Friday, May 22, 2015

Sasha vs. Becky; A Wrestling Masterpiece

The NXT live specials have become THE place to watch brilliant women's wrestling. After Paige and Emma finished their rivalry on the first special, ArRival, Paige was then promoted to the main roster. That opened the door for a wave of hungry and talented new girls to take center stage. The first to step up was Charlotte. She defeated Natalya in what was considered, at the time, the best women's match in WWE in years. Charlotte and Bayley then nearly topped it three months later TakeOver: Fatal Four Way. The entire time these feuds were being built I kept waiting for one woman to get her chance. Sasha Banks. She finally did at TakeOver: R Evolution in December. She went out and had the best women's match in NXT history against Charlotte, nearly capturing the title. She would finally win the coveted belt at my favorite women's match in WWE history. You read that right. Not just NXT history, but WWE history. Sasha, Charlotte, Bayley and Becky Lynch stole the show at TakeOver: Rival and Sasha was given the title to run with. She became only third woman to hold the title and has gone on to do so much with it. Sasha and Charlotte have headlined two separate NXT live events from San Jose to Philadelphia. It has hit a point where Sasha is a bonafide NXT main event caliber performer. She is right up there with Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens and Finn Balor. That was unfathomable as of this time last year. Sasha now faced a new challenge though. Could she continue the trend of great women's matches at her first TakeOver title defense at Unstoppable?

Enter Becky Lynch. A long time ago, I first found her as Rebecca Knox in SHIMMER. She impressed me, but would suffer a career threatening injury and be forced out of action for years. The injury took place in 2006, leaving Becky out of action for nearly seven years before signing with the WWE in 2013. She came into NXT with an Irish stereotype gimmick where she danced to the ring. Realizing this was a bad move, her character changed in a few weeks before joining up with Sasha Banks. Their partnership never clicked, but it brought Becky into the spotlight. In my honest opinion, she stole the show at the TakeOver: Rival Fatal Four Way. It seemed that Becky was about to break through. She would win a number one contender's Triple Threat match, setting up a showdown with her former partner, Sasha Banks. The girls were given a contract signing segment, another clear sign that the Women's Title means the world in NXT, where Becky poured her soul. She talked about the path she had to take to get to where she is. Sasha and Becky would trade shots during the signing, with Becky locking Sasha in her sick looking armbar submission. The only question that really remained now, was whether or not Becky could live up to the high standard set by the women of NXT.

The time came for the match and you could instantly tell this was going to be special. Every detail was accounted for. Becky got the cool entrance, but was visibly jumpy and anxious for the biggest match of her career. Sasha was the complete opposite. She walked out extremely confident because this is where she belongs. The girls traded early near falls because, while their partnership is over, the battle was about the NXT Women's Title. Because of what these girls have done over the past year and a half, the title is one of the most prestigious in the entire world of professional wrestling. Since Becky adopted the armbar submission, she works the arm and it looks brutal. Sasha Banks, being the "Boss", isn't one to be outdone and decides that turnabout is fair play. She does arm work of her own, which looks even more vicious. Some of the offense looked straight of a Ring of Honor Bryan Danielson/Nigel McGuinness match, really showing me that Sara Amato had a ton to do with this outing. You know the offense looks good when it makes commentators cringe, especially when one of those men is Corey Graves, who was known for twisting his opponents in interesting ways.

Psychology is a huge part of any great match. These girls knew that and made sure to focus nearly every offensive attack on the arm. Even some of Becky's suplexes involved her holding the arm. Sasha hit her trademark double knees in the corner, but onto Becky's arm. The sheer genius of that is a lost art in a lot of matches in the present day. As Sasha goes for her suicide dive, you can see her arm hanging lower as she runs because it's not supposed to work due to the damage it has taken. Masterful selling. The only misstep in the entire match is when Becky struggles to catch Sasha on the suicide dive, but even that can be covered by the arm focus. Becky's arm wasn't strong enough to cleanly catch Sasha. The finish came as Becky was on the top, taking a risk that didn't pay off, as Sasha grabbed her arm and slammed her to the mat, before applying the Bank Statement. Becky had to tap out even though she didn't want to.

