell him that he sucks. I feel like NXT wouldn’t just mindlessly continue with these matches if they weren’t building to something — maybe an Onslaught/Juggernaut situation with the next big “unstoppable force” — but damn if it isn’t starting to feel stubborn.
It’s not really a complaint as much as a hoarse request for them to sh*it or get off the pot. Go somewhere with it. Do something. Turn him into that biker werewolf we’d at least ironically be in love with. Give him some character relationships besides “ruined Bull Dempsey’s life” and “might have f*cked Rhyno.”
Best: Da Demon
Part 3 of the Finn Bálor documentary (that thankfully will be shown in its entirety on WWE Network) goes full Friday Night Lights, and that’s honestly the only way to end a focus piece on an Irish LEGO-enthusiast who paints himself like the devil and loves his family. There’s lots to love here, from King Devitt doing Too Sweet hands to Becky getting verklempt again and WRESTLE KINGDOM footage (!!). There’s also the great bit where Fergal explains Celtic mythology and makes reference to Finn MacCool battling the monster Bálor, directly establishing his own relationship with “the demon” he becomes in big matches. He goes on to mention that the demon image allows him to channel a more aggressive side of himself that he doesn’t get to normally — sorta like what Mick Foley becomes when he’s Cactus Jack — but we reserve the right to make it an actual, controlly demon when it’s time to reveal who jumped Hideo Itami.
This was the best part, though …
Best: Finn Hunter
Part 3 features footage of Bálor learning WWE camera setups and how to make his entrance seem like a movie, and we see Triple H doing the Finn Bálor entrance. LOOK AT THIS MAN.
We need a Crisis On Infinite Earths situation to rid us of WWE Triple H and forever replace him with the NXT version. Has there ever been a more likable wrestling personality than NXT Triple H? He’s like Harley Race and Santa Claus put together.
Best: I Love Them So Much I Want Them To Be My Parents
Speaking of people who have my unconditional love, here’s William Regal and Sara “Del Rey” Amato standing on the ring apron making concerned faces while Eva Marie does headlocks and snapmares. Last week when Eva asked for a match and Regal told her she’d have to prove herself in a match before she could get a match (?), I was confused. I was confused just typing it. It turns out she just got an in-ring tryout with Regal and Amato glaring on, which is absolutely the way it should be done. If you can impress those two, you should be able to impress anyone. Now when Eva shows up and the Full Sail crowd boos her for existing, we can be like F*CK Y’ALL, SARA DEL REY AND LORD STEVEN REGAL SAID SHE WAS FINE, WHAT DO YOU KNOW.
God, how much do I want this humble, shaky version of Eva Marie to show up and work hard only to get shat upon by Emma and Dana Brooke, and then for Sara to be summoned like f*cking Knights Of The Round and Royal Butterfly them to death? WWE knows its audience. They could orchestrate a dog fight in the middle of Full Sail and put Sara Del Rey in the background, and all I’d be able to do is go, “Hey look, it’s Sara Del Rey!”
Best: Emma Is As Good At Being Bad As Carmella Is Bad At Being Good
Back to second place, End of Days.
Emma takes on Carmella, and while it’s probably Carmella’s best singles match to date, she’s not really cut out to be a babyface. Maybe she’ll prove me wrong (and I appreciate that they didn’t just bring her in to do romance angles and split up Enzo and Cass), but she doesn’t really sell damage and just kinda lies around until it’s time for her to jump up and shake her head and do her moves. She’s learning, I guess, but she seems like the type who’d be better off locking in a chinlock and yelling at the crowd to shut up. Hopefully something more dynamic than that, but you get what I’m saying.
Evil Emma is the best, though. Kicking Carmella’s jacket, pulling her hair, the works. She was great at being a terrible person when she made her NXT debut, so much so that we all kinda fell in love with her and turned her into a dippy face, so I’m glad to see her coming back around. I like her a lot as the Cait Sith on top of the robotic moogle body that is Dana Brooke.
Worst: Dana Brooke Makes Sasha Banks Look Like Meryl Streep
Speaking of Dana, please enjoy the world’s least organic conversation as she and Emma wander up to Sasha Banks’ locker, hit their marks and stand there shoulder-to-shoulder fingering the NXT Women’s Championship. Devin walks up all, “what the f*ck, guys” and Dana starts patting and gyrating, unable to start or end a sentence without popping a squat and leaning and shaking. Again, robot moogle body.
