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– If you’re wondering where you can watch NXT, it’s currently on Hulu Plus every Thursday. If you’re like, “weh, I don’t want to have to pay for Hulu Plus to watch wrestling,” it’s the best wrestling show and Hulu Plus is like 8 dollars. Just do it, it’s fine. You aren’t gonna miss 8 dollars. You can watch this week’s episode (as long as they keep it up) here.
Please click through to enjoy the Best and Worst of WWE NXT for June 5, 2013.
Worst: Contract Signings, Or
Best: Contract Signings Suck, But At Least This One Was Logical And Constructive
I have been conditioned to accept CONTRACT SIGNING as the worst possible WWE scenario. It’s worse than “celebrity guest gets over on wrestler,” worse than in-ring weddings or birthday parties, hell, it’s even worse than when people put photoshop jokes on the TitanTron. Part of the problem is in how frequently WWE does them. On Monday’s episode of Raw, Chris Jericho had a contract signing with a wrestler who hasn’t been on the show in almost two months and it ended with him stuffing a piece of paper down Paul Heyman’s pants and patting him in the dick. Back in March, Triple H had a contract signing (again, with a wrestler who wasn’t on the show) that ended with him holding Paul Heyman down and molesting him. Every other contract signing ends in violence with flipped over tables, hidden weapons and all the other melodramatic bullshit that makes wrestling difficult to watch in front of strangers.
So no, I don’t enjoy contract signings. That said, NXT worked its “good wrestling show” magic by making its championship contract signing bearable,, and that’s probably worth a Best. It all made sense. Big E signed the contract without saying a word, because he’s not afraid of anybody and barely cares. Bo Dallas hesitates and launches into a big speech about how he “needs” the NXT title, and it wasn’t GOOD, but it was exactly what you’d expect Bo Dallas to say. Langston counters by calling Dallas a nerd who lives with his parents, and while I’d normally complain about that, Bo Dallas f**king sucks so f**k Bo Dallas. The signing ends with Dallas sorta standing up to Big E but not really doing anything, then bailing. No over the top violence, no sledgehammer holders under the table … just an opportunity for two wrestlers to explain their motivations before a big match. That’s not bad.
Also, Jim Ross, for some reason!
Worst: Tamina Snuka
I was all ready to march into this week’s Best and Worst of NXT column and hand out Bests to everything, because it’s the start of the NXT Women’s Championship tournament, and if there are two things I am a dork for, it’s (1) women’s wrestling and (2) tournaments.
But man, Tamina Snuka … woof. She drew a first round match with Paige, which (on paper) is the best match in the tournament. Sadly, the reality of Tamina Snuka is that she’s not very good at pro wrestling, and that she’s currently the valedictorian of the Beth Phoenix School Of Everybody Assuming You’re Good At Wrestling Because You’re Muscular And Not As Pretty As Everyone Else. WWE fans are conditioned to believe that if a Diva isn’t lithe and always fluffing her hair she’s “good,” whether she is or not. There’s a similar thing on the independent circuit, where female wrestlers are immediately lumped into “you are great always” or “you’re a worthless sideshow act,” depending on the fan. There’s really no in-between.
Tamina spends most of the match walking around slowly, putting Paige into arm bars and chinlocks. Imagine a Randy Orton match without the powerslam or the shoehorned-in DDTs. And real talk, girl’s been in the WWE since 2009 and hasn’t figured out how to do the one move she was literally born to do without looking like a baby falling off a roof:
One last Worst, while I’m piling it on: during the match, the commentary team talks about how focused and motivated Tamina is, and how she believes it’s time for a Snuka to “once again be a champion in WWE.” It is in times like this that I must remind the several people working for WWE that Jimmy Snuka didn’t hold shit in WWE, unless Vince owning the Mid-Atlantic tape library counts as “in WWE.” Tamina hasn’t won anything either. In fact, the only Snuka to hold a championship in WWE is f**king SIM Snuka, and that was when he was still calling himself “Deuce.” So … there you go.
Best: Paige, Though, Usually
Hopefully Paige will stick around in NXT long enough for me to write some positive stuff about her, because I like her a lot. She and Bray Wyatt are the “can’t miss” WWE types in NXT right now, and if WWE needs any one thing desperately it’s a Diva who isn’t straight from a Hawaiian Tropic catalog. I get wanting to have Divas around to appeal to male wrestling fans, but you’ve got to appeal to more than ONE male wrestling fan, right? I personally love pale women, and if a Sheamus-pale lady shows up on Raw I am going to watch closely.
On top of that, she’s a great wrestler. You might remember her as Brittani Knight in SHIMMER, Pro Wrestling EVE and wherever else. She’s had a lot of great matches since she showed up to NXT, and I’m sad that my first chance to write about her on With Leather is just her spending five minutes in a shitty Tamina armbar. Get you next time, Paige.
