The Best And Worst Of WWE NXT 8/7/13: Heavy Petting

Pre-show notes:

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– This is the second episode from the set of tapings I attended live, so if you hear somebody yelling “TAP OUT BO” to Bo Dallas while he’s just sitting on the top rope, that’s me. Note: You can actually hear me do that. Nobody filmed me with my bubble gun, though.

Please click through for the Best and Worst of WWE NXT for August 7, 2013.

Worst: Ambrose vs. Neville Is Nowhere NEAR As Good As It Should Be

As I understand it, The Shield have very different roles on Raw than they do on NXT.

On Raw, The Shield is bulletproof. Pretty much every match they’re in is good-to-great, even when they’re beating a team of randomly-assembled jobbers. When they get in the ring with Daniel Bryan, magic happens. They’re even great in those stopgap matches like this week’s Raw main-event, where you know the point is less “have a wrestling match people might enjoy” and more “do things until we’ve killed enough time to end the match and do the post-match stuff.”

On NXT, they’ve been brought back in to bring interest to a bunch of guys who need it. Here, they’re starting a beef with Xavier Woods (a guy who barely exists), Corey Graves (the limpest babyface on the WWE roster) and Adrian Neville, a guy with a lot of talent who just isn’t connecting like he should be. Want proof of that? Compare Neville’s first 12 months in developmental to Sami Zayn’s first three months. Look at match quality, crowd response and buzz. Neville’s got all the ability in the world, but it’s just not hot.

So yeah, when I see Dean Ambrose get a one-on-one match with Adrian Neville, I get excited. Unfortunately, the match was one of those stopgap things I mentioned where they aren’t necessarily doing anything important until the very end, when The Shield interrupts to set up a six-man tag for later. It’s not a bad match by any stretch, it’s just not exciting, and certainly not what Ambrose/Neville could be. I hope Neville finds a spark and/or gets the hell away from Corey Graves soon, because that Evan Bourne “white guy who flips” roster spot is ripe for the taking.

Best: I Have No Idea What Enzo Amore Is Talking About

I don’t. He had a backstage segment here where he surrounded himself with the worst guys on NXT (including CJ Parker) and called Mason Ryan names — I think — and while what he was saying might not even be WORDS, I’m fairly certain I would sit and listen to Enzo Amore talk about anything for as long as I could. SAWFT!

Here’s an idea: cut Sylvester loose, make Enzo somebody gangly’s mouthpiece and consolidate.

Worst: Give It Up, CJ Parker

Additional idea: put CJ Parker into a crate and send him to wherever people wrestle when TNA wouldn’t even want them.

Some guys prosper by staying in developmental a long time. Damien Sandow’s a great example of this. He went from “guy who simultaneously nails multiple Divas” to one of the funniest and best parts of Raw thanks to developmental, but it took him FOREVER. It was worth it.

With Parker, he’s gone from Carlito-cito to a photobombing hippie. That’s it. I’m sure he’s a perfectly nice guy and I don’t want to actively wish for a dude to lose his job, but you’ve got a performance center full of guys who could ALREADY have Parker’s spot. Release him back into the wilderness and if it’s meant to be, he’ll come back to you. Some guys just need a break from the system. “Photobombing hippie” is not going to catch on.

Best: Emma, Unbeatable Dance Champion

And speaking of things that shouldn’t have ever caught on, please enjoy several paragraphs about how happy I am watching Emma use the stupidest dances in history to defeat Summer Rae in a dance contest.

As a reminder, I do not like

1. dance contests in lieu of wrestling matches
2. dance contests being used to determine title shots
3. any WWE “contest” judged or decided by We, The WWE Universe, because they’re just popularity contests

That said … again, I don’t know if you can see me, but I’m holding a bubble gun in the crowd somewhere, clapping my hands and laughing happily as Emma pretends she’s pushing an invisible grocery cart around Summer because that’s “dancing.” I am excited for Summer Rae’s “real music,” I’m MORE excited for Emma’s “better music,” and I kinda just want to be in the room at Full Sail doing the Emma dance forever and forget my job of praising or condemning wrestling minutia.

