– Here’s a link to this week’s episode. If it’s anything like last week, it’ll start off as a Hulu Plus exclusive and then get shuffled over to the free service. Worst case, look for it on Daily Motion.
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– If you’re new to NXT, you can check out previous weeks’ columns here. If you’d like to go back even farther, we’re doing a retro recap of NXT season 1 here. Justin Roberts gets choked with his tie like 3 1/2 years ago, so look out for that.
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Please click through to enjoy this really freaking good episode of WWE NXT for February 12, 2014.
Best: The BFF Turn On Alicia Fox Before She Can Switch Alignment Again
This has got to be one of my favorite episodes ever. Aside from some mild announcing horribleness (more on that in a sec), this week’s NXT moved at lightning speed, had pretty much everything you could ask for in an hour-long episodic wrestling show and got me excited for the live show on the 27th, assuming I wasn’t stupid excited already.
The opening match was TRIOS ACTION~ pitting the BFF — Summer Rae, Sasha Banks and Alicia Fox accompanied to the ring by Charlotte, who appears to be wearing a Spanx tank top — against Emma, Bayley and Natalya. The match was a hell of a lot of fun and sorta built up the good guys as the most logical and effective Divas squad ever assembled. Natalya starts off, throws the heavy bombs and makes everybody run in terror. Bayley steps in for the middle portion to take all the damage, and then Emma comes in at the end, wrecks everybody and taps Alicia out to the Emma Lock. If WWE ever did a King of Trios, this would be their SENDAI Girls team.
Alicia gets abandoned at the end of the match when the BFF remember they’re on a team with a lady who switches alignment faster than the Big Show and could just Jekyll and Hyde her way onto the other team at any moment. I like that the announcers put a lot of effort into getting Alicia over as a great natural athlete and ALSO a great pro wrestler (Regal says she’s his favorite Diva in terms of in-ring performance, which sorta validates the awesomeness of her wristlocks las week). Even Alex Riley tones down his SHE LOOKS LIKE A BLACK OLYMPIAN I CAN NAME by just saying she looks like an Olympics-quality athlete. Progress!
Worst: Renee Young Should Not Be Worse Than Alex Riley
Honestly, Riley wasn’t bad this week. During the Divas tag he continues his “I love Emma most” gag by saying he likes her so much if they got married, he’d take her last name. The joke, of course, being that Emma doesn’t have a last name. Renee suggests that Emma’s last name is “Lucien,” and things are delightful. Then, uh, Renee starts talking about how she doesn’t want to be one of “those girls” who won’t take their husband’s last name and wants a man who will “man up.”
I’m not sure how we ended up in a world where Renee Young is the only bad part of an NXT episode, but I’m gonna guess we traveled to it in a spaceship made out of JBL and Michael Cole. Renee, I don’t know if you’re doing this to “fit in” or if being around these guys has just opened up a really disappointing part of your personality, but nothing in wrestling makes me feel worse than turning that corner on someone I used to adore, and nothing turns the corner faster than “guys who don’t treat women like possessions are pussies.”
Enjoy being a popular Raw announcer or whatever.
Best: The WWE-Related Thing You Should Be Paying The Most Attention To
Okay, back to this amazing episode.
A couple of weeks ago I wondered why Sami Zayn was asking Antonio Cesaro (sorry, “Cesaro”) to turn down his challenge for a rematch “to his face” when Cesaro’s only previous refusal was him exiting the ring and walking all the way up the ramp to the stage to say “no” with their faces practically touching. It still doesn’t make a lot of sense beyond Zayn saying “aw come on,” but the execution of was MAGIC.
The best part of Sami Zayn is that he’s (usually) a logical, rational human being. He has reasons for why he does things, doesn’t flip out and throw you through the roof of an ambulance when he has a problem with you and just generally says shit we can understand. He can’t figure out why he lost the 2-out-of-3 falls match to Cesaro when he was so damn close — he was 3/4 of the way through his DDT off the ropes when Cesaro caught him and Extra Murder Killed him — and won’t be okay with himself until Cesaro gives him another shot and either gives Sami redemption or confirms his own superiority. When he compliments Cesaro, he MEANS it. Cesaro IS awesome, and that’s why Sami wants to beat him so badly.
The best part of Cesaro is that he’s Cesaro. He respects Sami and their history enough to go through the motions here, but he already knows and proved he was the better man, so he sees no reason to do it again. He also doesn’t respect Sami too much and drops a “you’re gonna have a long and successful career down here” backhanded compliment pipebomb before stringing him along long enough to kick him in the leg as a colossally butthole exclamation point.
