WWE tag team legends The Hart Foundation
HeadLocker — Jay Shannon
What Happened NXT
Our resident philosopher wraps up Season One of WWE’s Tuesday night replacement for ECW. The Rookies and Pros for Season Two were announced, and, oh yeah, the winner of Season One was announced.
It looks like NXT has been picked up for a second season. In what should have been my final NXT report, I’ll look back at Season One, give the final results and look forward (sort of) to next season. That second season starts, Tuesday.
Daniel Bryan: He basically eliminated himself by saying he should be sent home first. Most smarks know him as “American Dragon” Bryan Danielson. It looks like he didn’t really need this show to make it big.
Michael Tarver: Another Rookie that eliminated himself. Tarver had a lousy attitude during his entire run. Of course, he whined and complained that he got a bad deal in all this. I seriously doubt that he will be around, at least not in his current packaging.
Skip Sheffield: The Cornfed Meathead should have caught on with the fans, but just didn’t. His goofy catchphrase and faux innocent routine were rejected faster than free tickets to hear Roseanne Barr singing. With the right heel twist, Skip could be a future mid-carder. He needs to drop the Skip first name. Just about any other first name would work.
Darren Young: The Florida Party Boy was just plain boring. The silly haircut wasn’t enough to make him a hit with the fans. Getting stuck with C.M. Punk didn’t help matters. Also, his name is just a little too bland for his image.
Heath Slater: The “One Man Rock Band” hasn’t played his last tune in the WWE. He’s just odd-looking enough to be popular. He definitely needs a little character tweaking and a more advanced move set but he’s got major potential. He’s a future Intercontinental or United States Champion, at least.
That brings us to the finals of Season One and the remaining three:
Justin Gabriel: The South African kid would be a superstar, if WWE still had a Cruiserweight division. He might have a decent run in the mid-card area of WWE. He might even take the I-C or US belts. Sadly, I think he’s going to end up just a footnote in WWE history. I hope I’m wrong.
David Otunga: I admit it…I can’t stand this poser. He’s riding the coattails of his ol’ lady, Jennifer Hudson, for all it’s worth. Honestly, this guy has some basic moves in his bag of tricks but he won’t last more than a year or two. He’ll get bored and bail out to some other little project.
Wade Barrett: He still needs some work but he is going to become the William Regal of this generation. He’s got the strength and viciousness of a JBL with the articulational skills of a Harley Race.
The Final Battle
Wade Barrett d Justin Gabriel and David Otunga
Gabriel caught Otunga with the 450 Splash. Wade prevented the pin, which seemed like a stupid move. Wade then showed his brillance by taking the pin, himself. Wade then hit his Reverse Samoan Drop on Gabriel to seal the deal.
Jay’s Thoughts: This was a decent match, but I would have prefered 3 matches: Wade v Gabriel, Wade v Otunga and Gabriel v Otunga. It could have been a better indicator of the abilities of each man. This was an acceptable alternative.
After the match, Gabriel got his walking papers. He did the typical “I’ll be back” promo with promises of a future World title run. It then came down to Otunga and Barrett. After a painfully long wait, Barrett was declared the winner, such as it was.
NXT also introduced the next crop of Rookies and Pros:
Husky Harris: Better known to fans as Duke Rotunda. He is the sone of Mike Rotunda and grandson of Blackjack Mulligan. I’ve had a lot of my regular readers e-mail me about how upset they are at his name change. I’m expecting to see him evolve into “Husky” Harris Mulligan (or Rotunda). His brother didn’t get called up (guess that’s Season Three. It worked for Donny and Marie on Dancing With The Stars).
Cody Rhodes: The second generation star gets to mentor Husky. This is going to be another oil and water combo. This might also help to restart Cody’s sagging career.
Eli Cottonwood: Imagine Vance Archer and Great Khali having a child. That’s Eli. He’s huge and from some research I’ve done on the kid, he can actually move quickly and hit some impressive moves. He’s the one to watch in Season Two.
John Morrison: The Guru of Greatness will be aiding the Treetop Tall Terror. If Eli will listen, he could win this one. You just know that there are going to be problems.
