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Before I get the main topic of today’s post started, I’d like to announce the end of the Monday Night Massacres, effective yesterday.  TNA is moving Impact back to Thursdays, “by fan request” as Mike Tenay puts it.  I’d prefer to believe it’s because that the management realized that there was no way they could compete with Raw on Monday nights.  And since they were rebroadcasting Impact on Thursday nights anyway, there was no reason for anyone to watch Impact on Mondays.  Couple that with dismal at best ratings (which are suspect in my book anyway) and they had really no choice but to move back to Thursday, where they compete against Thursday Night Heat…I mean Superstars.  This will keep TNA on life support for a little longer, but I promise you the minute we see Hogan and Flair in the same ring and a referee ready to start a match, TNA is doomed.

Okay, let’s move on to less pleasant subjects.  Over the past five weeks, NXT has gone from an incredibly entertaining showcase for new WWE talent to a pathetic excuse for a reality show.  I know that that is exactly what WWE had promoted NXT to be: a hybrid wrestling/reality show.  But I was holding out hope that the reality portion wouldn’t kick in at all.  Sadly, I was mistaken.  The first week of these “competitions” was understandable.  A keg carry makes a small semblance of sense in regards to showing off the strength that these guys have.  But it all went downhill from there.  The 30-second promo competition seemed totally rigged (yes, I know wrestling is planned, but still…), and it made for an unbearable ten minutes of television.  Then came the jousting competition.  What does this have to do with wrestling again?  Oh, right.  NOTHING.  Then came the “sell programs” competition, which, again, appeared to be heavily favored towards one man (more on that later).  And this week, the biggest time-waster of all: the obligatory obstacle course.  These competitions should have something to do with what these eight men are competing for: a chance to wrestle on Raw or Smackdown.  But these just seem like entirely pointless efforts on the part of these eight “rookies.”

Another glaring issue with NXT is the bias that Creative is showing and has been for some time now.  The first couple of weeks, it seemed like just about anyone could win.  Well, almost anyone.  Michael Tarver had no hope from the start.  But I digress.  As the weeks continued on, it became more and more apparent who was going to be leaving and who would be staying.  And it’s rather painfully obvious who I think Creative is going to choose as the winner.  He’s the only guy whose crappy nickname gets announced before his matches.  David Otunga is, by far and away, the least qualified guy to be wrestling on any program.  He has no in-ring skill to speak of, and his charisma is nonexistent.  He claims to have the “it” factor, but I don’t see it.  He just seems like the next Dave Batista.  Hmmm…I didn’t even think about it until just now, but they have the same first name.  Coincidence?  Probably, but I’d like to think that it’s all a big conspiracy.  The point is this: Otunga is Vince McMahon’s prototypical WWE Superstar.  He is not a wrestler that the Internet Wrestling Community can get behind, simply because he is Vince’s ideal superstar.  Now, I’m not going to lump myself in with most of the crazy people out there in the IWC who hate John Cena because “he can’t wrestle” and love every major indy fed out there.  But I can honestly say that this is a horrible decision.  If David Otunga does end up winning NXT, I do hope it doesn’t get renewed.

While I’m at it (and since I ended up not having as much to say as I thought I did), let’s look at the seven remaining rookies and see how they’ve progressed over the past three months or so.

Daniel Bryan Danielson – The greatest wrestler in the world has been reduced to a pathetic, broken down man.  I blame Creative for this.  Unless what Danielson has done in the competitions these past few weeks was unscripted and entirely of his volition, in which case I’m puzzled.  I thought that his 30 second promo a month ago was utterly terrible.  I know that Danielson can cut a promo better than just about anyone out there.  Was this a decision by Creative to reign him in?  I wonder.  Also, putting him first for every competition guarantees he’ll lose.  While I believed that at the start he was the obvious choice to win, now I’m finding it difficult to believe so with Otunga stroking Vince’s ego seemingly 24 hours a day.  I’d still love to see him win NXT without gaining a victory, but then I’d have to endure Michael Cole’s hate speech about Danielson the whole time.  Actually, I just turn the volume down during matches so I don’t have to listen to the idiocy that is WWE commentary.  But I’m going off on another tangent here.  If Danielson wins, you can put money down that he’ll face Miz for the US Title and win it, too.  But with Otunga clearly Vince’s favorite, I’m having doubts that Danielson will be able to pull it off.  I don’t think he’ll be eliminated, but I don’t think he’ll win.

