Are you ready? Then stop questioning your heart and join me, because it’s time for the DEBUT show of WWE NXT on SyFy!
To bring everyone up to date with the ?rookies? for tonight’s show, I?ve taken the liberty of including the bio for each of the guys. Credit to WWE.com
Wade Barrett (mentored by Chris Jericho)
Wade Barrett, a tall, well-built Brit, brings a strong bareknuckle fighting background to WWE NXT. Expect plenty of bullying when this brawler gets in the WWE ring. Confident and eloquent, Barrett isn?t afraid to speak whatever’s on his mind. He’s notably obsessed with the almighty dollar, and will do anything it takes to load his bank account with more and more money.
Justin Gabriel (mentored by Matt Hardy)
Born and raised in Cape Town, South Africa, Justin Gabriel is a dynamo of energy with a wide array of skills inside the ring. This WWE NXT competitor is full of purity, goodness and passion. Gabriel isn?t shy about flashing his charming smile, either. He simply oozes sex appeal. It’s been said Gabriel is like a cross between MLB star Johnny Damon and American Idol season 9 hitmaker Adam Lambert.
Michael Tarver (mentored by Carlito)
Michael Tarver is not a pleasant man. A self-described monster with a heart full of anger, the Ohio native has spent his life seeking an outlet for his aggression. This wild rage has taken him from the gym to the boxing ring to the octagon and, now, WWE NXT. Physically intimidating and technically devastating, Tarver claims he can knock out any man in 1.9 seconds ? a skill he learned from his father, a former sparring partner of Mike Tyson.
Daniel Bryan (aka Bryan Danielson, mentored by The Miz)
With 10 years on the indy wrestling circuit, Daniel Bryan comes to WWE NXT as by far the most experienced NXT Rookie. Trained by none other than Shawn Michaels, Bryan proceeded to compete on multiple continents while honing his craft. His journeys served the young competitor well, as he became well-known for his hybrid of Japanese and American offensive styles, making good use of vicious elbow strikes, precision kicks, spine-jarring suplexes and various torturous submission maneuvers. With such a wealth of knowledge and variety of styles at his disposal, Bryan’s rival NXT Rookies will no doubt be left guessing as to what this talented young athlete’s strategy will be for any given match.
Heath Slater (mentored by Christian)
Ask Heath Slater who the most talented competitor on the NXT roster is and he won?t hesitate to say himself. Describing himself as a ?rock band without the instruments,? this young stud from West Virginia may walk and talk with unabashed arrogance, but he has the talent in the ring to back up his big mouth. This raw ability and endless confidence has brought Slater success in smaller promotions across the country and will serve him well in WWE NXT.
Darren Young (mentored by CM Punk)
As comfortable in the VIP section as he is in the ring, Darren Young’s life revolves around three things ? money, women and wrestling. Blessed with natural talent and a physique only seen in comic books, this fixture on the South Beach club scene is so gifted he can party all night and still be the first man in the gym the next morning. Young may be flashy, but any man on the WWE NXT roster would be a fool to underestimate a competitor as talented as this.
Skip Sheffield (mentored by William Regal)
Nicknamed ?The Cornfed Meathead,? Skip Sheffield is an old-fashioned boy bringing his Lone Star State flair to WWE NXT. Born in Texas but raised in Las Vegas, Sheffield is often seen sporting a cowboy hat and vest. This outgoing competitor thrives off entertaining the WWE Universe. Sheffield is a real ?hoss? in the ring who isn?t afraid to serve up some ?knuckle sandwiches with a side of humble pie.?
David Otunga (mentored by R-Truth)
After becoming well-known to followers of reality TV and American tabloids, David Otunga is ready to make his name famous as one of the first NXT Rookies. First coming to prominence as part of the VH1 reality show, I Love New York 2, Otunga has since become better known as the fianc? of Grammy and Academy Award-winning actress, Jennifer Hudson. As anyone confronted with Otunga’s impressive physique can testify, the competitor has more than his fair share of brawn and good looks, but he backs up these natural gifts with a powerful intelligence, as exemplified by his degree from Harvard Law School. A fan of lavish vacations, Hollywood parties and seeing his face in People and Us Weekly, the self-proclaimed ?Kanye West of WWE? stands to get a lot more of his favorite things as part of WWE NXT.
