Thursday, April 16, 2015

Best Coast Bias: Monsters, Inc.

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Even when it comes to comedy, NXT has it all over their bigger brothers toiling on Smackdown, RAW, and the pay-per-views Network Specials whatever they're called; what else to explain delusional idiot and noted fuckboy Alex Riley in the back full of RAGE~! at the camera challenging Kevin Owens to a rematch last week? Pretty sure Quint didn't ask Jaws for a rematch and Drago/Creed II has yet to transpire but next week the French Canadian Murder Bear will be on the prowl knashing teeth and hopefully powerbombing walking ads for abortion into the apron at least once.

In lieu of that, his eternal protagonist Sami Zayn got himself back into fighting shape on his ring return by besting Rhyno in the two-segger main event. While Rhyno got a little chippy with the referee and had no problem whaling on Zayn in the course of dominating the match, things never broke out into outright hostility as it would in an Owens/Zayn rematch. So Zayn took a beatdown, sold it like the grand master that he is (especially nice touches were him straining to pull Rhyno up after a late tope con hilo and his sudden surge in throwing hands ambidexterously after it seemed he'd taken the past 10 minutes being pounded like a railroad spike). Even better was Rich Brennan astutely noting on commentary early on that while there was much hue and cry over Owens jumping the unspoken line to get a shot at the Big X, Rhyno had done exactly the same -- and to Zayn's face to boot -- but hadn't received anywhere near Owens-level rancor for doing so. Even the normally quick-witted Corey Graves could only note the point and move on since they probably didn't want to give Mad Men any free publicity by stating the latent unfairness of a world which enables, encourages, and produces Don Drapers to jealously worship and Pete Campbells to slightly unfairly demonize.

But they did hit one sour note in making the Owens/Rhyno analogue over the course of the match in suggesting that in beating this monster Zayn had be better prepared in his rematch.

We've never seen Rhyno not be a monster--even under Stamford's umbrella as a goodie he's been an intense guy not much on verbiage and more on spearing fools full-speed. Picking up on Sami's narrative thread he's mentioned since he lost the championship means that Owens opted to become a monster in his lust for gold, and as any fans of the Sherlock Holmes original source material can tell you, there is nothing more dangerous than when a brilliant man turns his thoughts to evil. There was no doubt that despite taking a walloping, Sami would overcome Rhyno. The $64,000 question so far as Florida is concerned is that now that he knows the Owens curveball is coming, can he smash it out of the park and make history as the first two-time NXT champion? (Apologies for the mixed metaphor.) Sami Zayn doesn't have a problem with monsters; he has one with the thing walking around with his belt wearing his old best friend's skin over it.

With that out of the way, we take this time now to acknowledge the arrivals and departures and all the other stuff that keeps the developmental label firmly affixed to Triple H's non-baby baby. CJ Parker probably had his last match on NXTV, and it was in a (quelle surprise) a losing effort to Solomon Crowe. That said, it completely justified the wave of positive responses he got on his way out the door from his now ex-colleagues and can be hopefully be used as a springboard for Crowe to move on to something substantive and getting a narrative going building off his best Full Sail match to date. Especially of note were his counter to a second attempted senton -- the straight up double boot to what appeared to be the back of the head looked vicious and brilliant in a way that the usual knees up counter doesn't -- and his top-rope splash setting up a Stretch Muffler that's a better finisher by lightyears against that weird rope-cocooned headbutt whateverthefrak it is that he was doing. Keep in mind that it's no guarantee that there's going to be bigger and better for the resident haXX0r since this was immediately followed by Baron Corbin squashing Steve Cutler in under half a minute for what felt like the umpteenth time. But considering the fact we are at or near peak Leaders of the New School (Neville on RAW getting spotlight moments, the latest chapter in KO/SZ, Hideo winning that tournament and getting that epic piece on him last week and Finn Bálor already acquitting himself well in his title shot against Owens and making fans play the will-he-get-called-up-before-he-gets-a-run-with-the-Big-X game) it's time for the *ahem* next generation of guys that they want to be stars after that to start getting their chess pieces on the board in the best places to guarantee victory. This hard-hitting win for Solomon at least opens the door a crack to do that.

Enzo Amore and Big Cass put themselves a step closer to a tag team title shot by beating the latest heirs to the Benjamin/Hass throne in Sawyer Fulton and Angelo Dawkins. (Ed. Note: Their team name is now the Obtuse Angles.) Sources say when asked to comment about the futures of the latter that in a strange show of symbiosis both Tye Dillinger and Jason Jordan put their hands up and walked away without comment. Props to Blake and Murphy for showing up, but only to give Carmella some flowers and not interfere in the match itself. The show of chivalry of course got them booed and lended further credence to the conspiracy theorists suggesting the Bridge and Tunnel group is about to downsize by a third, but hey. And unlike thousands of other men who've been in WWE employ, Amore and Cassady either didn't notice this go down or chose to ignore and finish off the match with their assisted top-rope splash. The possible Shoot Nation looked good in the moments they got to biel Enzo around the ring with their amateur stuff, but they weren't going to be able to stop "the Jordan of jargon" and his 84 inches of backup.

And Dana Brooke made her debut a win by defeating resident favorite Blue Pants in short order. The bad about DB so far? She flexes too much, her strikes are loose--they seemed to have a way of about to at least look like they were connecting, clearing their throat, and then kinda/maybe/sorta doing it. The good? She's heel catnip for a smarky audience like NXT, the ladies need another black hat with Charlotte's defection, her illegal moves looked apace with heel work, and her modified Michinoku Driver finisher was the sort of thing to make even the most biased against her begrudgingly go "well, that worked pretty good at least".

Next week, Bayley, Charlotte and Becky Lynch have a triple threat match to get a shot at Sasha. And Crom willing, Kevin Owens will turn Alex Riley from a solid into a vapor. But more importantly, we get a step closer to both KO and Zayn both being healthy at the same time in months so far as NXT is concerned, and nobody will be chuckling once they resume hostilities.