Full results and reactions from tonight's episode of WWE NXT, airing live from Chicago Illinois, after the jump:
- Heath Slater won an NXT keg carrying competition to win the right to face Kane in the NXT main event.
- WWE Rookie Darren Young defeated WWE Rookie Daniel Bryan with a rollup.
- WWE Rookie Justin Gabriel defeated WWE Rookie Michael Tarver with the 450 splash.
- WWE Rookie Wade Barrett defeated WWE Rookie David "A-List" Otunga with his fireman's carry slam finisher.
- Kane defeated WWE Rookie Heath Slater after the chokeslam.
- Matt Striker opened the show by bringing the NXT Rookies out on the stage. He interviewed David Otunga about hosting Raw, and he explained turning on Cena by saying he was doing a solid for The Miz, who is one of the pros in the Pros' Poll, so that could benefit him to get a singles title shot down the line. Striker also interviewed Daniel Bryan, who, when asked if he deserved to be #1, asked if Otunga deserved to host Raw or if Michael Cole deserved to take Jim Ross' spot on Raw, and that maybe he didn't deserve to be #1, but he was going to do his best to become a pro. He received the most positive crowd response, but he did also have a noticeable amount of boos as well. Striker also interviewed Michael Tarver, who claimed to be the most dangerous man on NXT.
- After the interviews, Striker announced that there would be a series of physical challenges to help the rookies stand out, and I guess make the show seem less like a regular wrestling show. The first challenge was a keg carrying competition. Heath Slater won, I guess because he had the best combination of speed and strength. Michael Tarver was DQ'd for dropping the keg, continuing the recurring NXT theme of Michael Tarver being the worst rookie on NXT. Daniel Bryan had the slowest time of those who competed, but this wasn't exactly a way to spotlight him. I suspect somebody thought that Otunga or Barrett or maybe even Sheffield would win this, not thinking that speed would also play a big role in determining who won. All told, these opening segments took 20 minutes, and I'm not exactly sure what was proven here.
- Skip Sheffield cut a promo where he apparently turned heel after finishing second in the keg carrying competition, saying nice guys don't finish first in NXT, so I guess his laid back hillbilly gimmick is out. Maybe we can finally drop Sheffield/Regal from the list of Rookie/Pro teams that are feuding.
- So during the Daniel Bryan/Darren Young match, Cole is burying Bryan as usual. He mentioned that on Daniel Bryan's Twitter, he was reading the vegan cookbook this morning as an example of Bryan being a tool, but he pronounced vegan as "vee-jen" instead of "vee-gan," which Matthews corrected. Which made me wonder, everybody knows Vince is giving Cole lines, right? Because he's too dumb to come up with anything creative on his own. And we all know Vince sometimes has some, um, odd pronunciation of words, like for example, feces. Does that mean that Vince was combing Daniel Bryan's Twitter to find ways to troll him on commentary through Cole? And if so, how awesome does that make Vince? Anyway, Bryan losing the match was kind of expected, as they seem to be setting up Bryan to get his first big win down the line, but why rank him first if he's going to lose every week?
- Man, Michael Tarver is not going to win NXT. Justin Gabriel had a decent squash match with him, but once again, he failed to do anything work-wise or personality-wise to stand out, he loses every week, and he looked horrible during the keg carrying competition. He's a once in a lifetime combination of suck.
- The Barrett/Otunga match wasn't pretty inside the ring, but it was interesting to watch if only for the result, which seems to reaffirm Barrett as the current favorite, even with Otunga's push on Raw the night before and the subsequent highlighting of him on NXT this week, making sure he gets boos. I don't think Otunga will win, but he will definitely be a star at some point.
- Heath Slater's win streak in non-battle royals came to an end against Kane. Since I'm assuming the keg run was a shoot (how could they work that?), he might have been better off finishing with a worse time and getting a match against another rookie that he would have won. Maybe that's why Bryan had the worst form in the keg carrying contest, and why he finished 7th, and if that's the case, it backfired on him.
This was a weird show. They had the opening segment that went 20 minutes and was built around a keg carrying competition. They had the usual Raw Rebound segment, so for the first half hour, they had practically no wrestling. Yet they crammed 4 matches into that last half hour, none going particularly long. None of the WWE Pros appeared at all, either as seconds or as wrestlers, so the only star power on this show came from perennial WWE midcard guy Kane. It continues to boggle my mind why they wouldn't put Regal in there every week against other rookies, or even high card guys like Punk or Jericho to have decent 5-10 minute matches with the decent workers of NXT like Gabriel, Punk, or Barrett. I like the concept of NXT, and it has potential, but I'm frustrated by the execution.
Here are this week's rankings. Apparently, WWE considered the battle royal to be a loss for the seven non-Otunga rookies, so those losses will be added in from last week:
8) Michael Tarver (0-5, last week: 8) Tarver has less than no shot at surviving the first cut.
7) Skip Sheffield (0-4, last week: 7) At least they started to do something of an angle with Sheffield being mad about losing the keg competition and turning heel this week. He still has little shot at winning this, but his last six weeks or so should at least be a little more interesting.
6) Heath Slater (4-2, last week: 4) For most of the early part of the competition, it seemed that all Slater had going for him was the undefeated record, which came against the dregs of NXT. He hasn't stood out work-wise or promo-wise, although in a promotion that marks for strength, winning the keg competition should benefit him down the road. I think in the four weeks I've done these ratings, I've had Slater in a different spot every week. He'll probably be #5 next week.
5) Darren Young (4-2, last week: 6) I'll move him up one spot for the win over the top ranked guy. He isn't going to win or come close, but they have some sort of story in mind for him by ranking him last.
4) Justin Gabriel (4-2, last week: 5) Picked up a win against Tarver, which essentially means nothing other than WWE had five minutes to kill this week. He's been another one who it's been hard to get a reading on. They clearly don't like Tarver and Sheffield, they clearly do like Otunga and Barrett, they are completely and utterly bipolar on Bryan, and Gabriel, Slater, and Young, it's hard to get any reading one way or another.
3) Daniel Bryan (0-7, last week: 3) I can't figure out what they think about Daniel Bryan. They beat him every week, yet he's ranked first in the Pros' Poll. Michael Cole buries the crap out of him on commentary every week, yet he gets the best crowd reactions. I think even WWE changes their mind on what they want to do with Bryan; is he a way to troll internet fans, or is he a talented worker who has built a decent fan following unlike any other NXT rookie other than Otunga (and he only got a crowd reaction after they pushed the crap out of him on Raw last night)? I'll leave him at #3 for now, because hell, I don't know.
2) David Otunga (4-2, last week: 2) It's clear that the WWE machine loves Otunga after the heel push he got on Raw last night, and Striker made sure to give him chances to get heat during his interview segment earlier, but his completely uncertain in-ring ability, coupled with the loss to Barrett this week, keeps him at #2 for another week.
1) Wade Barrett (4-3, last week: 1) I'm not sure he's going to win, as there just seems to be something missing with him, but I think right now, he's the guy that WWE wants to win. He's got the height they like, he's carryable in the ring, he projects good personality, and he seems like a guy who would fit in right away on Raw or Smackdown. He doesn't necessarily have the most positives of anybody on this list, but he has the fewest negatives, and that makes him the favorite.