– Make sure you’ve read The Best and Worst of NXT Season 1, The Best and Worst of NXT Season 2 and The Best and Worst of NXT Season 3 in their entirety. You can catch up with episodes of Season 4 on the linked tag page.
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Click through for the vintage Best and Worst of WWE NXT season 4 episode 7, originally aired on January 18, 2011.
Best: How Well Do You Know Your Pro?
This week’s first competition is “How Well Do You Know Your Pro?” If you remember when they did it on season 3, it’s a Newlywed Game situation where rookies have to answer questions and match those answers with their pro. It’s extremely tedious, with Matt Striker refusing to believe synonyms exist. The question could be “NAME SOMETHING FIRE IS” and you could say “hot,” but if your pro wrote “warm,” Striker ain’t giving it to you.
This year’s competition is a lot of that, but I’m Besting it for two big reasons:
1. Derrick Bateman and Daniel Bryan break the game.
Remember when that guy went on ‘Press Your Luck’ and won a hundred grand because he’d figured out how the board worked? Bateman and Bryan do that here.
The first question asks what the pro thought the first time he saw his rookie. Bateman illogically says “the great city of Tulsa, Oklahoma.” It’s correct. The second question asks what the rookie would be doing if they weren’t a wrestler. Bateman says Bryan would want him to be the next Steve Blackman. HE WOULD. The final question asks what Bateman could improve upon, and he says “chicks and America.” 3-for-3. Bateman earns four immunity points and introduces the idea of TALKING TO YOUR PRO BEFORE THESE THINGS AND WORKING TOGETHER as a means of winning. WHO F*CKEN KNEW.
Even Striker’s derpy commentary on Bateman’s cheating doesn’t change anything. It’s a masterstroke in playing WWE’s aborted game show, and proof that the best thing you can ever be is the next Steve Blackman.
2. R-Truth, psychic.
When asked what Johnny Curtis would be doing if he wasn’t Johnny Curtis, this was Truth’s answer:
I wish his answer to “what’s the first thing you noticed about your rookie” had been “his original dancer was better.”
Best: Byron Saxton Gets His
The first match of the week is Chris Masters vs. Byron Saxton, in retaliation to that whole “Dolph Ziggler traded for my rookie and gave me Jacob Novak and then Novak eliminated 40 minutes later and left me standing here with my dick in my hand” thing from two weeks ago. It’s a fun little match, and I mean this as the biggest compliment: if they’d had this exact match in a podunk Texas town in front of 2,000 people who never get live wrestling, it would’ve been a BARNBURNER.
It’s such a classic kind of match. Saxton is the heel — helped tremendously by Dolph Ziggler standing on the apron, yelling the meanest stuff he can think of — but he’s clearly outmatched. Masters has that Tommy Rich WILDFIRE happening where he’s tough and fast and ONLY WANTS TO PLEASE THE LIVE CROWD HERE TONIGHT. It’s GREAT. If that guy’d been born 20 years earlier and figured out how to work 2 or 3 years earlier, he’d have been a damn diamond.
Saxton misses a charge in the corner, bounces off the turnbuckles and wanders backwards into a Masterlock for the loss. I’m telling you, imagine Chris Masters with long blonde hair all thinning on top in Oklahoma in the seventies.
Maryse was on some next-level heel shit. She spends this entire episode texting and ignoring everybody. Remember when that was a privileged heel move, and not something everyone in your life did?
Worst: How Long It Took WWE To Figure Out Daniel Bryan
The next match is Daniel Bryan and Derrick Bateman against Brodus Clay and Ted DiBiase, and it really spotlights how absurdly WWE handled Bryan for the first … several years of his run.
This is a guy built around offense. Aside from his time spent as a scrappy underdog in Memphis, every version of Daniel Bryan has been about what he can DO, not what he can take. He’s excellent at that part, too, but where he really shines is in how much he knows, how well he can do it and how hard (or skillfully) he can throw it. ROH Champion Bryan Danielson would control entire matches with grounded submission holds, and it was THRILLING because of how well he could do it. When it came time for him to hit big dives and suplexes, he could do that, too. Not only do it, but know WHEN to do it. 2012 “undeniable rise to stardom” Daniel Bryan didn’t get popular because he could stand in a ring, take a bunch of heel offense and hit some signature moves to pop the crowd. It was about what a goddman buzzsaw he was when he stepped through the ropes. He’d tag in, dismantle the Shield by himself and dropkick everyone in a five mile radius.
Here, Bryan spends the entire match stooging for Ted DiBiase Jr. Read that again. One of these Pro Wrestling NOAH gaijins is not like the other. DiBiase and Clay destroy him the entire match, aside from some weak kicks. Clay’s even got him beat near the end, but DiBiase arrogantly tags himself in and costs his team the match. Daniel Bryan, the king of offense, has to take a beating and tag out to the rookie.
Imagine how easily it would’ve been for Bryan if they’d just said “yeah man, get in there and do what you do.” Sometimes that doesn’t work, I know. The developmental process is an important one. But this was the American Dragon, y’all. He was ready to GO, and someone said “the best use of the best wrestler in the world is to sit in Ted DiBiase’s bad five-minute headlock.”
Best: His Name Is Tyrus
Brodus Clay leaves the match, allowing Derrick Bateman to sneak up and get the pin. Good to see that relationship started early.
Worst: Ricardo’s Master Plan
Next time WWE asks you to think The Ascension is tough, remember the time Konnor was lured down a hallway by a path of cheese crumbles and sprayed in the face with rat poison by Ricardo Rodriguez. The suggestions being:
1. Conor O’Brian was a shoot rat who could be lured with FLOOR CHEESE
2. Ricardo thought Conor was a shoot rat and tried to kill him with poison
3. When Ricardo was making a secret backstage call, he was calling a dude to get him CHEESE AND POISON. Ricardo Rodriguez has never heard of the grocery store.
Alberto Del Rio shows up and puts them in a match with one another, instead of just firing them both and being cool with his most trusted employee trying to assassinate a guy for being ugly and weird.
Worst: The Payoff
Ricardo shows up to wrestle in a terrycloth bath robe, high-waisted black trunks and (more or less) knee socks. He also wins, which would be the strangest pre-elimination “f*ck you” ever if Jacob Novak hadn’t JUST been traded to Chris Masters before getting shit-canned.
Yeah, Conor loses to Ricardo Rodriguez when he exposes a turnbuckle, runs into it himself and takes the world’s most awkward splash. Ricardo was great at that Joseph Park bad-wrestling-on-purpose thing, but there was literally no reason to put the ring announcer over a guy featured on TWO of your “one of these guys is the future” game shows.
The only highlight is Ziggler yelling NOT LIKE THISSS from the stage.
Worst: The Ascension Will Lower
And then hoop, Conor O’Brian and his impossible-to-know-the-correct-spelling-of name get eliminated. The elimination itself is just as off and unnecessary as the match and the rat poison.
He gets eliminated, right, and they let him do his goodbye speech. Before he can say anything, Ricardo shows back up in the bath robe to insult him. Conor chases him backstage, and you think that’s the end of it. But then NOPE, Conor walks BACK out, gets BACK on the microphone and TURNS HEEL ON THE CROWD. He tells them they suck, and instead of leaving the arena he lies down and rolls under the ring. BECAUSE HE IS A SHOOT RAT.