This Week in ‘E – NXT Season On…

Everything you need to know about NXT season 2, more on WWE’s blood policy and Chris Jericho continues to be awesome in the world of entertainment.

Opening Witty Banter
I probably had something all witty lined up to write here at one point, but I’m utterly wiped out from a work-filled weekend. Time to read the news before I fall asleep at my computer.

Let’s take some ‘E…

The News of the Week
This past week it was the season finale of NXT, where Wade Barrrett was unsurprisingly crowned the winner of the season and was named the company’s “Next Breakout Star.” For his troubles he will receive a Championship match of his choosing at an upcoming WWE pay per view. Barrett essentially secured his victory tonight when he won a triple threat elimination match over his two fellow finalists, Justin Gabriel and David “A-List” Otunga. Gabriel hit Otunga with his patented 450 Splash, but Barrett intervened, threw Gabriel outside the ring and took the pin for himself. Then minutes later when Gabriel tried for another 450 Splash, Barrett put his knees up and cradled Gabriel for the victory. Throughout the night, the Pros released two Pros’ polls. In the first one, immediately after the triple threat match, Gabriel was ranked third and thus was eliminated from the competition. In the final moments of the episode another Pros’ was released with Barrett emerging #1 over the #2 ranked Otunga.

Season two will begin next week in the current NXT timeslot, 9 PM CST, on the SyFy Network. Unlike the first season, it was announced that the fans would help decide who wins NXT season 2. The eight Pros will now have only 50% of the voting power while the fans and viewing public will also have 50%, thus allowing for public popularity to play into the voting and outcome.

Throughout the night during the season finale, the Rookies and Pros for season two were announced. Among those included in season two are two third generation wrestlers. Those include ill named Husky Harris, who is the grandson of the legendary Blackjack Mulligan and the son of Mike Rotunda, better known as Irwin R. Schyster (IRS.) His real name is Windham Rotunda and currently works in Florida Championship Wrestling under the name Windham Rotunda. The other is the terribly named Michael McGillicutty, who is better known as Joe Hennig, the grandson of Larry “The Ax” Hennig and the son of the legendary Hall of Fame star “Mr. Perfect” Curt Hennig. That nickname has to be some sort of awful inside joke.

Season Two Rookies and Pros
Husky Harris, who will be mentored by Cody Rhodes
Eli Cottonwood, who will be mentored by John Morrison
Percy Watson, who will be mentored by Montel Vontavious Porter
Titus O’Neil, who will be mentored by Zack Ryder
Kaval, who will be mentored by Michelle McCool & Layla
Lucky Cannon, who will be mentored by Mark Henry
Michael McGillicutty, who will be mentored by Kofi Kingston
Alex Riley, who will be mentored by The Miz

After the show aired, PWInsider relayed some observations from those in attendance while watching the rest of the Rookies watch the show. The eliminated rookies were cracking jokes with each other and having a good time. Daniel Bryan had a shocked and like he was about to burst out laughing look on his face when they announced Kaval and LayCool were a pairing. When the video for Percy Watson played, the crowd was bewildered by it. Darren Young and Heath Slater burst out laughing. Daniel Bryan and Michael Tarver nearly fell out of their chairs laughing at Barrett’s line about Great Khali being more graceful than David Otunga. After it was over, Jericho went up to the Rookies and said he expects to see all of them in WWE soon and pointed to Bryan and said, “You especially.”

I must say NXT really picked up in the final few weeks with the eliminations and odyssey of Daniel Bryan. It was nearly unbearable during the middle of the season with the awful challenges and no clear end in sight, but the end was good fun. How about William Regal’s awesome, awesome shoot-like promo while they killed time before announcing the winner? I about fell out of my chair when he called The Miz “Kermit” and Matt Hardy “Eugene.” It just completely broke down with Regal threatening to fight everyone, Christian throwing jabs at Regal, Truth “poppin’ and locking” and then a masked CM Punk just throwing his hands up in the air and walking off set. It was pure gold. Barrett was no-brainer to win although Gabriel maybe could’ve used the victory to get the rub that Barrett really doesn’t need.

