Worst: An Episode About Obstacle Courses And How Nerds Hate Soda
After asinine challenges including a “who can cut the best promo about flowers”-off and a program sales competition, WWE figured it’d spend its last week with the entire cast of NXT season 1 by making them do ALL THE CHALLENGES AT ONCE. They jousted a few weeks ago, so they’ve got to end with The Eliminator, right?
If you’ve never seen it, here’s a blissfully-shortened recap:
To complete the challenge, you have to:
1. Stand on some ring steps
2. Monkey bar across some monkey bars
3. Climb a rope ladder to ring a bell
4. Run up a bunch of arena steps
5. Drink the entirety of an assumedly gross souvenir soda
6. Run back down a bunch of arena steps
7. Juggle for five seconds
8. Do a dizzy bat race
9. Push a production crate up the ramp until it crosses the finish line
That’s the very definition of wasting everybody’s time, right? Now imagine having to watch EIGHT PEOPLE do it. On an hour-long wrestling show. I sincerely have no idea how NXT got five additional seasons and became a successful developmental program.
Anyway, I’m giving it a Worst because it’s the worst, alongside a supplementary Best for being retroactively hilarious. Watching it four years later and knowing where everybody ended up allows you to sorta shrug your shoulders and facepalm and laugh, because a wrestling program exists where shit like this exists. It’s like somebody watched GLOW and Double Dare and thought they’d be awesome together. Daniel Bryan goes first — I think he was ranked #1 in the pros poll just so he’d have to go first at everything — and his sad run is a combination of him trying to sell the previous night’s match (his first Raw run-in with Batista, which ended with three Batista Bombs) and unintentionally amazing dialogue like, “make your way to the monkey bars, Daniel!”
Bryan’s obstacle course adventure takes him almost three minutes, which allows Michael Cole plenty of time to drop pipebombs like …
“Do vegans drink soda?”
“Yeah, they just don’t eat meat.”
“Perhaps the ribs that are injured causing Daniel Bryan to go slow with drinking the soda.”
“Speaking of ribs, this might be a rib on all of us!”
The best one (and one of my favorite snippets of awful Michael Cole play-by-play ever) happens when Bryan’s struggling to drink his souvenir soda, an act that takes him about a minute and a half by itself.
Cole: “I think he said he doesn’t like soda. He’s a weirdo!”
Josh: “Not everyone drinks soda, Cole.”
Cole’s response is said in the most hateful deadpan you can imagine: “well most people do josh.” I wanted him to stand up, flip the announce table and scream MOST PEOPLE LIKE SODA, THEY DO, SODA IS F*CKING GREAT, F*CK DANIEL BRYAN in Josh’s face.
Worst: Daniel Bryan, 0-10
Bryan does badly, so The Miz saunters out and admonishes him, putting him in a match with Michael Tarver. He loses that match via BODYSLAM in about five minutes. I would like to clearly point out that nobody in the crowd is “getting behind underdog Daniel Bryan” or any of that stuff you can go back and say they were doing on purpose. People just kinda sit on their hands, Bryan loses, and they move on with the obstacle courses. It just made the same people at home who’d been “waiting to see where it goes” sigh forlornly and accept that the American Dragon Bryan Danielson was now the ersatz, socialist, gentile Barry Horowitz.
Don’t worry, though, he’s on top of the pros poll so there’s no way he’s getting eliminated next week. I’m sure things will pick up for him. 
Best: Justin Gabriel, King Of Obstacle Courses
The best obstacle course runner and winner of IMMUNITY from the Survivor Weakest Link Something Something was Justin Gabriel. Gabriel had two great moments during his run:
1. Juggling with one hand like a total asshole, while everybody else just sorta tossed the balls around one at a time, and
2. Stopping as he was running up the steps to take a mark photo with a sad fan who was barely paying attention:
Skip Sheffield actually performed the required tasks more effectively, but just like the keg carrying contest, his inability to run at regular human speeds cost him. Way to go, Justin, I bet nothing in this episode will take away from how great you were here. 
Worst: Wade Barrett Sucks At Monkey Bars
I’M AFRAID I’VE GOT A BAD GRIP
No matter how good he is in the ring or as a character, never forget that Wade Barrett sucks ass at the monkey bars. Even Michael Tarver gets across them and finishes the obstacle course … Wade gets about two monkey bars in, falls off, tries again, gets two monkey bars in, falls off. He just waves off Matt Striker and exits stage left, probably reliving every horrible recess-related memory he’s ever had.
I want more like this!
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