Show Kicks Off
The show starts with The Miz in the back in front of all of the rookies, putting over ?The Internet Darling?, Daniel Bryan. Miz says that it is time to prove himself, and so he sends him out to the ring for an opportunity to get over. Miz says that if Bryan doesn?t show the audience some personality, he is going to slap it into him personally.
We are introduced to our commentators for the evening, Michael Cole & Josh Mathews. They send it to the back, where Matt Striker is our host!
We head to the ring where Daniel Bryan is now standing. He starts off by apologizing for the fact that The Miz is his mentor. He wishes that William Regal was his mentor, but no such luck. He thanks the fans around the world for their support over the past ten years.
The Miz’s music hits and he makes his way out to the ring. He starts off by critiquing Bryan for the fact that he started off with an apology. The Miz gets in the ring and says that Daniel Bryan has no charisma. He asks how he even expects to make it in this business. Bryan says that he plans on joining a reality show and getting a faux hawk? oh wait that’s how The Miz got here! Miz does not take to kindly to that statement, but points out the fact that it worked.
Miz admits that may be the case, but what about a catchphrase. How about something like, ?I?m the Miz? and I?m AWESOME?! Bryan nods and looks Miz dead in the eye. Daniel says how about this, ?when you get in the ring with me, you?ve got two options. Tap? or snap?!
The Miz laughs it off and asks the audience if they think Bryan showed any charisma. If they thought Bryan would make it in the WWE. Miz then turns to Bryan, and slaps him in the face! After Miz heads to the back. Bryan picks up the mic and says, ?you know what Miz, there is going to be a time when I slap you back?.
In the back Daniel Bryan is being interviewed by Matt Striker. Matt asks him what he thinks about what just happened. Bryan reiterates that he will slap Miz again when given the chance. Matt asks he can say that, when the business is built on respect. Daniel says he can say that because he has been in the business for twice as long as the Miz. Striker interrupts him, and says that he has not even been in the WWE for a day. Bryan says that he does not need the help, he can become a star on his own.
Carlito comes out to the ring with his rookie, Michael Tarver. A video package airs featuring the rookie.
Carlito & Michael Tarver v. Christian & Heath Slater
While they are making their way to the ring, we see a video package featuring Slater.
The match starts off with Slater and Carlito in the ring. Carlito starts right in on Slater and backs him into the corner. Carlito then quickly tags in Tarver. The rookies go after each other, and Tarver knocks Slater into the ropes. He uses the second rope to choke him, and then goes for a cover. The referee begins the count, but Heath kicks out. Tarver tags in Carlito.
Carlito comes into the ring, and pulls back on his neck for a couple of moments, before tagging back in his rookie. Tarver applies a modified camel clutch to Slater. Heath tries to get to his feet, but gets thrown down to the mat. Heath finally rolls across the ring and tags in Christian! Tarver responds by tagging Carlito.
The pros go back and forth, with Carlito being slammed to the mat. Christian leaps for a crossbody, but gets blocked. Carlito heads over and tags in Tarver. Carlito is whipped by his rookie at Christian into the corner, but Christian blocks the move. Tarver then tries to run at the former ECW Champ, but also finds himself countered. Slater hits a shot on Carlito from the apron, and then Christian hits the Killswitch on Tarver to close this match out.
Winners via Killswitch: Christian & Heath Slater
Darren Young w/ CM Punk, Luke Gallos, & Serena v. Darren Young w/ R-Truth
Instead of a video package, Darren Young gets a video featuring CM Punk. This is actually a fantastic promo in which Punk just shakes his head and asks why he is even on this show. He already has mentees. If Darren Young wants to be mentored by Punk, he needs to accept Straight Edge into his life.
A video package airs featuring David Otunga
The match starts off with a couple of punches being exchanged back and forth. Young is whipped into ropes, and Otunga hits a very ugly slam that sends Darren to the mat. This match is over.
