Episode #9 — Mystery Ice Cream (with Elle Collins)

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On this, the much-anticipated ninth chapter of their journey into wrestling fandom, Miles and MeganBob are extremely pleased to welcome writer and podcaster Elle Collins to talk about their own journey as a latecoming wrestling fan, their tips for entering the world of wrestling, and more specifically, the episode of NXT that originally aired on July 17th, 2013.

In this episode:

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This one starts off strong with a fantastic #1 contender’s match between Leo Kruger, Cesaro, and Sami Zayn. There’s such a clear story being told in every moment of this match; namely, that Zayn and Cesaro care more about beating the hell out each other than about becoming the #1 contender, and are largely content to pretend Kruger isn’t there until the moment he makes them pay for it. Take a look at the framing shot of the ring just as the match begins:

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Zayn and Cesaro are front and center, staring one another down. Cesaro starts running toward Zayn the second the bell rings. Leo Kruger, on the other hand, is barely in the shot at all — he’s crouched in the corner like a jackal (or the Spider-Man villain Elle compares him to in this episode, Kraven the Hunter) with only part of one arm visible. When Kruger attempts to intrude on Cesaro’s attack on Zayn, Cesaro shoves him away and goes back to punching Zayn. This dynamic continues throughout the match, with more telling images like this one:

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Eventually Kruger is able to get involved, tossing Cesaro out of the ring and hitting Zayn with a suplex that is somehow also an arm submission:

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But later, Cesaro, “like an alligator lurking in the shallows,” catches Kruger off an Irish Whip and dumps him to the outside.

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Incidentally, it looks very much like Cesaro drops Kruger for a moment before grabbing hold of him again, throwing off the timing of the spot just slightly. This is the sequence (in our now patented Screenshot Triptych form):

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See him lose control of Kruger in the second still and then grab hold of him again in the third? It’s not a problem or anything, but it is an interesting example of minor hiccups that can occur in a live performance medium like pro wrestling.

On the subject of things that didn’t go wrong, here’s another triptych of Zayn diving headfirst over the top rope to the outside:

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And what happens after that? Yep, Zayn rolls Cesaro — not Kruger — back into the ring and continues attacking him. Bob notices that Zayn is being a little looser with the rules than we might expect from a hero of his moral standing, attacking Cesaro even when he’s in the ropes:

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Turns out Sami may be starting to have a somewhat complicated relationship to “the rules” of wrestling. Foreshadowing, anyone?

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Of course, none of that moral ambiguity can really help you when a gigantic Swiss man is going all Knightfall on you. Again, these two are just determined to hurt one another, to the extent that Kruger has to literally jump on top of them to try and get his presence in the match recognized.

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Sami is busy getting second opinions from Dr. Kinsolving, but Kruger has finally managed to get Cesaro’s attention (though, as always, not exactly in the way Bob hoped).

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Cesaro, far from kissing anybody, decides instead to show both Kruger and Zayn why he is Not To Be Fucked With. The highlight of this is when he suplexes Kruger while Kruger is suplexing Zayn, Bob’s introduction to the double suplex, which was far more rare under the WWE brand in 2013 than it is today.

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And then, of course, it’s time to toss Kruger to the outside and go right back to work on Zayn. He hits Sami with a Neutralizer to go along with the look of enraged madness on his face…

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…but now that Zayn is totally incapacitated, Kruger makes his move, tossing Cesaro out of the ring and stealing the pinfall to become the #1 Contender.

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One of the best parts of the execution here is that Cesaro immediately gets back in the ring to break up the pin, but he’s just a second too late:

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Kruger wins the match by preying on the feud between Zayn and Cesaro, and now he gets a title shot against Bo Dallas. There’s gonna be so much black shiny hair, you guys.

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Backstage, Corey Graves walks in, says several of his catch-phrases, and walks out. Neville’s reaction is about the same as ours:

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“I’m gonna get a huge stack of pancakes at IHOP after my match later on. Biggest one they got. Wait, was somebody in here just now?”

