– Here’s a link to NXT season 1, episode 9, should you choose to revisit it and follow along. Spoiler alert: you probably don’t want to.
– Be sure to follow our recap of NXT season 1 on its now less-organized tag page and catch up on any episodes you might’ve missed. In 7 weeks, announcer Justin Roberts gets hit in the face with a pugil stick. Just kidding, but what happens to him is also pretty bad.
– Support your local retro wrestling column! If you want to see these continue, consider sharing it with your friends and loved ones.
As for now, please click through for the Best and Worst of WWE NXT season 1, episode 9, originally airing on April 20, 2010.
Worst: Next Week On NXT, The Rookies Compete To See Who Can Have The Most Fun In The Bounce House
Pre-Full Sail NXT has already had its fair share of asinine challenges — two weeks ago there was a keg carry, followed by a promo challenge where guys had 30 seconds to talk about flowers and gum — but week 9 brings us the worst yet: Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Rookies.
Yes, that’s a horrible name, and yes, it’s just the Joust from American Gladiators. Too bad Magnus wasn’t an NXT rookie, I guess?
The challenge was set up tournament style, with pairs of rookies being asked to walk up the ramp to a giant air mattress, stand on big versions of those little plastic things that keep cheese from sticking to the top of pizza boxes, and hit each other in the face with enormous Q-tips. The pedestals are super wobbly, though, so most of the bouts last about five seconds, with even a stiff breeze causing guys like Wade Barrett to go WHOOPS fly off. Some of the fights don’t even do THAT … Michael Tarver immediately throws down his stick and Daniel Bryan has to poke him off between Jim Halpert faces to the camera.
The announcers are all like ONLY 80 WEEKS UNTIL THE FIRST ELIMINATION, but WWE had absolutely stopped giving a shit by this point and would start arbitrarily eliminating guys a couple of weeks later. Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Rookies should’ve ended with all 8 rookies being eliminated and us moving the hell on to season 2, where Alex Riley kisses fat ladies and everything’s magic.
Next week can we make everyone play Assault?
Best: Everybody Wanting To Kill Each Other Over An American Gladiators Event
Serious question, they couldn’t have done this when Mike Adamle was the general manager?
The interesting thing about a challenge this stupid is how weirdly heated it gets. When Tarver sorta eliminates himself, he tries to start something physical with Bryan that doesn’t look like part of the show, and the ref has to step in to keep Bryan from (I’m assuming) knee-running him to death. Barrett squares off against Skip Sheffield and loses his balance, so he kinda jumps off at Skip and shoulderblocks him. Skip no-sells it, so Wade hurls his pugil stick at the back of Skip’s head. I suppose maybe they all got together before the show started and said, “let’s try to make this a little more like pro wrestling,” but the result is an awkward undercurrent to an already super awkward waste of time.
Worst: Matt Hardy’s Inner Monologue
“AWRIGHT MATT HORDY YOR ROOKIE, CHUSTIN GABRULL, S’GOT A MATCH AGAINST DAVIN OTUNGA. Y’ALL GOTTA CLAP FOR’M OKAY, HELP’M WIN. YEUP. OTUNGA BIG AN STRONG BUT CHUSTIN’S GOT GRATE WORKRATE, NOT AS GOOD A WORKRATE AS MATT HORDY BUT STILL, PURDY GOOD WORKRATE. WONNER WHAT MY BROTHER JEFF’S DOIN. CAINT WAIT TO GET HOME AND SEE THE NEW ALUMIMUMMY OR WHATEVER. LISSEN TO PEROX-WHY-GEN TAPES. EAT SOME GRAPES.
SIGH I’M TARD OF DUB-DUB-E. WONNER IF I COULD GET A JORB WORKIN’ INNERPENDINT SHOWS AN MEBBE FINE A WIFE WHO’LL LET ME SHOCK HER WITH TASERS AN HUNT GHOSTS WITH HANGUNS IN OUR HOME.
HEART’S STARTIN T’BEAT TOO FAST NEED T’LIE DOWN. WHARS GRAPES.”
