– This week’s episode can be found here. When you’re done, watch every episode in season 1 of Total Divas.
– Speaking of horrible women’s wrestling, be sure to check out our retro recap of NXT season 3. They just had a sexy bull-riding competition. You should probably read about it.
– Your comments, likes and shares are appreciated. When Devitt shows up with Becky Lynch’s old Riverdancing gimmick we’ll need all the internal support we can get.
And now, the Best and Worst of WWE NXT for August 7, 2014.
Best: Tag Team Tournament!
Tournaments are one of the easiest things to make good in pro wrestling. Tournaments and Royal Rumbles. What I like so much about this particular tournament is that it doesn’t just shine a light on the NXT tag team division, it FORMS the division.
One of the major problems with NXT for a long, long time has been the absence of legitimate tag teams. It’s The Ascension and … nobody. The Wyatts got called up to Raw and left a gaping hole in the roster. Over the past few months we’ve gotten Enzo Amore back and re-paired him with Colin Cassady, we’ve seen the rise of the Vaudevillains, multiple jobber teams are starting to buy matching trunks and come up with names for themselves (The Mechanics!) and so on. There are even ANGLES about forming tag teams. Kalisto had to find someone to back him up once El Local fell into a Whataburger trashcan and couldn’t get out, so he found Sin Cara. Guys who were drifting are finding a role, and the tag tournament bracket is saying, “here we go.”
Best: Big Cass And Enzo And Their Finlay/Hornswoggle Relationship
Troy and Abed in the taaaaag tournament!
The opening match of this week’s show was the round 1 match pitting Enzo and Big Cass against Tye Dillinger and JORDON, now sporting a shorter haircut that makes him look even MORE like the fake Shelton Benjamin in the fake World’s Greatest Tag Team. I dug this a lot, especially the nature of Cass and Enzo’s relationship. It’s basically Cass wrestling Dilinger and Jordan by himself, with Enzo getting immediately trounced when he gets into the ring and Cass kinda utilizing him as a prop weapon. It’s Finlay/Hornswoggle in a more productive environment. Cass should just enter alone and pull Enzo out from under the ring when it’s time to throw him at people.
On top of that, it was just nice to see Cass protecting Enzo as much as he could. That spot where Cass ran down the apron to take the brunt of a spear meant from Enzo was great, both in WRESTLING FRIENDSHIP terms and in it showing Cass has a fundamental understanding of his team’s dynamic. He’s the big guy who can take the punishment and throw bombs. Enzo’s the guy who provides the spark and keeps them moving forward. Without Cass, Enzo’s gonna lose every match he ever has. Without Enzo, Cass is gonna stand around confused until somebody rolls him backwards and holds his tights. A true tag team should be stronger as a unit than they are alone.
Best: Reunited, And It Feels So Good
A huge, unexpected highlight of this week’s episode is the backstage reunion of Sami Zayn and Renee Young. They should never be apart for very long. They are Zack and Miri. Adam Rose is whoever Jeff Anderson played in that movie.
Frankly, it just feels good to like Renee again. When she’s sitting in on commentary, she’s all “women are horrible!” and “HERE’S 30 UNRELATED ANECDOTES I MADE UP” and “OHH! OOH!!” When she’s backstage, she’s dynamic. She listens and responds. She’s a living, breathing person that understands where she is. She’s lovely, and at the risk of damming her career, she should really stay backstage doing stuff like this.
Worst: WHY IS NOBODY ON THIS SHOW CONCERNED ABOUT GERMS
DID WE LEARN NOTHING FROM GROSS-ASS NATALYA
Worst: CRAMMIN’ IT DOWN OUR TROATS
Up next is CJ Parker vs. Xavier Woods in the Battle Of Unpopular Characters We Taped A Month Ago Before We Came Up With Something Better For Woods To Do On Raw.
My major complaint here concerns Parker’s character. Jason Albert goes overboard trying to convince us that Parker is a hypocrite and that his message is meaningless because he’s “cramming it down our throats.” He’s all OH HE DOESN’T LIKE GAS? WHAT DOES HE DRIVE??
1. He drives a Ford Fiesta, which you’d know if you watched the shows.
2. How is Parker cramming anything down our throats? This guy gets a maximum of 5 minutes of TV time once a week, has delivered maybe four promos since turning heel and limits his message to a sassy TitanTron video and some cardboard signs. For a month he just walked around in the crowd holding up a sign. Not exactly Bray Wyatt possessing children over here, Sweet T.
Note: Albert should just openly hate the environment. He already looks like a Captain Planet villain.
Best: A For Effort, Though
The actual match featured CJ Parker and Xavier Woods so it could only be so good, but it was probably as good as we’re ever gonna get. The majority of the contest was both guys desperately trying to get heat on SOMETHING SOMEWHERE, going for a bunch of restholds and chinlocks and just praying to God that the crowd wakes up.
