-Sorry for the lateness, but being that I wanted the ability to pause the show that I was watching without missing several minutes of it, I opted to skip this past Tuesday’s live broadcast, and am instead catching the show on Youtube today, Thursday, December 16th. In the future, while I’ll always try to watch the live show, I can’t always guarantee that I’ll be available for a full recap/review/bear-baiting at those times, but I’ll do my best to catch up in the following days with viewings on Hulu or Youtube.
-I hear there’s an obstacle course in this one! How excited am I?
-You know, in the opening video of the show, I think that Derrick Bateman looks much more like Andy Samberg than he does Adam Sandler. Perhaps that’s what they meant last week.
-Again, we have Josh Matthews and Josh Grisham, with Matt Striker taking hosting duties, and MAN does the audience not care about any of these guys. Seriously, when Striker introduces them, the live crowd is deathly silent, the sole exception being a hoot or two for Byron Saxton. Man, Clay looks like he’s killed fools twice the size of the other rookies.
-I like the idea of the rookies winning “immunity points” instead of the pointlessness of most of the little stunts. Thanks for that little innovation, NXT Season 3! Jacob Novak earned one last week, where they showed their physical prowess through a little ladder-climbing contest, but tonight is about showing their ability to entertain. Please, lord, not a promo compe…hey, karaoke! Derrick Bateman and Johnny Curtis seem pretty stoked, and everyone else is somewhat less enthused. The live crowd is judging, and Conor O’Brian is first chosen to pick an envelope containing a Superstar’s entrance theme to sing. His theme: King Sheamus. I like that song, but it’s very, very likely that none of these guys can carry a tune, although I’m hoping that Brodus Clay has the voice of an angel.
-Conor seems up stoked, but man, is he awful. He’s game for it, but can’t seem to get the lyrics to the beat. It’s probably tough at first, but I’d hoped he’d be able to match the words with the music as it went on. Still, it’s terrible, but plus five points for putting the word, “See?” at the end of it, keeping with his rat-esque gimmick. Yeah, you look like a rat, but I don’t know if you should keep pushing that as your major calling card. Bateman is up next, and he picks…The Miz. He’s pretty excited about it, but he’s also pretty bad. Again, the tempo is just too far off. He ends the song with “Ragin’ Cajun Football rules!” which makes the live crowd pretty happy. Jacob Novak gets Dolph Ziggler, who just so happens to be his pro. His voice is really, really, really atrocious. He tries to talk some of it, but it’s just a disaster. He does make me laugh at the end, however, when he shouts at the crowd, “I’m a professional athlete, don’t boo me! I’m better than all of you!” Hooray for heels. Well, so far, Bateman might win by default if everyone else is just as god-awful, as he at least kind of figured out the tempo. Brodus Clay seems uncomfortable, and has Cody Rhodes’ song. He sucks, but there’s a bit of personality behind it. Dibiase is trying to hold back a smile…oh wait, no, never mind. Maryse’s face, however, it awesome, as she seems to be in half disbelief. Johnny Curtis has Randy Orton’s theme, and is way too excited. He starts on the ground viper-style, and Striker actually fake punts him at the end of it. The performance is mostly-talking, but it’s not the worst. Byron Saxton gets Shawn Michaels, and he’s easily the best singer, but it’s not as bizarrely entertaining as Clay’s was. Striker calls him “Carlton” and I’m not sure if that’s racist or not. Bateman gets a good response, but the audience is overwhelmingly on Saxton’s side, as well they should be.
-Josh Matthews is in disbelief that we just had a karaoke contest, and I can’t really say I blame him.
Rookie Video Package: Jacob Novak
-Crazy atheletic as a kid, playing just about every sport you can think of. He’s a bigger guy, but has some propensity for flying. He considers himself like Jack Swagger in both size and personality, and that he was drawn to WWE by the money and the spectacle. I’m pretty sure that the last part is gimmick, but he does like like a pretty little rich boy.
