“Yes, sir, we promised you a great main event…” The WWE video leads us into the show.
A video airs showing the first few weeks of NXT. Tonight they’ll be graded. The criteria is wins and losses, strength of opponents, work ethic, and the “it” factor. We’ll see who makes the grade and who doesn’t.
We’re brought into the arena with a pyro display as Michael Cole and Josh Mathews welcome us to the show.
Matt Striker, the host of NXT, is in the ring. Striker says over the past six weeks the NXT rookies have done everything to impress their pros and us, the fans. Striker asks the crowd how they’ve done and they give an ok response. We’ll see the Pro’s Poll tonight, which is the standings of all the rookies. The NXT rookies now make their way to the ring and get in.
Striker says this is the first milestone on their journey to become WWE’s next breakout star. Striker goes over the criteria once more and we’re ready to see the Pro’s Poll.
#8 Darren Young
#7 Michael Tarver
#6 Skip Sheffield
#5 David Otunga
#4 Heath Slater
#3 Justin Gabriel
#2 Wade Barrett
#1 Daniel Bryan
Striker asks number eight, Darren Young, how he feels about being ranked last. Young blames his situation on CM Punk and the Straight Edge Society. Young says he needs to step it up so the WWE Universe can see what he’s about in a few short weeks.
Daniel Bryan is now asked about being number one. Bryan says his win-loss record isn’t the best and that Michael Cole says he doesn’t have the “it” factor, but the truth is the guys who have the “it” factor and are married to a celebrity just can’t wrestle. David Otunga approaches Bryan as he was just singled out. Otunga says he has the least experience having not been on the indies for ten years but he’s got something no one else has ? the “it” factor. Otunga says Bryan can do a bunch of moves but just talking to him is like eating mashed potatoes. What? Bryan says he doesn’t even know what that means before making fun of Otunga’s attire.
Striker has an announcement. In six weeks the pros will vote again but this time whoever is ranked last will be eliminated. Each week one rookie will be eliminated until we have the final four. Then whoever wins the NXT competition, not only will they be the next breakout star, they’ll receive a championship match at a PPV against any champion of their choosing! Just to up the ante some more, all eight rookies will be in a battle royal tonight and the winner will guest host Raw next week! Coming up next the WWE pros will all be in a tag team match! They’re going to show them how it’s done!
Michael Cole is talking to Josh Mathews about how he’s pissed that Daniel Bryan took a shot at him. They then ask the WWE Universe to vote on WWE.com about the rankings. The results will be revealed next week.
WrestleMania XXVII is coming to Atlanta on April 3, 2011.
The pros come out to compete except for Chris Jericho. Jericho sits at the announcer’s table and brags about WrestleMania. Jericho says he’s not competing because Edge speared him through the barricade at WrestleMania.
Raw Pros vs. Smackdown Pros
Christian, Carlito, William Regal & The Miz vs. CM Punk, Matt Hardy, R-Truth & Wade Barrett
R-Truth will start off against Carlito. Carlito bites the apple and R-Truth slaps it out of his mouth. R-Truth sends him into the ropes and hits a hip toss. R-Truth hits an arm drag and keeps the arm bar on. R-Truth wrenches the arm and forces in CM Punk. Punk hits a snapmare and leg drops the arm. Punk applies a wrist lock. Carlito fights up and punches out. Carlito kicks him and tags in William Regal.
Regal gets on his knees and begs Punk to tag in Barrett. Punk laughs and tags in Wade Barrett. Regal backs up and tags in Christian. Christian hits some punches and a side headlock. Barrett whips him off but Christian slides through the legs. Barrett punches him down and hits a shoulder block. Barrett puts him in the corner and runs into a back elbow. Christian hits a springboard sunset flip for a two count. Barrett then tags in Matt Hardy. The Miz blind tags in as well.
The Miz kicks Hardy and punches him down. Hardy blocks a turnbuckle shot and bounces his head on the turnbuckle. Hardy then goes into the ropes to hit a clothesline. Hardy clotheslines him in the corner and hits the ten punches until Miz switches him. Hardy then hits a nice hurricanrana over the top rope. The pros have a face off as we go to commercial.
We come back from the break to see Carlito hit a back elbow on Hardy for a two count. Carlito applies a chin lock. Hardy fights up but Carlito backs him to the corner. The Miz is tagged in and he hits a straight right hand that takes Hardy down. The Miz does Hardy’s taunt so he gets punched. Hardy goes into the ropes but gets caught in a sleeper hold. Hardy counters with a jawbreaker and tags in R-Truth.
R-Truth hits a big clothesline and a flapjack on his WrestleMania opponent. R-Truth knocks the Raw side down and hits Miz with a spinning heel kick. R-Truth goes for a powerslam but Miz counters into a backbreaker/neckbreaker combo. On commentary, Cole called Bryan a nerd and Jericho took him to task for that. Hilarious! William Regal is tagged in and he unloads with come forearms. Regal sends him hard into the corner for a one count. Carlito is tagged in and he stomps R-Truth down. Carlito locks on a knee to the back chin lock. R-Truth fights up and goes to the ropes but eats a dropkick for a two count.
