HeadLocker — Jay Shannon
What Happened NXT — The Semi-Finals
Our resident philosopher, Jay Shannon, looks at the penultimate edition of WWE’s failed experiment, NXT.
Well, this train wreck is almost cleared off the tracks. NXT has two weeks left to bore the fans to tears and then they will pick the “next WWE superstar”. This week, one of the Final Four got the boot. Which one would go? And…would Daniel Bryan really apologize to Michael Cole. Read on, McDuff.
NXT looked at the various eliminations, so far. Michael Tarver and Daniel Bryan basically eliminated themselves. Skip Sheffield was the first to be eliminated by the Pro Poll. Darren Young was the next to go. NXT pushed that there were only two weeks left to go.
Matt Striker introduced the remaining Pros. Carlito was released, last week, due to his refusal to attend a mandatory rehab through the Wellness Program. C.M. Punk was not there, due to issues at Over the Limit (He lost his hair).
The remaining rookies were brought out. Wade Barrett, Justin Gabriel, David Otunga and Heath Slater were each introduced to the crowd. Matt wanted to know who the pros thought should go home. Wade talked about David Otunga reminding him of Benny Hill, who Wade hated. (OK, Wade just lost major points with me. I have the entire collection on my shelf, thank you very much). Wade wanted “The Ginga (Ginger) Ninja” (Heath Slater) to go. Justin felt that David Otunga should go because he didn’t know how to work in the ring. David said Wade was boring and Heath irritated him. David said Justin couldn’t work the stick so he should go home. Heath felt that Wade should go home because of his loooks.Matt said the Pros would team with their Rookies for tg team action.
The new U.S. Champ, R-Truth, rapped his way down to the ring. NXT took a break before the opening match.
Christian then joined his Rookie, Heath Slater, for the tag match against Otunga and Truth.
David Otunga & R-Truth d Heath Slater & Christian
Truth rallied the crowd before locking up with Heath. Truth witha Double Trip into a Hammerlock. Heath reversed it. Truth sent Heath to the ropes and “The One Man Rock Band” came off with a Flying Shoulder Tackle. Truth with a Hip Toss and a pair of Hip tosses. Truth then worked over the arm and brought in Otunga. Otunga worked over the arm. Heath Floated Over an Irish Whip and worked on the arm of Otunga. Christian then tagged in and hit an Ax Bomber on Otunga’s shoulder. Christian slid under Otunga, off the Irish Whip, and punched Otunga in the face. Truth took the tag and Christian Small Packaged him for a two. Christian popped Truth in the face and went to the ropes. Truth caught Christian with a Jumping Side Kick.
Otunga tagged back in and tried for a pin. Otunga then locked in the Rear Chin Lock. Christian started to fight back and went to the ropes. Otunga Steam Rolled Christian. Otunga rent back to the Rear Chin Lock. Christian punche his way free. Otunga with a kick. Cole announced that next week’s NXT finale would be held in my old hometown, Dallas, TX. Christian with the Morningstar off the middle ropes. Heath took the tag and hit two Flying Fore-arms and a Slider Dropkick. Slater with a Flying Neckbreaker on Otunga. Otunga flipped Heath to the outside. Heathwith a Flying Crossbody onto Otunga, who rolled through and pinned Heath.
Jay’s Thoughts: I hate to admit it but Otunga looked good in this one. Heath just seemed a half-step off his game. The pros…well, they are pros. Otunga is certainly heading to the finals. I’m not so sure about Heath.
Michael Cole was in the ring with security guards. Cole whined about being attacked, last week. Bryan went off about how he was better than he was given credit for. Bryan went off on Cole, calling him a “parrot”. He also got shots in on Vince McMahon. Bryan came out and attacked Cole at the announcer’s table. Cut back to Cole. he pushed how traumatic it was to be attacked. Cole talked about meeting with his lawyers, who wanted him to bring in the security guys. The Shysters told Cole that he should sue Daniel Bryan. Cole wanted to give Bryan a chance to make it right, or he would take him to court. Cole then called out Daniel Bryan.
