Monday, October 6, 2014

Best Coast Bias: Challengers Wanted

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For two people in the midst of their first title reigns down Full Sail way, Adrian Neville and Charlotte seem to be runaway trains on parallel tracks, at least when it comes to going through any opposition in front of them. While not at Lesnarian eat-sleep-conquer-repeat levels of dominance, both the Jumping Geordie and the Flair of NXT have proven themselves to be the definitions of Champions, rising to the occasion time and again to keep their gold to the point where they may be considered the best type of Champion in their individual divisions that NXT's ever had.

The main point of separation seems to be mainly this after the first October installment dubbed Championship week that featured them bookending the program with successful title defenses against long-time rivals that they may have vanquished once and for all: having put down a challenge, Charlotte seems to be next in line to go in against an ex-friend; having put down a final challenge, Neville seems to be next in line to become an ex-friend (though whether he's the impetus or reacting to this rift is, for now, still up in the air).

So let's begin how the show ended, with Tyson Kidd's final attempt to gain the Big X going down at the hands of another Red Arrow. Akin to Fatal 4 Way, it was the moments right beforehand that'll probably get the most memorable with more hindsight behind it. Having secured a prime first-row seat but not showing up until right before the main event, Titus O'Neil was in prime position to help his new friend TK by yanking Neville down harshly on the outside. But when he tried to further his advances Sami Zayn was able to run in from the back and absolutely murk the self-proclaimed Real Deal from out of nowhere with literally a Helluva Kick that hit him so hard he ended up on the floor at ringside. With Zayn cheering on the Champion from a small distance and exhorting him to get up, The Man That Gravity Forgot managed to get himself back into the ring just before he was counted out, then only took two more moves to TC of B by countering Kidd and knocking him off the top before uncorking his signature corkscrew Shooting Star Press.

Neville was so busy celebrating post-match after he got confirmation from the referee that he'd secured the three-count (in a nice nod to having his head bounced off the floor not two minutes previous) that it took him some while to notice Zayn on the rampway. Once that happened they exchanged words without the microphone, and at this point their motivations with the help of portable amplification or not are as easy to read as a stop sign. Neville was probably wondering what brought Zayn out to be in his business, with him pointing to the fallen former Gator as both a sign of having his back and exactly what a future without Zayn's support system could entail. Kidd could sit chagrined and disappointed in the corner all that he wanted, eerily echoing Zayn after literally every NXT live special match he's been in this year, but while this wasn't quite the third domino a breeze is about to set everything else in motion and you don't need to skip ahead pages to find that out. It should also be noted that there were smatterings of support for Kidd and even a few No More Neville chants early, but the champ didn't let any of that deter him from delivering a win on points even before the end game and dusting off some familiars from their previous encounters (gamengiris from the floor, the Better Than Batista Bomb after landing on his feet out of a super sunset bomb attempt, et al). And it wasn't like he was widely reviled. But there's something there that wasn't before; only time will tell if his heart is the one that turns as a result of it.

Who can tell if Charlotte's is turning? When she's been as on point as she has been since the summer, who really cares? She may just be approaching pure conduit level in which she can adapt against whoever whenever -- you know, the sort of woman who can slap five with a little kid on the way to the ring but not 90 seconds later try to knock Bayley down with her opening salvo just by running the ropes full-speed in the hopes of catching her sleeping as she went for the first time that they met a couple weeks previous. Bayley started off the match pretty well and with full crowd support per usual, firing off flash pinfalls and armdrags aplenty, but against a Flair in a Championship match once she got off one big attack to the leg it set up the rest. Please, please, try to contain your shock. 

Once that happened, Charlotte had the crowd, viewers, and announcers alike agog at just how tuned her her offense has gotten over time. Her kneebar leading into the break had oohs coming out of mouths everywhere, and that was before she combined her figure four with a Matrishian bridge that could've easily finished things off. For once when announcers were saying things akin to "I've never seen anything like that in my life" it felt like a truth a fan would think at home and not a thing to bang the dauber for at Soundbite Bingo. Bayley limped her way through a short comeback but the moment she got in a two-count Charlotte immediately came back and finished it off with her quickly-becoming-trademark Rude Awakening + Natural Selection = Hit My Music. Charlotte eventually helped Bayley up and even hugged her, but she was standing center ring with the strap letting out a whoo and letting everybody know which queen in NXT's 2014 reigns supreme. Good luck, Sasha, and way to jump Bayley backstage when she was down already. Ratchet or not, you're gonna need it.

Given the fact the Championship matches got the bulk of the show with four segments, you could be forgiven for thinking the rest of it was just a bitter dwindle. But, c'mon. This is NXT. This is the safe space. It's not like that here. Instead of having a match with their smaller half going in against Hideo Itami, they opted to just beat the crap out of him and leave him laying. It was both a brilliant move logic-wise, as noted by Jason Alberts saying the NXT newcomer hadn't been able to make any friends yet, and led to possibly the best backstage NXT segment of the post-Dallas era in Florida as FUNAKI~! promised to have Hideo's back. Will he? Of course. Is the Ascension going to murder him? Not literally, but of course. Will this make Hideo have to search for another, more awesome "I will eat your soul, motherfucker" partner? Can he even find such a man? Can the two of them best the Ascension, then, perhaps?

...what did you, just get here? You can't be that quick, not exactly a Baron Corbin squash or Carmella dropkicking Enzo Amore out of the ring in footage that Big Cass promised nobody would ever see. Not only that, but the Vaudevillains made an unofficial claim to being next in line for the Lucha Dragons and a shot at the tag team Championships that the Ascension just dropped by beating Team Scrubs Not Exactly The World's Greatest Tag Team Tye Dillinger and Jason Jordan and putting a nice That's A Wrap on the whole thing before we went into the main event. You get two awesome lengthy Championships that matter matches, a little actual comedy, and the ability to chant Put Your Dukes Up mere weeks before we hit 2015. And you wonder why everybody's guzzling NXT Kool-Aid by the gallon. School's in WHOO BY GOD session, new arrivals: go and get yourself a late pass.