nxt episode 14: the penultimate punch-up

“All human wisdom is summed up in two words – wait and hope.” – Alexandre Dumas Père

Oh NXT! How could I have been so impatient! So doubtful! I can only implore and beseech thee to find it in your grace and spirit to forgive my reprehensible incredulity and lack of faith. So many times I wavered, criticising your every action on these pages… and now, at the end, you prove yourself to be the glorious, resplendent spectacle I once fell in love with…

Thank you random wall... I will

Right, that’s enough of that nonsense, all that “olde worlde” talk only leads to trouble. That’s not to say that the sentiment wasn’t genuine however. While I admittedly spent some time figuratively shaking my head in disappointed despair on this blog, especially during the middle section of the series, NXT has truly come into its own again these last few weeks.  And with next week being the final, I’m genuinely excited and honestly unsure as to who the eventual winner will be.

This week’s episode started, as is the fashion nowadays, with Dean Striker inviting the Pros to take their, slightly undignified, positions perched on bar stools at the top of the entrance ramp. One by one they were announced, one by one they took their pews…

Chris Jericho…

The Miz…

Matt Hardy…

William Regal…

Christian…

CM Punk…

It was about this time an audible “aww man…” could be heard meandering its mellifluous and melodic way from the South of Wales as Boss Lady Ray realised she would have to wait until Friday’s Smackdown to see CM Punk and his freshly shorn scalp. Yes, in the words of Matt Striker;

Sticking your tongue out isn't helping your impression of integrity much...

Still, as recompense, we did get to see the NEW UNITED STATES CHAMPION! R-TRUTH!!!! Thankfully at least, he didn’t do his whole unintelligible rapping entrance – so thank the heavens for small mercies…

After the Pros had been introduced it was time for the remaining four Rookies to enter the ring. On the off chance you think you’ve had something better to do for the last few weeks, the remaining Rookies are:

(L-R) Heath Slater, David Otunga, Justin Gabriel, Wade Barrett

Striker passed the microphone to each Rookie in turn, asking them who they thought should be eliminated. “Big” Wade Barrett (as he was christened by Striker) started with the now obligatory weekly Justin Gabriel = Justin GAY-briel joke, followed by  bizarrely comparing Otunga to an episode of the Benny Hill show. Finally he declared that the “Ginger Ninja Heath Slater” should be eliminated, “purely on the basis that [he] can’t stand his offensive hair.” How to help ensure heel heat? Talk in a European accent, call one wrestler gay, slag off a dead comedian and insult an entire group of people based on hair colour. Genius!

Wade Barrett - making the North West proud through casual homophobia and racism!

Next up, Justin Gabriel, who wasn’t priveleged enough to be endowed a nickname by Striker, but was instead simply dubbed “buddy”. His rather alarming opening statement of “If you ask me the same question three times I’ll probably give you three different answers” indicates either a serious multiple personality disorder or he’s taking his part as replacement Jeff Hardy rather too seriously and has been hitting the moonshine too much. However, in a moment of clarity, he announced that he would like to see David Otunga eliminated next, as “in the ring, he doesn’t really know what he’s doing…”

Kayfabe Justin... kayfabe!

On to “A-List” David Otunga, which is a really annoying nickname. I’m not up on celebrity culture as much as some people – I hardly ever buy Heat Magazine. But surely David Otunga is hardly considered “A-List” in the grand scheme of things? He’d struggle to get a place on Celebrity Come Dine With Me, never mind appearing on the celebrity peak that is Hole in the Wall.

Anyway, Otunga (replete with his apparent trademark headphones) decided he wanted Gabriel to be eliminated next, as he’s a “glorified gymnast”, who turns into a “deer in the headlights” when he has a microphone in his hand – traits which are obviously never going to lead to any success in the WWE. Imagine; a good looking, gymnastic wrestler – who may not be very good on the microphone… never going to get anywhere…

Last up was Heath Slater, whom Striker decided not to bestow any further nickname on, presumable realising that “Ginger Ninja” was going to take some beating. Slater told us he wanted Barrett to be eliminated, because his “nose [is] as crooked as the road.” Still bitter about the ginger comment Heath?

Striker now explained how the Rookies had had the chance to express themselves verbally; but, this being NXT, they would now have to express themselves physically. Sadly this was not the opportunity to appreciate four professional wrestlers exhibit their skills in interpretive dance as I had hoped, but an indication that there would be a couple of matches this episode.

First up, two Rookies would be teaming with their respective Pros in a tag match: Christian & Slater vs R-Truth & Otunga.

Gahhh!

In fairness, other than his incredibly annoying entrance, R-Truth isn’t that bad a wrestler, so this match wasn’t too bad. Otunga won the match for his team, pinning Slater, but overall it wasn’t nothing to write home about, or even blog about… so I won’t.

Yeah yeah... whatever

Just to reiterate, after the match they showed the Pros writing notes on their little clipboards – although Boss Lady Ray was rather dubious as to whether they weren’t just doodling cats or something. Josh Matthews then explained that there would be another Pros’ Poll to decide the next elimination.

