Friday, July 22, 2016

Best Coast Bias: Flux With Draft Day (Not Everybody's Celebratin')

Dance partners once again
Photo Credit:
For weeks and months it seemed like the entirety of WWE was in a holding pattern until The Draft came onto the calendar with promises to shake everything up. Folks expecting seismic shifts in the Stamford landscape ended up having to deal with the repercussions of small aftershocks with the halving of the roster and promotions of six NXT acts a few short days ago. Some Finns picks were the faitest of accompli and a blind hobo would've been able to guess that they would occur. Others, like Carmella on an opposite show from her boyz/s Enzo Amore and Big Cass or Mojo Rawley to Team Blue weren't full-out head scratchers but rather puzzlers that don't lend themselves to immediate, concise responses.

But for two of the other selections that went George and Weezy, NXT is still as close to a wrestling territory as the modern age allows, and they ended their respective CVs there the same way pro graps have ended residencies in specific locales since time immemorial, counting the lights. In so doing, they provided the show's best two matches on a night historically brimming over with wrestling and set up an epically tantalizing path of what the double main event in Brooklyn could and should be on their ways out.

You could easily make the case that last year's Baron Corbin is this year's Nia Jax, a formerly plodding powerhouse who you suddenly realize after weeks and weeks of incremental improvements is starting to Get It and start putting the thumb on the scales with their own supplied presence when they bring it to the table. So sure she was of her call-up that she was noticeably scrolling through on her phone in live time when the call came, and her reaction was far more Actually Pleasantly Stunned And Delighted Human Being rather than the Surly Bully Land Monster she's been excelling at in 2016. Still, her getting promoted before her once and future opponent Bayley makes no sense from a shoot draft notion and complete and total sense from "we could probably sell out Brooklyn in 6 minutes if we announce these 2 matches" sense.

So their Full Sail main event rubber match, taped before the fellow San Diegan's call-up, was robbed of a bit of the drama it'd had coming in. For the overly obsessive and tinfoil hat wearers, it again was alluded to once and only once before the match played out that Bayley was still sitting on a contractually obligated rematch for the NXT World Women's Championship and the chance to re-experience Death By Asuka that'd yet to be fulfilled. Playing far closer to their most recent match than the one in London that'd kicked off their unofficial triad, it was a well-done and well-plotted look at their diverse styles coming together; a game of Cat and Mouse v. SPLUT. You can guess who tried which avenue.

Both women would survive countout scares thanks to Nia's avalanches of offense (one was successful against the former Women's World Champion and she ended up out of the ring; one wasn't and sent the RAW imminence into the steps) before the end run came. Again, Nia's hubris cost her, and instead of possibly nodding to her however-they're-related Dwayne's People's Elbow or Leg Drop she would end up the victim of the rare avalanche Bayley to Belly off the second rope. It's no hyperbole to say the ring actually shook when it connected, and obviously garnered everybody's favorite hugger the pinfall dub. Northern California 2, Southern California 1 (whatever), and now we can get to that pesky rematch just so coincidentally in the same place where B won her first championship way back in the heady times of 2015 almost exactly to the day.

Yet Our Lordship William Regal did not show up to make that match number one for Takeover: Brooklyn II: Barclays of Thunder, or any other match. His sole appearance on the show was as additional background fodder for a nice piece of retro work updated with current characters, as American Alpha (the only team in NXT's employ to... ascend) faced off against the Authors of Pain. At least, that's what was scheduled to take place going into the program.

What ended up happening was that Tennyson and Byron jumped the former NXT World Tag Team Champions from behind on the rampway and laid them both out before a match could begin. Gable got thrown back of the head first into the ramp, Jordan went flying off it into the guardrail and tussled up a couple more times after that. Zebras came out to stop and survey the carnage, at which point we went to break. When we came back, while Precious Paul Ellering had a mic in his hand he didn't actually deign to use it. Alls the better for it, really, since Alpha decided that despite what Regal and the refs were saying They Were Going To Fight Anyway, Damnit and actually managed to clear the ring of their new rivals. Like Phil Jackson before him, Ellering's minimalist coaching almost immediately got his charges to rejoin the ring, and thus the match proper started.

It wasn't completely hopeless, actually.

For Alpha. Jason Jordan got in another breathtaking T-Bone suplex on one. Chad Gable would replicate that feat on the other. Besides that and a crazy over the top rope plancha by Jordan, they pretty much got 1500% the USDA recommended amount of summer squash in retrospect, and for a crowd that's been accused at times of being too in love with themselves and everybody in Orlando they sure were going full throatedly negative against the newcomers even before they hit the Side Russian Lariat to win the match clean in the middle of the ring. Their win is all of a part of a chain, of their taking by force the spot Alpha's vacating, and to link with a backstage segment where the Revival were four yellow fingers away from crowing No Comeuppance! and Tomasso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano came up to the two-time titleholders to remind them that while they'd beaten almost everybody they hadn't beaten everybody.

And with a suddenly justifiably ticked No Way Jose teeing off on Austin Aries after his showcase--well, that'll probably happen in Brooklyn, but it won't be the crown jewel. And with Samoa Joe polishing off Rhyno like he was some sort of second-tier gubernatorial candidate and the allusions to him referring to himself as the Emperor sitting on a throne made out of broken bodies to kick off the show, the already bright path shone a little more and got another pesky annoyance from that other place in Orlando out of the way. It also cleared the lane for other people who think of themselves as royalty, hit really hard, and leave destruction in their wake. And wouldn't you know it, here we sit a month away from TB2: Judgment On SummerSlam Day staring down a likely double title shot of Bayley/Asuka II and Joe/Nakamura I.

We aren't at the fireworks factory yet, but we're damn sure in sight, even if we had some talented folks jump on an off ramp along the way.