Thursday, November 19, 2015

Best Coast Bias: Seeing Red Again

"Come on, preen harder!  Make them hate you!"
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To the NXT cognoscenti that have filled Full Sail for weeks, months, and years on end, Eva Marie is like gonorrhea without the upside, a Jenga made out of hobo feces and broken glass they're being forced to play against their will--a living, breathing reminder of everything they revile about the main roster that in a lot of a cases may've sent them running to the more wrestling-focused welcoming arms of Wednesday night's flagship.

And all of that may be true. But what else is true is that in a week's time, they may be forced to call her something else - Champ.

It took her a while longer than it might've normally done to do so, since the crowd was rousting her at such volume that it took her a couple minutes to get out the words to completion without getting booed so loud you could've easily thought that Halloween had extended a few weeks and all the ghosts of wrestling nerds past decided to test their spooky capabilities in unison. (Hilariously, Bayley wordlessly leaned into Eva a few times while this was going on as if an actual Spectorian Wall of Sound was going up in the arm's reach between them.) Eva's eventual first words being "the inevitable was happening" only added to the meta aura that the whole thing was carrying off whether it was intentional or not: to which did she refer? Her being possibly the biggest heel in the offshoot's short but storied history? The absolute 180 from that which Bayley got not only in their short time together but in the match she'd just finished winning over Alexa Bliss (more about which imminently)? The sinking suspicion of many that possibly the most illustrious belt in probably all of WWE when it comes to match quality and making title matches matter may end up being nothing more than a sop to throw at Exclamation Point? All of this? None of this? Some combination of the aforementioned and/or the not mentioned? Stare into a funhouse mirror too long and even the logical starts developing cracks.

But for all the complaints registered against big brother on Monday nights and the occasional Sunday night, the one that seems to have the most ticks in its ledger along with the depth to be the most damning of the lot is that WWE puts on a day's plus of original programming a month and none of it connects on an emotional level, leaving a more serious fan flat at the ceiling and despairing why they continue to let this waste their time at the floor. This is not that. This is the dictionary definition of the opposite of that; whether by design or accident ( know, what the marks call works and shoots) they've stumbled into the best two possible avatars on the best stage to tell this story, furthered very quietly and subtly by having Nia Jax squish Carmella halfway back to Staten Island in the opener to bookend the show but not bringing up the conversation she had with Ms. Everything last week during the program. If they're looking for a troll move to anger the audience yet still keep them invested, one of the ex-Shielders or Mr. Money in the Bank going corporate Sunday night couldn't catch a plane flight to get on a bus to run a marathon to get the heat that could possibly be generated by Jax more or less gifting Eva the belt off of a distraction after the Total Diva got beat about the ring for a few minutes. Even a pair of title defenses with Eva would make the Iron Bowl or Michigan/Ohio State look like fun-sized au gratin in comparison. And you thought Izzy cried when Sasha yanked her special headband off; some of the reactions by the male supporters would suffocate that in comparison. So as you can see, you can make an excellent case for it, and all the obvious reasons for Bayley to retain up to most hilariously Eva running across the ring into a Bayley-to-Belly to be the shortest non-Lone Wolf match in NXT history leading to a more evil leveling up are still in play.

The latest checkmark in the "or we could just have Bayley hold the belt until Asuka finishes kicking off the heads of the rest of division" was the thing that All Red Everything overshadowed by not choking on her own air, Bayley having a battle with but still pretty decisively stamping the L on Alexa. With Regal having banned the former Tag Champion Dubstep Cowboys from leading out their charge it seemed fait accompli that the Champ would retain, but to the credit of Ms. Bliss quietly into that good night she did not go. That being said, even with some fine taunting, facial selling and armwork, there was never the sense she was going to do what she'd done twice previously if only momentarily by snatching the belt. Bayley cut off the one possible Sparkle Splash attempt and shortly after a flurry of offense and receipting a slap connected with her signature suplex para la victoria. Most notably, the match saw Fancy New Bayley continue evolving on with some new offensive parts and a borderline heelish aggression right from the outset of the match. Bayley 2.0 Championship Edition is not her for your smacktalk and will respond by stomping you down in not one but two corner. B2CE is going to slam your head into the mat multiple times if you disrespect her by standing on her head. And she'll stand there wordlessly trolling you while you try to get out Word One, knowing full well in Full Sail to her people like the sun she exalts whatever she decides to shine upon. She said something along the lines of Bliss was good but batting slightly out of her league in the prematch interview, and another thing B2CE hasn't done yet so far is lie.

And truthfully, next week's show looks to be a borderline Clash of Champions level hourly show, with that title match also being home of the tag title rematch between Not The Mechanics and the Vaudevillians, the contract signing for Finn Bálor/Samoa Joe at Takeover: London and Asuka/Dana Brooke II: This Time It's Kickier. With this week featuring showcases not just by the aforementioned Nia Jax but also Dash and Dawson as well as Emma, the only thing besides the main event to really register as a re-establishment of a story being told match-wise was the bout between the Ascension against Chad Gable and Jason Jordan. It was unnotable for the end result, but rather another meta moment where guys honoring the Road Warriors by mocking them or vice versa getting the Hawk and Animal pop from a crowd so psyched to see them you'd be forgiven for wondering if Viktor and/or Konnor thought at some point even with a couple of tendrils "...wait, we left this place to eat crap every third Monday why?" It wasn't as if the former amateur stylists were reviled by any stretch of the imagination, and by the time the match had settled in proper it just turned out to be the semi-normal morass that can sometimes happen down in the land of black and yellow when the audience won't fully play along unlike their big league counterparts, but it was still kind of weirdly jarring to hear and see.

That being said, if you're intrigued by the idea of the most rabid yet most mainstream audience not playing around a little bit if at all--or horrified--or amused--or any combination thereof, then next week's show and possible main event is appointment television just like Master Of None or You're The Worst or Game Of Thrones...

...hell, you may even get your own Red Wedding between the ropes, and a Total Diva will be more than happy to send you little dorks her regards.