– Hey, look at this handy new thing:
Use that, would you?
– Here’s a link to this week’s episode. Mute the show whenever Alex Riley begins speaking, then unmute it when he’s done. It seems hard at first, but you’ll get used to it.
Please click through for the Best and Worst of WWE NXT for November 6, 2013.
Best: Sylvester LeFort Gets A Taste Of His Own Medicine
The first match of the show was the Alexander Rusev/Sylvester LeFort blowoff, and it played out exactly like it should’ve. If you haven’t been following the story, Sylvester LeFort, a guy with a stereotypical French accent who sorta looks like a strung-out, Hollywood version of Raffi, wanted to put together a team of “fighting legionnaire” to make him money in NXT’s tag division. One of the guys he contracted was Rusev, a shoot Bulgarian deadly Muay Thai sumo-type dude who looks like a fat, pissed off kid and cannot stop camel clutching you. Eventually LeFort lost control of Rusev and Rusev attacked him, seemingly at the command of a mysterious blonde lady who somehow managed to get a manager’s license, a WWE job and entrance to Full Sail for the televised NXT program without giving anybody her information. Rusev crunched LeFort in a tag match, so a one-on-one blowoff was set up for this week.
It went like it should’ve. LeFort gets cold feet and tries to buy Rusev off before the match, Rusev throws him into the ropes and trucks him, then locks him in the camel clutch while stuffing money down his throat. Rusev wins, LeFort gets crushed down into an easily-jettisoned little ball and Lana, the mysterious blonde, adopts LeFort’s act of making the NXT crowd chant “what” at a foreign language, only she’s doing it for the benefit of an actual foreign guy. Makes sense, right? It’s a hell of a lot better than a wordy French introduction for Local Tough Scott Dawson.
Worst: BE NICE TO BAYLEY OR I SWEAR TO GOD
If you couldn’t tell what was going on by the header image at the beginning of the post, Summer Rae and Sasha Banks interrupted Bayley and Charlotte backstage to apologize to Bayley for breaking her headband, and to give her a new one. Bayley wants to be friends with everybody so she doesn’t expect an ulterior motive and can’t understand why Charlotte’s still so catty and pissed with them AND SERIOUSLY I SWEAR TO GOD IF ANY EUGENE-ESQUE HARM BEFALLS BAYLEY ON THIS PROGRAM I WILL PERSONALLY DRIVE TO ORLANDO, FIGURE OUT A WAY TO LIFT FULL SAIL OVER MY HEAD AND THROW IT INTO THE GODDAMN GRAND CANYON.
A supplemental Worst goes to Charlotte and Sasha for having a Bad Act-Off, where they simultaneously did Sasha’s “react to the connotation of every word in the sentence instead of the full sentence,” creating this hypnotic blend of contradictory facial expressions and gestures that prevented me from doing anything but watching Bayley and wanting to hug her. Also, why is Charlotte being so weirdly mean to Bayley? I get that she’s annoying and all, but isn’t Charlotte mad at Sasha and Summer for being mean to Bayley? Why is she then ALSO mean to her?
This can go in a few acceptable directions:
1. Bayley going “bad” but still being Bayley in a Sandy from Grease situation
2. Charlotte turning on Bayley because she’s a Flair, and the Flairs are all disreputable scumbags
3. Charlotte and Sasha having a “when doves cry” moment where they realize they’re the color-swapped versions of the same character
4. Bayley hugging everyone and everyone deciding to be friends
Anything other than that can go straight to Hell.
Worst: Renee Young Cannot Shoulder This Announce Team By Herself, Guys
Leo Kruger squashed El Local and it was fine, but it’s where I started noticing how bad this week’s commentary was. I love Renee and will forgive her for basically anything she does wrong, but both she and Tom Phillips (Tom especially) do this thing where they pretend like what they’re watching is way, way more vicious than it is. And I know, I know their job is to make the wrestling seem important, but at a certain point it stops being a positive and becomes ridiculous. Example: Leo Kruger hits a clothesline on El Local, a completely normal clothesline with a completely pedestrian, straight back bump, and Phillips goes EAAHHH OH MY GOD! Your job is to call the action, I think, and to make the character and stories seem important, not necessarily to Tony Schiavone the shit out of it and be blown away by basic holds and attacks.
That’s more of a nitpick than anything. The major Worst for the announce team goes to (surprise surprise) Alex Riley for his continued attempts to Bro-flirt with Renee. It’s THE WORST. During the show Renee explains how she hates when wrestlers get grabbed by the nostrils because it makes her nervous (which is understandable) … Riley’s response is “AWWWWWW AREN’T YOU CUTE.” I’m paraphrasing, I’m not going back and finding that original quote. Long story short, f*ck you Alex Riley, this is like the time you unsuccessfully flirted with the Miz, shut up forever.
(and before I forget, I can’t let Renee off the hook for saying Leo Kruger spent time in Mexico where he fought “other luchas.” SMDH at you, Renee, you know better.)
