They Are Wild & Taking Over The WWE!
By: Dan “The Phan” Cowhey
It has been a very long time since I’ve “chronicled.” Although I’m sure you’ve read all the report and editorial pieces out there about this, I can’t help but throw my two cents in. And if you are not a wrestling fan you will probably have no clue what the heck I’m talking about… But the end of RAW last night was AMAZING! And I agree with the other 1 billion tweets I’ve seen about this… This was the best end to a major wrestling show in a LONG time!
First off… Everything about NXT in my opinion has been great. Sure its had its slow moments but I think from day one I’ve felt that the NXT show has been something special. Even with the dumb keg carrying contest, I’ve felt like its all had a point. And it has been a damn shame that the ratings for that show have been so low. But then again, I think that show has been geared to the hardcore fanbase and the fanbase WWE generally appeals to is in bed… But that’s a blog for another time.
At the “Series Premiere” it looked like it was just simply going to be the Bryan Danielson (Daniel Bryan) show. Everyone was going to be there to make him look awesome. If that’s what it was, I would have still been happy. The Tuesday night WWE program I’ve always enjoyed because it was just a simple plot, and that would have been the safe route. I really thought that once it was announced that NXT was moving off of SyFy, that’s what they would have put their effort into. Keeping the show safe would have been fine and we would have had Daniel Bryan as a star and most likely David Otunga as the star they forced down our throats so they can have their foot in Hollywood. Maybe it was just dumb luck or maybe it was purposely planned. I like to think planned but I have a feeling it was luck… But they ended up with Wade Barrett being the true breakout star. I noticed him on the first episode, but I didn’t think they would have continued on with him. I pegged Barrett as a guy we all would have been saying “He could have been so much more.” Then you had Justin Gabriel. He was paired with Hardy, and really if you rewind the clock… Gabriel could have been a Hardy. He could have kept losing but he would have gained the appeal of all the teenie boppers. And really that’s what happened. Its the teen girls who are his fans, and they truly are a coveted fanbase especially now that teen girls all only care about vampires and werewolves. Skip Sheffield I thought had potential. I think if he was geared toward a college audience he would have be a breakout as well, but in the PG world he can only do so much with that gimmick. Michael Tarver, whom I have personally worked with, has never really gotten the respect. However, I believed that he had something about him that I thought was good so I personally have liked his work. I know you can only do so much on TV, but the Tarver I’ve seen in PWU would be huge in WWE. But definitely he was one of the weakest (in terms of his WWE career blossoming from NXT) of the rookies along with Heath Slater and Darren Young. I felt that those three would go back to FCW for awhile and come back to WWE repackaged. However, as the weeks went on Heath Slater started to grow on me. Pretty much every star did with the exception of Tarver and Otunga… Mainly because they were the only true heels on the show. As the weeks went on I think WWE realized that they all had something to offer and with the top WWE stars going down with injuries they could use these 8. What became the great part about NXT is that the focus was on those 8 men so much that they essentially were Main Eventers. Think about it… 3 brands… Each brand is focused on a select few. Make sense, right? Although it does contradict how they treat guys who jumped off the ECW Brand.
Part of me believes in the beginning that they had every intention of using all 8 guys on RAW or Smackdown! at the end of the season. But I’m sure they were thinking “Well just have Teddy Long hire them” or something along those lines. Which would have just led to little or no success to the NXT Rookies and would have killed the ratings for season to because people won’t want to watch guys “compete” when “they’ll just end up on RAW anyway in the end.” And I’m sure that’s the intention they had. In hindsight, I can see how much each of those 8 guys offered to the WWE. And I’m sure at some meeting in the last few weeks also realized the same thing. Now the optimist in me says that it was planned from day one, but the cynic in me says that last week the came to this realization. Whatever the case may be… All the events on NXT did lead to the actions of the NXT Rookies last night.
Michael Tarver: Hated the NXT competition from day one. He could claim that he was stuck with the “worst” Pro as his was fired.
Daniel Bryan: Easy… More experience than his WWE Pro, The Miz. Constantly being put down by Michael Cole. Eliminated for his honesty. Not to mention his physical confrontations with Cole and the Miz. Helped the NXT Rookies beat WWE Pros on RAW. Took Jericho and Batista to the limit. And beat The Miz on last week’s RAW.
Skip Sheffield: His attitude slowly changed through his NXT run, has he was not given the credit he felt he deserved.
Darren Young: Butted-heads with CM Punk and the Straight Edge Society the whole time. Also had a slow attitude change as his days were clearly numbered. And by the end he, along with Sheffield “Didn’t care who won.” Beat Luke Gallows during the series
Heath Slater: Attitude change on the last episode. Clearly sick of Matt Striker’s questioning. Defeated Chris Jericho during the series.
Justin Gabriel: Very quiet and easy going. But looking back you could say that he “bit his lip” in an attempt to win NXT.
David Otunga: Essentially the only true heel on the show. And in the future of the NXT Rookies could be the “money man” for the group.
Wade Barrett: Booked as a heel, although was well liked when put against any rookie that wasn’t Daniel Bryan. Won the competition. Most definitely the voice of the group… And prophet when listening to his words on the NXT finale and last night prior to the “invasion.”
If they had planned this than someone deserves an award… If not… They got damn lucky as all the pieces fit together.
What was really interesting is that the crowd was loving the NXT attack at first chanting “NXT.” But the group was able to get the heat that they were supposed to get.
The only two issues I saw out of last night, as pointed out by others, are:
1. David Lagana on Twitter said “As interesting as this NXT invasion is, did everyone in the locker room go home?” Agreed… Although you could easily say “Yes they did.” That could be part of their reasoning for the attack.
2. And then what Sean The Mic said on DOI is basically “Why now? Why not in two weeks?” From a promoter’s standpoint, they are hurting the PPV buyrate possibly… Or not, as more people may tune in to see what happens. BUT… That depends on the next 5 WWE programs between now and Fatal Four Way.
But other than that… So far so good on this angle. Last night was one of those now VERY RARE moments where I stop and am mesmerized. I can’t remember the last time I had a reaction like that to what I saw on a wrestling program, maybe when Vince turned the chair around to reveal the nWo logo. Instantly Twitter, which is definitely the best gauge in the modern age, was trending “NXT.” That’s something that hasn’t happen with WWE in awhile.
And what is even MORE rare… Monday Night Raw closed out with more questions than answers! That is something we haven’t seen in 5-10 years maybe. In recent history, they seem to treat the shows as stand alone events more than a saga like they did in the 90s.
Last night was a reminder to most fans as to why they are fans. It was unpredictable, fresh, new, and got us all talking. It definitely got us all tuning into NXT tonight to see what happens. But will we get answers this week? Or will be have to wait until Monday? For once we are all in the dark. But I know the hope of all of us is… “Please don’t screw this up, WWE!”
And to my good friend Chris Calloway… I agree… “YOU’RE NOT BETTER THAN ME” – Daniel Bryan was the line of the night!