Best: Tonight We’re The Franz Fravorite!
“WOO YEAH TONIGHT WE’RE STARTING OFF THE SHOW, NO RIDICULOUS BACKSTAGE CONVERSATIONS FOR ME THIS WEEK. I CAN SLAP A TORNADOOOO WHEN I LIVE FOR THE MOMENT THERE AIN’T NO AIN’T NO IN ME or whatever that lyric is YEAHHH”
“shit wait this makes me jeff hardy, doesn’t it.”
Worst: Missed Opportunities
The opening match is a pretty solid tag affair pitting Matt Hardy and Justin Gabriel against Darren Young and the Straight Edge Savior version of CM Punk, aka “Wild and Young.” Punk sneaks in while the referee’s occupied and Goes To Sleeps (?) Matt Hardy so Young can pin him, then orders Luke Gallows to beat up Young anyway. The announcers are all, “well now I’m REALLY confused” and yeah, me too, but it’s less about confusion and more about how depressing the missed opportunities of NXT season 1 are.
The first and most obvious one is that Justin Gabriel is pretty bad-ass. Here he’s a young guy with a legit international pedigree who is putting on the best non-Bryan Danielson matches on the show. He’s got fire and just enough personality to make it work, and we haven’t yet learned that he doesn’t have much in the tank besides “being able to comb my hair.” Shortly after this show he joins the Nexus and becomes the bullet in their gun, getting his 450 splash over as this heavily-protected, deadly finish that can even incapacitate John Cena, the least incapacitatable person in the history of wrestling. Fast forward a few years and Gabriel is a nobody who keeps getting put in D-grade tag teams before somebody gets hurt and he gets tossed aside. Why did Justin Gabriel never become a thing? Why couldn’t he still be?
The second big missed opportunity is the Darren Young/CM Punk storyline, which I feel like I’m gonna write about every week. The Straight Edge Society is the GREATEST, an easy, judgmental gimmick that is just BEGGING for young, impressionable party boy stars with stupid haircuts to fall under their influence and get transformed into something dirty and square. The story here seems to be playing out with a Wyatt Family vibe, with Punk continually confusing and breaking down Young to gain control over him and force him into giving up his individuality, but … well, spoiler alert, that doesn’t happen. Young’s off the show in the second week of eliminations and doesn’t become a Prime Time Player until he gets booted out of the Nexus (for losing to John Cena, natch) and getting one of those offscreen Ryback refreshes.
So yeah, watching Justin Gabriel wrestle Darren Young makes me wonder what the hell happened, and why these guys didn’t go in their natural directions. I guess I’ll have a better understanding of that when the rookies start getting ranked in a couple of weeks and everything stops making sense.
Worst: So I Guess Big Show Has Always Loved Syphoning Daniel Bryan’s Heat
“You wanna know what he does on his little BLYOGS?” – Michael Cole, a guy who in a few years would be starring in a YouTube show and shilling the WWE App 5 times per show every show
Because NXT hates you and wants you to die, the second match of the night pits NXT Rookie Daniel Bryan, a guy I’m assuming you’ve never heard of, against former World Heavyweight Champion The Great Khali. This is Bryan’s second match against a world champion in four shows, which probably seems fair to a guy like Skip Sheffield who is ALSO on this reality TV show and has wrestled 1 1/2 times period.
Anyway, Bryan/Khali is basically what you’d expect — surprisingly good because Bryan could make wrestling a bag of laundry entertaining, and also kinda shitty because Khali ends up no-selling everything and handflopping Bryan in the head to pick up the win. He even pins him with a foot on his chest. That seems condescending at first, but I guess I can’t remember Khali ever going for a lateral press, so whatever. After the match Big Show — the once and future king of showing up to make sure nobody cares as much about Daniel Bryan as they should — comes to the ring to confront Khali and … nope, he just chokeslams Bryan. Whoops! Show is Miz’s tag team partner here, so, uh, couldn’t Show have just wrestled Bryan instead? Cut out the rigid middleman?
Worst: LIKE I SAID, BE SURE TO ENJOY WRESTLEMANIA 26
Bret Hart’s gonna be there. I bet that match will be GREAT.