The Best And Worst Of WWE NXT 9/25/14: A Commitment To Failure

Pre-show notes:

– You can watch this week’s episode here. Make sure you do that. A lot of people come up to me and tell me they read the column for months before actually watching the show, and how they regret it. Don’t be one of those types.

– Be sure you’re reading our retro recap of NXT season 3. We just recapped the penultimate episode earlier today, and it’s all about AJ Lee and hugs and hearts being broken.

With Spandex is on Twitter, so follow it. Follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook. You can also follow me on Twitter

Comments, likes, shares and other things are appreciated.

Please click through for the Best and Worst of WWE NXT for September 25, 2014.

Best: All Right, Jesus, I’ll Cheer For Him

I know something strange is happening when we’re three minutes into an episode and I’m getting “I GUESS BRANDON WROTE THIS EPISODE” tweets.

The opening match is a NXT Takeover Fatal 4 Way rematch of an NXT Takeover Fatal 2 Way between Mojo Rawley and Bull Dempsey. You’d expect Mojo to do a little better this time, but NOPE, Bull stops him cold with a move that is Mojo’s kryptonite: THE FLYING DICK ATTACK.

It’s supposed to be a Vader body attack, but Bull somehow managed to connect with his crotch before his arms, so it ends up being sort of a Lou Thesz press. Mojo dies INSTANTLY. From a CROTCH BUMPING INTO HIS STOMACH. It makes sense that a jumping dick would be super effective against Mojo, I guess. All of his offense is ass-based, right? What’s the opposite of a butt? One flying headbutt later and it’s over. Mojo doesn’t get defeated, he stays defeated.

Best: Mojo Rawley, Punching Bag

Okay okay, I admit it. I wrote this episode.

Tyler Breeze makes his entrance before Mojo can clear the ring, and when they pass, Mojo kinda touches him on the arm and does a harmless, “excuse me, man.” I assume Mojo screamed it, but we couldn’t hear it. Breeze’s response is to grab him for no reason and throw him into the ring post. Tyler Breeze knows the steps to becoming a hero at Full Sail University:

1. have a cool entrance
2. put sparkles or bright color on your gear, or both

Mojo’s response is to crawl backstage without incident, because his hypeness levels have been compromised and that shit’s like leaking water in a submarine.

Best: Tyler Breeze’s Finish Just Got 100% Better

Breeze wrestles Justin Gabriel, who is wrestling like he’s trying to win on difficult in a video game. Running strike, lock on a grounded submission, go for the pin. Hit x at their head so you can kick them in the back, try for another pin. Hit x near the ropes so you Lionsault onto them in a pin. Strike strike strike. Irish whip in the corner, strike, top rope move. I expected the guy to start spamming Spike Dudley headbutts and running grapples.

The good news from this match is that they fixed Tyler Breeze’s finish with one simple setup. The Beauty Shot isn’t great by itself because you’re basically just getting hit by a big wad of carwash flaps. Breeze’s superkick (now called the “Supermodel Kick,” which is great) is beautiful, but Shawn Michaels is probably the only guy allowed to use that as a finish in the WWE Universe. So what do you do? You do what Breeze did here: catch a guy off-guard with the Supermodel Kick, then immediately jump and take him out with the Beauty Shot. The one-two punch of it makes it seem like a real knockout blow. Like a combination that could realistically win matches. I hope he keeps it like this, because there’s a world of counters and combinations you can play with in a two-part strike.

Worst: The Return Of Fantasy Booker Natalya

Back on June 19, Natalya cornered JBL backstage and badgered him with her new character, Internet Fantasy Booker. This week sees that character’s triumphant return, as NXT has a new general manager and she probably thinks she can get away with it.

Instead of using her last approach (“you just aren’t USING HIM RIGHT!”), Natalya uses the other tried-and-true Internet arguing technique: assuring you she’s right even if it doesn’t make a goddamn lick of sense and she’s presented with tons of reasoning to disprove it. She says that Tyson Kidd deserves one more shot at the NXT Championship. Bill Regal rightfully goes “pphhhht whaaaat” and explains that he’s gotten a bunch of shots in a row and lost them all. Natalya, because THE INTERNET, just goes “well I think he deserves it.” And that is GOOD ENOUGH FOR WILLIAM REGAL, WHO GIVES TYSON KIDD ANOTHER SHOT. No reasoning, no explanations, just “well, that’s your opinion.” That he lost several championship matches. ARE YOU SERIOUS RIGHT NOW?

It’s infuriating, but I hope we get an appearance from Awful Internet Natalya every few months. I want Bull Dempsey to call Bayley a bitch for not hugging him and have Natalya show up all, “bitch isn’t a gendered insult, you’re the one applying gender to it, he’s just calling her a bitch because she’s acting like one.”

Best: Bayley, Boss Veteran

First of all, a continued Worst to NXT for not only ditching the Alexa Bliss glitter gimmick, but the Bling Bling entrance theme as well. She was an adorable wrestling fairy. What is she now? A cheerleader who curtsies?

Residual theme loss sadness aside, I liked this match a lot, mostly for how important it is to Bayley’s character development. A year ago, Bayley would’ve been the dorky girl with no offense who loses easily to the established star. Now she’s the established star, confidently handling Bliss’s attempts at offense and shutting her down for a decisive win. That’s so awesome. The best part is that she’s the same (fictional) person. She didn’t strap on black trunks and start acting super serious. She’s Bayley, only now she knows she can knock a lady out with a belly-to-belly suplex.

