– Sharing the Best and Worst of WWE NXT is easy, and helpful, because not enough of your friends watch this show. Use these handy-dandy buttons, won’t you?
– Here’s a link to this week’s show if you want to watch it first.
– As a reminder, we took last week off for the Thanksgiving holiday. I apologize for any inconvenience, especially to those of you who don’t read the first page pre-show notes and tweeted me on Thursday evening with, “no NXT report?” Since you aren’t reading this either, YOU SUCK PAGE 2 JUMPERS.
Please click through for the Best and Worst of WWE NXT for December 4, 2013.
Best: Antonio Cesaro’s Secret Plan Is “Say Sami Zayn’s Name Weird A Bunch And Then Run Up And Hit Him From Behind Once”
The show opens with Leo Kruger inquiring about the application process for the Real Americans stable. That alone would’ve given this a Best (although honestly I wish Cesaro’s response had been, “uh, well, first off you have to be an American” and scoffing). What it turns into is spectacularly weird, with Kruger and Cesaro saying “Sami Zayn” over and over in foreign accents so you’re not sure if they’re saying “Sami Zayn” or “Zami Sayn.” Listen to it, it’s like that Bill Nye video where “Bill” becomes “mayo.”
I also love that they dedicate a couple of minutes to Cesaro figuratively scratching his chin and hatching a master plan before whispering it to Kruger, and then the plan turning out to be RUN UP BEHIND SAMI ZAYN WHEN HE ISN’T LOOKING AND HIT HIM ONCE. How amazing is that? Cesaro’s all, “hey, this guy who may literally be a murderous bounty hunter wants to team up with me, let’s see if able to blindside a tired guy and walk away muttering. Only THEN will he prove himself!”
Supplementary Best goes to Cesaro’s awesome William Regal impression, which might as well have been Paul Rudd in Forgetting Sarah Marshall.
Worst: I’m Sorry For Everything Bad I Said About Alexa Bliss
A few weeks ago they replaced the regular bad lady NXT ring announcer with Alexa Bliss, a beautiful woman in training who sorta looks like a Bratz doll but reportedly has some promise. I talked a little shit about her because of how WWE makes less-talented Divas multitask (see also: Krystal, Maria Kanellis) instead of hiring actual hosts and television personalities. This is one of the reasons I love Renee Young so much. She’s an anomaly.
Anyway, I take it all back. The woman they have ring announcing this week sounds like Dee Dee from ‘Dexter’s Laboratory’ and I’m not sure she knows what words are. She announces matches as being scheduled for “onefall,” one word, and listen to how she over-enunciates the T in “Alberta.” It’s like Randy Orton saying “title.” Did WWE have a “saying T” workshop?
Best: I Might Not Hate Natalya If This Was Ever The Natalya We Got
This week’s opening match was an NXT Women’s Championship match between Paige and Natalya, and I liked it a lot, mostly because I didn’t have to write about that awkward promo from last week where Natalya does that obnoxious Lena Dunham “no okay but I’m going to TELL you how I FEEL now” thing and stares at the floor the entire time.
As regular readers of the Best and Worst of Raw might know, I’m not a fan of Natalya. This makes me a weird type of Internet wrestling fan. I’m supposed to throw in with whoever we decide is good, which is why people are still asking me why I bag on Kofi Kingston so much despite nearly three years of paragraphs about why he’s bad. I’ve always felt Natalya was spectacularly overrated, and every chance she’s gotten to break through and not be horrible on television has been wasted by temporary ineptitude or bad acting or whatever. She just doesn’t do it for me, and if she didn’t have a “Neidhart” at the end of her name she’d probably be slumming it on customss with Kowgirl Kissey. Note: don’t google Kowgirl Kissey.
That said, I also get that a lot of the negativity I feel is based on what I see on television, and no, I’m not at practice or whatever where she gets to tear it up with Sara Del Rey and show that in a better world she’d be stretching Kana and throwing discus clotheslines at Madison Eagles somewhere. NXT has a way of easing back on the WWE negativity throttle and allowing “misused” talent to shine, so I’ll openly admit how much I enjoyed Natalya’s title challenge against Paige. There was a lot of well-executed science~ going on, a lot of really good fundamental pro wrestling and more selling than the last six months of Ring of Honor. That’s all very good.
I’ll also say that I didn’t think this was as good as Paige’s matches with Emma, but Paige looked better in a lot of important areas … she looked motivated, she paced herself well and stayed engaged, and her finisher coming out of nowhere eliminated the stunted way she usually just moseys over and does it. All very good.
