-Sorry that this is a bit late, but I wasn’t able to watch the show live last night, so I had to rely on my DVR…which was malfunctioning following a brief spat with the cable company, and I had to record it manually AFTER I saw that it wasn’t recording in the first place. Ah, technology. So, I lost the first few minutes, and came in on the entrance of Heath Slater to the opening tag match. Thus, if Matt Striker added another rule to the competition or Cole said something stupid, I don’t know about it yet. Regardless of my own personal issues with a DVR, you came here for recappery and coherent opinions and thoughts, and if they’re starting right off with a match, I suppose we better dive right in.
-But hey, Kofi’s in Money in the Bank! Too bad that this time next week, we’ll all be talking about how Drew McIntyre won it and saying mean things about Scottish people.
Match One: Justin Gabriel and Heath Slater vs. Wade Barrett and Skip Sheffield
-To some degree I like all of these guys, so hopefully this will be entertaining.
-“Coach Regal, I would like to please you very much. I will win the match, Coach Regal, and show that I am a great warriorSquirrel!…………….I will win the match and make you proud.” Oh man, that’s the metaphor that keeps on giving (if you’ve no idea what I’m talking about, you’ll have to check my previous recap. Continuity!
-Interesting sidenote is that the only pro ringside is William Regal, almost like teachers letting their student teachers fly solo for a bit, as they won’t learn to be on their own unless left to their own devices with no outside coaching or assistance. That, or maybe it’s that the other pros (Christian, Chris Jericho and Matt Hardy) have things to do, like prepare for Wrestlemania. Poor William Regal…but I digress.
-As if to bite his thumb at me, Christian comes out to ringside, which earns a major pop from the audience. Thanks for coming out as soon as I finished writing the previous sentence, Christian. That makes me look like a shining star. A big, bright, shining star.
-Cole goes over the criteria for the “Pro’s Poll” next week, where they’ll vote on the rookies: Win/Loss Record, Strength of Opponent, Work Ethic, and It-Factor. Cole also thinks that Heath Slater is the best combination of all of those things, while Matthews picks David Otunga based on “It Factor” and Daniel Bryan on “Strength of Opponent.” I generally agree, although I think they just want David Otunga to have the It Factor, because his real-life connections to Hollywood and, fairly enough, to Harvard are going to make him hard to pass up regardless of anything he’s capable or incapable of.
-Oh, and Wade Barrett calls he and Chris Jericho “The Commonwealth Connection,” which I like because it makes me think of the Can-Am Connection, and anything that makes me think of Tom Zenk is a-okay in my book. It’s just a fun name. Heh…Zenk.
-Right, wrestling match going on! It’s okay. How’s that for expert analysis? Sheffild busts out a delayed gourdbuster, which looks nice. Not nice in the “puppies and linens” kind of way, but it looks painful and effective, which I suppose isn’t very nice at all. Wade Barrett prefers to tag himself in, but openly tag out to Sheffield, which is a neat little character trait which I think they should keep up. Everyone in the ring is totally capable, but Gabriel fluctuates with me between someone I think is really talented and someone I think has a few decent moves and not much else. Endgame comes with heel miscommunication, where Slater dodges a running boot from Barrett that clocks Sheffield right in the face, and Gabriel does a springboard…nothing onto Barret, more jumping gently off the ropes and punching him in the head than anything else. See what I mean? Slater pins Sheffield, and William Regal’s look of disgust is, right now, my early highlight of the night.
Winners: Heath Slater and Justin Gabriel
-I don’t know what it says about the rookies, or me, that my favorite parts of NXT are seeing what the pros do on the outside. I love that Regal is in this role, because he’s just bloody brilliant at it. He is easily one of the most underrated actors in the company, and I really hope that WWE will allow this guy to be a part of anything remotely interesting over the course of next year. He may never be world champ, and I’m okay with that, but he could easily be involved in feuds for tag team, IC or US titles. Hell, if you don’t like his ring work anymore, just use him as a manager, and the guy would still be more entertaining than 75% of the roster.
