A Song for Whoever: Matt Striker & HHH/Cena Edition

Boss Lady Ray: I often wander around our humble Wrestle Bunker professing about how lucky I am to have (fake) Matt Striker as my mentor. “Aren’t I lucky?” I would say. “Matt Striker and I are just sooooo alike. I see him in my dreams and somehow they come true. It’s like we’re, you know, connected or something.” Then I hold two fingers to my eyes to show Andrew how Matt and I are ‘connected’. At this juncture he usually smiles and nods politely before tutting and rolling his eyes the second my back is turned. He thinks I can’t see him doing this. He has no idea this is why I make him wash all the dishes.

But we really are connected. Oh yes. I’m not just some loony fangirl pretending. Oh no. If you follow our Tumblr, and quite frankly why wouldn’t you be, you might have spotted the post where I explained my recent run of Matt Striker dreams. They were largely interesting to me and me alone, but during the last one he was in a lot of pain. Doubled over in pain, even. This made no sense. Why would Matt Striker be doubled over in pain in my dream? He’s a host and a ‘backstage broadcast colleague’ these days. All was revealed on last week’s NXT.

Titus O’Neil was chatting to Striker about something or other and doing his strange sea lion bark. Derrick Bateman and Darren Young turned up. There was all kinds of “I’m better than you.” “No, I’m better than you.” “Shutup, I’m better…..” You get the idea. By the way, how many weeks has this series been running? Is the end even in sight? Anyway, the bad guys seemed to be ganging up on Titus, so Striker stepped in to reset the balance. Titus O’Neil suggested they have a tag match and Striker encouraged the crowd to get behind this idea with their cheers, always the gameshow host. Bateman and Young were furious with this idea. They agreed, but only if they could choose their opponent’s partner. They chose…….MATT STRIKER! AAAAH!

Striker was all….

And they were all…

And Striker was all….

And I was all….

So other stuff happened. No idea what. I was just waiting for the main event. The bad dudes came out, AJ, Hornswoggle and Titus came out, (get on with it, NXT) “Aaaaaand his partner from Bayvieeeew, New York, weighing in at 230 pouuunds, MATT STRI-KERRRRR!” EEEEEEEEEP!

Look at him there. Long shorts, beaten up boots and with a look of complete fear on his face. Bless. He needed a hug. They could have left this whole thing to Titus. Striker really hasn’t wrestled a match in four years. He looks like he’s in great shape but he’s nowhere near as muscular as he used to be. In William Regal’s words, he’s definitely a little “ring rusty”. But Striker did surprisingly well. No really, he jumped back in and executed the moves with such ease I’d want him back in the ring every week if I didn’t miss his commentary so much and worry about him getting hurt. I realise I’m not exactly impartial. He could flap his hands like a birdie and run around in circles and I’d still think he had a good go. But I was suitably impressed.

Towards the end of the match he started huffing and puffing. He couldn’t quite keep up with the youngsters and at one point he was DOUBLED OVER IN PAIN! Ah-ha! Didn’t I tell you? Didn’t I say that my dream would come true? In your face, doubters. I foresaw this event, I just hope that when he went out to the back afterwards, there wasn’t too much vomiting, as per the dream. Oh, and of course he won:

Striker seemed to be holding his shoulder down and grimacing pretty convincingly at the end. He may have been selling it really well, but it looked genuine to me. Nevertheless, he looked happy(ish), if a little tousled, by the time they sent him back out to call his Superstars matches.

Tousled is good

In honour of my mentor’s short-lived return to the ring, I am dedicating this tune to him because “we tease him a lot, ‘cause we got him on the spot, but welcome back, welcome back, welcome back, wel-come baaaack.”

Sidekick Andrew: This might be the most controversial thing I’ve ever written on this site. More than the time I wrote an article incessantly insulting Matt Hardy until people complained. More than the time that I had a go at Tommy Dreamer’s ingratitude resulting in a number of Direct Messages from him on Twitter. Even more than that time I wrote an NXT recap from the perspective of an imaginary asylum inmate and “THE MAN” decided it wasn’t acceptable. Well, I say “THE MAN”, it was of course the ever fragrant and wise “BOSS LADY RAY”

Anyway, this CM Punk storyline. Great isn’t it? Nobody could deny that Punk has single-handedly made Raw watchable again. Even I, long and staunch opposition to the dreary dreadful dirge that is Raw, now watch every week to see where this show is going. Punk’s mixture of powerful political polemic and quasi-shoot revelations are thrilling internet “smarks” and regular fans alike. Who would have thought that the little blonde guy with a couple of tattoos hurling invective and insults at rednecks down an invisible microphone would become the sole saviour of a multi-million dollar industry giant?

Except of course, Punk isn’t “single-handedly” the “sole saviour” at all. Punk is amazing, I’m never going to deny that. He was a great promo in his indie days (the afore-mentioned invisible microphone in IWA: Mid-South, the WWE contract signing on the ROH belt) and he’s a great promo in WWE. Look at the Jeff Hardy storyline or the SES evangelical sermons he was throwing out week after week for examples. But any storyline involving rebellion needs something or someone to rebel against. Punk has been great in this storyline, but he’s not the only one.

Yep, sorry internet but HHH is right, I do mean them. I know, I know… HHH and John Cena are evil incarnate… everything that is wrong with the WWE and the professional wrestling industry as a whole… one an opportunistic 13 time world champion through backstage politics and nepotism, the other an industry yes-man, constantly being put over despite only knowing five wrestling moves. Everyone hates HHH & Cena…

BOSS LADY RAY: This wasn't me. I swear.

