– This is it, everybody, the end of season 3. Be sure you go back and relive all 13 episodes at our NXT Season 3 tag. If you want the full experience, you can also go back and read the Best and Worst of NXT season 1 and the Best and Worst of NXT season 2 in their entirety.
– Shares, comments, likes and other Internet things are appreciated.
Please click through for the season 3 finale of NXT.
Worst: Kelly Kelly Wishes She Could Be Here, But She Just Loves America Too Damn Much
Naomi’s Pro Kelly Kelly can’t be here for the finale of the 13-week contest in which her rookie is a finalist because she, Big Show and Eve Torres are on an overseas trip to entertain the troops. It’s something she “looks forward to all year,” and it’s the “only thing” keeping her from being at NXT. That’s got to be the best babyface excuse for getting out of work ever. “Oh yeah hey sorry Naomi, I really want to come clap beside you for 45 minutes of a show everybody hates but THESE TROOPS need to be entertained, and they’re gonna go into war all sad and depressed if I don’t show up in hot pants and point at them.”
Worst: The “What Do We Have Left For These Women To Do” Challenge(s)
NXT was pretty much out of ideas for contests and challenges circa episode 6 when they gave them airhorns and asked them to answer questions like “who is Triple H,” so the 2-girl finale is basically a blank sheet of paper with GAME SHOW written on it in crayon. They have two challenges:
1. spend one minute talking about their Pro
2. spend one minute talking about their opponent
Matt Striker says “we’ve seen Diss The Diva, but this is SO MUCH MORE INTENSE and ONE-ON-ONE and also INTENSE and INTENSELY IMPORTANT.” He tries his best to differentiate it from season 3’s 200 other “spend one minute talking about something” challenges, but Cole and Josh start laughing at him so he takes it home.
Long story short, they don’t have anything left to say. In the first challenge, Kaitlyn says she was a last minute replacement who had her first-ever wrestling match on live television, and she thinks she’s got a lot of potential and wants to show it. Naomi says that she’s the most athletic girl here, and regardless of the outcome she’s loved every second of being on NXT. In the second challenge, Kaitlyn says she was a last minute replacement who had her first-ever wrestling match on live television, and she thinks she’s got a lot of potential and wants to show it. Naomi says that she’s the most athletic girl here, and regardless of the outcome she’s loved every second of being on NXT. The only difference is that in challenge one, Kaitlyn makes a fat joke about Vickie and shoves her down for no reason. Because babyfaces.
NXT really could’ve used some kind of Aggro Crag for these season finales.
Best: The Bella Twins Go All GAEA Girls On Maxine
The opening match is a six-Diva tag team match pairing up a random assortment of Pros with the eliminated rookies of note, i.e. everybody but Jamie. The highlight is the Bella Twins being BOSSES and absolutely wrecking Maxine every time they get in the ring.
I’ve praised Nikki Bella a lot recently for getting better on the microphone and in the ring since Night Of Champions, but I have a new theory: the Bellas have ALWAYS been secretly great, and never showed it because they came up in that awful 2008-2012 group of Divas like Maria and Jillian Hall and learned to show the most basic amount of talent possible to keep their jobs without trying hard. That got wordy, so I hope you get what I’m saying. They didn’t have anyone saying no, do better because they were exactly as good as everyone else, and it was an incredibly easy thing to become millionaires maintaining.
But seriously, watch them in this match. The Bellas have been getting one foot up on their dropkicks for a DECADE, but when Maxine tags in it’s a full force, face-first double kick to the mouth. That HAS to be a purposeful decision.
A supplemental Best goes to Primo for being AJ Lee’s first, non-contest-demanded kiss on WWE TV. He’s like her high school boyfriend. They thought they’d be together forever, but then they grew up. She started hanging with the popular guys and lost her mind. He went to … matador college? I don’t know what happened to Primo.
Worst: Michael Cole
I guess this could be a catch-all Worst for the season, but Michael Cole is especially bad in the finale. Over the past few weeks we’ve seen a lot of really good stuff, right? The AJ/Naomi match was the best of the season, Aksana was having these secretly good little submission-based matches and even the bad stuff wasn’t Kaitlyn/Maxine bad. Yet still, Cole’s character now demands that he insult everything he sees regardless of content, so when WWE’s building up some of the characters who aren’t going to win the contest for future harvesting, Cole’s screaming NONE OF THIS MATTERS, NONE OF THIS MATTERS, IT’S WORTHLESS, YOU’RE ALREADY ELIMINATED. It’s like, yeah Cole, you’re totally right if you’re stupid and have never watched one of these WWE game shows.
The people who win the contests are rarely the historically important ones. Remember Tough Enough? Maven won the contest, but Josh Mathews got 10 years of WWE employment. Remember when Daniel Puder almost made Kurt Angle shoot tap out and won his season? The Miz came out of that. The Miz is on SLURPEE CUPS. NXT season 1? Daniel Bryan. NXT season 2? Bray Wyatt, Curtis Axel, Titus O’Neil, pretty much everyone besides Kaval. Even the original Diva Search was won by Christy Hemme, but gave us Michelle McCool and Maria. Spoiler alert: the biggest star from NXT season 3 is the one winning this six-man while you scream about how meaningless it all is.
