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Please click through for the Best and Worst of WWE NXT season 3, episode 12.
Worst: WWE Trivia
Remember the ‘Name That Tune’ contest back in episode 6 that AJ won in a landslide, because she was the only person in the ring who’d watched WWE for more than six weeks? This week’s opening challenge is WWE Trivia, and guess who runs away with it?
The questions themselves are baby easy. One is, “which WWE Superstar is known as ‘The Game?'” They should’ve automatically eliminated anyone who couldn’t answer that in less than one second. Striker should’ve held a sledgehammer and asked WHO DO WE CALL THE GAME and started swinging, and you’d have to answer before it got to your face.
They should’ve gone passive-aggressive with Divas trivia. “What’s the longest Divas match in WWE history?” HORN. “AJ!” “Two minutes?” “Is it two minutes? YES IT IS, 100 POINTS!”
Worst: Josh Mathews
“With the personality of Danny McBride and the looks of Mandy Moore or Christina Aguilera, Kaitlyn is the total package on NXT!”
Best: Kaitlyn Selling On Offense
It’s hard to talk about this episode without talking about the ending first, but I’m gonna try.
The first match is Kaitlyn vs. Nikki Bella. If you’ve been following recent Best and Worst of PPV/Raw columns you’re aware of Nikki’s sudden burst of Figuring It Out. Both her Night Of Champions and 9/22 Raw match showed signs of in-ring brilliance we’ve NEVER seen from her, and it turns out that her constant weightlifting with John Cena has given her a core strength and dexterity that wrestlers need, but models rarely have. Here she’s still just Half Of Brie, complete with COME ON NIKKIIII being bellowed from ringside.
The match wasn’t spectacular, but I’m Besting it for a small thing that might’ve won Kaitlyn the contest: selling on offense. WWE Superstars almost always forget to do it, and it’s one of those things that not only makes a match make sense, it makes the drama seem real. If John Cena gets his arm injured the entire match and spends the last five minutes doing whatever he wants with that arm, what was the point? If he gets that arm injured and it affects the hows and whys of his moveset and gameplan, that’s drama. That lets our brain work alongside the match, and maybe learn or be impressed when he figures out a way to succeed.
Nikki works Kaitlyn’s left leg, so when Kaitlyn catches a break and goes on offense, the impact of her moves is lessened. Instead of just sprinting to the middle of the ring and clotheslining, she hobbles and kinda throws herself forward on her good leg. The finish is an attempt at a vertical suplex, which Kaitlyn can’t do because (ta da) the leg’s in pain. She even leans dramatically to the left so everyone in the audience can figure it out. That lapse in power leaves her vulnerable to a facebuster, and she loses the match.
So yeah, she isn’t going to get any standing ovations for putting on a Match Of The Year Candidate, but she probably got a slap on the shoulder, a “good job out there” and enough trust in her learning ability from management to keep her around another week.
Worst: What Is Up With The Bellas And Daniel Bryan?
Michael Cole asks that question during the Nikki/Kaitlyn match, and my brain goes WAIT WHAT, WHAT ARE WE TALKING ABOUT?
WWE’s always been weirdly obsessed with turning Daniel Bryan into a sexual character. Remember when Lance Storm’s gimmick was suddenly “he’s got a big dick?” Same difference. Vince saunters backstage, growls HE’S BORING, MAKE HIM A LOTHARIO DAMMIT and keeps power-walking by, leaving the poor wrestlers and creative types to whip up a “ladies want to f*ck Daniel Bryan” story. That Raw before this episode was one of the first instances of the Bellas being all up in Daniel Bryan’s business, a story that would continue in a NXT season 4 double date, an eventual real-life marriage and six months of stories about how mean people are to Daniel Bryan’s Wife. Want to know how weird wrestling is? Bryan’s got tons of archival footage of himself making out with his wife’s hotter twin sister.
Last Night On Raw: John Cena’s Emotional Retirement Speech, Which We Must Replay And Discuss For 20 Minutes
If you watched Survivor Series 2010 (and I know you didn’t), you know that John Cena Did The Right Thing™ and counted the pin on Wade Barrett. That means Cena is now fired from WWE, and cannot wrestle again until 91 days later when JOHN FELIX makes a shocking appearance in the Impact Zone. The best part of the match, of course, was Matt Striker’s goofy call of the pinfall, which is the ultimate “Matt Striker has no idea what he’s talking about and shouldn’t have this job” moment.