Match One: Byron Saxton and Chris Masters vs. Ted Dibiase (with Maryse) and Brodus Clay
-Josh says that Brodus is his favorite rookie, as he’s far more interesting than people think he is. Interesting note: Brodus wanted to be an astronaut growing up, but he was just too damn big. I’d believe it. He does have kind of a King-Kong Bundy thing going on, but a bit smaller. Saxton and Brodus lock up, and Brodus pushes him down a bunch of times, and Saxton gets out of job. Masterpiece tries to muscle up to him, but Brodus appears stronger, lifting him off the ground after a sunset flip attempt. He comes back with a few chops, but then gets thrown into the corner. He dodges a charge from Brodus, and tries to lock on the Masterlock, but Dibiase is in to break it up, giving Brodus the chance to hit a t-bone suplex. BIG elbow to Masters, and Brodus tags Dibiase in, who starts laying in kicks as we go to commercial.
-We return to thrilling headlockery by Dibiase on Chris Masters. More standard beating, and then a tag into Brodus, who avalanches Masters in the corner. As an English teacher, it kind of pains me to use “avalanche” as a verb, but in this context, it works. More beating on Masters before a tag back in to Dibiase, and the camera cuts to Maryse, who, in case you haven’t been paying attention these past several years, is stunning. Great dropkick by Dibiase, but Masters soon recovers with a Samoan drop. Tag into Saxton, and he immediately runs into a drop toehold by Dibiase. Brodus back in, and Saxton goes for a jumping axehandle on Brodus, who, of course, catches him, then hits a solid spinebuster. Dibiase wants back in, and gets it, but misses an elbow on Saxton, who quickly tags back in to Masters, who is raring to go. It appears that Saxton has a lot of personality, but zero real offense to speak of. I know it’s early, but he should be able to show something by now. Otherwise, he’s going to be the Jamie Keyes of Season 4. Masters is feeling the heat of the hot tag, taking out Dibiase and hitting Brodus on the apron. Solid spinebuster to Dibiase, but Brodus is in to break up the pin with an elbow, but Masters moves out of the way, and Brodus just goes back to the corner all sad and miffed at himself. Masters prepares for the Masterlock, but Saxton tags himself in, and almost immediately gets hit with Dream Street for the pin. Masters just watches him get pinned, too. Dude, he got hit with a finisher. You’re supposed to help him. Someone needs to explain tag teams to Masters again.
Winners: Ted Dibiase and Brodus Clay.
-Brodus Clay looked pretty solid, actually. Saxton, though…well, I’m not sure how much he has to offer as an in-ring competitor, as he wasn’t terribly impressive tonight.
-Backstage, Bateman is stretching, and our good friend Daniel Bryan comes onscreen to chat for a bit. Bryan figures that, because he’s wrestling Del Rio tonight, Bateman could stand to learn a new submission move. Bateman, as he always seems to be, is stoked. Bryan shows him a heel hook, but he just gets way, WAY to excited when demonstrating it on Bryan himself, shouting “SUBMISSION WRESTLING!” over and over again before Bryan has to kick him in the face to get his attention. I’d have done the same thing. Bryan apologizes, but tells him to prepare for his match as well as the obstacle course. My favorite parts are when he refers to his fists as “freedom” and “justice.” Bryan doesn’t seem to know just what to make of the kid, but I think he has some potential.
