– Here’s a link to season 1, episode 14 on Hulu. Not sure when they’re gonna add these old seasons of NXT to the WWE Network, but it’d sure be nice to watch them without a bunch of GEICO commercials interrupting.
– We’re almost done with NXT season 1, so make sure you’re caught up here. If you’re interested in reading the weekly column about the Full Sail era, you can find that here. T-minus two weeks to TIEGATE.
– You’ll want this column to be extremely popular when we get to seasons 2 and 3. Share it and help us out:
Please click through for the Best and Worst of WWE NXT season 1, episode 14, originally aired on May 25, 2010.
Worst: David Otunga Is Still Not Great At Wrestling
God bless poor WWE developmental, they’re doing everything they can to hide David Otunga’s in-ring weaknesses and validate that “A-list star in the making” thing, but woof, the guy is straight-up feces in wrestling matches. What you’re looking at in the picture is him “holding down Heath Slater’s shoulders” after reversing a high crossbody by rolling through. He puts no effort into it, and Heath just kinda has to lay there with his arms stuck to the ground, flailing around like a goober.
One of the major problems with NXT season 1 is how there are these threads of logic and reasoning happening, but they conflict with one another and start and stop without warning. They spent 11 episodes painting Daniel Bryan has a helpless nerd, then turned him into a cool bad-ass out of nowhere. You know, once he got eliminated. They portrayed Darren Young as a loser, had him win a bunch of matches in a row to impress his pro, then get eliminated so awkwardly nobody could care. David Otunga had the “IT Factor” but needed to work on his in-ring stuff, but here he’s showing zero personality and just winning matches with roll-up reversals. It’s maddening. It’s so clearly a show run by committee when at the end of the day, a wrestling promotion needs one guy saying, “okay, here’s what we’re doing.”
Best: Michael Cole Uses Cleveland’s Best Security Force
Watch out, Bryan, if that guy starts slapping his thigh YOU’RE DEAD.
Best: Daniel Bryan Goes HAM
As seen in last week’s Vintage Best and Worst report, a meek, eliminated-by-mercy-killing Daniel Bryan was humanely removed from NXT and came back as FURIOUS KILLER BRYAN DANIELSON, a guy who is tired of this shit and wants to kick your head in with logic BUT ALSO HIS FEET. It was the character tweak he desperately needed, and gave us hope that the asinine 11 weeks of nonsense we’d sat through watching him helplessly lose to everyone and be a sad baby would pay off.
The good news? He’s the same guy this week, coming to the ring to apologize to Michael Cole for throwing hands at him. Cole’s nervously hiding behind Team Local Wrestling Promotion here, confidently calling Bryan an undeserving loser as long as he isn’t in fear of repercussions. Things get heated and eventually Cole MINES UP and slaps Bryan, setting off one of the coolest fights I’ve ever seen on WWE TV.
The security guys try to hold him down as Cole scurries away, and you think that’s gonna be the end of it … but Bryan finds his way out of the ring and BOLTS around to catch Cole, slamming him into the barricade. Security swarms him as Cole kinda limply kicks his feet and yells APOLOGIZE! over and over, and Bryan heads up the ramp. You think that’s gonna be the end of it AGAIN, but The Miz starts running his mouth. Instead of getting into another argument, Bryan just hauls off and pops him with an elbow as every part of my wrestling fandom goes YES HIT HIM AGAIN, HARDER. They have a brief pull-apart that Miz is clearly not physically able to handle, and that’s finally the end.
I won’t say NXT season 1 paid off the abuse it gave Bryan, but weeks 13 and 14 did a hell of a job in helping. All I’ve ever wanted is for Bryan to respond to crappy naysayers by saying, “sure, but here’s me kicking you.”
Best: These Cool Dudes Love Matt Hardy’s Entrance
This is like the Cthulhu of crowd shots. Every inch of it reveals something sinister.
Best: The Justin Gabriel/Wade Barrett Match Is Really Fun, But
Worst: Oh God, Michael Cole Leaving Means The Announce Team Is Now Josh Mathews And MATT STRIKER
First things first, it’s not a “roaring elbow.” You know when a guy spins in place and throws an elbow? Not “roaring,” it’s rolling. I don’t care what Joey Styles says. Joey Styles apparently doesn’t realize that when he’s watching puro tapes in Paul Heyman’s mom’s basement, the Japanese announcers are saying “rolling” with an affected accent. So when you’re saying “roaring elbow,” you’re speaking in Engrish. This is okay if you don’t know any better. It is less okay when you are a guy paid to talk about wrestling on a wrestling show. KNOW THINGS, HIGHLY PAID ANNOUNCE TYPES WHO ARE SUPPOSED TO REPRESENT THE NERD VOICE.
Second things first, holy shit do not let Matt Striker near an announce table. The guy will not stop talking NO MATTER WHAT, and poor Josh doesn’t know what to say when he’s not calling moves, so you get exchanges like this:
Striker: “What would Justin Gabriel be like as WWE’s next breakout star, Josh?”
Josh: “Justin Gabriel reminds me of a pop culture icon like Zack Morris, Dylan Mckay or Jacob Black.”
Ohhhhhh honey no.
Justin Gabriel reminds you of all three of those guys. At once. Really? What part reminds you of Zack Morris, his ability to stop time? His blonde Vanilla Ice hair? What part reminds you of f*cking Luke Perry from 90210? Did Justin Gabriel’s girlfriend get shot through the windshield of a car and we just don’t know about it? JACOB BLACK? Josh is responsible for that “Capetown Werewolf” stuff that failed harder than Abduction, isn’t he?
Striker earns points for asking “Zack Morris?” in an incredulous tone, and Josh loses infinity points forever for responding with, “Zack Morris is loved all over the world.” I think you’re thinking about Santa Claus, Josh.
Best: Chris Jericho, Though
I think Jericho knows this show’s days are numbered, so he goes into OVERDRIVE with his ringside-ringisde commentary-commentary by shouting hilariously throughout the match. At times you can just hear him yelling RAG DOLL, and my favorite moment is loosely transcribed as:
“(something something) ABDOMINAL AREA! are you talking about barret?? Well you should be! Talk more! Now!”
Oh, and he yells STAY DOWN HAMBONE. HAMBONE. That’s where Justin Gabriel’s gimmick should’ve gone. Anyway, I love you forever, Suited Misanthrope Chris Jericho, especially when you’re getting mad at Matt Hardy for cheering.
Best: Heath Slater Has Some Really Good Points
Heath Slater gets eliminated — he lost a match, you see — and after listening to some hastily prepared speeches from WWE pros, gets a moment to speak for himself. He uses that moment better than I could’ve ever imagined.
Instead of trying to get his character over with some last-ditch effort to make WWE notice him, he simply and confidently states how, objectively, he’s easily the best rookie in this competition. He was the first rookie to beat a pro. He was the first rookie to win a challenge. He fought Kane, and it took KANE to end his undefeated streak. He pinned Chris Jericho, a guy who beat The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin in the same night. It was basically Heath saying, “yo, this competition is stupid and I did the best I could so nuts to this,” and it was GREAT.
The good news is that all of these guys would be caving in Ricky Steamboat’s gizzard over the next month, so good for Heath. Sorry you guys had to be on the weird game show version of “wanting to have a job.”