Best: Paige Has A Point
Paige and Emma get in each others’ faces backstage during last week’s show thanks to a WWE.com Exclusive (that is no longer a WWE.com Exclusive, because we’re showing it on the Hulu show in addition to WWE.com), and it’s another one of those small moments between the two that works. They don’t hate each other, really, they’re just dramatically different people.
Emma is aloof enough and enough of a jerk that she could come out to make a save, accidentally hit Paige and then blame Paige for getting upset about it. Paige is the smarter of the two but also has crazy rage issues, so she’s making a very good point — that it’s ridiculous to assume that Emma would “accidentally” hit her a week after she legitimately accidentally hit Emma — but it’s not coming across well because she’s so pissed off about it.
As always, simple, good stuff. I hope they keep a Cena/Orton thing going on forever.
Best: Hi, I’m Wrestler Troy McClane
You may remember me from such jobber squashes as, “that tag team match against The Ascension.”
Best: I’m Actually Starting To Enjoy These Ascension Squashes
It’s evident that NXT isn’t focusing on building any good tag teams, so they might as well have their big tag hosses maul a bunch of nobodies forever. Modern audiences aren’t really into buying a Road Warriors-type team that becomes legendary by defeating everyone despite not really wrestling anyone good, but I’d rather see appearances from nameless nerds like Travis Tritt and Troy McClure every week than repeated Enzo/Big Cass losses.
My only suggestion for improvement would be to do what TNA is doing with Ethan Carter III. Yes, I can’t believe I just typed “do what TNA does,” but stay with me. They’re not only feeding EC3 these hilariously helpless chumps, they’re feeding him chumps who can eat his finisher with APLOMB, doing full-on headstands and crumples for the headlock driver. That’s what you need to do here. Find guys who can do Rikishi bumps off the Partial Elimination (or whatever they’re calling their finish) and feed them to the Ascension on an assembly line.
Remember when Ryback starting bullying local guys, and we thought the end of the story was gonna be a local guy rising up and giving him a fight and becoming a cool new star? Remember how the actual end to the angle was “Ryback wrestles big stars in situations unrelated to his bullying, then goes back to it whenever we need to set up a match against a midcarder like Great Khali during App segments during breaks?” Maybe the Ascension story will end like the Ryback one should’ve.
Best: Mojo Rawley’s Entrance
Speaking of squashes, Mojo Rawley got a lightly-competitive match out of a guy whose gimmick is “he is somewhat taciturn when we tried to talk to him backstage, but he’s polite we guess,” which is the PERFECT FOIL for Mojo Rawley. He also added a bunch of football moves to his established, asshole-based moveset, and I continue to love (and pray for) Mojo.
The best thing about him now is how they frame his entrance. They do this close-up of the video screen with a bunch of levels going up and down, and his music’s going and we get the pillars of smoke … and then Mojo just RUNS by from right to left, disappearing off the edge of the screen. They just hold the shot until he runs back in, and then we follow him to the ring. It’s like the cameraman is already tired of Mojo’s shit. I love it.
Worst: Alex Riley Tries To Ruin Mojo Rawley
The only thing I don’t love is (surprise surprise) Alex Riley managing to single-handedly destroy the fun of saying Mojo Rawley’s catchphrase. Seriously, during the match, without any context or provocation, Riley yells out I DON’T GET HYPE, I STAY HYPE! Except he doesn’t mean it and he says it in Alex Riley voice. WHO DOES THIS? When Austin was in the ring you didn’t hear Jim Ross randomly blurting out TALK ABOUT YOUR PSALMS TALK ABOUT JOHN 3:16.
Riley using Mojo Rawley’s catchphrase is like that time the NFL on Fox crew danced to ‘Gangnam Style.’ Thanks for ruining it for all of us, guys.
Best: YEAH YEAH YEAH YEAH YEAH
The main-event of this week’s show was a great one: the resurgent, didn’t-realize-how-much-I-missed-him Kassius Ohno getting a rematch against my favorite wrestler in the WWE maybe Luke Harper.
The match was my favorite kind of exciting … a slow, purposeful affair full of guys just beating the mess out of each other that gets the crowd into it with nothing but the tried-and-true tropes of pro wrestling and builds to an exciting — and totally logical — conclusion. At one point in the match Ohno gets hit so hard he starts spitting up stuff. And at another, he tires the Misawa feint over the ropes onto the apron and gets kicked in the face. These guys are the best, and if Sami Zayn’s gotta take a two month vacation for Being Too Good At Wrestling, at least we have Harper and Ohno.
I loved the finish, too, with Ohno refusing to give up (without RIDICULOUSLY refusing to give up, like the kick-out pals in Ring Of Honor love to do) but eventually getting hit with Harper’s brutal LARIAT FOREARM TO THE FACE and taking a nap. Ohno fought hard but got outmatched, and he’s got one more moment of saying, “no, I think I can beat you” for a third match. I hope that happens soon. Hell, I’d love to see Ohno follow the Wyatts to Raw and join up with that Punk/Bryan crew for an ultimate Brandon fan-wank.
But, you know, another great match would be fine, too.