Okay, now for the good stuff. Let’s break down the new cast of Rookies and Pros…

Husky Harris, to be mentored by Cody Rhodes:
I can understand the pairing of Harris and Rhodes based on their legacies in the industry. But Husky Harris? What a friggin’ awful name. It sounds like a mid ‘80s jobber from the AWA. How the hell is he going to get over with that name? I completely understand WWE copyrighting these kids’ new monikers for intellectual purposes, but what was wrong with his FCW name, Duke Rotunda? It’s still a WWE-ized name but still plays homage to his old man. I mean his real name is “Windham Rotunda.” It’s like they melded two industry legends into one heavyset package. He looks more like his grandpa Blackjack Mulligan than his toned up, babyface-looking old man, but if he’s got half the talent of any of the three of them he should be alright.

Eli Cottonwood, to be mentored by John Morrison:
Cottonwood is a big 7 footer who’s only just over 300 pounds so he’s built like an awkward teenager. His name is the same he’s been using in FCW forever and plays up his past gimmick as a simple, country boy giant.

Percy Watson, to be mentored by MVP:
“Pretty” Percy was the South Beach tag team partner of Darren Young, but is rife with the charisma Young lacked. His pairing with MVP should be one of those “control groups” where they bond together well, but I don’t see him going real far in this new setting. At the very least in the future he and Young could be paired back up to provided a much needed tag team to the ranks.

Titus O’Neil, to be mentored by Zack Ryder:
I’ve never seen Titus in action. All I know he’s a powerful former football player, so he and Ryder should clash greatly.

Kaval, to be mentored by LayCool:
If this were to have happened in season one, even more heads would have proverbially exploded. But after we saw how things worked with Daniel Bryan and The Miz then it’s obvious what is going on here. Kaval has more years of in-ring experience than both Layla and McCool combined, but this partnership will be part of his welcome into the World Wrestling Entertainment Universe. While his NXT pairing with SmackDown’s top Divas seems illogical, it is just his first hurdle upon fully joining WWE. The company is well aware of his past accomplishments and this introduction to WWE not only serves as sort of an on-air hazing for “The Warrior” but as a litmus test on how we works within the real-life circus that WWE has become. The man now known as Kaval has all of the in-ring tools and the character look to become a major star in the pro wrestling industry. His time on NXT will now determine whether he can overcome WWE’s pre-ordained height and weight disadvantage and his ridiculous relationship with Michelle McCool and Layla to become the international superstar he truly deserves to be.

Lucky Cannon, to be mentored by Mark Henry:
Cannon is a Justin Gabriel-like spunky babyface, so of course he is paired with the super heavyweight World’s Strongest Man. In his past life in FCW he was known by the much more superior moniker of “Johnny Prime” but apparently his new name will come in with a built-in backstory based on his previous luck, so at least coming in with a history could help him out. I’m actually looking forward to seeing what he can do.

Michael McGillicutty, who will be mentored by Kofi Kingston:
Okay here comes rant. During his intro promo they acknowledge this guy as the son of Curt Hennig and then saddle him with the worst in-ring wrestling name since Thurman “Sparky” Plugg. Once again with the whole intellectual rights thing I can see why they would want to change his name, but David Otunga and Ted DiBiase, two name just two, are walking around with their real names. I mean McGillicutty. How in the ever living fuck is a guy supposed to get over with that name? Instead of Joe Hennig, what about Michael Hennig? Not his real name but yet again, pays lip service and immediately gets him over. There’s no way you can take him seriously as a contender with that name, especially knowing his real-life backgound. I mean it sure as hell doesn’t pass the Howard Finkel test either. (Announce a wrestler’s name in Fink’s voice as the NEW World Heavyweight Champion and see how it sounds.) This has to be some fuck you from the creative team for him not shaking one of their hands or something. Or its some sort of on air hazing that has no business being on TV. I mean the only other thing I can think of is that it’s a rib from his old man from up above. “Let’s call him…McGillicutty…haha…now that’s perfect”

Alex Riley, who will be mentored by The Miz:
This looks to be the pairing already set up to be the winner. Riley has been in development for a long time and has been close to being called up more than once before. He’s bringing his jock dick character and name with him that he has been working on for a long time. Plus with the only two time Pro as his mentor they are setting him up as the man to beat with a Pro who is totally behind him.

As an aside, the first season’s Pros combined for nearly 120 years of in-ring experience with certifiable veterans in Chris Jericho, William Regal and even Christian and Matt Hardy providing expertise. This season they are replaced with wet-behind-the-ears guys like Zack Ryder, Cody Rhodes and Layla, who combined only total about 60 years of experience. Judging by the new cast, new rules and hopefully a better understanding of where they are going throughout the entire season this should be a completely different show than before. I am actually really looking forward to seeing how it plays out and what becomes of things. It’s generally the most unpredictable show WWE has booking wise so it’s fun in that regard.

