Friday, January 29, 2016

Best Coast Bias: Like A Mudder

Pictured: the number one contender
Photo Credit:
As Samoa Joe piled on with a crossface while Baron Corbin was already locked down in Sami Zayn's Sharpshooter (not a typo), he did what any logical wolf would do; he tapped out, presumably looking forward to a future where he could send a certain Greatest Man Who Ever Lived back to IWA-Mid South.

Said tap out answered the question the main event set out to answer, but didn't fully resolve anything to anyone's satisfaction. Both Joe and Zayn - justifiably - spoke to William Regal after the main event and the general manager came out, but they only got promises to review a tape that'll just confirm what everybody saw. Furthermore to that end, we could still be headed towards this sort of muddle at some point in February with a 33% change of characters, since Apollo Crews will be receiving his desired non-title shot at the champ next week, and you'd have to presume a win in that environment would allow him to throw his hat in the same ring that Joe and Zayn are making their arguments from.

The main event, while perfectly cromulent, never got into that second gear to raise eyebrows and have people going out of their way to see it; as such, it perfectly emulated the rest of the final hour of January (more on which after this). This isn't sour grapes over the quasi no decision that capped off the episode - we've all seen Zayn and Sami be awesome in Full Sail, while Corbin continues to make massive strides to get there and his right hand seemingly gets better by the week. But even when the second segment featured more signature moves and more of one guy attacking both his opponents or using one opponent as offense to hurt the other one as well as the human projectile he was branding, there was an ineffable something missing to the match even when each individual finisher (none of which was necessary to close the deal in last week's showcases) was unveiled and subsequently survived through.

It's a vexing question, further underscored by the fact that as middling as the middle of the program was at times rife with squashes, it still served a purpose. Elias Samson further burnished his creepy hobo bona fides. Nia Jax came out with Eva Marie and splattered Liv Morgan for a few beats to remind everyone how close she was to closing the championship deal in London and make the NXT Constellation worry that All Red Everything would have their signature Women's Championship coming to an Exclamation Point episode near you. The Hype Bros talked briefly about their match next week against whatever new iteration of the Vaudevillians will be unveiled while taking the sub off of all the text of their vaguely homoerotic bond, and Alex Riley came off of the side of the milk carton to whale on Bull Dempsey, whine about being ignored for months, and remind us all of how awesome it is to watch Kevin Owens attempt to commit legalized murder.

So it was left to the show opener to provide the juiciest meat of the hour; fortunately, the newly christened American Alpha were the first out from behind the curtain and their No Old Tag Champs In Orlando tour continued as they upended the Dubstep Cowboys, disappointing Alexa Bliss in the process (though not as much as she disappoints Mama Bliss by going down the path of dying wrong instead of living right where? Mama? Bliss? AT? THO!!?!).

The crowd opted to cram an extra syllable into a standard chant for the Jason Jordan/Chad Gable unit rather than co-opt the awesome singalong that the Brits pioneered on last month's tour, then the former collegiate standouts once again fully justified the crowd ardor as Jordan Jordan then Gable Gable showed off their unique athleticism and skillsets. JJ did it by single-leggedly dodging attempts to get his other leg swept in the opening moments, then Gable did via reversals, a lengthy trip to what on the main roster would be called Armdrag City, and on multiple occasions keeping both former tag champions at bay single handedly. In fact, the thoroughness of how ready and willing he was led Murphy to feign a knee injury and then call for Blake to cheapshot him from behind. In what could be the episode's best moment, Gable saw it coming and laid out Wesley, only for Buddy to chop block him from behind and set up the knee and leg based offense in the Bad Part Of Town from the black hats. Try as they might to thwart it, however, the hot tag to Jason Jordan in NXT's 2016 is quickly becoming on par with death and taxes, and not even two minutes after he received it BAMF were staggering up the ramp having caught an L while a straps-down JJ was celebrating the fact he'd demolished them and most specifically Blake on the way to setting up Gable for the Grand Amplitude, one-legged bridge on it and all. Three former sets of champions up; three former sets of champions down.

For the Division I cohorts, their future is clear and blight. In short, it's everything this episode and the title chase for the Big X wasn't.