Well OK, maybe this random lady from Facebook likes them a bit but everyone else hates them right? The trouble with that is that we as internet wrestling fans aren’t supposed to like Cena, and we’re not supposed to like HHH. Cena is the company yes-man, this is true. But he’s also the role model for thousands of kids across the world thanks to his Never Give Up attitude, whether we like it or not. The very fact that he is the company’s chosen one (sorry Drew, you should have known Vince would never respect a man who got beaten up by a girl) made him the perfect foil for Punk’s anti-establishment rhetoric. Cena played his role to perfection, being the good guy caught in an awkward position. He (as in his character) never asked to be the company’s go-to champion, the man to right all wrongs; but goddammit he loves this business and goddammit he loves that bloody ugly belt.

Punk needed someone like Cena to work against, in the same way that Punk’s idol Stone Cold Steve Austin needed The Rock or Bret Hart to work against. Punk and Austin have so much in common that the obvious glaring difference doesn’t seem to be important. Both were amazing speakers… both excelled in anti-establishment roles… both got their big breaks thanks to Paul Heyman and ECW… both are not afraid to mix truth and storyline in a promo… There’s a reason that this excellent video from the WWE All Stars video game works so well.

And once Punk had managed to get rid of Cena, who did he move on to? After a brief dalliance with McMahon (Austin’s old nemesis of course) he moved onto the his replacement. From the Rock’s modern day replacement to Vince’s, Punk is now going up against HHH. And I know that “Punk came back too soon” and “HHH is just going to bury Punk” but frankly I don’t believe that. Punk coming back was a surprise, and we’ve said before on this site how much we love it when wrestling surprises us. As for HHH burying Punk, the fact that Punk got to say the things he did last Monday leaves with more hope than fear that this storyline will continue for a while yet.

So, this weeks Song for Whoever is dedicated to two men. Two men I never, ever, thought I would dedicate a song to. Two men that I think should get some credit for helping to sell the most exciting storyline since the Nexus invasion over a year ago. Every great rebel needs an establishment to rail against, a windmill to charge, and in this case Cena and HHH are doing a great job of being that establishment… Cena, HHH & Punk: an unlikely triumvirate but one that goes together like… well… like ham, cheese & pickle. Like pie, chips & gravy. Like rama lama lama ka dinga da dinga dong…

nxt series 4: late to the party

Last week I asked you to pray for me in case I had to watch NXT for a Striker-fix. On Tuesday morning when I was informed that Jerry Lawler was still firmly lodged in his commentary chair, I prepared myself for the yellow brand. You see, Andrew and I couldn’t quite face another series of NXT. We watched adoringly through series one. Then absorbed every episode of series two without missing a beat. We were totally on board with this Wild and Young lifestyle they were peddling, even if the majority of it was a combination of Total Wipeout and Wheel of Fortune with a bit of bonus wrestling chucked in.

Then series three came. How wonderful – a whole series of NXT dedicated to the Divas. It seemed so….progressive. We had always wanted there to be a Divas-only show of some sorts. It was a marvellous idea, until it all went wrong. They didn’t just fill it with the usual NXT silliness, they made it so embarrassing we didn’t even watch the final few episodes. And it wasn’t just that they didn’t care. They cared so little they made their indifference part of the storyline. Michael Cole reached a new level of aggravating hobgoblin and the show was cancelled on US TV. It was still available on some channels, but with the US audience forced to watch online (if at all) and the catch-up videos region-locked, series three of NXT just fell off the radar for us.

When series four started and I realised Mason Ryan wasn’t going to be a rookie, we decided to give it a miss. That changed this week. With my Matt Striker quota knocked down to one Superstars match, I decided to watch an episode of NXT. Andrew very kindly decided to take the televisual bullet too and watch with me. How very ‘you jump, I jump’. Anyway, a strange thing happened…..we enjoyed it! Maybe it was the absence of Michael Cole, maybe it was the fact that everything else went misty when Mr. Striker appeared on my screen (still wearing his special NXT shoes) but we didn’t have to watch through our fingers as expected.

It’s strange joining a show in the middle of a series. I’ve seen a few episodes of FCW over the past year in an attempt to catch some of Mason Ryan’s developmental matches. So the faces were vaguely familiar. I can’t say I was paying attention to much of the detail while impatiently skipping through FCW though.  We’re very late to the party on this series. In fact, we’re so late to the party, all that’s left are some dodgy prawn quiches and some flat Coca-Cola. Still, I thought it might be fun to run through this episode and record some first impressions of the remaining contestants…..

It’s nice to see that nothing’s changed on NXT. They’re still playing silly, rigged party games and pretending they’re important. On many levels, it’s quite comforting. This week it was everyone’s favourite fake punch-up – Rock ‘em-Sock ‘em Rookie Challenge. Classic!

Okay, so Johnny Curtis is invited to climb onto a podium first. We’ll call him The Looker. He’s the one where you scan the opening credits for the one boy you might favour because he was blessed with more handsome genes than the others. This involves cocking an eyebrow, doing a sideways smile and greeting him with an almost purred hellooooooooo. Also, he has R-Truth as a mentor, so he needs some kind of advantage.

The Looker has to face Derrick Bateman in the rocky socky fighty thing. We’ll call Bateman ‘Thinks-He’s-Funny’.

Between ourselves, he is actually quite funny. In preparation for this episode of NXT we watched some Bateman YouTubes and laughed. He’s in! Thinks-He’s-Funny endeared himself to the crowd by wearing a piece of cheese on his head and it seemed to work wonderfully. I’ll give it a try myself:

Double cheese

They bash each other a bit and Thinks-He’s-Funny wins. Then Byron Saxton steps up.

