Full results from WWE NXT:
- WWE Rookie Wade Barrett defeated WWE Rookie Heath Slater after his fireman's carry slam.
- WWE Rookie Skip Sheffield (with WWE Pro William Regal) defeated WWE Rookie Darren Young after his jawbreaker finisher.
- WWE Rookie David Otunga defeated WWE Rookie Justin Gabriel after his spinebuster finisher.
- The show opened with a video recapping the first few weeks of NXT, with various highlights including the Miz/Bryan feud, shots of the challenges, Heath Slater's pinfall win on Chris Jericho, etc. Good stuff, it reminded folks that there have been a lot of highlights from this show thus far.
- After the video, Matt Striker introduced the NXT Rookies to reveal the results of the second Pros' Poll. They recapped Daniel Bryan's win over Santino from last week, and then reaired Michael Tarver's comments last week where he claimed he should be eliminated. Striker then broke the bad news to Tarver; he was the first rookie sent packing. Then they reaired Bryan's comments from last week about how he should be the first eliminated and he too was eliminated. But that wasn't the end of eliminations; Tarver and Bryan were essentially thrown off for "quitting" last week, and the loser of the first Pros' Poll would be eliminated later. I guess since they are trying to get a second season of NXT in before SyFy cancels the show in September, they are trying to expedite the process of naming a first season winner.
- The Barrett/Slater match was pretty decent, probably about as good a match as we're likely to see on the show. Barrett is still using Jericho's entrance music after supposedly having won his own entrance theme in one of the challenges a few weeks ago, so I guess they didn't really gain anything there.
- They aired a brief backstage interview with Michael Tarver backstage complaining that the contest wasn't fair, though his elimination was. He was silent when asked what the future holds for him.
- The Sheffield/Young match wasn't much. It's kind of amazing that these two guys stick around and Daniel Bryan was sent home, since neither of them do anything as well as Bryan, but they have the look WWE likes and Bryan doesn't.
- Bryan then did an interview with Striker backstage, alluding to his success all around the world, but said it wasn't as Daniel Bryan, and if you search for Daniel Bryan on YouTube, you'll only find WWE stuff. Bryan said you probably won't be hearing much from Daniel Bryan again, but you'll probably be hearing more from Bryan Danielson soon, using that name, hinting that he'll be back on the indy scene soon.
- Otunga/Gabriel was OK, Gabriel tried to carry Otunga but it wouldn't be an easy task even for a guy with experience.
- Before revealing the results of the Pros' Poll, Striker asked the remaining rookies who should go home. Darren Young answered Wade Barrett, Heath Slater, Justin Gabriel, Skip Sheffield and Wade Barrett answered David Otunga, and Otunga countered by saying Heath Slater. The results were as follows: 1) Wade Barrett, 2) David Otunga, 3) Justin Gabriel, 4) Heath Slater, 5) Darren Young, 6) Skip Sheffield. Sheffield's reaction was that he was misguided from day one, and he should have listened to William Regal more, and vowed to return to WWE. Next week there will be another Pros' Poll and another elimination.
I have to say, even though I kind of suspected it could happen, I'm completely shocked that WWE cut Daniel Bryan. I mean, he was getting pretty good crowd reactions every week fairly organically. No, he doesn't have the look WWE likes, and I knew after the first week when he looked so short compared to the other rookies that his was going to be an uphill climb, but WWE could have gotten a lot more out of Bryan. They didn't drop the angle with The Miz dead, but after a strong opening few weeks, Miz had mostly been absent from NXT and the issue lost steam. By the end of the show, Bryan was losing one minute squashes to guys like Skip Sheffield and even had the indignity of being Michael Tarver's only victory in WWE.
When Danielson goes back to the indies in a few months, he'll be the guy who put over every rookie on NXT, and the guy who didn't last sixty seconds with Skip Sheffield, and I suspect that was fairly intentional. It really makes you wonder if that old internet rumor from a few years ago about Vince McMahon wanting to sign Samoa Joe just so he could job the hell out of him had some validity after watching Bryan put over the lowest of the low rung week after week, finally getting his one and only victory on Raw last night against the absolute lowest guy on the WWE totem pole, Santino Marella. The whole show was a giant rib on internet fans. "Hey, here's Bryan Danielson having a great 8 minute match with Chris Jericho. Hey, we're going to make Bryan and Miz' story the focus of the show. Hey, we're even going to rank him first in the first pro's poll after doing some early jobs! Whoops, JUST KIDDING, he's going to put over Skip Sheffield and Michael Tarver in squash matches and get eliminated the first week in!"
With three rookies eliminated (and the three lowest ranked rookies in my standings from last week - yay me) here is the Cageside Seat rankings for the remaining five competitors.
5) Heath Slater (5-4, last week: 5) Seems like a good bet to go home next week. Darren Young is already ranked 5th, so you'd think that they would want to avoid having the obvious bet be the next guy sent home, so Slater seems to be the most likely to be eliminated. Seems like a waste to have given him that win over Jericho since he doesn't figure to make the final 2 or 3.
4) Justin Gabriel (5-3, last week: 3) If Slater doesn't go home, it will probably be Gabriel, especially since he usually seems to drown in the interview segments. Shame, he was probably the second best worker on the show, but we saw what being the best worker on NXT gets you.
3) Darren Young (7-3, last week: 2) I continue to be baffled at what anybody sees in Darren Young beyond a good look, and even his look is kind of creepy. He's not a good wrestler at all, he's not a good interview, and his feud with Punk was nowhere near as intriguing as Bryan's feud with Miz. Whomever made the call to keep Young over Bryan is a fool.
2) David Otunga (5-5, last week: 4) I know he has the look and charisma WWE wants, but I can't even imagine him being anywhere near a WWE ring with any regularity at this point in his development. He wasn't even as good a worker as Tarver. He will drown on Raw if he's promoted, Cena already had to have the most basic of wrestling matches just to carry him through a Raw match. He has a lot going for him, but he's just not ready yet.
1) Wade Barrett (6-4, last week: 1) At this stage of the game, I would be surprised if anybody but Barrett won, which makes me think a swerve is in the mix. Problem is, their best choice for a swerve was Bryan, and he's off the show. None of the other rookies ranked below him have the kind of appeal Bryan had, and I don't think the audience would care as much if, say, Darren Young or Justin Gabriel came back to win NXT from Barrett. Meaning, either Barrett wins, or somebody substandard wins.