NXT Season 2 Preview
Last season on NXT, I wrote a preview piece on Mr. V #55 that got a bit of press on Wikipedia (google David Otunga). I am not doing this again just for that purpose but I want to educate the readers of WrestleView on the latest batch of NXT rookies. Some are pretty solid and can be ready to step up to the WWE, while others will still need some more seasoning. Still, this should be an exciting season regardless.
On Season one, the talent was pretty stocked up. You had a proven wrestler (Daniel Bryan), some developmental title holders (Heath Slater, Justin Gabriel, Wade Barrett), some independent title holders (Skip Sheffield when WWE cut ties with OVW, and Darren Young), and a couple wrestlers that need more seasoning (Michael Tarver and David Otunga).
Now, before I begin with my preview of Season two, allow me to give you a little review on NXT Season One starting from 8th place down to the winner. I will show you an excerpt from my preview of each wrestler from my 55th column (and the debut back then of the Mr. V-Puter 5000)
8th Place – Michael Tarver (Pro was Carlito)
What I said in February: “I can’t see them working well together based solely on work ethic. Carlito looks lazy in the ring and a guy like Tarver needs someone to help him out between the ropes. Sorry, but Carlito is not a good choice.”
Was I right? I think I was right. Michael Tarver in FCW was this all-out brawler and his “angel on one side, devil on the other side” gimmick was great. Carlito really did nothing for him and even Carlito amounted to a ton of losses on NXT. This did nothing for Tarver, as he appeared to be nothing more than a quitter on NXT.
Will he be back? I can’t see him coming back. I think sadly this could be the last time we heard about Michael Tarver.
7th Place – Daniel Bryan (Pro was The Miz)
What I said in February: “This pairing will be the talk of the show. The current multiple champion in the WWE “mentoring” a guy who is miles ahead of him. This could very well be that hero vs. villain storyline on the show. Well Done!”
Was I right? Again, I think I hit this right out of the park. Bryan immediately went right at Miz in the first week of NXT and their feud even rubbed on Michael Cole. Though he was eliminated early he was still a viable part of the NXT show. I enjoyed this pairing and I hope this goes right into Monday Night Raw.
Will he be back? Bet the ranch on it, he will be on Monday Night Raw (or at least more on NXT just to rip on The Miz, his rookie, and Cole.
6th Place – Skip Sheffield (Pro was William Regal)
What I said in February (in which I thought it was going to originally be MVP as the pro): “It will be interesting if they both complement each other, but I just can’t see this happening”.
Was I right? I can’t really answer that. When he teamed with Regal I enjoyed it, but Sheffield listened too late to Regal’s words. Now he is in FCW again and turned heel after he was eliminated and I am kind of interested what he will be like on the main roster (or in FCW).
Will he be back? It is possible. With Vladimir Kozlov apparently out of the Regal faction and Ezekiel Jackson still injured maybe Sheffield gets a cup of coffee as an associate to Regal. I don’t see much staying power with him.
5th Place – Darren Young (Pro was CM Punk)
What I said in February: “I really can’t get into this pairing. However I have been wrong before”.
Was I right? I was wrong and will admit to that. Earlier I did not really get it, but then later on both guys really drew attention. Glad to see that Darren Young never join the Straight Edge Society. I am glad that CM Punk later on showed a moment of respect. I think Darren Young was very good later on during his run on NXT. However, the pairing actually worked and Young finally got a bit over his “party guy” gimmick.
Will he be back? It will be a while, but I can see Darren Young on the Smackdown roster in a year or two. Until then I think he will still be playing around in FCW.
4th Place – Heath Slater (Pro was Christian)
What I said in February: “This will be real fun to watch. I could see this either being a “moving” experience or Christian just getting fed up with Slater’s shenanigans. Overall, this will be a very good topic of discussion later”.
Was I right? Well students, this is why Mr. V does not bet a lot. Slater was not bad in FCW, but more and more he showed us why he was in FCW for a long time. At first, I thought he was a decent talent based on how he won a few belts in developmental. However, I don’t know what happened but he was average at best during his time on NXT.
Will he be back? Again, it will be in due time. However, I don’t see his work elevating him to nothing more than a mid-card guy. A gimmick change would do him good.