Segment One: Daniel Bryan
-It’s the same video recap they’ve already shown. It’s interesting to see all of the older pictures of Bryan Danielson with titles, but “Daniel Bryan” has been photoshopped to replace his real name. Eh, whatever. He talks about how he’s a pretty laid back guy, and I wonder if that’s going to hurt him in WWE’s over the top environment. RVD was laid back (read: stoned), and while I don’t think Bryan uses the same recreational methods, it’s tough to cheer for more relaxed characters. That being said, Bryan is intense enough in the ring that I don’t think it should be too bad. Don’t be too scared, Pulse Glazer! At least, not yet…
-Recap of Shawn vs. Undertaker. Who wants to put money down that Shawn actually retires if he loses? Well, even if they’re spending precious television time on this, it’s a hell of a video recap.
-Recap of Bret vs. Vince. I’m guessing we’re not going to get a ton of wrestling tonight, but hey, you gotta sell your supershow, so I suppose I understand.
Segment Two: Darren Young
-Unless I say otherwise, from now on, it’s just the same video recap as they showed the first few weeks. Anywho, I think it’s worth noting that Darren Young does fill an interesting little niche: he’s just kind of a fun-loving guy who sometimes has charisma coming out in spades, and isn’t relying on the “big strong angry black guy” gimmick that has essentially been used before, nor does he fall into the “hood” gimmick that Cryme Tyme uses, although the fear is always that a black wrestler that’s too goofy will fall into more of a “Stepin Fetchit” category, or something analog to it. Hell, tons of people hate Cryme Tyme for just that reason, but it’s probably equal to the amount of people that love them for the exact same thing. Honestly, I don’t know where to fall on Young, as he comes off as someone that’s serious and sincere in his interview, but his ring work fluctuates, and I’m not sure where his character is going to end up. If he rebels against CM Punk, he stays at the South Beach Party Boy, but if he joins the Straight Edge Society, he becomes another big dude to hang out with them. Mixed bag.
-Recap of Wrestlemania 21. Oh yeah, Edge won the first Money in the Bank. I don’t know how I could have possibly forgotten that, but there you go. It’s only been five years, too.
-Recap of Batista and Cena’s feud. Batista’s had some pretty dynamite promos the last few weeks. I especially liked this past Monday, where he talked about how he loved fat people at the shows because they had to buy two seats. I’m digging this heel Batista, and almost want him to win this Sunday just to see what other asinine, horrible things he can say. I think Cena’s got him beat, but you never know.
-Hey, there’s something on NXT again, as CM Punk comes out with the SES, David Otunga and Darren Young. It should be noted that David Otunga, with his shades and his hoody, already looks like a member of the SES, and there could be something to that if WWE ever decides to act on it. CM Punk, as if to prove his unmitigated awesomeness, is chewing bubblegum and blows a big ol’ pink bubble while he’s kneeling down in front of his team. Brilliance, brilliance, brilliance. Young is also giving some hard looks and harsh words to the SES, and Luke Gallows especially. He DID give him the 12 Steps/Gallows Pole last week, so I guess that makes sense. Actually, Young seeming worried about his situation makes him so much more interesting. After all, he wants to do well in WWE, but his mentor treats him like a housecat and now actively sics his monster on him. He’s trapped, and he’s acting it, and it makes him so much more three-dimensional than the “South Beach Party Boy” nonsense. This makes him a person, and I can get behind a person a lot more than a gimmick or a haircut.
-Recap of Miz and David Otunga at a Syfy party at MOMA. Note to David Otunga: It’s not the MOMA Museum, it’s MOMA. If it were the MOMA Museum, it would be the “Museum of Modern Art Museum.” Sounds a bit redundant, no? Miz says that Otunga is a star, and he is a star, and so of course they’re there together. I could get behind those guys as a unit if it ever came to that. Hmmm…might have to reconsider my position on Otunga, as I’ve now mentioned two different areas where he could fit. Apparently, he does have some use after all, other than marrying Jennifer Hudson, of course. Jennifer Hudson, who was in DREAMGIRLS. Not Showgirls, as I said last week. DREAMGIRLS.
-Actually, you could do a lot worse than having Miz and Otunga as representatives for the company. Both are well-spoken and (yes, Otunga too) charismatic, so why not?