So yeah, good match. Although the “Natalya’s the only woman to train in Stu Hart’s Dungeon, that says something about her!” only says “I am related to somebody in the Hart Foundation” about her. Once the Harts trained Teddy’s crazy cat-loving ass they kinda forfeited the prestige.
Also better than what we usually get in ROH was the post-match hug between Natalya and Paige, which was a welcomed moment of sincerity for the Paige character and did a lot to make her seem like the next important cog in WWE women’s wrestling. Renee getting to talk about Natalya as a person and not as a wrestling character helped a lot, too. It seemed like it really meant something, because it did. It wasn’t the forced “hold up their arm and point at them to get them over” jazz. I love you, pro graps sportsmanship.
Worst: Kicking A Man While He’s Down
I do not feel comfortable giving a Worst to something involving Tyler Breeze, but man, him calling Kassius Ohno a “bit of a fatty” felt a little too insider for my tastes, and wasn’t a good look for NXT. Maybe it’s just me and all the Internet I consume. Maybe my brain was messed up from all the “background lady on Archer” dialogue coming out of Lana. One or the other.
It’s fun to pretend that’s Alexander Rusev’s bedroom, though, with all those WWE posters.
Best: Mojo Rawley’s Politeness, Or
Worst: Does Mojo Rawley Know How A Camera Works?
The combination of …
1. ass-based offense
2. NON-STOP HYPE-BASED RUNNING
3. that adorable Breast Cancer Awareness video he filmed, and
4. the constant use of “sir” to address his peers
… makes Mojo Rawley remain one of my favorite new guys on the show. I wonder about him, though, because he kinda seems shoot simple. Like what the French call les incompétents. He delivers his dialogue to LeFort, Dawson and the camera all at the same time, which seems technically impossible, but there he is pulling it off.
He’s making good points, I guess, but I would’ve popped pretty hard if Weird Announcer Guy had randomly yelled “ARE YOU TALKING TO ME” from offscreen.
Best: Aiden English’s Tights
I feel like I get hung up on Aiden English’s character and bad musical arrangements too often, so I’d like to take a minute to say how much I love his sparkly laurel tights. They’re perfect.
Best: The Absolute Brilliance Of Cesaro Vs. Regal (So Far)
Okay, so this was the best part of the show for me, and one of the best things I’ve seen from WWE in a while.
Last week, Antonio Cesaro had a match and announcer Byron Saxton accidentally stepped on his Gadsden flag. Cesaro got all up on his face and started to get physical, so William Regal got up from the announce table, pulled Saxton out of the ring and saved him. There was no physicality between Cesaro and Regal, but the gesture pissed Cesaro off, and his plan this week was good … but the way it was executed and the story it told were even better.
Cesaro comes out and says he wants to apologize to Saxton. Saxton obviously knows how heels work and is wary, but ends up getting coaxed onto the stage where Cesaro shakes his hand and apologizes in five different languages. Lovely. Then, as a gesture of “good will” that Cesaro knows he can purposely misinterpret as disrespect no matter where it goes, he gets Byron to put his hand on his heart and do the We The People taunt. Byron only does it halfheartedly, so Cesaro gets mad at him and starts beating him up for “making fun of him.” If Byron had gone all in with it, Cesaro could’ve claimed the same thing. That is EVIL.
The best part is that as Cesaro’s beating him up, he stops and glares over toward the area where the wrestlers walk out. The camera even swings over there. Nothing. Cesaro starts yelling WHERE’S REGAL in Byron’s face and Byron’s rightfully all I DON’T KNOW MAN WTF, and that’s where we get the big reveal: this entire thing was a plan to draw out Regal for a fight. It didn’t work, but the storytelling, acting and camerawork all built it up and told us everything we needed to know. In a few minutes NXT built a feud better than anybody’s gotten on Raw in 2013, and that is why I like this show so much.
Also, F*CK YES ANTONIO CESARO VS. WILLIAM REGAL. My body is ready.
Worst: Those Wii U Commercials
If these were my kids, they’d get a gigantic Rex Banner-style catapult for Christmas, which I would then use to launch them into space. Then I would laugh and laugh.