Sasha shows up to take offense to their loitering, and while Sasha’s promos have never been her strong suit, with Dana in proximity she sounds like Enzo Amore. A challenge is made — Sasha vs. Dana and Emma — and Sasha promises she’ll find a tag team partner. I like Dana and Emma bringing up the fact that Sasha basically stepped on the face of every woman in the company to get where she is and ostensibly shouldn’t be able to find a tag team partner, but come on. Bayley and Becky Lynch are both injured, who the hell do you think she’s gonna pick? Chad Gable?
Yeah I want it to be Summer Rae, too, but that’s not happening.
Best: How To Book Bull Dempsey
William Regal stumbles upon Bull Dempsey trying to use a stool to break a vending machine because he’s so fat he can’t control it, eats some chocolate off his face when he claims he was trying to get pistachios and says that if Bull doesn’t get a grip on his shit, he’s going to throw him into the sun. My words, not his.
If I’m booking NXT (and I am), here’s what we do. Next week we have Bull show up backstage and tell Regal that he’s taken Regal’s words to heart, and has started a new crash diet that’s guaranteed to work in 7 days or less. He requests a match against, I don’t know, Tye Dillinger, and Regal accepts. 7 days later you have Elias Samson show up in Bull Dempsey’s singlet, entering to Bull’s music and doing all of Bull’s moves. That’s post-diet Bull Dempsey, and you can either just run with it and let Samson be New Bull forever, or you pull a Wizard of Oz and eventually reveal the man behind the chocolate-stained curtain.
Best: Tyler Breeze, Workhorse
Correct me if I’m wrong, but the Beauty Shot Tyler Breeze uses to KO Tye Dillinger on this episode is the best Beauty Shot ever, right? Usually Breeze just jumps and turns, and the momentum’s all in the jump. Here, he ducks a clothesline, plants his feet and just snaps his legs over into Dillinger’s face. That’s so much better. It looks like a guy actually getting kicked to death, and not a drive-by carwashing.
Breeze isn’t doing much, but he’s doing and that’s important. He’s trouncing a bunch of mid-carders without looking like he’s squashing them, allowing them to look like valid competition but still out of his league. By wrestling them well and defeating them fairly, he’s earning that street cred where six months from now when Austin Aries or whoever shows up as the “new hot NXT Superstar,” Breeze can legitimately say, “hey, I’ve been here winning matches and being the kingshit of f*ck mountain for months, Austin Aries can go screw.” I want Breeze to get up on at least one of these newbie jerks.
If Finn dethrones Owens in Japan, I hope Breeze is the one to take the belt off Finn. One or both of them will be off in Smackdown Land by then, I guess, but I’d hate to see the NXT Championship become the Popular New Guy From A Different Promotion title. Give it to a guy who needs it. KENTA doesn’t need the NXT title. He’s KENTA forever. Tyler Breeze does.
Best: Samoa Joe, Non-Factor
And now our main-event, in which Rhyno accidentally establishes himself as better and more important than Samoa Joe. Whoops!
The finish here is GREAT, with heel miscommunication that legitimately looks accidental. Bálor and Owens are going at it, Rhyno runs in trying to Gore Bálor but Bálor moves, and Owens EATS IT. Rhyno tries to apologize, so Bálor dropkicks him ass-first into Owens’ face and throws a double-stomp to pin KO and make him look truly vulnerable for arguably the first time in his NXT career. It’s a great way to build to the Japan show, especially seeing as Owens can say he only lost because of Rhyno and a finisher barrage, and Bálor can try to prove himself by summoning The Demon and beating WWE’s Worst Person one-on-one. Meanwhile, Samoa Joe’s somewhere on the outside trying to get pistachios out of a vending machine.
I can’t wait for Bálor vs. Owens. I’ll make sure we have a live thread for it even if it happens at 5:30 AM on a weekend. If Bálor breaks out the LEGOs to pay off the vignettes and gives us an Interspecies Wrestling tribute, I might never sleep again.