Byron was always enjoyable on commentary but as a wrestler he seems a little wet. He also appears to be the whitest black guy I’ve ever seen. Even more so than the fella on Antiques Roadshow.

We’ll call Byron ‘Antiques’.  His opponent is Brodus Clay. We’ll call him Bowser.

NUFF SAID!

Bowser refuses to play, mainly because he thinks the spikes on his tail will pierce the inflatable cushion or something. Antiques wins by default and goes on to beat Thinks-He’s-Funny. He looks happier than that time someone brought 300 year-old walnut sideboard to the Roadshow and it was worth £20,000. They watch the replay and Matt Striker announces they’ll have rematch. Antiques wins again.

Apparently the big NXT meme this series is to call Dolph Ziggler ‘turd’. The story goes that he changed his name to Dolph from Turd Ferguson. Riiiiiiight.  It’s amazing how little wrestling shows make sense when you haven’t been watching from the start of the series. How anyone ever gets into this nonsense is a mystery to me. At least chanting ‘turd’ at someone is slightly offensive. Better than Mr. Ziggles, right?

So Antiques and Thinks-He’s-Funny have a match. I won’t pretend I remember much about it. Daniel Bryan was in one corner dressed in a jumper and slacks, and Dolph Ziggler was being awesome in the other corner while wearing a Zack Ryder t-shirt. That’s all I need for a good time. Antiques tapped out, Dolph was angry. Bryan was ecstatic.

Then they played a game of The Price is Right. Bowser looked like he just wanted to get it over with, Antiques seemed to think it was beneath him to appraise anything that wasn’t over a hundred years old, Thinks-He’s-Funny went for the laffs and The Looker took it extremely seriously. Striker, Mathews, Grisham and Chimel were in their element. Matt Striker seemed particularly enamoured with his role as gameshow host. This made me happy. I have something of a penchant for trashy gameshows. Andrew pointed out at this point that should Striker ever get the gig hosting Million Pound Drop, I might explode. I would like to suggest that someone gets Davina McCall pregnant so we can make this happen while she’s on maternity leave.

Explosion imminent. (The answer is JLS, by the way.)

The Looker and R-Truth had an angry man-hug:

Then Looker had a match against Bowser. It was difficult to follow what was going on. Dolph was being still being awesome elbow-dropping cheese on the stage while Chris Masters encouraged the crowd to shout ‘turd’ again. Daniel Bryan was still happy.

Bowser wins the match. They both then find themselves tied for immunity. Not sure what happened after that. Matt Striker was being all cute, and officious, and over-sized cuffs, and………

Sorry. I was drifting. Antiques was eliminated. I’m told.

Maybe it is the lack of Michael Cole and maybe it is because Booker T is still sitting in Striker’s chair on Smackdown, but we think we might watch again next week. My enthusiasm for recapping it, however, ends here. I hadn’t realised how tricky writing about NXT is. I should give Andrew a retrospective pay rise for making such a beautiful job of the first three series. Well I would, if I actually paid him!


Happy New Year!


Hello! How the devil is 2011 treating you so far? Excellent? Awful? Meh? Here at Wrestlegasm.com we’re refusing to answer that question. We’re just not quite ready to embrace a new year yet. So we’re easing ourselves in by looking back at 2010 and giving our much-coveted awards to our favourite wrestle people. OK so it’s the first year we’ve handed them out so they’re not that sought after, but they’re important to us.

We pondered holding a glittering awards ceremony full of fake grins, dazzling ladies dressed in vintage couture, gentlemen in black-tie attire, champers on tap and the kind of canapés that look like they should be behind glass at Tate Modern, but that’s just not our style.  To be truthful, we’d have been more than happy to lie around in our Christmas pyjamas and chink our mugs of tea together when we decided who was best at wrestling in 2010. But that’s no fun for anyone but us, so we’ve settled on a happy, homely medium.

The Wrestlegasm Best in Show Awards will take the form of a very British country show. There’ll be livestock parades, we’ll be judging the produce of regional vegetable growers, there will be family events in the crafts tent and an opportunity to sample locally made cheeses, cakes and ales.

Between me and you, I've got my eye on that purple cauliflower. Phwoar!

Oh yeah, and we’ll be handing out rosettes to our favourite wrestlers too. Yep, rosettes. No two-pound statue made of solid gold for us. So jump in your wellies, pull up a haystack and I’ll grab my megaphone. Incidentally, there’s only one award we disagreed on, so even though I’ll announce these first four awards, you can be sure that we discussed each category thoroughly and agreed on each winner unanimously. Let us begin……

The first foals to pass through our paddock are the newcomers; the young whippersnappers who just want you to remember their name. There was a fine crop of youngsters on the scene this year. We swayed back and forth over the thorny issue of what ‘Newcomer’ truly means, but we eventually settled on Wade Barrett.

Yes, he’s British and yes we’re very proud of him, but we genuinely couldn’t think of anyone who’d come so far or had made such a massive impact in such a short space of time in 2010. This time last year he was puttering about in FCW with nobody but the diehards able to pick him out of a police line-up.

That's him, officer. The one with freckled chest, ravishing curls and a curved nose.

But that all changed when Wade got called up to NXT and was mentored by Chris Jericho. Admittedly, his first sartorial attempts dampened our spirits, but it soon became apparent that with superb mic skills and solid wrestling ability, he was a sure-thing to win series one of NXT, which he did. Fast forward just a few months and he’s headlined Pay Per Views with John Cena, he’s lead a brood of reprobates to world (WWE) domination and has everyone watching knowing exactly what his name is. You’ve come a long way, kiddo. Enjoy that rosette. Wear it with pride.

