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[MM16] Sweet 16: BAYLEY vs. PENTAGON JR


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[MM16] BAYLEY vs. PENTAGON JR  

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11/18/2015

Bayley © vs Alexa Bliss

 


This was my favorite Bayley match of 2015. It didn't get the praise, the love, or the attention of her big matches with Sasha, but it was so fundamentally sound. That's part of what makes NXT work. Sure, you've got the indy names and what not, but there is build, there is payoff, there is structure and purpose and there is heat. 

 

And there was heat here. Alexa ruined Bayley's championship celebration. More than that, though, she did it through being sneaky and underhanded and disingenuous. She represents everything that Bayley fights against. Bayley is forgiveness and friendship and perseverance. Alexa is a sneering, nasty, selfish, thuggish presence. As thoroughly good as Bayley is, Alexa is thoroughly wicked. 

 

She came out trash talking the crowd, putting her hand up, glaring. Bayley came out celebratory, bobbing her head to the music and to the fans' chants, giving high fives, giving out her bracelet, doing the belt-to-belt high five with Izzy, and putting her hands up for the crowd. The lights dimmed. The announcer with the stupid hair presented them. The ref looked like a doofus. The match began.

 

Suddenly, it wasn't fun time anymore. Suddenly it was Tito Santana getting revenge on Rick Martel or Danny Davis. Bayley was all fury to begin, pissed off and emotional, and dominant, a babyface champ at the height of her power and confidence, and Alexa was about to get her comeuppance. Bayley worked this shine completely differently than she had worked her previous matches and how she would work her later matches against different opponents. You don't think of her as big and strong, but that's what she was here, using her weight and height advantage to toss Alexa around and press her into the corner, kicking relentlessly. 

 

When a ref break let Alexa temporarily take over by pulling Bayley into the corner (including standing on her like some sort of deranged hobbit), that just pissed Bayley off. Full of righteous fury, she caught a kick and went back to work, slamming Alexa's head on the mat and then the turnbuckle. They did a little exchange starting with Alexa taking her head off with a nasty forearm, and going back and forth until Bayley's strength won out, leading to her hitting her signature shine offense of the sliding clothesline and the knee drop, exactly in the point of the match that it should be. The shine finished with her missing a corner charge (which was her trying to go for the start of her finishing sequence), dodging a forearm by escaping through the ropes, kicking her way back in, landing a bulldog, and trying to slap on a really gnarly double armbar on Alexa, only for Alexa to escape out of the ring. 

 

That was the shine, a relentless babyface bringing justice in front of a crowd that loved her, a nasty, nasty heel desperately just trying to survive in any twisted, underhanded way she could. Bayley looked like a million bucks and Alexa straddled the line between vulnerability and opportunistic viciousness extremely well for someone so inexperienced. If you're going to be a two dimensional worker, a good way to go is to have the dimensions be "hate" and "wrath."

 

The transition was great. Alexa escaped out of the ring. Bayley gave chase. Alexa almost got the upper-hand reversing a slam onto the mat, but Bayley just wouldn't let go. That cost her, however, as Alexa was able to whip her arm over the bottom rope from the inside out. They went to commercial and came back to the full on heat segment. Alexa was, again, surprisingly good working the control, here in a top armbar. She made sure to shout to the fans and had to constantly keep dodging Bayley's free hand as she tried to work her way out or grab for whatever she could. It was no wonder that the fans started to get behind her again. Bayley mixed selling and struggle with acknowledging the fans' chants with her body language, building up to the hope spot, which Alexa cut off by whipping Bayley over her shoulder to the mat; that looked like a million bucks due to how short Alexa is. She followed up with a clubber and general viciousness that made her seem much stronger than she is. 

 

Bayley's selling here was top notch. She's ended up huddled in the corner, holding her arm, the body language again responding to the fans attempts to get behind her. She was desperately trying to buy some time, but Alexa's unrelenting, coming back in with that armbar. The fans immediately are chanting once more, but Alexa cut off any attempt to get up by stepping over into a more seated armbar. Bayley kept on rewarding the fans for their devotion, however, responding to them and trying to work her way right back up. Alexa cut it right back off with a shoulder into the arm and then contained her once more, this time by putting her leg over Bayley's free arm and pressing her down with it. Very nice little touches. 

 

Bayley's arm was weakened, but she's got the mandate of heaven behind her. This was her time. Alexa was vicious and nasty, but the fans were empowering Bayley and her never-say-die attitude flowed through everything she did. She made it back up again starting her come back, slamming Alexa into the corner and then giving her a revenge whip over her shoulder, making sure to sell her arm after the fact. She started to get more revenge on Alexa's arm, twisting it and then using her leg (as her own arm was weakened) to finish the attack. She started in on her usual attacks once more, going with the double axe handles. Alexa was fresher than her, though, and Bayley was a half step slow given the weakened arm. Alexa ducked the third hammer and just crumpled Bayley with a killer slap to the face. She followed up with the standing moonsault knee drop, anguish on her face as she put her entire tiny frame into holding Bayley down for a pin attempt, only to get two.

