-A friend of mine has been casually watching the program, and has recently dubbed it “The Bryan Danielson Show.” It’s interesting that despite not having won a single match since his television debut, Daniel Bryan (or whatever you would like to call him) has somehow made the show his in the eyes of the average viewer. Also interesting is that David Otunga has been featured in some sense on every show, despite seeming green as grass, and despite being featured in promotions for the show just as strong as Bryan, still doesn’t seem to be catching on. Hey, as I established in my first NXT column, I love new wrestlers premiering, and in that spirit have been happy with Daniel Bryan, Justin Gabriel and Wade Barrett (the last one primarily out of character and presence alone), but I have a bad feeling that Otunga will end up on one of the rosters as the show ends due to his mainstream connection. I loved Jennifer Hudson in Showgirls, but it doesn’t mean her husband is ready for primetime. Maybe Vince is hoping that by featuring him, they can get her to guest host Raw or something.
-Oh, and a quick side note; why the hell isn’t Kofi Kingston in Money in the Bank? How is that four months ago he was main event ready, and getting crazy pops, and now he’s jobbing to Batista in three minutes? After his loss to Orton back then, my friends and I figured that he was destined to win MITB, and now he may not even be on the Wrestlemania card? I would also like to point out that there are now nine people in MITB, only two or three of which have the slightest chance of winning, and Sheamus is wrestling HHH. There is no Wrestling God.
-Okay, let’s roll.
-Hooray, CM Punk is coming out to do something that entertains me! Huzzah! Darren Young looks confused or conflicted just walking down to the ring, and I can’t figure out why just yet. Maybe I’m looking a little too deeply into this, but is Young uncomfortable with his mentor’s heel nature and straight edge pressure?
-Matt Striker pops up on our screen and reveals something that’s certainly news to me; in two weeks, the first round of votes are coming up, and a wrestler may even be sent home. Wha?! WWE, this whole thing is scripted, and it’s making my head hurt when you’re trying to convince us tht there’s some sense of reality to any of this. If it’s Michael Tarver, that would be tremendously unfair, as the guy’s had, at last count, one match.
Match One: Darren Young and CM Punk vs. Matt Hardy and Justin Gabriel
-There’s my point: this is Gabriel’s third match, and I can’t even remember when Tarver was in the ring. I assume it was the first show. If he gets canned, he should start screaming about how there hasn’t been a screwing this bad since Public Enemy.
-Some dudes in the crowd started a CM Punk chant, only for the rest of the crowd to respond with one for Matt Hardy. Really? Well, no accounting for taste. That being said, when Punk lacksadaisically tags in, the crowd boos viciously, although settles down when he starts pummeling Gabriel.
-Gabriel does a spin kick which Young totally falls down too early for, but I’m not sure whose fault it is. I like Gabriel, but he is still a bit green, and Young, crazily enough, is actually looking alright tonight. And by alright, I mean not completely godawful as he did in his match with Otunga. Young is a physically imposing figure, and so when he plays it a bit more serious, as he is tonight, he comes off as daunting and, dare I say it, dangerous.
-Did Justin Gabriel just try a basic splash on Punk? He weighs like 180 pounds. CM Punk blocks it with his knees and shows him the right move to do for someone of his size, which is a double stomp to the gut. See, Punk teaches even those he isn’t assigned to mentor. Gabriel recovers, however, with a nice spin kick to the face of Young, and goes up for a 450, but takes too long posturing to the audience and misses it. Ick. I always feel like the slightest screw up on one of those things and a miss can break a guy’s neck. Of course, I imagine landing on someone for one of those isn’t THAT much more comfortable, but it’s something slightly squishier. Punk tags in to try to steal the pin, but Gabriel kicks out at 2.98. Wow, close call. Punk cinches in some bodyscissors because I suppose he thought that we were all enjoying ourselves too much. Afterwards, naturally, Punk goes and hits Matt Hardy, because he’s untrustworthy and was probably going to run in any minute, causing havoc and chaos while obviously ignoring the referee’s orders. See, Punk isn’t only smart, but wants to make sure that everyone follows the rules. Big counter from Gabriel, however, when he dropkicks CM Punk in the gut following an attempted springboard clothesline.
