Obviously, as a fan of the WWE NXT concept, I was sad to see that SyFy was canceling the show with Smackdown moving to the network, though considering the ratings, I can't say I was surprised. I still think with some refining, this could be a good TV show, but they have been figuring out what this show is on the fly, rather than having a definitive plan and sticking to it week after week. Now that the show has a set format, now that it feels like they know what they want to do and where they are going with this show, I think it could catch on, so I hope it is picked up by another network as has been rumored. It's the only WWE TV show that doesn't feel like every other WWE TV show, so I'd like to see it stick around.
Full results and reactions from this week's episode of WWE NXT after the jump:
- WWE Pro Christian (with WWE Rookie Heath Slater) defeated WWE Rookie Wade Barrett (with WWE Pro Chris Jericho) after hitting the Killswitch.
- WWE Pro William Regal (with WWE Rookie Skip Sheffield) defeated WWE Rookie Daniel Bryan (with WWE Pro and WWE Unified Tag Team and United States Champion The Miz) after the knee trembler.
- WWE Rookie Darren Young defeated Luke Gallows (with WWE Pro CM Punk and Serena) with a schoolboy rollup.
- They opened with an in-ring segment with all of the rookies. Striker interviewed a few, including Michael Tarver (who uttered the classic "Whether I win or lose, I will not lose," continuing the NXT theme of "Michael Tarver Sucks At Everything He Tries"), David Otunga (who had good heat thanks to his recent push on Raw), and Justin Gabriel (who Striker had said defeated Otunga last week, which was wrong as Gabriel defeated Tarver and Wade Barrett had defeated Otunga, so I guess even Striker doesn't watch this show and he's only the host).
- This week's challenge saw the WWE Rookies talk for 30 seconds based on topics chosen by Striker. Daniel Bryan did not appear to take this very seriously and tried to talk about the Daniel Bryan Manliness Meter, until he was cut off by Striker (who didn't cut off anybody else). Wade Barrett's topic was blase, and he cut a spirited promo, helped by the fact that the British crowd wanted to like him. Justin Gabriel visibly drowned on-air talking about flowers. Heath Slater had to talk about cereal but he was talking about American cereals and the Brits booed him, which threw him off and he failed. David Otunga probably cut the best promo, about sleep, but because he's had the heel push of late, the crowd wasn't going to cheer him, and this was an event determined by audience cheering. Skip Sheffield got by on catchphrases, didn't really talk about his topic, which was rainbows, but he didn't look bad either. Tarver didn't say anything at all, which makes me think he's now being intentionally bad. Darren Young's promo on toothpaste included ripping the Brits for not using it, an unwise strategy for winning an event determined by audience applause. Barrett and Sheffield had the most applause so they had a run-off. Sheffield, without doing his catchphrases talking about bubblegum, drowned like many of the others, whereas Barrett did a good promo talking about becoming the first British WWE champion, which made him the obvious winner. This segment was not as interesting as the keg carrying from last week, even if it does have more to do with wrestling than carrying beer.
- After the Raw Rebound, they aired the angle on Smackdown from last week, where Darren Young had originally agreed to join the Straight Edge Society, but then backed out. They then aired a backstage segment where they teased some tension between Luke Gallows and CM Punk. They set up a match for NXT between Young and Gallows where if Gallows won, Young's head would be shaven.
- Christian did a good job carrying Barrett through a good match. There was a nice story told here too, where Chris Jericho tried to interfere on Barrett's behalf behind the referee's back, but Heath Slater grabbed ankle while he was trying to hit his Fireman's Carry Slam finish, which allowed Christian to break out and hit the Killswitch for the 1-2-3.
- They aired highlights from David Otunga appearing on Access Hollywood from last week, and he came off very well on that show. Another reason why you can tell they want him to at least do well, if not win.
- They aired a backstage segment with Miz and Daniel Bryan that was really good, and made me realize that I've missed their interaction the past few weeks. Michael Cole as a surrogate for Miz (and Vince McMahon, for that matter) doesn't have the same punch as Miz being there himself. Hopefully they use him more often.
- Afterwards, Bryan had his match with Regal that was good, but short. I think they have a good match on Superstars a few months down the road, hopefully. One thing that was apparent was how much bigger Regal was than Bryan. Afterwards, Miz cleared Regal from the ring and then gave Bryan the Skull Crushing Finale. Definitely feels like they're building to Miz and Bryan having a match and Bryan picking up his first win beating The Miz, maybe setting up a US title match after that.
- The Gallows/Young match was kind of clunky and didn't have a lot of rhythm. Punk raised Young's hand at the end of the match and they teasted a little more problems between Punk and Gallows, as Gallows didn't look happy with Punk siding with Young. That should be interesting to follow.
This week's NXT rankings:
8) Michael Tarver (0-5, last week: 8) When Tarver has turned into a running joke with how bad he is on this show, you know the guy has no hope.
7) Skip Sheffield (0-4, last week: 7) He didn't really stand out past the ability to hit his catchphrases. That ought to get him work in TNA with Vince Russo at some point.
6) Heath Slater (4-2, last week: 6) He was sixth last week and didn't really do anything to move up or down this week. He stayed in the same spot for the first time this week.
5) Justin Gabriel (4-2, last week: 4) He moves down because he fared so poorly in the interview challenge, that I can see that hurting him in the eyes of decision-makers.
4) Daniel Bryan (0-8, last week: 3) I can't imagine that openly goofing off during these challenges, however inane they might be, will earn him any standing. It also feels like his crowd reactions are getting worse every week, which may be in part because Miz hasn't been around to continue that program. Hopefully with Miz back this week, they get back to focusing on Miz/Bryan, because that was the most interesting thing of the early days of NXT.
3) Darren Young (5-2, last week: 5) Young's program with CM Punk has been pushed on Smackdown, and getting the win over Gallows proves that at least WWE sees him as being a little more important than low card guys.
2) David Otunga (4-2, last week: 2) Otunga stays in 2nd for the third straight week. You can tell they love him, and his recent push on Raw is proof of that, but he pretty much can't win due to his obvious limitations in the ring.
1) Wade Barrett (4-4, last week: 1) Barrett lost his match with Christian, but he handled himself quite well in the interview contest and showed great poise. Barrett is, along with Otunga, one of the two guys you could see stepping into a midcard spot on Raw and not embarrassing himself (Bryan could be included there too, but he's not necessarily the type of guy they would give that shot to, if that makes sense), and he's further along than Otunga, which makes him a strong candidate to win.