Thursday, June 25, 2015

Best Coast Bias: The Half-Year of the Bear

Is this "no one attacks my friend but me" or just desserts?
Photo Credit: WWE.com
Over the course of the past few weeks, but especially in June and especially on the last episode of the first half of NXT's 2015 (no, seriously, you could look it up), one thing has become abundantly clear: for all the talk of crossover wrestling Earth-2s this week, Kevin Owens is LeBron James and so far as the rest of the male side of the roster down Full Sail way is concerned, they more or less might as well be post-Game 3 Matthew Dellavedova. 

KO pops up early, he shows up late, he closes it out.  He even makes a perfectly prosaic main event rematch between his #1 contender Finn Bálor and Rhyno worth not fast-forwarding through by shining like a Championship ring on commentary and even red herringizing it by turning his run-in into the moment where one could legitimately think that Rhyno would be using it as the fulcrum to balance a cheap win off of, only to be calmed moments later by a clean win via Coup de Grâce since this is NXT, after all.  Even when he flubbed a line, as he did in the opening back-and-forth with KO victim (?) Hideo Itami, he immediately wrapped it in bacon by not only allowing that the flub had occurred, but then saying that he flubbed so bad he sounded like him trying to speak English.  Growing up border adjacent, fans on the other side used to wave noisemakers proclaiming 100% RUDO; Mr. Owens -- and about the only thing he didn't make the hapless babyface announcers do during the main was refer to him in a Tibbsian manner -- is 400% rudo.  Possibly 500%.  Outside of almost shedding a tear during the NXT-exclusive Dusty tribute that happened at the shows top and mentioning he liked rhinos as the former ECW Champion came out for the last chunk of the show with proper planning and care there's no reason we shouldn't get a Brock Lesnar/KO Wrestlemania 32 real-life Superman v. Doomsday. 

Is that the proper analogy?  It feels more like a Doomsday v. Bane or a Magneto v. Sabretooth thing, perhaps.

Anyway, the end began when Not Chrisley conducted an interview with the aforementioned Itami.  While not able -- or willing -- to ID his parking lot attacker, he noted he would be there live from Tokyo on the Fourth and wanted a shot at the Champion either way, Daemon or French Canadian Murder Bear.  The latter came out to offer mock sympathy over Itami only being able to catch up with his family instead of compete, and to playfully (?) razz the crowd for thinking chanting for Bálor would be enough to save the Irishman.  But that was just killing time for the Champion, who wanted to note he wasn't behind the attack since Itami wasn't sipping his meals through a straw and was there to garner an apology for the former KENTA calling him a bad person.  This, surprisingly, failed to work, and KO said the sociopathic equivalent of "It's as well to hang for a sheep as for a lamb" and was on his way to the ring to possibly un-good Itami's working arm before Bálor came out for some fisticuffs, which drew Rhyno out to lay him out with a Gore on the stage and then sending him down to the floor below.

With the second part of the Very Special Look at Finn Bálor having taken up most of the show's underbelly, it pushed his win in the main closer to fait accompli despite the Cenaesque odds of falling off NXT's stage all of 4-8 inches.  Seriously, at least when Kane was chokeslamming Bischoff off the stage a decade plus ago (gaaaaaaaahhh so old so very old), it had some height and looked at least a bit dangerous no matter how many tables were there to cushion the fall.  Machine Gun Kelly could've learned some lessons.  Bálor taking a bump some bloggers take when they fall out of their cushioned chairs is so much ephemera, especially with his level of practice.

Bálor coming out and actually showing some anger in beating Rhyno down to start was merely the latest illustration of an NXT rarity: the white hat who knows how to show selective fury that stays entirely within the rules (well, the illegality of closed fists aside).  Any PWG viewer knows the hemorrhaging ATM that KO is on commentary, and it was fun to see him continually take umbrage at the suggestions that he was some sort of inferior Champion who wanted a weakened opponent.  For once in his life, Alex Riley served a purpose: sure, Owens probably wasn't going to MDK Byron Saxton or even Rich Brennan for daring to paint him as a bad person.  But then again, it'd happened before at that very table, and lest we forget he literally laid out a sixteenth-rate Macklemore last week, so it was a possibility.  Rhino's offense looked good when he got it in (corner mini-Gores, his iteration of the spinebuster, and a really nice overhead Northern Lights variant) but outside of KO's pop up the astute viewer that comprises most of NXT's steam never got behind the belief he would find a way to pull this off.  Post-match, Rhino got in a few cheap shots with the Champion, only to be run off by Samoa Joe, a bit late to the party but early enough to keep him from getting a second beatdown from the Michigan native on the night.  Hopefully the Submission Daemons get a shot to get their hands on KO before he becomes a full-time Monday night guy.

Bálor's not there as of yet, and what his second part of his Special Look made abundantly clear was the difference between normal wrestler him, Daemon him, and normal him full stop.  In fact, it was almost impossible to see where he could be drawing all this midnight blue from, considering he perpetually has the smile of a second-grader on a field trip and wears Adventure Time shirts while putting together Lego ships.  It was hard to tell if it was more surreal to see that, the New Japan logo, or multiple Kota Ibushi sightings as the story of his time in the Land of the Rising Sun unfolded.   Sami Zayn came over to play and accidentally chip Bálor's stuff, thus drawing two predictable variations: one, of course, these two are friends, and secondly, a Pavlovian response by way of Springfield.  Of course, Becky  Lynch popped up a couple of times to burnish his bona fides, but more surprising is the fact that WWE Network hasn't started a Twins reboot given the long-standing and real friendship between him and Matt Bloom/Jason Alberts, replete with the former Lord outlining for a mainly American audience what the former Prince went through being a young boy in the NJPW dojo. 

The rest of the show was skipworthy: the loose remnants of Shoot Nation went down to the Hype Bros and Bridge and Tunnel, Flex Kavana II Dana Brooke won her way over Cassie and got threatened a butt-kicking in the back by Charlotte as a result, and most horribly, Eva Marie threat-promised to show up in NXT again and the current storyline for Bull Dempsey seems to be something vaguely along the lines of "nap-happy lulz he's fat you guise".  This from the same people who have Samoa Joe and Kevin Owens justifiably sucking up main-event oxygen is like having Dylann Roof host the BET Awards.  But no matter; so long as Owens is around and there's still the tinfoil hatted possibility Bálor is the coward behind the assassination of Itami's arm, the train will continue to chug along well.

But when it comes to pass, Wednesday nights aren't going to be the same without the unique combination of malice, chaos, and, let's face it gang, humor that the family man currently flourishing at his double duties brings to the table.