The Best And Worst Of WWE NXT 8/21/14: Ow, My Leg!

Hey kitty cats! Brandon let me take over the NXT report while he’s away. For once I get the good show! Follow along on Hulu here, and on the WWE Network here. You know, unless you’re Canadian. Thanks, WWE!

– Brandon is in Chicago for the Bruce Campbell Horror Film Festival, showing the movie he made with Goldust and Jill Thompson and making me all mushy-faced with pride. Go if you can, and if you can’t, find a way to see the film. It really is fantastic.

– Comment, tweet, Facebook, and share this report with as many people as you can. Watching NXT makes you wild and young. Don’t you want to be both of those things?

– Follow me on Twitter here, With Spandex here, and UPROXX here.

This week on NXT: God, who even cares what happens, I get to write about NXT!

Best: Happiness is a Carnival Barker

So this week I get to live in Brandon’s happy place, while he had to walk for miles in the pit of danger that is TNA. It’s like they knew! The last time I covered NXT, I basically used it as an excuse to write almost a thousand words about how great Antonio Cesaro is, because…well, you know, he’s pretty great. At the kickoff of the episode I get not only Enzo and Big Cass, but they’re wrestling the Vaudevillains, and guys. Guys. It’s like they knew.

For those of you who don’t know, I go hard for all of these dudes. Enzo is like a magical cartoon wrestler I want to hug forever. I love KC Metro Pro (no really, the Commission’s rule book lives on my bookshelf because I’m the biggest goober), so seeing Simon Gotch go from the indies to Rosebud to delightful tag team partner of the singing guy who’s secretly more awesome than most people is wonderful, and 3) my C key is kinda busted, so I keep calling him “Big ass” by accident, and that may make me love him even more.

It also helps that the match is actually pretty fun. It’s sad that the eventual winners will have to be sacrificed to Set by the Ascension, but Cass fastballing Enzo into Simon Gotch fills my heart with so much joy. I don’t even mind the Vaudevillains Less Bang For Your Buck finisher. Going from recent episodes of Impact to this match is like going from Gomorra to Tootsie. The rest of the show could be Mojo Rawley and Stone Cold Bull Dempsey reenacting that Kaitlyn-Maxine match and I’d still be the happiest girl.

Worst: Ces hommes terrible!

The Legionnaires let the match finish, preventing a repeat of the distraction finish from the last meeting between these two teams. Sylvester Lefort and Marcus Louis, clippers in hand, get ahold of Enzo and shave off part of his beard. Man, that’s cold. I suppose this should be a secret best because it’s so simple, but makes me hate those French dudes so much. I legitimately gasped when they started shearing bits from his face. That’s a great, organic reaction that only comes with well-developed characters. You can come out and be all BITCHFACE ASSBUTT I’M GONNA KILL YOU TO DEATH and that’s okay, I guess, but something like that is mostly met with a dismissive wanking motion. Feeling personally upset and offended that a guy who looks like someone’s visiting weirdo European uncle took a piece of someone’s beard? That takes something special. I love you, NXT. I love you so much.

Worst: More Like Jojo AWFUL-man, Amirite?

I try to give grace where I can, understanding that these people are still learning and honing their craft, but Jojo, sweetie, darling, sweetie, no. Every sentence is this weird vocal roller coaster of SQUEAKY EMPHASIS normal voice SQUEAKY EMPHASIS normal voice. Listen to the way she says the H in Triple H. I guess she missed this part of promo school:

Best: Takeover 2: Cheetah Girls One World

Because I’ve been a good girl and eaten all of my vegetables, Big Daddy Trips is here to announce the next NXT special. On September 11th we get to see the Ascension vs. someone, because of course we will, the women’s title will be defended (spoiler alert: unless Devitt and KENTA show up and go full 90’s AJPW on each other this will be the match of the night), and we’ll even get a brand new GM next week to oversee everything. /whispers please be Regal please be Regal please be Regal

Worst: Tyson Kidd’s Gear

It’s like Red Skull dressed up like Aquaman in the worst Halloween crossover special ever.

Worst: CJ Parker Has Taken Recycling Too Far

I see SOMEONE is getting some use out of Corey Graves’ pants while he’s away.

Stay down, Becks. Stay down.

Worst: But No Really, Becky

I really like her. I do, I promise! But she’s not there yet. Becky went from Riverdance extra to a Monsters of Rock opener you’ve never heard of, and it’s still not quite right. The screaming is supposed to represent her fire (or is that her hair?), but it still feels like a costume she’s putting on: One part Paige, one part Corey Graves, one part me hating those shoes. I will give a Best for not still skating on Irish stereotypes, though I would have popped the hardest if her new character was just “Tommy Lee Jones in Blown Away,” and hailed from “that rundown gambling ship Full Sail mysteriously keeps in wet storage.”

