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Please click through for the Best and Worst of WWE NXT for July 17, 2014.
Best: They Keep Finding Ways To Make The Vaudevillains Better
I’ve written somewhat extensively about NXT keeping its wrestlers fresh by having them (get this) continually do new things and tweak their act. On Raw, a character like Adam Rose debuts and you’d better like him, because he’s gonna be exactly the same forever. On NXT, a character debuts and the promotion allows you to MAINTAIN that excitement by popping you with some unexpected little addition week after week.
This week’s tiny addition was the Vaudevillains getting introduced by a CARNIVAL BARKER (!!) and having dedicated spotlights for themselves on either side of the stage. It’s wonderful. If they’d debuted a month ago and were just “the guys with a black and white entrance” we might be tired of them.
Worst: Get Your Raw Finish Out Of My NXT
The opening tag match is the Vaudevillains vs. Enzo Amore and Big Cass, which is EXACTLY what I want to see. Unfortunately the match gets short by SOMEONE’S MUSIC PLAYING, which is enough to distract Cass and let Gotch roll him up with a handful of tights for the three. Look, guys, I’ve got to deal with this finish 1-5 times on every episode of Raw. I write about Raw enough. NXT’s supposed to be my happy place where everyone’s moving forward and you try new things. Keep your Raw finishes on Raw, or better yet, put them all on Smackdown so I never have to see them again. The only way this is okay is if next week Devin Taylor interviews The Legionnaires and Sylvester LeFort says VE SAW ZOMEONE DO IT ON RHHHAW!
Quick supplemental Best for Enzo Amore’s ring gear being animal-print capri pants and sneakers. How you doin’.
Best: The Enzo Promo We Didn’t Actually Get On The Show
GOIN’ UPSIDE HIS NOODLE WITH THE WHOLE KIT N’ KABOODLE
Worst: The Ascension Goes For A Second Catchphrase
The single weirdest moment of the show happens in the backstage … discussion panel? With the Ascension. Konnor’s delivering a few lines about how there are a lot of teams in NXT who think they can be tag champions, and then he (somewhat out of the blue) goes “AYYO VIC!” Dramatic pause. He leans back, does the Eddie Guerrero shoulder shimmy (WHAT ARE YOU DOING) and says “PREACHHHH” like he’s hocking a loogie into the air and trying to catch it. Hard P, long H. It’s SO WEIRD. It’s like they wanted the Road Warriors’ TELL ‘EM HAWK and the Dudley Boyz OH MY BROTHER TESTIFY to be the same thing.
You guys are already nonspecific as hell. You’re vaguely occult ancient Egyptian iconographic chain mail wearers, and now you’re saying “ayyo?” I can’t with you right now.
Worst: I Figured Out Why I Don’t Like Xavier Woods Matches
“Xavier Woods is terrible” is the quick answer, but stay with me here.
Wrestling is as much about being in position for moves as it is performing them. You’ve got to be in the right place at the right time. It’s a team effort, and you have to be able to trust the person you’re in the ring with to know what they’re doing. Xavier Woods is wrestling entire matches without ever taking into consideration where his opponent’s supposed to be.
Watch him here. Instead of organically moving from one place to another, Woods will just take off across the ring and hit the ropes at a trajectory that would never approach his opponent. CJ Parker has to mindlessly jog over to wherever Woods is wrestling. There’s a point where Woods ends up on the ring apron and Parker keeps getting knocked back, but he has to keep stumbling around and returning to where he was so Woods can do his springboard DDT. There’s no teamwork happening. A guy’s just running around doing random wrestling things he’s learned and hopes you’re there to get hit by them. It’s the worst.
Here is my favorite GIF from the match:
Worst: Rudy Charles Is Still The Worst
I’ve had my eye on former TNA referee Rudy Charles (now WWE referee “Dan”) since he ruined two matches on Raw and killed the momentum of the #1 contender match for the NXT Women’s Championship last week. This week, Rudy refs the CJ Parker vs. Xavier Woods match, and ONCE AGAIN he makes the finish as awkward as possible.
The finish is supposed to be Woods going for an O’Connor roll off the ropes, Parker countering it by sitting down on it and grabbing the ropes for leverage to score a cheap win. Woods has felt like the heel for their entire feud, so Parker cheating to win is kinda necessary to give it balance. What the finish ENDS UP BEING is Woods goes for an O’Connor roll off the ropes, Parker counters it by sitting down on it and grabs the ropes, then Rudy Charles jamming his f*cking hand under them going DO YA HAVE IT, DO YA HAVE IT, HOLD ON, HOLD ON under Parker can’t hold onto the ropes anymore and gets a CLEAN victory. It was seriously like a six count. it doesn’t help that Charles slapping his hand on the mat to check the shoulder looks and sounds like he’s counting. GOD DAMN DUDE IT’S THE FINISH, YOU KNOW IT’S THE FINISH, COUNT IT.
You are the dirt worst, Rudy Charles.
