– Finally, we arrive at Mt. Doom.
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Hold on to your butts. Please click through for the vintage Best and Worst of NXT season 3, episode 1.
Before We Begin
Here is a field guide to your NXT season 3 rookies and pros.
Pro: Kelly Kelly
Kelly Kelly started off as an exhibitionist. That meant she liked to take off her clothes! She parlayed that into a series of backstage almost-romances (both onscreen and off), a run as 1/3 of an ECW-themed dance troupe and a 7-year WWE career where she held the Divas Championship despite never once properly hitting the ropes. She was really good at pointing at people and smiling, and for a while that’s all you needed to be the top Diva. When I say “for a while” I mean “forever.” Her real name is Barbie Blank, which is a better wrestling name than “Kelly Kelly” and perfectly describes her.
K-Dogg’s rookie is Naomi, whom you may remember as the lady who has to deal with Cameron on ‘Total Divas’ or as the lady who has to deal with Cameron on Raw. She’s spent most of her main roster career as 1/2 of a space dinosaur-themed cheerleading duo. Briefly wore an eyepatch. She’s black, which means the announcers can’t stop mentioning how legitimately black she is. “She loves to dance! She loves rap music! She loves basketball! She knows FLO-RIDA!”
Pros: The Bella Twins
The Bella Twins started off as one lady who was trying to make a wrestling career out of sneaking her twin sister under the ring when nobody was looking and switching out with her when she struggled in matches. Basically she was COUNTING on the fact that she was bad at wrestling, so much so that she would need a constant 2-on-1 advantage. This precedent of awfulness and lying continues to this day, with one Bella being (somewhat ironically) forced into a string of 2-on-1 matches because the other one got fired for slapping her boss and calling her a bitch. One is Daniel Bryan’s wife. The other one dates John Cena, but he won’t commit. This is all extremely important.
Jamie was originally “Brittany,” Kevin Nash’s valet at TNA Final Resolution 2009. That one show. That got her a WWE developmental contract. She was bad at wrestling, so they made her an announcer on NXT season 2. When that didn’t work, they tried the wrestling thing again. There’s a reason you probably don’t remember her. The Bellas says she’s got the “tightest body you’ve ever seen,” which means that her head is wider than her waist, and her boobs are wider than her head.
AJ Lee started out as nerd bait. She likes video games! She’s just like us! Over the course of NXT season 3 we kinda discovered that she was a legit WWE superfan, actually liked the stuff she said she liked and could work. She took on Wrestler’s Girlfriend roles for a while, but ended up as a former Raw General Manager and the longest-reigning Divas Champion of all time. She recently returned to Raw and gets huge reactions from live crowds, followed by chants for her husband. I think he used to run the New Nexus.
Primo is the Jan Brady of the Colon family. He currently wears pink underpants on his head and hangs out with an anthropomorphic bull midget.
Pro: Alicia Fox
If you don’t remember Maxine, I’ll get wistful about her in the next season of write-ups. She’s an underground success story. She started off as one of the very worst performers you’ve ever seen, winning ‘Worst Worked Match of the Year’ for 2010 in the Observer awards, but ended up a MASTER of WWE backstage comedy. Her pairings with Derrick Bateman and Johnny Curtis anchored NXT Redemption during its transition from forgotten gameshow to cult classic. I can’t wait to get super mad at her, then miss her.
Her Pro is Alicia Fox, a beautiful woman who is surprisingly good at wrestling but can’t stick to one thing long enough to get over. She’s been a wedding planner, a sailor, a furry and the ersatz Solange Knowles. She’s turned heel and face so many times (sometimes multiple times in the same show) that we’ve just declared her chaotic neutral.
Aksana is from Lithuania and a former Miss Fitness International. She was so bad at everything pro wrestling-related that she became a cult favorite. Let me put it to you this way: her signature move was crawling around on all fours before going for a pin, and the legitimate high point of her career was dancing while trapped under a net in a backstage comedy segment. She’s the reason Naomi had to wear that eye patch I mentioned, because kneecaps do not do great things to eyeballs.
Goldust, on the other hand, is one of the best pro wrestlers of all time. He’s wrestling royalty. He wrestled Kenta Kobashi when they were teenagers, he feuded with the Dangerous Alliance, participated in my all-time favorite emotional wrestling moment, spun gold into different gold by turning a gay panic gimmick into the impetus for the creation of the Attitude Era, held titles everywhere, came back in his 40s better than he was in his 20s and recently transformed his brother into a David Bowie and NES Pro Wrestling space creature. There was some shaky stuff in the middle with a Phantasm character and a pet rat in TNA, but we don’t like to talk about it. I love him so much I made him the star of my first feature length film. Goldust for f*cking life.
