The Write Off: WWE NXT — February 23, 2010

-Our host is Matt Striker and Michael Cole and Josh Matthews are on commentary because the WWE just wouldn’t be the WWE without Michael Cole.

-Can’t say I like the theme for this sound. It’s far too mellow for such a serious show.

-All eight of the NXT superstars are shown lined up in the back. The Miz then appears and asks for Daniel Bryan to step forward. He says he’s the Unified tag team and United States champion and says that Bryan is his rookie and that he’s an Internet sensation. He says Daniel Bryan should expect anything and that he should go to the ring to introduce himself and give people a reason to tune in. Miz says Bryan’s personality is as dry as the Sahara Desert so he says he might have to slap some personality into him.

-Daniel Bryan gets in the ring and has a flub on the mic early. He says he’s wrestled for ten years, but before he can say too much the Miz interrupts him. Bryan tells the Miz to watch his mouth or he’ll submit him. Bryan takes a dig at the Miz being on the Real World and the Miz just responds by saying his catch phrase. Bryan comes back and says that if the Miz stepped in the ring he’d have two options “to tap or to snap.” Seems like a good catch phrase to me. Miz asks what the crowd thinks and they seem to approve of Bryan’s in-ring mic skills. The Miz says Bryan failed anyway and then slaps him in the ring before leaving. After seeing a replay of the slap, Bryan says he’ll be slapping the Miz sooner or later. Good segment to introduce Bryan and he recovered from some jitters early. It’s definitely better than an Abraham Washington segment.

-Elimination Chamber highlights.

-Striker interviews Bryan backstage and he says getting slapped wasn’t embarrassing and that when he slaps the Miz back he’ll slap harder. Bryan says he can threaten the Miz because he’s been in wrestling for a lot longer than the Miz. Striker says to be in the WWE he’ll have to listen to the Miz.

-Cole announces that Bryan will face World Champion Chris Jericho tonight. I approve.

Opening Contest: Michael Tarver & Carlito vs. Heath Slater & Christian:

Carlito introduces people to his rookie, Michael Tarver who has a boxing gimmick. They show a nice vignette for Tarver where he says his nickname is “Mr. 1.9 Seconds” and describes some of his background. We then get a vignette for Slater, who is doing a rock and roll gimmick. Our first match starts with Carlito and Slater. Slater gets a quick schoolboy for two. Carlito doesn’t take too kindly to that and take Slater to the buckle. Cole says that Slater didn’t show Carlito much respect. What was he supposed to do? Allow Carlito to get in a free blow to start the match? Tarver gets tagged in and he unleashes some boxing punches that remind me of Kama in 1995. However, Slater turns the tide with a flying forearm and an armdrag. Tarver gets a drop toe hold off the ropes and then chokes Slater on the second rope. Carlito gets in a cheap shot as Tarver distracts the referee for two. Tag Carlito and he gets two off of a DDT. The action slows down as Tarver and Carlito apply some chinlocks to Slater. Slater hits a powerslam off the ropes for a brief double KO (that it looked like Slater forgot about and had to fall back down all of a sudden) and we get tags to both veterans to a small crowd reaction. I should also mention that we are getting some different camera angles for the in-ring action and it is a little disorienting. Christian knocks Carlito down off the ropes and a missile dropkick gets two. Killswitch by Christian is countered twice by Carlito, but a blinde charge eats a reverse boot and Christian gets a sunset flip for two. Everything breaks down from there, with Slater pulling Carlito to the floor, and Christian pins Tarver with a Kill Switch at 4:23. Solid, paint by the numbers tag team match that did a nice job showcasing the rookies for a lot of it, but the chinlock spot really ruined some of the good momentum it was building early. *½

-WrestleMania 26 promo.

-“The South Beach Party Boy” Darren Young (w/the Straight Edge Society) vs. David Otunga (w/R-Truth):

CM Punk is shown saying that he doesn’t understand why he’s on the show and says if Young wants to be mentored he had better accept Straight Edge into his life. Otunga is doing a Hollywood gimmick and has a great line where he calls for people to Google him. Lockup starts and Young gets a knee to the gut. Young hits an elbow off the ropes for two. Otunga hits some elbows after ducking a clothesline and then hits a spinebuster variation off the ropes for the win in 38 seconds. Well, this clearly tells us who the WWE plans not to push out of this show although it fits Young’s situation where the Straight Edge Society could care less about him and not get him prepared for the match. R-Truth’s rap was longer than the match. Not even worth a rating.

-Recap of the Miz slapping Bryan earlier.

-Monday Night Raw highlights package.

-Next week: Justin Gabriel (Matt Hardy’s rookie) comes to NXT.

-Main Event: Chris Jericho (World Heavyweight Champion w/Wade Barrett) vs. Daniel Bryan (w/the Miz):

This is the right booking strategy for the first show. Barrett is sporting an English gimmick and he towers over Jericho. Jericho has Barrett do the introduction and he says he’s honored to be paired with Jericho as the stupid “what” chants start up. He goes on too long and Jericho gets irritated and says he just wants to be introduced so Barrett does that. Bryan goes past Miz to get into the ring quickly and we go to commercial. Jericho yells at Bryan to start and then pushes him away. Bryan slaps back and nails a dropkick. Bryan hits a forearm as Jericho is in the corner and Jericho cheap shots over the referee. Jericho hits a dropkick and gives Bryan a beat down. Jericho hits a side suplex, a snapmare, and locks in a chinlock. Bryan fights out and gets a schoolboy off the ropes for two. However, Jericho hits an enziguri for a near-fall. Jericho delivers some shoulder thrusts to Bryan in the corner as Striker interviews Barrett at ringside. Jericho goes shoulder-first into the ring post on a blind charge and Bryan nails a dragon screw, which Jericho botches, and running knee for two. Bryan flips off the top rope over Jericho on a charge and hits a falling clothesline for two. Cole heels it up by criticizing the Internet as Bryan knocks Jericho to the floor. Bryan tries a suicide dive and Jericho takes him and slams him into the announce table. OUCH. Bryan tosses Jericho into the ring, but Jericho moves back from a slingshot dropkick and tries the Walls. However, Bryan counters and puts Jericho is a leg lock. Jericho screams but gets to the ropes. Jericho hits a Codebreaker out of nowhere and applies the Liontamer as Bryan taps out at 5:55. Afterwards, Miz comes into the ring and beats Bryan down. Cole again goes on his respect rant. Nice psychology for the finish as Bryan had hurt his back from the table spot earlier. More time would’ve been nice but there’s only so much they can do on a one hour show. **

The Final Report: Very strong show for the debut of NXT. Although not all of the guys got face time, which is to be expected of an one hour show, the ones that did appear got a good amount of attention and the pairings should be interesting to watch. With a strong WrestleMania build and this show getting off on the right foot, things are looking good for the WWE.

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