Monday, June 16, 2014

Best Coast Bias: Seeing Red Again

"But, honey, I thought you loved my Eddy Guerrero impersonation!"
Photo Credit:
The good news for Tyson Kidd after this week's episode of NXT is that his life is like a song; the bad news is that said tune is probably Linkin Park's "One Step Closer".

Say this for the former coholder of the WWE Tag Team Championship - he left nearly no stone unturned in his effort to gain the Big X and followed up a fine performance against Adrian Neville two weeks ago at Takeover with an even better one in a rematch that surpassed an already strong original. (It's almost uncanny how often that happens down Full Sail way, isn't it?)

He might've started out on the receiving end of some Nattie's Husband chants, especially since she escorted him down to the ring and was in his corner for the match. But the crowd had also seemed to mostly forgive the douchery of a fortnight ago with his apology coming just last week, and Kidd seemed to take the support as fuel for the opening chunk of the match. Whereas in the first installment the ground game and counterwrestling was a coin flip this time Tyson was pretty dominant and made chain wrestling look pretty in doing so. He seemed to have a counter for whatever work Adrian could throw at him, up to and including some nifty rerereversals. Counters to the counter to the counter, kids. You think this is easy? Try it. But then Neville got a little separation, which in NXT in 2014 was pretty akin to handing a pyromaniac a little container of gasoline. How much damage could they even do? The thing's barely even half full!

A handless Asai suicida later and Neville was in control for a moment. Back from break Tyson came back with a series of nearfalls, subtly escalating the situation. Been quite a while since we've seen him apply a modified dragon sleeper, or hit his formerly signature inside-out slingshot legdrop. He'd counter a sunset flip with a basement dropkick, and throw a wicked Saito suplex. Neville kicked out of everything. Sure, Neville would get in a few shots: an Alicia-worthy Aurora Borealis, and a step-up Owenzuigiri ^ standing Shooting Star Press combo. But when Tyson blocked a Neville attempt at a gamengiri only to absolutely DRILL the Champion with one of his own, you could see the machinery start to turn. So he followed it up with a sweet rope-hung dropkick to the chest and then followed it off the top with the Harlem Hangover. One, two, three. Just like that, Tyson Kidd had become the NXT Champion. For a second.

Neville's foot on the rope was there at 2.8 but not noticed until 3.1. The ref would audibly admit he messed up as Tyson was disgruntled without being fully upset, but you could smell defeat just by his body language. It was as transparent as cleaned glass: he'd done everything he'd supposed to do, he'd heard a three count, and just like that his first singles Championship had been yanked out of his grasp before he could even get a hand on it. Even that, though, wasn't enough to deter him: he just mentioned to the referee (not even that snidely, considering) that he thought he'd already had this thing won as he basement dropkicked Neville in a Tree of Woe before locking him down with the Sharpshooter. Okay, a pinfall by the ropes comes with some dangers and in the moment he'd lost sight of that. Not awesome, but moving on and wrestling like a Champion? Bang on. Hell, awesome as the Hangover was, that wasn't even really his move, y'know?

But now--now in the middle of the ring with the Sharpshooter applied? It wasn't a matter of if, but when. At least for a few seconds. Neville gutted out a crawl to the ropes, and Tyson couldn't say a word. He didn't have to: in a fine piece of camera work he looked gutted and ready to announce this match was brought to you by the letter F, and the letters I and T. From there his situation went from sweater to unmade thread in sections. Formerly wrestling a borderline perfect match, he walked into a small package and then missed a corner charge. When the latter got him a huge kick in the back of the head, it looked like he was about to fall victim again to the fickle Red Arrow of fate. And yet.

And yet he survived, cutting off the Jumping Geordie and sending him sprawling into the ring. They're called finishers for a reason, hehn? So let's do this -- Blockbuster off the top. Nope. Neville surviving to the roar of the crowd. Yeah, fine: springboard elbow drop. Consecutive finishers, unleashing old and new...this had to get it done, right? Nope. For a moment he seemed to be lost in prayer, and the wrestling gods answered him in kind. He went to get a chair. Forget the ensuing cutoff by his wife or the superkick ^ Best Red Arrow In NXT History combo that literally ended the MOTYHMC; this is where the match ended. Having failed with his arsenal, Tyson went from wanting to win the Championship to just wanting to win. You could even see the justification if you had the empathy: for the referee it was a mistake, for him it was his career. And what could've possibly motivated that little elf-looking uggo to survive four damn finishers? Why, it was the same thing that could've saved him from the chants he'd heard at the beginning. It was easy for Nattie to console him after the fact and admonishing him with "You're better than that" before disposing of the chair and keeping her Lawful Good alignment; the fact somebody survived every bomb he could throw at them and the fact he couldn't even land a chair shot proved that he wasn't.

