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Please click through to enjoy the Best and Worst of WWE NXT for June 12, 2013.
Best: Sami Zayn vs. Antonio Cesaro, Round 2
Now this is more like it.
Three weeks ago, the Best and Worst of NXT column was lucky enough to debut alongside two great matches from Sami Zayn, the former El Generico. It was instantly easy to communicate the joys of NXT to an audience (you guys) who may primarily watch Raw and/or only like guys you’re already used to liking. Last week, the show was TERRIBLE. Contract signings, no good matches, a Tamina Snuka workshop on horrible splashes and Zayn making lazy jokes about man-purses. What Zayn’s doing seems to correspond with how good the show is.
Thankfully this week we start off with the Zayn/Cesaro rematch, and it is WONDERFUL. The best match on NXT since Bill Regal tore up Kassius Ohno’s fingers. It features an effective, easy-to-follow story — Cesaro is unnecessarily aggressive because he’s upset about the previous loss and jumps Zayn before the bell, but Zayn is tough and full of FIGHTING SPIRIT~ and won’t go down without a fight. Cesaro’s aggressiveness leads to anger, which leads to mistakes, and Zayn’s able to capitalize and get in some big offense. Cesaro is bigger, stronger and already working with a huge advantage, however, and eventually catches Zayn with enough chokes and neck cranks to pop him in the Neutralizer and put him down.
Of course, that’s not enough for Cesaro. He wins, then immediately starts slapping Zayn and yelling in his face. Because he’s the bad guy, right On Raw, the good guy (Sheamus) would beat the bad guy (Sandow) and stick around to punish him some more for fun, because that’s how Raw Jerks work. Here, the guy we should be cheering for is the one who fought hard in defeat and gave it his all. The one we’re supposed to be booing is the one acting like an asshole. I like you, NXT. You get it.
Best: William Regal Is Doing It Right
Kassius Ohno, Adrian Neville and Christina Von Eerie are having a Horrible Act-Off backstage, arguing about who should get the first shot at Bray Wyatt. William Regal pops in out of nowhere and instantly improves the segment by 1000%, explaining how stupid it is for WWE babyfaces to stand around snipping at each other when monster factions like The Shield and the Wyatt Family are running over the rosters. It’s a solid point … nobody’s taken the time to figure out The Shield on Raw or Smackdown (cough, spoiler alert, cough) because they’re obsessed with their own bullshit. Team Bad Promo sorta nods their heads and accepts that Regal is correct, and that leads to an awesome moment where Ohno stops Regal, semi-apologizes to him and promises to “pay him back for everything he’s done.” In the nice way, which is TOTALLY NOT THE NICE WAY. Regal stands there smiling and looking up at the sky, because he is NXT Rupert Giles and the best actor in the history of pro wrestling.
He’s also the best color guy in pro wrestling right now. During Zayn/Cesaro he manages to put over both wrestlers and dedicate some time to explaining why certain moves are being applied and how they work. He has a great moment where he explains that the forearm across the cheek is what applies the most pain in a chinlock, and how Cesaro is the best at chinlocks because he understands how leverage works and doesn’t just lie there on his hip making faces like Randy Orton. He doesn’t say that, but you know. You don’t have to be a crazy wrestling nerd to explain basic stuff like that, and it adds credibility and realism to an exaggerated performance art that desperately needs it. Move the NXT commentary team to Raw, move the Superstars commentary team to Smackdown, move the Raw commentary team to Impact and launch Matt Striker out of town in a gigantic catapult.
Best: BMO On NXT
Bayley finally got a gimmick, and I’m sad it isn’t the one I pitched. Her new gimmick is that she’s …uh, a shy, sort-stupid infant? The first thing out of her mouth is an aping of the I Like Turtles kid (“I like robots!”). I don’t know. I don’t like how WWE uses “she is super stupid” as a crutch to get face Divas over (see also: Kanellis, Maria), but I like them removing all character from Divas to make them faces even less (see also: Kanellis, Maria), so we’ll see where it goes. They should call her up to Raw as Sheamus’s girlfriend from the playground, because they are both five.
Note: My idea for Bayley is to call Paige up to Raw and bring in Bayley as “the new Paige.” Put her in a love triangle with Jake Carter and Zack Ryder. Shoehorn in an eating disorder storyline and reveal that her mom is the fat lady from catering. Introduce and drop a hundred other stories. Her big arch-rival would be Sable, dressed as a cheerleader and pretending she’s 15 when she’s really 60.
