– We’re only two episodes into the season, but if you missed episode 1, hop over to the NXT Season 4 tag page to catch up. You can also 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.
– Comments, shares, likes and other Internet things are appreciated. It’s hard enough to get people to read about a 4-year old wrestling show, much less one about pre-Fandango Fandango. Your help is vital.
Please click through for the Best and Worst of WWE NXT season 4, episode 2.
Ironic Best: The NXT Karaoke Contest
Up first this week is a competition so brutal I’m mad they didn’t do it in the first three seasons: karaoke. Hell, I wish they did this weekly on Raw.
The concept is simple. Matt Striker has a bunch of Academy Awards presentation envelopes, each containing the name of a popular wrestler. You pick one, then spend 30 seconds graphically butchering their entrance theme. Some of the songs start right away without warning, and there’s no yellow highlighter or bouncing ball to let you know when to sing what, so everyone’s f*cked from the get-go. Say what you will about the game show version of NXT, but it was dedicated to finding new ways to make new wrestlers look like idiots.
– Conor O’Brian goes first and gets Sheamus. Yes, he sings it in his rat voice. Yes, he adds “SEE?” to the end of it. He’s also wearing a shirt that says “Ratitude.” He gets behind on the melody and mangles it. One of the things I don’t get is that these guys all obviously watch wrestling and work for WWE, right? You’ve got to know shit like “it’s a shameful thing, lobster head” without looking at the screen. They’re so worried about getting the words right that they stare at the Tron and overthink it, instead of just bearing down and white-knuckling the TOO MANY LIMES, TOO MANY LIMES.
– Derrick Bateman does a little better with The Miz’s theme. He nails the “AWE-SAHHHhhh” bit at the beginning, but (like everyone else) gets behind. I’m wondering how much of it has to do with them being in the middle of the ring in a big arena, singing into a microphone. I also wonder if ANYBODY knows the words to the Miz’s theme between “say goodbye to the good ol’ days” and “I came to stay best get out of my way.”
– Jacob Novak covers Dolph Ziggler’s ‘I Am Perfection’ in the style of Bob Dylan, which I simultaneously hate and love. If he was doing it on purpose, I may have to briefly rethink my position on Jacob Novak. Briefly. Bateman popping in the background and happily clapping is also pretty great.
– Brodus Clay does a William Shatner ‘Common People’ version of Cody Rhodes’ theme.
– Johnny Curtis covers ‘Voices’ by The Randy Orton Orchestra, and deserves infinite Immunity Points for singing it like a snakeman. He goes down into the Hunting RKO pose and sings it like he’s Cobra Commander screaming in a sewer. He kinda stalks around like a raptor. It’s wonderful, and also terrible because nobody can sing to the music.
– Byron Saxton goes last and gets a ringer: ‘Sexy Boy.’ He could’ve sat quietly in the ring and whispered the lyrics and it would’ve won. That’s the nature of ‘Sexy Boy.’ It’s not the best song ever used by a wrestler, but it’s the best wrestling entrance theme, especially in front of a WWE crowd that desperately wants to see Actual WWE Wrestlers. The only way this could’ve been topped is if Derrick Bateman had drawn ‘Real American.’
Best: Chris Masters, Or
Worst: ALL ROOKIES DUMB EVERYTHING
Up first in-ring is a tag team pairing Chris Masters and Byron Saxton against Ted DiBiase and Brodus Clay. The first thing I want to point out is that Chris Masters had already secretly become a Super Worker, as he carries an 8-minute tag match with three guys who barely belong in a ring. I wish they hadn’t pulled the “do drugs/you’re fired for doing drugs/you’re hired back but you can’t do drugs/lol I bet you wish you could still do drugs” act with him, because once he learned how to wrestle he was perfect for Vince McMahon’s ideal WWE. He’s a big, muscular, boring white guy with a boring white guy name who could go, and got the character-based intangibles a lot of guys miss.
