– Here’s a link to NXT season 1, episode 11.
– Be sure to follow our recap of NXT season 1 on its tag page and catch up on any episodes you might’ve missed. In five weeks something really horrible happens to Justin Roberts’ neck and it requires a firing. GUESS WHO GETS FIRED.
– Give us a share if you like these retro Best and Worsts and want to see more of them. Shares go a long way toward convincing my bosses that wrestling content is cool and not for weird babies.
As for now, please click through for the Best and Worst of WWE NXT season 1, episode 11, originally airing on May 4, 2010.
Worst: An Episode About Obstacle Courses And How Nerds Hate Soda
After asinine challenges including a “who can cut the best promo about flowers”-off and a program sales competition, WWE figured it’d spend its last week with the entire cast of NXT season 1 by making them do ALL THE CHALLENGES AT ONCE. They jousted a few weeks ago, so they’ve got to end with The Eliminator, right?
If you’ve never seen it, here’s a blissfully-shortened recap:
To complete the challenge, you have to:
1. Stand on some ring steps
2. Monkey bar across some monkey bars
3. Climb a rope ladder to ring a bell
4. Run up a bunch of arena steps
5. Drink the entirety of an assumedly gross souvenir soda
6. Run back down a bunch of arena steps
7. Juggle for five seconds
8. Do a dizzy bat race
9. Push a production crate up the ramp until it crosses the finish line
That’s the very definition of wasting everybody’s time, right? Now imagine having to watch EIGHT PEOPLE do it. On an hour-long wrestling show. I sincerely have no idea how NXT got five additional seasons and became a successful developmental program.
Anyway, I’m giving it a Worst because it’s the worst, alongside a supplementary Best for being retroactively hilarious. Watching it four years later and knowing where everybody ended up allows you to sorta shrug your shoulders and facepalm and laugh, because a wrestling program exists where shit like this exists. It’s like somebody watched GLOW and Double Dare and thought they’d be awesome together. Daniel Bryan goes first — I think he was ranked #1 in the pros poll just so he’d have to go first at everything — and his sad run is a combination of him trying to sell the previous night’s match (his first Raw run-in with Batista, which ended with three Batista Bombs) and unintentionally amazing dialogue like, “make your way to the monkey bars, Daniel!”
Bryan’s obstacle course adventure takes him almost three minutes, which allows Michael Cole plenty of time to drop pipebombs like …
“Do vegans drink soda?”
“Yeah, they just don’t eat meat.”
“Perhaps the ribs that are injured causing Daniel Bryan to go slow with drinking the soda.”
“Speaking of ribs, this might be a rib on all of us!”
The best one (and one of my favorite snippets of awful Michael Cole play-by-play ever) happens when Bryan’s struggling to drink his souvenir soda, an act that takes him about a minute and a half by itself.
Cole: “I think he said he doesn’t like soda. He’s a weirdo!”
Josh: “Not everyone drinks soda, Cole.”
Cole’s response is said in the most hateful deadpan you can imagine: “well most people do josh.” I wanted him to stand up, flip the announce table and scream MOST PEOPLE LIKE SODA, THEY DO, SODA IS F*CKING GREAT, F*CK DANIEL BRYAN in Josh’s face.
Worst: Daniel Bryan, 0-10
Bryan does badly, so The Miz saunters out and admonishes him, putting him in a match with Michael Tarver. He loses that match via BODYSLAM in about five minutes. I would like to clearly point out that nobody in the crowd is “getting behind underdog Daniel Bryan” or any of that stuff you can go back and say they were doing on purpose. People just kinda sit on their hands, Bryan loses, and they move on with the obstacle courses. It just made the same people at home who’d been “waiting to see where it goes” sigh forlornly and accept that the American Dragon Bryan Danielson was now the ersatz, socialist, gentile Barry Horowitz.
Don’t worry, though, he’s on top of the pros poll so there’s no way he’s getting eliminated next week. I’m sure things will pick up for him. 