-Hardy has abandoned the key tights; I wonder why. Oh wait, it’s because the tights made him look fat. Wrestlers are a lot like teenage girls in that sense. Hardy clotheslines Young and himself to the outside, and Luke Gallows decides to cause some mischief (while Serena distracts the ref) with mixed results: a solid uppercut to the face for Justin Gabriel (win) only to walk into a side effect on the floor from Hardy (fail). Wow, this is like a real wrestling match and everything. It’s not amazing, but it’s certainly watchable, and makes everyone look proficient if nothing else. When everyone recovers, Hardy prepares to hit Young with the Twist of Fate in the ring, but Gallows distracts the ref, which allows Punk to run in and put Hardy to sleep, and Young makes the pin.
Winners: Darren Young and CM Punk
-Post match, Gallows beats up Gabriel, and Young and Punk exchange high tens…only for Young to get kicked in the head by Gallows, who follows up with The Gallows Pole/The Twelve Steps. Punk, Gallows, and Serena reign supreme, and the announcers put over how Young did everything that Punk wanted him to, and Punk even seemed to celebrate with him for a minute before casually allowing Gallows to destroy him. Maybe the message we’re supposed to be sent here is that it doesn’t matter what Young does; if he’s not straight edge, Punk isn’t going to give a damn about him, and will, in fact, beat him up just for existing. So now, Young may have to make a choice to join the Straight Edge Society, or rebel against his mentor. Matthews suggests professional jealousy, but I’m not buying it.
-Up next…Daniel Bryan vs. The Great Khali! How good IS Daniel Bryan? Can he get a watchable match out of Khali? Stay tuned!
(Spoiler Alert: No.)
-By the way, I recommend following Daniel Bryan’s Twitter account at DanielBryanNXT. He’s laid back, open, and fun.
-Matthews goes on an interesting little mini-rant questioning why Cole doesn’t like Daniel Bryan, and basically lays it out as such: he’s part of a world that Cole doesn’t understand, because Cole lives in a little WWE bubble where the only things that matter are those in WWE and nothing outside of it has any relevance. Cole doesn’t really defend his opinion, although Cole does point out one of my favorite parts of Bryan’s Twitter account: The DBMM, or Daniel Bryan Manliness Meter, where he measures the manliness of various things he encounters throughout the day. He seems to misinterpret the inherent silliness of the whole thing, which Bryan is aware of, but Cole is slowly learning.
Daniel Bryan vs. Great Khali
-Khali throws him around a bit, but when he goes for the tree slam, Danielson locks in a guillotine choke, and actually brings the big dude down to his knees. Meanwhile, Cole snidely mentions that Bryan goes to bed at 8 PM (except for tonight, I guess), and that he doesn’t even own a television. Matthews: “So what, he doesn’t own a tv.” Cole: “We’re on tv, Josh.” Indeed we are, Michael Cole. Indeed we are.
-Bryan breaks the coke, and tries to kick Khali in the chest to no effect, but a kick to the head takes the big man down, as does a top rope dropkick. However, Bryan’s dead when he jumps off the top rope and right into a Khali chop. Tree slam, one foot pin, Bryan is 0-4.
Winner: The Great Khali
-And now, Big Show comes out to chokeslam Daniel Bryan. And then he leaves. Great Khali stands there, unsure of what emotion he’s supposed to pretend that he’s feeling. And now he’s leaving. Okay then.
-Next, Skip Sheffield vs. Wade Barrett, and it’s the main event. Really?
-Raw Recap, Wrestlemania Rundown
-David Otunga video package, the exact same one that was shown on the first episode. Read my first Breaking Holds Special to see my thoughts on it.
-Oh, and apparently, we’re getting Michael Tarver vs. Heath Slater next. Stop confusing me, Next Graphic!
Heath Slater vs. Michael Tarver
-For what it’s worth, both men enter without their mentors. Might be meaningless, but seemed worth noting.
-Nice little match, with Slater busting out a corkscrew plancha onto Tarver. Keep doing moves like that, Heath, and people will get behind you just fine. Back in, Tarver dodges a corner splash by Slater, and delivers a vicious running boot to the back of his head. Geez, how did the crowd not react to that? Did they waste all of their energy chanting “Hardy” at the beginning of the show?
-Ah, the pros are backstage watching on television. Christian shoots a couple of quick glances at Carlito as if he’s farted or something, and I note that I should chuckle about that or something.
