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– There’s a very important note about me being AT NXT next month, so if you’re an Orlando-area reader and want to say hi, make sure you don’t miss that.
Please click through to enjoy the Best and Worst of WWE NXT for June 26, 2013. You can hold it, but you can’t have it.
Best: He Still Needs Five
This week’s episode of NXT begins with the tried-and-true “this guy lost a big match, so now he’s AGGRESSIVE” WWE trope, the one you may have seen during Ryback’s match with The Great Khali on Raw, and in every other instance of a strong guy losing in modern WWE history. I mean, it works. If a guy with tons of credibility loses, having him beat a bunch of guys like they’re nothing immediately afterwards is a nice reminder that he’s not just a bystander in John Cena’s Unstoppable Pinfall Parade. Here, John Cena is being played by Bo Dallas. That’s not as broad a leap as it sounds.
I’m not a huge fan of the trope (I think a decisive win over somebody who actually MATTERS is a better indicator of recovery … the difference between Antonio Cesaro beating a guy like Orton and him complaining about a lack of competition after beating Zack Ryder), but I love me some Big E Langston jobber squashes, so I’m giving it a Best. I’m not sure why Big E even still needs to be around, though. He’s a regularly occurring Raw character who gets to hang with guys like Alberto Del Rio and/or dress up as himself in dramatic reenactments of Kaitlyn segments, so he probably could’ve moseyed on over to Raw forever after the Bo Dallas loss and nobody would’ve thought ill of him. Leave the guys who aren’t doing anything on Raw to get NXT TV time.
Like, uh, Antonio Cesaro.
Best: Aiden English, The Street Fighter Joke Character Of NXT
While I’m mentioning things I love, I’d like to give a formal Best to Aiden English, aka “Claudio Castagnoli before he went bald and got a tan.” If you aren’t familiar with English, he’s a nerdy, legitimately intelligent and tolerant dude who once described himself as “Liz Lemon in trunks.” He’s exactly the kind of wrestler you should support, even if he’s aping Marion Fontaine’s gimmick in the big leagues.
It would’ve been nice to see him get in more offense than “goofy roll for no reason,” but whatever, HE NEEDS FIVE.
Best: Hold Emma’s Bubbles, But Don’t Play With Them
Hulu, you are the worst people on the Internet for not putting Emma and Renee Young’s promo on the Internet.
Emma is my heart’s joy given life. Her part of the show this week begins with her being too busy dance chopping bubbles from her own bubble gun to talk to Renee, then calming herself long enough to announcer her strategy in the NXT Women’s Championship tournament (“uh, I’m gonna WIN”) before getting distracted by the bubbles again and spraying them in poor Renee’s face. Then she realizes she can’t bring the bubbles WITH her, so she gets Renee to hold her gun … but Renee can’t USE it. She can HOLD the bubbles, but she can’t HAVE them. Renee considers it (twice!) because she is also delightful, and yep, aside from Mark Henry lying about retirement this is my favorite non-wrestling thing on wrestling TV this year.
Emma’s great in her match, too, despite being in the ring with the very worst wrestler in WWE, Aksana. She doesn’t get to do a lot, but she gets distracted by the Emma chants and just tries to dance away in a semi-circle and she breaks out her gorgeous Muta Lock, which is great because she actually wrenches it in, instead of bridging back and holding her opponent’s face like 99% of other Divas might do. You are my favorite, Emma, and the loss of you in transition from NXT to Raw would be even sadder than Bray Wyatt saying “f**k it, my name is HUSKY AXEL.”
Worst: Aksana Is Still The Worst
But no, Aksana blows. She’s f**king horrid at every part of this, and I’m still pretty mad that whoever put the NXT Women’s Championship tournament together set up the entire first round to be terrible. The tournament did not need Tamina Snuka and Aksana. Replace them with Natalya and Naomi and you get the exact same thing, only competent. And while you’re at it, replace Summer Rae with ANN DANGO BECAUSE F**K YOU.
