Originally posted by me for NXT ep. 244 10/09/14Okay, guys, it's time for an intervention. We all hate RAW right now. It's a bad show. Consistently and thoroughly. We all chime in on the RAW threads out of inertia, and a hope that the show will improve. It might! But it hasn't yet. So let's stop killing ourselves talking about how bad that show is, and talk about the best show on television - er, the internet (work with me here, people), NXT.
Those were the words I kicked of my recapping career with, 2 years and 3 months ago. We were stuck in the worst rut of RAW's existence (I stand by that), and the board was just getting progressively more upset by a deluge of frankly baffling booking decisions. I, personally needed an antidote to all that stuff, and that's why I started recapping the one wrestling show a week that I was genuinely enjoying.
Things really have improved since then, albeit a lot of them pretty recently. RAW's pretty watchable most nights, although that 3 hour run time never helps them, and Smackdown is genuinely very good these days. If you're not watching 205 Live, you probably ought to be at this point, as it's probably the best hour of in-ring action WWE produces every week, and between The Hardys, Lucha Underground, and NJPW tv (if you're lucky enough to get that in your market), there's enough stuff going on outside of WWE that, if you're somebody who like wrestling, there's definitely something up your alley in there.
As for NXT, well, it's hard not to argue that it's dropped off in quality some since its glory days, as a lot of talent's been kicked upstairs, but if you think the show's got nothing to offer anymore, I've got some news for you. This week's episode, my Special Super-Sized 100th Recap Spectacular Extravaganza, is the go-home show for TO: San Antonio, and that looks to be as good of a show as most any you could name. To help set the table for this momentous occasion, I scoured back over all 99 previous recaps (no, really!) to pull some choice quotes, and offer up a little perspective on where we are right now.
In fact, we can start with ep. 292
Originally posted by meOkay guys, this is a pretty big weekend for WWE, with both RAW and NXT having major shows. So I want to talk for a minute about go-home shows. You know, the last show before an event, that's supposed to set all the angles in motion and get you fired up for the big matches. I didn't actually say anything in the RAW thread, but let me talk about it here for a minute. RAW literally opened with a guy in the ring reading the Summerslam card to you. I don't know who told HHH that was compelling television, but they were Wrong. So Wrong. Throughout the remaining 2.5 hours, RAW continued to do almost nothing I remember 3 days later. There was a pretty good contract signing bit somewhere in the middle, but the rest? Gone. Last night's NXT show? Different story. Spoiler for my recap - there were no real matches on the show. Everything was a squash. But everything meant something. Everything advanced an angle, either for Takeover, or for next week's show. Every squash was an excuse for someone to talk, or for somebody to get beat up on his way to Broolyn. This is how you make people excited to see what's coming next.
Same story this week; no real matches to speak of. RAW and Smackdown did reasonably well with their go-homes this week, but NXT is still the show where this sort of thing really shines.
Anyhoo, I should probably get down to brass tacks here. Later tonight, we're getting a Fatal 4-Way Face Off (so much alliteration!) between the women who will be competing for the title at TO, but we start off with some different women. Ember Moon takes on Liv Morgan, and well, I haven't been super generous to Liv over the last few months. Let's see if there's a lesson to be learned from our history here?
Originally posted by ep. 281We come back to ringside, where Eva Marie!? is out. She says (once she can get the crowd to stop booing her long enough to speak - it takes a while) that she want to compete in the ring with the women of NXT!? Wait, that can't be right, let me check that again. No, that's actually what she said! Oh no, Dana Brooke, please come back! I didn't mean it, you're just fine! Trade back! Trade back!
Oh, no, recaps. Don't you do this to me!
Originally posted by ep. 288Eva Marie vs. Some Jobber. This match is bad. No, Eva Marie is bad. Whoever told me she was going to be better than expected is a liar and a bad person. She is literally the worst wrestler I've ever seen, and this is the single worst match I've ever seen. I'm actually going to give props to Cassie, the jobber, because she does everything in her power to sell and get this woman over. It does not work. End comes when Eva Marie hits a Sliced Bread #2, if you're being charitable. If you're not being charitable, it ends when Cassie back suplexes Eva Marie so that it looks like Eva Marie did something. Match Rating: I Am Not Being Charitable.
I mean it recaps!
Originally posted by ep. 308No joke guys - this was a great match. The actual wrestling wasn't much to see, but the storytelling here was just above reproach. They did everything right here. It was the best possible use of Eva Marie, who wrestled better than we've ever seen (credit to that is probably due to Bayley, but let's be fair to Eva Marie here too), and she took two absolutely huge bumps.
