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And now, the Best and Worst of WWE NXT for June 3, 2015.
Best/Worst: Tyler Breeze vs. The Ghost Of Tyler Breeze Future
This week’s show opens with ‘Prince Pretty’ Tyler Breeze having a 12-minute match with the dark, future version of himself that will come to be if he doesn’t correct his mistakes in the present. Future Breeze started off as a popular, fun-loving, niche NXT star with great WWE fundamentals and got called up to the main roster to recreate the act. Unfortunately for Future Breeze there was no second step to the plan (and he didn’t have any high-smark domestic indie street cred to fall back on), so he just became this drab, gray, depressed guy in a tattered fur cape. Now he’s back on NXT, and John Cena’s burying him on Raw by lumping him in with the Funkasaurus and the XFL.
It’s a solid match, but Breeze is stuck between heel and face and Future Breeze is basically one of those colorless people with the lines on their heads from the end of Mameshiba commercials, so the crowd’s not sure how to react. The announce team keeps mentioning “the resourcefulness of Tyler Breeze,” which I guess means “he takes a bunch of offense and then hits the Beauty Shot out of nowhere.” That counts as one resource!
I want two things going forward:
1. NXT to sit down and say, “OK, here’s what we’re doing with Tyler Breeze,” then DO IT, whether a popular guy from another promotion shows up or not. If you have plans for Breeze, have those plans. Prince Devitt and Samoa Joe and KENTA are already cool enough to hang out and wait a minute. Or do them all at the same time, I don’t care, just don’t keep starting and stopping with this dude.
2. Maybe give Adam Rose something to do? I can’t keep using “it’s funny when a failed character returns to NXT and they’re dead inside.” It seems like it’s on purpose when it’s one or two depressing people, I can’t deal with half the roster being emotionally-crippled bums.
Worst: Solomon Crowe Is Slurms McKenzie The Wrestler
I use “worst” jokingly, because Solomon Crowe’s epic badness is starting to become charming. Devin tries to interview him backstage by yelling “Crowe!” at him a bunch, so I guess Devin’s using that familiar last name identification strategy. Like when people call me “Stroud.”
Anyway, Crowe has learned how to cut promos by watching Jim Carrey’s The Mask on loop. He says that “he’ll be back,” because he lost a match and that means he’s dead now? He’ll be back in a match with the NXT Champion and he’ll bring it FULL FORCE, or whatever Jumpin’ Jeff Farmer would say if he was working an Oompa Loompa hacker gimmick in 2015. He’s hilariously not equipped for any of this and I kinda love him for it.
Also, why’s the camera focused on the background and not the people in the shot? And when are they gonna get new backstage banners and stop having to cover up the old timeslot with masking tape?
Worst: Are We In Hell Now
ALL GREG EVERYTHING
Creepy Greg brings out Eva Marie and says this isn’t her first time on NXT, reminding us that she was in the crowd at TakeOver: Unstoppable. Greg wasn’t around for her actual match against Bayley, and I’m not convinced he realizes he’s talking to people on a wrestling show yet. He just thinks he’s snuck into a really confusing bodybuilding competition.
Anyway, Eva Marie. She shows up and cuts this bad, curiously-edited promo about the “buzzing” in NXT, and how the women here are revolutionizing This Business. I say “curiously-edited” because they never actually show Greg and Eva on the stage WITH the crowd, it’s just a tight-ass closeup on them and then closeups on people booing her. I don’t know if they re-edited it and had her re-do her promo and dubbed in the crowd response audio or what, but I’m familiar enough with WWE’s production cues to get the gitchy when they’ve changed.
I’ve read a lot of discussions online about the crowd’s response to Eva and how much we hope she cried afterwards or whatever, and that’s not my line of thought. I think this was a purposeful decision, and that it worked the way they wanted. They know the NXT crowd, right? They have to. They know when certain things are going to bomb, and they’re smart enough to utilize those things to their advantage. Create expectations, then change them.
If Eva Marie is training and has shown improvement, showing that the crowd hates her for her past failures and then having her suddenly blow them away with something mildly impressive — remember, NXT crowds are MOST impressed by the mildly impressive — it’ll be something special. I reserve the right to be totally wrong, but this feels like step one in an ambitious attempt to make the lady hired for how she looks “earn” her spot in the eyes of a bunch of nerds. Myself included.
Best: WWE In Japan On The 4th Of July
In another segment edited to show a person but not necessarily anybody he’s talking to, William Regal addresses the upcoming WWE Network live special from Japan airing July 4 and announces Kevin Owens vs. Finn Bálor for the NXT Championship. Bálor returns to the place where he made his name (well, not that name) and brings The Demon, who will hopefully get powerbombed into a ring apron as hard as humanly possible.
That entire card looks weird and great — Kofi Kingston vs. BROCK LENSAR, ARE YOU KIDDING ME — and a WWE live event from Japan on an American holiday is the kind of WWE I wish existed more often. You are World Wrestling Entertainment, you know? You shouldn’t just mail in two bad shows a year from England and call it a world.