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Sylvester LeFort is back, this time with a canary-yellow suit and of course, only one client, Scott Dawson. No, LeFort has never had any other clients. No, he’s never heard of anyone named “Dylan.” Why do you ask?

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Oh.

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There’s not a whole lot to talk about in this Scott Dawson/Bo Dallas match, but since Elle mentions how much younger Dawson looks in 2013, here’s a more recent photo:

Also notable is this shot of Bo Dallas making his entrance as the babyface NXT champion while numerous fans are standing with their back to him, with one fan in a bright yellow CM Punk shirt aggressively booing him…

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…and of course, the post-match attack by new #1 contender Leo Kruger, who gets up close and personal with the title belt.

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Speaking of weird shit, here’s the Ascension continuing their poetically vampiric ways:

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The poem ends with “We are the Ascension. And we…will…rise…again!” They say “we will rise” together, but Conor O’Brien is the only one who says “again”, while Rick Victor, who definitely forgot that word was in the script, opens his mouth slightly as if to join in, then loses confidence and gives up. Here’s the exact moment in happens:

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Again, just pure poetry.

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As usual, Bayley’s facial expressions reflect our own joy whenever we get to talk about her appearances, especially this particular match. Her opponent is Charlotte, making her debut with the support of her famous father, “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair.

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Both Charlotte and Bayley are huge names in the evolution of WWE women’s wrestling, and Elle is particularly fond of Bayley, so we spend a ton of time talking about both of them and their growth and development in this episode. Charlotte may be just beginning the journey that will see her successfully fuse her confident jock nature with the idea of feminine glamour, but he already has the gymnastics thing going on:

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And we’re already seeing signature moves like Charlotte’s Web:

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Bayley is clearly the more experienced wrestler here. As she begins to show off her technical ability, Bob encounters the backslide for the first time:

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Also, Flair takes his jacket off at one point, and Bayley responds with an excellent bit of character work, holding out her hands in deference to the living legend at ringside:

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And of course, a second later she hits Charlotte with a wicked-looking suplex. Not that it matters, though, because debut matches are usually won by the person debuting, and Charlotte has already found her first finisher:

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In case it isn’t clear, the momentum of that move is Charlotte doing a front flip while moving right to left while she has Bayley’s head in a facelock, which means she’s about to slam Bayley’s face into the mat and earn the pinfall. It will hardly be the first match she wins with that move. Charlotte has arrived in NXT, and we’re all better for it.

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As mentioned in the Cheap Pop Quiz, the main roster’s own Sheamus (who is a real Irishman from real Ireland) is also here for this one! He has an interview backstage with someone who is, outrageously, not Renee Young, but he doesn’t get far into it before falling victim to randomly occurring swamp cultists.

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HUH, THAT WAS KINDA OUT OF NOWHERE, HOPE IT DOESN’T COME BACK LATER IN THE EPISODE SOMEHOW.

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Before the main event, however, we get a quick interlude from another “as mentioned in the Cheap Pop Quiz” character, this one inspired by the character of Derek Zoolander. Bob isn’t sure how she feels about this dickweed yet, but she’ll have plenty of opportunity to figure out her feelings as we move forward. Tyler Breeze has entered the building.

This is the episode where Adrian Neville and Corey Graves win the tag team championship, so logically, it would make sense to have some more pictures of them here. But why bother with pictures when you have character sheets?

That’s right! Since Bob and Miles wound up in yet another conversation, this one driven by Elle, about Neville and Graves as D&D characters, we asked around for some help in coming up with some character sheets. The person we called out directly, Kris Newton of Gameable and Megadumbcast, responded on Twitter by saying he thought that actually, Munchkin was the best game with which to accurately reflect these characters. He provided the above picture of Corey Graves’ Munchkin build, which is so accurate it physically hurts.