3rd Place – Justin Gabriel (Pro was Matt Hardy)
What I said in February: “I like it, but with Matt Hardy’s status with the company he should not be the one that mentors Justin Gabriel”.
Was I right? I did mention that Gabriel reminded me of a young Matt Hardy, so I should get some points on that. With that said, I was wrong. Matt Hardy is still a bit over and he did help Justin Gabriel along the way. Out of the Pros/Rookies pairings it seemed like they were the most genuine and that is a good sign. Gabriel was flashy and can kick well. Gabriel has a heck of a finish in the 450 Splash. But can he be more ground based? That will be the factor between him being in the WWE or staying in FCW.
Will he be back? He can be back sooner than later. I can see him on both brands as a tag team specialist with a mid-card talent (Matt Hardy and Evan Bourne come to mind). He is also from South Africa, which might make the WWE give him a slight push as well.
2nd Place – David Otunga (Pro was R-Truth)
What I said in February: “A rap artist meets up with the husband of Jennifer Hudson. This is a great pairing for those that like reality TV. For non-wrestling fans, this mentor/student pairing will probably be the most watched”.
Was I right? I was I think half right. I did enjoy the pairing at first. They worked very well together and both told a great story in segments. I really thought Otunga, though not deserving, would have won NXT and challenged R-Truth for the US Title, but am glad he did not win the competition obviously. He has charisma and is a great talker. He has a great look as well. But he is miles away when it comes to in-ring talent.
Will he be back: Whether the WWE fans like it or not, he will be back. Rumor is that he will be in dark matches on Smackdown and I think that would be the best scenario for the guy. I hope that he can improve greatly because he has raw power and needs to be more quick.
1st Place and WINNER of NXT – Wade Barrett (Pro was Chris Jericho)
What I said in February: “I love this pairing! This should be one that will be really interesting to watch out of the eight rookies and pros”.
Was I right? I would like to think so. Barrett and Jericho had success written all over themselves and it just felt like a sensei/protégé combination. You could tell Jericho was a fan of Barrett’s work and he made sure the commentators would tell us that. Outside of Daniel Bryan, Barrett was the total package and WWE did the right thing in making him the winner of NXT.
Now with the NXT guarantee of a Title Match in a PPV which title does he go for and when?
Well, I can tell you right now that there was a reason for Jericho and Miz splitting up quickly. In my opinion it is because Jericho will pair up with Wade Barrett and they will battle for the Unified Tag Team Championships.
He is World Title Material? In due time I really believe that. As for 2010-2011, I can see him as a Second-Tier champion (United States, Intercontinental, or Tag Team Titles). I will go as far right now as to say he will be a champion by the end of the year. I just don’t know what title it will be.
Now your patience is rewarded. Here is MY SECOND NXT PREVIEW!
Season 2 Preview for WWE NXT
I will be giving you some notes on each wrestler and how I think they will do. Also, are the pairings good or not? I felt that the first time I did this I got more e-mails than I have had in a while and I would like to know your take on this after you read it.
Now I will go on prior knowledge to each member. Also, I went on YouTube and found clips of each wrestler and I analyzed one match on each NXT member and I will give you my honest opinion. I will give you the Preliminary Poll as well. So, let’s go with the first pairing. All stats were from Wikipedia, so they might be wrong.
Cody Rhodes will mentor Husky Harris (aka Duke Rotondo)
Stats on Husky Harris: 6’3″ 295 lbs.
Championships: FCW Tag Team Championship
Rundown on Harris: Harris is a 3rd Generation Superstar and former college football athlete. His grandfather was Blackjack Mulligan and his father was Mike Rotunda (I.R.S.). He has an amateur wrestling background as well, he did win a High School Wrestling Championship in the state of Florida. He graduated at the same high school as NWO’s Fake Sting, Major League Baseball pitcher Bronson Arroyo, and Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum.
