– Happy Independence Day, every(domestic)body!
– The Best and Worst recap of NXT season 2 ended on Wednesday. The season 3 recap begins on Wednesday, and I’m pretty sure you don’t want to miss that.
– Share the column because it’s the 4th of July and nobody else is reading:
Click through for the Best and Worst of WWE NXT for July 3, 2014.
Best/Worst: Sing Along With Enzo
If you read last week’s column, you’ll know that Enzo Amore is back and everything is beautiful and nothing hurts.
Enzo and Big Cass are more perfectly matched and essential to one-another’s success than any two people I’ve seen paired in WWE. Cass has the size and the look to make it and he’s got a good personality, but he’s got no spark. Nothing pops. Enzo Amore is nothing BUT pop. He’s one of those people who makes you stop and see what he’s doing whenever he appears, but he’s tiny, looks like a Raider from Fallout 3 and can’t get his wrestling to match his mouth. They’re like Diesel and Shawn Michaels if Diesel was trained in the WCW Power Plant and Shawn Michaels had no self confidence.
I love how much the crowd’s grown to love them, too, and that they’re singing along with the ENTIRETY of Enzo’s introduction speech. That hasn’t happened since the heyday of Konnan and the New Age Outlaws. My fear, though, is that if the crowd likes that one specific speech, that one specific speech is all we’re ever going to hear. That’s scary because Enzo’s variety is what got him over in the first place. You never really know what he’s going to say … he might start rambling about toilet tissue and dimes or comparing himself to a kitty cat. “Sawft” is the destination, but the journey is the best part. If the journey stops being brilliant and simply becomes a standardized crowd cue, that’ll be sad.
(Be careful with my Enzo is what I’m saying.)
Worst: I Know He Is Big But Are We Seriously Using An Elbow Drop As His Finish
The finish to the … would even call that a match? Is Big Cass fist-pumping out an S A W F T saaaaaaWWWFT and then dropping the SOFTEST ELBOW OF ALL TIME on Sylvester Lefort for the win. This isn’t the first time he’s done it, so I guess it’s replacing the East River Crossing and the Obvious Thigh Slap Big Boot as his primary finish. Are we so afraid of injuring each other now that STANDING ELBOW DROPS are finishes? You are not Abdullah the Butcher, Big Cass. You do not have the compact body mass of Dusty Rhodes. That elbow drop is not a death blow. That’d be like Dolph Ziggler pinning people with the jumping 10 punch in the corner.
Best: Tyler Breeze’s Life-Threatening Injury
Adrian Neville is giving a backstage interview about how neither he nor Devin know where they’re supposed to be looking when they talk (I’m assuming) and gets interrupted by Tyler Breeze. Breeze has sorta become the elitist narrator of NXT, pointing out how goofy most peoples’ motivations are and wondering why wrestling characters have to say things more than once. Devin Taylor’s all, “how do you feel about last week’s match with Rob Van Dam” and before Neville can explain himself, Breeze is there to go WHY ARE WE STILL TALKING ABOUT THIS. ASK HIM ABOUT THE MATCH ON A FRIDAY AFTERNOON OR SOMETHING, GOD, IT’S ALREADY NEXT THURSDAY.
The best part of the interruption, of course, is Neville giving Breeze the classic “if you’ve got a problem with me we can fight RIGHT HERE TONIGHT” and Breeze blowing him off due to a career-threatening finger injury he suffered while hand modeling.
I can’t decide what I like more; Neville’s “oh brother” reaction face, or the fact that Tyler Breeze has an excuse to get him out of wrestling but still shows up and walks around everywhere in his gear, entrance jacket and all.
Worst: “The Winged Ring Warrior” Bull Dempsey
Nope. Fat Neil squashed Xavier Woods once, it doesn’t require a dramatic black and white video package.
Best: A Lot To Love In A Kinda Boring Tag Match
If I’m being honest, the tag team match was a little boring. The BFFs are in control for most of it, the faces never really get much of a hope spot and it plays like the more functional tag version of Charlotte/Alexa Bliss. That said, there’s a lot to love here, including:
1. The wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube men get NAMES.
2. A decrease in superfluous Riverdancing.
3. Charlotte being a BEAST. I love how she’s gone from an awkward gymnast to the most convincing physical threat on the show in such a short time. When she was in the ring with Bayley it felt like Ryback vs. Brad Maddox. I think my favorite thing about her is that she does Cesaro’s “f*ck it, time to win the match” rush, where she gets into a small amount of trouble and goes NOPE, refocuses and just crushes her opponent. She did it when Summer Rae returned and tried to deal her an Interruption Loss, and she did it again this week by nerfing Bayley’s contribution to the match ending sprint by just dumping her to the outside and wrecking Becky Lynch.
4. William Regal being obsessed with saying “oh Becky Lynch.”
5. Sasha Banks bringing life to the tired old “stand on the Diva’s hair and pull her arms up” thing by standing on Bayley’s side pony. Usually that move is dumb because people with long hair have to arch their back and go AAAAH AAAAH like they’re being murdered, as though their split ends are the most sensitive parts of the body. By standing on the pony, you’ve got all the hair in one spot and can believably look like you’re yanking the entire thing out by the roots.
6. I’ve gone back and forth about it since I watched the show last night, but I think I like Bayley getting aggressive with Sasha when the match was over. Sasha sticks around to trash talk Becky, so Bayley just hammers her from behind and shitcans her. Sasha wasn’t really doing anything to Becky, and Bayley simply getting between them probably could’ve sufficed, but poor Bayley’s been treated like garbage so long I’m okay with her occasionally punching first and asking questions later.
