Best: Comparing The First Sami Zayn/Curt Hawkins Match To The Second One
The very first edition of The Best And Worst Of NXT, back in the long long ago when Renee Young wore her hair down and Tyler Breeze was just a gleam in Mike Dalton’s eye, luckily coincided with the debut of Sami Zayn in a match against former tag team champion Curt Hawkins. The match was built around the idea that Hawkins was an established, proven talent, and that Sami Zayn was gonna have to prove himself despite a decade of international accolades in the minor leagues. Zayn won the match with a tornado DDT off the ropes, got into a beef with Antonio Cesaro in the next segment, and history was underway.
Fast forward four months. This week’s episode of NXT begins with a rematch between Zayn and Hawkins … only now Zayn is a guy who can get Match Of The Year contenders out of actually established WWE Superstars, a guy absolutely on his way to becoming the next NXT Champion, and the idea of him losing to a guy like Curt Hawkins is absurd. The match ends with a tornado DDT off the ropes, just like before.
NXT has a shaky history because it is effectively still a wrestling school, and sometimes characters change or get absorbed or just disappear and you have to roll with it. At the same time, they aren’t afraid to embrace the history they’re allowed to remember and let it enhance what’s happening now, so Zayn/Hawkins II becomes an important moment in the evolution of Zayn’s character as we know it. He’s always had the talent and the confidence, but now he’s got the momentum and wins to back it up, totally independent — pardon the pun — of his pre-WWE days. The crowd forgets to chant “ole ole ole” sometimes now because they’re too busy chanting “Sami.” Progress.
Worst: The “Main Rostered Talent” Talking Point
That all said, Curt Hawkins is not Antonio Cesaro or Jack Swagger. A great Curt Hawkins match still isn’t all that great, and it’s funny how the roles have been reversed … in the previous match, it was Zayn looking to debut and impress the WWE Universe. Here, it’s almost like Hawkins is being thrown in there to see if he can hang and get the same magical results as Cesaro and Swagger, to sorta justify him still getting to be around.
Bo Dallas brings it up a little later, but who gives a shit about Curt Hawkins? Riley and what’s-his-face can bring up how Hawkins is “main rostered talent” all they want, but that’s meaningless. NXT has grown out of that. Guys like Zayn shouldn’t have to be intimidated when they come across guys like Hawkins or Yoshi Tatsu or JTG because Jesus Christ, those guys NEVER win. They’re around to fill up the ring during battle royals on tours. They aren’t succeeding or making it. Those are the guys who get obliterated and replaced by the ones who can’t help BUT make it, and if that boot to the mush and tornado DDT were the last we ever saw of Curt Hawkins, who’d miss him? Who’d miss his cane?
Seriously though, what happened to his cane? Did Bray Wyatt beat it up and kidnap it?
Best: Aiden English Becomes The Heel Tyler Breeze Accidentally Isn’t
Remember when Tyler Breeze debuted? He was supposed to get booed because he’s an arrogant male model, but WWE didn’t realize that Zoolander was the HERO of his story, not the villain, and within two weeks Breeze was getting “that was awesome” chants for doing practically nothing. Some guys get to be the villain, and some guys are just too likable to stay it, stupid gimmick or no. Damien Sandow’s like that. They have to neuter him and keep him losing 2-minute matches in silence or he’ll catch fire and ruin their thing.
I think Aiden English will work well as the Working Tyler Breeze. If you haven’t seen the show and are afraid to click that video because of the thumbnail, English is doing this thing where he’s an “entertainer,” meaning he sings parody show-tunes about how great he is as he walks to the ring. He demands a spotlight, first politely, then sternly. He easily wins his match and performs an encore. The crowd boos him as much as they can and I hope that keeps going, because (1) you really SHOULD boo a guy for doing this, and (2) Alex Riley though it was funny, and we should try hard to never agree with Alex Riley.
Best: The Bo Dallas Hotline
And now, Bo Dallas continues to become my favorite WWE character.
Renee Young tries to ask Bo Dallas a question, but he’s busy recording a message to his Bo-lievers via the BO DALLAS HOTLINE, a Bo Dallas information, news and gossip resource Bo is personally running in places like BO-LIVIA because PUNS ARE MORE IMPORTANT TO HIM THAT FINANCIAL REASON. He drops some truth on Renee about how beating Curt Hawkins isn’t that big of a deal (truth), how Sami needs to beat someone credible before he can get a title shot (also truth … he lost to both Cesaro AND Swagger) and has an idea for a title opportunity, but can’t expound on it because he’s got to attend a ribbon. cutting. ceremony. (said just like that)
By the end Renee is facepalming, the perfect mixture of “THIS f*cking guy” and “I love this f*cking guy.” As Bray Wyatt becomes an afterthought on Raw, Bo Dallas suddenly becomes a wrestling genius. Can we divide the Rotunda Success Gene between the two of them evenly at some point?
I want more like this!
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