Vintage Best And Worst: WWE NXT 9/14/10 Season 3 Episode 2

Pre-show notes:

– This week’s episode can be found on Hulu or on WWE’s YouTube channel here. It’s so beautiful that it’s painful.

– Be sure you’ve read our vintage Best and Worst recaps of NXT season 1 and NXT season 2. If you missed the first episode of season 3, you can read about that here.

– Follow us on Twitter at @WithSpandex, follow me at @MrBrandonStroud and like us on Facebook to keep up with my descent into madness.

– People should know about this:

Please click through for the vintage Best and Worst of NXT season 3, episode 2.

Best: I Am Perfection

Pour one out for ‘I Am Perfection,’ the superior Dolph Ziggler entrance theme. Every time I watch WWE footage from this era and hear it, it makes me a little sadder for Dolph’s current state of “showing the world” how dangerously he can bump in a 2-minute loss to Alberto Del Rio.

Best: The First Good Thing Of NXT Season 3

See? It’s not all bad. The opening of this week’s show has Vickie Guerrero bringing out then-Intercontinental Champion Dolph Ziggler to team with her rookie Kaitlyn against Primo and AJ Lee, who I am trying desperately not to call ‘La Torita.’ The match is only like three minutes long, but it’s a solid three minutes, and solid means a lot on a show that is mostly diarrhea.

It does what it needs to do: it plays to the wrestlers’ strengths by establishing what those strengths ARE. AJ is quick on her feet and athletic, but Kaitlyn is a TANK Y’ALL and can murder her with the first lariat that connects. Seriously, jump to the 4:10 mark of the video and watch Kaitlyn rip her head off. She hooks the arm just enough to slam AJ into the mat with it, and we hadn’t yet learned that AJ does the “dead person on Family Guy” sell for everything so it looks GREAT.

On the guys’ side, Primo gets to be exciting for a moment, hits a SPRINGBOARD MONGOLIAN CHOP for infinite +1s and cartwheels when he doesn’t have to. People need to bring that back. Nothing beats a good fired-up babyface cartwheel. Ziggler spends most of the match falling down, but he was so pitch-perfect with his character work back in 2010 that you couldn’t help but enjoy him. Primo misses a clothesline in the corner, Ziggler Zags him for the pin and unauthorized romances start. But first:

Best: Dolph Ziggler Meets AJ Lee

WWE mixed tag rules awkwardly state that the guys have to wrestle the guys and the women have to wrestle the women, eliminating any and all drama from hot tags. Ziggler plays with that, though, staying in the ring when he isn’t supposed to, and has his first on-screen interaction with AJ Lee. He tires to intimidate her, so she slaps him in the face several times (each one sold like Ziggler’s getting hit in the jaw with a brick) and tags out.

Two years later he’d be standing face-to-face with her in the locker room, telling her she’s trash. A month after that, they’d be f*cking on a pile of Christmas gifts. It was a complicated relationship, and it all began here.

The relationship they immediately bonk you over the head with is Kaitlyn and Dolph. They win the match and hug, and Vickie is instantly convinced that they are doing it. Of course, the reveal is that they ARE doing it, because FFS, WWE does not know how men and women interact in real life.

Best: Cole Shuts Down Josh

“Sometimes Cole, you don’t know anything about this, when you pick up a victory you get caught up in the moment, get caught up in certain things and I like the teamwork that we’ve seen here between Dolph Ziggler and Kaitlyn!”
“That’s right, you spent so much time winning on Tough Enough 10 years ago that you know all about it.”

Followed by DEAD SILENCE from Josh. Five stars.

Worst: The Joke Off

First things first, I’m giving the NXT season 3 “joke off” a Worst because it is the first one they’ve done, which means Justin Gabriel and Michael McGillicutty didn’t get turns. 90% chance McGillicutty would’ve told the “interrupting cow” joke.

Here’s a rundown of the joke off, not to be confused with the jack off, which is the rest of the show.

– AJ starts and tries to tell a Dumb Blonde joke, but the WWE Universe isn’t mentally equipped to understand something more than two sentences long and loses it right in the middle. The boos start before she’s even approached the punchline. If I could have complete control over pro wrestling and change anything I wanted, the first thing would be the audience getting to judge contests. Joke offs, dance contests, Raw Active polls, all of it. That shit should be decided by a panel of experts. Don’t work it, either. Let people perform and excel based on how well they’re doing and how hard they’re trying. The audience is just choosing whoever smiled and pointed at them the most.

– Striker calls AJ “Don Rickles,” prompting this exchange and some very real laughter:

“Don Rickles??”
“Hey Matt, 1964 called!”

– Aksana tells a joke that is “very popular in Lithuania,” which translates to “wives are fatter than girlfriends.” Cole asks Striker if that was Richard Pryor.

– Jamie’s joke is

Knock knock?
Who’s there?
Aksana who?

