Best: My Dad Gave Me Some Great Advice On How To Beat Michael Tarver
“So I finished third in the Pros poll. That’s pretty cool, I guess. I remember what my Dad told me … he said that you’ve got to work hard to make it to the top, and then when you’re there, you’ve got to work twice as hard.
And now, as an example of working twice as hard, here’s me trying to get a watchable thing out of Michael Tarver.”
Worst: I’m Afraid I’m About To Have Some BAD MATCH
Remember that thing I mentioned earlier about David Otunga not being as good in the ring as he is outside of it? He’s really bad in the ring. Just … spectacularly bad. I’m not sure how to describe it. He’s always looked like he was in his third or four month of training, where he KNOWS what he’s supposed to do, he just has to remember to do it. So he’s just walking around with this too-aware look on his face, moving too deliberately, thinking too much. It’s a shame, because he’s SO GOOD at everything else. And granted, he’s gotten better … his match with Sheamus on Raw where they beat the stuffing out of each other was really fun, but that was probably just Sheamus saying, “hey fella, ferget the wrestling, just beat me up,” assumedly followed by a bunch of racial slurs, because Sheamus.
The match here isn’t the worst, but it’s very clearly Wade Barrett trying to pull something decent. The Wasteland Wade hits is one of his best ever, because Otunga doesn’t totally know how to take it, so Wade just rears back and lets him have it. Is it weird to anybody else that the NXT season 1 rookies got this huge spotlight when they weren’t very good, and now that many of them are GREAT, they’re relegated to comedy roles or being match-fillers we never see?
Best: Heath Slater Discovers His True Calling In Life
One of the weirdest things about NXT season 1 is how Heath Slater is pushed as one of the top guys. He wins all of his early matches, he has a good(ish) relationship with his Pro, he wins the physical challenge … all the while being basically the least cool person on the planet. He’s pink like raw chicken, has a 1996 teen girl haircut and won’t stop yelling WOOOOO~ whenever somebody points a microphone at him. THIS was the guy they wanted us to get behind?
At the same time, though, he’s fantastic in the ring. By winning the keg carry he gets to main-event against Kane, and it’s mostly just Kane thrashing him and pinning him with a chokeslam. That’s good, though. Occasionally you get these guys like Daniel Bryan who are great but always lose, and it makes you mad because you want so much more for them. Slater’s different. Slater’s ability to lose tremendously is his greatest strength, as we learned most overtly from that pre-Raw 1000 run where legends would keep showing up and killing him. This match with Kane seems like the blueprint for those matches. Everything Kane does looks MURDEROUS because of how Slater takes it, and even Kane’s goozle before the chokeslam has Slater whipping his head back to sell it.
I’m not sure what the point of having your physical challenge contest winner lose easily to an established WWE guy is other than “nobody on this show is ready for WWE, LOL,” but I’ll wait and see where it goes*.
*Spoiler: it goes to Jinder Mahal and Drew McIntyre.