Thursday, March 12, 2015

Best Coast Bias: Road Trip!

You know his style by now, but T Breezie does too
Photo Credit:
What comes to mind for you when you think of Ohio?

Some will think of championship college football given the past events of the year, and some others will note it as the home of the professional football Hall of Fame. But soon, it will be known for two things: the place where NXT first went on the road as a possible testing pad to becoming a viable touring entity, and the probable resting place of Alex Riley after Kevin Owens MDKs him in some form or other (more on which later).

So it might be worth knowing for trivia purposes that the final main event before the excursion and the airing of the tapings that went down at the Arnold Invitational featured Tyler Breeze evening up his unnamed series against Hideo Itami. While the finish may've been an increasingly signature Beauty Shot OUTTA NOWHERE (™ Full Sail), it did come cleanly in the middle of the ring and kept Breeze as being looked at as a steppingstone for one of the leaders of the new school to be walked on on his way to joining his friend Finn Bálor in the rarefied air of title contention and eventual championship-holding.

Whether or not you found the second verse as gratifying as the first that they did to open Rival is a matter of personal taste, but say this at least for the rematch--they learned from the last time. From the beginning where Breeze replaced his stalling about staying in the ring with Itami with following it up by powering him into the corner and shoulderblocking away at the smaller man to the middle where the King of Cuteville turned the defense of rolling to the apron into the offense of hangmanning Itami to the quasi-surprise ending, no matter what he threw at him from kicks to flying lariats, outside of avoiding the ringpost figure four he fell victim to last month it always seemed like Breeze was a step ahead of Itami the whole time and thus completely justified the clean victory. Hell, less maybe a short-term choke or two, Breeze's game plan was as spotless as his outfits seem to be and completely justified his saying he wasn't just a pretty face in the back pre-match.

Of course, about equal time was given to Alex Riley's in-ring return and the unspoken (until airing) promise that given the past couple of weeks that things would get ugly between he and the NXT Champion. Both men got video packages back to back early in the show, but only one was seething backstage ranting loudly about how he felt locked up for 730 days watching everyone else around him eat and making his family the ring and the crowd instead of the actual brood Owens keeps. The message was rage, and if you didn't pick up on that beforehand the new graphics of red, orange, fire, and the four-letter R-word shrouded the former Miz assistant's return against CJ Parker. While Parker threatened to level him with the same rising palm strike that snapped Kevin's nose in his debut, it failed to pass, and Riley polished him off with a nice-looking Blockbuster in a short affair. It almost immediately brought out Owens himself for an even briefer rebuttal, calling Riley the dumbest man in NXT for not just his choice in body art but in laying down the headset to redon the tights. Owens said he would end Riley's in-ring career, then the rise of Bálor, and to trust him on both. This isn't necessarily to say that Owens can make good on these threats, but considering his 100% success rate in delivering on past verbal promises when the camera cut to Riley shedding tears in the ring after KO had shook his head and walked to the back with a laugh on his lips a viewer had to consider the fact that maybe he wasn't doing so because of his career resuming but because he knew deep down that it was another match -- pfft, maybe one apron powerbomb -- away from ending again.

The rest of the show's matches featured the Bridge and Tunnel Triad having various degrees of success. (And isn't it strange that given how enmeshed Enzo Amore and Big Cass have become in Florida, with Carmella coming along upside in the past few months, that they're still their names and there hasn't been some cute name bestowed upon the group?) First, the boys took another step closer in their quest to unbelt the Dubstep Cowboys by overcoming the former champion Lucha Dragons in the opening bout of the night. To their credit, it was the best Amore and Cass may have looked so far as in-ring work goes; hilariously enough, the same stuff they were doing since day one (Amore gets killed and Cass saves him at every turn possible) as black hats worked here as good guys in a rare tecnico on tecnico tag. Without Carmella ringside with them, Amore was more match focused as noted by the announcers, even if he went from a quick rollup to start and hitting his schmoney dance to getting taken down and taken apart by the champs in short order. Of course, having Cass in your corner has a sort of unspeakable X factor to it not in any standard curriculum, and he was the MVP of maybe the evening by alley-ooping Amore into tandem offense, saving him from taking a tandem tope, and then paying off biggest at the match's end by saving Enzo from taking a tandem finisher by sending Sin Cara into the ropes to crotch Kalisto and then literally pulling him to their corner before tagging in legally, laying Kalisto out, and then Rocket Launching Amore into the winning splash. Their time will undoubtedly come against Blake and Murphy, but it'll be interesting to see if the match highlights the power play the challengers will be on, especially given the fact that saving a partner from a Dragons tope doble drew chivalry chants from the Full Sailors.

As for their erstwhile valet, while she was pretty dominant against the returning Alexa Bliss, Ohio is the home state of the NXT pixie and she managed to eke out a win with her moonsault double kneedrop and a turning top-rope moonsault after getting whaled on for at least 90% of the match. While Bliss needs to round into shape, she still didn't noticeably flub anything. It was more along the lines of being a step off in a couple of places and not hitting every mark clean as a result despite still being able to pull off offense. Like her brethren, it was probably the best match from an in-ring standpoint that the self-proclaimed hottest chick in the ring's pulled off in her NXT tenure, and her willingness to sporadically cheat against the unbooable Bliss only added to the bout. Even if she is nothing more than grist for the Boss' mill, both she and Carmella showed that they deserved their spots in the deep waters that're the NXT diva power rankings with only better to come in future days.

And if those future days include more time on the highways and biways than they've had to do so far, come next week it's going to be the beginning of those times.

Or, if you're A-Ry, possibly their end.