That would’ve been all well and good (besides her changing it from AJ to Aksana mid-joke), but the way she tells it is like a pre-school teacher trying to get a baby to pay attention. She’s all “DETROIT, I’m gonna need your help, mmmmkay?” She does the “I can’t hear you!” gag and even stands on the turnbuckles for her joke so everyone sees her. It’s a great move psychologically and why she wins the joke off, but man, it’s the least likable and most insincere thing in the world.

Cole: “Pathetic. They got louder when she told them to!”

– Naomi is basically R-Truth here. She gets the mic, squats, does the arm-up point-down-at-herself gesture and goes HAAAAAY DEEE TROIIIIIT~! Her joke is about how it doesn’t matter what you call a dog with no legs, because he “ain’t gon come to ya!” I think they made Naomi a mute cheerleader for two years so they could get her to stop cutting promos like she’s Stymie from Our Gang.

– Maxine is Ivory in a swimsuit competition. She gets in AJ’s face, causing a catfight. She likes business! She doesn’t have time for jokes!

– Kaitlyn ALSO gets into AJ’s face and ALSO causes a catfight. Four years later I still can’t decide if I love or hate Kaitlyn here. She sells the AJ/Maxine fight with a deadpan “tough crowd. This thing on?” that shoot cracks up the announce team, then she (for whatever reason) tries to tell the KGB knock knock joke from the middle of a random season 5 episode of The Office.

She forgets what to say with the slap, though, and just stands there awkwardly and yells “KGB!” as AJ attacks her.

Worst: Michael Cole’s Gong

The payoff to the joke segment is that Cole stands up and starts hammering away at a FULL-SIZED GONG. He tells everyone in the joke contest that they deserve to be gonged and eliminated. When he’s getting up to use it, Josh is all “what are you doing??” as if A GIANT GONG HAD NOT BEEN NEXT TO THEM DURING THIS ENTIRE THING.

Best: Aksana, Surprisingly, Or
Worst: Jamie, Unsurprisingly

Aksana’s not a good wrestler. She’s never been good, right? I love her and her kitty walk and her eyeball-crushing knee drops, but she’s always been bad at what she does. I’m watching this match expecting it to be a total trainwreck, and Aksana’s actually kinda good in it. She’s super hossy, knocking Jamie down with shoulderblocks, throwing her across the ring by the head and flattening her with clotheslines. It’s an interesting interpretation of Aksana … if she’s this fitness and body building champion, why not let her wreck some ladies? Why was she always portrayed as the porno sax, billowy-sheets “sexy Diva” when she could’ve been Rusev and Lana in one body?

Jamie, though, woof. She’s the same kind of Not Ready a lot of the girls are, but she can’t bump. I don’t mean she’s bad at it, I mean she can’t. She does what are called “floating bumps.” Luchadors do them. Instead of getting hit and snapping back to hit the mat like we’re used to, she kinda jumps and hangs in the air and falls. It’s good if you’re pretending to be larger-than-life super heroes who do twisting plancha armdrags and shit, but when you’re in a WWE ring? Floating bumps make things look SUPER fake. Especially if you’re locking in armbars across your opponent’s forearm.

Note: Both matches on this episode had the exact same finish.

Best: Naomi, Orlando Magic Dunking Dancer

I have legit never liked Naomi (or Trinity) more than this video package, where we find out she was a dunking dancer for the Orlando Magic. Forget the space dinosaur cheerleader act, her gimmick from day one should’ve been TRAMPOLINE EXPERT. Just a lady Sin Cara, entering the ring via wacky trampoline and using it to take out people MATRATS-style. reference.

Worst: Vickie Demonstrates The Obstacle Course

Because of course she does.

The weird part is that Vickie does really well on the course, and when she gets to the end she purposely takes a dive. She “trips” on nothing, lies on the ground for a minute, then freaks out and runs away crying. They could’ve at least had her get stuck on the wall. Fall off a balance beam 20 times. SOMETHING.

Best/Worst: The Actual Obstacle Course

This year’s version of the obstacle course is:

1. run through the tires
2. clear three climbing walls of various heights
3. do 10 pushups
4. cross a balance beam
5. push a wheeled crate across a finish line

Long gone are the days of Michael Tarver throwing up Diet Coke on innocent bystanders. It’s mostly uneventful. Kaitlyn wins despite doing a forward roll between obstacles, because she’s physically gifted and her body could probably fly if she told it to. The most interesting part (if you jump to 4:45) is Noami. Sorry, “Ny-omi.”

Naomi should’ve destroyed this, right? She’s the one that’s supposed to be faster and more agile than her peers. She either blows or tries to cheat on EVERY SINGLE OBSTACLE. She misses the first tire on the tire run. She falls off the balance beam in the middle and tries to get away with it. When she does push-ups, she doesn’t DO push-ups … she bounces on her hands. Like, imagine being in position for a push-up and bouncing up and down. It’s like she’s never actually done a push-up before. SHE’S TWERGIN WITH HER ARMS MAGGLE!

It’s so bad that Cole starts gonging everyone again, quits and walks out.

Next Week: A guy famous for quitting and walking out replaces Cole on commentary.