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And now, the Best and Worst of WWE NXT for July 8, 2015.
Best: Sasha Banks Just Called Dana Brooke Miss Piggy
From the April 22 Best and Worst of NXT:
When I say “Dana Brooke reminds me of Miss Piggy” I don’t want that to sound like a fat joke, or like I’m calling her a pig. She’s in incredible shape, so don’t take it like that, but yo, the girl straight-up reminds me of Miss Piggy. Look at her. Look at Miss Piggy. She should start referring to herself as “moi.” Her manager should be a frog on a bicycle.
From the mouth of The Boss on June 8:
“You know what? You are right, I couldn’t find a partner. But if you honestly think that I’m scared of you little Miss Piggy and your kangaroo friend, guess what? I’ll take both of you on.”
Perfect. Now I have two requests:
1. Sasha gets called up to the main roster and starts accurately giving Sheamus sh*t for being shoot related to Beaker.
2. The reveal that Emma actually has a marsupial pouch, and Sasha’s Australian insult wasn’t lazy, it was biologically correct. They could use it to explain why Emma accidentally shoplifted that one time. “Oh, I put it in my pouch and forgot about it!” Also, Emma should start wrestling in boxing gloves.
Best: The BFFs
OK, so the opening match this week is Sasha Banks trying to go 2-on-1 against Dana Brooke and Emma. Charlotte shows up and agrees to get the band back together in exchange for a favor. They wrestle, Charlotte and Sasha wreck them because they’re the Superman and Batman of the NXT Women’s Division*, and Charlotte cashes in her game-winning performance for a shot at the Women’s Championship. Sasha accepts, and we are a week away from a women’s main event that rivals any pairing of wrestlers on the planet right now. The best part? They do the old BFF low-five/snap taunt. MY HEART. All we need now is Summer Rae’s face on a popsicle stick.
*Becky Lynch and Bayley are Booster Gold and Blue Beetle. Emma is Shadow Thief. Dana Brooke is … Solomon Grundy? That seems right.
Best: The NXT Championship Match From Japan, In Its Entirety
Up next, we spend 20-ish minutes revisiting the Finn Bálor vs. Kevin Owens NXT Championship match from Brock Lesnar: The Beast In The East Live From Tokyo in its entirety, and it’s dope so I’m fine watching it again. Here’s what I wrote on Monday:
Best: The NXT World Championship
1. Every NXT Championship match going forward should adopt the Japanese championship match pre-match pageantry. I can’t decide which part I loved more, Finn getting a streamer bath, or Kevin Owens getting a bouquet of flowers from a well-meaning Japanese girl and launching them down the ramp.
2. The NXT Championship should now be known as the NXT World Championship, because it’s earned it.
3. This was everything you wanted it to be, and maybe more. This was worth getting up at 5:30 a.m (4:30, Texas time) to see. Bálor and Owens got an understated, perfectly-told story to work with and delivered on all fronts. Seriously, think about it. You have Owens as a guy who used mind games and an attack on his best friend to worm his way into a title shot, brute force his way to the championship by trying to end that friend’s career, take the title to Raw to pick on the biggest dog in the yard and win through the sheer stubborn determination to be right. He’s the worst person in the world. Finn Bálor commands a demon, sure, but he’s spent the past three weeks being built up as a lovable, Lego-obsessed saint who is loved by everyone not because he asks for it, but because he’s earned it. He’s the opposite of Owens in every way, down to being this lithe ninja ballerina guy who doesn’t seem to notice that he’s super handsome. Owens is like I’M MARRIED, I HAVE A KID, I’M GREAT, MY FAMILY LOVES ME and looks like I wandered into a wrestling ring. There isn’t this horrible direct grudge, but they’re guys in natural conflict with a reason to clash. It’s good vs. evil as seen through the struggle between a guy who was born exceptional but stayed humble, and a guy who was born humble but demands to be seen as exceptional.
4. They changed the ring skirt to an NXT one, and I can’t tell you how much I appreciated that.
5. The match itself was beautiful. Owens using John Cena’s comeback continues to be great, and him building momentum to drop to a knee and lock in a chinlock is the kind of thing they tell you only works in front of 100 people in an armory, but it’s universal. Bálor got to use his extended moveset including the Bloody Sunday, which the crowd was chanting for. By the way, the crowd for this show was THE BEST, and I never get tired of a Japanese crowd going “oooOOOH” for big transitions and move setups. Them changing “this is awesome” and it not quite sounding right is what I must sound like chanting “culero” at Lucha Underground shows.
The finish was the right call. Owens kicked out of the first Coup De Grâce but not the second, and when Bálor was going up for that final stomp, you knew it was over. All the nearfalls, all the close calls, that climb to the top and perch was set in stone. Owens is moving-slash-moved up to the main roster already, and unless we’re waiting a year for Sami Zayn and Hideo Itami to heal up, the Demon Bálor is the only guy on the show who stood a chance. Owens is wrecking JOHN CENA. Only the supernatural is good enough to top him.