As for his wrestling, I caught his match vs. Heath Slater from January 10, 2010. I thought for a big guy he can move very quickly. He also showed a good bit of power, at one point he threw Slater right to the corner. He liked to attack at the corners a lot. He hit is shoulder tackles well and can counter holds good for a guy his age. He did the “Slither”, which is kind of like what Edge does when he crawls in the ring. He did sell Slater’s attacks pretty well up to the finish. At the end of this match when Rotundo looked to be in control, Michael Tarver knocked him out. Overall, I was impressed with this showing. I mean he was getting the crowd over in that facility and he moved well. I think he is ready for NXT.
Will he work well with Rhodes? I don’t know about this one. Harris focuses a lot on power, while Rhodes is more of a mat-based wrestler with some top rope moves. Since both were State High School champions. If Harris comes off as a heel, this will work beautifully. If they bash heads with one another and argue about whose dad was better, this could get good. I think from a wrestling standpoint, it will help Harris. If they let Harris go all out with his gimmick, it can even help his mentor.
Who should Harris’ mentor actually be? First off, Cody Rhodes is not a bad choice. This should be a good pairing. However, it could be better to fit the needs of The Husky One. I think there are a few, but I would say the best fit for Harris would be KANE. Kane moves very well for a big guy and Kane is twenty years older than Harris. I would really have considered that and who knows, Kane may show a brighter character had he been a mentor.
Grade on pairing: B. I do like this pairing nonetheless. I feel that the chemistry can be there, but it is truly how they are booked. I seriously can see Harris going everywhere in the standings. He should be a good entertainer.
John Morrison will mentor Eli Cottonwood
Stats on Cottonwood: 7’2″ 315 lbs.
Championships: He never held any.
Rundown on Cottonwood: Until NXT, Cottonwood’s best moments came during his years as a basketball player for the St. John’s Red Storm as Kipp Christianson. He toured all around the world as a professional basketball player and did not debut in the squared circle until a year ago. He has a degree in Psychology, and believe me in that school it had to be tough to acquire that degree. His gimmick in FCW is that of a mentally disabled patient. I heard him talk actually in his feud with FCW talent Johnny Curtis (who I thought would be a good NXT Rookie) and he can talk pretty well. Honestly, I don’t know what they will do with this guy.
The match that I did a scouting report on Eli Cottonwood was from March 21, 2010 against Johnny Curtis. This was one of the first matches since Cottonwood’s face turn and was feuding with Curtis, who I though wrestling wise Curtis should be an NXT rookie this year. Well, at first Cottonwood cornered well when in control. However, when Curtis escaped and started to punch away Cottonwood had a delayed reaction. Sometimes Cottonwood’s offense was so bad that Curtis oversold the moves. Cottonwood’s awareness was poor in this match, as it seemed like Curtis had to wait a moment to execute something. Cottonwood delivered two bodyslams during this match, but it looked like it took a lot out of him. Big men should have problems doing power moves, especially a bodyslam. The finish was very bad, with Cottonwood countering a Sunset Flip and took him a moment to get the pin set up. Overall, I can’t say promising things about him. I like the gimmick somewhat in FCW, but I don’t think he will carry that on in the WWE, let along NXT.
Will he work well with Morrison? I think it is possible. I mean, maybe Morrison will actually get the man to talk (that is if Cottonwood is still psycho). If anyone can help someone talk it might as well be John Morrison.
Who should Cottonwood’s mentor actually be? I expect Cottonwood to be eliminated in short time. Morrison is such a good talent and I don’t think it is a bit fair for him to have someone that I have not seen much in FCW. So, I guess we can have fun with this one. Look at his appearance on wwe.com and tell me he is not a spitting image of the guy who I think should mentor him. That guy? Former World Heavyweight Champion THE GREAT KHALI! Oh, and that little manager guy that Khali has must be there to translate everything. Cottonwood may not last long, but at least this pairing would be very entertaining.
Grade on pairing: C-. I am a big fan of Morrison, but I don’t think even “The whatever-night delight” will get Eli Cottonwood a Final four appearance. Honestly, Cottonwood should get some much needed seasoning in FCW for another year or two (or just stay there).
MVP will mentor Percy Watson
Stats on Watson: He has no profile on Wikipedia. I will say he is about 6’2″ and 241 lbs. I compared his height to Darren Young (who is 6’1″) and his weight was announced in an FCW show.
