Okay, it’s finally time. I’m going to weigh in on the first episode of NXT.
I’m sure a few of you will remember my scathing rant last week after the final episode of ECW ended. I was pretty unhappy with what it seemed was going to happen. The show sounded like Tough Enough with mentors. To me, it sounded like another crappy reality show that had some wrestling thrown in to appease the WWE fans. I am completely glad that I was wrong. While I still feel like many former ECW wrestlers are getting the shaft, at least a few new talents are being brought up, and maybe this whole “youth movement” deal that was brought up a year or so ago may take hold. Maybe.
Let’s get right to the heart of the show. It’s blatantly obvious that the main story of this first “season” will be the tension and budding rivalry between Miz and Daniel Bryan Danielson (the name still makes me laugh; thanks, Mike). Danielson cut a great promo at the beginning of the show, and had a great rapport with Miz. I think these two are going to work surprisingly well together. When I first heard about their pairing, I was admittedly pretty pissed. I (like I’m sure many other IWC smarks complained) thought that Danielson was the last person on the planet to need a mentor, let alone someone like Miz. But after the build that was made over the week leading up to the first episode of NXT, it’s obvious that this whole situation is nowhere near the teacher/student mentality we were expecting. And I have to finally give credit to Vince and Creative: after decades of denying that any other wrestling companies exist, they FINALLY acknowledge that the indies are, in fact, real. They brought up this subject while divulging Danielson’s background, how he’d been wrestling in the indies all around the world for the past decade. I’m glad they finally decided to show the non-hardcore wrestling fans that there are more wrestling promotions out there. Maybe it will broaden their horizons a little bit. Maybe they’ll search for matches featuring Daniel Bryan Danielson.
Anyway, I thought that the angle was built well, and it really hit home during the first episode of NXT. I’ll give Creative some credit: they’re building this feud well, and when Danielson wins this competition and gets his contract on Raw, he’ll be the next challenger for the United States Championship, and I’ll call it right now: Daniel Bryan Danielson will be the next US Champ. Mark your calendars, because when it happens, you’ll look back and see that I called it back in February.
Oh, and Danielson had a really fun little match with Chris Jericho as the main event. Danielson’s suicide dive into the announce table was eerily reminiscent of Chris Benoit’s similar dive a few years back. Only Danielson didn’t land so awkwardly, and he ended up nearly causing Jericho to submit, which I thought would have been an epic first match for Danielson. He’ll be a WWE World Champion soon, no doubt about it.
Now, let’s look at the rest of the new talent featured on television. We had Christian and his rookie, Heath Slater, take on Carlito and Michael Tarver. I think Slater’s got some serious potential. He’s already established a very strong persona, which clashes a bit with Christian, but should be fun to see how they develop as the weeks go on. He’s a pretty good athlete, as shown by some of the crazy leaps he did in the ring during his tag match. He reminds me a little of Brian Kendrick, only taller. He’ll probably get brought up to the main roster after this show is done. Michael Tarver…meh. He keeps talking about how he can knock someone out in 1.9 seconds. Well, how come he didn’t do it to either Slater or Christian on Tuesday night? He’s building himself up, but he’s not showing me anything I haven’t seen before. And we know how well these MMA-style fighters go over in any pro wrestling ring. They crash and burn. If we want to see MMA, we’ll watch UFC.
Let’s see…we also had David Otunga and Darren Young in a squash match that had a pretty badly botched finish by Otunga. Otunga reminds me a lot of Batista: a brash, arrogant musclehead who thinks he can go really far in the business simply because he’s built like a truck. I think his finisher is similar to the spinebuster that Ron Simmons used to use, but I couldn’t tell very well since he botched it pretty badly. Young, I think, can have great interactions with his mentor, CM Punk, if he actually gets more than 20 seconds of screen time. A South Beach party boy being mentored by the king of straight edge? It’s actually a pretty good pairing, I think.
Lastly, we got a glimpse of Wade Barrett, Chris Jericho’s mentee. Besides wrestling, Barrett is the color commentator for FCW. And I’m not completely sure why. He’s actually got kind of an irritating voice. I suppose they were just looking for someone to work with Byron Saxton. Anyway, I kind of like his character so far: he kind of has a thing for Jericho, it would seem. Always showering him with praise, almost swooning when describing Jericho. It’s pretty hilarious, especially since Jericho seems to hate it (though Jericho does love doing it himself). The jury’s still out on Barrett. We’ll let his in-ring work do the talking for him.
Next week, we’re apparently going to see Justin Gabriel in action. Gabriel is the current FCW Champion, so he can’t be all that bad. We have yet to see the eighth participant, Skip Sheffield, in any manner besides standing backstage watching the matches on TV. But his pairing with William Regal should prove to be pretty hilarious. A Southern country boy meathead being mentored by the snobbish, blueblood will likely have some memorable moments.
Now, there’s one last thing I’d like to bring up about NXT before I head off to my own little life, and that’s the commentating. I had figured that Josh Matthews and Byron Saxton would continue their roles as play-by-play and color commentator, respectively. It appears as though Vince wants Michael Cole on as many shows as possible, though. But I do have to admit one thing: listening to Cole’s commentary, it was actually a nice change to hear him have some personality for once. He played the heel commentator, and it was actually not that bad. Kind of makes you wonder if people would like him more if he had been doing this from the start. I wonder if he’ll keep it up during the show’s duration. I hope he does, because if he falls back into the “VINTAGE” gimmick, people are going to tune out in droves.
One final quick note before I go. It’s been reported that WWE has future endeavored Paul Burchill, Gregory Helms, and Maria as of today. The only release I’m a little surprised about is Maria. Two months ago, she was voted Diva of the Year. Now she’s gone. Makes you wonder what, if anything, happened to cause this sudden departure. Burchill and Helms I’m not surprised about at all. There was talk of Burchill joining Raw shortly after his departure from ECW, but apparently, that was not to be. Katie Lea, however, is a part of Raw, so we at least get her. And Helms has not been the same since returning from neck surgery that kept him out of the ring for well over a year. He seemed a lot slower than he had before his injury, and I don’t think he was going to be wrestling much longer, anyway. Now, if WWE releases Matt Hardy, TNA can have the whole OMEGA squad all together again. Won’t that just be great?
Okay, that’s it for me. I’ve decided that it’s probably too late to review WWE The Music: Volume 10. If you really want to hear my opinion on it, leave a comment. If enough people comment, I’ll consider doing it, because I want to keep every one of you entertained. I’ll be back next week with more random and crazy rants about the wacky world of wrestling. So, until then, stay awesome!