– Here’s a link to this week’s episode, should you want to watch it and follow along.
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Please click through for the Best and Worst of WWE NXT for January 22, 2014. Only one month left until we go WAY OVER THE TOP.
Worst: The Big Giant Head
Before we begin, hey Joseph Gordon-Levitt, stop personally introducing me to the crappy things you’re doing you don’t think can get over on their own. I’m not gonna rock out to the Tony Danza version of ‘Liquid Television’ just because you got all personable to me about it. “Hi, my name is Joe Gordon-Levitt, I just made this bicycle delivery thriller called Premium Rush, you’ll probably hate it but if you watch it I’ll listen to your problems.”
Best: The Lady Rhodes
I’ve given NXT a lot of grief for their rotating collection of Diva ring announcers (including last week’s mysterious ghost announcer), but they’ve officially made up for all the bad times by (re) introducing Eden Stiles. You may remember her from her brief run on NXT and Superstars back in 2011, from her being f*cking gorgeous or her new position as Mrs. Cody Rhodes. Regardless, she’s the best fit for the job and earns infinite cool points for being in the Rhodes family, so let’s do whatever we can to keep her around this time, all right?
Best: “A Real, Live Cowboy”
The opening match of this week’s show was Adrian Neville beating a guy named Wesley Blake. Blake is described as a “real, live cowboy,” which is hilarious in its innocence and also AWESOME, because if there’s one thing wrestling needs right now it’s more cowboy gimmicks. Cowboy gimmicks and farmhand gimmicks.
Think about it. When was the last time you saw a rough-and-tumble cowboy in the WWE? Was it Justin Hawk Bradshaw? Usually WWE translates “cowboy” into “redneck,” so you get weird approximations like Trevor Murdoch and Lance Cade or the New Blackjacks, who are clearly just non-cowboys wearing hats and chaps. Occupational gimmicks only work if they make sense, right? “Cowboy” is the best of these. “MY DAY JOB IS INCREDIBLY DIFFICULT AND I’M LONELY OUT ON THE PRAIRIE (or whatever), I NEED TO EXPRESS AND VALIDATE MYSELF BY BEATING THE SHIT OUT OF YOU CITY FOLK.” Where have you gone, Outlaw Ron Bass, our nation turns its lonely eyes to you.
I hope Blake sticks around if only to hear the announcers keep trying to come up with cowboy things, clearly off the top of their head. Tensai’s all HE GREW UP IN THE RODEO, THAT MAKES HIM TOUGH. Is that true, or are you just saying that because cowboys do rodeo and he’s wearing a cowboy hat? I want Byron to suddenly blurt out, “IT WAS SAD WHEN HIS LOVER DIED AND HE CLUTCHED HIS DRESS SHIRTS.”
Best: Remote-Controlled Alexander Rusev
The next match was Alexander Rusev destroying Xavier Woods, and it was that same kind of forgettable fine every Xavier Woods match is. I love that he got called up to Raw and maintained that same level of inoffensive, unremarkable wrestling. How the hell is a guy with an afro who does flips and loves Power Rangers the most boring guy on the show?
Anyway, the thing of note here is that Lana has begun controlling Alexander Rusev remotely. He locks on the Accolade and taps Woods out, so Business Lana just sorta strolls around to meet Rusev’s line of sight and points at him. He lets go. Then she does this dramatic fist-clenching motion and he reapplies the hold. I love this so much. It’s not only a new way to portray Rusev in a post-“writing peoples’ names on wooden planks and then BREAKING THOSE PLANKS” world, it’s also the first clear character differentiation (besides sex) between Lana and Sylvester LeFort. That’s crucial, especially if you’re gonna bring them up to Raw and want to do something more entertaining than “they’re not from here.”
Worst: LOL Sin Cara
Xavier Woods gets bailed out by Sin Cara and we are one step closer to my dream of seeing Camacho repackaged as Rey Mysterio. I really want the NXT version of Sin Cara to ride a low-rider bike to the ring and X-Games hop it off the middle rope while his pyro goes off.
Best: The Best CJ Parker Match Ever
I know I normally use “the best (guy I hate) match ever” as a gag for when they get squashed and made fun of, but I’m not being facetious here. This is the best CJ Parker match ever, and the finish is an early front-runner for my favorite finish of the year.
Parker gets in a decent amount of offense — I’m gonna credit him not doing his wobbly-knee’d “hippie” dance nonstop like he normally does — and goes for an airplane spin. The crowd boos him for it, but he spins and spins and spins. When he’s done, he stumbles away to sell the move and Cesaro TOTALLY NO-SELLS IT BECAUSE HE IS THE BEST PERSON IN WWE AT SPINNING. God DAMMIT do I love it when wrestling makes sense. Cesaro just cracks his neck as the crowd goes OH SHIT and Parker watusis back into a giant swing and gets Neutralized. I honestly can’t overstate how much I loved this.