-I think the announcers reversed roles for a bit; Cole is running down Michael Tarver’s biography, and man, he’s full of surprises. First of all, he has FIVE children, which Matthews doesn’t think is so bad. Cole then reveals that he used to live in his Ford Explorer, and Matthews responds with, “That’s a roomy SUV.” After Cole details his job history as he tried to support his family, Matthews asks, “So what, I’m supposed to feel bad for Michael Tarver?” YES, you inconsiderate doorknob.
-Slater gets the pin with a cool little rollup out of the corner, but Tarver attacks him after the bell. Hey, I would have too, he was dancing around like a loon. Dude, his mentor is a HEEL. Watch your back, Nancy. Tarver hits an awesome T-bone suplex on Slater, makes a t-symbol with his arms, and leaves.
Winner: Heath Slater
-Both of those guys looked good tonight, and it’s certainly the best Heath Slater has looked. I now like both of these guys.
-Backstage, Skip Sheffield is talking with Regal, and I really love this pairing. Sheffield is so incredibly respectful to Regal, calling him sir, and only wanting to please him, and Regal just hates him SO much because he won’t shut up. Sheffield is just a happy little puppy only wanting to make his master happy, and Regal almost seems to want to help him, but just can’t get through his inability to shut up when Regal is talking to him. Sheffield: “Sir, you are a fountain of knowledge-” Regal: “I know I’m a fountain of knowledge, but you can’t keep talking while-” Sheffield: “And you’ve already taught me so much, and-” etc. Regal walks off in disgust. Beautiful. It’s like he’s Dug from Up.
Skip Sheffield vs. Wade Barrett
-Two big dudes, and Cole mentions that Sheffield is very agile for his size, and he’s dead right. He’s huge, and certainly isn’t on steroids of any kind (WINK), but he’s almost shockingly fast for a man of his size. A highlight of the match, naturally, is Chris Jericho screaming at the announcers to point out how great Barrett is, and when the announcers say they are, Jericho yells at them, “More!” He nearly cracks a smile on camera, which almost makes him more awesome.
-Also worth noting: the back of Sheffield’s trunks say “SHOOOOOOT!” and I really like that for some reason.
-Oh yeah, the match. It’s alright. Sheffield totally loses any cowboy nature to his character once he’s in the ring, but I’m fine with that. Both of these guys are big, and fast for their size, but they’re a bit boring in the ring generally. Barrett ends up pulling Sheffield off the second rope, and then finishing with his fireman’s slam. I really don’t like that finisher, as it just doesn’t seem terribly impressive. Sheffield’s loss just makes Regal look startlingly depressed, and Regal walks after Jericho and Barrett as they leave, and…is Regal trying to suggest to Barrett that they could work well together at some point? I’m not quite making it out. Still, that could be a neat twist, with Barrett ultimately walking out on Jericho to work with Regal. Rue Britannia, indeed.
Winner: Wade Barrett
-Hey, there was wrestling! That was cool and all, although I’m wondering where we get to the part with Daniel Bryan winning. Sure, I’m one of those biased Internet fans that wants to see the guy be a main eventer tomorrow and have him make Cena and Batista tap out in a triple threat elimination match at Wrestlemania, but we have to be realistic. WWE obviously sees something in the guy, and isn’t jobbing him out just for the sake of doing so. I’m assuming there’s a longer term plan here with him, and if there’s not, well, then I suppose we’ll all just have a good cry when this is all over.
-I find myself more interested in Heath Slater and Michael Tarver after their match, and Darren Young even climbed a few spots. I’m still not sure about Sheffield, and Wade Barrett kind of disappointed me this week. I’m sure he’s crying his eyes out about that one. Ultimately, I thought it was a fine show, but for some reason, it didn’t grab me as anything special. Not that weekly television always has to be special, mind you, but the show still feels like it has training wheels on it. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it’s just not riveting television. It is decent television, however, and seems to have more of a plan than any other wrestling show on television, or at least it definitely will once Wrestlemania is done.
-So when does Daniel Bryan get to win a match? Does he win one in the first ten weeks of NXT? If he doesn’t, will he still remain popular as long as they put him in situations where he’s losing against world champions and giants?
-That’s all for tonight; comment away, and I’ll see you next week.
Tags: cm punk, Daniel Bryan, Darren Young, Heath Slater, Justin Gabriel, Michael Tarver, NXT, Skip Sheffield, Wade Barrett