Wade Barrett – I became a Wade fan when he made his 30 second speeches.  He took a ridiculous subject in “the wind” and turned it into a rather fantastic 30 second promo about the winds of change and how he would be the next big thing.  I’m still on the fence about his in-ring skill set.  He is a large dude, and large dudes have a long and storied past of being subpar in-ring workers.  So I’m torn right now.  I think he may make the final four (if my understanding of the elimination structure is correct), but I don’t think he’ll win.  He may join Chris Jericho on Raw once NXT is through, though.  So watch for Barrett on Raw in about two months.

Justin Gabriel – Gabriel has all the talent necessary to succeed in this business.  The only thing that’s keeping him from winning is his mentor, Matt Hardy.  Of all the people Creative could have chosen, they picked one of the worst role models.  Hardy can’t keep his mouth shut, and he doesn’t know when to shut it.  I’ve never been a big fan of Matt Hardy (I was always partial to Jeff), and I hope that he doesn’t have Gabriel’s ear.  Gabriel does seemingly need to work on his promos, but if he takes the Evan Bourne approach and lets his in-ring work do the talking for him, he could be a star.  Probably not a world champion (unless Vince gets off his bodybuilding fetish), but definitely an entertaining talent for years to come.  I’d really love to see a Cruiserweight Division return and see guys like Gabriel do crazy shit every week for a shot at that title.

Heath Slater – Slater, in my eyes, has all the tools.  He’s got a unique look, he’s good on the mic, and he’s a strong in-ring worker.  He has a great mentor in Christian.  The sky is the limit for this guy.  My only fear is that he may end up getting lost in the shuffle once NXT is over.  I can see him moving to Smackdown once NXT is over, but I don’t know if he’ll be able to do more than work tag matches and maybe get an Intercontinental title run or two.  I like Slater, don’t get me wrong.  I just think that if Creative actually wants these guys to succeed, they have to push them accordingly.  Not like they’ve done with Sheamus or Drew McIntyre, but properly.  Build them up slowly, so they get accustomed to the way things work, and once they reach the top of the mountain, they’ve earned their spot.  Okay, that was a major digression, but I’m back.

Skip Sheffield – Normally, I’m not a fan of the big musclehead characters that populate the WWE locker room.  But Sheffield is so goddamned fun to watch and listen to I can’t help myself.  Sheffield is great on the mic.  He’s probably the most charismatic big man in a very long time, and while he’s never really gotten a chance to show his in-ring skills, I think he may have more talent then he’s letting on.  I also am enjoying his character evolution from a country bumpkin to a rough-and-tumble redneck.  I like it when these guys show character, because it makes me think that these guys aren’t just one-dimensional boring character cut-outs.  I doubt Sheffield will make it into the final four, but I’d expect him to show up on one of the other shows in a few months.

Michael Tarver – I actually am really enjoying Tarver’s transition from bland MMA-style fighter to angry psycho.  He’s shown the most character development over the last few months, and that gives me hope that he’ll end up on one of the main shows sooner or later.  Sure, he’ll be the first one eliminated from NXT, but that’s more because he has a terrible mentor in Carlito and he refuses to play by the rules of this idiotic game/reality show.  I like that about him.  If he continues his character development, we could see a pretty good career out of Tarver.

Darren Young – I have yet to see anything unique out of Young besides his hair.  He’s still a pretty bland character, and he hasn’t shown anything interesting in the ring besides a finisher he ripped off of Johnny Gargano (go watch Dragon Gate USA).  Despite his strong win-loss record, I don’t think he’ll be staying on NXT for much longer.  And I don’t mind that at all.  He hasn’t shown me anything I haven’t already seen before.

Okay, so that will do it for now.  It’s probably too late to discuss the WWE releases, so I’ll just let that one float off into the ether.  Also, enough people have talked about it that if I wrote about it, nobody would care.  So, I’ll be looking for more topics of discussion, and I hope you’ll tune in to read them.  So until then, stay awesome.

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