Friday, July 8, 2016

Best Coast Bias: Dream A Little Dream Of Three

Kick out the jams, matriarch fornicators
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You know a wrestling match is really damn good when it causes you to stop thinking of it as "just" a wrestling match and more a piece of art. Moreover, if that thought connects in your head to a larger idea of all art being interconnected by its nature - both "low" art like pro graps and "high" art like a Cezanne or whatever else Jay-Z might see as he walks towards his toilet made of solid gold* - that people are using things to illuminate what people are and are like, then it could also lead you to think about the things in art that're constructed vs. the things in art that are altruistic.

This may be impossible to believe for some, but this argument is playing pretty heavily into NXT's 2016 especially with the draft looming ever closer on the horizon.

To use a bit of Klosterlogic, altruistic glamour is something on the wavelength of someone not just looking attractive in less-than-ideal situations, but famous. One man constructed the Mona Lisa, but that face and small smile have almost become the definition of altruistic glamour. Like a candid of Minka Kelly when she's at the farmer's market in a tank top and jeans, a perfectly executed Shooting Star Press whether it connects or not, or an adobada burrito washed down with Coke in the bottle from Mexico when you're drunk, under the right circumstances it can literally take your breath away. It'd be like putting Finn Bálor and Shinsuke Nakamura in a match next week under the thinnest gruel of excuses as to why. The King of Strong Style throwing strikes against NXT's longest reigning World Champion and resident Daemon is an ATM exploding. The idea of it is so tantalizing that the how of it is essentially immaterial. Fans want it badly, NXT's delivering it, and all the rest of it is white noise with the volume at .3 on a scale of 100.

Altruistic glamour, see?

Constructed glamour is the flip side of that coin, and is compelling in its own way. You can see this in what gave David Bowie such a list of lasting pop culture bona fides. It's Maya Lin seeing the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in her mind's eye years before she can ever follow through on the blueprint in her head and make it concrete. Kim Kardashian sucking a red, white and blue popsicle to commemorate the Fourth of July while Terry Richardson takes pictures of it is almost an Inception of constructed glamour. Constructed glamour doesn't just appear out of nowhere. That's the construct: it just doesn't show up fully formed, though it can still be as visually and/or emotionally arresting as its counterpart in this way of thought. It takes a lot of chefs to make these particular kind of stews.

And this brings us to Messrs. Dawson, Gable, Jordan, and Wilder; men whom have gone from Performance Center afterthoughts to the men who put on the best match since Nakamura/Sami Zayn in NXT's canon warring in the best of 3 falls main event that headlined the first show in the second half of Full Sail's year.

Only Chad Gable, you could argue, had the label of can't miss about him. Even then, his specific type of intuitive kineticness somehow feels like it has to be seen to be believed, how he can conjure wizardry out of counters and holds. Jason Jordan? He and Tye Dillinger were the guys they fed to the people who were Going Somewhere, By God. If he got in 45 seconds of offense it was a good night, assuming he made TV at all. Scott Dawson? Dash Wilder? That name should've made him the Oney Lorcan of 2014 all on its own; when they started getting together before making fans believers and getting them inside of the tent they were such steppingstones their canon name was the Mechanics, the pejorative alike for eighties one-hit wonder backup bands and guys who were good to have around mostly because they could make everybody who was surpassing them on the ladder look good on the way to doing so.

They didn't have WrestleKingdom five-star matches under their belts or Heathrow International stamped in their passports--hell, that would require them to have passports. Yet they went to work constructing their legacies, trying to do something special in a division that WWE on a bigger scale and NXT on a smaller one has treated like a deformed differently abled ginger juvenile that got folded into the marriage, and it all paid off with this, far and away the signature match in their trilogy.