Best: Justin Gabriel, King Of Obstacle Courses
The best obstacle course runner and winner of IMMUNITY from the Survivor Weakest Link Something Something was Justin Gabriel. Gabriel had two great moments during his run:
1. Juggling with one hand like a total asshole, while everybody else just sorta tossed the balls around one at a time, and
2. Stopping as he was running up the steps to take a mark photo with a sad fan who was barely paying attention:
Skip Sheffield actually performed the required tasks more effectively, but just like the keg carrying contest, his inability to run at regular human speeds cost him. Way to go, Justin, I bet nothing in this episode will take away from how great you were here. 
Worst: Wade Barrett Sucks At Monkey Bars
I’M AFRAID I’VE GOT A BAD GRIP
No matter how good he is in the ring or as a character, never forget that Wade Barrett sucks ass at the monkey bars. Even Michael Tarver gets across them and finishes the obstacle course … Wade gets about two monkey bars in, falls off, tries again, gets two monkey bars in, falls off. He just waves off Matt Striker and exits stage left, probably reliving every horrible recess-related memory he’s ever had.
Worst: The Payoff For Last Week’s Hour Of Program Sales Is A Five-Minute Squash For R-Truth
… and it’s only five minutes because they threw in a commercial break.
But hey, look, another wrestling match! See that abdominal stretch? That was the most exciting thing in the match. I think most of us had abandoned ship at this point, including every single person involved in the show, so they just had Matt Striker drag the ring steps up onto the stage for a monkey bars party and wrote “NXT ROOKIE LOSES, OBVIOUSLY” on the whiteboard. They wouldn’t erase it for like three years.
I also think everyone had realized what a lost cause David Otunga was in the ring, which is why they didn’t do a lot to protect his weakness and only gave him several runs with the tag team championships before shuffling him into a NPC and then obscurity. To reiterate so this thing isn’t wholly negative, Otunga RULES as a NPC. He does not rule in obscurity OR in matches against R-Truth, but I guess you can’t blame him for either.
Worst: He’s Gonna HE’S GONNA He’s Gonna HE’S GONNA PUKE, HE’S GONNA PUKE
The other obstacle course highlight of the night was good ol’ Mike Tarver and his attempt to drink Diet RC or whatever out of a John Cena cup without hurling. Spoiler alert: he can’t, he hurls, and he gets disqualified. He was the last rookie to run the course, and his disqualification meant Justin Gabriel had immunity from being kicked off Wanking Motion Island, which caused this face:
“F*ck yeah Michael Tarver soda vomit!”
Worst: David Otunga Needs To Be A Star
The main-event of the show is Matt Striker walking down the row of NXT rookies and asking them who should go home. Tarver says that HE should go home, a statement that in-context is meant to be a threat — if he’s at home, then everybody else in the competition is safe from bodily harm — but ends up being an excuse for WWE creative types with no concept of context to send him home for “not wanting it bad enough” or whatever. Everybody else jumps on the Tarver bandwagon, but Justin Gabriel just sorta scoffs and mentions how David Otunga doesn’t have any talent.
Otunga’s response is to call him “Justin GAY-briel.” Heavy emphasis on the “gay.” Seriously. This is seriously a thing David Otunga, Harvard graduate and family man, said as a comeback on a wrestling show. Not very fastidious of you, Dave.
A few seconds later they ask Darren Young what he thinks, so he goes down the line all I’M BETTER THAN YOU, I’M BETTER THAN YOU, gets pie-faced by Wade Barrett and just GOES FOR HIM in this weird, end-of-show fight that honestly looked pretty legitimate. You’ve got 8 guys who desperately want a WWE career, some who’ve been killing themselves for years just for an opportunity, and all they’ve done for the past 11 weeks is feel bad about themselves and run obstacle courses. I don’t blame them at all. Keep up this kind of treatment, WWE, and these guys are bound to destroy your ring and choke your ring announcers with articles of clothing.
Worst: The Face Of A Defeated Man