Worst: Oh No, We’re Letting Sasha Act Again
My new theory is that Sasha Banks is legally blind. Whenever she takes off her stunna shades her eyeballs go all over the place. I’ve never understood it.
I’ve given her a lot of grief for doing that thing where she reacts to every aspect of a sentence as it happens instead of listening to the entire thing and then picking an emotion, but the way she expresses MOST emotions is to look off into the distance. Doesn’t matter if it’s in the sky or buried deep beneath the Earth, an upset Sasha’s gonna glare at it.
If Summer and Sasha aren’t permanently reuniting, let’s keep The Boss as far away from these emotionally expressive backstage conversations as possible. She’s great at so many things. Her timing’s awesome, her facial expression in the ring are on point, her wrestling’s great, she’s the best natural athlete we’ve seen since Black Athlete From A Different Sport (™ Alex Riley) … why not just let that hard to reach chip go? Keep her in the ring, or find the lady equivalent of Enzo Amore and pair them up immediately.
Best: CJ Parker’s New Music And Entrance Video
Did WWE finally google “hippies?”
After a year of having a bad Jimi Hendrix riff as his entrance theme, CJ Parker has finally, FINALLY been given a song that sounds like something hippies would listen to.
It’s 2014 anyway, right? You’ve got to modernize the hippie. That dance he used to do that no hippie has ever done? Gone. The “third eye,” which sincerely tried to get A SLAP TO THE FOREHEAD over as a grown-ass man’s finisher? Gone. To make it even better, he’s got the An Inconvenient Truth version of Bo Dallas’s entrance video in place of the tie-dyed one. Total upgrade all around.
Best: CJ’s Right, Xavier Woods Is The Worst
I really liked CJ Parker’s post-match promo. He’s kinda preaching to the choir with the whole Xavier Woods Sucks thing, but it’s a good point. What HAS Xavier Woods done since going to Raw? I know Parker’s supposed to mean it in a “he should be telling people about LITTER” capacity, but it’s a good point … these guys are miring down in developmental, begging for a shot, and all Woods has done with his is be the Emma to R-Truth’s Santino. “Be a Funkadactyl??” really cracked me up.
The power of NXT is that they can take a guy I didn’t like for YEARS and turn him into my favorite guy on the show. You’re almost there, CJ Parker. Maybe get yourself a new finisher, though. Hitting somebody with the armpit of your leg isn’t much better than slapping them in the forehead.
Worst: No Seriously, Xavier Woods Is the Worst
Xavier Woods says that “dirty, greasy hippies don’t speak unless spoken to” is a “saying that’s old as time.” I guess Spencer’s Gifts carries an I HATE HIPPIES shirt now.
Also, let me get this straight: the guy who wants to save the environment is the heel. The guy who says groups of people shouldn’t be allowed to speak unless he gives them permission is the face. Got it.
Best: Tyson Kidd’s Passive-Aggressive T-Shirt, Or
Worst: Justin Gabriel Has No Idea How Points Work
His shirt says ONLY GOD CAN JUDGE ME. Okay, Tyson, you won me over.
The best part of the backstage interview with Justin Gabriel is that Kidd interrupts him to say, “you should beat up these young up-and-comers so they don’t take your spot,” and Gabriel says, “I’m gonna prove you wrong … BY BEATING SAMI ZAYN.” Way to know what words mean, Justin.
Best: Tyson Kidd’s Boring Sports Interview
The other instance of Tyson Kidd winning me over on this week’s show is his sit-down interview with Renee Young. It’s the most Sports Guy interview ever, with him “honestly” answering every question with the vaguest, least believable excuse ever. He answers most questions with “my head wasn’t in the right place,” adding in a lot of “I’m sorry” and “thank goodness my wife is such a controlling shrew, I could’ve never been emasculated without her.” It’s great.
Also great is him telling Renee that no questions are off limits, then just instantly turning on his mad face and storming away at the first mention of his marital problems. Like, there’s not even a rising action, they’re just calmly talking about how much he loves his wife and then he’s like F*CK THIS FOREVER HOW DARE YOU. He’s a totally unlikable guy with no clear motivations beyond MY CAREER IS ALL THE WAY UP SHIT CREEK AND I AM DROWNING IN A LITERAL CREEK OF SHIT WITH NO WAY TO SAVE MYSELF and I love it.
Best: Sami Zayn Wins A Match!
THE TOPES WIN A GAME
It feels like Sami Zayn hasn’t won a match in ages. He lost to Cesaro, he lost to Bo, he lost to Tyler Breeze, he lost to The Ascension. The only reason he was in title contention at all is because he’d gotten into a triple threat by being the third best guy in a battle royal. He’s the best and most popular guy on the show and all we ever get to see him do is be awesome at failing miserably.
So hey, thank God he beat Justin Gabriel. Quick question: what’s going on with Gabriel? Not his character really, but his in-ring stuff. Is he going that slow on purpose? I know WWE tells high-flyers to slow down during matches, but Gabriel was just hanging out doing nothing for large stretches between moves. He’ll hit a dropkick, Zayn will sell it, and Gabriel will just sit there on his knees grimacing for like 40 seconds. At one point the announce team starts going “HURRY UP!” while he’s trying to set up a move. I KNOW, GUYS.
There’s probably a middle ground between “slowing down” and total inactivity. You’re Justin Gabriel. Your only marketable skill besides “not being from here” is jumping and flying around. Why are you wrestling like Randy Orton? We already have one of those. Pick it up, brother.
Best Once You’re International Airstrike, You’re International Airstrike 4 Life
I’m shocked that Gabriel and Kidd worked together for nearly a minute without Tom Phillips asking whether or not they’ve got a chance to beat The Ascension.