I'm sure Lynn Truss wouldn't approve of the lack of apostrophe

Quick! Backstage! Bryan’s looking conflicted in a nice tank top!

See!

Yes folks, it’s time for the latest installment of the Daniel Bryan/Bryan Danielson Super Fun Time Wrestling Show! After last weeks attack on Michael Cole, Cole had insisted that Bryan came to the ring and apologised or he would be sued. A quick break (because adverts are even more a part of the American Way of Life than pro-wrestling and law-suits) and we return to find Cole in the ring accompanied by WWE Security, one of whom looked suspiciously like indie wrestler Johnny Gargano…

GEEK FACT: Back in March 2007 when MVP was working his way through fictional champions from around the world, Johnny Gargano also played Cedrick Von Haussen, the “Leichenstein Heavyweight Champion” In fact, if you kept an eye out you might have spotted him on Smackdown this week as well. [BOSS LADY RAY’S EDIT: This is how I’m getting, quite frankly, the geekiest indie wrestling education available anywhere in the world!]

Anyway, after threatening to sue Bryan for “everything he’s worth” (presumably some vegan cookies and a pair of waders) Cole called Bryan out to the ring.

Ray was happy to see he's sorted his shirt out and it's now untucked evenly all round

Bryan explained that he was prepared to apologise and that the security was unnecessary. Now Cole’s been around the WWE since 1997 now, he should realise this is the oldest trick in the book. The only thing that could have made this more ominous would have been ominous music and the occasional sinister snigger from Bryan. Fortunately for us all, Cole fell for this and asked the security to wait outside the ropes. All this despite the “kick his head in” chants from the crowd…

How could you not want to see this man get hurt?

Bryan shook hands with Cole, and apologised…

"...that you are by far the worst commentator in WWE history!"

Yay! Bryan then went on to rant again about how “WWE management had held [him] back” and put him with The Miz, “by far the worst Pro ever…”

Cole and Bryan had a really good exchange: Cole admitting that Bryan may well be the best wrestler in the back, but that he lacks heart… Any guesses as to what might have happened next? It’s quite simple really…

This happened...

Then this happened...

As always in this situations, the security (despite odds of 4 to 1) struggled to seperate the two, but eventually managed to get Bryan up the ramp – only for him to be confronted by The Miz, understandably slightly miffed at Bryan’s earlier slur.

welp... too late

Now obviously this was all awesome and everything, but do you want to see the absolute best part of this? The result of all this fussin’ and a feudin’?

Yep. Matt Striker replaced Michael Cole on commentary. Suddenly all is well with the world… Cole being so traumatised by his second beating meant that Striker was there to call the second match of the night. The WWE, in their infinite wisdom, made the excellent decision to put the two weakest wrestlers (Slater & Otunga) in a tag match, leaving Barrett and Gabriel to have a pretty good headline match.

Barrett throwing Gabriel that far in the air was definitely a “high” light… Get it? High light? Because he went so high in the air… Oh forget it… I don’t know why I bother sometimes. This was another match that was made even better by Jericho being at ringside.

Unfortunately for Barrett and Jericho, Gabriel got the win after the 450 leading incongruously into a shot of “American Bang” in the crowd. In case you’re not sure who they are, American Bang sing the catchy NXT theme tune “Wild & Young” and apparently dress in fancy dress at all times.

After the inevitably dull Raw recap (which could have been done much better by Joey or Ray), the Pros gathered together to compare notes, while Matt Striker decided to check out Truth’s posterior…

So, time to view the results of the Pros’ Poll. Who will be eliminated? Which three wrestlers will remain until the final next week?

Notice we now have an apostrophe, albeit in the wrong place

So, Barrett is at Number One and Otunga is at Number Two. Barrett is where he undoubtedly deserves to be… Otunga not so much. Anyway, Striker took this opportunity to bring the final two competitors in nice and close for the final reveal.

Incidentally, I've just realised how small Gabriel's pants are...

Thank Christ for that! I’ve said how much Slater annoys me before, and I can’t pretend I’ll be sorry to see him go. Striker then went on to ask each Pro why Slater was eliminated, giving Jericho the chance to completely ignore the question and instead give Barrett a pep-talk after his earlier defeat. So we’re all set for the final next week. As I said at the start I genuinely wouldn’t like to guess who is going to win. Barrett has the size and ability, Gabriel has the looks and the acrobatics to sell a ton of merchandise, and Otunga… well, Otunga’s engaged to Jennifer Hudson (although he doesn’t like to talk about it)

Join us next week and we’ll know who won by then, and hopefully we’ll know what’s going to be happening for NXT in the future. Allegedly they have been filming vignettes for Series 2 recently at FCW with Shad (Shad!) mentoring a 7′ 2″ wrestler called Eli Cottonwood, so hopefully we are definitely getting another series at least (so my job’s safe here at wrestlegasm.com)

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