Monday, December 8, 2014

Best Coast Bias: Stabbed In The Front

GIF credit: Heinekenrana Tumblr
That's not Photoshopped.

It's not CGIed, either.

At this point, Adrian Neville should turn heel out of mere spite alone. In Full Sail forever doomed to be the Pete Campbell to Sami Zayn's Don Draper as long as everybody's favorite Syrian-Canadian is taking up a spot on the NXT roster, for the umpteenth time he did and said all the right things. The crowd didn't believe him and probably didn't want to, either, based on the surprisingly tepid reaction he got coming out followed by his contrition if not regret over the events of Fatal 4 Way and the first title match against him.

About the only actionable thing that he actually said was that Zayn was too nice, and at the time he said it, it was (probably?) true; how could he know the Presidente of the El Generico Fan Club would obliterate that statement within a Rosey and Jamal of coming out by rebuffing a handshake and ignoring the champion's repeated statements of respect before turning him into a British Charlie Murphy to his Misfits-loving Rick James? In its penultimate moments before Revolution the show ended with Zayn screaming --screaming-- at Neville that he wasn't ending a thing, and he was going to end this man he called friend and his nearly year-long title reign by taking the title. You know, the same thing that fell to the mat when he slapped Neville so hard out of nowhere it knocked him to a knee.

Neville clenched his jaw afterwards and gave a solitary nod instead of chase while his future foe got everything short of flying streamers, floats, and a high school marching band playing Words Apart in front of him. Just look at the reaction after it happens; not a single person against what Zayn did, despite the fact that from an objective standpoint it's completely indefensible for someone who's supposed to be the face and maybe The Face of Full Sail to haul off and crack someone who he's had a long-standing relationship both inside and outside of the WWE's employ like that. For longtime fans of the product, it was hard not to hear echoes of Austin in 2001 and Eddie Guerrero in general with the crowd's absolute refusal to put a black hat on somebody they liked on that echelon; as a long-time fan of NXT, you have to be fired up and enthusiastic about Zayn/Neville II headlining the last NXT Network Special of 2014 no matter how it turns out.

(And for fellow historians and occasional conspiracy theorists, Zayn sure seemed to be a perfectly upstanding gentleman before all these pesky Kevin Owens vignettes started rolling, didn't he? Oh, well, it's not like he mentioned without mentioning his history of tangling and teaming with the likes of Seth Rollins, Daniel Bryan, Adrian Neville, and last but not least some high-flying ginger with a sudden hair trigger saved for the final mention before noting his debut was going to happen at Revolution EXCEPT THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED. Not that we have the benefits of spoilers, obviously, but let's just say the odds in Vegas of "someway or other the artist formerly known as Steen gets involved in the NXT Title match" have been taken off the board.)

Far from being alone in a title failing to shield him from some 11th hour antagonism, it merely kept The Man That Gravity Forgot as part of a weird championship tradition on the first NXT episode of December. The Lucha Dragons were AWOL unless you count their luchadorcito counterparts in a Vaudevillains sketch that rolled before the #1 contenders went out and dusted off Wesley Blake and Buddy Murphy, and for sticking up for Bayley after Sasha Banks kicked her leg out from under her leg, Charlotte -- the winner of the evening's opening squash against somebody who had more than a passing resemblance to indy superstar Mia Yim -- found herself the victim of not only a person who's a backstabber but the move itself, with Becky Lynch providing the distraction/open target needed for Banks to lay out her former BFF and dismissively hold up the champion's title before cleaning off her boots in her direction while wearing a Shane McMahonesque variant on Ms. Flair's shirt that stated that if you're going to do it, do it Like A Boss. While the tag team title match is going to be interesting for a variety of reasons, yet again NXT is in position to deliver a high-profile and potentially show-stealing match between their ladies on offer for the Women's championship.

It'll also be interesting to see if they actually put on the slightly movable object/barely resistible force matchup that Bull Dempsey, Baron Corbin, and their continuing back-to-back dueling squashes seem predestined to collide to at Revolution or whether that can is kicked down the road for later days. Poor Bull, who trucks some poor chump in three moves and under half a minute only for Baron to make Steve Cutler wish he'd never come back to the States by End of Daysing him in a grand total of thirteen seconds. This should happen one more time just to see if they can find a way for Baron to win in under six seconds; sure, seemingly the logical way would be somebody either running at him as the bell rings and getting EODed or flying off the top rope at him as the bell rings to get picked off and EODed, but taunting the silly rules of wrestling every once in a while to get someone over as a scary monster is fun. Who would've thought a few short weeks ago what Dempsey was doing was sliding into Frank Grimes cosplay?

Almost lost in the shuffle that Revolution will bring, especially considering the fire brought in the main event interview? The fact that the Hideo Itami thread that started at Fatal 4 Way may end up wrapped around the respective necks of the Ascension once he and Finn Bálor get done with them; here, they proved to be more than in fighting shape by overcoming the makeshift team of Tyler Breeze and Tyson Kidd. Finn took the beating but also provided the big move in his trademark top rope double stomp -- behind the referee's back, no less -- to set up a Itami buzzsaw kick to finish proper. Bonus points for T-Breezie taking an MDK move like a champ, since no man can survive two finishers anyhow. The Irishman also promised something different that the Ascension have never seen before, so hopefully it's symbiotic with what he's brought to NXT in his short time there. It's not like Finn's a monster. He's just ahead of the curve.

As is NXT. Back in February when they put on Cesaro/Zayn IV, several corners including this one wondered when, if ever, the fourth installment of a quality pop culture thing had been the best of the lot--come Thursday it wouldn't surprise a single soul if their fourth Network Special was the shiniest jewel in an already studded crown.