Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Best Coast Bias: Kingdom Come

The Emperor may have a dislocated jaw, long live the King
Photo Credit:WWE.com
Results, stray thoughts and takeaways from NXT's triumphant return to Brooklyn done TH style (because I'm still salty about not getting to rave about Alexander/Ibushi) just as soon as Beaumont Virgo wakes up...

  • Austin Aries made No Way Jose tap out to the Last Chancery; for piling on after the bell, Aries ended up Going To Sleep at the hands knee of Hideo Itami.
  • The debuting Ember Moon beat Billie Kay with a move that will almost certainly no longer be called the O-Face.
  • Bobby Roode made his debut glorious by beating Andrade "Cien" Almas with a hashtag Glorious Bomb.
  • In a great match, the Revival narrowly retained the NXT World Tag Team Championships over Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano as Scott Dawson made Gargano tap out to an inverted figure four leglock.
  • In another great match, Asuka kept her undefeated streak alive alongside the NXT Women's World Championship by pinning Bayley after a buzzsaw kick.
  • In yet another great match (go figure, right?), Shinsuke Nakamura became the ninth man to hold the NXT World Heavyweight Championship when he pinned Samoa Joe after a pair of Kinshashas.

    General observations:
    • WWE has always shined when it comes to packaging the things that surround their events and matches, and the opening for this Takeover effectively delivered while being pretty low-key by Stamford standards, balanced with a "real sports" setup with the big names settling into a chair and getting ready to be interviewed being shown.
    • It further underscored the point production was helping them with in this lead-in; with the exemptions of Bayley and Samoa Joe, nobody on the card was even in NXT at this time last year, and Joe was still getting into his best possible form and knocking around Baron Corbin in the midcard.
    • Hell, production was so on point they didn't even revel in the fact the original Takeover: Brooklyn was feted far and wide while most people wanted to feed last year's SummerSlam to sick raccoons!
    • A bunch of people going around the ring in a conga line with No! Way! Jose! pre-match just made me miss the independent work of the homie Richard Swann for quite a few minutes more than usual. Not All Night Long, however.
    • So Jose was joyous enough for the samba beforehand with some *ahem* random fans, but his response to the Hand of Friendship being proffered was to take it and slap Aries afterwards? That may kind of the be the story here, but feh on that.
    • Aries being the veteran showed in his work through his match here, and all three of his Takeover bouts this year have been either good or excellent. He didn't need to cheat to beat Jose, but at times when he got in trouble he did things to buy himself time like running around ringside or cocooning himself in the bottom rope.
    • Poor Jose, making his first big rally right when Naitch showed up.
    • Seeing Itami come out for the post-match just underscored how vital a thread he was in NXT's highest level storylines some 18 months ago before his injury since it sure looked like he was going to win that triple threat in May and win the Big X at Beast in the East.
    • To counter that depressing alternate universe, here Itami not only showed up, but beat Aries like a rented goalie with a strike party setting up the GTS to the crowd's delight. He was proud to show off the fact his surgically repaired knee was fine afterwards to the crowd and it further highlighted the fact that ass-whomping was delivered by a man wearing loafers and no socks. Soccer Dad takes his sportsmanship Very Seriously, Midland Taurus!
    • Shout-out to Corey Graves for casually informing the audience that Hideo was the innovator of the GTS. Don't get salty when new fans know things you take for granted if you want them to stick around.
    • If WWE Network needs more content, than that backstage hang between Shinsuke Nakamura, Funkai, and Kota Ibushi needs to become A Thing.
    • It sounded like they deCarmenized Billie Kay's entrance music. Surprisingly enough, this did not mean she was on her way to victory.
    • Aries looked good in his match but Kay's Rolling Elbow was better here, noticeably so.
    • Perhaps in a past life Ember Moon was known as Athena. Perhaps in those times her finisher was called the O-Face and widely revered. You can see why. BCB is formally pushing for it to be called By The Light Of The Moon.
    • For a knowledgeable crowd they all seemed Stun(ner?)ed by the finish, and even Corey Graves went verklempt at the table.
    • They weren't going to get the crowd to boo Roode long-term but man, did they try hard with that Earlier Today interview with Mr. It Factor they aired pre-match. If it hadn't gone against his wardrobe he would've been wearing a Goldman Sachs shirt as he aurally smooched Manhattan and suggested BK was where the deodorant would have to be applied on NYC's body.
    • We at Best Coast Bias now give you 15 minutes to listen to Roode's theme song a few times at your own pace.
    • Roode being lowered to the ramp on a riser while his theme was playing and then setting off his own Tron during a pause—man, if only there was a positive adjective to describe such heelish well-marinated hubris!
    • To whatever fan who's sign reminded us that Magic!'s "Rude" exists; if we ever meet in real life I shall punch you! in the face.