Best: Heelexa Bliss
Here’s something we’re all thinking: “Heel Alexa Bliss is the best.”
If there’s one thing that makes Alexa Bliss the new Trish Stratus like everyone’s predicting, it’s that when she’s a face she’s kinda dippy and helpless, but when she’s heel, she’s rad. Heel Trish was always a billion times better than “whoops, hold me up for the bulldog COME ON SERIOUSLY HOLD ME UP AAAHH” Face Trish, at least once T&A came and went. Face Bliss was endearing and had her glitter sneeze, but she was just rollups and bloody teeth. Heel Bliss is a revelation, and watching her fuss at the crowd while yanking Carmella around in a cravat is my jam.
The dynamic with Blake & Murphy works really well because they’re getting heat for being boring, vanilla guys who win all the time. That’s kryptonite for an NXT crowd. They want to see special snowflakes now, not average WWE types. People like Tyler Breeze or the Vaudevillains show up and they’re heels too twee for mass WWE consumption, but they’re weird and special, so Full Sail goes nuts. Enzo Amore’s another example. He looks like the crazy-eyed mogwai from Gremlins 2 and yells absurd stuff but he’s WEIRD AND SPECIAL, so the crowd loves it. Blake and Murphy are average as f*ck and do suplexes and dropkicks and the crowd is like weeeeeeeennnnnhhhhhhh. They have dubstep for no reason. They leapfrog each other for no reason. AND THEY KEEP WINNING. It’s infuriating. Adding Bliss to that gives them enough personality and identity to justify their continued existence, but not enough to compromise the “outsiders by being insiders” vibe they’ve got going. I’m into it.
Carmella still isn’t great, but she’s getting better. She needs to stop thinking she has to do an exaggerated taunt before every move. Bayley does the scrunchie adjustment before a move, but she doesn’t do it before ALL OF THEM. Carmella is straight-up losing matches because instead of running forward and punching, she does a hair flip, jives her hands around and yells “woo.” Not totally sure it’s on purpose.
Best: The Vaudeheroes, Or
Worst: Jason Jordan Is The Dumbest Man Alive
Speaking of the Vaudevillains, hey, the Vaudevillains still exist!
Simon Gotch and Aiden English are driving the Lucha Dragons out of whichever town that was where they kept trying to blow up buildings, so now they’re free to return (as babyfaces!) to Full Sail. They take on the wonderfully stupid combination of Jason Jordan and MARCUS LOUIS, which makes Jordan’s “I don’t need Chad Gable as my partner because I’ve been scouting and found the perfect option” talking point amazing. He seriously scouted around the Performance Center and was like, “you know who I want to tag with? The lonely, rabid Frenchman who was driven insane by an accident involving a bucket of hair-removal cream and brutally beat up the only other tag partner he’s ever had. THAT’S MY MAN.”
I like the Vaudeheroes a lot, because Gotch and English are such legit dorks, and what, are we supposed to BOO old-timey strongmen? They should have been faces from the start, and the gimmick could have/should have been explained as a fun aesthetic choice they made to stand out from the crowd. It’s like the Killer Bees. They just wore striped trunks, they weren’t supposed to be actual bees. The fact that they weren’t actual anthropomorphic bees didn’t make us like them any less.
Since Jordan/Louis didn’t work out, I hope Jordan’s like, “I found a NEW tag team partner, someone who will never turn his back on me!” and then brings out Lex Luger.
Best: The Regular Bálor
The main event puts Finn Bálor in the ring with Rhyno, who is once again focused on taking the NXT Championship now that he’s done with that Chuck and Buck thing he was doing with Baron Corbin. It ends the way most big Rhyno matches end: A guy attempts his finish, Rhyno moves, Rhyno goes for the gore, guy moves, Rhyno hits the middle turnbuckle and gets rolled up for three.
It was good, and continues Bálor’s rise, which is necessary for him as a championship challenger if you’ve got your champion showing up on WWE events and pinning John Cena clean. Like, Bálor should be double-stomping Randy Orton to death to look like a threat. Beating Rhyno is the least he could do.
Best: FROM OUTTA NOWHERE
The best use of Rhyno is acts of unnecessary aggression. That’s what made us like him in ECW … he’d be feuding with the Sandman or whoever and you’d expect them to trade victories and maybe attack each other, but then whoops, here’s Rhyno piledriving a woman off an apron through a table and screaming about how he’s going to f*ck her wounds in the hospital. I guess “like” isn’t the word I should’ve used there, but it’s the way he should be used: as a guy who isn’t necessarily the best at what he does, but who is willing to go way, way too far whether he wins or loses.
Bálor wins the match and poses on the ramp and you think it’s over, and then noooope, here comes Rhyno from off-screen to practically Gore him off the stage. That’s the Rhyno I want. I don’t want him standing too close to Corbin and whisper-shouting about how much he wants to work him, I want him running in and spearing Renee into him and putting them both through the set. Rhyno is a bullet, not a gun.