Christian is tagged in and he hits a snapmare/neck wrench combo. R-Truth fights up and eats a back elbow for a near fall. Regal is tagged back in and he hits some big knees to the head followed by a double arm suplex for a near fall. Regal applies a front face lock and tags in Miz. Miz hits a nice suplex for a near fall. Miz hits some crossfaces and a leg drop. Miz locks on a chin lock and sends R-Truth to the corner. The Miz then hits his trademark clothesline in the corner. I love that move. It needs a name. Miz goes to the top rope and jumps into a dropkick!
Punk and Christian are tagged in. Christian hits some punches and a running forearm smash. Christian hits a second rope back elbow and looks for the Kill Switch but Punk counters into a GTS attempt. Christian slides off and goes for another Kill Switch but Punk sends him to the corner for a high knee. Punk goes for a bulldog but Christian pushes him. Punk charges into a kick and a missile dropkick for a near fall broken up by Wade Barrett. Carlito comes in and throws Barrett out. Hardy runs in and hits a Twist of Fate on him. Regal runs in and hits an exploder suplex on Hardy and R-Truth takes Regal out with a kick. The Miz charges in and gets sent over the top rope. R-Truth then hits his suicide dive!
Barrett tags in and gets caught in a reverse DDT by Christian. Christian takes Punk out and the referee is distracted by him. Jericho grabs Christian’s leg, distracting him enough to be caught by Barrett’s fireman’s carry front slam for the win!
Winners by Pinfall: Smackdown Pros
Match Rating: **
The Smackdown pros stand victorious in the ring. The NXT Rookie Battle Royal is still to come.
An absolutely beautiful video package plays for Shawn Michaels’ retirement speech. There will never be another performer like Shawn Michaels in wrestling. He was simply the best. The Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels has left the building.
Michael Cole and Josh Mathews go over the Pro’s Pole one more time before telling us to go on WWE.com to cast our vote on what the rankings should be.
The NXT Rookie Battle Royal is next. The winner will guest host Raw next week.
NXT Rookie Battle Royal
Heath Slater vs. Darren Young vs. Michael Tarver vs. Justin Gabriel vs. Skip Sheffield vs. David Otunga vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Wade Barrett
The winner of this match will guest host Monday Night Raw next week. They can’t be any worse than the Hot Tub Time Machine guys. The bell rings and they all gang up on Wade Barrett, quickly eliminating him. The rookies continue fighting and we’re down to seven.
We come back from the break and see Darren Young laid out on the outside. During the break Skip Sheffield was eliminated by Gabriel and Young. Bryan eliminated Michael Tarver with a hurricanrana. Heath Slater then eliminated Bryan and himself with a cross-body. That’s his first official loss.
Otunga and Gabriel now lock up. Gabriel clubs the back and forearms him. Otunga punches back and shoulders him in the corner. Gabriel comes back with some stiff kicks and a forearm. Otunga reverses a whip and Gabriel back flips over him. Otunga ducks a roundhouse so Gabriel catches him with a kick to the back of the head. Gabriel goes up top for his 450 Splash and hits it! Picture perfect! Gabriel mugs for the crowd and takes a whole lot of time. That’s not a good sign. Gabriel has trouble lifting the heavy Otunga. Gabriel tries to eliminate him until Otunga rakes the eyes. Otunga then throws him over and wins it.
Winner of the Battle Royal: David Otunga
Match Rating: *
R-Truth runs down to the ring to celebrate with him. They hug as Matt Striker comes into the ring. Striker mentions that David Otunga will guest host Monday Night Raw and asks him what he thinks. Otunga says “I told you so” and says he should have been number one. Otunga says he is Mr. NXT aka Mr. Guest Host of Monday Night Raw! Striker says Raw is the flagship show of WWE and asks for any hints about it. Otunga says to expect the A-List all over. He also wants 427 green M&Ms in his dressing room.
Quick Match Results
Smackdown Pros def. Raw Pros (Barrett p. Christian)
David Otunga won an NXT Rookie Battle Royal
Bump of the Night: R-Truth’s suicide dive!
Match of the Night: Smackdown Pros vs. Raw Pros **
That was, plain and simple, the best episode of NXT yet. We finally got some direction and some insight as to what is really at stake for these guys. The show was loaded with tremendous stuff and should definitely make people tune in next week.
We opened the show with the Pro’s Pole. Some rankings surprised me, like Wade Barrett placing over Justin Gabriel, and some things didn’t, like Darren Young’s low ranking. They’ll be reevaluated in six weeks and we’ll finally see some eliminations. Then to top it all off the winner will get a PPV World Championship match against any champion of their choosing. That’s awesome. This show, after being a bit stagnant for the past three weeks, finally has some drive again. The rookies have been well introduced and now it’s time to start weeding them out.
I’m happy that David Otunga is guest hosting Raw. He definitely has the “it” factor so it’ll be fun to see how he performs on Raw. I wonder if any of the other rookies will be on the show. I also wonder if Jennifer Hudson will show up. She’d make a good heel manager.
The Smackdown Pros vs. Raw Pros match was really good, highlighted especially by Chris Jericho’s commentary. Seriously, there is no one better than Jericho in WWE. I’m so happy he retained the title at WrestleMania. Wade Barrett looked strong winning this match for his team and actually looked like a star. You can definitely tell who the execs are behind and who they aren’t behind on this show.
I can’t wait to watch next week.
Final Rating: ***
Be sure to check out Friday’s Smackdown recap.
Thanks for reading!