– This week’s episode is available on Hulu if you’d like to follow along.
– If you missed our season 1 retro recap, you can check out every episode here. The good news is that you’ve only missed one episode of season 2, so head over to the NXT season 2 tag page and catch up on that, too.
– Sharing the column earns you IMMUNITY POINTS! Those will come in handy in the future, probably.
Click on through for the vintage Best and Worst of WWE NXT season 2, episode 2, originally aired on June 15, 2010.
Worst: We Beat You Up For No Reason So Everything’s Cool Now, Right
Here’s a quick recap of what’s happened so far: WWE turned their developmental territory into a “revolutionary concept in television history,” aka a pro wrestling game show where the contestants get voted off like on Survivor. The concept was manipulative bullshit and the season 1 rookies were treated like garbage, so they banded together, stormed Raw, destroyed everything in sight and christened themselves The Nexus. It was great. WWE had just watched their game show turn into an anti-WWE revolution, so they thought, “sure, let’s start up season 2 immediately.” Season 2 began with the WWE pros beating up the season 2 rookies to “punish” them for what season 1’s did. At no point did anybody stop and think, “oh, wait, maybe THIS is why everybody wants to kick our ass.”
Instead of the season 2 rookies banding together to form their own revenge squad or throwing in with the rookie-positive Nexus, they just … took it. That was the message. Episode 2 begins with everyone in the ring and MVP giving the rookies a stern talkin’ to, explaining how they’re here to learn and try hard and will occasionally have to take random, senseless beatings, he guesses. It’s terrible. The rookies just nod their heads like, “we hadn’t thought about it THAT way.” It’s an insulting reiteration of ridiculous jock mentality, where the people who came before you got treated like shit, so they now get to treat YOU like shit instead of figuring out that treating people like shit sucks and breaking the cycle. The idea is that you want these kids to toughen up and not be soft, which makes total sense when your (kayfabe) job is “shave all the hair on your body, get in your underpants, oil yourself up to the maximum and fight for the enjoyment of babies.”
I’m not saying pro wrestling isn’t tough, don’t get me wrong, I just know the pros side features a Jim Morrison impersonator who does parkour, a pair of Hawaiian Tropic models and a former Real World cast member. Nobody on NXT season 2 is Harley Race.
Worst: Matt Striker Stands With The Pros
Look at that smug bastard. You’re a “pro’ like those kids who get brought in from local promotions to play fake police officers, Matt Striker, lower your nose.
Best: Basically The Best Match Of Alex Riley’s WWE Career
And it was his first one!
The opening match of this week’s show is a shockingly fun, 10-minute match between Alex Riley and Kaval. When I think of Kaval/Low Ki in my head these days, I think about a guy who burned all his bridges, pretended to be a gangster with fake Hand Uzis in Ring Of Honor and pretty much peaked when he went to Japan and dressed like the guy from Hitman. The truth, though, is that Kaval had a HUGE upside and was often pretty fantastic in the ring. His offense was dynamic … the way he moved and transitioned into moves was totally unlike his NXT peers, and was a welcomed contrast to the leftover Renee Dupree punch-and-stomp, cutter-or-STO-finisher thing WWE of the late 2000s was absolutely INFESTED with. Plus, Kaval’s kicks kinda make Daniel Bryan’s look like Eva Marie’s. Daniel Bryan’s popping you in the chest. Kaval’s kicking your ribcage into dust.
Riley holds up his end, too, as the “varsity villain” clearly coasting on his size and FCW Developmental style. He was a guy who learned the basics and thought that’d be good enough to propel him to the WWE Championship, because he’s gotten everything else he’s ever wanted with minimal effort, why would it stop now?
Three things I didn’t like about the finish, though:
1. It came out of nowhere
2. Riley’s finisher is the TKO (thanks again, late 2000s WWE and/or somebody’s e-fed)
3. Kaval falls victim to WWE’s “no defense” syndrome. I don’t know why they do it, but every time somebody shows up with a unique offensive style they are 100% unable to defend against attack and die the first time you hit them with something strong. See also: early Daniel Bryan, AJ Lee. They’ll kick you and sprint around the ring and choke you out, but if you just shove them to the ground hard they turn into gray Optimus Prime and you can pin them for 20 minutes.
A supplemental Best (and objective Worst, probably) goes to commentary, which is LayCool giving Kaval guidance by saying “awww!” and “come on Kaval!” like he’s a puppy. He can’t even hear them, they’re just vapidly improvving affirmations. It’s GREAT. Layla is overly worried about Kaval getting hit in the face and Michelle explains that she’s a teacher, so she’s going to teach him wrestling things. They are the worst, and I love them.
Worst: These WWE Pros Have Never Spoken Into A Microphone Before
“uh so heh yeah you’re right the Miz isn’t here, he’s not partying in LA, he’s a lip … CONsult. Alex I thought you did a good job of looking confident. Kaval you also took your time. Great kicks man. Thought you both did a very. Very good job of making an impression today. Each and every one of you. Kaval you look like a Serengeti rhinoceros breath!!! Alex you are like school on Sunday. Furthermore. Is my time up? Everybody tells me I’m funny. Have you seen my cheek bones. Suck it, sincerely, Jom Morriston.”