Bálor can reign on top and either let his reliance on The Demon slowly turn him evil (just as Itami heals up and finds out Finn’s the one that jumped him at TakeOver), or you keep him as this beloved guy until someone worth a damn builds enough momentum to seem like a real threat. Right now, the NXT field of contenders is “Tyler Breeze” and “nobody.” What, is Baron Corbin gonna turn into the moonlight werewolf finally and battle a demon?
Uh, can we do that?
6. The post-match handshake with Owens refusing because he’s Kevin Owens was the perfect way to end things. On NXT they love to hug when they’ve had a good match, but Finn just took food out of Kevin Owens’ son’s mouth, so f*ck him.
Ditto for the backstage segment, which was aired on NXT and is now official canon:
Best: I’m Pretending That Neville And Cesaro Are Now In The Bullet Club
I’m pretending Cena and William Regal are in it, too. I love that Cesaro is such a God in NXT that he’s treated like an honorary champion, and that William Regal is still so intimidated by him he doesn’t stick around for conversation. Regal was the only thing missing from the pre-match ceremony, honestly, so I’m glad he was there.
Best: The Gable Ace Award
After weeks of trying to be the third guy in The Legionnaires, Jason Jordan has come to his senses and agreed to let astronaut (?) Chad Gable be his tag-team partner. Gable gets real eyebrow-waggy and lip-licky about it, so I’ll keep my fingers crossed that they’re gonna be The Talented Mr. Ripley: The Tag Team. Why is every platonic interaction on NXT so sexual? Did they hire a paperback romance writer to script the backstage segments, and he doesn’t know how to have guys say “let’s wrestle a match” and “cool” without making everyone get boners?
Worst: The “Fearless Firecracker”
At first I was into this Solomon Crowe vs. Marcus Louis match. They’re two guys who are very low on the totem pole but have an upside, and I want to see them do well. It’s a unique pairing of characters, too, so I settled in to give them the benefit of the doubt and enjoy what they could create. About midway through I started checking my phone, and my interest actually leapt out of my body and started playing a slide-whistle.
The thing about Crowe continues to be his lack of character. He’s backstage by some equipment and calling it the “Crowe’s Nest,” and he has a stretch muffler he calls the “Crowebar,” but like, what’s his deal? He gave up the hacker thing before he debuted, so now he’s just a weird, orange, shouty guy who enters to color bars and does a bunch of awkward moves. Louis has a GREAT character, but he’s handicapped by his lack of story or motivation. The stuff with Tyler Breeze seemed like it was going to be good, and then poof, nothing. Now he’s just a miniature version of Kane that has been driven to madness by hair-removal cream and nothing else whatsoever. Can he at least get that bald dog to be his valet?
Let’s do something with these guys, OK? I want to like them. I don’t want to hear the announce team call Solomon Crowe a “fearless firecracker” and pretend like they improved it so it can wind up on the back of an ugly T-shirt. That’s the Roman Reigns problem, where your character is “regular guy who gets buried under a deluge of nicknames and logos in attempt to get something to catch, instead of actually developing an attitude and personality.”
Best: Enzo’s Pants
Those pants are money.
Best: The Vaudeheroes
This week’s main event — wait, the show’s over already? Thanks a lot, 30-minute recap — is a #1 contender tag-team match pitting the Vaudevillains against Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady. The match is built around the Vaudevillains trying to outsmart their opponents, because “smart” is not Enzo and Cass’s defining characteristic. They know Enzo and Cass wrestle in the style of Spike and Tyke, with Enzo taking damage until he’s rendered useless and turned into a projectile, so they just whomp him as much as possible and run interference on the projectile hurling. It’s honestly a great strategy. Cass and Enzo build up some steam and go for the Rocket Launcher, so Gotch just shackles Cass’s ankle and rolls him out of the ring. Enzo is a ring general in the way a coffee table is a great pet, so he jumps into Aiden English and gets reversed and cradled-up for the loss.
Enzo and Cass are right alongside Bayley in that weird group of NXT stars you want to see break through and make it to the top, but you’re pretty sure never will. Like, will Bayley ever win the NXT Women’s Championship? I feel like she’s gonna be on Smackdown somewhere before that ever happens, because WWE and NXT storytelling work at different speeds. Will Enzo and Cass ever be tag champs? You’d think so, but every time they get close they get hammered back down. NXT’s creating a world of Daniel Bryans, basically.
I’m excited for Blake & Murphy vs. The Vaudevillains, though. Gotch and English need to introduce a Clara Bow-looking Diva to be their manager and counter Alexa Bliss. The wrestling world needs a new Daffney, dammit, it’s been too long.