Winner via Sloppy Slam: David Otunga
After the match CM Punk walks to the back, shaking his head.
Tonight’s Main Event: Bryan Daniel v. Chris Jericho. Yes, you read that correctly. Daniel Bryan v. Chris Jericho!!!
Chris Jericho w/ Wade Barrett v. Daniel Bryan w/ The Miz
Chris Jericho does not let Savannah introduce him, and instead has his rookie do the honors. Wade takes the mic and starts to put himself over. Jericho interrupts and says, ?I just want you to introduce me?. Wade complies.
The match starts with Bryan offering his hand for a shake of honor. Jericho gets in his face and yells at him. Eventually Jericho pushes him away, and then slaps Bryan in the face. Daniel returns the slap! Bryan hits Jericho with a dropkick, and Jericho retreats to the corner. Bryan connects with a charging flying forearm. Chris gets back to his feet and hits a series of punches and elbows. Jericho then grabs Daniel in a rear headlock.
Daniel Bryan escapes, but gets caught by a very nice enziguiri. Jericho goes for the cover, but Daniel kicks out. Daniel is sent to the corner, and Jericho hits him with several forearms. Daniel is then whipped to the other corner. Jericho goes for a shoulder thrust, but Bryan throws him into the steel post! The action is getting difficult to keep up with, this is crazy. Daniel is in the corner, and does a flip off the turnbuckle, to counter a splash attempt from the World Heavyweight Champion.
Jericho is sent to the outside by a clothesline from Bryan. Daniel leaps into the air for a suicide dive. Jericho counters by slamming him hip first into the announce table! A welt instantly appears on Bryan’s side. Daniel shakes it off and uses the pain for empowerment! Back in the ring Daniel heads to the top rope and perches waiting for Jericho to re-enter.
Bryan leaps, but Jericho counters into the Walls of Jericho! He can?t fully lock it in, as Bryan reverses into a leg submission! Chris looks close to tapping, but just barely gets to the ropes for the break. Jericho gets to his feet and hits the Codebreaker out of nowhere! Jericho then locks in the Walls of Jericho, and Daniel has no choice but to tap. What a match!
Winner via Walls of Jericho: Chris Jericho
After the match, Miz enters the ring and beats down on Daniel Bryan to put him in his place.
The start of a new era is upon us. The so-called Next Evolution of Sports Entertainment is unfolding. Ladies and Gentlemen, it is morning in the WWE!
If the main event from this evening is any indicator, we are in for quite a ride. I have no choice but to start with that particular match, because it was off the charts. Honestly, for a ten minute match, I was very impressed. I?m not saying this because I?m a huge Daniel Bryan fan. In the interest of full disclosure, I think that he has had some really extraordinary matches on the Indy circuit and I wouldn?t dream of ever discrediting that fact. He’s never been in my top ten favorite wrestlers, but the guy can flat out work. I?ve noticed a trend over the years that he has been featured in some of my favorite matches. I did not realize until recently that he was so often present. I always just found some of my favorite wrestlers were having great matches that often included him. Once I recognized that common denominator, I really have come to respect his work.
If you are a WWE fan, or an Indy fan, I think that either would really appreciate the ten minute match that he and Jericho put on tonight. They are both guys that are known for being able to put on a good match and make their opponent look great. Combining the two together seemed like a perfect fit, and sure enough it was. I?ll be anticipating Mr. V’s column next week to see if it earns Match of the Week honors, because so far it is the clear favorite.
The rest of the show was pretty solid. There were definitely some glitches and missteps, but that is to be expected. They put this show and its concept together in a relatively short time, and I am thus far happy with the results.
The opening segment really brought home the fact that they are showcasing this concept around Daniel Bryan. I?d venture a guess that 90% of the WWE coverage and promotion has been based around his character. They were putting him over quite a bit at the Elimination Chamber PPV, and even showed him in the back last night on RAW. Vince obviously has a lot of faith in Bryan, and I don?t think he will be let down. I liked the bickering back and forth with the Miz, as it is important in establishing character. Tonight they did a pretty good job of keeping them on even footing, which culminated in the Miz attacking him after his match. This fight over respect will be interesting to follow.