It was such a packed episode -- in contention for best "regular" hour of NXT's 2014 -- that the goodness of the main event overshadowed a stellar opener with the BFFs taking on Bayley, Emma and Paige. Since no portmanteaus seem to be able to get rejiggered into something catchy and punful, let's just call them Team Awesome. That's what made the difference, after all. Considering how disparate the good girls were, they still managed to form a unit ready to take down the pains in their collective asses for the better part of the past two years while the resident Plastics couldn't even make their way down to the ring without there being multiple passive-aggressive instances of each one trying to upstage the other. You'd think having gotten the color coordination right in Niner red and gold they could've been more supportive of each other, but they apparently could only unify on one thing: let's beat up on Emma. For an entire segment, Emma caught a beatdown and extensive tours of the Bad Part Of Town while Charlotte and Sasha did the work much to the disgruntledness of the former Queen of NXT and future movie star Ms. Rae. Both Charlotte and Summer (once she finally got in in the second segger) proved their scuminess by mocking the Emma Dance, but unfortunately for Emma these were brief respites from them doing things like choking her and locking her up with a figure 4 headlock.

For a while they looked like the female iteration of the Ascension with everybody on the team getting in a few licks in in under 60 seconds with rapid tags. For those who wonder if Summer's gotten too Hollywood in her absence, why would she take a picture with a front row fan while the match was going on if she was? But when Emma finally got free she got in Bayley, who immediately went after the NXT Women's Champion. Bayley even debuted a really swank modified EXPLOIDAH~! that brought back warm fuzzies of the AWOL Master Regal, and to the surprise of absolutely no one ever a Pier 6 broke out. Last week, Charlotte was able to ignore Summer and made Bayley Bow Down; this week she was annoyed enough by the shenanigans to boot her own partner out of the ring and get rolled up as a result. That's right: the winners had the reigning Divas Champion in their corner and essentially won a handicap match because they were a unit and the Biffles weren't. While Summer Rae was angrily flipping her hair in Charlotte's face, because, she, like, invented you two, you know what I mean? Paige was busy hugging Bayley so hard she lifted her off the ground. No, really. That's right, not kneeing somebody in the face or screaming at it or hugging them so hard their eyeballs popped out of their head and she won the match Celebrity Deathmatch style, but just sheer unvarnished joy; the kind of joy only Bayley can bring, really. It was so weird. For a second there she looked like a 21-year-old happy for her friend instead of a comelier version of a tornado.

Coming in the bronze medal portion of the show is kind of like being the third hottest Playmate at the Mansion, but Sami Zayn got a win over the "debuting" Mr. NXT in another show highlight. This seems to be a grand opening grand closing situation, as the "newcomer" looked quite familiar, wore all white, and had really nice teeth. Perhaps he was meant to invoke El Santo and that level of purity and heroism but it couldn't be helped by anybody with a decent sense of history (read: pretty much every NXTer ever, let alone Sami Zayn in this instance) that this Mr. NXT fellow bo more than a passing resemblance to a former roster member, especially when he took a prematch moment to have a brief contemplative prayer. The Bo, Leave chants started almost immediately as Zayn had a look that on a family friendly website can only be described as "this [matriarch fornicator] right here]". It was astounding he didn't have to go on the injured reserve list for throwing out his everything considering he was casting aspersions on somebody else for wearing a red cape and mask and pretending to be a luchador; it'd be like if you saw Zooey Deschanel call somebody out for being too twee and adorable. Maybe moreso. Perhaps SeƱor Everything But The E shouldn't've celebrated with his hands in the air and a familiar-sounding "Yeah, baby!" after trucking Sami off the ropes. Especially since he'd fall victim to an armdrag flight and get mocked for it pretty hard by Sami. The announcing was on point, as A-Ry did his lone good work of the show making a bevy of excuses while Rich slowly came around to what the crowd was throwing out and if Renee's tongue had gotten any more firmly in her cheek she would've picked up lockjaw. Suddenly Mr. NXT unmasked as...

...well, maybe you should be sitting down for this.

We'll give you a moment to collect yourself. was Bo Dallas. I know, I'm shocked, too. He responded as if his tights had came off instead of his horrible disguise and a Helluva Boot later he was disposed of. Sure, Bo and Sami could've had an awesome match, but they decided to have a hilarious one instead. Sami called campus security on Bo, touching off an even more hilarious sequence that really was only missing Yakety Sax as they chased Bo around the ring on a few laps and Dallas getting desperate -- well, even moreso -- as he clapsed onto the ring ropes and then the ringpost wailing about how he couldn't leave and NXT needed him. Even getting him in the back of the paddywagon (read: campus security cart) turned into another hilarious debacle around Full Sail. Admit it: now that the idea of Yakety Sax is in your head, you can't help but hear it now, yes?

Say what you will about this NXT, let alone the debut of a deaf-mute strongman Simon Gotch to pick up Aiden English's spirits after he'd been knocked so low he was singing plantation classics in the back to nobody but himself, but it was far from a debacle. The Fastest 60 Minutes In Sports Entertainment lived up to both ends of the buzzphrase, and was absolutely delicious from front to back.

We can only hope that next week we'll get a ten-second segment of JBL ripping up Mr. NXT's contract while sadly shaking his head.