Best: Here We Go Again
To make the match even better, Sami Zayn interrupts Cesaro’s celebration and asks him for a rematch to their 2-out-of-3 falls classic. YES PLEASE. Cesaro says no, but he totally means yes, and I’m so happy right now I can barely breathe. The live NXT special on the WWE Network is going to be the most baller thing in wrestling and f*ck the pay-per-views, I’m committing for however long they want me to to see this.
Worst: Let’s Ruin Everything Good That Just Happened
Wrestling karma demands balance.
Just seen an awesome Antonio Cesaro match that ends with Sami Zayn challenging him to another 2-out-of-3 falls match? Here, let’s jump backstage where Devin Taylor (boo) is interviewing the Miz (OH GOD BOO) and they get interrupted by a distraught, lingo-spouting CJ Parker (UGH BOOO) to set up a match between The Miz and CJ Parker (you are f*cking dead to me). Way to give me a delicious bowl of cereal and then shit in it, NXT.
I’m counting on you to make this feel ten times worse than Kingston/Rusev, Full Sail audience. I’m also counting on Alex Riley calling the match and responding to every move by saying “THIS IS LIKE THE TIME MIZ DID A SNAPMARE” or “THIS IS JUST LIKE WHEN I WAS WITH THE MIZ AND SAW HIM DO A DROPKICK” or whatever until his head explodes.
(I am also counting on this to be a dark match.)
Best: Natalya Is Gonna Get Hungry And Leave No Man Untested
Two important things happened in regard to the NXT Women’s Division on this show:
1. Natalya got a win over Summer Rae, tapping her out clean to a sharpshooter in what I assume is Natalya’s last NXT appearance before she returns to Raw and reality television to be “wrestler’s girlfriend,” and
2. Charlotte returned from whatever bunker closet they’ve been keeping her in to explain that she’s been off riding in limousines and flying in jets, and to call Bayley a “cat lady,” which is honestly pretty funny.
Also Renee returned to commentary, which is great, but she mostly talked about how women are gossipy bullies when they get together in groups and called Bayley “Paige,” so I’m gonna pretend it was Alex Riley in a blonde wig.
Best: Let’s Forget About That Miz/CJ Parker Interview
WWE’s finally wised up and started putting up Enzo Amore interviews in clip form. How you doin’.
This week, Enzo (in his animal-print motorized wheelchair that matches Big Cass’s belt) reveals that he can fly (!!) and will be back in action in no time. Cue Aiden English, who is only here to reiterate that he is great at singing, and to get his foot run over by said animal-print motorized wheelchair.
I seriously want a thing at Axxess this year where I can pay extra to sit and talk to Enzo Amore for ten minutes. I’m not sure if I’ve ever been aware of a wrestler who can make zero sense but still get his point across and be so entertaining about it. Well, not in a long time.
Best: The Bo Dallas Banner Raising Ceremony
Bo Dallas (in his signature pink dress shirt with the weird cuffs) is here in the presence of his supportive third cousin (Erick Rowan?), his sister’s college roommate and his 4th grade teacher to debut and raise a BANNER to honor his 224 days as NXT Champion. That makes him the longest reigning champion ever — out of three, it should be noted — and now he’ll hang there forever alongside John Zandig and … sorry, wrong banners.
Adrian Neville gets a supplemental Worst for still not being able to convincingly say words, but the gist here is fantastic. Bo’s banner is actually a harbinger of doom, because it points out how long he’s been champion, and that his days are numbered. Neville’s got momentum and is coming for him, and nothing Bo can do can stop him. You know, besides an exposed turnbuckle or whatever. Bo gets overconfident, throws some shade at Aiden English (calling him a “nobody” several times) and announces that he could beat Neville faster than Neville could beat a jobber. Cue THIS GUY:
who totally BURIES THEM and HOLDS THEM DOWN by … uh, being a fair, rational authority figure? NXT Triple H is the best. He calls Bo’s bluff and says that if Neville can last 4:45 in the ring without losing to Bo, he can get another title shot. Not sure where JBL was when this was happening, but again, if NXT Triple H is an example of the guy we’ll be dealing with when he’s officially retired and done being the coolest and toughest and smartest guy in the room, we’ve got something lovely to look forward to.
The Beat the Clock challenge wasn’t very good, honestly, with neither guy seeming to understand the point of it until the very end, but the destination will be worth the journey. This feels really make or break for Neville, and giving him the strap to validate him and keep him away from that endless string of half-assed tag team partners is a great idea. Bo’s as good as Bo’s gonna get, Sami Zayn doesn’t need it (as badly as I want him to have it), and Neville needs something besides his jumping ability and terrible public speaking to be popular.
New WWE rule: if you keep the belt a long time, don’t jinx yourself by announcing how many days it’s been.