VERY BRITISH NODS OF APPRECIATION also go to Kaitlyn and Alberto Del Rio. OK, yeah, we know that Kaitlyn isn’t the most fabulous wrestler in the Divas locker room. She needs a lot of ring time before she’ll even get close to being great. But we recognise ace comedy timing when we see it and that’s enough to get us through for the time being. And the thighs. Oh the thighs.

We really wanted to give Alberto Del Rio a rosette. He’s one of the best things to happen to Smackdown in ages, especially since CM Punk departed for pastures red. But he’s not technically a newcomer. He’s something of a legend south of the US border, so he might be a newbie in the WWE, but he’s certainly not just learning his craft . We needed to mention him though, just to say how much we love him and how much we enjoy pretending to honk our horns on our plastic steering wheel every time he drives to the ring.

JUSTLIKETHAT

Our second rosette goes to……..

This award didn’t really need much debate. CM Punk’s ability to hide the fact that he has a heart, berate his friends in public, run a dictatorship in several guises and stand in the centre of a packed arena without flinching while a 16,000-strong angry mob boo and jeer all makes him top-dog in the villain stakes.

We particularly enjoy when he breaks the hearts of the innocent and unassuming, like when he gate-crashed Miss Mysterio’s birthday party several months ago and delivered a menacing rendition of a happy birthday to the poor child. It was the stuff nightmares are made of.

But all is well. No need to hide behind your sofas and be afraid, kiddies. Dastardly as Punk is, we know that as soon as he steps out of character he’s a thoroughly lovely guy.

PROOF! By the way, that Make-a-Wish video makes me weep every time. Damn you, wrestling. Stop being nice. It makes me love you more.

And that’s what makes a great wrestling villain. You want them to be horrible people on your TV, then glorious human beings in real life. We salute you, CM Punk. Enjoy your hand-made rosette and treasure it the way Miz treasures his Blue Peter badge. I made it with own fair hands with floristry ribbon, PVA glue and glitter.

VERY BRITISH NODS OF APPRECIATION go to Wade Barrett and Claudio Castagnoli. Both displayed a significant amount of menace this year, but they didn’t quite get us to believe they would genuinely kick us in the head and smirk while they left us bleeding the way Punk would.  Maybe next year fellas.

Our third award goes to…….

We spent quite some time reminiscing over this year in wrestling, considering which storylines stood out in our memories and trying to decide whether we should choose a WWE story or something from an indie promotion. Then we had one of those Oprah lightbulb moments. There was one story which started in the WWE, seeped out into the indies, then found its way back to WWE again – the Nexus invasion story.

The first series of NXT had drawn to a close. Interspersed with half-decent matches and a handful of boys who looked like they could be real stars, they’d had to take part in silly beer-barrel carrying contests and obstacle courses which involved a pop-drinking section. They were made fools of, but hey, they were rookies. What did they expect? Then on Raw everything changed. The downtrodden newcomers invaded Raw and attacked everyone in sight. It was authentic enough to be truly shocking. How often does WWE genuinely surprise you to that jaw-dropping level?

The real story came when Daniel Bryan/Bryan Danielson was fired for choking Justin Roberts with his own tie. Nobody knew whether it was genuine or a work and it was the first time in a long time that everyone seemed to have an opinion. Andrew and I are never normally ones to jump on the rumours and lies bandwagon, but even we felt like it was big enough that we needed to comment on it.

Bryan Danielson returned to the indies a conquering hero, where he was revered for being the boy who broke the WWE. He made countless appearances in smaller promotions, including a CHIKARA show where he was showered in neck ties. We Must Eat Michigan’s Brain was actually one of the most enjoyable shows of the year for me.

Anyway, he resisted the urge to sign with TNA and as if by magic, Bryan Danielson morphed into Daniel Bryan again and made an even more triumphant return to the big-time at SummerSlam to damage the now dominant Nexus faction. Was the whole thing one very clever story? There are various opinions and one day we’ll get all the details, but either way it was certainly the most defining story of the year. If you manage to mix script and reality to the point where nobody’s sure where one ends and the other begins, that’s dynamite.

I’m going to ask Bryan to accept the rosette on behalf of everyone involved. Round of applause everyone.

The final rosette to be awarded during the first installment of this three-post event is……

I tried hard to think of someone else to take his place this year. I tried not to make it predictable and obvious. But it’s still CM Punk. We’ve had a tough ole year, me and Punk. His ever-changing appearance, particularly during those dark ‘long-beard and lucha mask’ days, really shook my faith. The whole Straight Edge Society, megalomania, shaving the heads of his followers stuff was a challenge. And when he disappeared to Raw and got injured I did a big, sad face, the likes of which I hadn’t done since the end of MasterChef.

But we got through it. He lost the hobo-beard. He got himself a lovely little haircut. (I am of the opinion that there isn’t a man alive who can’t be improved by a short-back-n-sides. Take note HHH.) Even though he was injured he did some brilliant commentary on Raw and actually made Raw cool. Then just as he started slipping into face territory, he took over the Nexus. Genius child. Never change again.

GIRL CRUSH OF THE YEAR: Layla. I do truly love Beth Phoenix and if she told me to switch teams with her, I’d be too afraid to say no. But I also love a girl who knows how to make people laugh. Layla was tasked with making Michelle McCool likeable and she succeeded. She’s the girl I’d most like to swap bodies with, she’s improved significantly in the ring and she has that kind of comic timing you just can’t learn. You either got it or you ain’t. One of my favourite things of 2010 is still when she planted a big snog on Kaval and “Took one for the teeeeeam.” Big kisses to you, dear heart.

