Tuesday, November 1, 2016

That Was 10: Best Coast Bias Goes (NXT) Hollywood

E.Y. subbed and got beheaded by the King as a result
Photo Credit: Eric Howard
Results (including upcoming Dusty Classic spoilers and another possible spoiler as well), stray thoughts and takeaways from NXT's Halloween Eve show just as soon as you all fall hopelessly in love with Little Nakamura, the Prince of Strong Style...

  • Roderick Strong beat No Way Jose after Death By Roderick and a Sick Kick.
  • That was followed by a Dusty Classic semifinal matchup (more about which imminently).
  • Daria Berenato beat Mandy Rose after a spinebuster.
  • Tye Dillinger beat Buddy Murphy after connecting with a superkick and the Tyebreaker.
  • NXT World Women's Champion Asuka and Ember Moon beat Billie Kay and Peyton Royce when Billie tapped out to a flying Asuka Lock.
  • The other Dusty Classic semifinal match followed intermission (soon, my pretties).
  • Bobby Roode beat an international star of note (this is the last bridge to be crossed, seriously; plus there's already a hint) clean with a glorious Implant DDT.
  • Shinsuke Nakamura successfully defended the NXT World Championship by beating Eric Young (replacing Austin Aries) and Samoa Joe in a triple threat after he waylaid Young with the Kinshasa.
General Observations:
  • If you thought the fun size Nakamura was too cute, be thankful a picture of Lil' Enzo couldn't be procured.
  • While the Stamford branding referred to the last part of their Cali sojurn as hash brown NXT Los Angeles, it was being held at the very nice Hollywood Palladium, think a smaller, fancier version of the Hammerstein Ballroom, so hence the title.
  • A production truck was on hand recording the festivities, so at least some of this is making air.
  • It also came to light someone unexpected and very popular had been seen entering the ballroom and even snapped some shots with a few fans earlier in the afternoon. However, when he made his appearance in the semi-main, the crowd reaction was overwhelmingly one of gleeful shock, and WWE's social media played it as such, so why ruin that moment for you?
  • Lil' Nak also won a pre-show trivia contest thanks to the overwhelming help of seemingly everyone else in attendance, and got a We Are NXT shirt and a Nakamura necklace to match his gear.
  • The most despised man in the building? You guessed it, Roman Reigns. Why they had a video highlight package of the wildly inferior WrestleMania Over Jerry's Ego play before the show instead of highlights from Takeover: Dallas is a confounder.
  • Then Now Forever segued into a short Triple H pre-tape (you can guess what question got asked) and then the program got underway.
  • Jose seems to have gotten the Enzo Amore "well, of course you kick the show off with this guy to pop the crowd" spot, but this being within range of Reseda, Strong got a huge pop and a multitude of P W G chants during the match itself.
  • Somehow the Code of Honor was applied to. Strong didn't go full-on white hat but instances of him cheating were either brief or didn't happen at all.
  • The crowd popped for the announcement that the following match, scheduled for one fall (ONE FALL!) was a Dusty Classic semifinal. Then they popped for SANitY. Then they popped for TM61.
  • Since Nikki Cross is now too crazy to keep up the vestiges of her former life, I now dub myself the Salted Caramel Cheesecake of Sports Entertainment Analysis.
  • SANitY jumped CeCe and Thorne before the bell, and seemed to be more over than the Aussies. They dominated the match to boot, botched suplex spot down the stretch and all, right before a surprise jacknife pin out of a counter put the former Mighty into the finals.
  • Berenato worked babyface here, which mostly meant she occasionally smiled.
  • As she circled Rose looking for her big opening early on, the crowd regaled the ladies of the new class with Sweep The Leg! chants.
  • Rose cheated and gained control. There was a botch here as well, and this was the worst match on the card simply due to the greenness of the participants and the fact that they need reps. It wasn't offensively bad, but it wasn't good either.
  • If they're using her as a Rousey proxy, shouldn't Berenato's finisher be some sort of MMA submission (she used a guillotine late in this affair) or some sort of ground and pound instead of the inferior version of the spinebuster where she doesn't even get all the way around with her body?
  • Murphy has a new dubstep song and heeled on a fan on his way in but almost nobody cared, because outside of the big names you see in the commercials Tye Dillinger was the most over person on the card and it wasn't even close.
  • Tenning was so pervasive that spots were set up to get to his magic number, but as has been happening at Full Sail lately, people started counting at ten and stayed there. Literally everything Dillinger did on offense got the digits up. Later on in the show there was a countdown coming back from intermission and people started counting at ten and staying there; referees tried to make a Tye-coun--uh, ten count in later matches when the participants spilled to the outside and every single count was 10, on at least one occasion the crowd counted a nearfall as "Ten! Ten! Tennnnnnn." and other kickouts got "That was ten!" chants. It nearly made Smilin' Drake Wuertz crack a couple times.
  • It was a comedy match he and Murphy had but the crowd was vociferously there throughout, not to mention Murphy taking a wholly unnecessary bump to the floor to help Dillinger's cause. When he finally shut up the audience's "You're A Zero!" chants with a couple of nice offensive maneuvers, the crowd chanted one, then in his pinfall attempt and subsequent follow ups Dillingerkicked out at one in a beautiful subtle perpetual chant motion machine.
  • Ember Moon got a huge pop, but it (sorry) paled in comparison to Asuka's.
  • In response to all our "Asuka's gonna kill you!" chants Team Australia insisted on being introduced pre-match as the most iconic duo in NXT.
  • Asuka had a lot of fun early on, being nigh invincible probably helps, and teased a Stinkface a couple of times before delivering it.
  • For daring to strike the Empress of Tomorrow, Kay and Royce got serenaded with "You fcked up!" and then possibly due to the bevy of children in attendance a Jericho inspired "Stupid idiots!"
  • Ember's selling was great as she drew the heat, and the match ended with the O-Face wiping out Royce before Kay ran into a flying Asuka Lock which is just as impressive live as televised.
  • At this point the show went to intermission, and those of us up in the cheap seats in the balcony took the opportunity to actually sit down for a hot second.
  • Unannounced pre-show and post-break, Master Regal came out and thanked us from growing the brand from 25 people in a little sweatbox to what it is now, and did so as usual at the expense of prolonged chants for him.
