– If you missed our NXT season 1 recap, you can catch up on that here. The seven season 2 episodes before this one can be found here here. The kissing contest is next week, so make sure you’re caught up before then.
– Get everyone you know involved in discussing four-year-old game show wrestling episodes by sharing the column:
Please click through for the vintage Best and Worst of WWE NXT season 2, episode 8, originally aired on July 27, 2010.
Worst: I Think They Forgot They Were Supposed To Have An Episode
This week’s episode starts off with the WASTE THE TIME CHALLENGE (note: not its official name). It’s a rehash of the Talk The Talk Challenge from a few weeks back, only now the rookies get to pick their own topic and talk for sixty seconds. NXT’s always got an obstacle course or a butt-sniffing challenge or whatever waiting for the rookies, so this screams “oh God, we got to the taping and forgot the monkey bars, have them cut promos on nothing.”
Here’s a quick recap of everyone’s efforts so you don’t have to spend seven minutes listening to them:
– Lucky Cannon cuts the most “Lucky Cannon” promo ever: a clearly-rehearsed bit about how he only had one childhood friend, Nobody. When he was young, Nobody was there for him. Nobody cared! And now that he’s in the WWE, everyone seems to care … so he lost his childhood friend, but now Nobody is a Somebody! Yes, Lucky Cannon straight ripped off the Not Me gag from Family Circus because he is the worst wrestling personality of all time.
– Eli Cottonwood’s topic is “eyes,” and he takes sixty seconds to say he’s tall enough to look into the eyes of other tall guys. Apparently NOBODY ELSE can do this, as Eli Cottonwood is the world’s only tall man without a WWE contract. He also says “W.W. Universe.” His shirt says MUSTACHE, because f*cking “Make It A Win” convinced everyone that being shitty on the microphone means you’ve accidentally invented marketable catchphrases.
– Husky Harris sings ‘He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands’ for six weeks straight.
– Just kidding, his point is that the NXT rookies “look like Tarzan and fight like Jane.” It’s a fair point. Most WWE developmental guys at the time had no physical charisma and were just Renee Dupree-looking hairless guys who couldn’t work. Husky was a horrible, horrible looking fat guy with a huge upside who would’ve never gotten a look if he wasn’t somebody’s kid. It worked out for him in the end, though, even if he couldn’t stop shoehorning “army tank with a Ferrari engine” into every conversation.
– Kaval talks about dreams, mentions that he used to wrestle as Low Ki (in this season’s “Bryan Danielson will be just fine” moment) and namedrops Brooklyn. The best part is the looks on LayCool’s faces, which they keep for the entire promo:
They were the best pros.
– Michael McGillicutty, take it away.
[protected-iframe id=”1d0bd5630d0ff53fab035e421b1058b0-60970621-20122658″ info=”//instagram.com/p/oi_BZ4sUBw/embed/” width=”612″ height=”710″ frameborder=”0″ scrolling=”no”]
– Alex Riley’s topic is “Starbucks,” and while he never really talks about Starbucks beyond “some people are stars and others are just Star-bucks employees” (which makes absolutely no sense), he MURDERS the competition. Highlights include him referring to the Internet as a “democracy of dorks,” randomly comparing Kaval to Morgan Freeman and referring to Percy Watson as a “poor, poor, poor imitation of Eddie Murphy.” I BET YOU ONLY RENTED THAT COPY OF NORBIT, PERCY! Best part of THAT is Michael McGillicutty cracking up at somebody finally throwing Wrestling Norbit under the bus.
I would give almost anything to have this Alex Riley back.
– Percy Watson discusses “having a good time.” It’s an excuse for him to say “oh yeah!” three times in sixty seconds. He works in seven uses of “baby.” I … am really not enjoying Percy Watson on this rewatch.
Worst: Zack Ryder Vs. Percy Watson Is Not Exactly Savage/Steamboat
Why is Zack Ryder even on the show? His rookie got eliminated weeks ago. Is he just hanging around to be the pro bad enough to take pins from the rookies? Ryder faces Showtime Percy Watson, and the highlight (I’m not kidding you) is Ryder locking in a chinlock and MVP yelling I TAUGHT YOU HOW TO GET OUTTA THAT, YOU KNOW WHAT TO DO from the ring apron. We know what to do too, MVP. You stand up, throw three elbows to the stomach and take off for the ropes.
The big difference in season 1 of NXT and season 2 is that very few of these guys seem like they’re ready for television. Season 1 had guys who’d been in developmental for a while and had worked hard to get a spot on television, so you had guys like Heath Slater or Wade Barrett mixed in with your Bryans Danielson and it was fine. In season 2, Kaval and Alex Riley are really the only ones who know what they’re doing. Everybody else is straight off the wrestling turnip truck, even the ones worth investing in like Husky Harris. These guys needed at least another year of practice in front of rural Florida crowds before trying to have functional matches on TV, so you end up with Zack Ryder basically bumping himself while Percy Watson stands in place, claps his hands before he does anything and remembers to dance.