Spoiler: these two almost get married in like, two months.
Pro: Vickie Guerrero
Vickie Guerrero is the widow of the late, great Eddie Guerrero. She got a pity job when Eddie died and turned it into one of the most nuclear heel runs ever, getting more heat by being a normal-looking lady and saying “excuse me” than most people do shoving handicapped kids down flights of stairs. She recently got a touching send-off on Raw so she could finish college and be a happy adult. It involved a kiddie pool full of poop. Well, John Cena says it was poop.
Vickie’s rookie was supposed to be Aloisia, who was very tall:Subscribe to UPROXX
Unfortunately for everyone who was REALLY EXCITED to write Josh Mathews face-sitting fan fiction, Aloisia was fired before the season began. The story is either “she took naughty pictures and might’ve been an escort” or “she was super dangerous and would probably shoot kill people by accident” depending on your source. Neither of them really make sense. I mean, Kaitlyn took the same kind of naughty pictures and she’s Aloisia’s replacement. Ashley Massaro was (is?) an escort and competed at multiple WrestleManias. And hey, if you’re worried about tall folks accidentally killing people you wouldn’t employ The Great Khali. I like to think the real story is that somebody realized they’d The Air Up There‘d their Divas division and took a step back.
Aloisia’s replacement is Kaitlyn, an awkward, 100% green Texan with Seth Rollins’ hair and a body that could truck you in about fifteen different definitions. She has two Worst Worked Match of the Year Observer awards to her name (2010 and 2013) and a Divas Championship reign, but quietly gave up wrestling when she realized she’d rather be married to Strong Guy from X-Factor.
On with the show.
Trigger Warning: Everything that has ever made you mad about anything.
Worst: We Are No Longer Wild Or Young
Here’s your season 3 opening theme, ‘You Make The Rain Fall’ by Kevin Rudolf featuring Naomi’s close personal friend Flo Rida. American Bang’s ‘Wild And Young’ would not return until the intro to season 4. NXT without ‘Wild And Young’ is like NXT without yellow ropes.
Worst: 5 Minutes In And We’re Already Talk The Talk Challenging
WWE has disabled embedding on a lot of the old NXT clips, so please, watch this here: [YouTube]
One of the weirdest things about NXT season 3 is how the rookies are all Divas, which means they must be “sexy” at all times. So whenever the Kevin Rudolf song plays, everybody has to do that bob-in-place club dance. When Striker’s trying to get everybody in place to do the introductions the cast looks like a f*cking shelf of bobbleheads. STAND STILL.
Anyway, the rookie Divas are given a chance to introduce themselves with a short promo, and as you might expect, it goes wonderfully.
– First up is Kaitlyn. I feel like I need to point out two quick things about her:
1. “Kaitlyn” is one of the worst WWE names ever. It’s just a lady’s name, sure, but Kaitlyn’s got that Ricky Steamboat thing happening where her real name is already SUPER PERFECT for wrestling. Ricky Steamboat’s shoot name is “Richard Blood.” Kaitlyn’s name is CELESTE BONIN. How do you find a bodybuilder Diva whose name is Celeste goddamn Bonin and think “regular lady name” is the better call? And it’s not even just for the sex jokes! You could’ve given her Bob Backlund’s finish and called it the Bonin Chickenwing.
Even worse, her first name change in FCW was from Celeste to “Ricki Vaughn.” SHE HAD A MAJOR LEAGUE NAME AND THEY CHANGED IT.
2. Kaitlyn had been in WWE developmental for a grand total of two months when this episode aired. That is … not enough time to get somebody ready to wrestle professionally on television. So in addition to being as terrible as a person with two months of training ever would be wrestling OTHER trainees in front of 12,000 people and on live television, she’s asked to cut these hacky promos about how she’s “more than just the girl next door.” I feel like if Aloisia had just panned out and not been a gamma-radiated Mindy Cohn death machine, Kaitlyn would’ve gestated in developmental for a while and gotten really, really good.
– The first Kaitlyn promo is so bad that Vickie makes her do it again. I think the joke was supposed to be that Vickie is mean and demanding, but the promo was actually super bad, so demanding an are you f*cking kidding me do-over seemed reasonable.
– I cannot make jokes about Aksana promos. Here is her introduction in its entirety.
“Hello Baltimore! Dobble dobble E Universe, it’s my pleasure to introduce myself to all of you. I like to call myself a Billion Dollar Baby from Lithuania, Aksana. You see, Aksana here not by mistake, Aksana here because she follows her dreams and her heart. She’s beautiful, she’s smart, she talented, she gorgeous [something in Lithuanian] [I think?] She loves her DOGS, she loves to go to the CHIM, and her favorite color is black and gold, like her pro. The second generation superstar, Goldust. So! Double double U Universe, let me entertainment you!”
