The Best And Worst Of WWE NXT 3/13/14: Nighty Night, Sasha

Pre-show notes:

– I will never get tired of screencapping that move.

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Please click through for the Best and Worst of WWE NXT for March 13, 2014.

Best: Tensai Becomes Jason Albert, Jason Albert Becomes Tazz

The former Tensai is now officially “Jason Albert,” retired color commentator who is no longer a Lord, may or may not still be a gaijin TerrorGod to the Japanese and is not afraid to remind us that his name used to be “Dick Ring.” I guess this means we’re never getting another Tensai match, and that Brodus Clay died on his way back to Planet Funk. Heaven needed a Main Event Player!

The interesting thing about Jason Albert (besides the fact that they didn’t call him “Albert Bernard,” which would’ve been a thousand times better) is that he’s been very good on color commentary, but developed a thick Boston accent the second somebody mentioned Boston and carried it throughout the show. It’s like he realized he should be BOSTON GUY and made a permanent decision mid-conversation. He opens the show all, “hi everyone, I’m Jason Albert!” and by the end of Sasha Banks/Paige he’s all I’M GANNA BE A STAH, GAHTTA BE A STAH. He’s gonna BAHLDO BAHM YA ON A PAHKED CAH. ACCENTS.

Anyway, I’m sad that Andrew Test couldn’t be around to see this transformation happen. Good luck on being the new Gorilla Monsoon, Albert, and here’s to hoping somebody gives Brad Maddox a sequined jacket and lets him be your Bobby the Brain.

Best: Sasha Banks Is Delightful

We say a lot of nice things about Paige in the column (with good reason, she’s gorgeous, great at wrestling and one of the only competitors in WWE without a horrifying fake tan), but this week we should probably stare slack-jawed at how great Sasha Banks has gotten.

She’s reaching peak ripeness, and as strange as it sounds to say she’s as ready as anybody to make the jump to the main roster. They compensated for her trout-like acting ability by giving her an extremely easy yet enjoyable character to play — “The Boss,” which is just “mean lady in stunner shades” — gave her a comfortable story to settle into and outfitted her with some of the nicest-looking gear they’ve ever done. Seriously, look at her gear on this show. Nobody’s is better, even if WWE’s really in love with that “padded bra” top they’re putting on everybody. You know you’re getting a serious look from management when your gear starts getting sparkly.

To me her in-ring work has always been solid, so watching the rest of the act catch up has been great. She’s fantastic here, battering Paige to the ground, choking her out with her own arms and begging the crowd to give her shit for it. I especially love when the referee checks on Paige and Sasha yells, “she gives up! I’m the champion now!” Kinda wish the ref had called the match right there.

But yeah, a really fun little match to start off the show. Paige gets another strong victory, Jason Albert becomes my new favorite non-Regal announcer by namedropping Bull Nakano, and the modified Scorpion Crosslock continues to be the new hotness. Also, Summer Rae on a steek.

Worst: I Like Natalya Being On The Show, But She Doesn’t Have To Be Everybody’s Mom

Charlotte jumps Paige after the match to continue their beef and HERE’S BRET HART’S MUSIC WAIT NO and Natasha runs to the ring to help her out. To reiterate, I love Natalya being on NXT because it allows her to validate all the praise people give her for being a great wrestler, but I kinda wish she’d stop trying to be everybody’s mom. She’s bailed out Paige and Emma on multiple occasions, stuck up for Bayley and even shows up later in this very episode to stand up to bullies. These ladies could probably fight their own battles, couldn’t they?

Best: Sami Zayn Likes Bands!

He should get “fall back down” tattooed on his knuckles.

Sami Zayn likes bands. We also like bands! Whenever he wears a shirt of a band on TV people go nuts, and it makes me wonder if WWE has spent 50 years missing the boat by not having wrestlers occasionally stop and say “we like the same stuff you like.” If I found out that say, The Miz really loves Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon and imported the entire series on bootlegged DVDs I’d be stanning for the f*cking Miz for the rest of my life. Kofi Kingston wore tights with Skeletor on them once and briefly made me like him. I mean, John Cena doesn’t have to open Raw with a list about why Final Fantasy VIII is underrated by nerds who’ve never been in love, but wrestlers being three-dimensional should at least attempt to be the sport’s next great evolution.

(And Sami should start calling his blue thunder bomb the “Time Bomb.”)