Now, my section of this awards event is over. That’s a good thing because speaking through this megaphone for some 1500 words has been quite tiring. The next four awards will be presented by Andrew within the next week and the final ceremony will be a joint effort after that.  Before I go though, don’t think that because our awards ceremony is quaint and small-fry that we don’t have celebrity guests to provide a musical interlude like all the fancy award ceremonies. I’ve invited an old friend to sing a song I’m dedicating CM Punk. Sing along if you know the words. It’s a classic! Don’t forget to stick around after she’s done for the junior gymkhana and the pig parade. Jars of my home-pickled ginger are also available for purchase in the food tent.

(Click above for awesome tunes)

an equal opportunities crush

You may have noticed, following the first episode of the all-Diva series of NXT, that my Sidekick had something of crush on Kaitlyn. Ok, not ‘something of a crush’, it’s a giant, pulsating hubba-hubba of a crush. At that point I was still to be convinced. In fact, I did an eye-roll every time she was mentioned. Now? Cue the new Wrestlegasm-family crush. I am now fully on board the Kaitlyn Express.
Considering Kaitlyn was the understudy of NXT, waiting in the wings should serious injury, family tragedy or a sudden sacking (kerching) occur, she is having the biggest impact of any of the girls, all thanks to the fact that she’s hitched her wagon to Vickie Guerrero. That’s a metaphorical wagon, by the way. Vickie’s been compared to enough farmyard animals to last a lifetime.
Being at Vickie’s side has afforded our favourite newbie a major Pay Per View appearance, something none of the other ladies were able to secure, and some key dalliances with LayCool and Dolph Ziggler.
Assuming the NXT brand is slowly ebbing away never to be seen again, it must be quite the ego boost to be placed in the lifeboat and sailed to the safety of storylines away from the sinking HMS NXT.
If you’re not watching NXT  (I’m assuming most people aren’t) the drip-feed story that will likely end in Kaitlyn snaring Dolph and stealing him away from his sugar-mummy means that if you’re watching Smackdown, or even if you just decided to watch Night of Champions, you know who she is. And it doesn’t matter how obvious it is that the story will play out the way I expect it to. Being able to predict the end of a storyline never stopped me watching Eastenders. Although, I won’t be fully satisfied unless Vickie gives a Princess Diana-esque ‘there were three people in this relationship’ interview to Josh Matthews. What do you mean Vickie can’t do coy and unassuming?
Demure and regal. To be fair, HHH had just revealed that Edge and Alicia had been smooching during a wedding planning rendezvous in front of the viewing public.
It started during episode two of NXT when a mixed tag win with Dolph prompted this:
Followed by this:
Then at Night of Champions Kaitlyn failed to contain her concern when Dolph was flung from the ring at the hands of Kofi Kingston and was swiftly shooed away by her boss:
Although I was slightly disappointed that Dolph’s new neckwear wasn’t a fashion-related rouse to hide some of Kaitlyn’s love-bruises.
Don’t dress like that. You look like a knob. Sorry….even more of a knob than usual.
But things really started gaining momentum on this week’s Smackdown, when Kaitlyn innocently (ahem) helped Dolph back to his feet after another fall outside the ring.
As you can imagine, Vickie took umbrage with such physicality and made it known in no uncertain terms that her rookie’s heavy lifting services were not required. Kaitlyn, understandably frustrated with her older mentor’s unnecessary insecurities, pushed Vickie to the ground, turned on her strappy heels and left the arena.
Oh…
…no…
…she…
…di’ent!    (Don’t pretend you didn’t say that and wave your finger in a sassy manner.)
I genuinely want to see what Kaitlyn does next, which is a triumph considering the panning that this series of NXT has received.
Much to Andrew’s relief after swooning over her mic work and her feminine form, Ms. K does show some wrestling promise. Is she incredible? No. But then none of them are. They’re still learning. At least she appears to have some genuine athleticism. You don’t get quads like that just prancing about in pretty dresses and without a punishing squats regime. And if you can hold your own while sharing a turnbuckle with LayCool, you must be doing something right, even if that love-in did end on a sour note.
With the exception of Aksana, who is awesome because she’s in on the joke that is ‘herself’, the rest of the NXT ladies are pretty bland and forgettable. Seriously, if A.J. does one more Mickie James jump I’ll throw my slippers at the telly. If I want to see what Sarah Silverman looks like on a sugar rush, I’ve got YouTube. Oh and we’re not perturbed in the slightest by the fact that our favourite gal was first to be eliminated from the game of Musical Chairs on this week’s NXT. If we were her, we’d lose to deliberately to get the hell out of there too.

n3xt: and so it begins… (the director’s cut)