Zack, your thoughts?
“I WASN’T PAYING ATTENTION, BRO. THAT RING ANNOUNCER CHICK IS HOT. SHE’S THE GIRL OF MY DREAMS. ALSO SHE LOOKS LIKE A BITCH. I MEAN IF SHE DOESN’T TALK TO ME. WHATEVER. I JUST POSTED ‘HELLO’ TO TWITTER AND GOT 6,000 RETWEETS. DOES ANYBODY KNOW HOW TO MAKE A COFFIN OUT OF SHOEBOXES? ANYWAY TTYL, YOUR #1 NXT ROOKIE ZACK RYDER
DO I HAVE SOMETHING WEIRD ON MY LIP.”
Last Week On Raw: So, Uh, This Nexus Thing Is Already Pretty Much Ruined
8 days before this NXT, the Nexus formed on Raw. They dismantled the ring, obliterated everyone they could find and choked Justin Roberts to death with his own necktie. Daniel Bryan yelled YOU ARE NOT BETTER THAN ME in John Cena’s face and kicked him in the head. It was amazing.
1 day before this NXT, the Nexus was fired by Bret Hart. Daniel Bryan was already nowhere to be found, well on his way to a Dragon Gate USA show or whatever, where unforgivable tie-chokers go. The WWE roster gathered on the stage to prevent another Nexus attack, so instead of storming the ring, the team jumped Hart backstage, ripped his clothes off and tried to vehicularly manslaughter him by putting him in a limo and running said limo into other cars. Bret was shaken up, and the Nexus screamed in his face about their demands. Nobody on the Raw roster was able to walk from the stage to slightly behind the stage to help out even though the attack was being broadcast on a giant screen behind them.
So for the record, the Nexus was already 99% less cool by week 2. It’s all downhill from here, guys.
Worst: GTV Is Just Capturing Apologies Now
Remember 25 minutes ago when MVP addressed the NXT season 2 rookies and explained to them why they have to smile through their undeserved beatings and Thank You Sir May I Have Another? For some reason they found it necessary to include SUPER SECRET SECURITY CAM FOOTAGE of Zack Ryder approaching a nearly-nude Titus O’Neil in the locker room to offer a weird “Proskis Before Roskies” apology. It’s basically Zack saying, “hey I haven’t been here very long but you have to listen to me, whatever” and Titus saying YEAH THAT’S TOTALLY REASONABLE instead of booting him in the face and yelling ARRA ARRA ARRA into the camera like he should’ve.
Worst: Nobody Knows What’s Going On In This Tag Match
The main event of this week’s show is … well, I wanted to type something expository, but all I can manage is “woof.” It’s babyface Mark Henry and Lucky Cannon, a man who has mastered the headlock takedown and literally nothing else, teaming against Kofi Kingston and Michael McGillicutty. If that’s not bad enough, nobody seems to know what’s happening or the story they’re supposed to be telling.
For example, the first point from the commentary team is that the pros are starting the match to show the rookies how to do it, and how important this is. Before anything happens, Mark Henry demands Kofi tag in McGillicutty to start. McGillicutty makes a bunch of “what? me?” gestures and tags in. The announce team stumbles to recover their talking points, then go on for several minutes about how McGillicutty demanded to be tagged in, even though we JUST WATCHED HIM NOT KNOW WHAT WAS HAPPENING. It’s like that Expectations vs. Reality bit from 500 Days Of Summer happening in real-time.
The announce team teases the Lucky Cannon story by mentioning that he spent a long time in a coma, but they don’t really expound. Spoiler alert: he accidentally watched a Lucky Cannon match. The end of the show is him eating a McGillicutter for the loss, apparently crying in the ring (or sweating from his eyes?) and Cody Rhodes extensively telling him he’s a worthless football reject piece of shit. If Lucky had been immediately eliminated because of this he’d be the saddest, most crushed character in WWE history, especially if you remember he spent the first half hour of the show wearing a shirt with “iGOT LUCKY” across the front.
Oh, and one more thing happens:
Best: Matt Striker Fell Off The Stage, Bro!
Mark Henry sticks up for Lucky and says that if Cody thinks he’s so much better than him, he should wrestle Lucky in a match. Cody tries to blow it off, but Matt Striker chugs his ass up the ramp all LOL NO WAY BRO YOU’RE ON NXT and prods him for more information. Cody eventually accepts the match, but tells Lucky he wants a week to prepare. THAT should’ve ended it, but once again Striker’s all WHOA WHOA WHOA HOLD ON. He asks Cody what we can expect from Cody Rhodes with a week’s worth of preparation and kinda looks off into the distance with the most up-his-own-ass grin, so Cody goes “uhhh, well gee” and just punches Striker in the back of the head until he falls off the stage.
You are my hero, Cody Rhodes. The Cody/Lucky match should’ve started, included and ended with both guys punching Matt Striker in the back of the head.