Friday, July 1, 2016

Best Coast Bias: Tag Teams, Back Again

Four men, two belts, one goal, and three...
Photo Credit:
Unless you're a newborn, everybody has a narrative that's constantly in flux. NXT may be gradually turning into God's E-Fed, but on a show where the lowlights might've been bizarre pretaped interviews with Finn Bálor and Shinsuke Nakamura that came off weirdly stilted and run through with corporatespeak at its Stamford meets Orwellian worst/best, the rolling out of the show's end was a highlight for every beat and helped reignite in the cortices of the absent-minded that once upon a time to the nth degree this was a developmental league.

It still is, and on display were at first four and then six and then eight before ultimately ending up at ten of its best products in Full Sail's most overlooked leg of the black and yellow tripod, their tag team division. There was no need for furrowed brows; it was not a dyad iteration of the Championship Scramble or anything of that nature. Instead it was a masterful job of successfully aligning their blocks and rejiggering the angles while staying familiar that allowed NXT to clear the level in closing out the first half of their 2016 with panache.

What ended up a tightly woven and interlocking tapestry started off with what turned out to be the main event tag match pitting the Hype Bros against Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa. The latter duo's been on a lowkey roll together as a unit leading into the inaugural Cruiserweight Classic and even got more adoration from the crowd when they came out than their also white hatted opponents, then justified it over the course of the match in both segments. The frenetic pace the match would end on was teased at the end of the beginning, where in short order Zack Ryder would wipe out Ciampa, Gargano would tope Ryder off the board temporarily, only to fall victim to the power of Mojo Rawley (who looked so good in what was probably his best effort to date even Corey Graves would end up praising him) going to the evening's last break.

Yet in a fun bit of unspoken irony, Rawley may have been too hype for his own good, having Poooouuuuuuuunnnnnnnccccceeeeeeeeeeeeeed Ciampa into a period he didn't keep his feet from being under the ropes when he went for the subsequent pin fall and by the time he'd gotten himself positioned correctly for a count to go down Johnny Wrestling was able to jump in to make a save in the nick of time. When Gargano was able to break up a Hype Ryder and superkick Rawley in the face it looked like Team Indie had the duke for the taking, only for the big man to come in and splat them both with a one-man tandem powerbomb in a Tower of Doom variant. It took the man getting psycho killer chants to send Rawley into the steps to give his squad a veritable power play; the two-on-one advantage and subsequent impact sandwich, as Graves dubbed it, of the running enzui knee strike from Ciampa and basement superkick from Gargano put a bow on a well done TV match.

But we weren't done there. Almost faster than you could posit "say, aren't these guys in line for a title shot?" Johnny Wrestling was on the stick to remind the forgotten that they were a) the last team to beat the Revival the week before they regained the titles and b) as a result, were in pursuit of the NXT World Tag Team Championships. This being a wrestling show, there was obviously going to be a rejoinder.

The first one came from American Alpha, who while respectful of the men opposite them also felt that their rematch clause was the paper to the rock just thrown by the CWCers at the window of the next interruptees, the champions themselves. Dawson and to a lesser extent Dash nearly waved their belts in everyone's face and maligned the lot of them before waving them all off, since they were in charge now, Phasma. Having set out the heel clarion call for No Comeuppance!, that beacon was answered by the actual man in charge. Succinctly, Master Regal informed GarCiampa that while they would get a shot at the belts, the rematch was coming first.

First is next week.

And next week is the first tag best out of three falls match in the imprint's history.

You can tell an announcement lands when the crowd gasps audibly once it's delivered, and it looked like the handshakes and begrudging respect between all the faces was going to bring up the credit box.

And yet.

There were the land monster Authors of Pain once again jumping American Alpha from behind and more than willing to Trump in the cereal of the former champions. Team Indie hesitated a bit before making the save, in another brilliant bit. Actually, that should've read "making the save", since they went splut in short order having just wrestled a two-segger. Also of note, this time Alpha didn't get their clocks completely cleaned since they hadn't just wrestled a match this time. That being said, besides one ridiculously amazing overhead belly to belly suplex by Jordan on either Eliot or Yeats it wasn't that close, either. Jordan got laid out. Gable got laid out. And again, wordlessly looking on from the ramp's apex with a few sage nods was Precious Paul to close out the show.

It was a show that began with another two-segger, featuring Our Lady of Perpetually Disappointing Mama Bliss against Carmella, as the fallout from the number one contenders triple threat a few weeks ago came to a definitive conclusion between the women who failed in that endeavor. Rancor ruled the day on both sides of the ledger as they were almost gleefully smack-talking each other and going out of their way to show off ways to implement punishment while also gloating when they had their respective advantages. The mirror of those sorts of emotions would really be brought to bear on the back end of the match when both would have varying degrees of tantrum throwing when they couldn't finish their opponent off. Carmella may have controlled the opening part on the mat but Alexa Bliss focused on arm-based location damage going into the break and coming out of it, and eventually she managed to nab the W with the Twisted Bliss, the finisher formerly known as the Sparkle Splash. You see, unlike her former charges, Miss Bliss can win matches, and she almost literally couldn't get her hand raised by the referee enough to further underscore this fact post-match.

Having dispatched Carmella in the hopes of eventually getting to be murked by Asuka, she slashed into Bayley's celebratory interview in the back by stating she was deserving of a title shot since she hadn't failed in the triple threat match and as much fun as she had beating up and beating Bayley's best friend doing so to the real deal would be that much more so, and (possibly) set up the other big match for next week's show.

Add in A Double's quick hit of an interview that still precisely laid out his true nature coming to light last week, pretty much accusing the audience of treason by cheering do-nothings like No Way Jose over do-everything-but-beat-Nakamuras like him and if they wanted to boo them he'd sure as hell give them a reason to, and it's clear that NXT knows whatever narratives they're telling are going to be scattered to the wind if not outright destroyed by the draft on the 19th so they're firing them off while they have the ammo to do so.

If they pull them off as well as the final 15 to 20 minutes of this show, what they're about to fire at us is going to be weapons grade.