Championships: None that I can think of right now.
Rundown on Watson: Oh my goodness, if they let Watson use the FCW gimmick this will be hilarious. Just YouTube Percy Watson and you will laugh your butt off! Before the first season of NXT, Watson teamed up with Darren Young and formed “The South Beach Boyz”, which reminds me a lot like Too Cool from the Attitude Era (Scotty 2 Hotty and Grandmaster Sexay) or even a modern day Dusty Rhodes if you just listen to his voice. If you want entertainment, he truly will give that to the NXT viewers. I really don’t have much of a background with Watson, so I will leave it at that and do my scouting report.
The match I decided to watch of Percy Watson was his match on March 18, 2010 against Johnny Curtis. My goodness, I think if Watson keeps this up he could really get a crowd going. Watson had me laughing before he ever entered the ring. Sadly, he could not carry that into the ring. He lacked awareness and was sloppy with an armdrag. However, he did attack well at times and his punches looked ok. He did this real unorthodox splash in which he stands on one side and then hits the splash on the other side which was pretty good. I did not catch much more after that, as Curtis was totally in control and defeated Watson with the Johnny Kick and the Falcon Arrow.
Will he work well with MVP? MVP does entertain and can wrestle well enough to be a mid-card champion. Watson can entertain and that is pretty much it. While on the South Beach Boyz, it was Darren Young who was the better half. Now with Watson on his own this will be a tough mountain to climb. I expect MVP to be all out honest with Watson. MVP can be a good coach to an NXT rookie. The question will be does Watson listen to the advice of MVP. If he does, I think Watson has a decent chance at being in the final four. If not, he will be an early exit.
Who should Watson’s mentor actually be? This one is a no-brainer. If you want tough love, maybe MVP is a good choice. But if you want Watson to keep his high energy before a match and take it in during a match I think you can look no further than R-TRUTH. That would be a great pairing.
Grade on pairing: B. I can see good things with Watson, but he will have to listen. This may be a bold prediction, but I have a feeling if MVP is not getting respect he will slowly become a heel on this show and take that momentum to Smackdown. But for now, let’s just enjoy this pairing and hope good things for both men.
Zack Ryder will mentor Titus O’Neil
Stats on O’Neil: 6’4″ 270 lbs.
Championships: 1996 College Football Championship with the University of Florida (though he redshirted)
Rundown on O’Neil: To be honest, I want to figure out his gimmick on FCW. Honestly, I can’t give you much information other than he was a former professional football player in the Arena Leagues and was a member of the Florida Gators College football team. He appears to be hardnosed and power will be a huge part of his game.
The match that I decided to watch of O’Neil’s was his tag team match with Big E Langston vs. Jimmy and Jules Uso (who are now on the Raw Roster) from March 21, 2010. The Usos had a manager by the name of Donny Marlow. Wade Barrett was the color commentator at the time and said that O’Neil was powerful, but he has a lack of experience. At the start of the match he showed some decent power, as he threw Jimmy Uso off of him and hit a good shoulder tackle. The problem with O’Neil is he has no personality, no emotion. His awareness around the ring was very poor compared to what he competition will look like, as he may have the least amount of knowledge in the ring. All that aside, he was decent on delivering a back body drop and was very impressive with the Fallaway Slam (look for him to use that on NXT). At the end of this match, the Uso Twins got a cheap win with Marlow helped use leverage in Jimmy Uso pinning O’Neil. Overall, he really did not show much. He was rarely in singles matches (each match I saw of his was tag team) and when he controlled the offense it was slightly average at best.
Will he work well with Ryder? I don’t think so. I think O’Neil will be so annoyed that he may go after him before his inevitable elimination. I have not seen much of Ryder to be considered a “pro” since his days in ECW, and Ryder showed a pretty good character. Now, he is nothing more than a mid-card jobber. Unfortunately, I expect the same with O’Neil if he does not improve, and fast. Personalities mesh here and I don’t expect them to last long.
