Friday, January 16, 2015

Best Coast Bias: The Needle Scratch

More like boo enthusiast
Photo Credit:
The last of the Fab Five to be called up. The first to wear the black hat. The ruiner of feel-good moments since last month. Oh, Kevin Owens hears you in the crowd making that noise most unfamiliar to Full Sail -- boos, "you suck!" chants -- but if he's willing to kick the NXT championship into a friend's head after laying him out, it's safe to say he's Big Seaning the situation vis-á-vis your feelings about the things he's done.

His impact was felt before he even showed up to close the show, as his presence (and eventual absence thereof) put clouds into the blue sky that should've been the rubber match between Sami Zayn and Adrian Neville for the Big X. The victims of his apron powerbombs competing against each other just underscored the $64,000 question: when was this French-Canadian murder bear going to come out and pour a two-liter all over the circuitry? Fortunately for those who enjoy their pro graps interference-free, he waited until after another fine if ultimately lesser leg of the stool had been completed to pick Zayn's bones with a pop-up powerbomb.

Of course, the reason that was so easy for Owens to end up doing was that Neville had done most of the work for him beforehand. It wasn't just the two-segger of a match that caused Zayn's energy level to be a light orange at best; it was more like every single big huracanrana and strike out of the Man That Gravity Forgot should've been presaged by the words murked, nasty, or vicious. Outside of a dive to the outside, Neville really showed why he'd been champion so long with his strikes. Neville's done a rana off the ropes a few dozen times at this point--Zayn ate the earliest one so hard it immediately elevated to "...wait, is that it?" status for a match that'd been long-built to, had deep history, and still wasn't 10 minutes old. Zayn would long for those halcyon days moments later when Neville landed on his feet on a half-and-half suplex attempt to fire off a handspring shoulder spin into a pinning rana. Again, nothing no NXT fan or Neville enthusiast hasn't seen on a few dozen occasions, but somehow this time around Zayn thought he could block the mat with the top of his head and the back of his neck.

When announcers forget their character archtypes and you just hear groaning and cringing, the poor victim ate that move like a carne asada burrito at 3 am after a birthday bar crawl. And even that might not have been the worst of it, as Zayn managed to get in a couple moves and desperately went for the suicide dive DDT when Neville bailed out to the floor only to get superkicked in the bicuspids when he went for it. Somehow Zayn survived just long enough for the corner Exploder/Helluva kick championship combo, but zut alors, man. When he was staggering around the ring after it took him a long time to get to his feet post-shoulder spin rana, it felt like an actuality and not just some Steamboat-level selling from the King of NXT. And then Owens came out and ruined things, because that's what he does, and we can go on from there, and maybe Neville can move on to become one out of thirty in a couple of Sundays. If this be the swan song for Neville's full-time Florida employment, let us say that even going out on his back he completely justified every thought anyone who sees a bright future in his hands has ever had.

Should Neville be off to the bigger shows, it does open a spot for somebody ridiculously popular wrestler from an international background to vault up the metaphorical NXT power rankings. In A Completely Unrelated Note, Finn Bálor started off the program against Tyson Kidd and the match with a vicious shotgun dropkick that could make a viewer spit Cypress Hill (...all right, all right, you young punk kids, Method Man and Redman) lyrics before Kidd could sort out his Saskatchewan and rehinge his Moose Jaw; while the catlover managed to avoid a suicide double stomp immediately afterwards it was a two-segment delaying of the inevitable. And give Tyson credit for that -- Bull Dempsey couldn't even last two minutes against Baron Corbin in the succeeding match -- but watching Finn fly with that, a crackling gamengiri, and on top of that include the tope con hilo with the signature finisher means the artist formerly known as Prince has the security of Apple stock and probably has better long-term prospects of constantly elevating. He can do anything in NXT for as long as they want to keep him down there, and they still haven't even begun to scratch the lottery ticket of dream matches they can put him in with the roster on hand.

About the only deep complaint to be had on such a front-loaded show was that the women's tag team match didn't go long enough between Team BAE and the Legacy Kids. Maybe in the future something similar will happen on a live two-hour special and get a quarter hour to play with; as it was this served as an amuse bouche so delicious you just wondered why it wasn't the main course. It was nice to see Charlotte and Nattie team up for some double-team offense to not make them look so makeshift, but oddly in the non-RAW under-to-midcard TV lately the programming has subtly been getting over units will beat random collections of talent just mashed up together and here it happened again for the second time in under 24 hours on WWE Network (which Internet rumors say can be had for a decent monthly price). So here Nattie put enough stank on her whomping of Sasha early on to make certain corners this one included clamor for a singles match between the two on Banks' possible road to the belt, Banks overcame it and landed the Regal-esque straightjacket neckbreaker to pin the champion and further burnish her bona fides for another shot at Charlotte. That would probably be the thing on the next live special with a title change, and considering the last time they were on a live special showing off their contretemps they put on one of the best 20 matches of WWE's 2014, put some more on our plates.

Of course, Zayn and Neville did that on a top-10 level, and then the confetti fell and it seemed like nothing could ruin the moment. So everything's a variable in this world of developmental. Except NXT being worth the watch and sometimes exploding your eyeballs from the sheer force of their awesomeness. That's a constant.