Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Best Coast Bias: Imperfect Tenth

This is not Photoshopped.
Photo Credit:
  • Tye Dillinger overcame outside interference in the opener only to fall victim to Eric Young's wheelbarrow neckbreaker as a result in the opener.
  • Roderick Strong beat Andrade "Cien" Almas after a Sick Kick.
  • The Authors of Pain won the NXT World Tag Team Championships from #DIY clean in the middle of the ring after delivering the Last Chapter.
  • Asuka retained her NXT Women's World Championship over Nikki Cross, Billie Kay and Peyton Royce by pinning Royce after a buzzsaw kick.
  • After a second implant/lifting/Glorious/GDT, Bobby Roode became the 10th man to hold the NXT World Championship, pinning Shinsuke Nakamura clean in the center of the ring.
General Observations:
  • A real shame to hear from the preshow that this would be Corey Graves' last NXT show at the announce table, as he has done some of, if not the, best announce work of anyone in any company over the past couple of years.  That said, he'd clearly moved on up a bit ago, and the looser style of NXT resembles the WWEUK Championship Tournament production style his replacement Nigel McGuinesss (!) will be slotting into.
  • Still don't see the need to have Percy Watson out there, too.  He doesn't actively detract from the product (usually) but he doesn't bring that much by way of value, either.
  • How are we this far into Robert Roode, Esq's NXTenure without there being any Make NXT Glorious Again apparel?  Too...soon?
  • With the exceptions of Asuka and Nakamura, there may be no surer pop in NXT's canon right now than Tye Dillinger, who even got a fancy new Tron and all that.
  • Nikki Cross failed to show with her stablemates, for obvious reasons.
  • Surprised the match opened with Young reoffering Dillinger a spot with his squad considering how solidly rebuffed he was in his prior attempt.
  • Seeing Alexander Wolfe fail at interfering is his marmalade, margarine and toasted bread.  Seeing Killion Dain (sp) also do so in his first attempt in the ostensible DAnitY...not a good look.
  • If ever a wrestle deserved to connect with all ten of their punches in the corner with the crowd counting along...
  • At least no longer Damo had the elan to lift Mike Knox's Flying Hairy Crossbody Of Death.
  • We should've known Kurt Angle wasn't going to be in the Rumble when Tye was doing his pop-up overhead belly to belly superplex in Takeover's opener.
  • Tye did pull off the Tyebreaker, but Wolfe (who'd fallen victim to the move a bit earlier and was on the floor as a result) put Young's foot on the ropes before the count could come to completion.  
  • Samoa Joe was shown at ringside.  Over the course of the ensuing 28 hours, this plot point would go...absolutely nowhere. 
  • Interesting that not only did he get nominally face turned as a result of Austin Aries' injury, but Roderick Strong also had a new theme accompany him as well.  No offense to A Double if/when he ever comes back, but those must be the Slowest Brain Cells To Ever Recover.
  • Very cool to see Strong and Som... uh, Almas go hold for hold on the mat for a stretch at the match's outset.
  • Apparently Cien also got Alberto del Rio's rope-assisted cross-armbreaker in the divorce.  How does that even work?
  • Strong's offense looked the best it's been in his short Full Sail tenure here, from leg lariats to his knee strikes to even simple things like a standard dropkick.  His backbreaker into the top turnbuckle might've been the highlight of the match.
  • That said, Cien's corner-to-corner feint into a slap is almost always going to garner a chuckle, even as he's started to rely on it more and more as a rudo Stateside.
  • GarCiampa getting in a pre-match shoveoff with Gladwell and Franzen was the definition of plucky babyface/outmatched idiot, depending on where one's heart would measure on a D and D alignment chart.
  • In addition to their obvious power, the Authors got off a few well-placed and smart counters throughout the course of the bout almost from the opening minute forward.
  • Gargano and Ciampa each enacting one man dive trains played perfectly into the David v. Goliath archtype, as it took a flurry of Cruiserweight Classicesque moves for them to even momentarily get the upper hand.
  • One of the Authors caught a dive, literally picked up Johnny Wrestling and positioned him on a shoulder before walking up the stairs on the other side of the ring and slamming him into it from the apron.  A great move, and one that may not have been in any previous AoP match.
  • Ciampa isn't Jason Jordan '16 when it comes to being an NXT World Tag Team Champion off of a hot tag, but he's getting there.
  • the Psycho Killer laid into an Author with a series of strikes, got a series of yells in response after the last ones, and then (once again) got laid out by a single shot.  It just was not going to be their night.