    • Jolly Rancher's tagline is actually Keep On Sucking? You know, this world made Idiocracy a documentary so gradually one would barely even notice.
    • Seriously, there's a pause in the song before it gets going and everything; if they want this man to be reviled, have him cut it off himself over the mic before it even gets going pre-match. The over/under on when he'll start to do so is currently set for the October 19th episode of NXTV.
    • His response to the crowd's "This Is Glorious" chant with a low-key look of "...well, obviously." to Almas and the fans would've been a sterling moment on a lesser show; hopefully it doesn't get forgotten.
    • It seemed early on they were teasing a bit more La Sombra from Cien by having him laugh at Roode while he was in his trademark pose wrapped up in the ropes and a bit later shrugging on the apron after dodging Roode's offense, but that never fully materialized into a through line for the bout. Perhaps he knew it was a battle he couldn't win.
    • As hilarious as it would've been for Roode to get rolled up in 5 seconds after his buildup, like his fellow Dirty Heel before him his win here seemed to be (because it turned out to be) pretty fait accompli as far as these things go. Having divested ACA of his winning streak after a few months of apathy if not outright enmity from their fanbase you can raise an eyebrow over what the future holds for him on the black and yellow imprint. Maybe they should put him in a mask?
    • Shouldn't the Glorious Bomb not be a pumphandle slam?
    • Even if it wasn't destined to get destroyed since it's a wrestling trophy it sure as hell looks like the winner of the Cruiserweight Classic is getting the world's biggest glass strap-on for their troubles.
    • Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano seem to be angling for their dyad to be known as DIY, presumably because some record label owns the rights to the term Sonic Youth and BCB owns the rights to the term Team Indie.
    • Submitted for your approval...
    • The participants in the tag match have been burning up the house show scene with their matches, so they had a high bar to jump over here in front of the bright lights, big city audience. Spoiler alert: they did.
    • Johnny Wrestling and the Psycho Killer were so widely beloved you'd think they were Bobby Roode's theme or something.
    • ESPECIALLY in WWE, not all babyface saltiness is created equal or justified, so it was nice seeing Gargano land a shot in on Dawson from the apron early on. It showed not only that both teams didn't get along but that they functioned on more or less equal footing, so the possibility of a title change was in the offering the whole time and would probably come down to one break or mistake.
    • Lots of NXT tag title matches lately have had the "Are we going to fight? [pause for jawjacking that goes on a bit too long] YEAH WE'RE GONNA FIGHT" bit in them over the past few months. It's almost become a Revival signature for them to get these in and get beaten down when they occur.
    • On the flip side of that coin, watching them do double team clubberin' for almost the entirety of the five-count, like Dawson's lifted fake-out into DDT from Arn Anderson that would occur later, will always warm the cockles of us old salty types.
    • You'd think Dash Wilder's blatant pratfall to distract the referee from the tag would be the defining "love to hate you guys" moment and then Scott Dawson lays out Gargano while he's minding his business on the apron because Gargano got in the cheap shot on him from the apron earlier. Bless.
    • The best moment of the night — well, to that point — was Gargano cutting off Wilder late to keep him from breaking up the bridging Fujiwara armbar that Ciampa had clamped on Dawson mid-ring, only to be kicked away by the bigger man, who then immediately saved the belts for his team by breaking it up.
    • For a smart man, Scott Dawson was plenty dumb in going forehead to forehead and then death staring a man colloquially nicknamed Psycho Killer. Some ass-kickings happen, others are earned, and this was definitively the latter.
    • Did the crowd buy the jackknife pinfall counter out of the Shatter Machine especially since DIY's title shot earning win came off of a reversal? In the immortal words of Bobby DeNiro from across the river, "Lil' bit. Lil' bit."
    • Gargano and Ciampa lined up Dash Wilder, took his head off with the Impact Sandwich, and won the belts—except they didn't, since at the penultimate moment of the last second Wilder snuck his foot onto the bottom rope. (And that was thanks entirely to his erstwhile heterosexual life mate. But we wouldn't find this out definitively until the replays fired off.)
    • Did Johnny Wrestling and the man he beat in the instant classic first-round CWC matchup buy it? Did the crowd buy it? Did the audience buy it? Did Graves and Phillips buy it at first? Well, they emptied out their bank accounts, then they told their friends about this exciting new business opportunity, then their friends joined in with them in order to have enough to cover the mortgage because BOW HOWDY, We Bought.
    • As a result, the crowd was l i v i d about the match continuing in the best possible way.
    • For possibly one of the, if not the best announcer in the game right now, it's a weird sort of amnesia Corey Graves seems to get whenever somebody applies anything resembling his old Lucky XIII inverted figure four.
