The show began with Matt Striker attempting to explain how someone wins NXT and a WWE contract. It is apparently a vote by the eight veterans with no veteran being allowed to vote for or against their mentee. It was never explained when the first vote would take place nor was it explained whether there would be a series of eliminations like American Idol or just one vote at the end.
Darren Young v. David Otunga
Otunga got in the early offense with a reversal of an Irish whip, hip toss and body slam. That’s where the match ended last week, except one of the three moves was botched; unfortunately, this one was far from finished. Young kicked out of a pin attempt at two and took control of the match. He used a neckbreaker and a flying knee to take the match to the ground. After a pause there, Young sent Otunga to the floor and hit a dropkick when Otunga attempted to reenter the ring. While Otunga sold on the floor, Young was trying to put himself over to a disinterested CM Punk. I’ m not sure why Young would do that if he’s trying to be a babyface here. After a commercial, Young stayed on the offense with a vertical suplex. Young then moved from a rest hold to knee and elbow drops for a bit. He missed an avalanche in the corner, which allowed Otunga to get a near fall off of a roll up. They then literally repeated that exchange almost move for move with Young putting Otunga down, working a chin lock, missing a charge in the corner and Otunga countering (this time with a clothesline). Otunga was now able to get his first substantial offense in over 10 minutes with a shoulder block and then fires Young to the floor. There, Luke Gallows and R-Truth began arguing. Otunga sent Young back into the ring and was tripped up by Punk on the other side of the ring as he bounced off the ropes. That allowed Young to hit a very awkward suplex or slam into a face buster for the pinfall.
This was one of the weakest ~15 minute TV matches you will see with minimal action, a sloppy finish and one wrestler controlling an enormous part of the match. I’m not sure how WWE figures even-Stephen booking and putting poor workers in long matches, where they have no chance to put on a good show or wake up the crowd, is going to get any of these guys over. After the match, Otunga and R-Truth got into a lengthy shoving match. They also really need to keep the pro v. rookie feuds to a minimum else they risk trivializing the Miz v. Daniel Bryan feud which is supposed to be the centerpiece of this show.
Young d. Otunga.
They did a good video package on Daniel Bryan, showing his background including mentioning him training at Shawn Michaels’ academy. After the package, Michael Cole was back in full-fledged anti-Internet crusader mode. This comes off as so out of place when Cole is a regular, straight announcer on Raw and for most of this show as well.
Backstage, Miz cracked on Daniel Bryan who was getting his ribs taped up (an homage to him crashing into the announce table last week). He said Bryan was wrestling Wade Barrett next.
Daniel Bryan v. Wade Barrett
Chris Jericho was out with Wade Barrett but Miz stayed backstage. Barrett controlled the match to start going to work on Bryan’s ribs. He got a near fall off of a side suplex. Barrett tried for a couple of charges in the corner and missed the second, being sent to the floor. Bryan then connected with a flying knee from the apron. Bryan fired Barrett back in the ring and went for a springboard move but slipped off the top rope (they covered by saying it was because of the injured ribs). Barrett then finished him off with a fireman’s carry slam. So, it’s for 0 for 2 for the guy who they apparently are building the show around. After the match, Jericho came in and applied the Walls of Jericho on Bryan. The match did a good job of following the story that Bryan’s ribs were still badly hurt from last week’s match.
Barrett d. Bryan
Elsewhere, Christian gave Heath Slater a pep talk and told him to do some calisthenics.
Matt Striker interviewed Justin Gabriel and Matt Hardy. Each put the other one over.
Matt Hardy & Justin Gabriel v. William Regal & Skip Sheffield
Before the match, they did a video package on Sheffield who has the typical goofball, country bumpkin gimmick. Sheffield started on the offense with Gabriel. He used a clothesline and a sharp kick to the back. Gabriel escaped and tagged out to Matt Hardy. Gabriel and Hardy executed a successful double-team and went to work on Sheffield as Regal began to chastise his protégé from the apron. Matt Hardy hit poetry in motion with an assist from Gabriel as the match went to a commercial. Returning, Regal was getting the better of a striking match with Gabriel. He hit a belly-to-back suplex and went to lecture Sheffield which allowed Gabriel to get a tag to Matt Hardy. Regal managed to gain the advantage and fire Hardy to the floor with Gabriel. He tagged out to Sheffield who kept the advantage on Hardy with a big splash (prefaced by a strut). Regal and Sheffield continued to cut the ring in the half and work over Hardy. Finally, Hardy managed to get a neckbreaker on Sheffield. Regal was tagged in and continued to accost Sheffield which allowed Hardy to hit the twist of fate and tag out to Gabriel. With Regal already setup in the corner, Gabriel connected with a 450 splash to get the victory. This was a fun match.
Hardy & Gabriel d. Regal & Sheffield.
Backstage, Carlito spit the apple in the face of Heath Slater. Slater didn’t respond as the show concluded.
This show was a mixed bag. The video packages are well-produced and they have managed to get each of the rookies some real character development in just two weeks. The main event was a fun match and the Daniel Bryan-Wade Barrett match worked well as far as telling a story. On the other hand, the finishes of the first two matches seem to directly contradict the direction they want the show to go in and there are too many “pro and rookie not getting along” angles going on right now for my liking. And you have to seriously question the wisdom of having David Otunga and Darren Young wrestle for 15 minutes on television.