Yikes. I wasn’t sure what to expect from NXT this series. I mentioned “worried trainwreck-type feelings” last week but if I’m honest that was partly born of pessimism and a hope that I would be pleasantly surprised. Let’s face it though, the only way you could be pleasantly surprised by the opening episode of N3XT would be if you had expected an X-Rated reenactment of the Katie Vick storyline with Eli Cottonwood playing HHH and a returning Big Daddy V playing the corpse.
Also, I now have “interracial gay fat porn” in my internet search history
[BOSS LADY RAY'S EDIT: If you happen to have found your way to this blog by Googling the statement above..... oh dear. Byeeeee!]
So now we’ve seen the first episode, is anybody actually expecting much from NXT this series? Judging by the opening episode that train-wreck is edging closer and closer. Getting past the new theme music is tricky enough, Boss Lady Ray for one was most upset at the loss of Wild and Young. Also on a purely aesthetic level, the addition of purple to the colour scheme doesn’t work for me I’m afraid. But they are nitpicking really, a way of avoiding talking about the true horrors to come.
Speaking of coming…
Seriously, this isn’t just a “heh… look at Goldust’s face! He looks like he’s really enjoying himself” joke. Read his twitter feed, the guy’s smitten.
Mind you, “Sinister Rape Genie” Primo doesn’t come across much better…
The whole show had the air of embarrassment about it, from Michael Cole fluffing his opening piece about “All-Rookie Divas” to Kelly Kelly reading her Rookie’s introduction from some kind of internal autocue. I’m struggling to find many positives for this series so far. The dance competition, which by now you are fully aware of, was just painful to watch, for the most part (despite the odd Striker-ism to lighten the mood) and the wrestling matches  were as painful as you would expect from a tag match where Kelly Kelly is the most talented of the four competitors.
However, there was one shining light this week. The one person that can hopefully raise this series from the depths. As you will remember from careful study of last weeks recap, Vickie Guerrero “sacked” her Rookie Aloisia. As always in wrestling, there’s a number of rumours flying round as to what actually happened – rumours which I’ll leave to other sites to go on about. However, who would her replacement be?
Oh Kaitlyn! Where have you been all my life? How do I adore thee? Let me count the ways.
1. Let’s not be coy here, she is very pretty and she has a great figure. And yes, by “figure” I mean “pair of boobs”. For all my blustering about women’s wrestling being more than just T&A (or TNA for that matter) and how in-ring ability is a must have, if we’re honest as wrestling fans I think we’ll all agree that appearance plays a large part in the popularity of certain wrestlers, male or female.
The majority of wrestlers at the top of the pile aren’t exactly hideous monsters (unless of course that’s their gimmick.) Cena, Orton, Punk, Edge, Jericho: I’m comfortable enough in my sexuality to say that they’re all good-looking guys. Even people like Matt bloody Hardy, the bane of my existence, has a certain appeal to some (at least that’s the impression I get when I insult him on here.)
Rightly or wrongly, we all prefer to look at people on screen that are attractive, and as such these people will become more popular with us. For example, I’ve made no secret in the past that I am a huge fan of Beth Phoenix, and I will be the first to admit that a lot of that is to do with the fact that she’s very attractive. Just to address the balance, Boss Lady Ray is the same: look at her obsessions over the course of this esteemed publication – John Cena, Randy Orton, CM Punk, HHH, Evan Bourne, Eli Cottonwood… all good wrestlers, all people that she finds attractive. The two things are inextricably linked in a business at least partly based on appearance.
2. She can act! Apart from a slightly rambling opening promo, her timing and mannerisms seem to be better that most of the Pros on this series already. I’ll be honest and say that, other than a few semi-naked photos, I don’t know much about Kaitlyn before NXT, but I assume there was some acting training in there somewhere. Her facial expressions, the way she reacted to Vickie throughout, her comic timing during the dance off – all point to someone with a talent for acting.
3. She’s actually a really good wrestler…
Well OK, I’ve no idea if she can wrestle at all. At this point I’m desperately hoping she can, otherwise I’m going to be really embarrassed at some time in the future. The thing is, she doesn’t need to be a brilliant wrestler to be a brilliant “Diva” – with the acting skills and good looks she only needs to be able to wrestle as well as someone like Maria could, and you could easily have her in the backstage-interviewer, occasionally getting beat up by the more powerful Divas. A big part of wrestling is the emotional pull of the babyface underdog getting beaten by a stronger heel opponent. As long as Kaitlyn can pull off a few basic moves and can sell as well as I think she’ll be able to, there’s a career there for the taking.
Hmmm… I had every intention of writing this as a regular recap, or at the very least a rant damning the treatment of women wrestlers on NXT, but somehow it’s turned into an almost cringeworthy treatise on “How I adore Kaitlyn, she’s so dreamy.”
Oh well, hopefully this week’s episode will feature a decent amount of wrestling and I can get back to writing about that. Oh, who am I kidding – it’ll be a pillow fight won’t it?

nxt: first you get the sugar, then you get the power, then you get the women…

So, the second series of NXT finished last week. As you are all no doubt aware by now, Kaval won. This was presumably due to the fact that the WWE are avid readers of this blog and form the majority of their booking decisions based on what we write. We’re the reason Matt Hardy hasn’t had a World Championship run yet. It’s OK, you’re welcome. No need to thank us.

Unfortunately however, apart from the actual winner reveal the only other thing of major note was a highly inexplicable brawl that happened afterwards. The losing Rookies stormed the ring and attacked Kaval. Then the Pros eventually ambled into the ring to save him. Then the Rookies and Pros kind of flailed at each other for a while. Then Alex Riley and Michael Thingy got back in the ring, where they started to attack the other Rookies, before remembering they were supposed to on their side. Then the Pros just got out of the ring and stood ineffectually a few feet away while everyone hit Kaval with their finishers. It was very strange, and I’m honestly not sure what the point of it was, other than to prove that most of them weren’t in a position to be on television in the first place. At one point Titus O’Neill “took” MVP’s Yakuza Kick in the corner, then walked away showing no sign that the move had ever happened – which at least led to this:

OK MVP, I take back what I said last week. Sorry

Anyway, of more import was the fact that they announced the Rookies for Series Three, and as rumoured it was an all-female line-up, at least for the Rookies. Ordinarily I would list them all and give a little background, but unfortunately the WWE insist on using FCW wrestlers that nobody outside the US gets a chance to see with any regularity. In fact, now we’ve established the influence and power that we hold over WWE, can we make a request that they start posting FCW episodes online somewhere? If nothing else, a certain lady that we all know and love would really appreciate the opportunity to get prepared for Mason Ryan…

