Best: The Orangest Match
I know a lot of this is colored by how much I love him now, but man, I was so wrong about Heath Slater.
On episode 3, Slater responds to last week’s show-ending, apple-related cliffhanger by facing Carlito in a one-on-one match. On paper, “Carlito vs. rookie Heath Slater in a match where they both try to be as orange as possible” sounds like one of the worst things in the world, but it was actually pretty good. I sure hope Carlito continue to work hard and doesn’t get released for doing drugs any time soon!
It was the most by-the-numbers thing in the universe, don’t get me wrong, but it was fun to watch. Carlito is now retroactively the most unlikable person in the world and Slater’s in there hootin’ and bumping his ass off, trying to get a crowd that absolutely does not give Jinder Mahal’s crap about him to follow along. He gets another win, too, which is fun for him, but brings back that weird old question, “why do you have Jennifer Hudson’s fiancé and the greatest ROH Champion of all time on your rookie show and keep giving all the wins to the derpy guy who looks like a character from Thumb Wars.”
Best: CM Punk Cannot Make Darren Young Drink
The Straight Edge Society do this great bit where they talk amongst themselves about how they helped Darren Young get a victory last week with Young standing right behind them, trying to get in on the conversation. Punk’s ultimatum is made clear: if Young wants the continued help of SES, he has to drop the “South Beach Party Boy” lifestyle and accept Straight Edge. He says that he can lead a horse to water but can’t make it drink, which might be the most pro-drinking thing Punk’s ever said. I’m hoping I’m remembering the season wrong and that at some point Young, on the brink of elimination, shaves his head and starts listening to Earth Crisis.
It’s really interesting to look back at early Darren Young and wonder what his character or development might’ve been if he’d just been out the entire time. 2013 WWE can barely handle it so I know 2010 can’t, but the idea of a gay babyface rookie being cast aside by a homophobic heel Pro is really pretty interesting. Heel Punk’s already pretty quick with the gay jokes. The only problem is that the only homophobic people in WWE are the good guys. Can we cultivate a wrestling audience that boos a guy for not wanting a gay rookie?
Worst: Enjoy This 15 Minutes Of Hype Videos For WrestleMania 26
Suggestion for WWE going forward: I know you have to fill your shows with hype videos for all your other shows, but when you tape them or upload them or whatever, make two versions. Make a version with the hype videos intact so people watching them within a month or so can say “hey, I’d like to also watch THAT thing,” and make a version without them so people watching them half a decade later don’t have to sit through an extra Hulu commercial break because you dedicated 15% of the show to WrestleMania 26 feud recaps.
Best: Chris Jericho, Color Commentary Yeller
The show’s main-event is Justin Gabriel versus Wade Barrett, and while the match itself was solid, the highlight was the birth of Chris Jericho on color commentary without a headset.
If you don’t remember, this was right after Jericho’s last (good) heel run of 2008-2009 as The Best He Is At What He Does, where his wrestling was great and his character was firing on all cylinders and he was basically bulletproof. He went on a hiatus in late 2010 and came back a year or so later as Sparkly Jacket Guy, but between the end of his epic run and departure he was stuck sorta treading water as a tag team guy, teaming up with Big Show and Miz and anchoring NXT. It’s at NXT where he developed YELL AT THE ANNOUNCERS WHILE THEY’RE TRYING TO ANNOUNCE, a technique where he just yells things like TALK ABOUT WADE BARRETT at Cole and Josh whether they’re talking about Barrett or not. During this match he actually walks over to the table and yells at them, but after a while he’s just shouting at them from the apron. I love it, and I will always miss this Jericho.
Next Week On WWE NXT Season 1:
The Great Khali, Matt Hardy and Michael Tarver all wrestle. GET HYPE.
I want more like this!
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