The only other complaint I have is that nobody seems to know how to take the Hugplex. Charlotte can’t do it. Bliss can’t do it. The only person I’ve seen take it right is Sasha Banks. Other women just kinda lift a leg and fall over. Sasha goes all the way up, throws her legs in the air and eats it. Alexa Bliss is what, four feet tall? 80 pounds after Thanksgiving dinner? She should be DYING on the Hugplex.

Worst: The Downside Of Having Live Specials

After the match, Bayley calls out Charlotte and asks her for an NXT Women’s Championship rematch next week. Charlotte agrees, and I notice an unexpected side effect of NXT having live “pay-per-view” specials: there’s no way a title’s changing hands on a regular episode.

Before the specials, there wasn’t an “end of the cycle” show where stories were blown off. Challenges and championship matches happened on regular episodes, because that’s all they had. If Bayley challenged Charlotte to a rematch next week and there wasn’t a Takeover 3 looming somewhere a few months down the line, I’d get excited and root for her as hard as I did at Fatal 4 Way. Now, though? There’s no way she’s taking it on NXT episode 242.

I hope WWE realizes this and changes one of the titles on “regular TV,” just to give us a precedent for it.

Best: Carmella Becomes A Wrestler

Enzo Amore wrestles Marcus Louis, and his entrance is the same Road Dogg stuff he’s been doing since his return. They even brought back the “how you doin'” singalong part, which isn’t really witty or funny and is just a dude listing off things. They’re trying to turn a round of Last Word into a marketable catchphrase. HEY MARCUS LOUIS, I HEAR YOU LIKE COLORS. I HEAR YOU LIKE RED. (how you doin) I HEAR YOU LIKE BLUE (how you doin) GREEN (how you doin) BURNT SIENNA etc.

At least they also give us these wonderful backstage Big Cass video productions, which feature the Cass and Enzo we fell in love with in the first place. Guys who are legitimately funny, and you never know what’s gonna come out of their mouths. It’s an instant classic like HAIR before it, with Enzo and Cass bringing Carmella to the Performance Center to teach her how to wrestle. Enzo's upset that she's telling people his sister, because it's gonna be awkward when they're hooking up. Carmella shuts him down, and we get an oddly endearing confessional while Enzo jogs on a treadmill. Why has he never had a girlfriend, Cass asks? "Because I refuse to commit myself to failure!"

Carmella returns and she looks really good, so Enzo gets distracted and takes a bump off the treadmill. Smacks the damn Performance Center floor on the way down and everything. Carmella says “you’re such an idiot,” and without a breath between it, Enzo yells “I’M A G.

The only existing backstage camera should be Colin Cassady’s phone.

Best: Marcus Louis Goes Full Kurt Angle

As I mentioned, Enzo wrestles Marcus Louis, and the entire match is just a build to Marcus having his hilarious Kurt Angle-style headgear-with-curly-wig hat torn off, exposing his SHAMEFUL and EMBARRASSING bald head. Perhaps you remember the old version of Marcus Louis, who was especially proud about his hair? I don’t know. Enzo wins, and Louis sits in the middle of the ring and making angry gargoyle faces.

There are two important moments of commentary here, one good and one bad. Guess who gets the bad one?

Renee: “He looks terrifying! He looks like Powder!”

I guess Renee watched Powder and never picked up on the fact that you weren’t supposed to think Powder was hideous and terrifying. Renee’s exactly the kind of person who watched the credits roll and was like, YEP THAT CREEPY ALBINO GOT WHAT HE DESERVED isn’t she? On the opposite end of that spectrum we have Jason Albert, a bald man with a collection of adorable baldness trips (“use shaving cream, do not dry shave or it’ll break out”) and a perfectly rational point of view about baldness being social acceptable.

Richie Brennan: “What an embarrassing moment!”
Albert: “It doesn’t have to be embarrassing though…”

Stone Cold Steve Austin is bald. Bruno Sammartino’s bald. Hogan had hair like Cookie from ‘The Bozo Show,’ and that big motherf*cker pulled up his blaze yellow underpants and won 6 WWE Championships.

Worst: A Rematch With A Distraction Finish, Or
Best: A Distraction I Can Actually Buy Distracting Someone

If I asked you to name two tropes I complain about too much in the Raw column, “distraction finish” and “pay-per-view rematch/cashing in the Rematch Clause” would make the list. This week’s NXT main event had both — The Ascension cashing in their Rematch Clause against the Lucha Dragons, and losing because a guy they’re feuding with who is neither a Lucha nor a Dragon shows up and LOOKS AT THEM TOO MUCH, causing them to get wrestled at and pinned.

The match itself was fine, with my only complaint being that Kalisto was the face in peril instead of the slower, worse-at-hot-tagging Sin Cara, and that when Cara finally got tagged in he IMMEDIATELY tagged back out. I hate when that happens. The Rock n’ Roll Express used to piss me off with that shit. Ricky Morton gets a 35 minute ass-beating from the Midnight Express and finally makes a tag, so Robert comes in, throws a couple of punches and tags back out so they can double team. GIVE THE MAN A BREAK.

Also, I’m inclined to understand the finish, because Hideo Itami showing up with his video screen and searchlights is pretty intimidating. Twitter spoiled me to death about the identity of Itami’s eventual tag team partner, but I’ll wait until he actually shows up to discuss it. Spoiler alert: it was GAIJIN COWBOY WESLEY BLAKE.

ah no it wasn’t