nxt episodes 12 & 13: the strife of bryan

Try and picture the scene in the Wrestlegasm Bunker. The wind blowing ferociously outside the Bunker over the bleak Welsh moors… Boss Lady Ray and Dean Striker curled louchely on the antique day-bed, giggling as they feed each other Charbonnel et Walker Champagne Truffles… a log-fire crackles in the corner, shadows dancing across the room…

Meanwhile, your intrepid reporter is sat crossed of leg and rapt of eye, gulping down lashings of Dandelion & Burdock and chewing on a Wham Bar – watching in disbelief as the world and I learn that mild-mannered Daniel Bryan is actually none other than THE AMERICAN DRAGON – BRYAN DANIELSON!

My tiny, impressionable mind was blown. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing on the screen – even the camera-man seemed shocked, hardly able to hold his hand steady as the sheer magnitude of this revelation washed over him. Mouth agog, hands trembling, I turned to Ms Davies and Mr Striker… Voice quavering, I asked if they had seen this astonishing development, whether they had managed to draw their attention from each other for the merest moment in order to watch this moment in history… What wonderful words of wisdom would the Dean impart to describe what had just happened?

So, here we are. A bumper, or perhaps not so bumper, double feature presentation of NXT episodes Twelve and Thirteen. I feel bad about the fact I haven’t done much recapping of NXT over the last few weeks. Back in Episode 11 when the whole thing essentially descended into a farcical version of It’s a Knockout, I was getting ready to give up on NXT. The wrestling was still good for the most part, and there was still the odd flash of brilliance with the interactions between the likes of CM Punk & Darren Young, or William Regal and Skip Sheffield. But the show itself seemed to have lost its way. Then suddenly, with the first evictions, NXT switched up a gear and got very interesting.

This episode opened with the aforementioned Dean at ringside, introducing the eight NXT Rookies and explaining that tonight would see the first elimination from NXT. Striker also covered the fact that Tarver had mentioned he should be eliminated last week.  As such, “WWE Management” had decided to eliminate Tarver…

Despite appearing surprisingly upbeat right up until the point Striker actually mentioned his elimination, Tarver soon went on a predictable rant on his way back up the entrance ramp, complaining how he had been held back all series.  In many ways it’s a shame, he really didn’t get a fair chance, but on the bright side it frees up more time for Carlito to spend actually wrestling…

Still, there goes the elimination for this week, and frankly if somebody had to go, Tarver wasn’t a bad choice. OK Matt… on with the show!

Matt?

Matthew! What the hell are you doing?

No! Surely not! You’d risk the wrath of Ray? And the all the ROH fans?

Even the Undertaker has turned to comfort eating…

Even after that bombshell, the Pros were still convening to eliminate another Rookie at the end of the show. Even though I’m veering back to really enjoying NXT, if there is a second series they really need to hammer down the schedule early on.  This time they really seem to have changed the rules from week to week, which can make it hard to follow if you’re a touch simple like me.

Anyway, this isn’t Raw, this is NXT – so, after only 9 minutes it’s SUPER BIGFUN~WRESTLING TIME!!! First match of the show was Wade Barrett vs Heath Slater. Now I’m not the biggest fan of Slater – in every aspect other than wrestling ability he makes my skin crawl. But the guy is pretty decent in the ring – put him under a mask and I’d be happy to watch him.

Barrett on the other hand is doing really well. Ignoring any local bias; he’s a decent wrestler, he’s a big bloke, and he can get instant heel heat because of his accent. Plus he’s not afraid to pander to the tastes of certain female wrestling bloggers in a bid for exposure…

Sorry Wade. I was just looking, but word gets around about your musical tastes

Unsurprisingly, put two decent wrestlers in a match and they’ll give you a decent match – the only thing missing was Jericho at ringside berating Cole and Matthews. Barrett came out victorious, if a little bloody – although sadly still lacking in the entrance theme stakes.

Right, what’s next? (please note I avoided the obvious NXT/next joke there, being the high-brow blogger that I am)

Tarver, bless him, cut a reasonably good promo. Explaining how he’d struggled to raise his kids… how he’d slept in his car… how the competition wasn’t fair… I almost felt bad for him, and I feel  that maybe here in my recaps I haven’t given him enough credit.

Let’s have a look back at Tarver’s best bits:

Next up was the second match of the night, with Skip Sheffield facing up against Darren Young, with William Regal at ringside

Another OK match, Skip getting the win after using his… ahem… “Over The Shoulder Boulder Holder” leading to nods of approval from Regal – seeming to approve of his new, more vicious persona and Rob Halford like studded leather waistcoat.

Then things got interesting very quickly. Well, I say quickly. First there was an advert for the Wrestlemania 26 DVD. Then there was the infinitely enjoyable recap of Drew McIntyre stomping Matt Hardy big fat face into the steel steps. Then there was the set of recaps for all the Over the Limit matches. Then there was a replay of the Tarver elimination. Then there was a replay of the Daniel Bryan elimination.

But then, then it got interesting…

Now, to avoid confusion between Daniel Bryan and Bryan Danielson, we’ll stick with using Bryan for now – but if you get confused, please refer to handy cut out and keep guide.

Striker:

“I’ve got to ask, do you regret leaving the independent scene where you were a big fish in a small pond to ultimately drown in the sea that is the WWE?”

