Sunday, January 26, 2014

Best Coast Bias: Straighten This Place Up Before The Network Comes Over

"Lovely celebration you got here, Champ. Be a shame if something...happened to it."
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So here's the best part of NXT being a live show that'll be available with the rest of the Stamford Kool-Aid and tape library treasure trove come a month from now: the narrative may hit pure Heisenberg-level purity instead of still shaming everybody else with their Pinkman-level work in the past 18 months or so.

Here's what we know we're getting come that last week in February: we're getting Zayn/Cesaro IV: It's Just As Personal As It Was The Other Times But Who Cares This Is Going To Be Awesome. We're also slated to see Bo Dallas defend his giant X against the Man That Mother Nature Forgot To Make Good Looking, Adrian Neville. On the road to that double main event the show this week worked out some kinks in one feud and failed at the other.

Antonio Cesaro came out to destroy more of CJ Parker's braincells, and got the rapturous reception he deserved for that and his b-boy stance while posing pre-match on the second rope. Parker got in more Bronx cheers from Full Sail than actual offense to the point where they tried to pretend the We The People chant was actually for William Regal (two things - at least this gave them a cheap excuse to plug the Christmas classic, and where's our favorite villian been, anyhow? Not that Tensai's Alex Riley horrible or even bad, but come on. My Young/Regal ship just sits in calm waters).

Hilariously, Parker gave Cesaro an airplane spin that only served to make himself dizzy; Tony Toni Tone just cracked his neck a couple times, swung CJP around for 10, and Neutralized him. So out-match came Sami Zayn, who's choice of usual attire and crutch due to injury in turn invented a wrestler going Full Dickens. Oh, grow up. And the president of the El Generico Fan Club noted that while 2013 was the crowning year of his career, especi--and before the sentence could be done the MOTY chants were out in force. So he wanted a rematch. Cesaro walked up to him, said no, and headed to the back.


That could've been an awesome Nixon move, except for the fact that we all know it's going to happen. Part of the rollout when it came to NXT was more eyeballs on Sami and Antonio than they got the last time, to kick off the debut with possibly the best match they could put on. It plastered social media, and the sort of person that watches this show is a regular Sami Callihan when it comes to the Intertubes. Perhaps this is merely due to the taping, but either they should've let it come as a surprise with the handful of remaining shows or Cesaro should've just accepted on the general principle that he's already beaten Sami twice.

NXT's greatness stems in large part from their consistency in keeping a very tight narrative thread. Sometimes it leads to things that make you want to punch a baby in the face, like Miz showing up, CJ being sad he's getting booed, and not much hope of Bad News Barrett Stadler and Waldorfing their upcoming match. (Then again, with this being Full Sail, the crowd might do it for him.) But CJ Parker is doing the entirely justifiable heel turn, Miz felt anybody cutting off his mouthy dictatorship of Self-Aggrandizistan was disrespectful, and Parker slapped him and did his Roadrunner impersonation when Miz looked like he was going to go after him. You don't need to like it to see how it follows logic. Even more disconcerting was that when it came to the rematch for Neville against Dallas, every link in that chain rang true.

The show seemed to be ending in earnest with a banner-raising ceremony celebrating Bo's official ascension to longest reigning NXT Champion ever, whether the fans were facing the ring while it happened or not. What would've been pretty predictable would've been some kind of defacing of the banner. It didn't happen, however. Someone will probably have to SABU FTW Title nameplate the banner to keep it caught up with the number of days, but that's besides the point. TMTMNFTMGL made a reappearance, having kicked off the show with the Red Arrowing of the newest of the new Blackjacks, Wesley Blake.

That done, Neville came out to try to get Bo to shut up and cause some admittedly funny "He's a wanker" chants that the Champion sold as being gleefully bolivious. Dallas noted how it'd taken Neville 4:45 to win the Beat the Clock challenge and how he couldn't last that long against him -- again, like Cesaro, the whole of my argument would've been I Done Beat You Already, Son -- when Triple H popped up on the Tron to make a BCC with them in it, and all Neville had to do was not get pinned in 285 seconds. Taken by surprise in his fitted shirt and slacks, Dallas wasn't much except a small couple of squalls of back elbows and knee drops. Neville stuck and moved, and wisely stalled a couple of times since the clock was his virtual Oliver Grey. Post-match, Dallas tried a bum rush and got dropped and Red on him for his troubles. That sets up the $64,000 Question for the next month: can Neville win the big X?

Even if he does, he needs to be afraid that Alexander Rusev could eat him and take it. The land monster's been doing that ever since his debut, and this week he broke Xavier Woods' back and made him humble again. Subtle changes are afoot even if the glut of his being is pretty set in stone. Shorts have replaced the former attire, and Lana may call for a post-match Accolade not knowing Sin Camacho is lying in wait to make the save, but anything he's been able to get in his hands has been summarily destroyed with brute force up to and including short-arm Cro-Cop kicks to the chest. It's not a matter of if, but when for the foreigners.

It's almost like realizing Bayley's awesome: one minute you're looking around awkwardly while she hugs you, and then you recognize awesome when you see it and eventually you're celebrating victories with full-on hugs with no side eye or recriminations. Yes, the returning Charlotte and the rest of the Biffles are delusional, but Summer's the only one who got Sharpshootered so much her feet almost touched the back of her head. Again, Natalya looked better in the ring against NXT talent then she usually gets to be on the big shows vs. anybody who's not the reigning holder and defender of the Lisa Frank Memorial belt. Both blondes traded big shots without the match getting dirty, and NattieKat unveiled some new moves going forward that she needs to incorporate into her offense. And that single leg takedown into the Sharpshooter? You'd think she was born to do this or something. Even better, Renee Young showed up to outclass all the boys.

But all these things mean nothing without that top-shelf Show of the Year narrative tightness, NXT. Don't run over my foot while I'm singing and call me S A W F T SAWFT is all I ask. That and the Renee/Regal thing.