It's not often a trilogy peaks in Act III, but it happened here. Appropriately enough, the first fall alone took three segments (something virtually unheard of on weekly NXTV for all the reasons you'd suspect). The champions especially shined in showing master's degree level chicanery and smarts, reversing things from a wrestling match into clubberin', clubberin', and when those weren't enough and Alpha kept hanging around and kicking out, double team clubberin'. Clubberin' works aesthetically and offensively by levels of magnitude, but we're not telling you anything that you don't already know. Once worn down, Jordan had his leg targeted for long minutes while Dawson and Wilder reveled in the damage done. It was a small, surreptitious tag that got J.J. free--almost a backhanded one like given at a high-five, really--but it did what it needed him to do and gave Gable the impetus to run amok. And even that didn't last long, as he hit the floor hard off a low bridge Dawson executed behind the referee's back. It was Gable's turn to eat a beating worthy of five men as the champions ratcheted up the double-team offensives, continued to make the referee look like Ray Charles in spots, and continued to sprinkle everything liberally with more clubberin'; but in a fine bit of showing instead of telling how these teams were fun house mirror images even all of their dastardly deeds couldn't keep Gable down for the count. When Gable tagged in Jordan the building nearly landed on a list next to San Onofre and Three Mile Island. He would end up clamping an anklelock on Wilder and after a bit of Dawson trying to save his partner he too would end up anklelocked on the floor by Gable, and thus the titleholders ceded the first fall.

The second and third falls combined oddly didn't take the amount of time the first one did; conversely you could argue there'd been so much damage done to all parties involved already that it was going to be much easier for elite teams in this highly pressurized environment to achieve victories faster. Weird as it was to see and hear Corey Graves not gloat over his old Lucky XIII cinching the second fall on Jordan's weakened ankle via tapout, if this match had a certainty going into it, it's that it would be going for the totality of falls. Given the nature of all that had been survived and unleashed going into that point you could also feel very, very safe in assuming that it was going to take superlative measures to put this to rest definitively.

Kudos on your brilliance, by the way, but keep in mind these teams had it, too, both as individual units and against each other as well. Each countered the other's signature finisher (previously in the Takeover bouts if memory serves, only Revival had pulled that off so Alpha merely reviewed the tapes and learned the lesson for next time at least in theory). A fight on the apron between Dawson and Gable ended with a vicious Shatter Machine on there, thus bolstering the match's conclusion in a big way with a spectacular move but also in a smaller way since Wilder was contributing the Codebreaker portion and then driving himself back first into the apron with a magnitude of Gable's weight being driven into his knees with Dawson's assist but he didn't have to worry about procuring the victory afterwards, just delivering the final move to put American Alpha in their rear view -- and maybe towards the main roster -- once and for all.

The craziest thing about that match being a masterpiece besides the apron debut of the Shatter Machine was that in the minds of most it probably completely overwhelmed the high-quality opening match Bayley had with Alexa Bliss. The former World Women's champion went from winning with some of her usual paces to being cheated and beaten on, and all of a sudden the Bay Area native was throwing running knees in the corner like imminent UFC employees and buckle bombs like she was Seth Freakin' Rollins. Yet not a one of those moves kept Alexa Bliss from throwing a right hand--nope. We won't undervalue this, a subsumed great moment in an already subsumed borderline great match only hampered by the fact it could've gone a little longer and on any normal hour probably would've.

Bliss threw a right hand that should just be known as The Right until something else in NXT supersedes it. It hit Bayley like the wrath of an angry god. It sounded like Giancarlo Stanton responding to "overrated!" chants by putting something 485 feet away in the upper deck. It completely elevated the match from "oh, this is really good" to "HOLY FECAL MATTER DID I JUST SEE SOMEONE GET KTFOed IN A WOMEN'S MATCH OFF ONEPUNCH?!" was damn impressive, is what we're saying. Fortunately for the former champion she managed to survive that shot from the head mistress at Our Lady of Perpetually Disappointing Mama Bliss, but it wasn't as if things got any easier for her coming back on the other side of that wicked punch on the other side of the break; as you might expect she spent most of the rest of the match slowly recovering and barely kicking out of Bliss offense. She went back to her wrestling with a series of tradeoffs of flash pinfalls and used a counter to set up a sudden Bayley to Belly to quell the Ohioan's title threats for the time being.

Since this is all part and parcel of Bayley's Samiesque Road To Redemption, she wanted Nia Jax in a rubber match. She would be interrupted before she could finish the thought, and most interestingly enough they seemingly agreed to the rerematch off mic. Viewers at home were able to pick it up; they weren't yelling and screaming at each other but they were loud enough, yet not loud enough for the Full Sailors to get the full gist of the moment and his Lordship Master Regal didn't show up to see this through with his official stamp of approval.

No matter. This week we got a fine display of constructed; next week, amazing as it may seem, we're on deck to get an ever finer display of altruistic.

And the reason why is that one way or another, in another month NXT's face and faces are probably going to be drastically different than they're constituted now.

What a time to be alive.

*this is speculative