Best: Leo Kruger Requires More Understanding
I’ve shown a lot of love to Bray Wyatt in these columns, but I haven’t gotten a chance to paragraphically fellate Leo Kruger.
Kruger has been getting return vignettes about how everything we know is about to change (no mysterious children, though), and if you haven’t seen him before, he’s this great mixture of Kraven The Hunter from Spider-Man comics and Hans Landa from Inglourious Basterds. I don’t know if he’s going to try to bury Adrian Neville alive or just threateningly drink milk while a bunch of Jewish wrestlers hide under the ring, but either way, I can’t wait for him to come back.
Worst: The Split-Legged Dick Axehandle
The second match of the show was a match between D-Squared, aka Impact Wrestling The Tag Team, and the least effective tandem in wrestling, Baron Corbin and Travis Tyler. Two Worsts here, the first being “Brandon hears ‘Darin Corbin’ every single time the announcers say ‘Baron Corbin’ and that is stressful.”
The second is D-Squared’s finish, which is a spinebuster into … well, a split-legged dick axehandle. Dude jumps off the ropes and spreads his legs like he’s hitting an X-Factor, holds his hands together in front of his crotch and lands so that his hands hit the guy on the ground in the face. It’s horrible. It’s also a one way ticket to a face up the ass if you judge the distance incorrectly. Couldn’t the guy just do a fist drop? Or an elbow? Or something that doesn’t make him look like he’s trying to protect his nuts on a cannonball?
Best: Alicia Fox … Skilled Veteran?
The next match in the NXT Women’s Championship tournament is Bayley vs. Alicia Fox. General thoughts include:
– ‘sup, Bayley
– Hey Alicia Fox, still trying to get over that sailor aesthetic, I guess?
– The NXT commentary team did more in three minutes to get over Alicia Fox than her last six years of being on television. They established her as veteran and former champion, explained the importance of being a main roster WWE Diva and dropped the “she was the first African-American to hold the Divas title” fact. IT IS FUN TO KNOW WHY I SHOULD CARE ABOUT THE WRESTLERS.
That caring carried over to the match, which is essentially a squash for Fox, which is weird and welcomed. Bayley acts goofy at the start of the match, so Alicia takes advantage and just bashes her face into the turnbuckle a bunch of times. Bayley channels TOTEM SPIRIT EUGENE long enough to come back with a few moves, but Fox tricks her into wandering into the ropes (veteran move!) and puts her away with an Assisted By Camera Angles scissor kick. Fox moves on to be food for Paige in round 2, Paige gets to beat a bunch of rostered Divas en route to being the first NXT Women’s Champion and Bayley makes me love her forever by desperately reaching out for her BMO headband when it gets ripped off and thrown away.
Worst: Oh No. Bo.
So, Bo Dallas wins the NXT Championship from Big E Langston on this show. Sorry, everyone.
The truth is that Big E doesn’t need it anymore (and hasn’t needed it in a while), because he’s becoming an important part of Raw and had a match at WrestleMania. The crowd hates Bo Dallas so much and I don’t think they’ve figured out yet that they’re SUPPOSED to, even though he’s more or less acting like a babyface. Here he uses an exposed turnbuckle (twice!) to injure Big E and lure him into the lame Shelton Benjamin belly-to-belly finish, but the turnbuckle isn’t blatantly exposed, it just sorta happens. I mean, it was totally done on purpose, but Bo wasn’t sitting there snickering and untying it or whatever. The NO MO BO chants were huge, and I guess the benefit of being at NXT tapings live is that you can’t find out about it by accident on Wikipedia a month too early. Thanks, Wikipedia.
Hopefully Bo keeps the belt for about two weeks before being eaten by his brother. Bray doesn’t need it either, though, as much as I want him to have it. Bray’s almost on Raw. Big E’s up. Maddox is up. Those guys all got over based on some kind of skill or personality. Bo doesn’t have either of those things. But now he has a belt, and if you aren’t going to use title belts as magical arena-filling excuses for importance, you might as well use them as props to make the boring shitty guys seem better.
Worst: Bo Dallas Impromptu Promos
The worst thing on the show (and possibly ever, in history) was the lovely Renee Young appearing on the stage to interview the new NXT Champion Heath Slater. Seriously, it was a Heath Slater promo. The accent, the YEAH BAY BAYYYY, all of it. “Uh, DUR, YOU KNOW, CHAMPION, DON’T EVEN KNOW Y’ALL, GOIN’ TA DISNEY WORL WOOOOO!”
These are dark times, folks.