Sunday, April 27, 2014

Best Coast Bias: Supercalifragilisticexpialifuckthis

The six man closed the show on a strong note,, that opening...
Photo Credit:
It's like the bards have said since time immemorial: the queen is dead even though she's standing right there, long live the queen!

Wait, that doesn't sound right.  Ah, never mind.  What they said is: anything worth fighting for is worth giving up.

Oh, that doesn't look right, either.  That can't possibly be it.  HUP!  Got it now.

The phrase in question is: when a Champion is asked to give up their title for no good reason, they acquiesce.

For the last April episode of NXT on the network, the opening got right to the biggest development on the show and threw a shadow over the remaining 58 minutes and change as a result.  Hopefully you all got the JPEGs your heart desired of Paige walking around toting two titles, because to kick off the show GM JBL decreed that due to her callup and winning the Lisa Frank Memorial Belt the decision had been made to end Paige's reign as the NXT Women's Champion.  After some sulking, Paige handed over the better-looking strap in her arsenal, and thus the dumbest moment (intentional and unfunny division) in NXT history rolled out before the credits did.

What a complete load of hot garbage, from pretty much every single rational angle possible.  Consider all of the following:

  • It didn't help JBL.  Apparently when the calendar changed over to 2014 he ceased becoming the Wrestling God and evil puppet of the Authority down Full Sail way, and more of a slightly faceish benign Mr. Furley type who could barely remember to show up for his job and cracked jokes at Bo Dallas' expense when he did.  It was never named who's bright idea it was to get the belt off of Paige, and he surely didn't seem to be overjoyed at doing his job or even "fake sad to her face and secretly joyous behind her back" as could be easily expected.  Unless this is an experiment to see if the viewing audience will accept a schizophrenic with a role of responsibility, what was the point of it?
  • It didn't help Paige. One of the many things that make NXT resonate with their fanbase is their adherence to continuity.  Paige has become to NXT -- not just the women's division -- what Tazz used to be in ECW around the turn of the century; a misanthropic, pint-sized destroyer of worlds who'd just as soon put you in the hospital as look at you.  Her signature character beat besides being justifiably emotional when she wins titles is a scream, usually directed at a fallen victim after she's beaten them up and before she's finished them off.  William Regal doesn't throw around nicknames like Ms. Hell In Boots for his health and good looks; his fellow Briton earned every inch of that nickname by taking on the BFFs of the world and Emma in two sterling matches that got her high marks on the TWB 100 in her first year on the countdown and fighting them until they went down for the count or tapped out. 

    Making this even more egregious was her promo on the prior episode in which she held both titles as being equal and in so doing, put the Women's Title on the same platform as the Divas, even if moreso in theory than in practice.  Keep in mind: JBL didn't strip her of the title to be the King Jerk he's mastered becoming, there wasn't even a mention of an executive committee; she showed up for work and they were like "Need the belt because you're on RAW too much traveling around the world and whatnot" and after about a 20-second hissy fit that could've used 1000% more the threat of physical violence or an underdog "WHO SAYS I can't handle being a double Champion!?" she turned it over without having been beaten in the ring or even putting anybody over for the honors of beating her for the belt she'd held since last summer.  Part of Paige's whole narrative on the big shows is that she's the one who ended AJ's near 300 days on top which started last spring; that makes her formidable even if the nature of her initial victory was flash.  
  • It didn't help the NXT diva roster.  Not to get all Rocky V or Jimmy Ellis, but who's gonna benefit from winning this belt without beating the titleholder?  It's not like any babyface (even Bayley!) is going to come out ahead on this score: good as they are in-ring and from a character development perspective, they are all Xeroxes of an original copy, the lower rungs on the babyface ladder.  And as for a heel, let alone Charlotte?  Someone will have to explain to me as if Fukushima water was poured down my gullet by the gallon and has started picking off brain cells how even beating two women or even three over the course of a tournament is a better option than using Paige's "last" night in Florida to make them a Champion.  Even with a modicum or an avalanche of chicanery, winning the title within the confines of the squared circle is the thing stories revolve around.  Even better, it would've been a nice parallel to Paige's Big Two story of "she's earned the belt but not everybody's respect yet" because heels cheating to win is sort a staple ever since Gotch and Hackenschmidt.
  • It didn't help NXT.  Why is Tyson Kidd putting over how NXT being on the Network has made it the place to be and the perfect platform to launch his career if this sort of arbitrary decision is going to be handed down to the longest reigning Champion in Full Sail history from an in and out of character completely illogical decision?  BP can put on all the rebuilding narrative ads they'd like, Blackwater can try to rename itself after an element that doesn't exist, but the fact of the matter is when people think of malfeasance on an epic scale, they're the top/bottom of the list.  In the eyes of many, they're the list, period.  What sort of "place to be" wants their name associated with random incompetence and jerking their customers around?  Do you think Arby's was dancing with joy with all the free publicity that Jon Stewart gave it last week?  In WWE when Champions lose their belts, they are either a) beaten for it b) legitimately too injured to perform, which is then worked into the storyline c) screwed out of it, usually by a heel or heels not d) um you should just give it to us because reasons!
  • Nobody is more proud of where they're from than the NXT alum.  Off the top of one's head in the past year alone, they've been the petri dish that's spawned the Shield, the Wyatt Family, Big E It's Still Langston To Me Dammit, Bo Dallas, and furthermore this title forfeiture was immediately followed by Alexander Rusev!  Furthermore, Paige was walking around backstage because she ended up being the mystery partner to Emma.  (More about this to come imminently.) Now, what do all 10 of these people have in common?  They've been called up to RAW, and when they return to where they made their names with justifiable pride they're feted as local boys or girls done good because they've returned in the first place.  To the horror of every Spengler alive, NXT and WWE have crossed the streams with gleeful abandon to the general betterment of everybody involved.  In the immortal words of Mahatmas Ghandi upon India's release from British rule, since when tho!?  Even with Paige's availability being reduced there was such a long interregnum between her rematch at Arrival and the last time she defended the belt that it wouldn't be that jarring to not have her on the show for a series of weeks.  In addition, it's not like she got wished out to the cornfield--she's going to be on Raw and Smackdown!  Nobody with a firing brain cell would send out an APB for an enchanting raven-haired lady, nor have much beef with the title being built up in her absence since it'd be on the shoulder or around the waist of the Divas Champion that ended the reign to end all reigns.  