There were other rookies on the show, so don?t think I?m forgetting about them! I was a bit surprised by the Darren Young/David Otunga match because I didn?t expect a squash, but it actually worked. David just looks like a monster, and ready to go straight on to a regular show’s roster. Let me just pause for a moment and point out how impressive that fact is at this point. In one show, the WWE has established a genuine star. By the end of this season he is going to be monster! The squash actually worked because not only did it put over Otunga, but it planted the seeds for conflict between Young and Punk. While a lot of the guys have mentors that are involved, Young has one that does not even want to be on the show in the first place. Without Punk’s guidance he will not succeed. So what will the future hold? Will Young accept Straight Edge into his life?
Michael Cole and Josh Mathews were pretty hilarious to listen to on commentary. I don?t know if Cole was caught off guard or what, but he was on the defensive all night. I give a lot of credit to Mathews for not letting anything that Cole said slip through the cracks. Every time he would make a broad generalization, Mathews would call him out on it. I?m not a Michael Cole hater like many, so I was decently happy with the jobs from both men. The bickering was hilarious, and I?m interested to see if Cole will keep himself more guarded next week, because Mathews is NOT afraid to attack.
The tag team match was pretty quick. Three of the four guys in the match came out looking solid. Oh, and Carlito was in the match too? I guess. He just seems to be sliding through the motions right now, hopefully he can do something to return to his former glory. It’s been far too long since he has asked Divas if they spit or swallow.
Jokes aside, I was pretty happy with tonight’s debut show. I will not pretend to paint it as perfect, because it certainly had its flaws. Yet, the stage has been set, and I really look forward to the next edition. This season has just started, and I?m hooked.
Here’s an extra tidbit before I go: Daniel Bryan had the following to say on a radio program this morning, which I found incredibly enlightening. Credit to lordsofpain.net for this report:
WWE NXT rookie Daniel Bryan (formerly Bryan Danielson) appeared on “The B.J. Shea Morning Experience” radio show on 99.9 KISW in Seattle this morning to discuss tonight’s WWE NXT debut. You can listen to the interview its entirety at KISW.com. Here’s what Bryan said about:
His Name Change: Well we have to accept the things that are handed down to us, but it is pretty close to my name, you know what I mean? I am comfortable with it and I think it is going to be good. Most people who watch WWE Universe have no idea who I am so they don?t know about what my name was before or anything like that.
To them I?m always going to be known as Daniel Bryan. I think that will be okay. It’s just that the WWE is an enormous corporation and it’s smart for them to have the rights of anybody they put on TV. It doesn?t matter if the person is successful; I?m successful and they own the rights and that helps them and their merchandising and that sort of thing. I don?t think it’s really a big deal; it’s a pretty standard thing.”
The Miz Calling Him Boring: “So the deal with The Miz is that that’s how he’s gotten by. He’s very charismatic, he’s gone out there, he’s really good at making people hate him. How I?ve gotten by is a little bit different. I?ve been doing this for over ten years now and what I?ve gotten by and how I made my name is by being excellent in the ring, but that doesn?t mean what he’s saying isn?t partially correct, you know what I mean?
“There is this huge aspect there where for me it’s always been what goes on in the ring. And with the WWE…that’s a big part of it, it’s presenting yourself as a superstar. And when he said I look like an accountant, I kinda do! I don?t watch television, I don?t e-mail. He was asking me, ‘What do you do with yourself?’ and I said, ‘Well, I read!’ (Miz responded) ‘What? Who reads?’ It’s just one of those things where there’s going to be a learning curb there because it’s completely different than anything I?ve ever done.”
So that’s NXT?. Love it? Hate it? Disagree with everything I said? Just want to chat wrestling? I?m always up for reading your thoughts so send them over to me at email@example.com
Keep an eye out for my column, That’s a Wrap, on WrestleView Thursday, as well as my Recap of WWE RAW!