Thursday, February 19, 2015

Best Coast Bias: Force Majeure

All just little bits of history repeating
Photo Credit:
The first time, the out of nowhere time? Apron powerbomb. Hospital visit. Simplicity itself. The second time, the face-to-face time? Narrow survival. Maybe that's why Kevin Owens' shirt is silver on black: there's a certain cross-sport ethos (and/or possibly lack thereof) flavored with skullduggery and taking every advantage possible to Just Win, Baby.

This was the first show of the Owens Era, and went accordingly time-wise with the French-Canadian Murder Bear and Big X title holder chewing up most of the show's minutes. After some pre-taped acidity from GM Regal setting up the non-title main event against Adrian Neville [side note: Regal's "retired from the ring" and all that, but if they have any sliver of a possibility of doing him vs. KO they have to effing do it, don't they?] Kevin came out to his now-standard mixed reaction and milked it for plenty of time before clearing his throat. He again stated his position: he's been forthright since jump, said he'd fight any and everybody, and wanted to make a better life for the fam back home. Checkmarks in all the boxes. He even proffered a couple sentences Finn Bálor's way and sounded more than a little bit like a white hat when he said pick a date and he'd be there before taking away that sliver of light by saying what'd happened to Sami would happen to the new #1 contender alike. And while Owens was standing over Neville's body yet again when Florida's championship wrestling faded to black, the former NXT Champion could consider himself lucky. After all, he'd not been powerbombed with prejudice into the ring apron, he'd just lost a match.

And maaaaaaaaaaaaan, what a match it was; for the third consecutive week (the Bálor/Itami semifinal, obviously the big three matches from Rival, and this one) NXT delivered appointment television, some chicken soup for the wrestling fan's soul. The commentary was excellent as usual, using the moveless moments and the for once completely logical and lengthy chinlocks in highlighting the difference between something universably laudable like winning the NXT championship against the morally grey area of opting to powerbomb your former best friend into a vapor in order to obtain it.

But it wasn't like Rich Brennan, Corey Graves, and Jason Albert were sitting there trying to turn coop droppings into an appetizer; Neville and Owens were right there from a more physical standpoint to keep any eyeballs from straying. It's the simple things like logical progression that allow a hardcore fan to get sucked in should they so desire. Owens started off stalling, Brennan immediately noted this was how the title change last week started, but before he could get too far ahead of his skis Neville was there forearming him in the face. These three things happened within under ten seconds of each other, quicker than spittle out of John Moschitta's mouth, and set the template that while he was still menacing and cunning to boot, maybe some KOpponents (™ ButchCorp 2015) were starting to figure out some corners and connections even if they didn't have the puzzle at large solved. Hell, for the mechaastute you could see Neville wearing the color tights pattern he'd shown in previous big title matches in Full Sail.

Owens got the momentum with a Malenko gutbuster and senton combo platter, then spent more of the first half of the match periodically stomping Neville down and chinlocking him all the way down to the mat to give the crowd less to cheer about even though, as mentioned last week and even brought up on commentary, some portion of the crowd is going to be in Kevin's corner anyhow. When it looked like Neville was finally going to make good on escape after a couple of abortive attempts, Owens simply tossed him to the floor and into the last set of commercials. When we came back to more action and split crowd reaction, Neville started to come to life; first in a couple of spurts, and then moreover in a wait-what-no-rewind-that-shiz fashion: a DDT counter gave way to a rafter-clearing Asai suicida to the floor. A running basement dropkick down the apron (seriously) gave way to a 450 suicida (no, seriously). And that failed to put away the new reigning king of NXT, so Neville busted out some deadlift Germans and Buzzsaw kicks. Sometimes This Is Awesome chants seem to be forced; this, obviously, was not one of those times.

Neville even busted out the superkick/reverse huracanrana 1-2 jawdroppery he'd used in the title loss to Zayn again to no avail. That still put the Champ in the drop zone and Adrian a Red Arrow away from a possible title shot, but the ending was to come in almost a Russian nesting doll fashion. Owens avoided the Arrow, so Neville modified it to a flatout Shooting Star and rolling through once he landed. Once he did, however, he ran right into the splut of a pop-up powerbomb. Three. Just that fast. That could've gone another five, fifteen, and was still a perfect showing without being a five-star match. There was still time after the match ended, and maybe Adrian was going to get bounced off of NXT's roster listings the hard way. But, no: here in Full Sail, the second verse comes different from the verse, so for the umpteenth time on the show Owens was content to let the championship be in his fist and held overhead and letting that speak for him.

And lest you fear too hard, before the main event there was a short interview with the senior ringside physician stating that a) Sami Zayn had gotten the ginger snapped out of him b) thus making the medical staff call the match c) but Zayn is now back at full capacity with some recovery and a CAT scan and on tour in Abu Dhabi, thus leading to the thing we all want: him coming back to rip KO's face off. That's right, WWE programming being honest with you. Well, NXT being honest with you, but you know what's meant. No letter sending in campaigns, no Samistrong bracelets on sale for a cent less than $10, just an acknowledgment that he'd had gotten beaten the eff up, but not so much that it imperiled his career, and he'd be back with his power meter in the neon green once he returned.

With the rest of the show relatively light on run and tell everybody matches, it was more about the moments. Zayn's return is imminent. Rhyno's happened right after the commercials finished post-Owens remarks. That's right, Suge Knight is in the streets killing people, Missy Elliott's catalog is blowing up, Jessica Alba looks ridiculously attractive, gas is $2.50, and poor unfortunate souls are out here getting Gored.

...what year is this, anyhow? Anyway, he didn't do much, and got such a rapturous reception that a Holy [Excrement]! chant broke out before he could even Baron Corbin the poor victim. Of bigger interest was him circling, smirking at, and not touching Finn Bálor in the back afterwards. So that's thing the first. Thing the Second? How about the technical difficulties and ornithological underlays leading to the debut of Solomon Crowe, who cut off a whining CJ Parker with extreme prejudice after graphics told us This Was Not A Test before returning us to our regularly scheduled programming. Poor Parker, the welcome mat for indie darlings (and, now that one thinks of it, Corbin) to use to clean their boots upon before they walk into NXT's house. So that's secondary.

In the tertiary spot, Blue Pants made her glorious return, replete with her signature attire on the Tron and Big Cass singing his iteration of The Price Is Right theme as her theme (apparently Eiffel 65 all couldn't bail on their shifts at Hot Dog On A Stick lest they get fired, but whatever) and a near-Rhyno level reception from the Full Sailors. She even got to kick Sasha Banks out of the ring when the new Women's champion dismissed her and told her to get out of her ring. Unfortunately, after that, one of these women just realized her life's dream and the other is an excellent cosplayer who needs to be brought in full-time and reclaim her name, which may or may not rhyme with Seva Gates. Rope-hung double kneedrop to the gut (and Sasha exuding such Nakamurian swag that she pulled her up at two which is usually the unmaking of a black hat), Banks Statement with a little post-match gusto to it after the tapout to the crossface, and a stern warning to the entire division after scaring off the new guy Greg that she was the baddest Diva in NXT.

Add that to the River Crossing Squad continuing the losing streak of the Vaudevillians alongside Buddy Murphy's and Wesley Blake's seeming heel turn to get metaphorical fedoras in order to skeevily hit on Carmella, and from front to back it proved that Rival -- and NXT's -- success was no fluke. Remember when Wednesday was a formless night that had nothing in the way of awesome alternatives for a wrestling fan? Remember how lame Wednesdays were all the way back summer? Those days are more over than Blue Pants. And we're all better off for it.