The current WWE directive about not showing any blood on-air is due to their current business deals, most notably the one with Mattel, which were arranged on the guise that WWE was going to avoid controversy. This is also in effect when airing old footage from previous shows. It is not attributed to Linda McMahon’s political aspirations so much as agreements about the nature of the product that have been made in order to attract a higher class of business partners. This means it is likely to be in effect either until the licensing deal with Mattel expires, which is not going to happen for many years to come, or until another company with a wilder style becomes more popular than WWE and so threatens their profit margins.

We need to just face the music that we are in a new era where there’s no blood, no bra and panties matches and just an absence of a lot of the fun things so many of us grew up with. The lack of blood doesn’t bother me but just the stopping mid-match to clean up things needs to change.

Main event injuries continue to pile up and the term “card subject to change” has never been appropriate in regards to the Fatal 4 Way pay per view. The Undertaker suffered a broken orbital bone, a broken nose and a concussion in his May 25 SmackDown match in Cleveland with Rey Mysterio. The injury is believed to have been from taking the seated senton move by Mysterio during the match. He was written out of SmackDown storylines this past week and Mysterio won a battle royal to replace him in the World Championship match for Fatal 4 Way.

You know, Undertaker is usually on holiday at this time of year anyways but this injury still really sucks for a main event star-starved SD. I kind of hope he comes back from injury and just destroys Mysterio. But what are the odds that it will end up being Kane who is revealed as the one who took Undertaker out in the storylines?

Over on the other side of the coin, it seems as if Randy Orton is still iffy in regards to his participation in the WWE Title match at Fatal 4 Way. He is still advertised for the match but is being kept out of the ring for the time being.

The beauty of a four way match is that a guy like Orton with an injury can be protected fairly easily. But the mark fan in me is hoping that Evan Bourne’s big win last week on RAW will propel him to take Orton’s spot in the match.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Chris Jericho will host a new game show for ABC called Downfall. It starts on June 22, and features contestants trying to answer questions while on the roof of a Los Angeles high rise. According to the show’s description it will feature “the largest conveyor belt ever seen on TV” will send potential winnings (cash and prizes), the player’s personal possessions and even friends and family over the side of the building. The show has been picked up for a six-episode run, and will air after their summer hit Wipeout.

Is there anything the most honest man in the world can’t do? He’s like the best wrestler in the world, accomplished author, witty reality show talking head and pretty solid musician. Now he’s taking over the game show hosting realm.

WWE signed a new guy to a developmental deal. He is “Fady the Arabian Bull,” and comes from the aptly titled Independent Wrestling Federation. The company sent out a press release touting the signing:

“Chiseled out of pure granite, Fady The Arabian Bull has put everyone in the IWF on notice. When Fady enters the ring, he is like a runaway locomotive out to derail anyone and anything that stands in his way. He is one of the most powerful athlete’s to step foot inside an IWF ring. He enjoys using his size and strength to his advantage and is able to overpower opponents and manhandle them at will. This tough behemoth is not going to stop his path of destruction until he goes through the entire IWF roster. Proud of his Syrian heritage, he’s as indestructible as Superman, and it won’t be long before championship gold is around his waist.

Fady began training at IWF Wrestling School in August 2007 and graduated from the program in September 2009. He is the current IWF Heavyweight Champion.

Height: 6′ 5″
Weight: 270 lb.
Hometown: Paterson, NJ
Birthday: February 15
Debut: 2008
Finisher: Powerslam
Titles: IWF Heavyweight”

He’s got the look WWE likes so he’s got that going for him I guess…

The Road to…Fatal 4 Way
WWE Championship
John Cena (c) v. Sheamus v. Randy Orton v. Edge

World Heavyweight Championship
Jack Swagger (c) v. Rey Mysterio v. CM Punk v. The Big Show

rumored matches:
Christian v. Dolph Ziggler
Kofi Kingston v. Drew McIntyre for the Intercontinental Title
R-Truth v. Wade Barrett for the US Title
The Hart Dynasty v. The Usos for the Unified WWE Tag Titles
Daniel Bryan v. The Miz

Wrestler of the Week
Week of May 31 – June 6: Wade Barrett
No one had a bigger week in WWE kayfabe or real life wise than NXT season one winner Wade Barrett. Even though he has already been under WWE contract for years and even survived a run-in with Florida police that has sealed the fate of other developmental guys, Barrett gained company affirmation this past week by winning their weird hybrid talent competition. He now has a guaranteed Championship match at an upcoming pay per view and built in on-screen relationships with Chris Jericho and William Regal; two men who couldn’t be held in higher esteem amongst fans. He’s tall, well built and has a full head of hair, so he fits all of Scott Keith’s requirements be a WWE main event star. At this point he has nowhere to go but up.