“Wait, is that an invisible little boy in the ring?”
Best: That Stick-Fighting Thing
The second match on the show is supposed to be Skip Sheffield vs. Michael Tarver in The Battle Of Who Could Care Less, but CM Punk and the Straight Edge Society interject to add Darren Young and make it a triple threat. This advances the plot from last week (Young “proved” himself to Punk and had his sins forgiven by pinning Luke Gallows, who is now crazy jealous) and allows Punk to backhandedly dump on the show by mentioning how Young’s made it to the finals of the “stick-fighting thing.”
I miss when Punk not caring was a cool part of the show, and not a thing happening in real life.
Best: Michael Tarver vs. Skip Sheffield On The Microphone
The best part of the show is actually BEFORE Punk shows up, when Michael Tarver’s descent into madness runs headlong into Skip Sheffield, who is caught somewhere between the moon (Ryback) and New York City (“the cornfed meathead”) and can’t figure out if he’s a mad steroid guy or a fun-loving hillbilly. So Tarver says things like:
“If silence is golden, my words are invaluable!”
“I didn’t come here to dance on a balloon like a little monkey for your entertainment!”
And Skip retorts with “what I need from you is to turn your upper lip south, and shut your mouth!” and I’m just watching with my mouth hanging open in ironic bliss. The best part is when Skip calls Tarver “Mr. Nitwit of Negativity,” which I’m disappointed in myself for not calling dudes for the last four years. You can practically hear the announce team say “f*ck this” and walk out when he says it. So wonderful.
I’d call it my favorite ridiculous non-flowers-related dialogue in early NXT history, but Michael McGillicutty hasn’t found out he took second place yet.
Worst: Darren Young Is Still Winning
Daniel Bryan is an afterthought in this episode, having Cole briefly call him a worthless nerd and point out his 0-8 record, but last place rookie Darren Young is still suddenly DESTROYING EVERYBODY. He gets his third win in a row by pinning Michael Tarver, which is exceptional because the match ends with Luke Gallows running out to interfere and taking out both Skip Sheffield and Young himself. Seriously, Gallows shoves Young off the top rope and leaves him prone for Tarver’s finisher (which I guess is “punch to the gut,” because that’s the only move he’s ever done) and Young still wins. Just straight up pins Tarver anyway. Weeks 7-9 Darren Young are that horrible video game story mode situation where the computer decides your opponent is winning no matter WHAT you do.
Worst: Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Rookies Gets The Bret/Luger Ending
Here’s how hard the computer is cheating for Young: he gets knocked off the pedestal in Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Rookies, but Skip steps off at the same time and there’s CONTROVERSY. It’s Lex Luger and Bret Hart being simultaneously eliminated from the Royal Rumble in dismissive-wankworthy NXT physical challenge form. Skip is announced as the winner, graphic and all, but Striker shows up and is all NOOOO WE GOTTA DO IT AGAIN. The crowd boos with excitement!
Oh, and when they do it again Skip just easily wins. I wish they’d done that with Bret/Luger. They got eliminated at the same time? Put them back in the ring and let Luger casually send Bret sailing.
Best?: Heath Slater Pins Chris Jericho Clean
do what now
Remember in episode 1 when Daniel Bryan made a cool, important mark in his early WWE career by taking World Heavyweight Champion Chris Jericho to the limit in his debut match? Remember how that was a great rationale for keeping him at #1 on the polls, because “strength of opponent” is one of the four key values of NXT and Bryan was having to fight Jericho and Khali while everybody else wrestled Carlito?
Yeah, nope, here’s Heath Slater pinning Chris Jericho clean by reversing the Walls of Jericho into a small package. Immediately after a lengthy Heath Slater video package where all the pros get together to talk about what a huge star he’s gonna be. THIS IS ALL TOTALLY ON THE LEVEL, FOLKS. The match itself isn’t bad, but just like comparing Bryan to the rest of the rookies, it was a paint-by-numbers 2010 WWE thing instead of anything resembling excitement. But now the crowd’s going to fall in love with New Internet Darling Heath Slater, right?
Stay tuned! (They don’t.)