Thursday, September 3, 2015

Best Coast Bias: The New Classic

The Dusty Classic got underway starting here
Photo Credit:
For everyone that considers the current main roster offerings of WWE to be slipping into the darkest possible timeline and runs to their computer or TV every Wednesday night for the comforting solace in NXT's Earth-2, a quick query: have you ever considered just how damn weird this place is?

And let it be noted, let's not use weird as a synonym for bad.

But it's weird, and this week's episode might be the dark side of the moon, a point of no return in which every claim of this being an indieholic's dream fed from about 1,000 days ago gets further and further realized (well, if you don't count Eva Marie beating Jessie McKay-now-Billie Kay after maybe or maybe not kicking out, and she even did that with THE Sliced Bread #2).

Under the auspices of the tag team tournament that'll drive NXT storylines for the next little while, you had a few returns, a couple of odd couple tag teams that seem to both have undercurrents of possible heel turns, and most bizarrely, Johnny Gargano and Tomasso Ciampa being feted as the hottest free agents on the market by William Regal and the tag team the unit of Tyler Breeze and Bull Dempsey will face next week.

Again: weird. What about the last half of that sentence made any sense as far back as mid-August? (Also, in Earth-3 there would've probably been a fun Ciampa/Breeze match at Takeover, but the teleportation strategy to date has only been mastered so far by VeidtCorp.)

And in a nice bit of fearful symmetry, the show began and ended in the same manner--a tag team sort of created under duress on the winning end having bested a team with an NXT alumnae on it. Let's begin at the beginning, with former feuders Rhyno and Baron Corbin facing off against the Ascension. Considering all the bupkis the longest reigning former NXT Tag Team champions have done since getting demoted to Mondays and the rapturous recption they received at the show's apex, you could be forgiven for thinking that Konor and Viktor were on their way to round 2, especially given the contretemps between Rhino and the Lone Wolf. But while they didn't exactly get along, they didn't exactly fall apart into some cliche bickering and passive-aggressive blind tagging binges, either, and managed to garner the duke with a Gore. Like most things in the world, this will probably keep working until it doesn't anymore, at which point all bets are off.

In fact, you could say the same about Chad Gable and Jason Jordan's unit. Apparently Jordan has something like a fifth sense, some sort of ESPN that made him suspect that the tag team division was about to get their moment in the Full Sail sun. After all, who else over the summer rotated components like Destiny's Child circa the turn of the century before finally begrudgingly taking on--and then turning out to enjoy and work well with--Gable?

While their burgeoning unit has been mostly rolling forward, there seemed to be just no way for them to survive and advance given the fact that on the other side they were up against the longest-reigning former NXT Champion Neville (who had stumped to be in the tournament in previous weeks) and Solomon Crowe, who went so far as to predict they were going to win the Classic. In fact, the manner in which he did so was over the top you expected him to reveal that he was auditioning to host an NXTized variant of the Chris Farley Show or the camera to slowly pan up to reveal a giant neon sign with arrows pointing down with something along the lines of HEEL TURN IMMINENT on it. (Then again, given Samoa Joe's playful ((?)) ribbing of Finn Bálor ahead of their match next week against the former champions the Lucha Dragons later on the program, maybe it was just an accidental undercurrent that the show happened to have had.)

As you might expect, the crowd was white hot for the return of the Man That Gravity Forgot, and after some compelling back-and-forth betwixt Crowe and Gable, they got their wish. Neville had the momentum going but then lost it back from the break tagging back out, with Not Quite The Shoot Nation Just Yet (actually, given a multitude of recent events it's hard to imagine Stamford ever signing off on the Shoot Nation name) targeting Crowe's ribs and even at times executing stomp parties to the injured area in what Corey Graves astutely compared to a revolving door. They should've been the heels at that point, especially considering the signature Gable towel came into play in a matador spot in which Gable put it in front of Crowe's face before Jordan successfully charged into the corner. Jordan gave him reciprocity by fanning him down with it while they waited for Crowe to get counted out shortly thereafter, in a fun and funny bonding moment. Then Crowe finally got to Neville, and Neville went off like an alarm clock.

Freed from his Monday night constraints it didn't take long for him to remind people why he'd spent most of last year holding the Big X, culminating in an Asai with the emphasis on suicida on Jordan. Crowe's bee tee dubs tope on Gable afterwards was choice, too. Then back in the ring it broke down as Jordan splattered Neville towards his own corner, but he couldn't tag out as Crowe was recovering from his dive. It was a small, unspoken thing, but Neville had to buy a little time before tagging out. And then, Crowe ran into almost a wrist-clutch overhead belly to belly by Jordan and JJABLE were able to hit their two-man alley-oop bridging suplex on of course the injured ribs for the win center ring. They could do a lot worse than have these guys win it, you know.

Like Apollo Crews' showcase and Alexa Bliss' surprisingly emphatic beatdown on Blue Pants, it was too easy. They found the weak member of the team, isolated him with targeted offense, and weathered the storm.

Mean spirited pixies, giants executing Okada-level dropkicks and standing moonsaults, indie stars just popping up out of nowhere, established stars losing in their special guest appearances and an unlikely friendship that may actually stick and win the whole magilla.

As we said earlier: weird.

Not bad, and sometimes even real good.

But weird, to be sure.