Most galling of all?

  • They had the perfect alternative set up and quasi-executed it on the show.  Charlotte's been mouthy since the heel turn, but now she's putting wins on the board and taken over the BFFs in Summer's callup, going full Cady without Regina around to keep her thumb on her.  So when she and Sasha went into tag team action against Emma + Mystery Partner, it was such a mystery that the once and former Champion didn't get introduced.  A small but further glass lightbulb when we expected to bite into an apple, since they sure haven't been slow-cooking Paige's begrudging acceptance of Emma as a human being let alone somebody she sees as worthy enough to tag with despite their being direct diametric opposites, but hey, it's not like Charlotte's actually put on her best performance in a string of steadily improving series of such what with her adoption of the familial Flop, using her gymnastics background to land on some but not all attempted offense on her feet, or a figure four headlock with her long legs to ground Emma and keep her grounded before putting the black hats in a power play situation that ended up with her Throwbacking Paige and pinning her clean right in the center of the ring or anything, right?!  *throws all the paper in the air and walks away disgustedly as the ensuing eyeroll registers 4.2 on the Richter*
To reiterate, the hottest of all possible garbage.  For the first time in recorded history a heel contender was built up with a series of wins leading to a match with a babyface titleholder and got to beat them without beating them for the belt, even though they got in the ring not half an hour from the latter still being Champion.  In a world built on nuance, continuity and logic it all got pushed into traffic because Benghazi.  Trust me, that's just as logical an explanation as anything we got on the program.

Charlotte will probably go on to win the tournament and hold the belt proudly; as noted, she's rounding into form quite well as a pro grapper.  But when lizard brains' internal marquees flash the words "strip Paige", this is not what we they meant.  When somebody makes the belt instead of the belt making them, you want to build off that momentum and then turn around and make the next Champion off of the previous Champion and the juice they brought to the table.  You may remember examples of this from 99.9999999% of wrestling to this point.  How it was justifiable to have Paige lose to Charlotte but not for the title is, to this corner, more incomprehensible and bad for business than the Streak ending at WrestleMania.  Undertaker's old enough to be somebody's grandfather, for the last few years they've had to carry or cart him out of there after wins, and he lost to possibly the toughest man alive who's won at everything he's ever done and is a certifiable land monster.  As much as it wasn't liked in the moment, it still made sense at the time and only grows in that aspect over time.  But this?

This was so egregious it got followed up almost immediately by Lana's legs and by extension Lana and not even that saved it.  So bad that Tyler Breeze put a Beauty Shot on somebody else's mug and there were still more ways that this was a bad decision continued to unfold like goblins misting out of Pandora's box to bring pestilence, death, a Tyler Perry remake of Roots, etc. upon the world.  So bad that a six-man tag with Sami Zayn and the Usos against the Ascension and Corey Graves, while good, didn't take away from the short-and-long term incomprehensibility on display in that open.  It was really a shame. 

That match deserved better, and featured not only a bit of Champions v. Champions flavor but actual viable faces to go up against the NXT Tag Team Champions, who might want to watch their asses lest some giddy fickle middle finger of fate probe them for their belts.  The white hats brought the aerial flavor to start off with leg lariats and vicious uppercuts, the bad guys slowed it down with their ground and pound.  Also notably, Corey Graves continued to give the normal fan not a single thing to cheer for and opted out of fighting Sami unless he was down already.  But eventually, it ended with a Zayn/Uso doble tope and a Superfly splash on the former Savior of Misbehavior to wrap up the show on a positive note.  Again, this was a two-segger match that could've gone another 15-20 easy, and the crowd was into it from stem to stern. All six men hit their offense with precision and aplomb; hell, even Graves managed to come off somewhat magnanimous.  Everybody's favorite Syrian-Canadian even got caught up in the moment and began to pop and lock...and just like that, out of nowhere, it was fade to black and on to the next show.  Because who wants to see Sami Zayn dancing like a dork, right?

It was, for the first time ever and from front to back, that kind of episode of NXT.