  • The champs pulled off a double slingshot spear and managed to counter the Last Chapter in the waning moments of their reign.
  • They put the Authors in the same Gargano Escape/bridging Fujiwara armbar that'd garnered them the gold in Toronto, only for the undefeated champions to counter with sheer strength, the one suffering at Tomasso's hands simply powered out, powered him up, and then slammed him onto Gargano and his partner to break it up.  
  • Hence the Super Collider bombs and the Last Chapter minted the nearly undefeated rookies as gold holders.
  • Seth Rollins showed up to crash the party and call out Papa Haitch; it would've been nice if he'd made more than an oblique, passing mention to his being the first NXT World Champion proper.
  • He laid out some security, the numbers overtook him, and HHH didn't even touch him and barely deigned to respond.  At least the crowd was into it.
  • One thing that'll be miss in Graves' absence is how hard he put over Asuka since day one, sometimes to the part of fear on his end.  He's not the only one who'd believe in an NXT Unified Champion flying the banner of the Empress of Tomorrow.
  • Several props to Mses. Royce and Kay going back-to-back mid-ring at the beginning of the match only to bail out the moment it looked like they were going to get victimized by either Cross or Asuka physically.
  • To quote the great philosopher Christoph Irvine, if they don't run Cross/Asuka at Takeover: Orlando they are Stupid Idiots. 
  • The best spot of the entire night might've been Asuka German suplexing both members of Team Australia at the same damn time.
  • Cross may have actually gotten the best of Asuka in their entirely too brief showdown, kicking it off with a huge headbutt and culminating in an apron hung neckbreaker setting up the Nikki Crossbody dive to the floor.
  • This left her vulnerable to Team Australia, who laid her out all the way up the ramp and put her through a table, thus removing her from the match.
  • Smart enough to do that but not smart enough to have one lay down for the other before the champion came all the way to?  Y'all deserved to get wrecked.
  • It'll be interesting to see what they do with Ember Moon in the next few months, as she kept her undefeated streak going in the preshow.
  • Tyler Tyler Tyler Tyler Tyler Tyler Bate TYLER BATE TYLER TYLER BATE
  • Bobby Roode was escorted to the ring with six other women all also clad in royal purple, so Charles Wright gets to file a 1041k this year.
  • The King was shuttled down to the ring on a small ramp with a riser that had small spotlights on it in the otherwise almost absolute darkness to make it easier to spot his kinetic movements to "The Rising Sun".
  • Shout out to Roode for refusing to charge after Shinsuke taunted him and waved him in.  That's how you get kneed in the sternum.
  • It's always nice when the announcers play up the champion's advantage, as it can be used to both bolster a babyface's sportsmanship or a heel's cowardice.
  • Weird that they had Roode shove Nakamura to the floor and it didn't really manifest itself deeply for the rest of the match.
  • The moment Swagsuke started chaining his offense together it felt like that line from the Wire about the riskiest of chess gambits.
  • Roode suckering Nakamura into a rollup by staying down instead of taking the flight to Africa was pretty dope, even if it goes against Nak's history of throwing diving knees to a downed opponent's head.
  • Bobby managed not to let his ego have a taunt draw him into the line of fire once.  Twice, especially given how late in the match it turned out to be, was a bit much to ask.
  • Nakamura hit the Kinshasa but couldn't get full steam behind it, so Roode kicked out.   After rolling to the apron he ate another but Nakamura injured his leg falling to the floor in the process, thus creating the opening.  Then a third Kinshasa back in the ring led to Nakamura further damaging his leg and Roode having rolled by the ropes off the impact.
  • The trainers were out to check on Nakamura, and this felt like it went on for a minute or two: roughly a long enough patch of time for Roode to recover.
  • From there it went GDT to half crab on the bad leg... 
  • sad William Regal couldn't be in the building for this moment, since everybody was pretty confused as to why Lord Matt Bloom was out at the finish... 
  • ...and after Shinsuke got the ropes and a couple lackluster kicks in, a second GDT gave the Big X to Mr. Glorious.
  • ...
  • ...
  • ...wait, what?
  • ...that's it?  No chicanery?  No Chris Hero to help him get the belt, especially after that photo of him going face-to-face with Shin came out a couple of weeks ago?  Or come out while he luxuriates in his glory?  This all happens in addition to not having Samoa Joe or Shin in the Rumble proper the next night?  The last shot of the show is Bobby Roode holding up the NXT World Championship?!