Who should O’Neil’s mentor actually be? A guy like O’Neil needs a mentor that has a lot of power and was a strong athlete. I thought Goldust would be a nice pick just because Goldust could give the guy a personality. Shad Gaspard would have been a good choice for a pro as well, as Shad is trying to find a new identity and those two with time could be a tag team. But I think the best man for this guy must have power, moderate success in the WWE, and have a more mellow personality. So with that I would say his best choice for a mentor would have been MARK HENRY.
Grade on pairing: D. I really can’t see O’Neil making it far since he is in fact a work in progress, even in FCW. Having Zack Ryder as a mentor is not going to do him any favors. I said this about Carlito and Michael Tarver, and I will say the same here. But at least Zack Ryder will be able to keep his job.
Layla El and Michelle McCool will mentor Kaval
Stats on Kaval: 5’8″ 190 lbs.
Championships: Kaval has won over 25 championships in his career. He was recognized as the First-Ever Ring of Honor Champion in 2002. Kaval also won the TNA X Division Championship twice and the NWA World Tag Team Championships three times while in TNA.
Rundown on Kaval: Kaval is best known to the wrestling fans around the world as Low Ki and Senshi. He is the smallest guy on the NXT roster, but he is the quickest and has the most experience. Outside of his championships in TNA and ROH, he won Championships for various pro wrestling promotions such as Pro Wrestling Guerilla, Jersey All Pro Wrestling, and New Japan Pro Wrestling. If there is anything I can write about Kaval, it is how well he uses his feet. If he clicks on all cylinders and if the WWE lets him loose, he could very well win this competition. In FCW, his gimmick was that of a Warrior and I happen to like the gimmick. If they book him the way they booked Daniel Bryan, expect victories by losing of course. This will be a true test regardless for Kaval.
The match that I decided to watch of Kaval’s was not the one vs. Bryan Danielson months ago (because I knew it was one of the best matches I have seen the last six months), but I decided to go with Kaval’s match with David Hart Smith (Current WWE Unified Tag Team Champion) on December 3, 2008. I know it was over a year ago, but I wanted to pick out something that I would not know what to expect.
What I saw was a prime example of a potential winner of this competition. At the start, he just missed a spin kick to Smith’s head. He started the contest off by holding on to the arm. Later on, he countered Smith’s holds with his ability to escape. His kicks were stiff and accurate. I know wrestling is entertainment, but even I was cringing with every kick Kaval delivered. When Smith controlled the contest, Kaval I thought sold the offense pretty well for someone that wrestled mostly in the X Division for TNA. He let Smith have at him and did a good job showing the crowd how painful it looked. I liked how Kaval could counter out of anything and set up a couple impressive submission holds (especially the Crucifix Armbar). He tried numerous times to do a Bodyslam, but failed almost every time. That is a sign that he can be weak when someone wears him down with power. TJ Wilson (known as Tyson Kidd) interfered in the match with Smith (who was a heel at the time) and Kaval was brilliant at taking advantage. Kaval did a running knee stomp (which he calls the John Woo Kick), which sent Smith to the corner. Kaval finally hit the Bodyslam and then his finisher was out of this world. His finisher is called Warrior’s Way, which is a diving double foot stomp. Overall, I think the guy is very talented with his feet. How he mixes his offense up will determine how far he will go on NXT.
Will he work well with LayCool? Now this is a wild card (or cards) if there ever was one (or two). What I can see is that LayCool will treat Kaval like toy figure and have him do things to win their honor. I can see this pairing as very interesting. Will Kaval be that “Meat” character? I doubt it. But what I can potentially see is that LayCool could split up because one may be jealous of Kaval. Anyway, keep an eye out on this one.
Who should Kaval’s mentor actually be? The dream NXT/Rookie pairing would be Kaval and REY MYSTERIO. I know many would have enjoyed this dream pairing but of course some believe that the WWE hates us. I don’t mind Kaval being taught by LayCool (McCool was a teacher, a fact that with her gimmick now I just want her to lose all teaching union-ship), but think of the possibilities had it been Rey Mysterio.
Grade on pairing: B+. I can see this either going really great or really bad. On one side, the WWE is giving us something on NXT that was not seen in the first season. On the other side, some may consider this a slap in the face to all the ROH and TNA fans that a champ of their was sent to FCW only to debut with LayCool as mentors. To them I say enjoy this. Just like Daniel Bryan and The Miz, it should be the talk of NXT.