  • In the evening's second Dusty Classic semi the Psycho Killer and Johnny Wrestling probably got the biggest non-Asuka pop to that point in the evening and garnered another strong round of P W G chants.
  • The crowd met the Authors of Pain with general noise, and if you can tell them apart one has an arm sleeve and the other doesn't appear to.
  • #DIY got swamped for the most part early on despite winning a Pier 4 early on, culminating in Bradbury and Lovecraft catching Johnny on a dive attempt and throwing him into Ciampa's attempted follow-up.
  • In a change from their television personae up to this point Paul Ellering even got in some cheap shots behind the ref's back.
  • Ciampa got the tag and after some effort managed to fire off a German but then he and J.W. got laid out by a lone Author's concurrent fallaway slam and Samoan drop.
  • Ciampa and Gargano managed to rana their opponents into each other and make good on their prior dive teases. They connected with their finisher, and Ellering distracted the referee.
  • Talk about a golden opportunity for the Revival, surly about their as-of-yet-unaired second round loss to come in from under the ring and beat Gargano down.
  • Then Ciampa went splut, and he went SPLUT, and then he and Gargano were Totally Eliminated from the tournament. At least there were DIY chants on their way out, and hopefully having to face off against the Authors again will give TM61 the breakout babyface moment to connect they still need with a lot of the audience.
  • Seriously, all he has to do to be the most reviled heel in NXT's post-Owens history is to cut off that song one word in.
  • Quick side note: I got spoiled by a friend while I was in line about the nature of the Special Guest Star in the main event, he'd gotten a picture with him and a few other fans had as well.
  • Also, the flyer for the show listed him as the opponent, but keep in mind that this flyer listed Austin Aries as being the third man in the triple threat main, which he wasn't going to be.
  • That is the prelude to a familiar riff most associated with the Cruiserweight Classic starting after Glorious Domination was cut off and people losing their minds like the Dean announced the prize for winning was priority registration as KOTA BLEEPING IBUSHI came out.
  • After a thunderous round of I Bu Shi chants in short order the crowd volleyed back and forth between Holy Shit! and This Is Awesome ones.
  • Roode got the early advantage with a takedown leading into a whirlybird and a few paintbrushes, then Ibushi sure did kick him for a while.
  • The Triangle Moonsault got teased but Roode avoided it and cut off the Golden Star on a springboard attempt to take control, snuffing out a hope spot with a lariat that Kota Jannetty sold.
  • Ibushi drilled Roode with a big dropkick to hit the reset button, then took control with a standing Shooting Star Press leading into a springboard dropkick to send Roode to the floor and into perfect position for successful completion of the Triangle.
  • Roode delivered on a spinebuster and later had Kota pinned in the corner with his feet on the ropes, but he got caught in doing so.
  • Ibushi rallied and then finished off Bobby Roode with a buzzsaw kick and the Golden Star powerbomb.
  • ...
  • ...wait, no. King Glorious the First kicked out.
  • The crowd lost it at that point, and were completely stunned once a minute's worth of chants had been burned through.
  • So you can imagine the reaction when Ibushi whiffed on a Phoenix splash and Roode followed up with the Impaler to beat him clean in the middle of the ring.
  • [Of course, that's a logical thing to do when one guy's signed and the other one is doing one offs for gits and shiggles. But the fact that result got that reaction in front of a pretty smarky crowd tells you all you need to know about its effectiveness, and with cameras in and all over the building don't be surprised if they use the one-two punch of this and Roode beating Dillinger at Takeover: Great White North in order to set up him v. Nakamura to kick off 2017.]
  • All of the shoutouts to Kota selling the loss like he'd disgraced the entirety of his bloodline, completely oblivious to the Ibushi and Thank You, Kota chants as he made his way to the back.
  • E.Y. got a mixed reaction, Joe got a huge pop that combined respect with the fact that Huntington Beach is just down the road from Hollywood (freeway traffic relative), and Nakamura's entrance live, even in a less flashy Lee England Jr-less setting totally justified the Jackson spent on getting a ticket. Yes, everybody sang Rising Sun.
  • Young interrupted the pre-match staredown/smacktalk between the former and current NXT champions and got quickly disposed of by Joe as a result. Joe waved in Nakamura, who would eventually be taken out of the frame by Young, who would get handled by Joe.
  • Nakamura came in to give both his opponents that spaz choke, then Joe laid him out.
  • If you were wondering, yes, you can hear Joe's stuff landing in the balcony even in the cheap seats on a house show.
  • Young took Nakamura out for a bit with a hanging dragon sleeper in the corner, then Joe booted him down and hit the fat-ass senton, then the King laid them both out only to fall victim to Young cutting him off and Joe making the save on that pinfall.
  • The crowd informed Young he was Super. He concurred, in his crazy way.
  • Joe almost legitimately messed up Young with a snap slam, but the match continued on with Joe linking together a powerbomb, STF and crossface.
  • The ring shook when Nakamura German suplexed Joe, but Young snuck up behind him and got in position up top before following through with a sweet Savage elbow.
  • Nak managed to avoid the Muscle Buster, but not an STJOE and Kokina Clutch. He did manage to boot up an incoming Young and play Bret Hart to Joe's Roddy Piper or Steve Austin as a result.
  • Young would take Joe out of the frame, then fall victim to the second rope knee strike and Kinshasa shortly thereafter.
  • Joe got in The Champ's face post-match for a bit, presumably for beating him without beating him, but then left the ring without further incident.
  • Post-match, Nakamura called the LA audience great and thanked us. YeahOh~!
Match of the Night: Bobby Roode v. Kota Ibushi - While the women's tag match almost earned this accolade, it had to go to what I believe is the first meeting between Roode and Ibushi. Getting the Golden Star exclusive to the "Los Angeles" show as a bonus cherry on a wrestling sundae that saw the black and yellow imprint change the card in every town is exactly the sort of thing that lodges into the memory banks as a reason to go see NXT live when they come to your town or anywhere close.

