– Here’s a link to season 1, episode 15 on Hulu. THE END.
– We’re now officially done with NXT season 1, so make sure you’re caught up here. If you’re interested in reading the weekly column about the Full Sail era, you can find that here. Justin Roberts meets the monster at the end of his book at the end of this week’s column.
– Validate my desire to recap season 2 by sharing this post with everyone you know:
Please click through for the Best and Worst of WWE NXT season 1, episode 15, originally aired on June 1, 2010.
Best: The Triple Threat Finale
The main event (and only match) on the final episode of season 1 of NXT is a triple threat match between the three remaining rookies — Wade Barrett, Justin Gabriel and David Otunga.
The first thing I want to point out is how David Otunga has GLITTERY STARS incorporated into his haircut. I couldn’t get a good shot of it, but they show up in the video a few times. Seriously, his hairline is stars. If David Otunga’s in-ring ability was ever as entertaining as his ability to accessorize he’d be main-eveninting WrestleMania right now.
His in-ring ability is covered up pretty well here, as the match is sorta based around two guys dumping the third and going at it for a little while until the third recovers. It’s the most basic way to work a triple threat match, but it works, especially when all one of the guys in the match can do is throw clubbing forearms. Otunga gets eliminated first when Justin Gabriel hits him with a 450 splash and Wade yanks Gabriel out of the ring by his foot to steal the pinfall. In that one moment, you’ve got the three defining characteristics of the NXT finalists:
1. Justin Gabriel’s 450 splash is bulletproof if he connects
2. Wade Barrett is a huge butthole
3. David Otunga talks a big game but can’t really back it up
Number one gets reinforced even more in the finish, when Gabriel goes for another 450 on Barrett, eats knees and gets rolled up for three. I love a high-flyer with a dangerous, high-risk move that has a 100% chance of pinning you if he connects, but like a 50% chance of f*cking him over and costing him the match if he misses. You can apply basic ring psychology to moves as well as wrestlers, and the physics and know-how of Gabriel’s 450 splash were and remained more interesting than half the rookies on the show.
I don’t want to spoil anything for anybody, but Wade Barrett winning this episode is one of the most telegraphed things WWE’s ever done. The entire hour’s devoted to how awesome he is.
Best: The Announcement Of NXT Season 2
Throughout the episode, random WWE stars you might’ve forgotten (John Morrison! Dixie Carter’s friend MVP!) pop in to announce that they’ve been named Pros for season 2 of NXT starting next week. Thanks, reality show cycles! The best by far is LayCool. If you read these columns regularly but don’t really know a lot about me, here is a quick list of my life priorities:
3. remembering and celebrating the careers of LayCool
I love them. Love them. And they got to be the Pros to NXT season 2’s Daniel Bryan, Kaval. It’s going to be a heck of a ride watching ladies who are nothing but personality desperately try to instill that into a 4-foot-negative-six ninja who absorbs none of it and wins anyway!
Best: HUS-KY HAR-RIS clap clap clapclapclap
“My name’s Husky Harris, I’m from Brooksville, Florida, and I’m one of the rookies on NXT season 2. I’m a third generation star … my grandfather was Blackjack Mulligan and my father was IRS, the tax man. I started training in 2009, when I realized that THE SYSTEM, MAN, THE SYSTEM IS A DEEEMON, I HEAR HER CRYING OUT TO ME, CALLING OUT TO ME, DESTROY THE SYSTEM. WATCH IT BURN. FOR I AM THE EATER OF WORLDS, JOHN CENA, HOW ARE YOU SUPPOSED TO HURT SOMETHING THAT SIMPLY CANNOT FEEL? THE CHILDREN ARE CRYING, JOHN CENA, THEY CRY AND ONLY I CAN HEAR THEM, YES, ONLY I CAN HEAR THEM FOR–
sorry, what was i saying again”
Best/Worst: Daniel Bryan Has Been On Every Episode Of NXT Since His Elimination
Remember when Daniel Bryan got eliminated from NXT and we were all sad, and he gave that cool promo about how Daniel Bryan was done, but Bryan Danielson was gonna be fine? Yeah, he’s been on every episode of NXT since. He’s actually been more of a focal point since his elimination because he could be here and do cool stuff without having to stand around getting shouted at and losing matches. Why did we assume that ANY of these people had lost their jobs?
To continue the Wade Barrett Love-a-Thon, Matt Striker reintroduces us to the eliminated NXT rookies and asks them who they think should win and why. Most of them say Wade (including Daniel Bryan’s astutely observed “Otunga can’t wrestle, Gabriel can’t talk, this is pretty obvious”) and the ones who don’t make it memorable. Skip Sheffield says he doesn’t care — what’s he supposed to do, write about it from behind a keyboard? — and Michael Tarver once again picks himself. Good old Michael Tarver, sticking to his “say I’m going to win the competition whether I’m still eligible or not” gameplan.
