Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Best Coast Bias: Queens Reign Supreme Over Nearly Everybody

There's no shame in giving in, Sasha
Photo Credit: WWE.com
There are a multitude of reasons as to why the metafan, or even the dilettante when it comes to the Stamford Kool-Aid believe that NXT is the WWE redesigned to the point of its humanity: here, William Regal and Antonio Cesaro are treated as less men and more as wrestling gods.  The fans dictate alignment as much as any backstage script, and perhaps more. 

Perhaps most important in all this?

The female wrestlers -- under the ever-watchful eye of the former Death Rey -- are actually wrestlers who happen to be female, and not accessories to the male wrestlers or plotting and scheming how to become accessories to the male wrestlers.  What it's been about even before the critical buzz began building around NXT last summer in large part due to Cesaro/Zayn (best of) III is the Championship belt: what one hellraiser's willing to do to keep it, and what her opposition's willing to do to get their hands on it.

Paige has fought Sasha Banks before, and won before.  Longtime NXTiphiles'll note that Sasha's even joining the Full Sail iteration of the Plastics took place after a defeat at the hands of the raven-haired Englishwomen and weeks of Summer Rae tempting her with a taste of the dark side.  Sasha was sans Summer but with Charlotte, who herself is starting to angle her eyeline to the center of Paige's bullseye.  Due to planning or providence, Charlotte is the last member of the BFFs to get bookmarked into the mat via a Paige Turner No Not Her.  And as the Network's evolved NXT, so has the Women's Champion with a deadly submission that rivals anything a man can pull off.  When the latest episode began, it was with Paige center stage throwing hands with Sasha in the episode's highlight match.

Sasha did manage to not get what's become the Champion's vicious trademark invite to a rope hung kneestrike party, and managed to pull off a handful of variants on a straightjacket hold mixed in with some fine heelish standards such as stomping on hands and rope chokes until right before the count would be breached.  While the Artist Formerly Known As Albert speculated this may be something of a trap game for the queen of the division, she rallied with a string of short lariats and the deadly Scorpion Crosslock.  At this point the SCL is becoming the Attitude Adjustment of divadom down NXT way, most impressive considering it's a new move in Paige's arsenal that she's clamped on twice.  When something is as bad-ass as seen in the picture above, of course, you don't really need to reinforce it; you just need to make sure everybody sees it. 

Here's where the depth came in, in and out of the ring post-match: Charlotte had barely begun her beatdown of Paige before the signature guitar riff of the Harts rang out and NattieKat cleared the line before giving Paige her props and a hand raise.  A few months ago, they were at each other's throats in an excellent match--that match having engineered the two-way respect that is part and parcel of what puts the pro graps beyond its station sometimes, Paige is now willing to accept assistance when she's outgunned rather than go to her default mode of screaming at it before headbutting it in the face.  Backstage, Bayley's love of Bret Hart on the Network isn't just a fun way to sneak a promotional plug in the omnibus: it's a reference back to Nattie first coming down to NXT and eventually being won over by her hugging enthusiasm to the point of having her back because everybody with a reflection loves Bayley.

It also gave Charlotte the opening to disparage Bayley, her enthusiasm, and her Hitman fangirling on a severly annoying (thus perfect in this instance) My Dad's Better Than Your Hero tip, quickly amending to a My Dad's Better Than Your Uncle line of vitriol when Nattie did what she does and had Bayley's back lest the Biffles decided to press their 2:1 numbers advantage.  Faced with equal numbers, Charlotte got in the last word (and a sideways plug for Total Divas; lest you ever forget, there's genius, there's evil genius, and then there's Vincent Kennedy McMahon), but she and the still-damaged Sasha walked away to fight another day.

That's right, kids: they establish a dominant Champion by having her win non-title matches.  There's almost a year of history at play, freely referenced to in a wayward sentence or two that advances current things without a wavy flashback sequence magically occuring out of nowhere.  People are (d)evolving, alignments building off of the mirror aspects that were originally in play with the original character framework.  There's not only an undercard story, but multiple undercard stories, and best of all, any combo platter of these personalities that they put together will lead to at least a decent and possibly a borderline great match.  It's enough to make somebody want to look for a companion to play an Annie Lennox to their Aretha Franklin. 

Compared to that, the more recently developed one-on-one contretemps between the longest-reigning NXT Champion ever Mr. Dallas and the new reigning king Mr. Neville may look like small beer, which it obviously isn't.  The Tag Team Champions, probably on the precipice of being renamed the Yah Yah Yahs, squashed another pair of jobbers, and thanks to Breezeterference Alexander Rusev had a mostly easy time of yet again breaking Xavier Wood's  back and making him humble.  We totally had to recognize Mason Ryan's right to exist, for example.

But with the rematch imminent, the former Champion had something to prove to those unwilling to Bolieve.  Should he have found himself still lacking in motivation, a pre-match attempt to get inside Neville's head proven that he'd yet to learn the adage "talk smack, get smacked".  Up against Colin Cassady, he had to fend off the constant accusation of being S A you know the rest and the ever-looming threat of the bigger man's power.  It took him a few times getting bieled and rolling out to the floor to cause breaks before he turned defense into offense to the great delight of the four or so people who were loud and proud Bolievers.

As for the rest watching him work the neck and back of the head with forearms and cravates, they quickly (inaccurately, at least for me) latched on to a Bo-ring chant, causing the episode's best moment--a big smile, a thumbs up, and a nod before saying firmly "This is Bo's ring." and going into a few short-armed elbows.  Most notable is Bo taking a Paige out of the book of certain superstars and putting away the Big Gambino with a double-arm DDT.  Is this newest sword hanging on his offensive wall the thing that can get him the Big X back in a couple weeks a question that'll be answered when their third encounter happens imminently. 

It's just sometimes in Full Sail, it's where the men are men and the women are Champions, to use an old Lubbockism.