Monday, January 13, 2014

Best Coast Bias: It's The Little Things That Thrill

The birth of Bayley 20:16?
Photo Credit:
For a moment - a brief moment, since longer exposure would give my intellect the consistency and brilliance of week-old pudding - I'm going to put on my ESPN Talking Head hat in regards to an episode of NXT that didn't have the Big Giant (Usually Sami Zayn Assisted) Highlight but still had a bunch of great little moments and kept on advancing the plots--

Guys, guys, guys, it's called developmental FOR A REASON.

You're supposed to invest in the characters, even if they're on their fifth reboot. Then, hopefully, their in-ring possibilities expand as well. Sometimes a surplus in one can cover up the deficit or complete lack of the other but preferably you get at least a 14 out of 20 out of somebody, and you can point to past work vs. what you're seeing currently and note improvement. DEVELOPMENT.

You know what you'd really want?

A bunch of Bayleys and Bayley types.

In the match opener, everybody's favorite fangirl went up against the mean girl you love to hate. There's something so perfect about the absolute heelishness of Summer Rae that even before the match officially got underway I was wondering what the misdemeanor term for female genitalia was v. the four-letter male equivalent for Space Mountain. You could see the cab coming down Broadway with the doors open--both Sasha and Summer put on headbands to try to trick Bayley into thinking they were sisters, and Summer even started off asking for the hug. And then the character advancement happened, as this time with Natalya looking on happily rather than go for the okeydoke Bayley marched up to Summer and threw the headband down to the mat, then sunset flipped her for a nearfall that really would've kinda been the best match ever.

Bayley spent most of 2013 garnering the NXT fan's sympathies, but when it came down to between the ropes, she ran closer to a Jacksonville Jaguar than flying like a Seattle Seahawk. This time out? She fought her way through an array of impressive chokes from Summer before firing back with back elbows in a couple varietals and eventually put down her longtime rival with a Belly-To-Bayley Hugplex in the middle of the ring for the dub. For the woman who's probably going to end up getting known as the Doctor of Huganomics (even Alex Riley occasionally contributes something to the program), this match was key as a whole. We already knew she was an above-average in-ring talent, but we know she's now capable of winning, too. And that knowledge going forward adds another little but crucial thing to her matches going from here.

You would see a variant of this in the subsequent match, as Colin Cassidy took on Aiden English, who now wants his spotlight immediately, thus making him a jerkface of the highest order. After working comedy with Enzo for the better part of the year, it was revealed gradually he could talk (he could talk? he could talk!) and he could siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnng! Here in this match he gleefully beat on English sans remorse while incorporating the catchphrase that pays into, while doing, his Nash offense in the corner. Unfortunately for him, Aiden was too crafty for him by half and -- in another testament to big trees coming from small seeds that's part and parcel of the NXT experience -- landed a kick to the top of the knee he'd chop blocked last week to end the sing-off, and that was all the opening he needed to land the Director's Cut. Aiden may never find himself fully despised by Full Sail, but reinforcement over time will stop roses getting thrown his way even when he doesn't do encores. You used to be cool, Aiden. You changed, man.

Speaking of people they're desperately hoping get booed, Tyler Breeze shone as the comedic omnibus to Adrian Neville's slightly awkward straight man in a backstage segment. It can be argued this had way too much potential laughter when you could've just as easily gone with the "hey, you cost me the Championship so I'm going to try to rip your head off now" river of thought. But since they went with the former instead of the latter, at least this was humorous in the way that too much of RAW and Smackdown tries to be but fails at and ends up getting overfakelaughed at by Michael Cole and the GM of this place who doesn't do his job. You know: actually funny, from calling Neville when he was standing 8 inches away from him so he wouldn't have his eyeballs fried by how much an Uggo the Brit is to his snide, scene concluding ""The Man That Gravity Forgot...more like...The Man Mother Nature...Forgot To Make Good-Looking." Full. Zoolander. And lest we forget, T. Beezie has been Beauty Shotting everything with a pulse throughout the last seasonal residency and is on quite the streak, so their match next week is a borderline coin flip.

In fact, about the only thing not in doubt in NXT narratives is the next set of victims for the Ascension, having had once again dispatched Hunico and Camacho in the tornado match main event. The now narrower named Viktor and Conor sent another one to the slab with the Fall Of Man, and they did so smartly. Fortunately, the announce team was on point to highlight this since neither of the darksiders pointed directly to their cranium to indicate superior intellect, but it went like this: C and H had gotten the upper hand with a Samoan drop/senton bomb combo, but Camacho for all his in-ring improvements gloated instead of cutting off Viktor from breaking up the pinfall. Shortly thereafter he was topeing into a Viktor European uppercut with some stank on it and his hombre mejor was a grease spot in the center of the ring. It's been rumored that the shame of suffering such a pinfall loss has Hunico thinking about hiding his visage under a mask, but don't quote me on that.

What you can quote me on was my favorite part of the show, even if it didn't get to headline. Xavier Woods made a big return back to the place where he made his name, and even if he wasn't back in time for the big 200th show he was happy to be welcomed warmly. Sure, Truth had told him that Kane was going to be looking for him and might be down on orders from the Authority to throw something nasty his way, but fun-loving XW showed no fear about this, as someone who's  OVER 9000 should. So he danced his way down to the ring, and then the creepy music started. But this is Korporate Kane now, so rather than lighting him on fire or electrocuting his theme park or any other kind of signature atrocity, he gave him a side trip to Build A Continuity Bear.

See, Woods helped springboard his way to RAW by starting the petition to bring back Big Show. And the Authority being who they are, they thought they would wait until the moment of his triumphant return to give him a present: a cute Russian woman (hooray!) who is not for you and rather is the narrow leash with a pulse to 305 pounds of snarling, angry Bulgarian (...booooooo) Absolutely crucial, and the thread throughout the show might've taken a whole two minutes before they paid it off with a match and a clean win. Happy-Go-Lucky Xavier might run into trouble later -- trouble is teased in the form of one of the most notorious monsters in the company's history -- who is merely there to pass the unspoken torch to the new monster in town, who proceeds to more-or-less squash Xavier culminating in breaking his back and making him humble after a running standing avalanche. Why Kofi wants a rematch against this land monster is beyond me.

But by paying attention to the narrative, and being better at it than the big league shows are, NXT will certainly prove to be something along the lines of the 17th most valuable thing when the big E launches their network in a few works.

It's a testament to how awesome the Network appears to be that something as consistently good as NXT may end up being the 17th most valuable thing on it.