-Obstacle course time, and boy oh boy, am I excited. Notice that there’s no exclamation point in that last sentence. The omission is not an error. The obstacle course is the same as it’s always been. My wife, who’s on Facebook on our desktop computer, hears them talking about the obstacle course, and offers this gem: “This f*@king thing again?” Yes, dear. Novak goes first, and flies through it by and large, finishing the thing in 37.9. Not bad. Saxton is holding his neck, but he goes next at a bit of a gingerly pace. He has no trouble on the first two hurdles, but he takes a nasty spill on the last one. He screams through the pushups, and he’s just taking way, way, way too long to get anywhere, and he finally finishes at 1:02. Striker calls it a valiant effort, and I suppose it would be were he legitimately injured. O’Brian is next, and he also takes a rough spill on the last hurdle. Grisham makes a comment about him chewing through it (y’know, like a rat), but Matthews notes that it would have taken way too long. He does, however, crank out pushups like a man possessed. He finally gets across at 42.7. Derrick Bateman is next, and the crowd has some level of interest in him. He throws his shirt towards Alberto Del Rio, who just tosses it back to him. The kid’s in crazy good shape, and is just roaring through the thing. Unfortunately, he stumbles a bit before the balance beam, but finishes at 35.7, jumping on the cart has he passes the finish line. My wife: “At least this is better than a dance off.” Indeed it is, but only by the slimmest of margins. Johnny Curtis says that he’s feeling “gazelle-like” which is kind of funny, but Striker just seems to find it strange. Curtis is crazy fast, and kind of falls toward the end of the balance beam, but only slightly. I thought the ref told him to go, but he’s apparently been disqualified for falling off the beam. He had a winning time, too, but they’re not going to give it to him. Bummer for him. Brodus Clay, likely at the advice of Dibiase, pushes the hurdles aside, and is disqualified for touching an official or some nonsense. Striker announces that Curtis will get another shot (I’m guessing that, indeed, one of the refs messed up), and he’s actually FASTER this time, finishing at 31.4. Man, he just blew through that thing, and he gets two immunity points for winning. He lifts up two of the tires in victory, and hey, good for him.
Rookie Video Package: Johnny Curtis
-His first comment: “Ask me some questions I’m never going to be able to answer.” He’s got a bit of an odd sense of humor, and hey, he can juggle! Started out backyard wrestling in a ring in the woods with his friend Kevin. In 2005, however, Kevin was killed in a motorcycle accident, and on his tights, he has a set of dog tags, as he used to wear dog tags with Kevin’s name on them. He still does, apparently. My wife: “That’s a sad story and everything, but that’s totally what he tells girls when he’s at a bar. Brings in the…” And I’m not including the rest. Use your imagination, gentle readers, as she’s a classy, classy lady. Anyway, back to Curtis…I like the guy. Funny, sincere, athletic. He’s got my attention.
-Next up: Derrick Bateman is totally gonna get schooled by Alberto Del Rio!
-Raw Rebound, and I don’t care. I will say that Cena’s strategy of “taking all of the Nexus guys out” doesn’t really work, because it’s not as if beating Wade Barrett will make Nexus fall apart or anything. Everyone’s more or less healed from his previous beatings, so unless Cena starts hospitalizing them, it’s not as if he’s really changing anything.
-Backstage, Jacob Novak introduces himself to Vickie Guerrero, telling her that he had no idea how beautiful she’d be in person. He talks about how Kaitlyn treated her like garbage, and he’s looking for a bit of advice from her. Ziggler shows up, and essentially tells Novak to lay off his girl, but all passive agressively. Obviously, Novak has been watching the product for the last several years, and knows exactly how to get his bread buttered in the company. That…read a lot dirtier than I intended it.
-Why did WWE change the version of “Ride of the Valkyries” that Daniel Bryan uses? Why is the slightly synthed version better than the fully orchestrated one?
Match Two: Derrick Bateman vs. Alberto Del Rio
-Del Rio takes control immediately, beating up on Bateman with little trouble. Back suplex by Del Rio, followed by a number of right hands and elbows. Bateman comes back with a nice kick to Del Rio, who puts his head down, and follows with a nice-looking spinning neckbreaker. However, he tries to follow up with a dropkick to the corner, and Del Rio moves out of the way. One cross-armbreaker later, and this thing is over.
Winner: Alberto Del Rio
-That’s all, folks. My thoughts on the rooks thus far: Bateman has potential, as does Curtis. I like Clay, have no real thoughts on Novak or O’Brian as of yet. Saxton can definitely talk, and has personality to spare, but I have no idea if he can do any move more complicated than a lock-up as of yet.
-See you next week, kiddies.
Tags: alberto del rio, byron saxton, Daniel Bryan, derrick bateman, jacob novak, johnny curtis, WWE, wwe nxt, wwe nxt season 4