Best: Kassius Ohno’s Misawa Shirt
Worst: Welp, Sami Zayn Is Officially A WWE Babyface
The segment starts off well … the delightful Renee “My last name isn’t French-Canadian, I swear” Young interviewing Sami Zayn, aka the equally delightful El Generico. I gave him a lot of praise in his WWE debut because he represented something that’d been missing for a long time — a good guy who actually ACTED like a good guy. He fought fair, fought hard, shook a little girl’s hand after his match and responded to Antonio Cesaro’s boastfulness by one-upping him in the “speaking multiple languages” department and challenging him to a match without ever resorting to the assy bully stuff guys like Sheamus pull on the reg. It was nice.
Antonio Cesaro shows up in a beret and sunglasses to challenge Zayn to a rematch, and in my head I’m doing that Enchanted GIF again. Then, almost out of nowhere, Zayn asks Cesaro where he “got that sweet man-purse.” So instead of that, I get this one:
I shouldn’t be surprised when every single “good guy” in WWE goes for the “lol ur gay” joke, but yeah, here I am. It was nice to have a babyface to cheer for for two weeks, Sami.
Worst: Conor O’Brien vs. Alex Riley For Worst Match Of The Year
Okay, maybe it’s not the worst match of the year, but it’s the worst match I’ve seen on NXT in a long time.
As you may already know, Alex Riley is garbage. Just straight-up garbage. The announcers calling him a “main roster WWE Superstar” was pretty funny, since I think the only time he’s been on Raw this year was when he tried to get Yoshi Tatsu to make fun of Big Show for looking like a “traffic cone” and got punched in the face. Before that, the last time I can remember him on TV was when he was tattling to Chris Jericho about CM Punk. Guess what? I was in the WrestleMania XXX press conference video, which means I’ve been on Raw and Smackdown as much as Alex Riley this year.
Conor O’Brien is what we like to call Bad Hoss. There’s a Good Hoss, a big, powerful, sometimes fat guy who throws around little guys and can have great matches whether the cruiserweight-loving Internet believes it or not. Big Show, Mark Henry and later-run Dave Batista are examples of Good Hosses. A Bad Hoss is that guy who has a WWE job simply because he’s big, possesses no actual pro wrestling ability, and will be gone/forgotten within a couple of years. The Bad Hoss list is much longer and features names like Nathan Jones, Heidenreich, Jackson Andrews and so on. Mason Ryan is one of these guys as well, and had a squash match on this episode so inconsequential I’m not even gonna write it up.
The match starts with O’Brien doing a Fandango pose and just standing there. That’s his thing. He just stands there like a statue until you run up to him and let him put you in a wrestling move. Riley charges in and immediately gets headlocked, and they do an embarrassing running sequence where O’Brien just keeps running the ropes and Riley has to sorta roll around and fall a bunch like he’s being hit or can’t get out of the way. They do some bad mat wrestling after that, and that’s when you gotta throw your hands up and walk away. You have too many talented people on the NXT roster to be doing Conor O’Brien/Alex Riley matches, guys. Alex Riley should already be competing in LEGENDS OF WRESTLING carny indy shows with John Morrison or whatever.
Worst: Hulu Doesn’t Even Pay Attention To What They’re Clipping
They can’t seem to get it right. When WWE Fan Nation uploads a video, it’s usually the last 40 seconds of a match and the 2 minutes or so of post-match shenanigans. When Hulu uploads a video, it’s the first 40 seconds of the “feeling out process,” which tells you absolutely nothing about the match or what happened. You miss the good wrestling AND the story. Why even upload clips like that? I’m not going to convince a stranger to watch NXT with a minute of Kassius Ohno doing collar-and-elbow tie-ups.
Best: Bray Wyatt’s “I’m Gonna Be On Raw Soon” Recap/reboot
The main event of the show was a tag team title match between the champs, The Wyatt Family, and the challengers, Corey Graves and Kassius Ohno. The match itself was fine — easily the best match on the show, which isn’t saying much for this episode — but the highlight was the simultaneous continuation and reboot of Bray Wyatt.
If you’ve been following NXT (or if you read last week’s column), you’ll remember that Wyatt had his nose broken and started dressing like a cross between a butcher and the Phantom of the Opera. Then, Wyatt Family videos started airing on Raw. So now this week, Wyatt returns to his Cape Fear hat and Hawaiian shirt, delivers a largely inconsequential but probably necessary “I’m Bray Wyatt, here are some things I say!” promo before the match, then does that amazing thing he does where he sits on the ramp in a rocking chair and watches his Family wrestle. That alone should get him over as the scariest guy on Raw. But yeah, it felt like a summarization of the Wyatt character up until now, a fresh “jumping-on” point for when he shows up on Raw and more or less has to start over.
The cool thing about Bray is that he seems like the most important guy in the arena even when he’s not wrestling. He doesn’t detract from the action here, but when it’s time for him to distract Ohno or smash somebody in the back of the head, it works. He does it with the same fury and character he would an exchange in his own match, and that adds a lot. Thankfully the Wyatt Family win the match and retain the tag straps, because I love them, and because I spent 15 minutes trying to come up with a funny tag team name for Ohno and Graves and totally failed. “Stay Oh” was the best thing I could come up with. Don’t ever give tag titles to a team like that.