Best: Sasha Banks Wrecking Alexa Bliss
This was exactly what I wanted it to be. For weeks (and arguably her entire NXT career), Sasha Banks has been the workhorse of the BFF with almost nothing to show for it. She’s the one that loses to set up something with Summer or Charlotte, or she’s the one who hunches over and makes weird faces and hand gestures to let you know the team’s mean. When I saw she was wrestling Alexa Bliss, my first thought was, “she needs to WRECK her. Like Vader wrecking the Z-Man.”
It wasn’t quite that, but it was the decisive win The Boss needed. Bliss is adorable (and her picture-in-picture promo sounded like it was written by a third grader, but it was an improvement), but she doesn’t have any offense. She has roll-ups and a flip off the ropes that does nothing and isn’t dodging anything. She just somersaults off and rolls around. Again, adorable, but if I’m Sasha Banks and I’m in the ring with a glitter spewing baby gymnast I’m putting the fear of God in her.
Sasha wins with the best move in NXT — the lungblower floated over into a crossface — but what made it for me was how she got there. There are few things in wrestling I like more than somebody countering a clothesline by hooking their arm to it, reversing the momentum and spinning their opponent around to hit something. It’s so close to making physical sense and I can’t get enough of it. It’s the “I ran behind you and hit the ropes when you weren’t expecting it” of clothesline counters.
Best: Legal Contracts Aren’t Drawn Up In A Couple Of Hours
Tyler Breeze isn’t on the show very much this week … he’s still nursing a career-threatening hand modeling injury, after all … but he’s here long enough to blow Devin’s mind with a series of factually incorrect statements about how legal contracts work and a promise that he will eventually, one day soon, probably maybe face Adrian Neville for the NXT Championship. To ease the pain of us not getting to see him wrestle, he shows us his music video again. You are the best, Tyler Breeze, please stay in the NXT womb forever.
Note: I was hoping Disco Inferno was gonna show up in the second airing of the video, but it didn’t happen.
Worst: JASON JORDON
That’s gotta be on purpose, right? Some copyright thing, like when Connor became “Konnor.”
No? Y’all just f*cked up? All right.
Best/Worst: The Adam Rose Mysteries
Adam Rose wrestled, and the less said about that at this point the better. I’m surprised he didn’t stop in the middle to tell Jor-Don about Doritos Loaded.
The best and worst parts of the match involve Jordan’s picture-in-picture interview. He explains that his tag team partner Tye Dillinger is hurt, and he doesn’t know why … but the last time he saw him he was partying with the Rosebuds, so he’s taken this singles match against Rose to “get to the bottom” of it. That is SO AWESOME. I wan’t Jordan and Dillinger to be a mystery solving tag team, and I want scenarios where the lights go out in the Full Sail arena and when they come back on, the bunny has a knife in his back. GIVE ME THIS.
The “worst” is that after the picture-in-picture, the situation is never addressed again. You’d better give me closure on this, NXT.
Best: Vaudevillainous Interruptions
Kalisto and Devin are having some sort of Handy Mandy and Kelly interaction backstage when they are interrupted by THE VAUDEVILLAINS, who have prepared a condescending sign to ask about El Local. Turns out Kalisto and Local have “parted ways” — Kalisto wanted to go to the gym, Local wouldn’t leave the trashcan at Whataburger — but he’ll have a NEW partner to face the Villains next week. I wonder if it’ll be that OTHER luchador who showed up last week and won a match for absolutely no reason?
SOMEBODY GET JASON JORDON ON THE CASE.
Best: A Brilliantly Wrestled Match By Tyson Kidd
This match RULED.
It wasn’t your standard EVERYTHING’S EXCITING affair. It wasn’t Zayn vs. Cesaro part any of them. What it was was a brilliantly-wrestled, realistic (in terms of pro wrestling) match that told a cohesive story. The announcers didn’t just have to say “Tyson Kidd prepared for this match,” Kidd SHOWED it. He had a counter for all the obvious Sami Zayn setups. When Zayn tried to Blue Thunder Bomb him, he countered it by immediately spinning around. He then countered the counter with a go-behind. When Zayn went for a Helluva Kick in the corner, he powdered. Hell, he spent the first few minutes of the match just wandering around outside the ring. Tyson Kidd should do nothing but stall. Stalling should be his thing. He should do, like, three wrestling moves per year.
Zayn held up his end of things, too, as he always does. Seeing him win matches is making me uneasy, because I’m gonna start believing in his success again, and that’s gonna kick me in my ass the next time he wrestles an important match. What I loved about the finish is how resilient Zayn was being, but how Kidd tapped out as soon as he was in trouble. That’s good character work right there, especially that shot of Kidd disappointed on the ramp where you KNOW he knows he shouldn’t have tapped out so quickly and should’ve tried harder, but he’s so pissed and tired of everything and just doesn’t know what to do.
Best: Tyson Chicken
The crowd was great here, too, with not only a “Tyson chicken” chant for the stalling (clever) but a FULL-ON CHICKEN DANCE CHANT. I make fun of you sometimes, but you are the best crowd.