 

That signified the start of the finishing stretch. Alexa got up to the second rope and Bayley tried to get her off, only to get kicked away with a precision shot to the arm (and how cool was that?). In order to get past that defense, she rushed back in, leaping over the feet, nailing Alexa (on the top rope still) with a forearm and then followed that up with a running power slam and then her bodyslam-plex, making sure once again to sell her arm, and bob her head along to the fans' chanting, after the fact. She tossed Alexa into the corner, hitting her charges (that she had tried to do way back at the end of the shine), and nailed a few to the crowd's delight only to get playful for really the first time in the match with the wacky waving. That let Alexa sneak in a hanging sunset flip out of the corner for a very believable near fall. Alexa, temporarily with the advantage again as Bayley sold, screamed and shouted, attempting demeaning and diminishing her again. She pulled Bayley up to try to finish her off, but Bayley had been angered for the last time. She had enough, rearing back for a massive callback revenge slap of her own. As Alexa was stunned she hit the Bayley to Belly for the win.

 

How perfect was that match? Look, I get it. There were more spots and more counters and more elaborate work in the Sasha matches or the Becky match, or whatever. This was so primal, though. This was righteous good vs evil, and it was portrayed as only a wrestling match could. There was a fiery shine, focused and opportunistic limbwork for the heat underpinned by great, consistent, emotive selling, a comeback highlighted by the heel getting a taste of her own medicine and a finishing stretch punctuated by one last callback, an exclamation point of a slap that felt so validating. I get it, Bayley vs Sasha was better, but this was more perfect. It's everything that wrestling can be at its very best and it's what we've been given by the WWE so little over the last many years. It was such a simple story, but the performances were so committed and so effective. The layout was so good, between the initial angry onslaught and the transition and the selling and the timing of the hope spots and the cut offs and the callbacks and that last moment leading to the finish. It did so many small things right while nailing all the big ones. What a wonderful match.

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Bayley used her injured arm a bunch with no selling during that finishing stretch. Particularly the shoulder charges in the corner. That was dumb.

 

Oh, and one more thing... HEEEEEY, WE WANT SOME BAYLEY !HEEEEEY, WE WANT SOME BAYLEY! HEEEEEY, WE WANT SOME BAYLEY !HEEEEEY, WE WANT SOME BAYLEY! HEEEEEY, WE WANT SOME BAYLEY !HEEEEEY, WE WANT SOME BAYLEY! HEEEEEY, WE WANT SOME BAYLEY !HEEEEEY, WE WANT SOME BAYLEY!

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I'm the biggest stickler for selling in the world. There were 2 points in there where I totally bought it as adrenaline (one was with the bodyslam-plex and even then she made sure to sell after the fact). I'm perfectly okay with her using the arms in the moment during those corner charges, ESPECIALLY as it cost her with Alexa almost getting a win with the sunset flip out of that exact sequence. Moreover, once Bayley kicked out, she was hurt enough, basically just from the effort of her attack, that it gave Alexa the time to do the screaming and trash talking that woke up Bayley's last vestiges of anger for the finish. In my mind, the circle was sufficiently closed.

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I'm the biggest stickler for selling in the world. There were 2 points in there where I totally bought it as adrenaline (one was with the bodyslam-plex and even then she made sure to sell after the fact). I'm perfectly okay with her using the arms in the moment during those corner charges, ESPECIALLY as it cost her with Alexa almost getting a win with the sunset flip out of that exact sequence. Moreover, once Bayley kicked out, she was hurt enough, basically just from the effort of her attack, that it gave Alexa the time to do the screaming and trash talking that woke up Bayley's last vestiges of anger for the finish. In my mind, the circle was sufficiently closed.

Isn't adrenaline the excuse whenever any good wrestler no sells? It certainly is in Japan, it's just called "fighting spirit". I think there's a bit of a double standard here. Not that the two spots spoil an otherwise good match, I just think consistency is important. Great review though.

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I'm the biggest stickler for selling in the world. There were 2 points in there where I totally bought it as adrenaline (one was with the bodyslam-plex and even then she made sure to sell after the fact). I'm perfectly okay with her using the arms in the moment during those corner charges, ESPECIALLY as it cost her with Alexa almost getting a win with the sunset flip out of that exact sequence. Moreover, once Bayley kicked out, she was hurt enough, basically just from the effort of her attack, that it gave Alexa the time to do the screaming and trash talking that woke up Bayley's last vestiges of anger for the finish. In my mind, the circle was sufficiently closed.