Originally posted by ep. 332at any rate, the fact that I'm reacting to her leaving with anything other than total, naked joy really says that they've done a lot of things right with her time here.
Well, there it is.
Originally posted by ep. 332Match Rating: Well, Maybe I Won't Miss Eva Marie That Much.
All right, that makes me feel a little better, and if you read (or scrolled) through all of that, then you probably really want to know about the match. It starts off with Corey Graves pointing out that Liv challenging Ember is like getting mauled by a polar bear (Asuka), then picking a fight with a grizzly bear. I love NXT's commentary, and have ever since
Originally posted by ep. 259 Before I get to the match, I need to focus on the commentary for a second. These guys are great, and provide everything I'm looking for from a team. It's not just that they're better than the low bar JBL and company set; they're actually great all on their own.
and once the fighting starts, we actually get some pretty good mat work from Liv. It turns out, she's way better at mat work than she is at the basic striking stuff that's been 100% of her offense so far. The do a rolling cradle spot, with Liv coming out on top for two, then Ember nails a running knee strike in the corner and takes charge. She nails a fall-away slam into a crossface submission, but Liv counters out into a rollup for another two. She hits a jawbreaker and a dropkick, then locks in a guillotine choke! Ember Moon is actually in trouble here, but then she straight hoists Liv up and over the top rope. Live takes a massive bump to the floor, and when she tries to recover, Ember hits a sliding kick on the apron. It's academic here, and and Eclipse locks it up. Afterwards, we get some Indy Respect from Ember Moon. Match Rating: ep. 319 Go Back To Ring Of Honor!
Hmm, maybe there is something to this history thing?
Next up, we have Andrade Almas backstage, talking shit en Espanol, as he is wont to do. Roddy Strong interrupts, and for his temerity, gets the ever-loving shit kicked out him, twice, by Almas, who is running him down in Spanish the whole time. Almas is incredible in this segment. He comes off as genuinely dangerous, and tough, and just a real bastard. It's some of the best heel work I've seen in a long time, and he hardly says a word of English in the whole segment.
Next up, we get a package on DIY and the AoP. Screw the AoP, for the moment, let's just revisit some stuff for DIY.
Originally posted by ep. 295GM Regal is in his office talking to...the internet tells me they're Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa. Regal actually says their names, but he does it so quickly and so quietly I had no idea who they were at the time.
Originally posted by ep. 296That's enough for Griffendor and Toyota Camry to pick up a pin with a combination Sunset Flip and Jackknife.
Ah, those were fun times! I really gave them a lot of shit to begin with, but then came:
Originally posted by ep. 304Our next match is Jordan and Gable against the Indy Guys, who are still so, so Indy. These guys need something else going for them, besides new names, I mean. Maybe a manager or something. Because they're a great, exciting team, but they're not great, exciting individuals...Jordan flapjacks Camry and makes the tag to Gable, and they manage to hit the motion-assisted German suplex to pick up a fantastic win. Match Rating: LOVE It.
Seriously, I am all about that kind of wrestling, and this was easily the match of the night for me.
I'm not going to copy in the whole match (you can go back and read the whole thing if you really want to), but that match has quietly been one of, if not my very favorite NXT tv match of all time. Just four guys doing great work.
Originally posted by ep. 309These guys are a great team, and they are so boring individually.
Which is not to say that I was an immediate fan.
Originally posted by ep. 337"two undersized, bearded guys who are, you know, just kinda 'good hands.'"
Still how I describe them! But finally:
Originally posted by ep. 370Their loss in Brooklyn was a career-maker, and now? They are legit one of the best tag teams in the world, one of my favorite parts of NXT, and two guys that you can just count on, every time, to deliver a fantastic match.
You know, I originally said it about Finn Balor, but,
Originally posted by ep. 285[This] is what it looks like when you do absolutely everything right
Okay, we've got another match now, NWJ vs.
Originally posted by ep. 326Teaser for...No Way Jose? Did you guys see this too, or did I have a stroke?
Originally posted by ep. 327No Way Jose. No Way, Jose. No! Way! Jose! No! Way! Jo! Se! Wait, where am I? What's going on? What happened? I smell toast. No wait, I'm okay.
Uh, sorry, vs. Kona Reeves, the guy who probably tells girls he's the Rock's cousin, just ask Corey Graves. He gets *this close* to using my line. Anyhoo, this is regarding SAnitY beating the shit out of Reeves back in Toronto, as was discussed last week. Reeves gets in some pretty good comedy dancing here, but it just makes me remember ep. 341
Originally posted by meNWJ is dancing post victory, and A-Double comes out. He tells NWJ that a man is defined by his defeats, and he did learn something tonight - that wrestling is supposed to be fun! This has reminded him of who he really is, and who he needs to be. Nothing ominous there! NWJ starts dancing again, and he baits Aries into joining him with some spectacularly bad comedy dancing of his own.