Best: Skilled, Confident Babyfaces
You know what’s rare in WWE? Good guys who are skilled wrestlers with normal human confidence.
Think about it. The spectrum is either guys who are constantly vulnerable or NEVER vulnerable. You’re either Daniel Bryan, always on the verge of breaking your neck or having to wrestle with taped ribs because everyone’s scared you’re gonna fail and be fired, or you’re John Cena, impossible to shake emotionally and Never Giving Up. With Bryan, a win feels like a triumph. With Cena, a loss feels like an excuse. You’re always struggling to justify one or the other.
McGillicutty was a surprisingly good babyface during this early-to-middle part of NXT because he was right in the middle. He was a young guy with confidence who could win matches clean using skill, but who never let his confidence cause him to dye his hair blonde and start wearing sparkly jackets. He claimed he was good and backed it up. He squashes Eli Cottonwood here and moves to 5-0 on the season. He tried to challenge Miz for calling him mediocre, because he wanted to prove Miz wrong.
Sami Zayn’s got that going on now. He’s just a dude who got a job as a wrestler because he’s GREAT at it. And while I’d never put McGillicutty in the same ballpark as Zayn as a wrestler, he’s got something between the ropes … and it’s something almost exclusively hidden by WWE’s decision to make him a heel. He’s been a heel since shortly after this, when his sarcasm lost its focus and he started doofily ragging on babyfaces. They tried to position him as the new Wade Barrett.
A few months later he got a backwards baseball cap and a New Nexus membership. After a stint in oblivion (aka NXT Redemption) had a run as the worst Paul Heyman Guy ever, emasculated by Triple H as soon as he showed up, and now he’s the dumber jock in a Dumb Jock tag team. What would’ve happened if we’d toned down his awkward mic time and asked fans to cheer for him? Is he just an impossible person to like? I think he could’ve gone somewhere with it.
Worst: Ashley Valence Is Not Worth The Investment
They jump backstage to NXT host/correspondent/something Ashley Valence, and all she has to say is “this week we’re having another Pros Poll, here’s what the pros think of Kaval.” Instead, she awkwardly explains how 50% of the vote in the poll is determined by the WWE Universe and 50% by the pros, although we never see those numbers, and it comes out sounding like Miss South Carolina answering a beauty pageant question about world hunger.
Seriously, Matt Striker is Jim Ross compared to Ashley Valence. That gap between Sunny and Renee Young was FILLED with women who thought “public speaking” meant “sound like you’re answering questions on Studs.”
Best: Husky Harris Vs. Kaval
This is a match I’d like to see now that Husky’s gotten a character and a signature style. The NXT version is pretty good while it lasts, with Kaval bouncing around and Husky trying to Vader him at every turn. Sadly the finish revolves around LayCool accidentally getting knocked off the apron to the floor (because they are DAINTY LADIES and not wrestlers, I guess?) and Husky taking advantage of Kaval’s sympathy to Pearl Harbor him and put him away.
The funniest part is Matt Striker having to hype the Pros Poll results while LayCool is still indeterminately injured on the floor, so he just wanders out and is all WE HOPE LAYCOOL IS OKAY BUT WE’VE GOT SOME POWER RANKINGS COMING UP SO TOUGH SHIT, SEE YOU AFTER THE BREAK. You’re heartless, Matt Striker.
Last Night On Raw: THE NEXUS WILL FALL, but possibly not lol
If you recall last week’s Last Night On Raw (I need to come up with a better name for these), John Cena decided to combat the growing threat of The Nexus (aka “young people having a chance to do well on Raw”) by secretly forming a super team to take them down. That super team included stars like Chris Jericho and Edge, as well as a gaggle of jobbers and Bret Hart, who cannot walk and punch at the same time without his brain failing.
So Cena forms a super team to face the Nexus at SummerSlam. That’s the hook, right? You don’t need anything more than that. But here’s Raw showing “cracks forming” in Cena’s team ALREADY, with everybody having an issue with everybody else and nobody being happy. Meanwhile, the Nexus takes on a team of WWE guys including Goldust and Evan Bourne and DECIMATES them.
Real talk: one of these teams has John Cena on it. The other six guys on his team could run themselves through with swords and I’d pick Cena’s team.
Worst: Leave The Memories Alone
Eli Cottonwood finishes last in the Pros Poll and becomes the second rookie eliminated on season 2. Him and Titus were the worst wrestlers on the show, so it makes sense. Lucky Cannon has that hairless, lithe torso they love so he gets to stick around.
Eli’s goodbye speech is just him kicking Husky Harris in the stomach and starting a rookie brawl, and as we all know this was paid off by … well, Cottonwood eventually becoming Bray Wyatt’s original Luke Harper before Luke Harper showed up and getting “eliminated” again. We will never forget your contributions to WWE, Eli, which were “a speech about mustaches and a matching t-shirt.”