Thursday, August 13, 2015

Best Coast Bias: And Then There Was One

And your NEW #1 contender...
Photo Credit: WWE.com
When Kiddo did it, it was motivated by revenge and led to a series of deathmatches in which the young plucky upstart protege eventually went over the knowledgeable teacher who had (seemingly) taught her everything that she knew.  (It's a fine example of a blowoff match leading to a new super finisher's debut after the underdog proving they had many ways to end a match in the build-up.)  With Bayley, massacres and bloodshed aren't on her modus operandi.  Here in Full Sail's real-life 2015, for her -- especially after the launch of the main roster Divas Revolution -- the joy doesn't come so much from crossing a series of names off her hit list as the goal does.

Then again, she did have to find a new way to upend Becky Lynch in the main event number one contendership match.  The preceding parts of the hour moved along the song and found the plot, to be sure, but the moment Special Guest Star and NXT Women's Champion Sasha Banks showed up to her dulcet tones to join the usual suspects on commentary, the final 20-odd minutes went up both in quality and in making manifest what fans of the black and yellow have known for some time: even on a show with the men's titleholder appearing, all the Four Horsewomen ever needed to main event was the slot itself.

And it wasn't quite a fait accompli for Bayley to go over, given the fact it was Lynch who'd gotten the call-up for Monday nights and put on at the very least a MOTY candidate with Sasha the last time they'd gotten together one-on-one at the last NXT live special if not 2015's crowning pro graps achievement itself.  The crowd chanted for Lynch, and they chanted for Bayley, and when it was over some chanted for Banks, as well.  But in between they also got to chant This Is Wrestling on a few occasions, and for good reason.  Giving B and B 15 minutes plus to do their thing would be like asking Mike Trout if he could hit a baseball 300 feet, and they can both add this match in their increasingly lengthy lists of Matches Varying From Good To Damn Good So As To Make Gender Irrelevant.  If the quality is strong enough, it doesn't matter if a viewer gets what they'd assume at the end so long as the beginning and middle remain compelling, and let us not make the mistake of chucking perfectly delicious steak when it doesn't turn out to be filet mignon. 

This match proved a contrast to last week's Bay battle against Charlotte, which came replete with footnotes, allusions, and a mostly unspoken narrative thread about the history of the division keeping the whole thing taut.  More focused on wrestling for the sake of being good, Lynch went after Bayley's arm, Bayley tried to survive the onslaught, and the Boss kept attention focused on her in the brief lulls and managed to toss stray compliments to both women while still making sure everybody knew she ran this and at least nominally remaining a heel.  In the end, Bayley managed to get the ropes off Lynch's successful Disarmer, and countered Lynch going for it again in a Bayley-to-belly counter with a schoolwoman that garnered the duke.  Banks stood on the announce table, peacocking into the cheap seats with her prize held aloft, and Bayley made the universal gestures for I Want The Belt.   That ended the program, and with one more show before the break's over and the Takeover's on it'll be interesting to see what, if anything, happens on next week's show with regards to the long-anticipated Women's title match and the possibility of forwarding things along.

After all, earlier show proceedings put a little more gusto into the NXT Championship match.  Marcus Louis put up a Sylvester Lefortian effort, but it can be excused since he was going up against Finn B├ílor, the two face that runs the place.  Having already grudgingly gotten GM Regal to agree to a ladder match in Barclays next Saturday and the Champ's complete willingness, Kevin Owens decided to celebrate the occasion by showing up in person and pop-up powerbombing the Irishman into the canvas before a few mocking poses and once again holding the belt that used to be the thing that defined him besides his viciousness.  Given the shoddiness of the French Canadian Murder Bear's summer, don't be surprised if we hear more from him before the bell rings for the match proper about his efforts to become the first two-time NXT World Champion.

In addition to the aforementioned title matches and the Vaudevillains promising a plan to neutralize Alexa Bliss before she yet again went against everything Mama Bliss taught her by slapping both Aiden and Simon for the second time, Brooklyn will get the debut of Apollo Crews, the man training hard to be a Champion who knows a little something about being strong enough to carry a Nation on his broad shoulders.  This Jushin "Thunder" Liger fellow is going to wrestle his first and possibly only match under the WWE banner, which is probably going to be a big deal for people who like their things awesome with a capital squee.

And after a few months of running over everything put in front of him in near-record time to varying crowd reactions, Baron Corbin may have finally found someone to put a serious roadblock in front of his path.  It's his own fault, really.  Going after Axel Tischer post-thirty-second match is a Cheney move, but he could get away with it.  As American history teaches you even down in Division II, the winners make the rules.  Steve Cutler gamely cut him off from the post-match attack and even called up an unspoken line of him having been Corbin's victim on a few occasions, only to get victimized himself with an all-too-familiar End of Days.  It was really funny leading up to this moment, since the man on the card who'd been thrust into the role of "I need some real competition" around here despite such sentiment not coming from his lips was Tyler Breeze when it was Corbin who was running through a series of men who could put "professional victim" under occupation on their 1040s. 

Then Samoa Joe showed up, and suddenly the humor went out of the room.  Corbin got in some cheap shots and even knocked Joe down a few times, but eventually ended up on the business you-go-nap-nap-now end of a Coquina Clutch.  The actual match will take place...well, you know when and where now, but if this is haphazard give Full Sail credit for churning frosty summer beverages out of sour fruits.  Corbin had taken so long to go somewhere the crowd went from loving it to hating it, and without Owens as a port of call Joe was drifting into not full nullity but a possibly even worse purgatory considering the steam his debut came with.  Now they can either rehabilitate him by defanging the resident Big Bad Lone Wolf, further throw Corbin up the ladder as a possible heeled-up title contender in a post-Owens world, or just let them kill each other for a few minutes and build off of it in later days to come.

Their contretemps begins mere minutes before Bayley posts the biggest win of her career for the second straight week in a row.  Another one of those a week and a half from now, and we'll be able to call the Bay Area stalwart something we've never been able to call her before: Champ.