Worster Worst: Missed Opportunities

If her new submission isn’t called The Indian Dethklok I’m gonna be so disappointed.

Best: Charlotte vs. Becky Lynch

As I’ve already said, things in TNA have been pretty crummy lately (forever), so switching to a show like NXT makes it a little harder to be objective. I just want to be all HEY GUYS DID YOU KNOW TYLER BREEZE WEARS THOSE FUZZY BOOTS BECAUSE THEY REMIND HIM OF HIS PUPPY ISN’T HE JUST THE BEST all over the report. But you know that. If you watch NXT, you know it’s good, and you don’t need me pointing out that people are good at wrestling every two seconds. But hey, you know who’s good at stuff? Charlotte. This has everything I want in a women’s match, nay, any wrestling match.

Lynch comes out with her screaming and histrionics, and Charlotte plays into it for a bit, and then just says aw forget it, I’m gonna f-ck your shit up. And she does. The match builds on their last meeting, with Becky working Charlotte’s leg as revenge for hurting hers in their last match. Charlotte gets out of it, then immediately does it right back to lynch. She’s a Flair. You wanna work the leg? She’ll show you how to work the leg. That’s wonderful. That’s also the great thing about women’s matches in general on NXT. They’re remembering their matches and building on them and learning to counter moves that did damage to them previously. Randy Orton doesn’t even do that. It’s some Tiger Mask-Dynamite Kid stuff, if Tiger Mask was still learning to do proper lariats. Charlotte is a fully developed somebody putting the boots to anybody who gets in her way. Nobody is jealous over a boy. While people like Becky Lynch are still finding what works for them, people like Charlotte and Bayley and Sasha Banks have these layered personalities and human reactions to one another, and their interactions mean something.

NXT just makes me so happy sometimes.

Best: Double Enzo? Double Enzo.

Enzo comes out, says that Sylvester Lefort needs to fall back like his hairline, then challenges him to a lucha de apuesta: betting his mohawk against whatever it is you would call Lefort’s hair. A Hair vs. Hair match where Tim Donst doesn’t get his head shaved? Yeah man. I’m in.


You can’t bring me down, Mojo. Not today.


I guess every show I write about will include J-Hav from now on. She’s my favorite, and now this episode has me practically giddy.


Yes. YES. All of this. A lot of the time a match like this fails because performers are focused too much on flashy flippidy doos and keeping a high-intensity pace that they forget that every movement actually has to mean something. It becomes a race from move to move, with everyone trying to get their shit in than being effective against their opponents. But this works. It works so well. Sami Zayn and Kalisto running the ropes, then Kalisto stopping mid-flip into a handstand, then reversing into a headscissors? SWOON. Even Adam Rose going full Leo Kruger with that clothesline, only to pop up like he’s surprised he could do it? So great, and entirely within my secret belief that Adam Rose is actually evil and will make you party or else. I wasn’t even expecting the outcome, but Sin Cara and Kalisto vs. The Vaudevillains is a wish I didn’t even know my heart made, and now I’m kinda bummed that Brandon will get to write about it.

Like I said before, I don’t NEED to tell you how great NXT is, but I don’t get to do this all the time, so I will. NXT is this fully functioning universe of baby pros peppered with main roster appearances, where everyone just wants to be good at what they do. That’s it. WWE can be so frustrating. You get the same thing over and over, people going through the same motions, having a million conversations about something that really only requires one. In NXT, one day you might be dancing a jig, and the next you might be downloading the entire Evanescence catalogue for character research. But it’s okay. One of the things that makes independent wrestling my very favourite thing is that you get to watch people you care about change and evolve and get better and better. You fandom grows with them, and there’s such an immense sense of pride when other people get to see that. I know we all have our fears when someone gets called up from NXT, that our happy little bubble has burst, and Raw will turn them into neutered shells of what they once were (‘sup Emma). And that’s fine. That’s fair. We have more than enough examples of that. But NXT still gets to be this special place where everyone just gets it. People who don’t look like Randy Orton or John Cena get a chance to shine; they can wrestle their hearts out, or sing their own entrance themes, or be badass wrestlers who love hugs and hairbows and friendship and that’s totally okay. I want you to watch NXT, not just because I like you and want you to watch fun wrestling and be happy, but because this is what I want the future of mainstream wrestling to be. I want bad guy heel characters and true babyfaces who don’t threaten to vomit in your mouth because lol gay or whatever. I want female wrestlers to be treated like wrestlers, and not just a bathroom break. I want NXT to stay a thing so that as they all get better, the lumbering dinosaur that is our perception of what popular wrestling has to be will change.

At the end of the day, isn’t that what we all want?