Not only did the girls sell like champs throughout the match, but they continued after. Sasha held her arm as she left the ring. She posed, but didn't take too much time knowing that this was Becky's moment. Sasha beat her and put her over in the biggest way. The crowd in Full Sail has its detractors, but they reacted perfectly to this. Not only did Becky get a standing ovation, but the crowd began to sing the beginning of her theme song. Everything about this match was a masterpiece. Triple H took pictures, hugging both girls as they're in tears, and he just looks like the proudest father. He has every right to look that way. Not only was this the best women's match in the entire history of the WWE, it was arguably the best match in the history of NXT. Seriously, it was that good to be at least in the conversation. Becky Lynch is now viewed on the level of the top girls in NXT, while Sasha Banks has proven to me that she's not only the best female in the WWE; she's one of the best absolute best wrestlers in the entire world, male or female. I'm not here to debate that or to debate NXT women vs. main roster women or anything like that. I'm here to appreciate how good this was and how good the division is in NXT. On a show with Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Finn Balor and Tyler Breeze, Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch stole the show. On a night where everyone was buzzing about Samoa freaking Joe debuting in the WWE, just as many people were talking about this match. It deserves every piece of praise that it gets. It is one of the most important matches in WWE history actually, because it should open the eyes of a lot of viewers to just how phenomenal wrestling can be, regardless of gender.

Smackdown 5/21/15 Report

According to the Authority, Roman Reigns and Randy Orton have to go to the back of the line when it comes to World Title shots. Reigns opens the show by discussing his loss at Payback before announcing that he's entering Money in the Bank. I'm glad that they aren't waiting until after Elimination Chamber to build Money in the Bank. There isn't much time. Dean Ambrose shows up, saying that he heard the word Payback, took a wrong turn and ended up in the ring. They mention that it would be cool to face each other as Champion and MITB winner. Kane comes out, saying Reigns needs to prove that he deserves to be in MITB. He also books Bray Wyatt vs. Ambrose for tonight. Our opening contest is a Fatal Four Way tag team match. New Day and Prime Time Players are on commentary as the other four teams in the Elimination Chamber do battle. The Lucha Dragons are able to defeat Los Matadores, the Ascension and Tyson Kidd and Cesaro in a really fun match. It gives me hope for the Elimination Chamber, though part of me worries it may be a bit of a clusterfuck. Also, the Lucha Dragons have some badass attire. New Day and PTP are great on commentary.

We are sent to a recap of the strange Dolph Ziggler, Lana, Rusev stuff from Raw. Dolph was interviewed backstage and said that he's used to beautiful women coming up to him and kissing him. He puts over being stuck in the Chamber with her ex-boyfriend, but turns his focus to his match tonight. He faces another man from the upcoming Chamber, King Barrett. As you would expect when it comes to these two, the match is relatively good, it's just something that we've seen a fair amount of times before. And we've really seen the result before as King Barrett eats a clean pinfall loss. The guy either gets injured while gaining momentum or gets booked like shit. Lana appears on the stage after the match to cheer on Dolph Ziggler.

After another recap, this one of Paige's return on Raw, we are actually joined by Paige. She enters and cuts a promo about returning. She caused some controversy by calling Tamina a man. It was a stupid jab and I blame the writers for it. It's just like when Roman Reigns or John Cena cut a promo and they say a dumb immature comment that ruins everything. Besides that, I didn't hate the promo, especially the mention that she's done more in a year than Naomi's entire dancing career. Of course, Naomi and Tamina interrupt. The problem is that Paige isn't great on the mic and Naomi and Tamina are absolutely dreadful at it. They end up jumping her, until Nikki Bella makes the save, only to end up standing tall alone with the Divas Title. Shortly after this, it is officially announced that it will be Nikki vs. Paige vs. Naomi for the Divas Title at Elimination Chamber. This promo is followed by a Bray Wyatt backstage promo. He is just kind of there right now, which is always how it goes after a feud for him. Moving on, we get Stardust vs. R-Truth for what has to be the 15th time in the past month. And, as always, it was Stardust who suffers the loss. I don't understand why it's not Stardust in the Chamber instead of R-Truth. Backstage, Renee Young interviews Ryback about the Chamber. It's kind of funny and he does try and share vegan recipes with Renee. We continue to fly through these segments as we are shown a recap of the Kevin Owens/John Cena confrontation on Raw. It looks as if the United States Title will not be on the line at Elimination Chamber.

The Meta Powers ame their return tonight to take on the Rock n Rose Connection. For those wondering, that is Adam Rose and Heath Slater. With the awful Rosa Mendes. Yea, she's the worst. Meta Powers win. Ho hum. Renee interviews Bo Dallas, who puts over what he did to Neville on Raw. Finally, we get to the main event. Bray and Dean had a really good match on Raw and this was solid too. Bray absolutely owns Dean, but tonight, Dean is able to beat him for only the second time ever I think. Of course it included shenanigans from J&J Security and Roman Reigns though. After his win, Dean has a staredown with Seth Rollins, who is atop the stage. Overall, a relatively solid episode of Smackdown. Three good matches featured tonight so I can't be upset about that. 6.5/10.