The veterans got the most time of anyone on the show and made the most of it in front of a raucous crowd that could only have been buoyed by the semi-surprise appearance of the Golden Star. Most importantly, they used him to give Roode the first big win of his NXTenure (assuming this airs or gets hyped on the programming) and he did it cleanly mid-ring, thus giving his braggadocio all the justification necessary, at least in his glorious mind.

Running a slower, more powerful heel against a smaller, quicker bigger babyface does allow for the possibility that the disparity of style clanks and clatters, underscoring the differences in a way that combines peanut butter and Chong. But watching Roode and Ibushi go 15-20 just went to show the point that in a different world they could've easily put this on a Takeover and gotten a pretty similar reaction, but in front of a bigger crowd and on a wider platform.

Overall thoughts: When Big Brother puts on a house show, they like to hype the fact it could happen. The reality is it almost never does, and the main difference is for folks like us who know the looser environment might provide some fun moments and longer match times.

Contrast that to NXT, who can throw out William Regal guest appearances and Kota Ibushi matches on a card already featuring Nakamura, Samoa Joe, Asuka, Ember Moon and Roderick Strong and two Dusty Classic semifinals that set up two good tag matches to happen at Takeover T-Dot. When you draw from a well as deep as NXT's, it means you can lose somebody on Aries' level (and presumably Hideo Itami, ironically enough) and just find new ways to keep plugging away and delivering a high quality event that resonated from the rafters to ringside. No one should be surprised by this news, but consider it official confirmation: if you have the opportunity to go see NXT, you damn well should.

And the best part is you already know what score to give something like that.