Best: Owning The Yah, Or
Worst: The Ascension Can Beat ANY Combination Of Nobodies! ANY COMBINATION

The Best for this week’s Ascension squash goes to KONNOR (all caps) for not being afraid to get his YAHs in and let the crowd play along. NXT clearly doesn’t have a lot for the Ascension to do and got pretty lucky that the crowd came up with a drinking game for them, so why not embrace it? Their last few matches have been Viktor in the ring doing the busy work and Konnor just jumping in to do non-YAH-inducing stuff like the running shoulderblocks before it’s time to tag out. Here he goes FULL YAH, and the match feels better for it. None of that “GET TO THE WORKING OVERTIME PART” restlessness from the crowd. They even get to properly YAH-count the pin. Maybe two years from now Konnor and Viktor will fill up the Raw ring with neckbeards in YAH MOVEMENT t-shirts. Stranger things have happened.

The Worst is the same Worst as always. The Ascension has nobody to fight. They’re just running through randomly assembled combinations of guys without gimmicks. It’s not especially exciting. Tag teams used to do this back in the day, but they’d eventually run into somebody worth a damn and you’d have to wonder if their momentum would carry them to another easy victory. Sorta like Goldberg, where he’d beat up Jerry Flynn 70 times and then he’d get to Perry Saturn or Raven and it’d suddenly mean more. Like when the Road Warriors ran into the Midnight Express. The problem is that NXT HAS no Midnight Express, and even the Ascension’s “big match” opponents are super lame. The Wolves? Too Cool? Why not run the Ascension into the Mulkey Brothers and the Ding Dongs while we’re at it?


He’s not a DEAD PERSON FROM THE CITY, folks, he’s a REAL LIVE COWBOY. Once again, With Leather favorite and BREATHING, LEGITIMATE COWBOY Wesley Blake makes an appearance on NXT to lose to Mason Ryan. I wanted to write up a big paragraph about real live cowboys but the NXT announce team (plus Renee Young, who I guess was brought out to talk about muscles?) does it for me, launching into a minute-long Marx Brothers conversation about Wesley Blake’s gimmick. I know NXT reads this column if they’re just throwing Blake on to get their shit in.

This is an actual transcript of the conversation:

“He calls himself a REAL COWBOY from San Antonio, Texas!”
“A real real cowboy?”
“Is there such a thing as a fake cowboy?”
“I’ve never met a real cowboy.”
“If you go to the Calgary Stampede you can meet one there.”
(long, chuckle-filled pause)
“So he rides bulls.”
“Rides bulls, rides STALLIONS, works on his truck … all the things you’d expect a cowboy to do.”
“Wh- … stallions? Wuh, what do you mean stallions?”
(deadpan) “Horses.”
I understand what a stallion is, thank you.
(brief conversation about Mason Ryan that even the people having it don’t care about)

“Tom do you now anything about horses at all?”
“Have you ever been to a farm?”
“No, I can’t say I have!”
“Boy from Philly doesn’t know nothing.”

Then Alex Riley, who has been quiet the entire time, drops in with a bomb: “Tom milked a cat once.” Everybody laughs, takes a deep breath, then settles in for three minutes of trying to get Mason Ryan over. It was wonderful.

Worst: Mason Ryan

Mason Ryan, though, is still THE MOST GARBAGE. His only purpose on the show now is to let me know which Best and Worst of Raw column fans I follow don’t read the NXT reports, because they all went MASON RYAN? HE’S STILL ALIVE? when he showed up. Thanks, guys, I’ve been struggling through Mason Ryan’s developmental water-treading for like eight months.

A supplemental Worst goes to the crowd for chanting “better than Batista” for Ryan. I get the joke (Mason Ryan is basically time-displaced Deacon Dave Batista) but it’s not true. Winded, aged Hans Moleman Batista is still about 50 times better than Mason Ryan based on the conflict his appearances cause alone. Mason Ryan is a wrestling tumbleweed. A wrestling tumbleweed with a ponytail who has all the muscles in the world and isn’t strong enough to convincingly lift Wesley Blake.

Let’s let “chiseled out of stone” “modern day gladiator” Mason Ryan go back to being Welshie on UK Gladiators or whatever and push the real live cowboy. You employ a LIVING COWBOY. What’s wrong with you?

