Monday, March 31, 2014

Best Coast Bias: Some Things Borrowed, Something New

When in doubt for the rubber match, pull a new trick out of the bag
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NXT announced their Arrival a few weeks ago with an unbelievably tight two-hour wrestling program that had nearly a CDs worth of MOTY candidates in the main three matches. In the weeks following while the narrative was advanced, none of the shows were major, and the pro graps suffered a bit as a result.

But with the third installment of Neville v. Dallas headlining this show Vengeance, there was no second-tier status to be found.  In fact, depending on your personal tastes, you might've found this chapter in the saga the best of the three even moreso than the ladder match that constituted chapter two.

Dallas came out all business (matching a motif well done by several babyfaces in the evening) and quickly rolled off some grappling and flash pins in the first 20 seconds.  Collar and elbow tieups brought each man momentary advantages but it was a virtual draw that caused each man to glare flintily at each other in recognition and disrespect.  And off of that foundation the match steadily built: Dallas was doubling and tripling down on his usual offense, going for multiple pinfalls off of moves on several occasions.  Neville managed to pop a few flashes with an Asai suicida but spent the majority of the tail end recovering from getting murked off a rebound lariat from the former Champ.  Then it was about counters and counters, and Bo had his man scouted.  For a while he avoided the apron gamengiri, and when Neville uncorked the Red Arrow it was right into Bo's knees and a small package.

It was a false finish, but perfectly done and logical in all of the ways that make NXT great when it's great.  But Dallas couldn't Future Shock his way to victory, and even when he countered a run up the ropes tornado DDT he ran into a superkick that was just as murkworthy as his clothesline had been earlier.  From there, Neville went up top and...and...what.  I've seen it called the Burning Star Press, though I suspect it's been called the Imploding Star Press as well.  Either way, it was THIS crazy ass piece of business, and everybody in the audience lost their minds (justifiably so) and knew it was over. But even his pulling something out like that to close proved how smart Bo had wrestled the match: he had a counter for everything he'd seen before, so Neville had to reach into the archives for something else from his gentleman's arrangement with the laws of physics to keep the belt.  It'll be interesting to see where they go with Bo from here, but Neville earned his biggest win of his reign so far in a great match that dismantled the whole "you beat me but you didn't pin me" argument that was smart that the ex-Champion had shadily thrown his way the last few weeks.

The main highlight between Arrival and Vengeance has been without a doubt the divas division.  (Thanks, Sara!)  What could've been a normal Charlotte/Natalya match was enlivened by Sasha seconding the latest Flair progeny and Bret Hart out to ringside with his niece.  The Hitman didn't get involved but his appearance was enough for a happy crowd--that's assuming they weren't happy enough getting a really good match, as NattieKat's recent Full Sail trips have hooked her up to the rejuvenation machine and Charlotte's coming along by leaps and bounds in 2014.  Watching a Flair and a Hart trade wrestling holds and counters for over 200 seconds to start a match even with the hatred bubbling right below the surface just feels right, you know?

Once Natalya uncorked a slap you knew it was going to get more vicious, and most of it came from Flair's canniness (avoiding a Sharpshooter attempt) and, well, Flairness (step 1: work the leg step 2: work the leg step 3: work the leg step 4: figure it).  Yet the veteran instincts of Nattie came out: she countered the f4 while Charlotte ended up in the Sharpshooter and having to be saved by Sasha.  The Boss would also get the Shooter as well, which makes sense.  Good as Charlotte and Sasha are, they're still essentially in their rookie years, and a sentence from Nat's C.V. is probably longer than their whole resume at this point.

In order to get in some reps before he took on Sami Zayn next week, Corey Graves took on Yoshi Tatsu and made him tap out to the Lucky XIII.  It's adorable that Graves thinks by intoning the phrase on his knuckles the president of the El Generico Fan Club will do such a thing, but at least Yoshi got in some good-looking and crisp offense in before falling to the Pittsburghian.  It's pretty awesome seeing somebody who hasn't gotten in some shots in way too long doing it, and Graves being so thoroughly hateable that the crowd reacted immediately with great joy.  They don't care who even if they do prefer Sami greatly, they just care that somebody beat up on Corey Graves.  If only there was some term to connote "nothing special happened but this served its purpose exactly".  BCB'll get to work on that.

The dark horse quality match on this show went to Breeze/Woods, which had been building since Arrival and T Beezy throwing X to the Bulgarian wolf lest his good looks get marred.  Xavier fought angry but cleanly to begin the outing.  The singing and dancing was left to the Funkadactyls of the world, and good show on him for that.  In fact, if he wants to stop doing that ever again, even better.  With both men being about the same size Breeze even got to have a couple of spots of powering down Woods off of the ropes.  The King of Vain unsheathed a bulldog into the middle turnbuckle that he may want to bring into his arsenal full-time, and survived a really vicious Shining Wizard from Woods to put a Beauty Shot Out Of Nowhere!™ on him to get a victory.  And you know, he and Neville do have a bit of a history together...not that we're saying.  Just saying.

With Mojo Rawley continuing his winning ways by getting the best of CJ Parker in the opener, Vengeance justified the special event name designation that it received in an hour-long show that seemingly went by in half the time.  Full Sail can do worse than building to quarterly annual events with monthly Clash of the Championsesque programs, especially when we get things like Neville/Dallas III in the main event as the crumbled-up cookie things on the sundae of NXT to sit contentedly in our bellies.