    • Props to the camera team and production yet again, as they stuck with the losing friends who'd just fought a couple of weeks ago for so long during the post-match — for a minute at the very least — that it had for the fan with a healthy bit of NXTenure lodged in their eyeballs more than a passing resemblance to that Owens going Owens on his then-BFF Sami Zayn nearly two years ago to close out Takeover: Arrival. But much as the men themselves thought they'd had the straps and then didn't, it turned out the most hardcore viewer got to sit through a long, deliciously oppressive swath of tension...only for Ciampa and Gargano to limp off to the back chagrined. It really had to be seen to be experienced in this instance, and kudos and other snack bars to everyone involved in it.
    • Sasha being front row —as it turned out, next to Becky Lynch — wearing a Bayley wristband was the first tug on the heartstrings with concern to the World Women's Title match. It would soon be accompanied by a few dozen more.
    • Shoutout to the crowd for (mostly) booing Charlotte, who seemed pleasantly surprised by getting that reaction. She's a heel, dag nab consarn it! It also meant that everyone involved in NXT's Curtain Call last summer was in or around the same ring that they did it in almost a year previously to the day. Tug!
    • There was a wide array of pretty fanmade looking Hugger Section signs that all looked like they were mass printed spread through a certain part of the arena, and Bayley got even more wacky arm flailing inflatable tube men than usual, including four behind her once she was in the ring.
    • Izzy was in the house for this one. It's good she was. Once pro graps snaps your heart, if you come back you end up loving it more. It's messed up, but it's true.
    • Bayley could've run for mayor of Brooklyn and won with the epic pop she got. Not that Asuka didn't get a sizeable amount of cheers coming out, but still.
    • Speaking of that, she came out in a long white train that went from the top of the ramp nearly to its end. In Japanese culture that color identifies deeply with passing on and mourning, thus meaning in a completely non-verbal manner Asuka was presenting herself as the architect behind the Northern Californian's long, slow death in this rematch.
    • Ho.
    • Ly.
    • CRAP.
    • Tom Phillips asking Corey Graves the usual question of what Bayley would have to do to walk out of Barclays the first ever 2x holder of the women's silver had an unusual response from the former Tag Champion: he didn't know. He didn't say that after any sort of pause, or as a joke, and as a result it was brilliant.
    • Death By Asuka is a metaphor, yeah. You know what's not? Getting KTFOed in kayfabe. Or getting KTFOed legitimately (ask Emma's fine self about that). When wags make jokes about her being the first person to unify NXT's singles championships, they're 99.3% jokes. But there's still that .7% that knows if anybody could pull that off, it'd be her, horrifying imagery, terrifying smile, vicious strikes and all.
    • Not only was Bayley wearing armbands with polka dots on them (in a different color scheme than last year's title match), but apparently the headband she had on was from part of Sasha's gear in that match. Dust mites. So many dust mites. Thanks, Obama.
    • If you're lucky you get a story in a snapshot, and you did here—Bayley springboarded out of the corner, ate a huge knee to the face that looked like it struck her square in the temple, and rolled outside to line her brain cells back up in the proper order. Asuka's response to this was to LAUGH. No wonder Will Ospreay had that funny feeling like when he had to climb the rope in gym class. It's not just you, buddy! Asuka would also smile while she had on a modified Octopus with the assistance of the ropes. Roman Reigns could brag all he wanted earlier this year about being alignmentless, but Asuka IS Chaotic Neutral.
    • It's not just that Bayley's taking a bunch of punishment (and surviving); it's that Asuka, of all horrifying entities, is the one dishing it out.
    • Asuka dropped Bayley with one buckle shot after the former champ had thought she'd made headway with a few, and Bayley slammed the mat in frustration since she was already down there in a fine moment.
    • Bayley started to mount a comeback, but then started to try to hang with the undefeated champion in a forearm battle. Not Smart.
    • In a show where the GTS and the O-Face happened within 10 minutes of each other, we might've hit Peak 2016 within the show at this point—roughly 90 seconds apart from each other, Asuka put Bayley in a Stretch Muffler and Bayley yelled at Asuka to hit her in the face.
    • Then she did. A bunch.
    • In a related note, pants are for the weak.
    • Things got so baller at one point Phillips actively started rooting for Bayley on commentary. He didn't audibly root against Asuka, since he likes not drinking his meals through a straw, but it was there a few times. Again: Asuka's Chaotic Neutral is so great it keeps the voice of Lawful Neutral from fence-sitting during a double main event.
    • Bayley escaping the Asuka Lock and firing off a Bayley-to-Belly with the champion surviving caused a string of heart palpatations across the land.