Best: Bayley’s Summer Rae Impression

Aside from more Natalya momness, I enjoyed two things about this:

1. The irrational, endless Flairs vs. Harts feud continuing in a new generation. The crux of the Hart/Flair beef is that Bret Hart and Ric Flair were both incredibly talented, successful pro wrestlers who apparently never watched the other guy’s matches, so they made up some shit and decided it was fact. They’re Bret Hart and Ric Flair, so nobody’s gonna correct them, and they’ll go to their graves thinking the other guy was a spot monkey or bad at workrate or whatever the hell it is wrestlers get bent out of shape about off the tops of their heads. That theme continues here, with Charlotte saying Bret’s only claim to fame is “a match he lost” and Natalya sticking up for her uncle like he’s her dad, because if you ever seriously compare Jim the Anvil to the Nature Boy your head explodes. I feel like Bayley’s probably the only character in the room who watches wrestling.

2. Bayley being the most adorable person in the world. Her Summer Rae impression is AMAZING and kinda sounds like a witch, but she knows Summer’s understated catchphrases and can cut to the heart of the BFF argument by saying they smell like cheese. A+ player.

Worst: NXT arRIVAL Ruined Tyler Breeze’s Entrance Forever

I love Tyler Breeze. I love his entrance, I love his character and I love any time he’s near a microphone. That said, all his entrance reminds me of now is the jacked-up feed from NXT arRIVAL and it gives me Vietnam flashbacks.

Sorry, Tyler Breeze. Maybe one day they’ll put you in a tag team with Adam Rose (called “Broze”) and my ability to love your entrance will heal.

Best: Gratuitous Photo Of Lana

Damn, Lana. You’ve got me standing at внимание.

Best: Alexander Rusev’s Thorough Pre-Match Posing

Okay, so Xavier Woods is supposed to fight Alexander Rusev just like when Predator fought Da Choppa at the end of Rocky Balboa, but Tyler Breeze jumps him from behind before the match. That leaves Woods vulnerable, and Rusev basically picks the bones, slams him with a move I’m calling The Battle Of The Bulg until somebody corrects me, and taps him out to the Accolade.

The referee takes forever to call for the bell, though, so instead of just running in and shit-kicking him, Rusev wanders to the middle of the ring and does an elaborate, thorough pre-match dance pose that makes him look like he’s summoning the f*cking Megazord. Look at this:

Woods is billed from Angel Grove, right? Maybe that’s where this is going. Maybe they’ll bring back Savannah to be Rita Repulsa. Zeb Colter can be Finster, and I guess Goldust has to be Goldar. Batista can be Lord Zedd because his head already looks like brains.

Worst: Adrian Neville Is One Pair Of Sunglasses Away From Being K-Dogg

Hunico, is that you?

Neville and Devin Taylor prepare to have a “who can sound least like a human being”-off when they’re interrupted by Bo Dallas. Bo announces that he’s cashing in his rematch in two weeks and starts in on how he an his Bolievers (who have been the “wind Bo-neath his wings”) are already sick of Neville as champion. Neville slaps Bo in the face in one of those WWE babyface moments where people are probably gonna say YEAH ADRIAN NEVILLE’S A BAD ASS WHO DON’T TAKE NO SHIT and Brandon goes “that sucks, I hope Bo kicks his ass.” I really do. Sami Zayn wouldn’t have done that.

Note: If Adrian Neville started using “THAT’S ENOUGHHHHH” as his catchphrase he’d be my favorite wrestler.

Best: Disney Font

I didn’t mention it in the NXT arRIVAL report, but I love the Bo Dallas trunks with BOLIEVE written on the ass in Disney font. It’s such a great callback to him winning the championship, announcing that he’s going to Disneyland and then actually doing it.

I’ll be honest, I kinda miss Bo as champ. He went to Disney with the belt and went on a Varse The World tour involving locals worshipping him and giving him cookies. All Neville’s done is beat Camacho.

Worst: Watch Your Ass, Drew McIntyre

The actual main event was an almost 15-minute match between Bo and Colin Cassady, which was … actually kinda boring. It was mostly headlocks and a 7-foot guy being a face in peril to “hop in a circle” Bo Dallas. Bo seemed like he was trying to bait the crowd into chanting things so he could react to them — reacting to the “Bo-ring” chant with “YES, THIS IS BO’S RING” was great — but that doesn’t make the match good. It was very much that match you see in the middle of Raw where it’s intended to be purposeful and strong, but is so overdone with “WWE style” that it refuses to be dynamic or interesting.

I’m also not totally sure I like Colin Cassady without Enzo. Enzo brings a sincerity to the “sawft” gimmick that Cass doesn’t have, so without him it’s got a real Zack Ryder vibe. A guy doing a thing because he thinks it works, not because it’s him. Does that make any sense? Basically what I’m saying is that if Enzo Amore isn’t back soon I’m turning on everybody.