After a pregnant pause, Daniel Bryan strolled from the back as the four security guards formed a human shield in front of the announcer. Bryan said that there was no need for the guards. Bryan said he was there to apologize. Cole kept taunting Bryan. Cole dismissed the guards, from the ring. THe crowd chanted for Bryan to kick Cole’s *ss. Bryan said he was tryly sorry. They shook hands. Bryan said he was sorry that Cole was by far the worst announcer in WWE history. (yeah!) Bryan questioned Cole’s manhood for hiding behind guards and the announce table. Bryan got a shot in at The Miz. Bryan said Cole never earned his spot at the announce table. The two of them tore into each other. Cole said Bryan should take a look at himself for his failure in NXT. Cole said Bryan always talked about making people “Snap or Tap”. Cole said Bryan was a “Loser who had no Heart”. Bryan went after Cole with a passion and fire that he should have used in the ring. The guards moved him back. Bryan finally got his who in on Miz, as well. The crowd exploded when Bryan cleaned Miz’s clock. They fought all over the rampway. Miz screamed for Bryan to return and fight him.
Jay’s Thoughts: I so want to see “The American Dragon”, Bryan Danielson, emerge from all this mess. I’d like to see Bryan in a Handicap Match against Cole and Miz. Bryan could slap on the Cattle Mutilation on Cole, send him to the showers and get a decent commentator on Monday nights. Hey, bring back that guy from ECW’s final few months. Better yet, put Striker on Monday Night Raw with Lawler and put anyone else on Smackdown (I only passingly watch that show).
Josh Mathews talked with Matt Striker, who replaced Michael Cole after the attack in the last segment. They looked back at the attacks on Cole and Miz. Striker said MIz had heart but no respect.
Wade Barrett came out for the next match. Chris Jerichowalked his rookie to the ring. Justin Gabriel then came out, accompanied by Matt Hardy.
Justin Gabriel d Wade Barrett
They circled each other and Wade hit a Back Elbow. Justin flipped out of a Hip Toss. Justin hit several kicks but missed a Roundhouse. Wade lifted and tossed Justin across the ring. Wade with a Kneelift and Elbow Drop. Power Whip by Wade. Front Suplex by Wade. Jericho screamed at the announcers to talk more about his Rookie. Wade with a Big Boot. Wade locked in a Seated Abdominal Stretch. Justinfought free and dodged a Corner Splash. Justin with a trio of kicks. Justin with the RVD Roll over Wade’s back into a Spin Kick. Roaring Elbow from Justin. Justin with a Corner Splash and Springboard Crossbody off the ropes. Wade with a nifty Springboard Backbreaker on Justin. Wade placed Justin on the top rope but Justin fought back with a Sunset Flip Powerbomb. Justin went High Rent and nailed the 450 Splash for the win.
Jay’s Thoughts: I want to like Justin Gabriel, but I just can’t. This kid has a great finisher and some decent moves in his set but his personality is as dull as mashed potatoes. Wade has come a long way but he’s likely going to end up another William Regal. Of course, Regal has been wrestling for decades so that wouldn’t be the worst spot in the world to find one’s self.
NXT showed off American Band, the rockers that provided NXT’s theme music. NXT went to the Raw Rebound. It focused on Batista quitting the WWE. That led to an announcement of the first match of Fatal Four Way: John Cena v Randy Orton v Sheamus v Edge for the WWE title.
After a final break, it was time to send someone home. The Pro Poll was as follows:
1. Wade Barrett
2. David Otunga
3. Justin Gabriel
4. Heath Slater — Slater has been eliminated
Striker talked with Heath and Christian. Striker asked Christian why Heath was eliminated. Christian said the cards were stacked against his Rookie from the word “go”. Christian said the Pros were biased against his Rookie. Christian said he was proud of his rookie and felt the kid had a great future. Miz took the stick and said Heath never showed him “the passion” that is needed to be a superstar. R-Truth then took the mic and said Heath did all that was asked of him but it was survival of the fittest. Jericho came up and said that all others will fall, so it didn’t matter when Heath fell. Jericho told Wade to take his head out of his rear end and get back on pace or he wouldn’t make it. Striker asked Heath for his comments. Heath talked about how much he had accomplished while in this competition, including beating Chris Jericho. Heath said he had an Encore waiting for the WWE Universe.
Final Grade: A-
Final Thoughts: I think this might have worked had WWE reached outside of their developmental group to find Rookies. Maybe Kimo from Big Time Wrestling or Dustin Aldine of Pro Wrestling Destination. I still think Wade is going to take the win in this one.
— Jay Shannon