Worst: Zack Ryder Gets Six Words Into The Season Before He Messes Up
Oh, Zack Ryder. We’re going to have a lot of fun this season, aren’t we? These are the first words out of his mouth: “Hey Zack Pack! Here’s my new Pro … Titus O’Neil!”
At least he didn’t call him his “Proski.” Michael Cole and Josh Mathews briefly discuss Zack not deserving to be a Pro on NXT and fill the walk-down time with one of the words conversations ever:
“Woo woo woo, bro.”
“Zack Ryder calls himself Woo-Z because he makes the ladies woozy.”
Josh really should’ve added “using Rohypnol” to the end of his factoid. A few seconds into the opening tag match Zack is on the apron yelling DO THE DOG BARK at Titus, and that’s 100% of his coaching advice. SEE YOU ALL ON NXT SEASON 3, STARTING RIGHT NOW.
Worst: And Now It’s Just A Popularity Contest
Remember last season on NXT where it started out as a “revolutionary television concept” where rookies would be ranked on criteria such as win/loss record, strength of opponents and “the It Factor?” Remember how a few weeks into the show WWE realized it didn’t have the attention span to treat sports-entertainment like sports and started randomly eliminating people via “WWE management?” NXT season 2 goes even farther down the THIS IS NOT LEGIT rabbit hole by announcing a new voting setup … 50% of the vote will be determined by a Pros Poll, and 50% will be determined by YOU, the WWE UNIVERSE! Applause!
Long story short, this is WWE saying “sure, vote on this, we’ll take it into consideration” but still maintaining enough kayfabe creative majority to do whatever they want. After the Daniel Bryan debacle, I guess letting fans think voting for Low Ki would do something was a decent way to drag the smarts back in and keep them dangling.
Worst: The Opening Tag Team Match
1. I wanted to screencap Starship Pain so you could see how far he actually gets from connecting. I mean, unless brushing your hair against their sternum as you spin away from them and land dick-first on the canvas constitutes connecting. I never understood why Morrison couldn’t just pull guys out a little more. He’s like, “sure, let me put them as far in as possible so they’re hugging the ring post, that makes total sense for this move where I’m springboarding backwards toward the middle of the ring by spinning.” The Worm is the Tiger Driver ’91 compared to Starship Pain.
2. I’m not sure why, but WWE decided to open NXT season 2 with a tag team match featuring the four worst wrestlers on the show: John Morrison, Eli Cottonwood, Zack Ryder and Titus O’Neil. It’s like the CPU randomly picked David Otunga four times. They plod through some stuff, Ryder yells for Titus to do the dog bark and then we take it home. Cottonwood’s offense is to stand around stemming like an autistic kid and throwing a big boot.
3. After the match, Matt Striker asks the WWE Pros (read: The Miz) what they think about John Morrison’s rookie. Miz says he isn’t impressed, and they don’t ask anybody else because what’re they supposed to say? Also, can we figure out a way to vote off Morrison?
Best: Alex Riley Honestly Did Have Potential
If Matt Striker didn’t exist, Alex Riley would be the least likable person in the history of NXT. His character is so unbelievably easy to hate … a privileged, college educated jock white guy who has gotten everything he’s wanted his entire life, has no empathy or compassion and just assumes he’s going to win the show because that’s the status quo. In a WWE Universe that had JUST gotten Daniel Bryan, Riley was the cardboard cutout wrestler from 2006 that nobody asked for and we already had a hundred of. He was OH YOUR FAN SUPPORT CAUSED WEIRD CHAOS IN SEASON 1? ENJOY THIS WORTHLESS RINGER in flashing letters.
Seriously, how could you not hate a guy who says, “I drive nice cars. I have nice clothes. My parents are great!” His PARENTS ARE GREAT. I HATE YOU AND YOUR STUPID FUNCTIONAL WASP PARENTS, ALEX RILEY.
It’s actually kind of a shame that Riley’s character went from brown-nosing, “correct” NXT Rookie to “additional man,” because that’s the career trajectory that stuck him at a pre-show table nodding his head and laughing when Booker T’s prediction for everything is “we’ll have to watch WWE® brand programming to find out!”
Best: Husky Harris
My revisionist opinion on Husky Harris is going to be insufferable, just warning you about that.
When I watched the show to first time, I thought Husky was horrible. This was based almost exclusively on the fact that his name was “Husky Harris,” and how it made him sound like someone who’d be giving Cindy Brady a hard time at school on The Brady Bunch. I was also probably furious at NXT season 1 for everything it did and unable to like anyone I hadn’t seen wrestle at the Murphy Recreational Center in Philadelphia. In retrospect, Husky was weirdly adorable and RULED in the ring … here’s this chubby guy who can hustle, smashes into you whenever he moves and builds his offense around jumping higher than physically possible and crushing you with his huskiness. He can’t buy regular-fitting jeans at department stores and he’s gonna kick your ass about it!
On top of that, his story with Cody is kinda compelling. The base is that Cody doesn’t like him because he’s fat and Cody’s a vain a-hole, but before their tag match against MVP and Percy Watson Cody reveals that Husky reminds him too much of his dad. That’s DEEP. It’s especially deep when you fast forward and realize that Cody’s dad’s the one responsible for personally changing Husky Harris into one of the best gimmicks we’ve seen in a decade while Cody remains essentially unchanged and in the same spot on the card.
The match itself is pretty entertaining, if only for MVP visibly teaching people how to work (watch him pull Husky up and re-bodyslam him to position the Ballin’ Elbow for the hard cam) and Percy Watson almost having his guts rearranged by Husky’s senton. Percy’s obviously supposed to roll out of the way, but he rolls INTO it by accident and pays for it. That’s what happens when you work a Norbit gimmick, Percy, you get crushed by the person in the fat suit.