The true gold standard of comedy dancing! Reeves also rides NWJ like a surfboard, because, shit, why not? Match Rating: ep. 267 I've been digressing on this point because what do you think happened in this match? After the match, NWJ decides to celebrate, but that brings out the Drifter.
Originally posted by ep. 309Before the match, another Elias Samson, Drifter, package. Still not sure if this is going to work or not.
Well, the crowd wants him to die, so, y'know, he's got that going for him. NWJ cuts off the Drifter's song, and makes fun of him. Nothing much right now, but I'm sure these guys will eventually solve their problems with violence.
Originally posted by ep. 269 I love the way they solve problems with violence on this show. This is how wrestling is supposed to work!
Next, Cris Atkins takes on Eric Young. You got this one, Cris! SAnitY's no match for you! SAnitY now boasts Killian Dain (nee Damo), and let's take just a moment for these guys, too.
Originally posted by ep. 358the debuting SAnitY, who...
Wait, what the fuck just happened?
Okay, if this review is going up late, it's because I just rewatched SAnitY's entrance, like, a half-dozen times. First off, yes, it's totally a Purge gimmick. But there are four of them, and when they come out, the lights go out, the fog machines start up, and the camera angles get all wonky, while we get spot lighting zig-zagging its way all over the place. All four of these guys come out masked...This is rad as hell.
I stand by that assessment. Young absolutely mauls this poor jobber, but when goes to finish him off with his wheelbarrow neckbreaker, he can't quite make it, so he has to settle for a wheelbarrow suplex to get the pin. Match Rating: ep. 320 The Really Noteworthy Thing Is Cameron Delivering Literally The Worst Spinning Neckbreaker I've Ever Seen In My Life. Like, I Need To Record This For Posterity, So When I Vote On Next Year's RSPW Awards I'll Remember What The Worst Move Was.
Actually, it wasn't anywhere near that bad. I really just used that quote so that I could point out that no, I did not remember what the Worst Move was. Anyhoo, EY gets on the mic to let Tye Dillinger know that he made the wrong decision. Then Dain murders the jobber with the Big Fat Guy move of choice, the running senton.
Quick recap from last week's surprisingly disappointing Revival/TM61 match. Turns out it was bad because Shane Thorne was doing it on one leg, and the whole thing was just an excuse to send the guy out for ACL surgery. He's gone for the next 7-9 months.
Originally posted by ep. 272 This is big news to people like me who are weird recluses with no twitter accounts or any other kind of viable web presence.
Next, we've got a Nakamura/Roode package (mostly Nakamura, to be honest), and it's really, really good. Like,
Originally posted by ep. 326 Next up is a video package for American Alpha. It details how they both got started in amateur wrestling as kids, and it talks about their greatest failures, each of them losing major amateur championships when they mattered the most. Then it talks about how neither of them are in it alone anymore, and how, as a team, they're finally going to win the big one. I...I legit got emotional on this one. I want these two to win *so much* in Dallas. If this package was done by the Full Sail squad, they should all pat themselves on the back, because it was every bit as good as something the RAW team would have put together.
But, just remember
Originally posted by ep. 354okay, let's talk, The Internet. Bobby Roode has a great theme song, and he's reprising Shane Douglas's "Franchise" character, which is always fun, but frankly he's a mediocre wrestler. Always has been. He's always been the second best guy in any team he's been a part of. I don't hate him, but we can't keep pretending he's better than he is.
Originally posted by ep. 368Hot Take - Oney Lorcan Is, Like, Way Better Than Bobby Roode.
There's only so much you can do with this match. But who cares?! It's time for the Fatal 4-Way Face-off! GM Regal has decided to do this against his better judgement, but assures us that there will be no fighting tonight. Good luck Regal, you got this one! The Aussie Mean Girl Squad is out first, and they actually get on the mic to claim that they run the division. But Cross is out next (solo), and, well,
Originally posted by ep. 349 I'm calling it right now, Glencross is THE woman to watch.
She's ready to tear these guys apart now, but Asuka doesn't even wait to run out and start throwing hands. Things get a bit chaotic, but the AMGS manage to jump Cross and Asuka while they're preoccupied with each other. That advantage doesn't last long, though, as they both get dumped. Security's out to ruin our fun, but Asuka and Cross beat the hell out of the security guys. Having run most of them out of the ring, Cross turns around and eats a roundhouse from Asuka! Now, security have recovered, and start hauling Asuka away from the ring. But Cross has recovered, and she goes up top for a massive Cross-body to the group on the floor! It's absolutely beautiful, one of the best I've ever seen. Meanwhile, the AMGS are freaking the fuck out on the ramp.
