– If you want to watch this week’s show, you may do so here. I’d recommend a mute button for most of it.
– We’re one episode away from finishing our retro Best and Worst recap of NXT season 2, so be sure you’re caught up before we write up the finale. Because oh God, that NXT season 2 finale. The moment you read about it, that moment … that’ll be the moment.
– Share the column! The NXT report should have at least as many readers as the Raw version, if only so the “you hate wrestling and never enjoy anything!” people could get a little context.
Please click through for the Best and Worst of WWE NXT for June 26, 2014.
Best: The Vaudevillains Continue To Be Wonderful
The highlight of last week’s show (and possibly my adult life) was the debut of ‘The Vaudevillains,’ the tag team pairing of column favorite Aiden English with Simon Gotch, a mute (?) carnival strongman. That highlight continued this week thanks to NXT doing one thing very well: adding new wrinkles to fun characters every time we see them, so we never get tired of them.
Consider how NXT characters play on Raw. Emma shows up and she does a wacky dance. The next time we see her, she does the same wacky dance. And the next time we see her it’s the same thing. Adam Rose does the same thing. He debuted alongside a party with a bunny in it. A couple of months later what’s he doing? Standing near a party with a bunny in it. He hasn’t really done or said anything beyond “bunny party,” so we either have to like his one thing and eat it every week or get tired of it.
NXT doesn’t let that happen. Tyler Breeze debuts as a guy who takes selfies. He gets an entrance that shows his face on a big fake phone on the video screen. Everybody loves it. Soon after he’s got a story about a guy photobombing him, which is the one natural story for a selfies-themed wrestler. Then we find out he doesn’t like being hit in the face. A few weeks later he changes his seasonal residence and the announce team is telling us which animals were killed to make his clothes. Then he gets a story about how he’s toughening up and is okay with getting hit in the face, he just doesn’t LIKE it. Things move forward. Just the addition of new, tiny details every week make a wrestler seem like they’re alive, and not a choice you made in the video game and have to live with in that form forever.
The Vaudevillains are already doing that. Last week they debuted with their awesome turn-of-the-century nWo entrance and Simon Gotch did squats in a wristlock. This week, instead of doing the exact same thing and expecting it to be exactly as over, English announced their TOTAL COMBINED HEIGHT (!) and Gotch did clapping push-ups while holding a guy in a leg scissors. A figure-one headlock, whatever.
What I’m getting at is that the reason we nerds who watch NXT get so hyped about our favorites getting popular and showing up on the main roster is because we’ve watched them grow and develop and always bring something new to the table for a while. Sorry if we can’t see the dead end approaching.
Best: Are These Jobbers Seriously Named “Tea” And “Sugarman?”
You know where you keep tea and sugar? In GOOLJARS.
Best: I Really Like Renee Young’s Shirt
Just wanted to say that, because I do. She’s an awfully attractive lady.
Worst: Everything Else About The Commentary Here, Though
The other reason I wanted to say that is because I’m a classically pro-Renee guy and LOVE Raw Renee, but NXT Renee has been a human-shaped pile of fart garbage for a while now. In the opening match she says the following: “They used to train with the boxing Gordon Sisters! Despite them being women, they are very tough opponents.” And yo, maybe she’s being facetious, but Alex Riley’s chuckling at it under his breath, so I dunno. Renee’s started bagging on women outside of Divas matches. Is there a point to that, other than scoring brownie points with the least likable person employed by WWE?
Another thing they’re doing too much of is “I heard” gags. Renee just goes I HEARD and follows it with something dumb, like I HEARD SO AND SO JUST CLIMBED MOUTH EVEREST WITH TWO PROSTHETIC LEGS! YEAH, HE KEPT THEM IN HIS BACKPACK! or whatever. When it’s not jokes, it’s “I heard this thing backstage!” or “I heard someone calls this move THIS!” There’s a time and place for that, and it is not constantly or in every match. I heard I would like for you to just call the f*cking wrestling match.
One last complaint: Somebody needs to find a nice way to tell Renee to stop going OOOHH! when anything happens. She’s not calling the match or adding color, she’s just talking about something unrelated and suddenly yelling OH! like she’s just noticed wrestling’s happening. It’ll be like, “so Alex I heard you like boogie boarding, boogie boarding is a cool sport, right, I heard you OH! OOOH! So tell me more about OH! Tell me more about this boogie board.” It’s reaching Susan St. James at WrestleMania 2 territory. Your job is not to constantly sound like you’re falling down a flight of stairs.
Poor Rich Brennan. Poor, poor Rich Brennan. He looks like he’s feeding Alex Riley pellets in that picture.
Worst: One Of Two Remaining In A Dying Breed
Meet Bull Dempsey, my new least favorite wrestler.