Match of the Night: know what?  About that...

Overall thoughts: This is the thing, and based off of audience reaction as well it wasn't exactly confined to this corner: Bobby Roode was established smarmy enough for seven people.

What he hadn't been was established as a physical threat besides one (singular, not plural) attack on Tye Dillinger months ago from behind.  Short of Kevin Owens the history of NXT hadn't seen a bigger bad than Samoa Joe, and Shinsuke (sans Toronto) had pretty much ran through Joe every single time they met whether it had been in a cage or dislocating his jaw in their premiere bout where he'd won the belt originally.  You don't call a man a Shiba Ibu to his face if you're living in fear of physical retribution at his hands.

In fact, even with the knee injury incurred during the match, until the moment the referee's hand hit the third time almost no one believed that the title was going to end up in the hands of the Glorious One and that he would suffer a narrow loss in which he still looked very strong and it took a flurry of offense from the black and yellow imprint's biggest name to fell him.

Especially with Nakamura failing to show for the Rumble (an event that had Dillinger in at his number, no less), the main event picture gets bogged down and murky.  What will they do in the lead spot WrestleMania weekend?  Roode's contretemps with the Perfect 10 goes back to the new champion's second NXT match, and giving Tye the ultimate feel good moment in a career triumph on what will presumably be NXT's biggest stage to date may prove to be a button too shiny for the powers that be not to push.

But Chris/Kassius Hero/Ohno is still lurking somewhere in their future, and with his indie commitments wrapped up you would presume somebody on his level would also be slotted immediately in the upper echelon of the firmament.

Add to that Nakamura's obligatory rematch and the possibility of Roderick Strong considering to ascend the ladder and at this point all those guesses and more are possible ways for NXT to go going forward.

This should not be confused with being a bad show by any means just because the ending and its effectiveness are still being sussed out.  The undercard matches, as with the trioka of title fights, were all above average even if none of them breathed in rarefied air.  As someone who watched Smackdown post-Heyman in the days of the original brand split when people like Tatanka and Road Warrior Animal were getting singles pushes, this was never going to be in danger of reaching that depth of nadir.

Conversely, at the end of the program all it felt like was a supersized episode of regular NXTV with a really shocking finish to close it out.  The Revival were in the building but didn't show their faces with regards to the title bout, and so it was with the Special Guest Appearance of Samoa Joe with regards to the main as well as the absence of OHero.

You can't build on a lack, at least not if you want to build something that lasts.  And while every match did solidly, there was no appointment TV match irregardless of a championship being on the line or not that made a fan want to tell other fans to put everything else on hold for 20 minutes and watch this (or these) matches unfettered.

To close out January, NXT embarked on an Era of Gloriousness.

How long it lasts and how well it succeeds will deign whether it ends up being a footnote or a chapter in its own right.