Isn't adrenaline the excuse whenever any good wrestler no sells? It certainly is in Japan, it's just called "fighting spirit". I think there's a bit of a double standard here. Not that the two spots spoil an otherwise good match, I just think consistency is important. Great review though.

 

Your'e absolutely right. Adrenaline/Anger/Fury/Fighting Spirit is a very, very careful thing to invoke. I don't do it lightly or often. When I do, it's because of the layout, the execution, and the selling after the fact. Here, i believed it because of the downright malevolent heeling of Alexa, the way the crowd was behind Bayley, the fact that it she paid for it (both by missing the third axehandle during her comeback and by getting rolled up towards the end), that she sold after the fact, and her body language throughout. It takes a lot for me to buy adrenaline, since I'm naturally inclined against it, but I bought it here, which is actually a pretty big testament to the match.

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I love the two Sasha/Bayley matches, especially the first. The mention of no selling, that did annoy me in the finishing stretch there too. Still don't see anything else so great from Bayley. She went from someone I couldn't stand to someone I don't mind and appreciate is a fine wrestler but not seeing this "best year ever" at all. Still think Cesaro should've won last round and had a far better year with much greater variety.

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My argument for Bayley is very simple.  She actually managed to make me feel something beyond the usual appreciation I have for good wrestling.  And I guess it makes me think about guys like Cesaro and Samoa Joe and (for the sake of this poll) Pentagon Jr.  Have these wrestlers entertained me?  Absolutely.  But did I really care about any of them beyond their inherent skill?  Cesaro seems like a nice guy and all but do I ever give a shit whether he succeeds or fails?  I look inside and find that despite my acknowledgement of his skill set, I don't feel as though he is a real person.  Maybe that's because I'm a introverted prick with no social skills, but the fact remains that despite my gruff exterior, the Hero's Journey Bayley went on to win the NXT Women's title had stupid tears in my stupid face.  No one else has done that to me in years so fuck it, I will ride this Bayley thing into the ground.  

 

Best match be damned.

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Out of likes Carl. Lets hug bro

Ironically, I am currently wearing my "I'm a Hugger" shirt.

I guess here's another way I look at it. I love Bayley, but a lot of what I love is not just how much I like her and how good she is, but how happy I am there is a character like her that my six year old daughter can like.

But if I could design a wrestler based off my tastes, it'd be Pentagon. He's tough, a dick, and just cooler than everyone else.

I'm glad Bayley exists and I've gladly given money to watch her wrestle because of not only how good she is, but how important to me as a father and wrestling fan.

Yet, I feel like I'm happier about Pentagon charging into my life and liting the world on fire. My daughter will find her own tastes, anyway.

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Hard for me to choose between the two, since I enjoyed them both quite a bit last year. Bayley was in my favorite match of the year, but Pentagon was the guy I was most excited to discover for the first time. Ultimately, I think I'll give him my vote, if only to spite Del Rio. How you gonna no show a charity event that you live close enough to fucking drive to?

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CM85FzhVAAACGXj.jpg

https://twitter.com/GIVEBENTHEBOOK/status/634788845075087360

 

Pentagon, Jr. retweeted my Tweet and the LU account liked it.  Or vice versa.  Or some combination of those.  I don't remember.  My point is that you should consider Pentagon's sweet ride here as canon.  Print this out and stick it in the front of your Lucha Underground comic.

 

Bayley isn't being driven around in a Cero Miedo-mobile by a vampire pope.  She's just walking around, trying to sidestep creepy old men in ugly shirts asking for hugs.

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Octagon, the Chuck Norris movie, had ninjas in it. Octagon was named after that movie, and his mask is supposed to be a ninja face (the white part is the skin showing around the eyes)

Pentagon was created as his Black Tiger. He was supposed to be an enemy ninja that studied the five angle style instead of the eight angle style Octagon mastered.

You may still think the name doesn't make sense but you just aren't used to the true lunacy that would come from Antonio Pena's ideas. This is mild shit.

So there were a couple Pentagons, Pentagon Black, and a thousand Mini Pentagons, but only one Pentagon Junior, who isn't related to any of them.

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Octagon, the Chuck Norris movie, had ninjas in it. Octagon was named after that movie, and his mask is supposed to be a ninja face (the white part is the skin showing around the eyes)

Pentagon was created as his Black Tiger. He was supposed to be an enemy ninja that studied the five angle style instead of the eight angle style Octagon mastered.

You may still think the name doesn't make sense but you just aren't used to the true lunacy that would come from Antonio Pena's ideas. This is mild shit.

So there were a couple Pentagons, Pentagon Black, and a thousand Mini Pentagons, but only one Pentagon Junior, who isn't related to any of them.

 

I genuinely hope there is a match during S2 in which Striker is unable to appear and Vampiro brings you over to explain all of that for the audience.

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