I’m not gonna mince words. F*ck Bull Dempsey. This dude is the Found Art of pro wrestling. Neil from Community in Tazz’s old singlet. He’s that asshole who got told to come up with something creative, realized that nobody else at the Performance Center was watching Chikara iPPVs and thought, “cool, I’ll just do this and no one will know.” He calls himself the “last of a dying breed,” and not only has he apparently decided to ape Eddie Kingston’s catchphrases, he’s aping THE WAY KINGSTON TALKS. Listen to an Eddie Kingston promo and then listen to Bull Dempsey. It’s like me doing John Laurinaitis at Fan Axxess. Bill DeMott or whoever hears it, suddenly thinks the kid’s a wrestling genius and tells him to do it on TV. Now we’re stuck with this dope doing Bray Wyatt’s transitional moves, finishing with a weaksauce Emerald Flowsion he “calls something” and mean-mugging through the worst-ever version of a better wrestler’s better promos.
Here’s how much I hated Bull Dempsey: I was rooting for Xavier Woods to get up and start winning.
Best: I Don’t Want To Be So Negative, So Here Are Two Justifications For This
1. It furthers my “NXT and Chikara exist in the same universe” theory, and maybe Dempsey is an alternate timeline King?
2. Better yet, maybe Dempsey and Kingston are both from the same dying breed but aren’t aware of each others’ existence. Their promos and acts of violence are just mournful cries for another of their own kind.
The actual justification is probably, “I’m gonna say I grew up loving Bruiser Brody because they threw in a Best of Brody compilation when I ordered more than $50 from Smart Mark.”
A screencap from this match:
Me too, Summer.
I’m sure Becky Lynch is a great wrestler. She looked good in the ring. I’m sure she’s a delightful person with a lot of personality. At the same time, real talk? I wanted Summer Rae to attack her from behind with a shovel and beat her in the knees until she promised to never “jig” again. She’s Irish, get it? That means she Riverdances CONSTANTLY. During her entrance. When she gets into the ring. Between moves. By the time she was actually standing up and yelling DIDDLY DIDDLY DIDDLY DIDDLY while she did it I couldn’t handle it anymore. This might be residual Bull Dempsey anger showing up, but God, if I could change wrestling with my brain the BFF would’ve been circle-stomping this goober in a heartbeat.
Best: The Actual Wrestling
Like I said, she looked good in the ring. That Exploder suplex (that made me originally think it was a capture suplex by the way she brought the leg so high up) was crazy impressive. If they can Cotton Hill Becky’s legs to forever end the jigging, we’ll have a winner.
Look out Itchy, they’re French!
Big Cass defeats Sawyer Fulton by slapping his own thigh as hard as possible, and that (for some reason) brings out Sylvester LeFort and Marcus Louis. They do some sinister French “closing in” stuff, and that brings us to the motherf*cking Fireworks Factory and the return of ENZO AMORE, aka THE REALEST GUY IN THE ROOM.
I don’t know what to type about Enzo other than exclamation points and capital letters. There is no guy in professional wrestling who has me glued to the screen when he talks like Enzo. Having him back makes Big Cass 100% better, and hell, it does the same to NXT. The WWE Fan Nation video truncated the shit out of Enzo’s return, so if you’ve never heard him cut a promo before, good lord, enjoy:
Never leave me again, you beautiful little weirdo.
Best: Tyler Breeze Is Not A Future Teller
“What am I, a future teller?”
During the main event, Alex Riley is suddenly replaced with TYLER BREEZE, and this is the biggest pro wrestling-related upgrade since Triple H got a new girlfriend. It’s WONDERFUL. Breeze spends the entire time he’s on commentary staring at himself in his phone, and he absolutely GARROTES Renee every time she asks him a question. She never figures it out, either. The match is pretty long, and instead of talking about a single aspect of it, she keeps asking Tyler questions like “are you going to go on tour with Jay Z and Beyonce.” It’s embarrassing. Breeze is a great improvisor, though, and Yes Ands as much of it as he can, but he’s never afraid to give her the simple, honest answer with a heaping side order of YOU ARE STUPID. I shouldn’t be in a position where I want to see somebody make Renee feel badly about herself for 15 minutes, but after six months of OH! and “ladies are garbage, high five fellas,” it was refreshing. He was (and remains) the Anti Alex Riley.
On a related note, it’s gonna be awesome when Rich Brennan finally snaps and tells the people around him to shut the f*ck up. Just a full-on Network moment. Maybe he can flip the announce table. I want hard ass journalist Rich Brennan to shove Alex Riley on his ass and tell him to call the f*cking wrestling match.
Best: The F*cking Wrestling Match
I’m not a big fan of anything Rob Van Dam does, but God bless him for not only showing up to work in developmental, but to put over its champion clean. How many guys would do that? It’s the perfect use of RVD … showing up to have a competitive match but lose to these kids who grew up thinking he was the coolest guy in the world. You know, back when he was the coolest guy in the world. Back in Seth Rollins’ 2005.
In all seriousness, it was pretty fun. Neville continues to be the most legit NXT Champion ever by just fighting people and winning.
Oh, and one last thing …
Near the end of the match, Van Dam shoves Neville into the air like he’s Cesaro, falls backwards and kicks him in the chest on the way down. Did … did Rob Van Dam just break out a new move? Is my “Van Dam hasn’t done anything new since 2001” talking point dead? Am, uh, am I allowed to disqualify it because NXT is a magical place where everything suddenly becomes great? Tell me he did this in FMW or something, I’m too old to come up with another talking point.