Thursday, January 22, 2015

Best Coast Bias: Pull Yourself Up By The Straps

Your kicks were good, T Breezie.  His were better.
Photo Credit:
We will now list in alphabetical order people who have a legitimate beef with this program:

Dillinger, Tye

Sucks to his assmar he happened to be standing in the ring at the show's post-recaps and announcements beginning when Sami Zayn came out -- marched out, really -- and beat on him with both hands before tossing him out of the ring. Besides that? On a scale of one to MC5 this kicked out the jams, matriarch fornicator.

William Regal showed up three times, and on each he recalibrated the targets for Full Sail with conciseness and pleasing mini-bombshells that got him Thank You Regal chants the two times he did them live. Beforehand at the show's second beat, he announced the NXT live special on February 11th and a #1 contendership tournament to commence tonight with the left side of the bracket, more on which later. But no sooner had we gotten that and the opening than the champion came out completely devoid of mirth and ate poor Tye's sandwich. That's when it happened, as so many with a knowledge of history outside of WWE walls knew it was going to have to at some point in 2015; the usual jolly Sami Zayn's face almost matching his hair as he screamed the inevitable "OWENS!!! OWENS! GET OUT HERE! NOW!"

But instead the Blackpool Death March and a cursing-in-a-British-gentleman's-way Regal met the face of NXT instead. They both made logical points (Regal that KO shouldn't be allowed to jump the queue, especially with the tournament about to start and him not being placed in it because he hasn't earned it, Zayn willing to acquiesce slightly by not putting the Big X up for grabs but still wanting Owens and incorporating the crowd's please chant -- reread those last four words -- into a plea for a match), and all of a sudden February 11th had a main event, even if it was non-title. Well, at least for now: if you think this is going to stay non-title you should invite me to a turkey dinner so I can give you these itchy blankets. It's 48 hours afterwards in reality, but this will be a fine birthday gift. Later on, when asked by some new suit about the development, Kevin Owens merely said he'd see Zayn at the contract signing next week, and that'll be another loaded show with that, the other two #1c quarterfinals of Neville/Kidd as well as Baron/Bull II, and another title match, more on which later.

But the first two quarterfinals opened and closed the program match-wise, and set up an absolute appointment TV showcase for a semifinal; a semifinal that will see Finn Bálor take on Hideo Itami. It's okay if you started a Daniel Bryanesque chant from behind your keyboard upon reading that. It's not like you're anywhere near alone. For Bálor, he got a rapturous reception before continuing to derail the Michael McGillicutty Comes Back To NXT Countywide Tour 2015. You know how he did it too: tope con hilo, Pele kick, Sling Blade (not called by Rich Brennan as a Kaiser blade but rather the Tanahashi appellation because RB is one of the 1,004 ways NXT > you), shotgun dropkick hand on the pump, double stomp off the top that is now officially and nearly literally the Coup de Grâce Art Carney Sheila McCrae Audrey Meadows g'night everybody! Axel did enough to make it mildly interesting, but in the main event with Itami against Tyler Breeze the Czar of Cuteville seemed on several occasions as if he were going to advance into the semifinals against the artist formerly known as Prince.

That happened for a lot of reasons. Breeze's been a bigger threat than Axel pretty much since he took up seasonal residencies - putting this match as the winner gets Finn match in that part of the bracket meant either man winning was on the table - and the lateness of the kickouts and the force of the kicks from both men showed why it took the show home instead of more or less warming up the already and always rabid Full Sailors. About the only blotch on an otherwise finely painting canvas was a lengthy Breeze chinlock, which again is part of the WWE protocol at this point, especially if you're a heel with an advantage heading towards and/or coming out of commercial. Most hilariously and astutely, Breeze got so rattled by Itami almost connecting on multiple early Buzzsaw kicks to the moneymaker that he backpedaled while using the referee as a shield before landing in a quick shot gut kick to stem Itami's tide. But all that did was buy him time, and Itami did end up connecting on a nice running kick to a seated Breeze before getting pulled into the middle turnbuckle and dumped to the floor.

Again, without the announcers or wrestlers going into histrionics about it, they told a subtle story of Itami actually having offense and Breeze desperately trying to affix Band-Aids and aloe while Itami's connecting turning him into a faux equivalent of the Black Knight of Python lore. The match advanced towards its end, with escalating offensives on both ends. Itami's busted out the hangman's tornado DDT and the flying lariat before, but his borderline fisherman's buster made its Florida debut here without finishing off the former #1 contender. Likewise we've all seen Breeze hold the ropes to set up beautiful and vicious supermodelkicks in other big matches, but a crucifix driver that Itami survived? C'mon. Unfortunately, Breeze used that to sort of yell and gently slap at Itami a couple of times, and then he got whomped real good. By unofficial counts Itami got in the last DOZEN offensive moves, ranging from open-handed slaps to a uraken, a basement dropkick, and the finishing single-leg dropkick off the ropes. Bálor/Itami coming to a ring near you very soon to kick off February? Sold.

Itami's gestures towards the end just highlighted the desire for championship gold that ran through the show like a frightened hiker away from a lumbering grizzly. After all, it caused Becky Lynch to get Sasha Banks intentionally disqualified just when she and Charlotte were putting on a fine "Can you top this?" display right down to one doing the move they'd just suffered to the other before the Irishwoman interfered. It caused Bayley to gaze down at the belt after she'd made the save on a recuperated leg before laying out Charlotte with the belly-to-Bayley out of nowhere and looking absolutely sick she'd done so afterwards. And that caused the audience to thank Regal again, as he decided to give title shots on 2/11 to every single woman involved to set up Charlotte Versus The World. All she could do was hold up the belt in-ring and death glare all the challengers, but keep in mind certain Men That Gravity Forgot also faced three men he'd previously beaten at once and lived to tell that tale with the Big X in hand.

Most surprisingly, the Vaudevillains went from dominating Wesley Blake and Buddy Murphy to a gamengiri suddenly dropping Aiden English like third period French and the former #1 contenders to the tag titles looking on agog as Murphy and Blake (Ed. note - aka the Dubstep Cowboys, ™ TH Enterprises LTD) celebrated on the ramp before going backstage with their win and immediately cashing it in for a title shot against the Dragons next week. What really clinched the upset was the cohesion, quick tags, and tandem offense of the Vaudies; it had all the marks of "former challengers using the loss to take themselves to a higher level and another title shot where they win" to the point where we'd literally just seen it out of Sasha Banks before this match, but Blake came in and changed the game, and now the still-possibly Team Thick have their biggest moment a week away and are knocking on the door.

Next week's show is going to be packed. February 11th is already well on its way to becoming another NXT Live Special two-hour joygasm. And the possible threepeat of Florida's championship wrestling winning Show of the Year honors is already well under way before the first month's even finished.

That's how good it feels to be an NXT fan right now.