Anyway, the point of the match isn’t Masters, it’s to point out how stupid all prospective WWE Superstars are. Brodus spends the match accidentally hurting his own Pro, and Byron loses it for his team when he tags in mid-Masterlock-Taunt and gets squashed by DiBiase. Masters just kinda stands on the apron making exasperated faces. Were you aware that these rookies are YOUNG, BRASH and A LITTLE BIT FULL OF THEMSELVES? If you don’t, there are 10 more episodes.
Best: SUBMISSION WRESTLING! SUBMISSION WRESTLING!
There’s so much to love here, and the Bryan/Bateman friendship is barely a week old.
1. That “WRESTLING Bad To The Bone” shirt might be the second best ever worn on NXT. Note: this is still #1.
2. Bateman locking on the heel hook wrong, yelling OH YEAH DO YA FEEL IT and SUBMISSION WRESSALLINGGGG is hilarious, as is Bryan simply kicking him in the face to make him stop. More backstage segments should end with an assertive-but-friendly boot to the mouth. Seth Rollins is backstage taking 10 minutes to tell Renee Young he’s having a nice afternoon and boop, Daniel Bryan puts his foot in his face.
3. Important: Bateman’s fists are named “Freedom” and “Justice.” This (almost) becomes important later.
4. Watch the segment again, but imagine Daniel Bryan is Rockstar Spud. It’s not that big of a jump.
Worst: The Anal-Retentive Obstacle Course
The rookies are made to run an obstacle course, and it’s the same as last season’s — you run through some tires, climb walls of varying heights, do ten pushups, walk across a balance beam and push a weighted production cart up the ramp and across the finish line. Watching wrestlers run it is … sorta fun? But it’s more tedious than exciting. WILL JOHNNY CURTIS BE ABLE TO DO 10 PUSHUPS?? Yes, why wouldn’t he be able to, what’s wrong with you
The problems from last season are the problems here. The referee counting the pushups is a TOTAL PUSHUP NAZI. A guy will drop down and do a bad pushup to start, and the ref will yell NOPE YOU GOTTA START OVER. While yelling, he’ll have missed five good ones. Then guys will start bouncing up and down on their hands or bending their elbows ~1° and it’ll be fine. I think the ref just wanted to get on television each time around, and when that had been accomplished he stopped giving a f*ck.
The timer still doesn’t work. Guys will push the cart over the line and the buzzer will go off, and the clock will run for another second or two. I suppose this is their failsafe to make sure the guy they want to win wins. To illustrate: Johnny Curtis stumbles at the beginning of the balance beam and the ref’s like “IT’S FINE, GO.” Curtis finishes, and the ref jogs up the ramp to say he’s disqualified. Once everyone’s done, Matt Striker’s like “JUST KIDDING, JOHNNY CURTIS IS GONNA RUN AGAIN.” Now he’s run the course and has an unfair advantage, so he destroys everyone. Why are these worked obstacle course runs not on the level, wrestling game show?
Best: Has Jacob Novak Always Been This Giant?
Seriously, look at how much bigger he is than everyone else. That’s Jacob Novak in a nutshell, isn’t it? 8-feet tall, with a 5-foot-10 presence.
After suffering through season 3, it’s weird to watch a show this decently put-together. Novak finds Vickie Guerrero backstage and “asks her for advice.” She gets smitten, and Ziggler shows up to be all “hey hey hey hey what is going on here?” It’s a clever play on last season’s dynamic of Vickie being Kaitlyn’s pro, and Dolph being secretly into her. It’s called karma, Dolph. It’s why karma showed up and Implant Buster’d you in the Royal Rumble.
Best: The Battle Of The One-Percenters
The main event is Alberto Del Rio vs. Derrick Bateman, to continue the beef from last week’s tag match. It’s only a few minutes long, but it accomplishes everything it needs to: Del Rio is an overconfident jerk, Derrick Bateman’s got a ton of enthusiasm and energy but not a lot of smarts, and Del Rio responds to an unexpected burst of offense by refocusing, cheapshotting the rookie and shutting him down. You should’ve learned how to lock in that Heel Hock, D-Bates.