Meanwhile, fan of the show Josh Vaske worked up some actual 5th Edition character sheets, because he is amazing. Graves is the one above, Neville’s below:

You guys are the best. Thanks so much for your efforts, and for helping us not put up any more pictures of Corey Graves than we had to! Though we do need to insert one more here, as Elle mentions how differently Graves dresses nowadays…

Moving on.

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Like the opener, there’s a pretty clear story being told in the main event of this episode. It’s really a great example of the most basic and traditional type of tag team match. Graves and Neville start off strong, pulling off an impressive sequence that leads to the first pin attempt…

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…and they manage to get Erick Rowan into a position that Bob is convinced was designed as an intentional reference to Winnie the Pooh:

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Bray Wyatt is watching at ringside from his rocking chair, and we get a few fun camera angles built around his perspective:

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But of course, it isn’t long before the heels take over, and Rowan and Harper start isolating Corey Graves and just beating the shit out of him. Perhaps the most notable sequence involves Graves selling a dropkick from Luke Harper as though he’d just died:

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Graves eventually recovers enough to fight back a little, though his moves are looser and more drunken boxer-y than before, a nice bit of characterization noticed by Bob.

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Bray Wyatt, incidentally, is starting to get a different expression on his face…

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…and his expression gets even darker after Graves makes the hot tag to Neville, who ends up hitting an amazing springboard moonsault to the outside:

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This Neville thing is getting out of hand, so Bray decides to get involved as he has before…

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…but hey, remember that big Irishman you decided to randomly piss off earlier?

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Despite the fact that William Regal is right there, Sheamus, of all people, takes out Wyatt, allowing Neville to hit the Red Arrow and win the match, and the titles, for his team. Not exactly the trio we’d imagined in this spot, but hey, the important thing is that the Wyatt Family has finally been defeated! By their own hubris and disrespect for the Irish, as was foretold.

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That’s it for the in-ring action. However, we would like to share a few more images, since their subjects come up in our conversation with Elle about the comedic independent wrestling promotion CHIKARA. For starters, you know this guy?

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Here’s what he looked like when he was in CHIKARA:

I mean, basically the same, right? In CHIKARA, his name was Brodie Lee. As Elle explains, that name was chosen because under the beard, he looks like this:

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And THIS is Jason Lee, who portrayed the character Brody in the 1996 film Mallrats:

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It’s seriously uncanny and I can’t believe I never noticed it before.

Also appearing in CHIKARA prior to their WWE/NXT runs include Claudio Castignoli, aka Cesaro…

…alongside his longtime tag team partner, Chris Hero, aka Kassius Ohno…

…and their frequent partner in crime, Sara Del Rey, aka Sara Amato:

Amato has never appeared in character on WWE or NXT television, but she is tremendously important to the evolution of the NXT women’s division, as that group of performers began to come into their own and take shape as the future of women’s wrestling only after Amato was hired to NXT as the head female trainer.

Also, here’s a GIF of her wrestling Cesaro in CHIKARA.

http://www.fearofaghostplanet.com

And finally, here is the moment mentioned by Elle where Cesaro competed in a CHIKARA trios tournament as a member of Los Ice Creams, disguising himself as “Very Mysterious Ice Cream,” the name from which we took this episode’s title.

That’s the Episode 9 visual companion in the books. Thanks again to Elle Collins for joining us on this episode. As mentioned last time, we are in the process of catching up on the visual companions, and we’re already making fast progress, so keep an eye on this website for more updates as we head toward Episode 14! Thanks for reading, and for supporting friendship among the races of Middle Earth!

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By the way, that is, in fact, our music! It’s called “Learnbuckle” and it was created by the uniquely talented Rafael Medina, whose work you can and should follow via his Twitter account, @EarthMeauxFaux! You can also follow Miles @mjschneiderman, MeganBob @meganbobness, and the show itself @nxtwrestlingfan.

Additional music and sound credit to:

“Eyes Gone Wrong”, “Greta Sting”, “NewsSting”
Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

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