And that's it. We're done, and it's time for Takeover. But the question remains: am I excited for Takeover?
Originally posted by ep. 252Neville offers the handshake of respect, but this infuriates Zayn. He says this match is not about respect, and then he slaps the ever-loving taste out of Neville's mouth. Wow, I've seen matches where the guys don't get hit that hard. Wow. Zayn walks out at this point, and I am genuinely excited for (R)Evolution.
NO, SERIOUSLY. I am excited for (R)Evolution, in a way that I haven't been excited for a wrestling show in a long while. Everything on tonight's show built toward (R)Evolution in a good, interesting way. All of the featured players got mentioned, some got match time, and every announced match on the card is selling the overall product. I would actually pay money to see (R)Evolution. Fortunately for me, I don't have to, so instead I'll see you all back here next week for what is likely to be the best wrestling show of the last six months at least.
Originally posted by ep. 299 Okay, okay, okay, it's a one-match card, but HOT DAMN am I excited for that one match. They didn't promise the moon; they promised the moon, the sun, and the stars. For the first time, they themselves are saying that this match is going to be the greatest match in the history of NXT women's wrestling, possibly in the history of NXT wrestling period. They are shooting for legendary status. And in the hands of lesser talent I'd be worried. But I'm not.
I'm excited for Takeover.
Originally posted by ep. 337 If I can say one definitive thing about NXT, it's that they really know how to sell a big show.
Originally posted by ep. 310 Everything feels important, even if, in the grand scheme, it's not. It's a show that gives us reasons to care, instead of excuses not to.
Yeah, I'm excited for Takeover.
Originally posted by ep. 343The, Uh, 1300 Words I Just Wrote Probably Sum It Up.
Originally posted by ep. 249YOU SHOULD BE WATCHING THIS RIGHT NOW.
Huh, I wasn't kidding when I said Super-Sized, was I? But I'm not quite done, yet. I couldn't work in all the bits I wanted to. I couldn't get in my favorite dig on Samoa Joe (Promoa Joe #306), or my favorite unfounded dig on TNA (Just kidding, no one remembers him from TNA. Heck, in about a month, no one's going to remember TNA. #308)or do anything with my big Christmas thing I did a couple years ago (make the people in charge of the company remember exactly what the spirit of wrestling is all about, and perhaps a hard-hearted old rich miser might just see the error of his ways, someday. #313). I couldn't use my thing about Nakamura's theme song (Let's say friendship. It's usually friendship. C'mon, I know you guys know what I'm talking about, you can't fool me. #330). I couldn't even use my favorite match rating (Match Rating: Angry Islander Beats Up Midsize Passenger Sedan.#309)!
But what I can do is thank people. First off, let me thank the good people of NXT for turning out a weekly product that I'm this invested in. Thanks to all the great talen that's gone through NXT up to the main roster: Zayn, Balor, Owens, Breeze, Kidd, Jordan, Gable, Neville, Dallas, Bayley, Charlotte, Sasha, Bliss, Lynch, Joe, Asuka, Crews, Enzo, Cass, Kalisto, Carmella, Corbin, English, Gotch, Rhyno, Emma, Dana Brooke, Eva Marie, Nia Jax, Roode, Samson, Mojo, and Zack Ryder.
Thanks to the guys still working down there: Itami, Dash, Dawson, Nakamura, Ciampa, Garganno, Nikki Cross, Eric Young, Almas, Aries, Dillinger, Liv Morgan, Peyton Royce, Billie Kay, and Ember Moon.
Thanks to the announcing teams, those who are still there and those who have left: Regal, Rene Young, Tom Phillips, Corey Graves, Byron Saxton, Jason Alexander, Alex Riley, and Rich Brennan.
And thanks to guys like Marcus Louis, LaForte, CJ Parker, Bull, Crowe, and Blue Pants, who didn't quite pan out. Even their stuff has been appreciated.
Secondly, thanks to all of you. Whether you've ever commented in these threads, or even if you just read them every week, thanks so much for taking the time to bother reading something I wrote.
All right, that's it. 100 down, 100 more to go!
Wait, no, that's too many. An indeterminate number more to go! And as I finish, let me remind everyone,
Originally posted by ep. 355I like doing these recaps - they let me digest the show in a way that you don't normally, if you're not really thinking about how everything's laid out and what the plans for the future are.