Thursday, July 2, 2015

Best Coast Bias: Opposites React

Vintage Oka--Bálor!
Photo Credit:
For someone from across the pond, Finn Bálor sure is the embodiment of a favorite longstanding American pop culture archetype - the reluctant hero.  It's up to Becky Lynch to shed tears because of his humanity and talk about how he's the wave of the future; up to Jason Alberts to talk about how he went from gangly teen to the real deal Holyfield on two separate continents before settling down Florida way, and up to Sami Zayn to be the Waco Kid to the Bart that the artist formerly known as Prince (idea nearly free of charge, WWE) is.  Seeing him talk in these special looks ramping up to the biggest Saturday of his career, you can almost palpably feel that he'd rather talk about Legos, his connection to the fans, or how receiving their art hits him in a special place since he has now gone from being that kid to being the man they chalk, sketch, and/or paint about than the fact part of what gives him his unique aura between the ropes is the fact that he puts in capital W work once he gets between them.

If only you gave him an annoyingly brash, much larger bully of an opponent who would just as soon seemingly spend his every waking moment trolling the fanbase and states on multiple occasions that their opinions don't matter to him in the le--you get where this is going, no?

Put in the simplest terms, at his most high-powered and nigh invulnerable, Bálor's a man in daemon paint reaching in to pull out something dark - what Kevin Owens personifies most closely resembles a monster that happens to be outfitted with a human suit.   And while Owens won their only other one-on-one encounter back in the spring, that was just normal Finn on that stage.  Come a few days from now in Japan, the daemon has promised to show up on the Fourth and wrest the belt out of the paws of the French Canadian Murder Bear.  But on this night, Bálor didn't need any face paint.  All he needed was the help of Samoa Joe to help him be the first non-Cena person to pin Kevin Owens down to put a capper on the main event tag team Teddy Long special against the aforementioned Champion and Rhyno.

The white hats winning wasn't so much of a shock; Rhyno's clearly hit his NXT ceiling against all the leaders of the new school that've cycled in over the past year and a half.  But Owens taking his first pinfall loss, especially in the shade of his Cena wars on the main roster (cleverly alluded to during the match as KO not only successfully countered some offense late but immediately and seamlessly into the Cena shoulderblocks - Protoplex - Five Knuckle Shuffle series) was.  Granted, it wasn't as if it took a run of the mill shot to put Owens down for the count; the Coup de Grâce followed a Gore that the challenger dodged that the Champ didn't, and a shotgun dropkick that sent Rhyno into Owens yet again before a basement hesitation dropkick.  After all that he still had the instinct to roll towards the ropes, but Bálor cut him off on the way to the pinfall.  Even on a dream team of sorts with Samoa Joe, Bálor was doing most of the work and getting most of the heat, putting him further in the best possible light after that part III aired earlier on his way to doing something even a few former NXT Champions hadn't done in beating Owens.  Finding out whether he does or not is the sort of thing a viewer might want to pick up a free month's membership to find out.

With the program nearly veering into The Finn Bálor Power Hour territory and as far as NXT's concerned the Tokyo live show on the weekend being nearly one-match territory, the rest was quickie matches and backstage segments to evolve the plots in the lesser lights.  Most noticeably, Evil Emma continues to recover from her nightmare year with another tapout victory (over Carmella), leading to a backstage segment in which she and the Danabot 5000 dressed down the Boss and NXT's Women's Champion, with a tag match set up in the works off the assumption by the black hats that the brash Champion can't find a partner to go in with her and certainly not that announcer lady Dana Brooke keeps patting on the head every week like she's a damn corgi or something.  That's the most obvious solution, yes - Devin Taylor reaching up and snapping that arm off like a graham cracker.  But NXT's women have a long and storied history of falling apart to eventually come back together, so don't be afraid to put some imaginary BCBBucks down on the dark horse option of a one-night-only BFFs reunion. 

They could also have Bayley in there injury and all to set up a Team Boss loss and an Emma/Banks title match for whenever the next live two-hour all-NXT shindig happens to make Network air. Carmella's finally settled into her alignment after overcoming initial reluctance from the NXT Constellation, and even looked in-ring the best she has to date, but Emma 2.0 just picked her off out of the sky and trapped her mid-ring with the EmmaLock.  Ironically enough, Carmella's evolution seems to be her filling the spot Bridge and Tunnel -- especially Enzo Amore -- are leaving behind as plucky babyfaces bigger on look and mic than on in-ring stuff, though there's a number one contendership match next week for her boys against the Vaudevillains, who tuned up by beating the unnamed Mechanics and based on the tweak to their music certainly seem to be leaving their moustache-twirling days behind them.

Final thought before we head to Japan - both Tyler Breeze and Baron Corbin worked short wins on this show, seemingly are doing nothing but treading water, and are pretty blatantly mid-course in alignment switches.  What does one plus one equal, kids?