Cole (and Josh) sigh and complain their way through the finale matchup between Kaitlyn and Naomi, which seems weird because (1) it’s not even close to as bad as they’re making it out to be, and (2) you’d think the FINAL MATCH BETWEEN FINALISTS would at least warrant some constructive conversation. Here’s something: you could discuss Kaitlyn’s claims that Naomi’s naturally talented but has plateaued, and how that’s evident in Kaitlyn anticipating and countering a bunch of her moves. Or hey, you could talk about Naomi taking advantage of Kaitlyn’s awkwardness, because she’s green and trying too hard. Maybe something about whether it’s more important for a WWE Superstar to be physically gifted or charismatic?
No, you’re probably right. Just keep calling them worthless. That’s how you make money.
Worst: YOUNG, BRASH AND COCKY
I’m excited to cover NXT season 4 (if you think anybody’d read it), but I couldn’t even get through the rookie previews without realizing a problem. In 2010, WWE was determined to only create one character: a brash, young, cocky something something.
I don’t know if it was the John Cena and Randy Orton influence of the mid-2000s or what, but literally every single person was a hairless, muscular white guy in little trunks with a boring name. It’s the era that created jokes like “the NXT name generator” and the fear that everyone who gets signed to a developmental contract will end up bland and homogenized. Globalized? Dumbed down for mass consumption.
Without getting too into it here, let me give you a preview of the season 4 rookies:
Johnny Curtis – a brash, cocky young upstart
Byron Saxton – a brash, cocky young upstart who comes from a nice family
Jacob Novak – a brash, cocky young upstart who likes business (?)
Derrick Bateman – a brash, cocky young upstart who is manly
The only exceptions are Brodus Clay and Conor O’Brian (now The Ascension’s ‘Konnor’) and even THEY get these calm, sassy interviews where they’re dressed up and talking about how they’re “ready to make an impact” or whatever. It’s infuriating. Brodus Clay will eventually become a dancing space dinosaur and had just finished a run in developmental as G-RILLA, the gangster gorilla. Why isn’t he screaming and asking Mean Gene if he KNOWS SOMETHIN’?
Best: Trouble Trouble Trouble Trouble Trouble Trouble Trouble, Trouble Trouble Trouble Trouble Trouble Trouble Trouble
The good news is that season 4 also brings us the best NXT rookie ever, forgotten-era NXT Redemption protagonist Derrick Bateman. He starts off as a brash, cocky young upstart, but what he becomes is one of the weirdest and most legitimately entertaining characters WWE developmental ever had. Uh, when he wasn’t shilling Mark Henry cologne.
The story of Derrick Bateman in WWE doesn’t end well, but a guy who looks remarkably similar to him showed up in TNA (as a cocky, brash young upstart) and kinda-sorta took it over. So it’ll be fun to revisit the days when he colluded to win NXT contests and carried around a giant baggie of change.
Worst: We Did Not Miss You, Jamie
Before the big announcement of the season 3 winner, Matt Striker lines up the eliminated contestants shoulder-to-shoulder and asks them who they think deserve to win. AJ says Kaitlyn, because they’re best friends. Maxine says Naomi, because she deserves it more. Aksana says Aksana and asks Matt Striker if he’s single (because she’s about to be divorced), because Aksana is all the way the hell off her rocker.
The only bad part is the return of JAMIE, a rookie so bad they staged a super-early elimination episode to discard her. In what I believe is her very last WWE TV appearance, Jamie does the same pandering, broadcast journalism school delivery of ABSOLUTELY NOTHING that got her shitcanned in the first place. First she wonders if there can be two winners, then confidently says Naomi … then takes it back and asks the fans right here in YOUR CITY what they think. It’s the only time in the episode when Cole’s hateful yelling seems appropriate. You were the dirt worst, Jamie.
Best: THE END
The winner is Kaitlyn, because AJ got eliminated last week and fine, whatever.
Kaitlyn’s reaction is to just kinda hold out her arms and mouth “what, okay.” It honestly feels like she wasn’t meant to be here (because she wasn’t) and won by total accident. Goldust, Primo, Alicia Fox and some of the other contestants give her these “aw, it’ll be okay” hugs, and the entire season starts to feel like one of those weird, pre-breakup moments when a guy realizes the girl he likes is about to leave him, so he suddenly gives her everything she wants to make her stay. “You don’t really like wrestling? WELL YOU JUST WON NXT SEASON 3 SO I GUESS YOU’RE WWE’S NEXT BREAKOUT DIVA, heh, you wanna go have dinner?”
The best part (of course) is AJ rushing the ring and jumping into Kaitlyn’s arms to congratulate her. She keeps touching Kaitlyn’s face and trying to talk to her, and you get the impression that AJ is way, way happier that Kaitlyn won than Kaitlyn is. AJ’s bouncing and smiling and crying and about to lose it, and Kaitlyn’s just aimlessly side-hugging people.
Regardless, any and all instances of Chickbuster love get a Best from me, and this is one of their happiest. Well, for one of them.
Best: Naomi’s “Oh They Gave It To The White Girl Who Can’t Wrestle, Okay, Huge Surprise” Face
Thanks for gutting it out, everybody. See you next season (week)!