Best: A Heel Move By A Babyface That Actually Makes Sense
Leo Kruger gets a match against the “returning” Tyson Kidd, and the match gets a Best for three reasons:
1. Alex Riley actually being right for once, mentioning how Kidd’s physique, tights and hair make him look a lot like Eddie Guerrero
2. NXT remembering that Kruger cheap-shotted an injured Tyson Kidd way back in February, explaining why this match is happening at all (because history is important, kids, even if it’s not overbearing or necessary for the enjoyment of the show)
3. Sami Zayn’s “heel” action made total sense
Earlier in the show, we saw the “last week” video of Kruger’s PSYCHOLOGICAL WARFARE forearm to the shoulders on Zayn. Because of this, Zayn comes down to the ring during Kruger’s match and, using his knowledge of WWE logic, provides a distraction, causing Kruger to lose. I usually speak ill of babyfaces doing heel stuff like this, but I think when it’s a direct 1:1 revenge scenario, it works. Zayn got cheapshotted, so he got his revenge. It makes him look like he isn’t a doormat. On Raw, Kruger would cheapshot Zayn, Zayn would cause a distraction, and then spend the next month dumping sewage on Kruger and blasting him with chairs and shit because “revenge is sweet.” Context helps pro wrestling make a lot of sense to me.
I also really liked Zayn causing the flash roll-up but still reacting to it from the apron … he backs up when he sees Tyson going for it, sorta inches in as the count happens to make sure he doesn’t have to follow up with anything, then relaxes and celebrates when it works. The little things, you guys.
The match gets a small supplemental Worst for being a 10-month revenge story and ending on a flash pin unrelated to Kidd whatsoever, but whatever, Total Divas made him a Raw guy so I guess this was just to tie up the loose end.
Best: Can We Just Start Calling Camacho ‘Rosa Man-des’
Poor Tongan-ass Camacho, having to be the YEAH, WHAT HE SAID guy in the background of Hunico promos. With his basic knowledge of Spanish, I move that we officially change the “LOL Camacho” joke to calling him Rosa Man-des, in tribute to Rosa’s VAMANOS! style of Hispanic legitimacy. Hunico says something lengthy in Spanish and then Camacho just leans in and goes “TODOS!” and blinks a bunch until Hunico starts speaking again. Love it. They should make Camacho Russian and have him pipe in during the pauses of Lana promos.
Worst: Alex Riley, A Total Piece Of Shit
I made the mistake of complimenting Alex Riley in an NXT column and look what happens to me.
He starts off the main-event of the show by being Missi Pyle from Josie and the Pussycats hearing Mr. Moviephone in Mega Records’ subliminal messages. Holy shit that’s a wordy reference. Anyway, he IMMEDIATELY is like “hey Renee, you sat next to Bo Dallas last week, right? THAT MEANS YOU F*CKED HIM, RIGHT, C’MON YOU SLUT, TELL US ABOUT IT.” It was AWFUL. The most Bro’d out Riley’s been in a while. Renee plays along because she is a professional, bless her heart, but he just keeps on her about who she thinks looks better and ughhh f*ck you, Alex Riley. They should put a white cowboy hat on him and call him El Hijo del JBL. WHICH ONE’A 3MB WOULD YOU RATHER HAVE SEX WITH, MAGGLE, ANSWER ME NOW OR WE AIN’T TALKIN ABOUT NOTHIN ELSE
And while we’re talking about announcer and JBL, everybody INCLUDING Renee needs to can it with the twerking references. Jesus Christ.
Best: Bo Dallas Loses And Still Wins
The quick version of last week’s report is “Adrian Neville is pretty good still when he gets to just be PAC, and doesn’t have to worry about Corey Graves’ dead weight ass dragging him down.” Neville/Zayn was spectacularly good and a perfect little time capsule of what made 2007-2008ish independent wrestling great. Lots of great nearfalls but not too many, with Neville’s cartwheel into a blue thunder bomb being the highlight. Probably my third favorite NXT match of the year, behind the 2-out-of-3 falls match Zayn had with Cesaro and the secretly better-than-that follow-up with Swagger.
This week’s match wasn’t that, but it served its purpose. Neville got to look like a guy who could clearly kick Bo Dallas in the ass if he got the opportunity, but allowed his devil-may-care enthusiasm to cost him the match, leveling Bo with a crossbody to the floor that legitimately looked like it could’ve knocked somebody out. Sick body-to-body contact instead of that “let me gently stop you with my arms” stuff that normally happens. Bo totally could’ve gotten back into the ring on time but didn’t, taking a probably-on-purpose count-out loss without Fandango’ing it and just bailing.
I also really liked the turnbuckle pad coming off, which can now serve as an indicator of the finish or a red herring in every Bo championship match. Good stuff. The belt really needs to stay on Bo as long as possible before Sami boots him to oblivion again and wins it for real. And hey, make Neville the first challenger.