Mark Henry will mentor Lucky Cannon (aka Johnny Prime)
Stats on Cannon: Since he did not have a Wikipedia profile and OWW did not have a stats profile, I compared his height to his opponent I scouted. He is about 6’2″ and FCW had him at 235 lbs.
Championships: He did not win a title to my knowledge.
Rundown on Cannon: I will admit when I am wrong. I thought I knew a bit about Johnny Prime, but I can somewhat confirm that he never won an FCW Tag Team Champion, but he has been a part of FCW for a long while (at least over a year). Anyway outside of the who “Find your porn star name by knowing your first pet and the town you grew up on” gimmick name they gave him (for those wondering, mine would be Tubby Pennsylvania) he was known in FCW as Johnny Prime. I don’t know what his gimmick was, but it reminded me a good bit of an underdog that never got that big win.
The match I decided to pick out of Lucky Cannon’s archive was his match January 17, 2010 against Gabriel (who was known as DJ Gabriel in ECW and has been released for months by the company).
The matches that I saw of Prime in 2009 were not all that great. However, this match with Gabriel may have been his best showing in his FCW career. He took a TON of offense by Gabriel, but Cannon (known as Johnny Prime then of course) found a way to either escape, inflict punishment of his own, or counter. Earlier in this match, Cannon hit a beautiful vertical suplex and followed it up with a few Fireman’s Carry takedowns and a couple arm submissions. That was a good way to somewhat wear down his heavier opponent. Cannon was at best when working on the mat. He may struggle at times with awareness, but in this match this was the most aware I saw him in the ring. He sold Gabriel’s offense very well. When he failed to execute the armdrag, he managed to escape punishment for a while, but was met by a power move. Of course, power moves are going to inflict more punishment and will take Cannon down quickly. At the end of the match, Cannon countered Gabriel’s European Uppercut and did a sneaky rollup and defeated Gabriel in what was considered an upset. Overall, I was expecting Cannon to struggle in this contest, but was pretty surprised that he did not and I think NXT is a good start for him.
Will he work well with Henry? I think this pairing is going to be on the bland side. I don’t expect them to be at each other’s faces like R-Truth/Otunga or Miz/Bryan. However, I see them pretty mellow and Henry will really help Cannon out in finding his power. Prime is probably in the middle of the pack when it comes to size and power so with a little more help (especially from a solid in-ring veteran like Henry), I think he actually has potential to be in the middle of the pack, he can open some eyes in among the WWE crowd. However if he is like he was in the earlier parts of 2009, he could be eliminated first.
Who should Cannon’s mentor actually be? When I think of the gimmick they gave Lucky Cannon, they made it out like he was “lucky” to avoid dangerous situations. I thought Evan Bourne would not be a bad mentor, but right now Bourne lacks a strong personality and it would be tough to put Cannon over with the NXT voters. I would say a guy like CHRISTIAN would really help him out. Cannon looks like he could turn out into an all-around mid-card superstar. Christian could very well teach him the ropes and to be more aware in the ring.
Grade on pairing: C+. This is about the best I can give this pairing right now. I think Henry will definitely teach Cannon all that he can teach him, but Cannon’s character is a bit on the bland side and this is solely on how well he can improve his power game. I think Henry will teach him some things, but I think a mentor that has a bit more quickness would benefit Cannon more.
Kofi Kingston will mentor Michael McGillicutty (aka Joe Hennig)
Stats on McGillicutty: 6’3″ 236lbs.
Championships: McGillicutty won the FCW Heavyweight Championship and the FCW Tag Team Championship twice. He also received the 2008 Rookie of the Year from Pro Wrestling Illustrated.
Rundown on McGillicutty: He was best known in FCW as Joe Hennig, the grandson of Larry “The Ax” Hennig and the son of WWE Hall of Fame member Curt Hennig (better known then as Mr. Perfect from the WWF era). He debuted as a professional wrestler in 2007, but his lack of experience does not matter here. I was impressed with McGillicutty since the first time I saw him. If the WWE lets loose on this guy, McGillicutty will remind old-school fans a lot like Mr. Perfect. McGillicutty’s finisher in FCW was his dad’s finisher, The Perfect Plex (a bridging cradle suplex). He is an all-around talent and I think he is ready right now for a mid-card run on Raw or Smackdown. If there is anything negative, he may be injury prone for the WWE schedule (he had to relinquish his FCW Heavyweight Title just 21 days into his reign). However, putting him on NXT and introducing us to him may have been the best thing.
