NXT Recap 6/17/2015: Am I Wrong About Enzo Amore?
Wednesday's NXT broadcast was hardly what I would consider an actual wrestling program, as such, producing an actual review proved to be a bit of a conundrum. The first few minutes of the 53 minute broadcast contained the same tribute to Dusty Rhodes shown on Raw and later on Smackdown. The middle section featured part one of a documentary focusing on Finn Balor, and the main event was a bit of a joke.
As an aside, regarding Dusty Rhodes... We in the internet wrestling community and wrestling fandom at large owe a huge debt to people like Dusty Rhodes. Myself, as a fan of wrestling, and as a fan of Dusty Rhodes, owe him a huge thanks for the memories and the influence he gave to the industry. We suffered a great loss, and the absence he left in wrestling can never be filled.
Owens vs. Joe
That out of the way, here's all you need to know about the much hyped main event contest featuring Samoa Joe and Kevin Owens: It sucked. No high spots from Owens, or intensity from Joe. The contest ended in DQ after the referee was accidentally struck outside the ring. The two brawled in the ring afterwards, Owens striking two NXT officials, as he was forced away from ringside. That will likely be a setup to his write off from competition NXT.
With Bayley and Sasha Banks injured, Charlotte will be receiving much more screen time. This also will be a chance to let Charlotte and Dana Brooke's feud to get a tad more of a slow build, although this won't translate into interest. As such, new recruit Cassie was fed to Charlotte in a far from memorable match.
Enzo, Carmella and Big Cas vs Blake, Bliss and Murphy
This brings us to our first match of the evening: Enzo, Carmella, and Colin Cassidy vs Wesley Blake, Alexa Bliss, and Buddy Murphy in a Six Person Tag Match. The Realist Guys in the Room would walk away with the pin in typical fashion, though not before Enzo Amore was given a great deal of time in the spotlight. The match itself is largely forgettable, and only served to progress a feud, however, it gave me a situation to ponder. One that is far more interesting than relaying to you how needless this episode was... Am I wrong about Enzo Amore?
I've made no secret as to how much I detest Enzo Amore. I mention it almost every time they are featured on NXT, which, as of late, is every episode. I share commentator Corey Graves' opinion in the matter, himself recently vocalizing his thoughts on Enzo Amore. While his ring work has improved over the past few months, that doesn't get to the root of why I feel Enzo Amore is a terrible wrestler. The fact is, I find him god damned irritating.
I don't simply refer to his god awful promos and his pre and post ring monologues referring to himself as “Smacktalker Skywalker.” I refer to the entire package. As stated before, even though he has improved in the ring, he still is not a good wrestler. His work is far too stiff and his low running crossbody pin is painful to watch.
By visual analysis alone, Enzo Amore clearly has zero prior wrestling experience before NXT. I mean no personal disrespect to the man, however as a critic of the craft, his inexperience shows. Whether it's his lack of offense when he is in the ring, or the lack of any singles competition, Amore is green as grass and it shows.
At the risk of this sliding into “Slam piece” territory, Amore entering the ring with a microphone in his hand is enough for me to hit the fast forward button. His smack talking is rarely funny, and his puns are often cringe worth. Much like Daniel Bryan or Zach Rider, his catch phrase and antics in the ring seems to be more over than the man himself. Despite all of this, and being involved in a story line where he dumped a bottle of hair remover on some scag's poodle, causing her to lose her job as a pet stylist and take up wrestling, the crowd absolutely loves him.
Amore and Cass have never entered to anything less than roaring applause. The audience recites his entrance verbatim, save for taking the time to boo Carmella. Enzo Amore has delivered such classics like “We're stars, we take meteor showers,” and people compare him to Chris Jericho. Despite not actually wrestling, Amore gets cheered on in every match that's for the World Heavyweight Championship.
What does the wrestling community at large get that I don't? I understand that Amore has charisma and appears to be able to think on his feet. Amore is a self proclaimed life long fan of wrestling, and the man is living his dream, which very few people are able to say. What about him resonates with the audience, and why are fans clamoring to hear the next groan worthy one liner to come out of his mouth? The answer is simple: Enzo Amore is a product of the current wrestling audience.
There's a long and storied list of wrestlers from the Attitude Era, and prior, that weren’t that great as competitors, but were able to stay relevant due to a compelling character and great microphone work. Characters are what make wrestling so special to me as a fan and many were able to hide their shortcomings with awesome storytelling. The most memorable and arguably iconic is perhaps The Godfather.
Find any match on the WWE Network featuring The Godfather, and you'll witness similarities between his reception and Amore's. Huge pops when his music hits and constant cheering throughout. The Godfather, despite a long tenure and multiple gimmicks with WWE was never known for his in ring prowess, But as the Godfather, Charles Wright cemented himself as a legendary figure in professional wrestling.
Wright accomplished this through embracing a unique and memorable character and using his natural charisma to cut interesting promos. While some credit must be given to the large breasted women that would accompany him to the ring, through his talent and ability to work the crowd, he would eventually taste Intercontinental gold. Not bad for someone who's finisher was a running splash.
Road Dogg, Bray Wyatt, Scott Steiner, and Doink the Clown are all memorable in their own right, however, they are not known for ring work. But what about Raven Enzo? Enzo Amore is The Godfather. Both are a product of their times. Amore, popular in a time when a wise cracking Jersey shore loudmouth can get a standing ovation by simply stating his name, and Godfather, from a time in which you could get a standing ovation by forcing your opponent to forfeit by offering them a prostitute.
Amore vs Godfather is the best comparison of the PG Era vs the Attitude Era. Amore's childish and grating personality wouldn't have lasted a day in the fast paced, hyper competitive nature of late 90s WWE. However, in the slowed pacing and lowered expectations of the current product, Amore doesn't just have a chance to succeed, he will succeed. Amore will make it to the main roster, and his promos will sell tickets simply because the current fan hasn't experienced the top of the mountain.
Amore clearly has heart, and is a man following his dream, but he is also clearly being constrained by the very hand that feeds him. If Amore was allowed to let loose and speak without such tight boundaries, I feel he'd be a much more interesting and relatable character. Unfortunately, we don't have the luxury of a much needed PG-14 rating, and Amore's grating style will continue to fall flat in my eyes.
The question remains though, “Am I wrong about Enzo Amore?” Does Enzo Amore deserve the praise and admiration that he's receiving? Perhaps I am wrong. Amore will eventually come into his own, due to his love for the industry and dedication to his craft. Will Amore be remembered among those like the Godfather and Road Dogg? Most likely not. The constraints placed against him are too great, and the odds, unfortunately, are long. As a fan, I think its time I accept that Amore is likely as edgy as we're going to see for some time.