Friday, July 24, 2015

Best Coast Bias: Daemonically Good

A red letter Wednesday night down in Orlando
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Since the start of his NXTenure the French Canadian Murder Bear disguised as a Kevin Owens has followed the same successful program: acquire target ¤ powerbomb said target into goo ¤ let the fam watch the money pile up. However, the past few weeks have turned into the summer of KO's discontent, and there's been no bigger spammer in his works than the Daemon who wrested and wrestled the Big X away from him in Tokyo who currently sits atop Full Sail's food chain.

For most of his coronation show as the newwwwww NXT World Champion, Finn Bálor spent most of it showing the same toothy and bashful smile he was flashing in his three-part Who Is series that led up to July 4th. He said all the right things in front of a rapturous bunch of Full Sailors to kick off the program (all the sacrifices being worth it to hold up the Big X, etc) and did all the right things to close it out in the Main Event Contract Signing, where despite Owens throwing the contract at him as an opening to slamming his head into the table and laying out GM William Regal, the Champ managed to come up with offense out of the initial attack and thwarted a follow-up sneak variant to stand tall in the ring with his prize as the credits rolled.

Leaving aside the furthering tease of the v e r y s l i g h t possibility this continuing Owens/Regal contretemps pays off with a match by the time we get to Brooklyn, all our familiar favorites played their roles well: having been chumped out by Cena on consecutive occasions and shorn of the familiarity of the NXT title, Owens is now going into newer, less defensible territory as an insufferable bully heel; per the course with him, it's big things like his cheapshot of Regal coupled with little things like hearing the crowd's reaction to not getting Bálor/KO III in Florida before he came out and making sure to accentuate the location of the next NXT live special after bragging about all the big names he's laid out in his short tenure.  Hell, if you were Regal, would you accept this apology? The Champ seems to be filling in well as the latest almost-NXT-exclusive babyface with attitude that doesn't turn into a cliche consumed and powered by his hatred *cough A-Ry cough* but rather saves genuine rancor for moments when it's deserved while being more than willing to share their achievements with the NXT Constellation and even give the Two Sweet to a little girl on their way to the ring before downplaying their impressive achievements while looking damn good in a suit.

With the main event players going more with verbiage than action, it was up to the women of NXT to bring the action the Leaders of the New School failed to supply in this hour and while two of the usual culprits were familiar to the longtime Wednesday night addict it was two others who also showed a spark of something that the future of the division will probably have to be built around with the biggest names now plying their trades on Mondays and Sundays.

The only thing more fun than watching Dana Brooke's continual headpats of Devin Taylor drive the backstage interviewer closer and closer to retaliating with violence (cue Linkin Park, since this week Ms. Taylor's fists clenched and came up before coming back down) is watching Emma discover the joy of being a Malenkoesque prick in the ring, even if she was doing it to Bayley. She came out strutting and showing off (and why the hell shouldn't she? Have you SEEN her? is as much lizard brain commentary as you will get) and alternated mock-playfully slapping at Bayley with one of her own snap braclets with cowardly ducking between the ropes to avoid the wrath before cheapshotting her way into offense.  And actually, maybe Malenkoesque wasn't giving the Aussie enough credit.  To make the modifier more appropriate for the show maybe the correct adjective is Regalesque as she not only worked the injured arm by stomping on it and swinging it into the post but even broke things down to such a molecular level that she was working on torquing individual fingers while she had a modified armbar on.

However, when the DanaBot got caught cheating and ejected, Bayley used that as an opening to set up her signature to Belly-to-Eponymous and get a win in her welcome back match to almost match the welcome she got coming out. Not done there, Bay from the Bay continued her usually unspoken Sami Zayn impersonation by announcing she was back for the belt and that in order to do that she had to prove herself against the best--Charlotte. Hm. While Charlotte accepted backstage, it quickly got moved to the backburner when the recently ejected Dana got in her face about all the opportunities given the former champion instead of her, probably due to nepotism. Of note, a new woman conducted that interview, and did not get the head pat from Brooke. So it is specifically endemic to Taylor, and we look forward to Taylor C.M. Punking out Dana with a Hardy microphone enhanced beatdown in due time.

The other divas match on the show featured the triumphant return of Eva Marie to the ring, out to right misconceptions and show off THE training she got at the hands of Brian Kendrick. The bad news is that she got the sort of reception Donald Trump gets in polite society and still has some literal and metaphorical stutter steps in her offense; you can almost see her thinking before executing and her rope-running still looks at times like she's doing it with a .04 BAC. That being said she did have a quietly talented opponent to go against Cassie, alumnae of both the Storm Wrestling Academy and Australia (bad night for the lasses from Down Under)? Neither of them seemed to be working heel -- you could quibble, possibly, over Eva yanking Cassie into the middle rope in the closing moments but as one person's arrogance is another's confidence so one woman's ring general amplitude can be reconstituted in the eyes of her detractors as weasel scumbaggery -- and pulled off her own Sliced (B)re(a)d in her first career W.

The fans who were so quick to give her the Cena treatment before the match had been a second old were far more accepted at match's end than they were at the beginning, though it was by no means a full-fledged rapturous response. But clearly the work in developmental and with Kendrick is paying off, and with all the sudden air in the room of the NXT women's division, there are worse things to have than a competent wrestler getting steadily better at their work while being guaranteed that their presence alone will garner an audience response and not get the dead air that's anathema to 21st century television. Remember, Charlotte used to once be Ric Flair's daughter, Sasha Banks was an associate, Becky Lynch was dancing a jig, and Emma used to actually smile and dance. It's obviously too soon to call the Red Rocket the John Cena of Full Sail. But in a multitude of ways, there's sudden potential there that there wasn't before, and given the recent call-ups the E's a bunch of monkeys trying to work a bunch of tablets if they don't exploit the yellow fruit falling in their backyard into trying to generate a refreshing beverage out of it.

The Vaudevillains got into shape for their title match next week by working over Sawyer Fulton and Angelo Dawkins, to the general dismissal of Alexa Bliss WHO WE ALL KNOW MAMA BLISS DIDN'T RAISE LIKE THAT, and Samoa Joe and Baron Corbin both made extremely short order of some fresh meat. Also, once he's recovered from Owens' cheap shot apparently Master Regal will have to find something for Tyler Breeze to do once Takeover: Brooklyn happens (please stifle your chortling). But if NXT's moved into the Daemonic Era, to the surprise of nobody watching they seem to have alighted on the right man who can carry them through these injury-plagued times and hold up their World Championship with a smile on his face and timely rage in his heart; just the thing we've always wanted out of our conquering heroes since the dawning days of kayfabe.