Friday, December 26, 2014

The 2014 Best Coast Bias Holiday Phantasmagoria

Whether you like it or you don't like it...
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Shoutout to whoever at Stamford got me the present of this week's B-roll programming. Genuinely. Why feel the need to write one's own iteration of a 2,000-word thinkpiece everybody and their third cousin on their uncle's side has written on the web about WWE programming in 2014 when the Christmas week editions of Main Event and NXT were there for any eyeballs not glazed over with tryptophan? The former put on a brand new show with four matches that were all passable and one even creeping into good territory while the latter had a clip show Christmas with only one new match to air and still Usain Bolted away from WWEME for MOTW honors.

Of course, NXT had the benefit of a title match while Main Event didn't. But even so. Since it won the big cut of ham at the holiday table, let's give NXT the leadoff spot here with the Charlotte/Sasha Banks rematch. It featured a guest appearance from the Natich himself, who got the stick pre-match. He called Sasha awesome but not good enough to beat his daughter, who in his estimation is on her way to being the best diva ever. They were the sort of comments where even if he could've blown a .14 at the time that he said them that no one would begrudge him the thoughts. The young ladies then proceeded to go out and prove him correct, even with a little bit less time to work with than they got at Revolution. Oh, this went down like a fourth sip of Jameson out of the flask right from the jump where both ladies got in each others faces multiple times preceding and during the pre-match introductions (hey, it's Full Sail and there's a belt on the line, Christmas or no) before degenerating into two-sided fisticuffs to start the match. Nothing says "I hate you eff that I hate you MORE" than opening brawling, and then things settled down into the human game of chess.

About the only thing that could stop them from kicking out the jams was a commercial break, and back from it Charlotte and Banks proved not only do they have the chops to succeed at the highest level but there was fun to be found in even the little moments here: Charlotte countering the mandatory grounding submission with a Piggyback Stunner, then using her length to reach the ropes when Banks made good on the Banks Statement she'd failed to convert on in their first match--and of course the announcers pointed out that point immediately. Maybe it's been mentioned once or twice but NXT is a magical fairy tale land.

Ms. Flair would go on to counter a Banks dive attempt (since she'd seen it before in the prior battle) with Banks coming right bank back to cut Charlotte off at the top rope from another Diamond Dust to hit her own multi-not-quite-superplex off of the second rope (since she'd seen that before in the prior battle). The end came suddenly, brilliantly. Charlotte countered the Sasha counter to her rebound spear by debuting two moves pretty much in succession: first, a Vaderesque Face Eraser wheelbarrow facebuster, and then debuting a bridging figure-four where at points she wasn't even using her hands for balance but holding their combined weight on her head. No wonder NXT was the back-to-back Show of the Year, as for the second straight Christmas (see Regal/Cesaro from last year's) they took an ostensibly throwaway show and still provided a match worth going out of one's way to see. Even Sasha's Twitter heeling once the match aired was golden (there was a mosquito buzzing around that freaked her out, and the ref mistook her swinging to kill it as a tapout). This can't be a rivalry yet, since the Boss would have to best her former bestie at some point. But even now, it's a joy to watch them step between the ropes and prove every time out worthwhile pro graps are worthwhile pro graps irregardless of gender.

Again, it's not like Main Event completely vomited all over itself before falling out of the chair and passing out, but nothing was that good. The closest contender to the ladies' throne was the eponymous two-segger that closed the program between Jack Swagger White Savior: Shame Of A Nation and Luke Harper. Sans Unkie Zeb Swag's been a man without an anchor while Harper's spent the winter months slowly elevating his way up the ranks to the point where he'll probably get a couple of boss spots in the Rumble without winning it, so the ending to this was pretty fait accompli. Still, it was pretty fun watching Harper find different ways to beat Jack around the ring, mostly with the use of back elbows and double throat thrusts. Swagger overcame some botches in the back end to get some nearfalls in and even managed to put the Patriot Lock on the now formerly Intercontinental Champion. Harper managed to finally snag the bottom rope and send Swagger sprawling to the floor before absolutely putting a bow on the proceedings with his MURDER DISCUS KILL™ lariat.

It should be noted that Main Event kicked off with another impressive showing from the Cesaro/Tyson Kidd unit unofficially known as the Swinging Cats. Here, Los Matadores put up exactly the amount of almost no offense you'd expect as the international workrate connection busted out a few fun double teams on the way to what hopefully becomes their coup de gras: a powerbomb/Blockbuster combo. A/The New Day, in front of a receptive crowd, sent Big E out against Stardust in a winning effort highlighted mostly by the former Langston's getting in some crisp offense against his fellow Intercontinental Champion. The man who hung in there vs. Rusev is still there, even if his storytelling arc right now is LOL U SWEAT HOMIE. And in case you forgot that Total Divas is about to fire out another season over on the Exclamat

ion Point, Brie Bella beat Summer Rae in a match seemingly only created because of that express purpose. Why else would you have heels fighting each other unless it was February and you were getting this is awesome chants before anything even happened on the way to being my favorite non-NXT match under the Stamford umbrella this year? Even more confounded, in Sioux City's world Brie's recent turn back to the black hats either didn't happen or didn't take, so they spent most of the match chanting for her and clapping for her to get out from underneath Summer's modified (camel) clutch (es) ((which is another reason why you cross the alignment streams in 99.9% of matches)). Brie's rally was concise, but again: if you're going to pick a women's match from this week to watch, Full Sail is the place to go. Even if NXT's superior effort didn't have Nikki celebrating her sister's victory by ripping her own shirt in half and off, it was still the superior effort.

When it comes to WWE, it's been that those kind of year years.