Anyway, the next night on Raw featured John Cena with emotional baby deer eyes saying his goodbyes, and announcing that he’s going to go home, hug his mom and give her the greatest Christmas present ever by being there. Taken at face value it’s a great speech, even if it doesn’t end with Mark Henry in a salmon blazer World’s Strongest Slamming the crud out of him. Taken at what actually happened value, Cena showed up the next week anyway, then showed up the NEXT week, and on and on until he got his job back. His mom has had at least four shitty Christmases since then.
Here’s how shallow his retirement speech was: he showed up LATER ON IN THE SAME SHOW to attack Wade Barrett, causing him to lose a championship match against Randy Orton. The damage to Orton in that match would cause The Miz to cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase and become the new WWE Champion, yadda yadda yadda, Miz and Cena have the worst WrestleMania main-event of all time at WrestleMania 27.
Still, though, Wade Barrett’s condescending taunt to Cena has he sad Incredible Hulk walks away from the arena is still just as funny four years later.
Best: A Match So Good It Makes The Commentary Team Turn Face
It’s all in the video. The WWE Fan Nation version is two minutes long, but that’s long enough to tell the story; when the match starts, Michael Cole and Josh are busy talking amongst themselves and making jokes about how bad the show is. By the end, they’re practically standing and clapping. You can hear it happen. When AJ hits the tornado DDT they almost get into it, but Cole gets scared and keeps trying to condescend. They just keep killing it until Cole says it’s “the best match of the season, that’s for sure.” He falls back into it with a sarcastic JR call of The Octopus, but the message is clear: the announce team is wrong, and at least a few of these women deserve a legitimate shot at WWE fame.
The awesomeness of this match makes the ending of the show even worse, which I’ll get to in a minute. First, we have to put everybody into deflated sumo suits to compete in immunity challenge for an immunity that doesn’t exist.
Best/Worst: Last Sumo Standing
I was gonna describe it here, but yeah, that’s it. The Divas get fitted with half-inflated sumo exoskeletons and are asked to push their opponent out of a yellow circle. It’s incredibly unfair when you consider that Kaitlyn’s built like f*cking Sheamus, and asking AJ to push her down is like asking her to Shining Wizard through a brick wall.
AJ gets a bye for winning WWE Trivia, so match one is Kaitlyn easily dispatching Naomi. AJ does a respectable job in round two, getting Kaitlyn grounded but being unable to roll her across the line, but a restart ruins her momentum and she gets tossed. The highlight of this (and any NXT episode, frankly) is Kaitlyn working in an adorable Chickbusters hug in the middle her sumo offense:
I’m telling you, AJ went “crazy” because she started hanging out with boys and couldn’t find anyone to fill the hole left in her heart by Kaitlyn. When they finally started interacting again, Kaitlyn got all judgement and it was too much for her to handle.
Worst: The Most Bullshit NXT Elimination Of All Time
Earlier in the show, Striker gathers the remaining rookies and asks them who they think should be eliminated. Kaitlyn and AJ say Naomi, because they’re best friends. Naomi says Kaitlyn, because Kaitlyn doesn’t know how to wrestle. Both are pretty fair points. So the show happens, and AJ wins the trivia contest. She also does well in Last Sumo Standing despite being half the size of everyone else, and she wins one of (if not the) best match of the season.
Then, somehow, AJ gets eliminated.
Her goodbye speech is kinda heartbreaking, because it’s a callback to her introduction promo about how WWE’s ready for a different kind of Diva, only now there’s desperation in her voice because she knows no matter how hard she works, she can’t change it. Her voice goes up like two octaves because she’s trying not to burst into tears. Primo’s about to lose his mind, because none of this makes sense. Naomi can wrestle, but has the personality of a mailbox. Kaitlyn has a great personality, but doesn’t know how to wrestle. AJ’s got a great personality AND can wrestle, and she’s eliminated. Cole and Josh don’t know what to say, and even the other girls are bummed. Look at them:
Next week: NXT season 3 comes to an end, and we meet a professional dancer, an interplanetary dinosaur, a future NXT announcer, a privileged one-percenter and a really angry, possibly-Egyptian dude who won’t stop saying “yah.”