Because of this I don’t know that much about any of the Rookies this time. In fact, despite what some Diva-based Dirt sheets might try to convince you about AJ Lee, there isn’t even an “indie darling” to get behind this series. This leaves us in the strange position of having an all-female roster who will be given a pretty short time to try and get themselves over as wrestlers, rather than eye-candy. As you’ll see, the Pros that have been chosen aren’t going to do much to help dispel the worried trainwreck-type feelings many of us are feeling either. But, being the dedicated contributor to this wonderful blog that I am (not to mention the fear of Boss Lady Ray’s anger sending shivers down my spine) I will attempt to introduce the Season 3 Rookies and Pros as best I can. Wish me luck…

“Primo is one of the most energetic young Superstars in WWE, so it’s only fitting that this San Juan-born competitor take the high-flying A.J. under his wing.  Like her WWE Pro, A.J. is of Puerto Rican descent, and the duo certainly has a lot in common. But will these similarities translate to victory in NXT season three for this exciting NXT Rookie Diva?”

Hmm… Primo? Really? I assume he was picked so he could discuss his fierce ruby slippers with his Rookie or something. As I intimated, some people have suggested that she will be the “internet darling” and focus of Michael Cole’s hatred this series, but seeing as she has a minimal amount of experience and exposure compared to Bryan or Kaval, I can’t see this happening personally. Still, by all accounts she’s not a bad wrestler compared to the others, so fingers crossed…

GEEK FACT: A.J. has seen all the “Friday the 13th” movies

“For nearly 15 years, Goldust has competed inside a WWE ring. The former Intercontinental Champion brings a great deal of experience to WWE NXT and will no doubt have a great deal of knowledge to offer his NXT Rookie Diva, Aksana. With her enthusiasm for fitness and competition, under The Bizarre Oneís tutelage, the Lithuanian-born beauty will surely be a favorite on WWE NXT season three.”

While I’m not sure of logic of having Primo mentor a female Rookie, Goldust fits very well. Obviously from a gimmick point of view, but also as a wrestler. He’s really come on over the last couple of years and seems to be in the best shape and wrestling ability he has been for ages. All I know about Aksana on the other hand is that she played the Tony Atlas role in the FCW version of the Abraham Washington show, and had a really annoying voice.

GEEK FACT: Aksana takes hot tea with milk and sweetener

“Although the WWE Universe may recognize Jamie as the beautiful blonde behind the microphone as the ring announcer for NXT, sheís ready to take off the heels and step between the ropes in a new role: Competitor. With the talented and naturally athletic duo of the The Bella Twins as her Pros, will NXT season three be double the fun – or prove to be double the trouble – for the Sarasota, Fla., native?”

Strangely, someone they brought in as a ring-announcer is now being pushed as a wrestler, something I can’t remeber happening before. I know Savannah/Angela Fong was a wrestler in FCW, but she I don’t recall her ever getting a match in the WWE? Anyway, Jamie Keyes (all the wrestlers seem to have lost their last names for some reason) is an almost capable ring announcer, but I have no idea how she’ll do in the ring. Although let’s hope she isn’t relying on her Pros for help and advice, unless one of the competitions involves standing next to a C-List celebrity host half-heartedly pretending to flirt.

GEEK FACT: Jamie enjoys looking at pictures in Playboy (that doesn’t sound right…)

“NXT Rookie Diva Maxine has a champagne taste with a champagne budget. Her confidence and beauty are only matched by her fierce nature when it comes to getting what she wants. And what she wants is the best of everything. Who better to be her WWE Pro than former Divas Champion Alicia Fox, whose stunning beauty and fierce determination has made her one of the top Divas on Monday Night Raw?”

Nope… not going to touch this one. I’ve been called racist before now for daring to impugn Alicia’s wrestling ability, so I’ll leave you to write your own jokes about how Maxine is a particularly unthreatening name for a wrestler, or how Alicia could maybe teach her how to botch even the most simple of moves – but if you do, then you’re racist too…

GEEK FACT: Maxine thinks Tajiri weighs too much to be a cruiserweight. (OK. That’s a strange thing to come out with. Sounds familiar though…)

“They’re spunky, they’re sporty and they both look great in a pair of pink high-tops. With all these similarities, NXT Rookie Diva Naomi and the sexy, smart and powerful Kelly Kelly should be tighter than a pair of spandex pants. So will these connections help the aspiring young competitor reach the top? Or do the former Orlando Magic dancer and the beautiful blonde have too much in common for their own good?”

OK. First things first. Searching for an image to use of Naomi Night, I accidentally did a Google Image Search for Naomi Knight instead. Not the same person at all, although the words “spunky” “sexy” and “spandex pants” in that WWE.com description were surprisingly accurate for both. I realise that anything I type here now is going to be ignored by most of our male readers as they visit for Google for some research, but actually I can’t tell you much about her either; other than the fact that in her picture on wwe.com she appears to be some of those trainers from Back to the Future.

GEEK FACT: Naomi & Shannon have ‘Moore Mattitude’ than their opponents.

Wait a minute, these aren’t bloody Geek Facts at all! They’re bloody Matt Facts! Bloody bloody Matt bloody Hardy getting his own back! Grr…

You never know, this might turn out to be a pleasant surprise. A.J. might turn out to be pretty good, and hopefully a couple of the others might be tolerable. Frankly I’m not sure, but there’s always the mystery 6th Rookie. Who will Vickie have got to replace Aloisa? Oh, sorry.. forgot to mention her didn’t I? She was the 6’9″ blonde who Vickie apparently “fired” before the first show has even broadcast.