Percy Watson: He’s the “Goofy One” in Season Two. Much like Darren Young, he’s not going to last long, once the cuts start. I take that back, slightly. He won’t be around long, if he keeps the silly gimmick he showed on his intro promo.
MVP: His push is evaporating faster than a rain drop on the Vagas Strip. Like Cody, this might be a good way to get MVP back on track. MVP is either going to push Watson’s silliness or try and break him out of the weird behavior. I’m hoping for the latter.
Titus O’Neal: If it were just up to the Pros, this kid would have it locked up. Titus is incredible. His physique is Adonis-like. His moves, from the videos I’ve watched, are sharp and quick.I realize that WWE might adjust him, to make him look more rookie-ish than he really is. I expect him to have an awesome win-loss record in NXT.
Zack Ryder: Really? Dozens of “Pros” to chose from and they pick this guy? I guess they really didn’t have much else that he could do, so pitch him in as a Pro. This is going to be your Miz v Daniel Bryan pairing. Titus will do well, despite having such a sad excuse for a Pro.
Kaval: If they based this on who was actually the best wrestler, Kaval would win this, hands down. He is no where near a Rookie. As Low-Ki and Senshi, Kaval tore up Ring of Honor and TNA, as well as most of the indy organizations around the US and Canada. I don’t think Michael Cole will be dumb enough to bad-mouth this martial arts master. Cole could find his head lying in his lap.
Michelle McCool and Layla aka LayCool They are the WWE’s Beautiful People. Just about as annoying and almost as talented. Well, McCool is a decent wrestler but Layla was better as a Case Girl on Deal or No Deal. Kaval should make it to the finals, despite being weighed down by these two albatrosses. NXT is just trying to up the ratings with the girls.
Lucky Cannon: I’m keeping an open mind on this kid. The intro video didn’t impress me much. His story should get him a few fans. I want to see him in action, before I make my final decision on him.
Mark Henry: Mark knows how to rally a crowd. I’ve had a lot of negative e-mails about putting Mark in the mix. My response has been the same. Mark’s been around for more than a decade. He was the ECW champ and he’s helped push so many stars to the next level. This will be a most interesting pairing.
Mike McGillicutty: If Husky Harris got the fans to grumbling, Mike brought them to out-and-out screaming. Joe Hennig is a fantastic third generation star. He dad was Mr. Perfect. His grandfather is AWA Legend, Larry “The Ax” Hennig. Why in the world would WWE be so stupid as to change this legacy’s name? I’ve had several days to try and figure out the logic and I’m still bumfoozled. He’s going to be another finalist.
Kofi Kingston: The United States Champion is an excellent choice for one of the Pros. He’s young enough to relate to his mentee, Mike/Joe, but seasoned enough to offer advice. I kind of doubt that Mike/Joe is going to listen but the advice is there. Should be interesting to see if Mike/Joe will be pushed as a face or a heel. His dad played both roles but did so much better as a heel. Kofi could definitely help turn Mike/Joe either direction.
Alex Riley: This kid was supposed to be a partner to C.M. Punk, years ago. He is basically re-hashing the gimmick created by Chris Nowinski (and later revamped by Jack Swagger). Riley has worked the ring wars for many years. He will definitely impress, and irritate, the fans.
The Miz: The only person who might have made a better Pro for Riley would have been Jack Swagger. Miz is going to help turn Riley into a Super-Heel. Miz is going to crow about how much better Riley is, compared to Daniel Bryan. Miz just might take Riley to the top. Scratch that. Miz just might help Riley to take himself to the top.
Final Grade: C
Final Thoughts: The crowning of the first NXT winner almost came across as an afterthought in this week’s show. WWE and NXT were much more interested in pushing the Season Two kids and Pros. This was a perfect example as to why the ratings for NXT have been so lousy: Flawed Concept. Even more Flawed Presentation. I’ll stick with it to bring all the results for the next (make that NXT) season. I kinda doubt there will be a Season Three. (Of course, I said that halfway through Season One about a Season Two).
— Jay Shannon