The best part of the back-and-forth, though, is the crowd. When Zayn compliments Cesaro, they start clapping because he’s RIGHT. How often does this happen in WWE? If John Cena tells Randy Orton he’s good in the ring, the crowd just kinda boos. The idea of I LIKE YOU and I DON’T LIKE YOU are the only things that matter. At Full Sail, you’ve got a beautiful spectrum … you can love a wrestler because of his or her abilities and charisma, boo them for what they do and still appreciate their abilities and charisma. It’s like REAL PEOPLE are watching wrestling. They also clap when Cesaro explains how he’s asking Zayn man-to-man if his knee’s gonna be medically cleared, because if the rematch DOES happen, he wants there to be no excuses. The crowd is clapping for logical sportsmanship and competitive decency. I feel like I won the lottery.
Cesaro being a jerk to Zayn at the end, turning him down and kicking his leg outta his leg is what brings it all full circle and makes wrestling great. I want people to be real human beings with real human thoughts and emotions and THEN I want the impossible European Superman to assault the crippled guy. That makes sense, doesn’t it?
Best: For Business
Aside from casually explaining that HIM wanting the match is more important than the people wanting it, NXT Triple H continues to be great. He says the crowd wants to see Cesaro/Zayn because they clearly do. He’s actually listening to them when he says he’s listening to him. That almost seems absurd. On Raw, the crowd doesn’t “tell you what they want to see” until you yell YOU WANT TO SEE THIS THING RIGHT, RIIIIGHT and point a microphone at them.
Quick question though, isn’t … uh, isn’t JBL supposed to be making these calls? Did you seriously make JBL the GM of NXT just to have a bad guy restart the Bo Dallas/Sami Zayn title match? Can we get a backstage segment where H dismisses him and is all, “I got this, go google twerking from the top of Mt. Everest or whatever you do with your spare time” and get our power hierarchies straight?
Best: Aiden English Covers Captain Hammer
Aiden English got a decisive win over Colin Cassady to end that feud (unless he’s going to wrestle Enzo at some point), but the highlight was his entrance song: he did an Aiden English-centric version of ‘Everyone’s A Hero’ from Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. No, seriously. It was good, too, not like when he did a song from Rent and mucked it up.
If you watched the episode but haven’t seen Dr. Horrible, this is the song:
God, if Enzo had shown up on the ramp with a freeze ray this would’ve been the greatest wrestling segment of all time. I guess there’s still time for him to call English a “friggin’ tard,” though.
(Maybe not a good idea.)
(Gimmick change suggestion: Mason Ryan becomes the “Thoroughbred of Sin.”)
(Also, an episode where Bayley does her laundry and eats yogurt.)
Best: This Episode Is So Good Even CJ Parker Is Great
I can’t believe it, either.
CJ Parker gets a quick win against a guy who gets “purple power” chants for his purple-ass trunks and then launches into a SPECTACULAR heel promo about how the NXT Universe is incapable of love and is only booing him because he recycles, gives a shit about the polar ice caps and drives a 2013 Ford Fiesta. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
This is what I love so much about NXT … how quickly things can change on a dime. Guys who aren’t working (and who’ve never worked in years and years of development) get one character tweak and I’m instantly on board. I’ve always hated CJ Parker. How am I supposed to say bad things about him when he thinks you should cheer him because his car gets 40 miles to the gallon?
So much you can do with him now. I want him to beat up Mojo Rawley for putting a sandwich and its plastic container in “recycling” when the plastic should go in recycling and the food should go in compost. DO IT.
Best: Bray Wyatt Face Promos (!?)
If this episode hadn’t given me enough surprising things to type !!! about, the last match is a quick tag squash for the Wyatt Family, followed by Bray Wyatt cutting a FACE PROMO for the NXT crowd. He talks about how the world’s feeling his destruction and poison, but that he’ll never forget where he came from. That’s so awesome. He gets the crowd to sing along with “follow the buzzards,” and it’s a wonderful little moment that calls back to the preacher-and-congregation call-and-response of his NXT farewell.
I know the show might see some changes when Arrival arrives and more people start watching (in theory), but I hope WWE truly realizes what a crazy little place they’ve created and how happy it makes wrestling feel for jerks like me. I also hope they invent time travel, and that Renee Paquette arrives fresh off the boat from 2012 and banishes Renee Young to the Phantom Zone.