Worst: Wait, Is The Payoff Seriously Just “I’m In The Match Now?”

Mild spoiler alert: I was live for this show, the one before it and the two after it, so I got to see the entire dance-off arc. Emma and Summer have a dance contest to name the #1 contender to Paige’s NXT Women’s Championship. Emma wins. A few shows later, Summer wrestles Paige for the NXT Women’s Championship. It was never explained to the crowd why Summer was wrestling instead of Emma, but I assumed there’d be a backstage thing where Summer jumped her or whatever and took her spot.

Instead … NOPE! Summer’s Hog Log after the dance contest was a handshake agreement that Summer would wrestle Paige instead of Emma, made clear by Summer yelling “I’M IN THE MATCH NOW” as she left the ring. That’s, uh, not great. Maybe there’s still a follow-up backstage thing coming next week, but if not? You are compromising the integrity of dance contests. How can you even do that?

Best: That Was Awesome, Clap Clap Clapclapclap

And now, the full Tyler Breeze entrance, complete with real-time streaming video of Tyler Breeze selfies on the Tron. If an entrance ever deserved a “that was awesome” chant, it’s this one.

I’ve mentioned it before, but I love NXT’s ability to be stupid without it seeming condescending. Sometimes they go too far with it — CJ Parker’s photobombing, for instance — but sometimes they hit that sweet spot where I’m laughing not because it’s funny, but because I can’t believe a wrestler like this exists. Breeze is the Arrogant Young Guy character taken to such an unnecessary extreme I can’t help but love it.

Also, that spinning heel kick to the face looked way better on tape than it did in person. At least it’s not the Overdrive!

Best: Bonet

My parents are visiting me this week, so I watched this episode with them and used it to explain the difference between Bo Dallas and Bray Wyatt. I showed them Bray’s epic goodbye speech from the previous episode, then immediately followed it with smirky-ass Bo and his blogger body and his one glove petting Renee Young, singing self-centered parody lyrics to a Journey song he doesn’t seem to know the tune to. I think they got the message, but my mom said she feels sorry for him. Bo Dallas in a nutshell, everybody.

Best: I Don’t Think I’ve Ever Liked A Crowd This Much

Bo Dallas vs. Leo Kruger for the NXT Championship is probably a better match than anyone will ever give it credit for, but I’ll always remember the crowd as being the most united, passionate group of wrestling jerks ever. It came across on TV (mostly), but man, every second of Dallas/Kruger made me hoarse. “No Mo Bo” chants, “Bo-ring,” “you still suck” when he came off the ropes with a clothesline AND when he kicked out of Kruger’s clothesline … and, of course, the “TAP TAP TAP” chants when Bo’s not even in a submission hold. As weird as it sounds, “hating Bo Dallas” is so much fun you kinda have to do it whether you hate Bo Dallas or not.

Worst: So Mo Bo

Unfortunately, though, the Bo Dallas Era continues.

Bo picked up the win with a move a little too hilariously close to the Chikara Special for my tastes, which I guess saved us from having to watch him win it with the Stratusfaction. Whoever ends up taking the belt off Bo is going to be a cult hero at Full Sail, and I can’t wait to see it happen. I don’t know if I want them to give it to a guy who deserves it — Sami Zayn, Kassius Ohno after he’s done three sets of pull-ups, whoever — or somebody who desperately needs it to establish an identity, like Xavier Woods. Rollins and Big E were can’t-miss guys, so what does Bo even do when he wins it? Go back up to Raw and pin Wade Barrett some more? Find a spot in the 2014 Royal Rumble?

It’s like living under a cruel dictator. You worry about what he’ll do to you while he’s in charge, but you’re even more scared of what’d happen if he wasn’t.