RAW’s On Tonight!
Bradley Cooper, Sharlto Copley and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson from the upcoming film The A-Team will guest host WWE Monday Night RAW live tonight from Miami, Florida. So I guess The Rock wasn’t available after all. Cooper, Copley and Jackson, alongside Liam Neeson, will star in the remake of the popular camp television show The A-Team that will premiere in theatres on June 11, 2010. Cooper will play Lt. Templeton “Faceman” Peck, Copley will play H.M. “Howling Mad” Murdoch while Jackson will star as B.A. “Bad Attitude” Baracus, originally played by the iconic Mr. T in the original series. Jackson will be the first contracted MMA fighter of Ultimate Fighting Championship to appear on WWE programming since the guest host gimmick started nearly a year ago. His appearance on RAW will come just days after his main event loss to “Sugar” Rashad Evans at UFC 114 on May 29. Other than maybe Bob Barker, William Shatner and The Hoff, this group is my favorite of the celebrity hosts that have come along in this long-running guest host era. I am a fan of all three actors/personalities on an individual level, and they are sure to bring not only some star power to the show but some pure fun and entertainment to the show. Also tonight is a special 3 hour Viewer’s Choice special, featuring all the talent from RAW and SmackDown. It’s like Cyber Sunday, only it’s on free TV, and you don’t know what you’re voting on until hours before the show and it’s not called Cyber Sunday. So as of this point no matches or interviews have been announced. I’ve always liked the special three-hour summer specials so this should be fun on some level at least.

On Last Week’s Episode…
Check out Shayne’s debut recap and Chantel’s thoughts on SmackDown. God I love battle royals. I’m such a mark for those things.

We’ve got a Superstars recap back! YEAH! A million points for Matt Striker mentioning the old mini stable between himself, Chavo Guerrero/Kerwin White and Dolph Ziggler/Nick Nemeth from back in 2005.

Ivan and Big Andy Mac provide the coverage for the season finale of NXT. This show really picked up in its last few weeks with the eliminations and the saga of Daniel Bryan. It was a fun show but the announcements of the pairings for season two upped the WTF quotient for the show.

This is the third week in a row now that RAW has been far above average. It was fun to see Bret and Vince in-ring together again. R-Truth looked great in his first big win. The Usos and Tamina delivered in their first live promo and subsequent brawl. Plus freaking Bryan Danielson and Evan Bourne got monster wins on the flagship. The Danielson angle continues to get better each week and what a surprise to see Bourne excel in the main event. His post-match celebration was pure unadulterated joy and real emotion, especially when Cena told him to pose and celebrate for the fans. Here’s hoping that he gets to take Orton’s spot in the Fatal Four Way main event. Check out Pulse’s triple threat of Marshall, Pruett and Wheeler.

How They Rated
SmackDown! (5.21.10) –

Superstars (5.27.10) – .65

A.M. RAW (5.30.10) – .86

RAW (5.31.10) – 3.2

NXT (6.1.10) – 1.17

This is Boring, What Else is There to Read?
Logan continues the awesomeness with his RAW recaps from 1995 with the September 18 and September 25 editions.

Morgado gives his take on the awfulness surrounding the monikers for the new crop of NXT Rookies.

Aaron continues to be a machine in regards to the length and substance of his Tuesday Morning Backlash.

Ditch just entertains me more and more each time with his Puro Pulse. Who knew there was a lucha rudo in the ‘80s named Babyface?

Mark has been a columnist for Pulse Wrestling for over three years now, evolving from his original “Historically Speaking” column into his current Monday powerhouse “This Week in ‘E.” He also contributes to other ventures, outside of IP, most notably as the National Pro Wrestling Examiner for and a contributor for The Wrestling Press. Follow me on Twitter here.

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