    • Also, apparently Becky and Sasha were in full on fanwoman mode during the big matches, and if WWE is looking for another hook to get people's monthly tenners they can do a lot worse than split screening Brooklyn Brooklyn with their reactions to the double main event.
    • After pounding the mat a few times in frustration (!), Bayley tightened the pony and swooped in for the kill. She ran smack dab into what was essentially a flying Asuka Lock.
    • FLYING Asuka Lock.
    • Just say it now so you'll be used to it later: NXT Unified Champion Asuka. NXT Unified Champion Asuka. NXT Unified Champion Asuka.
    • Bayley played Bret Hart to Asuka's Roddy Piper or Steve Austin out of that predicament, and Asuka kicked out of that.
    • Since we weren't done and this was The Day That Pants Died, Asuka audibly landed a vicious buzzsaw kick, and Bayley no-sold it and tightened the pony.
    • Then she slappped Asuka in the face.
    • Anyone who remembered HBK's final moments of his career knew what that meant. Anybody who saw Sami Zayn kick out at one against Cesaro on the first NXT Takeover to the move that'd beaten him before knew what that meant. Ray Charles' corpse knew what that meant. Superlative NXT babyfaces die on their sword. It's what they do.
    • You need someone who'll stick with you in the bad times and be as emotionally gutted as Becky and Sasha were when the count went down, irregardless of your sexuality or lack thereof.
    • Asuka helped Bayley up and hugged her. After she left, Bayley hugged Becky and Sasha, and Charlotte.
    • And her mom.
    • And Izzy.
    • Poor Izzy.
    • Poor Izzy, you guys.
    • On her way to the back through the curtain she pointed down at the three letters on the ramp in the house she'd helped build.
    • If you didn't catch any way, shape or form of a feel down the stretch or in the post-match, hopefully you've come to grips with being dead inside.
    • With Nia Jax getting called up, you gotta assume that Ember Moon's time to head to DBA Airport is coming sooner rather than.
    • NXT really needs to get some form of the old Texas Tech apparel from the 90s that proclaimed their institution "Where the men are men...and the women are champions!"
    • Compare and contrast: Samoa Joe's Goldbergesque entrance had him shove one of his security guards. Shinsuke Nakamura was other side of the pillow cool chillaxin' on his own.
    • Kay Suzuki probably doesn't have a passport, so kudos to Lee England, Jr. for playing Swagsuke down to the ring.
    • That entrance took so long some of us probably worried Joe would choke Lee out in the middle of it, but no regrets.
    • It turned out to be a pretty nice mirror of the backstage stuff since Nakamura got all the pomp and circumstance coming out and Joe just did his usual angry stomp down to the ring.
    • Pre-match Joe shoved Nakamura, who almost kicked him in the face, and as much fun as you want to make of the ring announcer for looking like a bootleg Chrisley you can't blame his fear here, feigned or not.
    • That moment was made all the more hilarious by a referee who looked to be a third of Joe's size stepping between him and Shin as a result of the pre-match contretemps. You half expected him to get laid out by the both of them just so they could whale on each other.
    • As usual, Graves was on point to the decimal on commentary, both praising Nakamura as an artist and an assassin early on, then covering for Joe forfeiting his championship advantage by getting both of them into the ring to narrowly beat the count as a sign of a vendetta rather than an overtly illogical moment.
    • Every time Joe lands the elbow suicida it seems inevitable yet impossible like a long-range Curry threeball.
    • Nakamura used his legs to get to the ropes several time since he's lankier than the average, something noted on commentary pretty much every time he did so because they're good like that.
    • For those who missed the history lesson that weaved through the last Best Coast Bias, Kinshasa is a place where jaws get dislocated and championship reigns go to die.
    • It felt like the finishing run here came in a bit quicker than suspected, and came across as compressed as a result.
    • Nakamura quickly scrambling for the ropes or backing into the corner as quick as he could to avoid the long-term effects of suffering the Coquina Clutch were a great way of subtly calling back the fact that he respects Joe. Why be in something that deadly any longer than you have to, even if Joe was picking up big match Ws with the Muscle Buster in the recent past?
    • Let's hope Joe meant to take that German on his head somehow, especially given what followed post match.
    • Somehow despite the fact he's been closing out with a series of knee strikes in his other matches, it was pretty stunning to see Nakamura pull off the same here to the resident Big Bad of NXT, especially given the struggle he had getting Joe to go down in the first place.
    • Couldn't tell if Joe was selling hard or actually hurt, but the ref did throw up the X and Joe went to the back rather quickly holding his jaw without so much as the sort of infuriated look he threw Finn after the Dallas match.
    • If someone had told you two years ago that either a comet would strike the Earth or that Shinsuke Nakamura would be the NXT World Champion essentially as the IWGP Intercontinental Champion he was but with a bigger profile that had WWE's sheen on it, how big a bomb shelter would you have fashioned for you and yours?

