– 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 and likes are appreciated. We took some time away from the column for the holidays and NXT’s live special (and tapings) schedule, so we hope that doesn’t hurt the timeliness of these snarky columns about developmental wrestling shows from four years ago.
Click through for the vintage Best and Worst of WWE NXT season 4 episode 10, originally aired on February 8, 2011.
Worst: The Joust
Todd Grisham: “Heh, Saxton looks like he’s just been violated!”
And it’s all downhill from there!
This week’s opening contest is the ROCK ‘EM SOCK ‘EM CHALLENGE, aka The Joust from American Gladiators. Too bad Mike Adamle was never the GM of NXT, he would’ve been a VIKING here. The goal is to stand on one of those plastic things that keeps cheese from sticking to the roof of pizza boxes and hit your opponent with a body pillow until they fall about half a foot onto a bounce house. It’s far less interesting that than sentence made it seem.
Johnny Curtis gets eliminated first, because he doesn’t care about anything and knows he’s booked to win the show, so why try? Brodus Clay then eliminates himself, aptly pointing out that he’s tall and heavy and has big feet, and a children’s’ bounce house game is not made for him. It would’ve been pretty funny to see him step on to it and deflate the entire thing like Lars stabbing The Blog with a spear in Heavyweights, but whatever.
The rest of the competition is very familiar:
Worst: The Bateman Bias
If you’ve been following this season since the beginning you’ll recognize its mission statement as, “Derrick Bateman is too over so let’s moderate him at all costs.” This includes cheating him out of contest victories and more or less pretending like he isn’t running away with this season every second he’s on screen.
This week they relentlessly try to steal the Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Challenge from him. In his first bout, Johnny Curtis dives forward off the podium and shoves Bateman off, which should be an instant disqualification. Instead, Striker has to conference with like five referees before awarding it to Bateman. In the second bout, Saxton and Bateman fall off at the same time but Bateman tucks his legs and Saxton steps down first. Instead of going by the precedent established in ROUND ONE and giving Bateman the win, they RE-DO THE BOUT. Saxton then wins cleanly and easily, because I guess one of the refs patted Bateman on the shoulder and said “Vince will shoot you in the chest with an elephant rifle and hang your skull next to the dinosaur on his wall if you don’t bump onto that bounce house.”
Byron Saxton wins and earns immunity points even though he’s eliminated at the end of the episode, because “planning.”
Best: SUBMISSION WRESTLING
Speaking of Bateman running away with the show, he’s the only rookie with an actual narrative: his Pro specializes in submission wrestling and has been trying to teach him submission moves all year, but Bateman’s kind of a spacey dolt and can’t pick it up. Here, he almost accidentally defeats Byron Saxton one-on-one by instinctively turning a roll-up into a LeBell Lock for, get this, a submission victory.
It ends up looking more like a crossface than a Yes Lock, but that’s fitting for Bateman. He still doesn’t have it “right,” but he’s got the gist. Ziggler’s wide-mouthed sell of it from the apron really brings it home. Too bad literally no other people in WWE were looking at the dude like that.
Worst: The WWE Shop Dot Com Challenge
Competition #2 on the night is the WWEShop.com Challenge, wherein the rookies must use their knowledge of how ‘The Price Is Right’ works to come closest to the suggested retail value of WWE merchandise without going over. AJ and Naomi are brought back from season 3 to be Barker’s Beauties and showcase items, and the guys have to be rightfully shocked as f*ck when the MSRP for a WWE DVD is 35 dollars. Brodus Clay wins by picking $1 every chance he gets and not just giving up in the middle like everybody else.
The highlight is Derrick Bateman saying a book about the WWE Championship costs $38,000, showing off his secret one-percenter roots. Here’s a picture of the worth of the remaining NXT rookies:
Best: Sometimes The Passage Of Time Is Pretty Cool
BRB, listening to Tracy Lawrence for the rest of the afternoon.
Worst: At Least Brodus Has Another New Finish
It feels like we’ve watched Johnny Curtis vs. Brodus Clay 10 times in a row, doesn’t it?
The good news here is that Brodus has a new finish, a running powerslam. I guess management noticed he couldn’t do the Tongan Death Grip without losing it in the middle and making everything look fake as hell, so now he just picks guys up and falls down. Eventually they’d shorten that to “fall down” and give him a splash. It’s so boring that the Pros start trying to get over the “Turd Ferguson” joke for Dolph Ziggler again, but the moment’s kinda passed. Johnny Curtis falls to 2-6 on the season with only a few episodes remaining, but don’t worry, everybody else gets eliminated first and he wins.
Best: Byron Saxton Gets Eliminated
Looking back, the final two of the competition should’ve been Bateman and Byron Saxton. Bateman had a ton of charisma and was as good as anybody else in the ring, plus he’s got that freak physique WWE loves. Saxton is great on the microphone, and the kind of guy you instantly hate the second he opens his mouth. He’s got the best body language in the competition, too, and excels and getting over really basic storytelling points a lot of guys miss. For example, at the top of the show when Brodus Clay bails on the Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em competition, Saxton’s face goes from surprise to caution to relief. Nobody else on the show could do that. Bateman should’ve won, of course, because his finisher wasn’t this.
Instead, the final two were a guy who never won matches against a guy who never won competitions. Saxton gets eliminated here, and his speech is kinda glorious. The WWE Universe doesn’t know what they’ve done, but the “little birdie of common sense” will eventually come fluttering back home and “everything will be a-OK.” What’s even better is Dolph Ziggler freaking out about how his “swap rookies” plan didn’t win him the competition and throwing Saxton under the bus, screaming in his face about how he’s disgusting and should get out. Saxton mopes, but that’s the end of his story for now.