The first ten minutes or so of last night’s NXT were pretty surreal. We were told that in the first of weekly challenges, all eight ‘rookies’ would compete in a keg challenge. I was pretty unpleasantly surprised by this. As I say, it took ten minutes out of a wrestling show! However, when it was revealed that the winner would get a main-event match against Kane, it made more sense. Depending on what the following challenges are, I think it could be a good addition to the NXT concept, though they should try and keep the time down on it, perhaps by having them do a challenge at the same time, rather than one after the other.
Another way they made up for it was by stacking the card after the challenge. The rest of the show did consist of wrestling pretty much back-to-back, and in the end, the rookies probably showcased just as much of their wretling abilities as in previous weeks.
There were two stand-outs in my opinion. The first was Justin Gabriel, who wrestled a very good match. Until now i’ve been distinctly luke-warm on him, thinking he was a one (admittedly very impressive) trick pony with his 450 splash, but he did a lot more mat-based stuff this week, without ignoring his ‘high-flyer’ status.
The other was David Otunga. He’s not the best technical wrestler ther, but he certainly held his own last night nonetheless, and there’s no question he can cut it ring-wise. Where he excels though is in character and in charisma. This week on RAW, as the announcers made a point of teling us, Otunga looked not only as if he belonged on the main roster, but like he belonged high up on the card. Whether he wins NXT or not, he deserves a call-up, and based on his performances, he’ll get one.
I am starting to question how Daniel Bryan is being used. I understand how his losing streak works to his favour, but I think at this point, he’s certainly over with the fans, and maybe they can let him win now. I know that getting pinned in the sorts of exchange he was in last night happens, but I nonetheless felt that losing to Darren Young made him look unnecessarily weak. We’ll see where it goes.
Heath Slater was the biggest disappointment for me. The antithesis of Otunga, Heath Slater looked like he barely belonged on NXT, never mind wrestling a huge name like Kane! In the opening interview segment, he showed his lack of personality and charaisma by simply answering a question with “woo!” The fans will soon find out that calling yourself ‘the one-man rock-band’ doesn’t make you charismatic. His match with Kane was a pretty poor showing too. Kane helped him look as good as he could, but no matter how many times the commentators reiterated that he left a ‘positive impression,’ I wasn’t buying it. It was simply unbelieveable (and not in a good way) wheneve he hurt Kane and knocked him over. I wonder if management agrees?
Away from NXT quickly, i’d like to join with Lance Storm in condemnation of the unprotected chair-shot on iMPACT! this week. People say its part of the job-description? Well it isn’t. Wrestlers take controlled risks, and an unprotected chair shot is unnecessarily dangerous. While his claims that concussions lead to depression are unproven (though there is some evidence supporting it), I couldn’t agree more that doing that a day after the announcement of Chris Kanyon’s death was incredibly insensitive. In the light of a fellow wrestler’s death, you would think that, at least this one time, out of respect, TNA and the talent would take care of their workers/themselves by not risking their bodies in such a way.
WWE has banned unprotected chair shots, ROH guys have agreed to tone it down, and there stands TNA, trying to shock you in to watching.