-Commercial note: saw a commercial for an acid relux pill called Aciphex. Sound it out. Then giggle.
-Carlito comes out with Michael Tarver (who has an awesome “RUN NXT” shirt), and Daniel Bryan actually cuts right through Tarver and Carlito, which is kind of a dick move, and Tarver and Carlito look at him as such, then look at each other, as if to say, appropriately, “what a dick.”
Match Two: Darren Young and David Otunga vs. Michael Tarver and Daniel Bryan
-I’ve decided that I like Tarver. I love the idea that he’s a man of integrity who’s had hard times, and he’s really good at beating people up. Also, Michael Cole says that Daniel Bryan has no charisma, and that’s NOT TRUE. Steve Blackman had no charisma. Gangrel had no charisma (listen to him speak on a microphone…painful). Daniel Bryan has a level of charisma, it’s just not Miz-style charisma. Cole, when you say those things, some people might believe you, so cut that crap out.
-During the match, while Darren Young is beating on Tarver, the camera cuts to CM Punk sitting on the ring steps, not even watching the match, chatting with Serena and Gallows, and even Matthews starts laughing. I laughed out loud, myself, so I can’t say I blame him. Daniel Bryan looks good, and the fans react to his moves, which is good, but at the same time, his moves aren’t always big and flashy, and it’s the big picture of his matches that make them so good. However, there’s a really neat sequence where Bryan is whipped to the corner, but he stops short, slides under the legs of Young, then grabs him in a guillotine choke, which the crowd digs. Then, when he gets Young to the ground, he transitions into some crazy triangle crossface move that I’ve never seen before, and that draws a couple of oohs and aahs. Nicely done. I rewind it to see it again, in fact. Matthews calls it an omoplatta, and I’m probably spelling it wrong.
-Tarver is arguing with Gallows, and I have a feeling this isn’t going to end well for Tarver and Bryan. And, actually, it doesn’t. Tarver gets on the ring more or less in time, but Otunga gets tagged in, and Bryan doesn’t really have time to tag out, but throws Otunga into Tarver, who is knocked off the apron to the outside. Bryan goes for a second rope dropkick on Otunga, but misses. One Otunga spinebuster, and it’s over. CM Punk moves his finger in a little circle, and I think he actually mouths “whoop-de-doo” to Serena, who looks on with disgust. Am I the only one who finds Serena more attractive than most of the other Divas, regardless, or because of, her shaved head and normal body proportions?
Winners: David Otunga and Michael Tarver
-At this point, I may need to echo the feelings of some of my friends in the IWC (all two of them) that Bryan’s losing streak isn’t doing anything for him anymore. Hey, there’s no shame in losing to Chris Jericho or The Great Khali, but he really needs to get a win under his belt, or fans are never going to buy him as being all that good. I got it at first, but at this point it’s getting a little ridiculous, and makes me wonder if WWE really has no plans for the guy, and that NXT isn’t there to make him into a big star, as a good friend of mine believes. The thing with WWE pushes is that fans get behind a winner, even if they hated that winner in the first place. HHH won every freaking match he was in, and so people started to believe him as a big time heel. Drew McIntyre was undefeated legitmately (an odd term to use in a fake sport), and so people bought him. People still aren’t buying Sheamus as much because he was a fluke champion who never decisively beat John Cena, although he sure beat up people half his size real good. My point is that Bryan needs to win at least one single match, as wrestlers need to be established before you can give them the losing streak gimmick. It didn’t turn out too well for Public Enemy, but it made MVP into a halfway decent face. It’s such a slippery slope, and WWE isn’t exactly known for subtle storytelling, although they have their moments.
-That being said, it was a two match show with a crapload of commercials for Wrestlemania. Hey, the card looks good, and I’ll be watching it at a local bar, so if any of ya’ll are in the central NJ area, send me a message and maybe I’ll save you a seat. Just don’t act like a total mark and yell out “You can’t see me” and nonsense like that.
-Comments below, friends. I think that’s all I’ve got for this week.
Tags: cm punk, Daniel Bryan, Darren Young, David Otunga, Justin Gabriel, Michael Tarver, NXT, Skip Sheffield, Wade Barrett, William Regal