The match I chose to watch of Michael McGillicutty was his FCW Championship match back on November 29, 2008 against FCW Champion Sheamus O’Shaunessy (who is now Sheamus and has taken the WWE by storm as he won the WWE World Title his first year in the WWE). At the start of the match, McGillicutty had good control at the corner and even dumped Sheamus outside the ring. McGillicutty’s punches looked good, looked real. He did a log of pound-and-ground work at the beginning of this match as well, which showed to me that he can fight with the rest of them. Sheamus gained a lot of control after that, but McGillicutty did hit a beautiful crossbody block to prevent Sheamus’ domination. He sold Sheamus’ attacks pretty well and it showed good theater. When he finally broke free of some holds, McGillicutty really was impressive with his dropkick and followed it up with a Rolling Mare (ala his father). He tried the Perfect-Plex, but Sheamus was not that worn down. McGillicutty countered Sheamus’ finisher (then known as the Fiery Red Hand) and started going punch for punch with him. Sadly, this match ended in a no-contest as it appeared McGillicutty and Sheamus shoved the referee at the same time when the ref tried to separate the two. Overall, McGillicutty showed a no-nonsense attitude and brawled very well with his opponent who was now a World Champion in Sheamus. In his promo, McGillicutty said that he will bring aggression to NXT, and I think he will. He may actually be the most aggressive this season.
Will he work well with Kingston? For a storyline purpose, I can really see McGillicutty not listening to his mentor in Kofi Kingston. Kingston’s and McGillicutty’s styles really clash. This still could be for some interesting television and I think and the end of this season of NXT I can see them starting a program on Smackdown. However, there is a good chance that they get along. It will be difficult, since I think Kingston is going to be a career-long face while McGillicutty is coming off as a heel on NXT.
Who should McGillicutty’s mentor actually be? Though I am a fan of Kofi Kingston, I don’t think he would be the ultimate mentor for McGillicutty. The best option I would think would be TED DIBIASE, JR. I would think that considering McGillicutty already worked as a tag team with Ted’s brother in FCW would make Brett’s bigger brother the best option as a pro. I could see DiBiase taking advantage of McGillicutty’s aggression and would enjoyed seeing them as a tag team working on NXT at times.
Grade on pairing: B-. This potentially has a good guy/bad guy feud. This has the making of McGillicutty not listening to Kingston’s advice and going with his pedigree. I for one do like this pairing, as I think it can do nothing but help both of them on this show. Expect McGillicutty, despite not listening to Kingston, making it to the final three in this competition and maybe have a future on Smackdown or Raw later in 2010.
The Miz will mentor Alex Riley
Stats on Riley: 6’4″ 255 lbs.
Championships: Riley is the current FCW Champion (he defeated Season 1 Rookies Wade Barrett and Justin Gabriel to accomplish this feat).
Rundown on Riley: As all of you know, I am still kind of new to watching FCW. I have only started watching it back in January to do some research on NXT. I caught clips since 2008 though, and I got to say I am really impressed with Alex Riley, especially in this gimmick that he has now. He is exactly like The Miz, an arrogant heel that thinks he is better than anyone else. His gimmick is that of a college/high school jock heel character, which I think is perfect for a PG audience (he uses words like “nerds” and “dorks”). His wrestling is very good for someone in FCW and I think when you all add all the elements of him he is the best talent in FCW right now.
The match I chose to watch of Alex Riley was his match against Darren Young (Season One Rookie) on January 24, 2010. He was very impressive on the mic, generating a ton of heel heat in the FCW Arena. He asked a random fan how he was doing and then pulled it away and said that “he did not care”. Riley said he built himself as “the best person” in the company and did not care what anybody said and their opinions do not matter. He then called out FCW play-by-play commentator Byron Saxton for not building him up. At the end of the promo, he said that he will be the FCW Champion (which he accomplished). If he can talk like that on NXT I think a lot of WWE fans will appreciate his value.
