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First, I would like to apologize for the long break between the last column and this one.  It isn’t as though there hasn’t been plenty going on in the world of pro wrestling over this time.  I just really haven’t been motivated to write anything.  I was going to sit down yesterday and write about the Monday Night Wars 2.0, but I felt like it wouldn’t be enough for a whole column.  So, I’m going to include my opinions on that at a later date as part of another column

I want to focus on NXT this time because it’s been on for a month now, and I think that I can finally give some opinions on the eight “rookies” showcased on this show.  I couldn’t possibly have given any thoughts on all of them earlier, since up until this week, some had only had one match or been seen a couple of times at all.  Now, with everyone having at least two matches under their belts (as far as I can tell), my opinions are forming more and more each week.  And since all eight guys have gotten a decent amount of screen time, I can safely say that I don’t think I’m rushing to conclusions on these guys yet.  Though some of my thoughts may sound that way…

Anyway, let’s start this breakdown of the talents.

Daniel Bryan Danielson – It really doesn’t matter that he’s 0-4 in matches so far.  He has shown an aptitude that none of the other rookies are even close to achieving.  Danielson is, by far, the best out of the eight guys on this show.  I’ve seen some of his work in ROH and Dragon Gate USA, so I know what he’s actually capable of.  I’m really impressed that he’s able to adopt the WWE style of wrestling while still being himself instead of compromising his style just to get ahead.  Sure, he isn’t really getting much of a chance to show off all of his skill set, but the fact that he used a guillotine choke to nearly make The Great Khali tap out last night was pretty damn sweet.  I think (I hope) that Creative will allow him to showcase his talent more as the weeks go by, and I really hope he starts winning matches, because the reality TV trope of voting off members is nearly upon us, and I’d really hate to see him get booted off the show simply because of a crappy win-loss record.  He SHOULD win this show, but the way other guys are being pushed, he actually might not, which would be an absolute shame.

Darren Young – The only thing that’s unique about Young is his hair.  His mentor should have been Carlito.  Young doesn’t seem to bring anything to the table that everyone else also does.  I have yet to see anything truly impressive from him, and I fear that may be the case as the weeks pass by.  I know I kind of gush over Danielson, but there’s a reason why I would.  Young is kind of bland, and if he makes it into the later rounds of this show, I’ll honestly be surprised.

David Otunga – This guy reminds me of Dave Batista so much it’s painful.  I fear that he may actually win the competition because he’s a muscleheaded asshole who’s married to a famous actress.  I’ve seen nothing original from him in the ring.  He even uses the same finisher as Vlad Kozlov (not that we’ve seen that finisher much in the last few months).  I am just so sick and tired of these huge, steroid-induced freaks that spend more time in the gym than they do in the ring, caring more about how they look than how well they perform in the ring.  It makes me sick.  I wish Vince didn’t have a bodybuilder fetish, because then he might actually push guys like Danielson to great heights.  But that’s a pipe dream.  Anyway, Otunga shouldn’t even be on this show, but thanks to his physique, he is.

Heath Slater – Slater has shown some tremendous promise in the few weeks he’s been on TV.  He has a unique look, he has charisma, and he’s got some serious potential in the ring.  He showed some pretty cool moves in his match with Michael Tarver last night, including a sweet slingshot corkscrew cross body onto Tarver out on the floor.  I think that, with Christian as his mentor, he’s got a great chance to go far in this competition and maybe win it all.  I like his style, and I think he can succeed on the big stage once NXT is over.  I look forward to his progress.

Justin Gabriel – The current Florida Heavyweight Champion is another guy with absolute tons of potential.  Being the only person who uses the 450 Splash, you have to give him credit just for that.  I’m really glad that WWE has allowed both the 450 Splash and the Shooting Star Press back into the arsenals of these wrestlers, and I’m more glad that they’re letting guys who are extremely proficient in them use them.  Gabriel is talented as hell inside the ropes.  I’m just a little worried that his Pro isn’t the caliber Gabriel deserves.  Yes, Matt Hardy has had an impressive career, but I was never a fan of his, and I think that the last couple of years have really shown his age.  I don’t think he’ll be competing much longer, and Gabriel’s rise to stardom will likely be his last accomplishment.  If Gabriel doesn’t win NXT, I’d still watch for him to head to Raw Smackdown soon afterward.  He’d be a great Cruiserweight Champion if Creative ever brought it back (WHICH THEY SHOULD).

Michael Tarver – Here’s my problem with Tarver.  He claims he can knock anyone out in 1.9 seconds.  So why doesn’t he just do that at the beginning of every match and win in under ten seconds every time?  I’ve said the same thing about Big Show and his Knockout Punch.  Why not just punch someone in the head at the beginning of the match and win immediately?  It isn’t like people dodge punches to the head on a regular basis.  Mini-rant over.  Anyway, Tarver hasn’t shown me anything interesting, and that doesn’t bode well for him.  It wouldn’t surprise me at all if he got voted off soon.

Skip Sheffield – Contrary to some opinions out there, I love Sheffield’s personality.  His introductory video was probably my favorite of all eight competitors.  He’s just got oodles of charisma and he’s fun to listen to.  I actually enjoy his strained relationship with William Regal, and aside from Miz/Danielson, they have the best face/heel dynamic of any team on NXT.  I’m worried that his enormous body will prevent him from becoming great in the ring, but he did show some surprisingly athletic moves in his match with Wade Barrett last night.  For a guy billed at 280 pounds, he moves much faster than you would think a guy who looks like him could move.  It gives me hope that he might be able to run with the smaller guys.  I really like Sheffield, and I hope we see more impressive athleticism out of him in the coming weeks.  If he turns into Batista in the ring, my opinion of him will sour, so I hope it doesn’t happen.

Wade Barrett – With the World Heavyweight Champion as his mentor, Barrett was basically given the key to the vault of success.  Whether he opens that vault or not has really yet to be determined.  Barrett seems like your typical 270 pound musclehead in the ring, and his promos are “meh” at best.  He moves pretty slowly in the ring, and as I stated before, I find his voice grating.  Not a good quality if you’re supposed to be a WWE wrestler.  You’d think Creative would put a more talented guy with Jericho, but I guess the jury’s still out on Barrett.  I’ll give him a little while longer before rendering a final verdict.

So there you go.  My thoughts on the eight NXT “rookies.”  I’m sure as the weeks roll on, my opinions will evolve, as will these guys’ in-ring and mic work (hopefully).  I have my favorites, obviously, as I’m sure every other person who watches NXT has, and I’ll root for them over the men I don’t enjoy as much.  Though, right now, I still believe that the winner is outrageously obvious, I could very well be wrong (though I pray that I’m right).  With that said, I do believe I’m done for today.  But I’ll be back to catch up on all the happenings of the last three weeks, as well as a Wrestlemania preview and picks.  Should be a good couple of weeks.  Until then, stay awesome everyone!

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