Bryan:

“Well that’s funny because err… Daniel Bryan never wrestled in the WWE. I don’t know… if you go on YouTube and search for Daniel Bryan all you ever see is Daniel Bryan in the WWE. But there was this guy, man… he was out there… he was kicking peoples heads in. People called him the best wrestler in the world, the best technical wrestler in the world. He was big in Japan and Mexico and Europe, and do you know what his name was? You might know this guy…”

Striker:

“What’s next for this guy?”

Bryan:

“For Daniel Bryan, I don’t know man. That might be the end of him. I mean, he’s… he’s eliminated from NXT. I mean, he can’t even beat rookies. What’s wrong with this guy? He can take Batista to the limit, but he can’t beat rookies. Daniel Bryan might be done. But err… Bryan Danielson? God knows what’s gonna happen to him…”

Just look how happy Striker is! He's part of history!

It’s hard to explain just how strange this promo is – the fact that WWE suddenly decided to admit to the existence of independent wrestling – the plugging of YouTube, essentially asking you to look up Bryan’s matches in ROH or PWG – the disclosure that “Daniel Bryan” was just a character being played by Bryan Danielson – it was enough to give me one of Ray’s much vaunted Wrestlegasms.

TRUE CONFESSION: I caught an American ad break during this episode, and this image left me craving burgers until Friday when I gave in…

…whereas this made me feel ill for a few hours

Last match of the night, and no prizes for guessing who the competitors are – especially as there’s are only two guys left: Otunga and Gabriel. Otunga is still terrible; Gabriel is still pretty good, although I’m starting to miss his little dress…

So who goes? You decide!

OK, not you exactly, but the shady cabal of pros huddled in their den backstage, secretively constructing their sinister Pro’s Poll from the shattered dreams and ambitions of the Rookies. So with only 6 Rookies up for elimination, the person in 6th place would be going home.

Drum roll…

Darren Young was happy, perhaps even mildly smug

Skip was less so...

As for me, I was still a bit giddy about the Bryan promo. And as for Striker? Well, unprofessional as it may seem, all he wanted to do was touch Darren Young’s hair

Phew… still with me? We’ve got another episode to go yet…

Don’t worry though, this one will be nowhere near as involved. Although it was more memorable than Episode 12, that was mainly down to Bryan again.

The show opened again with our illustrious Dean Striker, this week introducing the Pros rather than the Rookies.

OK 6 of the Pros, they apparently don't care about the opinions of ethnic minorities. Striker asked each Pro to describe the quality they are looking for in the Rookies

Miz is looking for someone with the 'IT Factor'

William Regal wants someone with Adaptability

Punk lost his will to be in front of the crowd and refused to say what he was looking for

Christian is looking for someone who can capture the imagination of the WWE Universe

Jericho wants someone he'd be prepared to pay to watch

Matt Hardy just mumbled something about pies and moonshine...

After this we went straight into the first match of the night: Darren Young vs Wade Barrett. Punk was sat on the entranceway so naturally he came down to the ring with Young…

Well, partly at least. Unsurprisingly, Barrett won this one, but it was a pretty good match, with Jericho back where he belongs giving his usual awesome additions to commentary. How did Punk react to his Rookie’s loss?

Amazingly of course.

After a video consisting of the Pros basically explaining that Otunga can’t wrestle and is a liability in the ring, we cut back to the arena where Striker has company

Striker showed the eliminations again, just to rub salt in the wounds, and asked the two ex-Rookies to comment on them. Tarver went on some strange diatribe about the colour of Limousines and stuff and blah blah blah… Really, you all know what’s coming next, and you couldn’t care less about Tarver (or, if you’re American, then you “could” care less… which doesn’t work you fools! If you can care less then you obviously do care a bit! If you couldn’t care less then you don’t care at all! It’s quite simple!)

Ahem… sorry about that. Anyway, after Tarver had blah blah blah, Striker turned to Bryan and asked for his comments. Now, last weeks promo was very good. The combination of shoot interview and worked promo was great. This week’s promo? Something entirely better…

I can honestly say I got goosebumps watching that. Not just because seeing Michael Cole get attacked is all a boy could want for Xmas, but the promo itself was immense, and the responses from Punk and Regal (two people with a history with Bryan) were gold.

Even better than that?

Yep! Cole walked out leaving Josh Matthews to commentate the next match all by himself. Now, while Matthews is no great commentator on his own, anytime you don’t have to listen to Cole is a good time.

By the way, the match in question was Justin Gabriel vs Heath Slater, which Gabriel won with the “absolutely gorgeous 450 Splash.” They were Josh’s words, not mine. But then so is “shooken” and I’d never say that either…

Luckily (sic) Cole managed to compose himself in time to do his bloody job, and promote the Over The Limit PPV, and comment on the next elimination, which Striker was getting ready to host.

Who will it be?

Even his 😦 face looks like Cena!

Anyway, that’s your lot – I’ve learnt my lesson and will not be attempting any more double issues of NXT recaps. There’s only 4 guys left now, although given the nature of the show so far I have no idea who or how many will be left at the end of the next show. You’ll just have to watch to find out, or… you know… read one of the more informative and timely recaps appearing elsewhere on the internet…

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