The first thing he did against Darren Young was punch him around a good bit. I thought Riley’s punches look realistic and crisp. He sold Young’s offense well. He countered additional offense with a good flying forearm shot. He also did a good hanging clothesline as well. He was great keeping Young on the mat with his holds and kicks. For someone that has wrestled for only a few years, he showed great in-ring awareness. When Young delivered his offense, Riley fell at the right time and that showed a better example of awareness. After Young had a flurry of offense, Riley (though he sold a lot of offense) countered a high risk move by Young and drilled him at the top turnbuckle. I think the fans of NXT will like the finisher he used in FCW, which is known as Hit the Showers. I haven’t seen a finisher like that before, where he set up Young on his shoulder kind of like The Razor’s Edge, but then changed it to a modified Samoan Drop. Overall, this guy will be an entertaining character and I think he can generate massive amounts of heel heat now that he is partners with The Miz.
Will he work well with The Miz? Absolutely! Alex Riley is a tremendous rookie for Miz. With charisma, mic skills, and the ability to keep the action close and crisp makes Riley almost a copy of The Miz. I think this pairing was by far the best one for this season.
Who should Riley’s mentor actually be? Based on Riley’s intangibles, I can’t go any farther. The WWE did it right because THE MIZ is the perfect pro for him.
Grade on pairing: I wish there was something higher than an A+ because that is how I feel with this pairing. Both men can build each other up with the mic and they actually have great poise and presence in the ring. I can see nothing wrong with this group. Don’t be surprised if Daniel Bryan finds his way and distracts the progress of these two.
This is where I will do my very best in ranking all eight NXT rookies. Of course, the rankings can change at any time and after watching a few matches I think I have come to a conclusion as to who will be joining Wade Barrett as the “NXT” breakout star.
Starting from 8 and counting down to 1…
8) Titus O’Neil – He is not that experienced well in the ring and is partnered with a pro who I don’t think is that credible. O’Neil may show signs, but I think it is a long ways away.
7) Eli Cottonwood – He is not close to being ready as a “dominant force”. He only makes it past the first elimination because he is a big guy. He needs to really bulk up and show a better display of power.
6) Lucky Cannon – I was surprised in his match that I did my report on, but I don’t think he has much charisma. Mark Henry can only take him so far. The others head of him are either better in the ring or more charismatic.
5) Percy Watson – I think he has potential to improve. I also think he will get the crowd revved up if MVP allows him to. However he is a bit green in the ring and will have to rely on crowd reaction. Anything less and he will be the first or second out of NXT.
4) Husky Harris – Honestly the Final Four could go either way. I think the fans will really enjoy Harris’ unorthodox style. The three ranked ahead of him are just a bit better. But #1-#4 are very…VERY close.
3) Kaval – I think this is where his pros will hurt him a bit. He really can only use his feet and if he has to match up with power he will be in a lot of trouble. His quickness is great, but he will have to be a bit more to be #1.
2) Michael McGillicutty – I still hate the name, but his aggression will get him to the finals. I believe his in-ring skills will get him the #1 spot. He will have to work on the mic and if he does, he may (and I am being very optimistic here) have something his father sadly never accomplished in his life…A World Championship in the WWE (though Mr. Perfect won World titles elsewhere, but only made it to Intercontinental Championship status in the WWE).
1) Alex Riley – I think having the Miz as a mouthpiece will get him into some trouble, but not enough. Riley is the real deal in FCW and I really hope for better things for him. He has the look, charisma, and wrestling skills that will help him overcome the other seven challengers and will be the winner of NXT season two.
Well, that does it for me. What do you think of this season’s NXT roster? What are your rankings? Agree or Disagree by e-mailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. If you e-mail me at the Teacher’s Lounge one it will be read aloud on the radio show next week!
Thank you very much for reading this extensive version of my NXT preview. I had a pleasure writing this out every morning since Mr. V #71 and I hope you enjoy it as well. Until Thursday’s #73, you are…Dismissed!!
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