– Apologies for the lateness of this week’s report. Shortly after the episode aired I got crazy sick with flu and sinus problems that haven’t totally healed up yet, and I’ve been a worthless skin-sack full of rotting Play Doh since Friday morning. I’ll try not to let it happen again, and I hope my plague-like symptoms will clear up by my next birthday.
– Sharing the reports really helps a lot and gets the word out, especially on weeks like this when WWE needs to get the shame finger. So do that, please!
Please click through for the Best and Worst of WWE NXT for March 20, 2014.
Worst: Mojo Rawley’s Family Finally Has Something To Cheer About, And Also Gronk Is There
The opening match on this week’s show was Mojo Rawley vs. Bull Dempsey, and the words ARE YOU TIRED OF MOJO RAWLEY YET flashed across the screen the entire time. Was that just me?
Nowadays, a gimmick succeeds or fails not on its own merits, but on what you do with it when it’s still fresh. For example, the Bray Wyatt “hillbilly spider cultist” character finally caught on and started making an impact on Raw and Smackdown because they got him away from mindless punch-and-after-match-assault loops with Kane and R-Truth and put him against dynamic, popular characters like Daniel Bryan and John Cena. We’re allowed to see not only how great he is at his job, but how greatly the character can mesh with existing, known character dynamics on the company’s biggest stage. If Wyatt had just feuded with R-Truth over and over, he’d have been dead in the water. WWE puts so little stock in their lower-to-mid-card guys that they’re almost blank cardboard cutouts of wrestlers.
I was initially charmed by Mojo Rawley as a guy so excited that he can’t stop hitting you with his asshole, but it’s starting to wear thin, especially now that his family comes to shows and sits in the crowd in homemade Mojo shirts and sit on their hands for everything other than Mojo. Seriously, these people started blankly forward during Cesaro vs. Zayn IV, one of the best matches you could HOPE to see at a WWE event, but Mojo assholing a guy so boring he gets the Scott Dawson “he reminds me of OLD wrestlers” push has them hooting and hollering. Oh and also ROB GRONKOWSKI is there now, showing up to cheer for Mojo and say how much he loves double-double-E before immediately disappearing.
I am officially off the Hype Train unless these two things happen:
1. Mojo’s character actually shows that it is a CHARACTER and not just a SkyMall motivational poster with butt attacks, and
2. Mojo’s family buys the WWE Network and watches the show from their homes
Best: CJ Parker
So it’s come to this.
Last week’s Raw “broke” me. Turned me heel, as it were. It turned everything I knew to be true upside down, and I found myself rooting for my least favorite wrestler to kick my favorite wrestler’s whiny ass. Triple H beat the mess out Daniel Bryan and I couldn’t get enough of it. Bryan’s still my favorite wrestler, but based on the characters and how they’re portrayed in the context of the show, the self-serving rantings of a hateful, aging former star who was never truly as big as he claims to have been made way more sense than the passionate, grassroots uprising of one of the best wrestlers in the world. He just won’t stop complaining and they’ve parroted for years that complainers are cowards and Triple H is responsible for everything we love in wrestling and puts up the ring and the lights and runs NXT and whoops my brain just fell out of my mouth.
Similarly, this week’s episode of NXT is so bad (and badly written) that CJ PARKER, historically my very least favorite guy on the show, even worse than Graves, is the best part of it. I don’t know how to handle this. WWE’s written their shows so that I’m rooting for Triple H and CJ Parker. SOMEBODY HELP ME.
If you didn’t see the episode, Parker described Mojo as “the kinda guy who swings through a drive-thru, orderss 10 double cheeseburgers, burp, then throw the wrappers out the window.” He says he’s gonna “humanely dispose” of Mojo next week, and punctuates it by holding up a recycling bin and dropping a bottle into it. The camera does a slow pan in to the recycling symbol. CJ Parker has turned recycling into a heel move. He’s the best and I need to lie down.
Worst: Tyler Breeze vs. Sami Zayn
Yep. As Sami Zayn is walking down to the ring, Corey Graves appears out of nowhere and throws Sami into the ring post — once — and Sami is too incapacitated and concussed to compete. So we don’t get the Breeze vs. Zayn match at all, just a few seconds of Corey leading with his dick and smirking until referees shoo him away.
BUT IT’S COOL, BECAUSE WE’RE QUICKLY MOVING ON TO A SEGMENT THAT REWRITES HISTORY AND FEATURES A BALLS JOKE.
