Best: The Talk The Talk Challenge
If you missed it in season 1, the Talk The Talk Challenge gives NXT rookies 30 seconds to cut a promo about an assigned topic. In theory, every professional wrestler should be able to do this. Even if you’re bad at public speaking you should be able to bullshit in front of people for 30 seconds. Most guys do. Some guys, like Heath Slater or Justin Gabriel, end up angrily listing cereal brands or digging themselves into an awkward hole because they hate flowers respectively. Season 1’s competition ended with Wade Barrett brutally slaughtering everyone else on the mic, a trend that continues to this day.
Season 2’s competition, with its prize of “you get a talk show segment next week,” lacks season 1’s nuke-throwing competencies but makes up for it in confused dudes having no idea what the f*ck is going on. And still, some people are fine. Alex Riley jots down notes on a clipboard the entire time, says he’s a rooster in the NXT season 2 hen house and claims his remaining six opponents are “pigeons.” Kaval’s topic is chickens, and his promo kinda sucks, but he says he’s not a chicken so whatever, we’ll allow it. Percy Watson talks about glasses. Husky Harris makes this face:
But man, when it’s bad, it’s the worst thing you’ve ever heard. Eli Cottonwood gets his legendary WWE moment with the topic MUSTACHES, which prompts him to make the worst logistical point in the history of promos: he doesn’t have a mustache, nobody here has a mustache, only REAL men have mustaches, and he has the best mustache of everyone, probably, if you allowed him to grow it. Holy shit. “Stay with me, stay with me!”
Running right alongside Cottonwood’s mustache soliloquy in the pantheon of bad public speaking performances is Lucky Cannon. He uses the topic “deodorant,” an easy lay-up with a well-placed “my opponents need some deodorant!” You Stink burn, to say WWE is LIKE A SWEATY MAN that needs LUCKY CANNON AS DEODORANT. There’s a True Detective-style “deodorant is a flat circle” point made as well, as Lucky thinks deodorant would not exist without stinky sweaty people, but also that stinky sweaty people wouldn’t exist without deodorant? I have no idea. He realizes he’s bombed hard and ends the promo with a new catchphrase: “I’M GETTIN’ LUCKY, WHO’S GETTIN’ LUCKY WITH ME!”
The biggest disappointment is Michael McGillicutty, who you’d expect to scorch the Earth with his inability to speak, right? His topic is “breath,” but all he says is that he’s related to famous wrestlers and that he’s gonna “take your breath away.” BORING COMPETENCE IS NOT WHAT I WANT FROM YOU, MCGILLICUTTY, GET IT TOGETHER.
Worst: Matt Striker Continues To Be The Least Likable Person Ever
During last week (four years ago’s) keg carry, Kaval refused to participate, pointing out that the keg weighed as much as him and saying he probably shouldn’t hurt himself unless he was doing it in the ring for the fans. Matt Striker’s response as Kaval walked away: “Some would say that that sounds like a crock, but okay!”
Kaval’s Talk The Talk talking point is chickens, so (as mentioned) he says he’s NOT one. He says he’s going to ride a wave of crowd support to the end of the competition and win NXT season 2. Striker’s response: “Some would say it was a little patronizing, but let’s not discount that!”
Why does Striker have to give his thoughts about Kaval’s performance in real time, and why does he do it with a passive-aggressive “some would say?” Who would ever agree with or like this guy? He’s the most garbage human WWE’s ever put on screen. Some would say he deserves to get kicked in the face.
Worst: John Morrison Is Worse Than Any Of These Rookies
“I think, WWE Universe. It’s great. What do you think?? If I had to say whether or not I’d vote off Titus O’Neil, actually, I would vote off The Miz!”
I typed that from memory, but it’s close enough. I guess Tough Enough season 2 didn’t have a ton of Talk The Talk Challenges.
Best: The Miz
Miz’s response to Morrison’s ice burn is a sarcastic thumbs up and mouthing, “Good one!” You know, because you can’t make the “jack it off and throw it” gesture on WWE TV.
The reactions of the Pros are the best part of the entire challenge. Morrison covers his face during Cottonwood’s mustache nightmare, Mark Henry makes a spectacular “what the f*ck are you talking about” face during Lucky Cannon’s armpit of a promo and Miz watches Riley’s hen house declaration with a huge smile on its face. When it’s over and Riley drops his YOU’RE ALL PIGEONS HA HAAA pipe bomb, the camera cuts back to Miz grinning about it, even though he visibly has no idea what it’s supposed to mean. It was just real, you know? Affable and human, two things WWE Superstars never get to be.
If they’d just gotten to act like people and ACTUALLY mentored up-and-coming WWE stars this would’ve been a great show probably, huh?