Thursday, July 16, 2015

Best Coast Bias: Say Goodbye, Wave Hello?

Banks, on it
Photo Credit:
Even during an hour with Samoa Joe and Sami Zayn on it, there was only really one thing that could even be considered close to appointment television to arrest the eye and blot out the outside world--the latest chapter in the contretemps between Sasha Banks and Charlotte with the NXT Women's Championship on the line.

So entrenched in the fabric of Full Sail are the Stamford iteration of the Horsewomen that it seemed like the rest of the show was...well, not exactly designed to fail per se. But there was nothing that was even going to get remotely within shouting distance of what the main event brought, what with three showcases, A Very Special Look At A Slightly More Heelish Baron Corbin Getting A Tattoo, and several recap packages definitely put up to let the minds of the more hardcore fans wander if not outright fast forward. Even before we got the main event of the Boss going in against her former BFF in more ways than one, the moment that had the most electricity was Sami Zayn in front of his people alternating between letting them down by saying he was probably out for the rest of the year and psyching them up by saying the moment his health meter got all the way back to neon green that he was going to kick Kevin Owens' ass.

After over 40 minutes almost sure to induce somnambulancy, it was up to the women to wake everybody out of shallow sleep and remind the viewers just what it is that can make NXT such a fine alternative to its bigger brother on Mondays, in addition to reminding long-time drinkers of the Floridian Kool-Aid that while on RAW they need Stephanie McMahon to grant permission that when it comes to Wednesday night the ladies just stepped up and took it.

And then they did it again.

Of course they did it again: watching NXT Women's Championship matches has been for over a year a bet about as safe as giving the Globetrotters the spread over the Generals. So for a solid 15 minutes Sasha Banks thrust and Charlotte parried (when Charlotte wasn't doing the latter and Banks the former), with the crowd on the edge of the seats for the final stanzas and not seeming to care much at all which one of them would be holding the silver at the end of the show. After all, as they said during the match in continuing with the tradition Paige and Emma started way back at ArRIVAL, This Was Awesome. Toward the match's end, Sasha even emulated her hero Eddie Guerrero by not only pulling off a virtual La Magistral cradle from a standing position but even pulling the tights for leverage after she got it done. As it turns out, you can't outcheat a Flair; however you can, assuming you have enough qualities akin to a CEO, make one tap out. Sasha slipped a slam and fired off the BankStatement, and Charlotte rolled through it into a near fall while having it on. To the former champion's credit, she lasted the longest, but even she had to give up the ghost when her lengthy appendages couldn't grab onto a rope and break it up. At the end it produced the picture above, with Ms. Banks seemingly hanging on with full force in order to become the dictionary definition of torqued. Out of all the possible ways it could've gone and concluded it went "former champion and teacher taps out cleanly to ex-student and current titleholder after hellacious fight". No DanaBot 5000 and no Evil Emma, either alone or in tandem.

Both women were moved to tears post-match, and it was clear something had changed beyond the semi-official passing of the torch. Banks sat by Charlotte after her win, crying quietly, then after the replays fired off, Charlotte had tears shed holding herself upright in a corner with a rueful "perhaps I taught her way more than I should've" grin on her face. And in another Horsewoman's absence a Bayley-sized hug between the former BFFs took place with Charlotte lifting the Champ up before raising her hand once she was set back down. That's the last image from the program, the button, the crumbled-up cookie things on the sundae: an audience either giving a standing ovation or the next best thing to two women who've earned that and more over the past 18 months and have gone from generic babyfaces to swaggering heels to respected and beloved with an edge to the most important thing there can be in wrestling: people so talented that when a fan hears either or both of their names, they part with their money without such much as a hesitatory step.

Samoa Joe shuts down some poor bastard and the crowd is into the signatures. Jason Jordan and Chad Gable make a successful debut culminating in a nifty two-man alley-oop bridging German suplex for the win, and the crowd is firmly behind the former Olympian towel-waver and are fine with his new friend. The Dubstep Cowboys make mincemeat of two not-there-yets and Alexa Bliss continues to disappoint Mama Bliss, getting-alley ooped into a post-match Sparkle Splash. And the crowd loved Zayn when he wasn't breaking their heart with the harsh realities of the weeks to come.

But Sasha Banks and Charlotte? For a crowd that's been rightfully denigrated at times for needing to have their optometrists book appointments at the same time as their proctologists, nothing more wayward than a very slight "Sasha's ratchet!" chant escaped and their show of respect extended forth into receiving the same from the most rabid audience to be allowed on the chemtrails of a multi-millionaire's strings. The crowd followed along with the rest of the show, even when the rest of the show was light on content. When it got down to brass tacks, however, they were invested when Charlotte and Banks got back between the ropes. It wasn't their best meeting so far; one suspects one of the live shows in the Bay Area or in the Northeast earlier this year might've taken that honorific. And yet, in the failure of attaining perfection one (or two) can still achieve damn good, which is what this was.

It's easy to armchair psych the post-match as their shedding tears over being demoted to Mondays, a bigger platform where alignments and stories get sacrificed at the altar of the Exclamation Point and 15 minutes is how long the show-opening segment takes to play Short Attention Span Theatre. Of course, that doesn't factor in this taping occurring well before Carli Lloyd became a household name, so here's another way to see the emotional display at the end: objects of beauty can induce weeping as well. Twenty four months ago they were Ric Flair's daughter and Snoop Dogg's cousin.

At the end of Wednesday night, they were Sasha Banks and Charlotte, and that fact in conjunction with their own hard work got a hard-bitten crowd to give them a standing ovation for all they've done and in hopes of all to come.

Giving chances is sweet.

Forcing them to be given in the face of overwhelming odds is sweeter, no matter how much salt's in your tears for doing so.