Devin Taylor interviews Sheamus, asking him how it feels to be back at NXT, where it “all began” for him. I expected Sheamus to correct her but … uh, nope, Sheamus is now an NXT star.
Maybe “NXT” is a catch-all for “WWE Developmental,” but Sheamus got his WWE start in Florida Championship Wrestling, which was a completely different thing. His formal WWE in-Universe debut was on the WWE version of ECW, which was the precursor to the gameshow version of NXT in network and timeslot only. NXT, the show that I’ve always loved for its loving adherence to continuity, is now just freely rewriting whatever the f*ck it wants because Sheamus is here and we’re on the WWE Network and WHO CARES IT’S JUST WRESTLING.
If that’s not bad enough, Aiden English shows up and Sheamus threatens him, saying that by the sound of English’s voice his “stones” haven’t dropped yet. Why? Because English introduced himself. I am so mad at all of this.
Worst Worst In The History Of Worsts: RIP Adam Rose’s Music, 3/13/14-3/13/14
what are you doing
what are you doing
In the worst Worst I’ve ever Worsted in a Best and Worst, WWE CHANGED ADAM ROSE’S ENTRANCE THEME ONLY ONE WEEK AFTER DEBUTING IT. WHAT. The worst part is that they clearly didn’t even change it at the show … they DUBBED OVER IT. The crowd starts doing the “oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh” chant like we dreamed of them doing when Rose debuted, and Rose even mouths the lyrics to the original song before doing his trust fall off the apron. Do you NOT want the crowd to love Adam Rose? Do you NOT want him to be the most over guy ever? DO YOU WANT ME TO DRINK THIS ENTIRE BOTTLE OF NYQUIL SEVERE AND JUMP THROUGH MY WINDOW LIKE HELEN HUNT?
I don’t care if you have to pay royalties on it or whatever, open your giant pockets and pay them. This is garbage and completely unacceptable.
Worst: Natalya Gets “Vengeance” Next Week
The Bayley vs. Sasha Banks match was fun, and Bayley wearing Sasha’s glasses was super cute despite being that same kind of culturally questionable as the “ratchet” chants (Bayley didn’t really act like Sasha when she put them on, she just sat on her and hung in a Buffalo stance). But yeah, Bayley and Sasha are both great right now so I’ll give it a pass.
That said, what bothers me about the match is the announcement that next week on “Vengeance Week,” Natalya is going to get her “vengeance” on Charlotte. Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t that Bayley’s issue? Charlotte turned on Bayley during a tag match, slapped her in the face and then ducked her for months, making her fight Summer Rae and Sasha. Natalya shows up to back up Bayley, gets into ONE argument about whose family is better and now NATALYA gets the shot at Charlotte? Oh, I get it, Charlotte was “trying to attack one of the stars of Total Divas.” Okay, no. That’s bullshit. You are better than this, NXT, stop writing your show like Raw.
Worst: Speaking Of Writing Your Show Like Raw
The main event of the show is a long, good-ish match between Sheamus and Aiden English, and while I’d like to give the meat of the match a Best, I can’t because of what bookends it.
The match starts with … well, look at what the video is called. “Sheamus outsings Aiden English.” Not a lot of room for interpretation there, right? Oh, and guess how it ends? Here’s a hint: every single Sheamus match ever. Sheamus just Brogues Up, does his full taunts and beats English like so much Christian in the middle of the ring to the thunderous applause of the NXT crowd, his home crowd from where he was BORN AND RAISED.
Here’s the deal: I do not want NXT to be Raw. One of the dangers the show faced moving from obscurity/foreign television/Hulu Plus to the WWE Network is that it faced homogenization. It’d stop being this weird, happy wrestling place where dynamic characters get created and women are treated like top-shelf athletes and just become Superstars with yellow ropes. WWE stars would show up, squash the “nobodies,” women would be “jealous” of each other and get into feuds about how is and isn’t on Total Divas. That’s this episode. This is the danger episode. This is the worst case scenario.
The good news that I can realize even when I’m sick is that NXT has had episodes like this before. It’s not perfect. They’ll occasionally have a brain fart, but it evens out and quickly returns to where it needs to be. arRIVAL was great, last week’s episode with ACTUAL ADAM ROSE MUSIC was delightful, and this week was the first hour of Smackdown. I’m just gonna put my head down, wait until Thursday and hope Above Envy just had a problem at the bank.