Worst: Justin Gabriel Really Can’t Talk
The NXT rookies tell Justin Gabriel to his face that he can’t talk. His response? Getting on the microphone and trying to deliver an impassioned speech about his tenacity while not only licking his lips, but the entire lower half of his face. He says that no matter what you do to him, he keeps “gepping up.” You do that, Justin! You gep up and you fight!
Best: Wade Barrett Rips David Otunga In Half
The final “challenge” of sorts is a Snaps competition, and you think David Otunga would’ve done really well, right? Mic skills are really all he has, and he’s a lawyer so he should know something about effective closing arguments. Instead, we get quotes like these:
“Look at that nose! It’s as crooked as your pro!”
“You don’t intimidate anybody but your dentist! The only pay-per-view match I’d pay to see is a triple threat with you, Aquafresh and Listerine.”
“You maybe know a couple moves in the ring, that can be taught, than can be learned. Did I MENTION I went to Harvard?”
Wade’s response is initially, “well that was THOROUGHLY entertaining,” and then he starts cutting a great promo on low hanging fruit. The two best lines:
“I’ve seen The Great Khali move around in this ring with more balance and poise than you.”
“I’ll tell you why they say you’ve got the It Factor … it’s because you have no tangible quality whatsoever that WWE can hang onto.”
It’s the brutal truth, and Otunga tries to remain confident, but he kinda looks like he wants to cry. Barrett says that if you took the IT Factor and “add two more letters in front of that” you’d get a good idea of what he thinks about David Otunga. Ouch.
Best: The Genesis Of The Genesis Of McGillicutty
I’m going to do these retro recaps of NXT season 2 almost exclusively to talk about MICHAEL MCGILLICUTTY, the son of Mr. Perfect who is either the worst person ever let near a live microphone or a wonderful idiot savant. You may know him as Curtis Axel, but before he was a Paul Heyman Guy he was a kinda-balding third generation star who hates babies, swimming pools and properly formed sentences. It’s gonna be a BLAST.
Best: William Regal Picks A Fight With Everybody For No Reason
I guess they had some time to kill, so just before the final elimination the Pros start yelling at each other for no reason. CM Punk says he’s seen enough of NXT and bails (a character-defining trait, I guess) and William Regal starts randomly trying to fight folks. He gets in R-Truth’s face and tries to get him to throw hands, and when Truth responds by doing a dance and waggling his dick Regal goes down the line and starts calling everybody names. AMAZING NAMES. The Miz becomes “Kermit,” Christian becomes “Benjamin Button” and Matt Hardy becomes EUGENE. I cannot tell you how perfect Matt Hardy as Eugene is, nor can I express in a thousand paragraphs how much I love William Regal for calling him that. Bill Regal just found a roundabout way to call Matt Hardy retarded on live TV and get away with it.
Best: Wade Barrett Is Afraid He’s Got Some Bad News
Wade Barrett wins the competition. SPOILER ALERT.
During his speech, he includes one very important phrase: “For the pros on that stage over there, I’ve got some really bad news for you, because this is the beginning of a brand new era in WWE.” And it all comes full circle.
The man who is taller than everybody, good enough in the ring and surprisingly great on the microphone wins a competition he was pretty much the ringer to win anyway, especially after his best competition went 0-10 in an effort to convince us that he was … tough? I don’t know. As it stands, Wade Barrett now has a pay-per-view match against the champion of his choosing, and I assume he will use that rationally to challenge someone for the United States Championship and will toil away in the mid-card en route to becoming a surefire future WWE main-eventer. Four years haven’t happened since this episode, right?
The next week on Raw …
If you don’t remember the debut of the Nexus, here it is in a “full length” version, minus one chokey exception. It remains one of the coolest and most unexpected endings in Raw history. Hell, WWE history. I don’t think a single person expected Wade Barrett to use his NXT victory as a means to create a supergroup of mad nobodies to literally DESTROY RAW. Cena’s violent beating loses a little bit of its impact when Cena could just show up 10 minutes later READY FOR A FIGHT or whatever, but they really beat the dog mess out of him.
The Nexus remains one of my favorite things that has ever happened on WWE TV, even if it went somewhere supremely stupid with bullet train quickness. It also gave us the horrid “we’re the WWE pros! We’re gonna beat up you rookies for NO RAISIN” moment with the NXT season 2 crew that really should’ve resulted in a Super Nexus and everyone in WWE getting turned inside out by the asshole.
But yeah, things worked out okay for everybody.
WAIT DANIEL NO STAY AWAY FROM HIS TIE