Full results from tonight's episode of WWE NXT, taped tonight in Cleveland, OH:
- WWE Pro and US Champion R-Truth and WWE Rookie David Otunga defeated WWE Pro Christian and WWE Rookie Heath Slater after Otunga pinned Slater after rolling through a flying crossbody from the top rope.
- WWE Rookie Justin Gabriel (with WWE Pro Matt Hardy) defeated WWE Rookie Wade Barrett (with WWE Pro Chris Jericho) after hitting the 450 splash.
- They opened the show blatantly stalling for time, first introducing all of the pros (sans CM Punk, who was not here due to his head shaving) and then the rookies. Matt Striker announced that next week would be the final episode of this season, so they are clearly cutting time to get another season in before Smackdown bumps the show off the network. Striker gave each rookie an opportunity to ask the pros which rookie they felt should be voted off tonight and why. Wade Barrett said that it could be Justin Gabriel, since Gabriel wasn't man enough to win, or David Otunga, whom he compared unfavorably to an episode of the Benny Hill Show (even stating, "I hate Benny Hill), but then said it should be "the ginger ninja Heath Slater" on account of his offensive hairstyle. Justin Gabriel chose Otunga because he didn't know what he was doing in the ring. Otunga chose Gabriel for the opposite reason; his inability to talk on the microphone. Slater chose Wade Barrett on account of his crooked nose, and hey, that would conveniently set up two matches for tonight's show! Alas, they went in another direction, with Striker announcing that the pros would team with their rookies after the break, and none of the interviews set up matches that actually took place, so I'm not sure what the point of this was, other than "crap, we only have four rookies left, we need to do something to waste time."
- The opening tag match was good, even if it did make no sense based on what they built up. Despite being a decent bout, Otunga still looks bad, as he didn't look like he protected Slater well on the crossbody. In-ring, he just isn't anywhere near ready for a role in WWE, and I'm not sure he ever will be ready, he might be best utilized as a general manager type.
- They recapped the Daniel Bryan/Michael Cole segment from last week, with Cole standing in the ring flanked by four security guards. This video recap was awesome, as production went out of their way to make Cole look as evil as possible. Then again, considering he's supposed to be the voice of Raw, the flagship program of WWE, I'm not so sure that was a great idea. It was effective, though, as the crowd cheered heavily for Bryan afterwards and booed Cole. Despite being fired two weeks ago, Daniel Bryan happened to be in the building tonight and came to the ring, while Cole hid behind the four bodyguards. Bryan said that the bodyguards didn't need to be here and that he was going to apologize, and Cole stupidly sent the bodyguards out of the ring. The two shook hands, and then Bryan revealed that he was sorry that Cole was the worst announcer in WWE history. The bodyguards hit the ring again and separated the two, and Bryan went on his same rant as last week with WWE not wanting him to succeed, Miz being the worst pro out there (with Regal nodding his head yes again - gotta love Regal), etc. Cole answered back that Bryan didn't deserve favorable words, that he blamed everybody else for his problems but himself, and that despite being a submission expert, Bryan tapped out and was a loser with no heart, and then slapped Bryan very weakly. Bryan went after Cole again, but security held him back as Cole ran away. Despite this, Bryan evaded the poor security force and ran outside the ring and tackled Cole before being subdued, as Cole yelled at Bryan to apologize. Cole looked like he may have banged his head pretty badly there. As Bryan was walking off, Miz got hin his face, saying he was future endeavored and didn't deserve to be here, so Bryan popped him in the mouth and took him down. Another good, out of control segment that was an effective follow up to last week. Matt Striker filled in for Cole on commentary for the rest of the night.
- Wade Barrett continues to use Jericho's music, so I guess the Talk the Talk challenge he won didn't mean anything, making those stupid challenges even stupider in retrospect. It says something that they stopped doing the challenges even with more show to fill with rookies having been cut. Gabriel and Barrett had a good match, probably the best match since Daniel Bryan left the show. At one point, Gabriel hit a forearm, causing Striker to namedrop the late Mitsuharu Misawa. Gabriel winning was a surprise, and made me think for sure he would be the next rookie voted off based on previous voting patterns.
- The band that sings Wild and Young, the theme song of NXT, sat ringside. Somewhere, Bryan Alvarez threw something at his TV.
- They then revealed this week's Pros Poll: 1. Wade Barrett, 2. David Otunga, 3. Justin Gabriel, 4. Heath Slater. Striker asked Christian why he felt Slater was voted off, and Christian didn't really have an answer, as he kind of just talked without saying anything. Miz was also asked, and Miz questioned Slater's passion and heart. R-Truth said that WWE is survival of the fittest and wished him well in the future. Chris Jericho used his time to talk about Wade Barrett becoming the next star, but told Barrett he couldn't lose to guys like Gabriel anymore and get his head in the game. Slater's last remarks were to try to defend his track record, claiming WWE Magazine named him most impressive nickname and most impressive newcomer, and pointed to his victory over Chris Jericho as marks in his favor. Unfortunately, despite being a babyface, nobody seemed to care about Slater one way or another.
Overall, one of the better weeks of NXT. The opening tag was good when Otunga wasn't in the ring, the "main event" was a good singles match, and another strong Daniel Bryan angle. They even utilized the pros in the ring for the first time in weeks. The show seems to be picking up steam as the season ends, it will be worth keeping an eye on the ratings next week to see if anybody cares enough about the competition to watch the finale.
The last Cageside Rankings:
3) David Otunga (6-5, last week: 3) I THINK he has no chance of winning, because he's just not good enough to be the guy right now, but he does have more things WWE likes than things they don't.
2) Justin Gabriel (7-3, last week: 2) Could turn out to be a pretty decent babyface wrestler at some point. He pretty clearly survived this week because he's the only guy who can carry the other two remaining wrestlers through a last good match.
1) Wade Barrett (7-5, last week: 1) Wade Barrett will win NXT. It's somewhat surprising, as Barrett has been at the top of my rankings since March 30th, or two whole months, which makes me think he almost won't win it, if that makes any sense, since it would be anticlimatic for him to win in the end. Then again, he did lose this week so anything is possible.