So NXT has finally arrived. Well, I say finally, to be fair we only found about it 3 weeks ago. Was it worth the long (well comparatively brief) agonising wait?
First of all, in case you’re a bit weird and didn’t bother watching the show, I’d best explain the idea behind NXT a little. Bear in mind this is only the first episode and not everything has come to light yet, and the nature of pro-wrestling on TV means that the format could change at any time. Essentially, 8 “rookies” from the Florida Championship Wrestling developmental territory have been paired up with 8 “mentors” in a quest to win a spot on the main WWE roster. It hasn’t been explained exactly how you go about “winning” NXT yet, but hopefully that’ll be explained soon.
Anyway the show opened with all 8 rookies lined up backstage, so we might as well take this opportunity to introduce them to you.
From L-R we have; Justin Gabriel, Skip Sheffield, Michael Tarver, Daniel Bryan, David Otunga, Heath Slater, Wade Barrett and Darren Young. Obviously if you want the actual bios for these guys you should visit wwe.com, but here are my quick opinions I have formed after only one show (please note, opinions stated are not necessarily the opinions of Wrestlegasm.com, it’s shareholders or subsidiaries)
Now, you may have noticed a slight amount of (admitted) bias with a couple of those descriptions, so let’s deal with that and then we can all move on. Daniel Bryan, formerly known to the wrestling word as Bryan Danielson is without a doubt one the best wrestlers in the world. Originally trained by Shawn Michaels and later by William Regal, Bryan has been in the business for 10 years, and has held countless titles in promotions all over the world. The WWE are well aware of this and have come up with the genius idea of pairing him with The Miz, a move which has hilariously enraged some internet fans. Bryan is obviously being groomed for stardom within the WWE, and they have handled his past brilliantly as we will see later. One of the main complaints from the internet has been the change of name, from Bryan Danielson to Daniel Bryan. This despite the fact that the WWE has always done things like this, especially with wrestlers they feel they will be able to sell a lot of merchandise for. There is a reason you don’t see these names on trading cards…
On with the show (at last) and The Miz came out to introduce his rookie to the audience. This is where the true genius of having The Miz mentor Bryan started to show through, and where the glimmers of the “historic, ground-breaking reality” show appeared. Miz admitted that Bryan was an “internet darling” who had travelled the world and become a star on the minor leagues (in case you’re wondering, the WWE’s previous stance on other wrestling companies has always been; fingers in ears, “la la la, I can’t hear you”) Miz then went on to tell Bryan that he was here to teach him charisma, and how to be a WWE superstar – before instructing him to go the ring and entertain the crowd, and create a catchphrase.
Danielson went out to the ring and informed the audience that he was sorry, he wished he had Regal as his mentor as much as we do. This didn’t go over too well with The Miz, who came to the ring and slapped Bryan, in that incredibly manly way that wrestlers do. After a recap of something we’d seen less than a minute before, the camera moved backstage to the host of NXT
Yep, Wrestlegasm’s own Honourary Dean Matt Striker is moonlighting as the host of NXT, as well as commenting on Smackdown. Makes me wonder when he’ll find time to be the “beacon of light to guide the poetic way” that Ray appointed him to be, but maybe I’m just jealous of his notorious attributes. Striker had a quick interview with Bryan, asking relatively pointless questions about whether he was embarrassed that The Miz had slapped him in front of everyone; and then it was time for the debut match of NXT. A tag match, between Carlito and his Rookie Michael Tarver, against Christian and his rookie Heath Slater. Now obviously you know who Carlito and Christian are, but what about the two rookies?
Luckily for you, and for my recapping purposes, the rookies had a short intro video before their matches, explaining a bit about themselves.
So: Michael Tarver wears a hat at a jaunty angle and calls himself Mr 1.9 Seconds. Now I don’t immediately think of that as something to boast about, but apparently my mind is in the gutter and in reality he means he means that he can knock anybody out in 1.9 seconds, seeing as his dad was Mike Tyson’s sparring partner.
His counterpart on the other team, Heath Slater, describes himself as “a rock star without the instruments” and assuming you’re thinking “you look like a bit of a dick” then we’re on the same page.
This match was nothing too amazing; Christian was as good as ever, Carlito seems to be making a bit more of an effort nowadays, Tarver’s offence unsurprisingly involved a lot of punches and Slater is too annoying to enjoy. The match ended with Christian pinning Tarver which seemed a strange way to finish the match, I would have assumed that one of the rookies would have got the pin personally.
No time to dwell on that however, because prehaps the funniest WWE segment of 2010 was about to start. Now it’s no secret that we are fans of CM Punk here at Wrestlegasm (trust me, you would blush if you heard some of the comments certain people come out with), and in another amazing piece of matchmaking CM Punk has been given Darren Young to mentor. Now, this may not be politically correct, but I am genuinely unsure as to Darren Young’s racial identity – he just doesn’t look real to me. He is a frankly bizarre colour, with bizarre hair and a weird John Cena in blackface quality.
According to his bio on wwe.com, Young is “a fixture on the South Beach party scene, [and] is no stranger to the VIP section.” Makes you wonder how impressed the Straight Edge Society will be?
Young was up against David Otunga, a Harvard Law Graduate who just happens to be engaged to Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Hudson. Naturally this means the always publicity-hungry WWE are going to be pushing him, but given his promo, and his “Google Me” catchphrase, he might be a worthwhile investment. Unfortunately his mentor being R-Truth means we’ll have to listen to that godawful racket every time he comes to the ring. The pre-match bios and entrances went on for far longer than the actual match, which lasted just minutes and ended like this:
After threatening us with the promise of (the somehow still employed) Matt Hardy bringing his rookie in next week, it was time for the main event. Oh sorry, did I not mention the main event yet? It’s nothing special…
Yeah, I marked a little bit when they announced this. Daniel Bryan, the “internet darling” in his debut match facing one of the best wrestlers the WWE has ever had, who also happened to be the World Heavyweight Champion, in his debut match. The words “Dream” & “Match” seem quite appropriate, and if nothing else this is a good indicator of the faith they have in Bryan to carry the show. And they were right to have faith in him, this was, as expected, an amazing match – made even better by the generousity of Jericho. Y2J really made Bryan look like a credible threat, almost tapping out to a submission after Bryan countered the Walls of Jericho. In fact, the match only turned after Bryan attempted a suicide dive to the outside
After this, Jericho managed to get Bryan to submit to the Liontamer, a move he very rarely uses in WWE as most guys are too big to put in it. After the match, The Miz came to the ring and attacked Bryan – leaving questions as to where the partnership will go from here.
Look, quite frankly, the show was amazing, and everything I had hoped for and more. If you don’t believe me, watch it yourself – it’s available on wwe.com