They should’ve sent a poet.
– Maxine’s promo is about how she has three senses — a business sense, street sense and common sense. I wish Maxine’s character was that she was deaf and blind and couldn’t feel, smell or taste anything. But she’s great at business!
Note: she did not have the fashion sense to button up her shirt.
– A.J. outguns the other girls by a mile with a semi-sincere promo about how she wants to be Women’s Champion and have an action figure (both of which came true, semantics aside). It ends with one of those terrible there ain’t a damn thing you can do about it bullet points they tell you to hit in promo class, but we eventually found out that AJ’s crazy and manipulative, so it works.
– I have seen characters on the It’s A Small World ride that are more convincing human beings than Jamie.
So! We’re done introducing ourselves. Time to get to the first match of the night, right?
NOPE, DANCE CONTEST.
Worst: Oh God, The Dance Contest
Before we see even one of these women wrestle, we launch into a dance contest built around how funny it is to watch Michael Cole, Tony Chimel and Josh Mathews dance with Divas. It’s a little more tolerable with the goofy music that YouTube user dubbed in. Kaitlyn does the robot. Somewhere in my most blissful imagination, the Nexus hits the ring and wrecks everybody in it.
By the end of the dance contest we are 25 minutes into the show.
Worst: And Now, Three Minutes Of Terrible Wrestling
After all of that, we jump into a tag team match pairing Kelly Kelly and Naomi up against Alicia Fox and Maxine. I’m gonna tell you what the finish was, and I want you to remember that this is the FIRST MATCH on the FIRST EPISODE of the season: Naomi goes for a small package on Maxine, Alicia Fox runs in to push them over and reverse it but doesn’t push them hard enough, Kelly Kelly Lou Thesz presses her and the referee counts to three. End of the match. Only, Naomi and Maxine know something ELSE is supposed to be the finish, so they keep wrestling. I’m not making this up.
A few seconds later Naomi does a vertical suplex, kinda awkwardly floats over into a lateral press and suddenly realizes that the referee is yelling STOP WRESTLING in her face.
Worst: Maxine Driver ’10
Earlier in the match, Maxine goes for a Bronco Buster. Notice I did not say “hits.”
Instead of doing a normal Bronco Buster and bouncing up and down with her crotch in Naomi’s face, Maxine Bronco Busts Naomi around the body. She ends up sitting in Naomi’s lap not knowing what to do, but she’s gotta do SOMETHING, so she HUGS NAOMI’S HEAD AND STARTS SCREAMING.
As I mentioned, Maxine became a very good part of the show. Unbelievably, however, this is not Maxine’s worst match of the season.
Worst: Guess What Happens In The Second Match?
The second (and only other) match of the show is Primo and AJ against Goldust and Aksana. I like the idea of pairing up the rookies with pros in tag matches like this so the rookies can learn and work with someone experienced, but man, asking the rookie Divas to be involved in complex finishes on night 1 when the EXPERIENCED Divas of 2010 are hot garbage was probably asking too much.
Remember like two paragraphs ago when Naomi and Maxine were junking up the finish to their match? The finish here is supposed to be AJ coming off the ropes and hitting a casadora bulldog on Aksana. The problem is that Askana can neither say nor understand la casadora, so AJ just kinda limply dropkicks her in the thighs and Aksana weakly bearhugs her on the way down. It’s like watching a baby try to climb steps. They repeat the spot a few moments later and hey, la casadora goes well, but instead of falling WITH AJ Askana falls BEFORE her, and AJ basically powerbombs the shit out of herself. WRRRRRRRRRRRESTLING!
Best: Vickie vs. AJ Begins, Or
Best: The Birth Of The Chickbusters, Kinda
Vickie interrupts the post-match celebration to make Kaitlyn do her THIRD introduction speech (which is pretty hilarious), and two WWE moments of varying importance begin: Vickie’s ongoing blood feud with AJ Lee, and the friendship between AJ and Kaitlyn.
Primo is like HEY WHAT ARE YOU DOING CUT IT OUT COME ON, but AJ just straight up tells Vickie to shut up and leave. Vickie yells SIC HER to Kaitlyn (also hilarious), and Kaitlyn tries a clumsy bodyslam. AJ slips out and shoves Kaitlyn into Vickie. Vickie sells it by lying motionless for a moment, suddenly throwing a huge shaky temper tantrum and bailing. Thank you for trying your best to save NXT 3, Vickie. I’m sorry your rookie wasn’t a 7-foot tall Jillian from ‘Workaholics’ like it was supposed to be.
Later This Season:
A series of deep sighs.