– Hey, we made it to 2011!
– 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.
– Shares, comments, likes and other Internet things are appreciated.
Please click through for the Best and Worst of WWE NXT season 4, episode 5.
Best: The ‘Find An Excuse To Keep The Pros We Like But Eliminate The Rookies We Hate’ Battle Royal
Let’s go ahead and jump to the end of the column, because it’s not a surprise: Jacob Novak is garbage, and is the first season 4 rookie eliminated.
The problem is that his pro is Dolph Ziggler (and, by proxy, Vickie Guerrero), and Ziggler’s one of the bigger stars on the show. You don’t want Novak around, but you can’t eliminate your Intercontinental Champion workhorse and leave the show with R-Truth and Ted DiBiase. How do you get around it? If you’re WWE, you stage an impromptu “over the top rope pros challenge” where the winner gets the opportunity to trade his rookie. No precedent, no build, just Matt Striker going “hey, there’s an elimination tonight, and SUPER SUSPICIOUSLY HERE’S A BATTLE ROYAL WHERE THE PROS CHANGE.”
Ziggler on Novak, after his win: “You are terrible, you don’t have it, you’re not entertaining, you’re not amusing, you’re not ANYTHING! But a blazer from Express!”
You know shit’s gotten real when Ziggler’s calling out Novak’s brand. I love that Dolph’s the kind of guy who thinks throwing shade at a men’s clothing line with stores in the mall is his mic drop moment. He says he wants a winner and trades for Byron Saxton, which is kinda like saying you want a ham sandwich and eating a ham-scented Yankee Candle, but whatever. Also a store in the mall.
The battle royal — sorry, “over the top rope challenge” — is fun. Ricardo Rodriguez volunteers to take Alberto Del Rio’s spot, which is WWE’s way of explaining why Del Rio didn’t enter and truck everybody to get rid of Rat Guy. Ricardo runs into the ring, gets airplane spun by Daniel Bryan, awkwardly punched in the face by R-Truth and tossed out.
While I’m thinking about it, why didn’t Daniel Bryan’s airplane spin get over? It was over huge on the indies, and is the exact same combination of strength, dexterity and kitschy novelty of Cesaro’s giant swing. THAT got over. Was he just doing it in the wrong place at the wrong time? If he comes back with no arm strength and a doctor’s note reading “no more running or jumping,” he should try it again.
Worst: Behold, The Worst Move In The History Of Wrestling
Byron Saxton wrestles Jacob Novak, and … okay, you know how WWE video games have a create-a-move mode, and they give you like 10 steps to animate a move, but 7 or 8 of the spots can only be filled with stalling animations? You want a fancy RKO, so you have your guy do a boot to the stomach, taunt, duck a wild clothesline, spin the opponent around, lift him up in a fireman’s carry, set him down, pull him up for a piledriver, flip him over and then RKO him? Byron Saxton made his finisher in create-a-move.
Look at that thing. The announce team tries to sell it as “discombobulation,” but he is just straight-up trying to do every move at once. It’s a three-quarters nelson with a Skull-crushing Finale leg trip that MISSES, turned into a JUMPING BACKWARDS and SLAMMING YOU WITH NOTHING. It’s f*cking absurd. It’s like picking a guy up for a piledriver, letting go, turning 180 degrees and jumping into the air. You touched him and he fell down, but shit, dude, you didn’t DO anything.
Ziggler should’ve demanded a second Over The Top Rope Challenge and traded Saxton.
Best: Chicks And America
– This is the segment where Derrick Bateman proposes a double date with the Bella Twins. To restate it as a matter of public fact, Bateman and Daniel Bryan going on a double date with the Bellas is probably the shoot funniest thing WWE’s ever done on purpose. It made Bateman a cult legend for people like me, and hey, Bryan and Brie Bella ended up married. DERRICK BATEMAN MADE A LIFELONG LOVE CONNECTION FOR HIS FRIEND.
– Bateman mentions here that he’s home schooled, which helps connect him to his cooler, still-alive cousin Ethan Carter III.
– The fact that Derrick Bateman has a US flag ready to unfurl in the background or hold above his head at all times is awesome, and makes me sad that he’s not on Raw or Smackdown getting into it with Rusev. Those guys could get six months out of proper flag storage.
Worst: Battle Of The Mics
This week’s competition is the “battle of the mics,” which is basically a snaps battle where you have 20 seconds to insult your opponent. It’s broken down tournament style, with heels paired up with faces to guarantee all the faces win. You know, it’s impossible to be a heel and win NXT. The “live audience here tonight” is always the judge, and they pick the person they like over the person who did the best job 100% of the time. It’s like a dance battle. You can be a heel and break out Russian ballet moves, but Santino’s gonna stand in place and fart and win the contest.
Johnny Curtis and Brodus Clay go first. Brodus is probably the best at being a character and actually saying things his character might say, but Curtis just goes “hey I’m gonna punch you,” punches him and wins. Because babyfaces. Derrick Bateman beats Byron Saxton by calling him Carlton Banks. Saxton’s response: “the reality is, when you look in the mirror and you look at who you are, the answer is Carlton Banks. Byron Saxton. Is always better.” I think he was trying his finisher in promo form.
Jacob Novak has to battle Connor O’Brian, and makes me like him for the first and only time in the contest by saying, “you do cut the cheese cause you stink!” Connor insults Novak’s nose and gets a HUGE REACTION, which clues him in to the fact that this contest isn’t based on mic skills, it’s based on figuring out how to milk the crowd response. So instead of trying to say anything of note in round 2, he says the oldest, most tired “yo mama” jokes he can remember. They KILL. Connor wins in a landslide, because “yo mama so fat when she jumps in the air, she gets stuck” is about as complex as the WWE Universe gets.
Oh, weird note: Connor gets FOUR immunity points for winning. They’re just saying numbers now. It doesn’t put him in first. Being in first place is the only way immunity points matter, and the points reset after the elimination. Connor doesn’t get eliminated. So, uh, why four points?
Worst: Brodus Clay’s Finisher Isn’t Much Better Than Byron Saxton’s
I mean, it is, but it’s still terrible.
Brodus wrestles Johnny Curtis, and when Curtis gets distracted by Ted Dibiase, Brodus strikes. By “strikes,” I mean “grabs Johnny Curtis with a Tongan Death Grip and somehow chokeslams him with it, even though the physics of that don’t work and you’d probably just rip out the guy’s throat.” I don’t know who got put in charge of booking the finishes to this show, but good lord. How hard is it to say “Brodus, you’re fat. Splash people.” We don’t need Byron Saxton’s Rube Goldberg Jackhammer or Brodus Clay’s Whoops My Fingers Slipped Just Go With It chokeslam.
Best: See You Next Season, Jacob Novak
As I mentioned, Jacob Novak gets eliminated. He probably shouldn’t have ever gotten onto the show in the first place. He has no idea what to say in his elimination speech. “This has been an experience of my life.” Ziggler just starts burying the shit out of him until he leaves. They do a bit with Masters teasing the Masterlock on Ziggler in response, and Novak dissipates into dust and blows away in the wind.