Friday, January 13, 2017

Best Coast Bias: Top Guys Out Cold

Spoiler alert: this match was real good
Photo Credit:
After a couple weeks off for the holiday season for rest and to revel how well their house shows did in Osaka and Melbourne, NXT's first proper show of 2017 had a lot to get to with a now compressed time frame. It is only a couple weekends away from putting on their first pre-Royal Rumble Takeover now, so they had to accelerate their usual path in getting to their semi-regular Network Special trips to the fireworks factory.

They ramped up the MPH with a great TV match main event on a show where the underserved title pictures became crystal-clear for the end of the night, some gravitas was added with regards to the Big X, and about the only mal note was being reminded Elias Samson existed in lieu of letting DIY and the Revival go an additional five instead of having that squash happen.

You wouldn't be looked at crookedly if you said that the battle that developed over the back half of last year over the NXT World Tag Team Titles was the best rivalry that Stamford, Inc. put on all 2016. Regardless of where you had them in your MOTY rankings, say, ninth and a narrow second, the Takeover matches in Brooklyn and then the best out of three falls in Toronto betwixt Scott Dawson, Dash Wilder, Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa were mindful, perfectly executed reasons as to why some of us still watch wrestling even as we start to gray and the White House starts to orange.

While it may not have hit the same ridiculous peaks of their last two meetings, those aforementioned four men put on another watch-worthy match, a rare three-segment contretemps on a regular hour of NXT television.

Part of the fun of watching their matches is the kinetic memory that gets brought to the table. Based on this being their fourth match (remember last spring's original fight wherein the then as of yet unnamed GarCiampa got a flash pin off a superplex counter) at this point their counter's counters have counters, and they should. The now champs controlled the shortest and first segment, the ex two time champs got control off of a Wilder chop block early in the second and went to double-team work mostly focused on the leg with occasional bursts of clubberin' with a couple of referee distractions sprinkled in, thus setting the stage for a MC5 level third segment in which the jams were kicked out, matriarch fornicators.

Yet as intriguing as it would've been to see a Revival/Authors matchup in Texas to close out the month, you suspected Toronto was an unofficial callup for the Southern boys who go hard all day all night and that sooner or later Johnny Wrestling and the Psycho Killer would get the best of them to win the chain of matches three-to-one and thus end the series.

As a reward for prevailing in that exhausting demolition derby, the champs then proceeded to get waylaid by both Gladwell and Foster Wallace. Nothing says "boo these jerks" like guys twice their combantants' size jumping them from behind *after* winning a match against the most-decorated dyad in Full Sail history, and they were more than willing to bask in the crowd's jeers alongside Mr. Ellering as the show... nearly came to an end.

It came to an end with Asuka screaming and possibly crying.

No, that's not a typo. And in typical NXT fashion, it bookended the show's opening and set up another title match in San Antonio, the one that could steal the show if not outright earn MOTN honors.

Peyton Royce and Billie Kay jumped Asuka in the parking lot (In Florida, no less. OLD SKOOL, ((Kofi Kingston voice)) BAY-*BEE*! ((/)) ) and poured some coffee on her head after tossing her into the side of a car a few times. That done, Team Australia entered the building and proceeded to quickly defeat a couple of jamokes, well, the no longer Crazy Mary Dobson looked good in the short burst of offense she was afforded and got a good reaction from the crowd, but... you know. They ran their mouths post-match, as is their wont, and here came Asuka for some vengeance despite a limp and intermittently clutching her arm. She eventually got in the ring, and then she caught the end of a beatdown. Somewhere in the $10 a month cosmos, Emma and Dana Brooke were begging PR and BK to invent a time machine to go back 18 months and save them. And then, the cavalry arrived, as is it wont to do in WWE.

No, it wasn't her.

But her.

Nikki Cross her, and no, that's not a typo. It's flu season but the only thing the Wonders From Down Under caught was those hands as the White Chocolate Cheesecake of Undiagnosed Mental Disorders sent them out of the ring and fleeing up the ramp. Asuka finally managed to make her way up, let out her signature war cry--and then got floored by a Owen Hart-styled picture-perfect missile dropkick from Cross. During the break she waylaid a ref and staggered to the back, now super into this vengeance thing, whilst Cross and then E.Y. said that they were here to take and with the Women's World title they'd begin while Damo didn't say anything and just watched them go away.

Hence when the show was headed towards its real conclusion and Master Regal questioned who Asuka wanted to face in San Antonio, he was met with a full-throated yell of "ALL OF THEM!" before she seethed/cried/who even knows but somebody about to get EFFED up to end the show.

It's the most vulnerable the former Ms. Most Dangerous has ever looked in her NXtenure, and furthermore underscores the point that to date no one women has been able to stop her, or since We Don't Talk About That WrestleMania weekend been able to usurp her championship. But now, up against a capable competitor who's four moving vans short of a Spanos and a unit that's been annoying her for months and might possibly be more than willing to let one gain glory that the other one wouldn't be able to just in order to lord over Full Sail the fact that their claims of being iconic would be backed up by doing something iconic in tagging the Empress with her first L and taking her title with them?

For the first time in her reign, and you might even argue her entire time Stateside, she's in danger. Not in the laughable way certain handsome princes are come Monday nights, but actual emotional stakes. That said, that's balanced out by the fact that sans a couple of Lesnar runs, nobody's been made to look like a bigger long-term threat in WWE history (let alone NXT's) who has the power to end any match or anyone's unconsciousness with one shot than she has before this show. It was widely assumed that she was going to cruise to a year-long anniversary with the championship, but suddenly the calendar may be coming up faster than previously believed, and the card for Takeover is all the better for it.

Besides a really hard-hitting and fun match betwixt Oney Lorcan and Andrade Almas that saw the latter avenge his Osaka loss and put himself in the path of Roderick Strong to try to avenge his loss in the elimination number one contendership quadrangle from just before the holiday, the final touch this week came from Tom Phillips handing Shinsuke Nakamura a piece of paper in a pretape.

It turned out that paper was a ticket to Takeover: Dallas, given to Phillips in lieu of actually having to talk to him via the Glorious One, Robert Roode, Esq. God's Team and Percy Watson played dumb about this after the fact, as did a confused King of Strong Style, but those of you with long memories remember that Shinsuke Nakamura debuted there and then proceeded to put on 2016's best match in beating the exiting Sami Zayn...and during cutaways to the crowd as that show unfolded, Roode was shown watching in the crowd. The possibility that Roode's been targeting Nakamura since literally both their first moments in the company is a small but necessary touch in order to even slightly shake the prevailing thought Roode is showing up in San Antonio to get his jawline shaved down a bit by a Kinshasa.

Their contract signing is the hook for next week's show, and now with all the title matches set it'll be interesting to see what other two or three matches will end up making the cut for Takeover time in the pair of remaining shows.

It may not need to be said, but it sure feels damn good to say it,

Welcome back, NXT.