There were a lot of problems — Woods still hasn’t figured out that flipping on your neck to deliver a clothesline not only eliminates all the momentum you’d get from RUNNING FORWARD AND CLOTHESLINING, or that you probably shouldn’t be flipping on your neck at the ends of matches where the guy’s spent the entire time working your neck — but they were trying hard, and I have to commend them for it. Woods’ coast-to-coast splash that everybody kept calling an elbow drop for some reason was nice and unexpected, even if it was kinda pointless.
I hope Woods shows back up in a few months with the new Nation Of Domination and is all, “You know what I hate more than racism? THE ENVIRONMENT.”
Tyler Breeze delivers a special announcement for all his Wannabreeze: he’s finally, finally going to challenge Adrian Neville for the NXT Championship. Serious question, though: if he’s delivering this promo through his phone, shouldn’t it show up on the big screen like it does in his entrance?
Worst: Look Upon My Matches, Ye Developmental, And Despair
Match number three is … holy shit, really?
Match number three is Bayley taking on EVA BY GOD MARIE, a mannequin brought to life and put in a bikini for vaguely wrestling-related purposes. If you’ve never seen her wrestle, it’s basically Edgar The Bug awkwardly moving around inside a beautiful woman’s skin. To say she has the athletic ability of a bucket is an insult to the strength, speed and coordination of buckets.
The NXT crowd is PERFECT for Eva Marie, though. They HATE HER SO MUCH. NXT has developed an admittedly arrogant reputation for being where new guys go to learn and veterans go to work … if you aren’t one of those things, you don’t belong. New guy with a dancing snowman gimmick? GO FOR IT, we’ll clap along happily. Rob Van Dam? We’re SO HAPPY TO SEE YOU, and we love how hard you’re trying! A model who is in over her head, famous for being the illogical non-wrestling part of a wrestling reality show? KILL THE WITCH! BURNNN HERRRR
What I’m getting at is that Eva Marie is LITERALLY a pile of cat vomit, and the first person to touch Bo Dallas heat since Bo Dallas figured it out.
Best: It’s (A Strong Win For) Bayley!
So, technically that’s a Best, I think? I’m definitely Besting Bayley, because of course I am, and because she got to just straight-up hit Eva Marie with her signature moves all in a row and pin her clean. No wackiness, no distractions, no Divas rollups. Big elbow in the corner, HAIR TIE TAUNT, Belly-to-Bayley. That’s how you do it. If you’re gonna let Bayley challenge for the Women’s Championship, having her handily beat people of note — bad though they may be — is the right call.
Best: Charlotte And Bayley
This wasn’t on the show, but I wanted to include it here because OH MAN, I cannot WAIT for Bayley vs. Charlotte. Charlotte has been so mean to poor Bayley for so long, and there is NOBODY in professional wrestling who deserves meanness less than Bayley. I am emotionally invested in her well-being. What happens if Charlotte beats her? I will not be okay. I will absolutely not be okay.
Best: Sami Zayn Winning Matches Is A Good Look
Your main event is another first round match in the NXT tag tournament, running Adam Rose and Sami Zayn (Sadam?) into International Airstrike. It’s very good, as you might expect, and I love that they’ve refocused Tyson Kidd and returned him to NXT Workhorse status. If you missed the last quarter-or-so of NXT Redemption (and you probably did), it was just Kidd and Michael McGillicutty busting ass every week, making a name for themselves on a show nobody was watching. The best part is that Kidd’s character keeps losing and he can’t stay like this for very long, so it’s gotta go SOMEWHERE. On NXT, I can trust it to go somewhere.
Also, Sami Zayn is winning matches, and that’s … refreshing? I’m not sure how to say it. It’s not like he’s ever really looked bad, he’s just clearly the ace of this developmental promotion and should probably be kicking peoples’ asses by now. If he can hang with SUPER CESARO, he should be able to kick Justin Gabriel’s face off. He does that here, and I hope they keep it going.
Best: Rich Brennan Using The Word ‘Deluge’
Two final points:
– To reiterate, Adam Rose is still a pretty great wrestler when he’s a wrestler and not an alcoholic tea spokesman. Maybe instead of Leo Kruger, Rose should’ve looked into the Oculus and seen footage of him on NXT not being a honking sack of cheesy-bread-dog-shitting garbage.
– Not only did Rich Brennan use the word ‘deluge’ (correctly!) during play-by-play, brother was actually calling MOVES. Around the time he called Sami’s dive to the outside a “tope con hilo” instead of LOOK AT THIS, I decided that if we MUST have a three-man booth and it MUST involve Alex Riley, Brennan’s the man to anchor it. Brennan, Riley and Jason Albert. Put them on commentary every week instead of mixing it up and let them get comfortable. Develop a rapport. Renee interviews people backstage until ESPN spirits her away.