Worst: I Like Leo Kruger’s Character More Than Leo Kruger’s Wrestling, Or
Worst: Dante Dash, aka The Prime Time Players As One Guy
So, Leo Kruger is back, and he still hasn’t gotten SO good at being a character that it excuses his wrestling faults, a la Bray Wyatt. He’s great and weird, but he’s still Leo Kruger in the ring, and watching him work the arm all match to set up a clothesline (a clothesline that isn’t even good) is stupid. And his finish is an armbar that works the pectoral, and guys are screaming and tapping out because their arm is supposed to be hurt. Gordon Solie has to have some tape recorders lying around that explain shit like this, right?
A supplementary Worst goes to the hastily named DANTE DASH, who is, as I mentioned, both Prime Time Players as one guy. He’s got the Titus football background, muscular build and dark skin, but he’s got Darren Young’s gaudy accessories and body language. He needs to carry around a hair pick and a whistle, and/or lose to a guy who is a combination of Kane and Daniel Bryan every week.
Hey, you know who is a combination of Kane and Daniel Bryan? Every e-fed wrestler ever.
Worst: Nope, All My Bo Dallas Good Will Is Gone
Last week I gave Bo Dallas credit for embracing the “I’m a good guy, but people hate me because I’m not cool” act, mostly because I thought he’d turned a corner as a character and was gonna work with this natural flaws, i.e. looking and acting like Bo Dallas. But NOPE, fast forward a week and he’s still the same Bo Dallas, doing fiery comebacks and repeated knockdowns and yelling shit like YEAHHH COME ONNNN and getting mildly booed for it.
That’s the problem with Bo … the mildness. He’s not a TERRIBLE wrestler, he’s just a mild one who gets pushed and given opportunities that at least 15 dynamic NXT motherf**kers I can name off the top of my head don’t get. The crowd doesn’t give him Vickie Guerrero reactions or anything, they just sincerely don’t want to see him wrestling. If he isn’t gonna run with that and he’s gonna keep getting put into (NXT) main event feuds with clear heels like Leo Kruger at the audience’s expense … then yeah, no mo’ Bo.
Worst: Rise Above The “What” Chants, NXT Crowd
You’re better than this. No wrestling crowd of fewer than 5,000 people should be chanting “what.” Once you break 5,000, you’re officially a “Universe,” and that transitions the vibe from “a community of fans watching a wrestling show together” to “do what you’re told when we tell you to and don’t miss any of your cues.”
Best: FINAL BOSS
The main-event was a tag team match between one guy I like (Kassius Ohno) and four I don’t (Corey Graves, Impact Wrestling The Tag Team and their manager, rap album-era Macho Man Randy Savage), but it gets a super bright and shiny Best for the brawl at the end.
The Wyatt Family shows up to destroy the faces (+1). Adrian Neville runs out to make the save (+1) but gets beaten up by everybody. That draws BILL F’N REGAL out from behind the announce table to join in the fight and assumedly set up a beef between him and Bray Wyatt, giving Wyatt that “NXT FINAL BATTLE” thing Ohno and Ambrose got to test whether or not they’re ready to be epic, top-shelf main roster guys (+infinity). If you are not down for a Bray Wyatt/William Regal feud, you are disqualified from wrestling fandom and are no longer allowed to read this column or speak to other humans. This is gonna be GOOD.
And the only thing that could be a bigger Best than that? I MIGHT GET TO SEE IT ALL HAPPEN LIVE.
Best: Holy Crap, I Am Going To The Next NXT Tapings
I’m going to be live and in general admission (woo) for the next set of Full Sail NXT tapings. It’ll be my first-ever live NXT show, and I am so unbelievably excited to meet these guys, because my love of wrestling and Minor League Baseball have sorta set me up to claim lower-level hopefuls as my favorites. If a mark photo of me with Emma happens, I may retire this column completely and just write happy love poems on Geocities for the rest of my life.
So yeah, if you’re a reader (or a friend, or Emma) in the Orlando area and want to say hi, I’ll be down there between July 10-14. Say hi to me at NXT, or at Shine 11. It’s gonna be fun.