    Match of the Night: Bayley v. Asuka (c), NXT World Women's Championship - Last year, Bayley's final ascension to the crown jewel of NXT's female-centric division made a whole lotta people cry. Perhaps you heard about this. Perhaps you're a subsidiary of Pepperidge Farm.

    This year, her failure to pull a Revival had people crying all over again. It's drummed into your head as a child if you participate in sporting events that you should try your hardest. What that leaves out is that you can try your hardest and still lose. Bayley did everything she could in Dallas to hang onto her title, and fell back on a few soon-to-be-former-surefire rarities when even the usual methods failed. She didn't fail because she's a failure, she failed because Asuka is the closest thing to supernatural the canon of NXT has ever seen no matter what gender you speak of. Bayley toughened up again, leveled up again to get into position and be really ready at 100% when the rematch finally came.

    Because time is a flat circle especially with regards to pro graps, it came to pass that 363 days later in the spot of her most noteworthy level-up to date that she'd get another and probably final shot at the championship she'd so lovingly held in the hopes of being the once and future queen. Out of the gate, Asuka was more than willing to play Honey Badger, and Bayley's out of character self recriminations were completely in character for this set of circumstances embodied by this opponent. The former Most Dangerous didn't give a fuck at the outset, but she would help up and hug Bayley after the proceedings because the Bay Area native had earned that much out of her the hard way after her rough outset.

    Bayley yelled at the closest thing NXT has to vintage Undertaker to hit her in the face. She took some vicious, cringe-worthy hits afterwards on top of the ones she'd fallen victim to before that. But she found two ways out of the previously unbreachable hold, and she literally went out swinging with the slap to the face. One vicious jumping roundhouse put her in position, and the vicious buzzsaw shot sucked the air out of Barclays. We not only wanted her to win and thought she could, but on several occasions in defiance of all logic going into the affair, she had us convinced she would since she had so many times before. But those were against (admittedly very talented) other woman, and Asuka is quickly turning into a history making force.

    You could've put any of the title matches in this spot and not gotten a single disapproving look from any knowledgeable fan. However, this is NXT, where the men are men and the women are champions—and even in presumably her final chance at that belt, in going down defiant and proud and yet again stealing the Takeover event out of the borough, Bayley proved definitively to the small remaining handful that still harbored doubts that she's eminently deserving of being called a champion irregardless if a title's in her possession.

    Overall thoughts: Many people were entirely too quick after The End to don Chicken Little cosplay and suggest that the halcyon days of Takeover specials were just that, at an end. Hopefully none of them breed or have already. If a Takeover special is anything in the annals of pop culture storytelling, it's a sword fashioned at the hands of Hattori Hanzo. That is to say you don't compare Takeover specials to what big brother puts on, you compare Takeover specials to other Takeover specials alone.

    The lowest match on the ladder was Aries/Jose, and that was still highly above average and helped raise A Double's stock back up after taking that narrow loss to the new holder of the Big X a few months back. The debuts of both the Glorious One and Ember Moon help replenish stock in the recently depleted roster cupboard that got stripped via the draft last month.

    You probably won't be into the title matches unless you're into instant classic Match of the Year candidates that had thousands of the most jaded subset of fans consistently losing and re losing their fecal matter in real time, or historically significant things like the first time that the Big X changed hands at a Takeover in some 18 months. Who wants to sit through an hour and change straight of that, right?

    NXT knows what they are and how they need to constantly evolve since they are the throughway to Monday and Tuesday nights; they proved that with their opening video package just to inform the late pass havers and remind the diehards just how much a year can and has changed things for them. When Shinsuke closed out the night YeahOh!ing having ascended to the throne, it literally meant not a single belt holder now was on NXTV then, and in the case of the King of Strong Style and the Empress of Tomorrow, they'd yet to make their debuts.

    No one knows what the Brooklyn III Takeover will look like, who'll defend what and what new stars will be on their ways in then. But you will know this much:

    It will never insult your intelligence.

    It will provide extraordinary matches culminating in two hours or so of appointment television.

    And it will make you very, very happy that you're a wrestling fan.