Yep, that’s them. Sorry… her. That’s her. Nobody seems sure what’s actually gone on but I wouldn’t be surprised if she turns up at some point in the series. As to who will replace her, nobody knows: Sara Del Rey? Awesome Kong? Mae Young? Santina? By the time I get round to writing anything else we’ll know, and hopefully it’s someone awesome and the series can be saved. But in case it isn’t, I shall leave you with this thought: if the Bible has taught us nothing else – and it hasn’t – it’s that girls should stick to girls’ sports, such as hot-oil wrestling, foxy boxing, and such-and-such.

nxt: an open reply to a loyal reader

Did you watch NXT last week? Yeah, pretty uneventful really wasn’t it? A quiz show followed by an interminably dull match between “Dashing” Cody Rhodes and MVP. While I’m a fan of Cody, MVP has done nothing of interest since his feud with He Who Must Not Be Named and just drains any interest I have in any segment he might be involved in. As such their isn’t really going to be a recap this week. I know, I know… I can hear the wailing and gnashing of teeth from here.

Oh grow up...

As it happens, this series I haven’t really done much in the way of actual recaps; partly because of real life time constraints and partly because it’s just not been as eventful as the first series. Last week, for example, I bodged together a Jackie-style photostory about Layla and Kaval, which led to a comment from one of our regular readers:

Now, everyone is entitled to their opinion of course – this is the internet after all, a forum where even Matt Hardy is given a platform to speak whatever indecipherable inanity crosses his mind between sessions stuffing his face with pizza. As such I would like to point out before I start that this is no way meant as a slight against Roler42, who as I mentioned is a regular reader and commenter.

Arguing against the use of the word “wreckage” to describe this series of NXT is a slightly untenable position given that the WWE seem to have struggled to learn from the lessons they could have learnt from the first series, both “in-universe” and in real life. The whole justification for the Nexus’ actions over the last couple of months has been their shoddy treatment at the hands of WWE management – the obstacle courses… the improvised challenges… all things that have been reiterated this time round.

In fact, if anything, the Rookies this series have been treated even worse as some kind of pre-emptive punishment. Think back to the first episode, which culminated with the Pros jumping the Rookies and beating them in what Striker described as an “official welcome to NXT.” Since then, there have been unprovoked attacks by Pros on Rookies; a reintroduction of the ridiculous challenges, including the new “Kissing Competition”; and the same combination of random eliminations and rule changes at a moment’s notice. Surely this should lead the Rookies to form Nexus II or D-Generation NXT or NXT World Order or whatever?

OK, maybe that wouldn't work...

However, while there is an argument to be made that you could possibly disparage this season of NXT as a “wreckage” - the idea that LayCool could “almost [...] look like the best pros” seems to intimate that they are in fact, not the best Pros. Now, I was concerned when this pairing was first announced like most people. I was a fan of Kaval’s from his days wrestling in the indies, and I truthfully couldn’t abide Michelle McCool after the Mickie James/Beth Phoenix storylines.  But both she and Layla have grown on me to such an extent that I genuinely don’t want them to break up the trio, even after tonight’s final. As such, I would posit that Laycool are indeed the best Pros on this series of NXT.

As always with this bizarre concotion that is Professional Wrestling, there are two ways to look at their tenure as Pros: either in kayfabe or in shoot terms (As an aside, I really hate using those phrases…) The easiest way to discuss this is one at a time, so let’s start with:

The easiest part to justify. LayCool have been the most consistently entertaining Pros on this series. Their interactions both with Kaval and with the other Rookies and Pros have been genius in places, and their comic timing (especially in the case of Layla) has come on leaps and bounds over the last couple of months. From a team that were involved in pretty dreadful storylines previously, reliant on a kind of Mean Girls schtick to get over – they have become “self professed” Co-Women’s Champions and have actually made the title interesting for the first time in some time, all while managing to increase the profile of Kaval on both NXT and Smackdown. While Kaval was obviously the most experienced and talented wrestler amongst the Rookies, his size was always going to be a stumbling block in getting the average WWE fan to accept him as anything other than a “plucky underdog”. Having him accompanied by Layla & McCool… having their characters slowly turn from incomprehension and incredulity to a genuine affection… culminating in them even stepping up to Husky Harris on his behalf… these things all give the fans another reason to like Kaval.

Where to start? From episode one’s Pros on Rookies beatdown, initiated when Layla and Michelle slapping Kaval, through to the last episode with their obvious delight at their charge’s success in the Trivia Quiz, Laycool have proven themselves to be the Pros with the most interest in and affection for their Rookie. With the possible exception of “Dashing” Cody Rhodes and Husky Harris, nobody else in this series has shown even close to the amount of connection. Sure Kofi and Mark Henry have been quite friendly with their Rookies, but there hasn’t been the same interaction and “journey” as with LayCool and Kaval.

Being given a Rookie who was obviously a better wrestler than they ever would be, they concentrated on bringing out Kaval’s personality and moulding him into the kind of person that the WWE Universe could (and indeed has) rally behind. Making him a customised t-shirt to wear, to showing him the importance of a nice smile, to Layla’s interference at the Kissing Competition: they really have been the most supportive mentors this time round.

I don’t know what will happen in tonight’s final, whether Kaval will win or whether it will go to someone like Alex Riley who, quite frankly, needs the push more. I know who I want to win, and that’s due, in part at least, to the relationship with Layla and Michelle. And this is why I hope they keep Layla and Kaval involved in some manner after this week, even if LayCool break up at Night of Champions. While I’m never a huge fan of romance storylines in WWE programming, this is one that has the potential to be genuinely entertaining and even, dare I say, touching.