The season finale of NXT was less about the wrestling and more about the competition. This is no criticism. That is how it should have been, and as a consequence, the tension throughout was palpable.
There was one match on the show, however, and it was possibly the best of the season. It was a triple threat match pitting the remaining contestants against each other to ‘make a final statement’ before the winner was chosen. I think the quality of this match came from the story it told, of Barratt’s ruthlessness and ring-savvy helping him come out victorious. Where David Otunga took the logical step of not breaking up a pin, Wade Barratt made a statement, stealing the limelight and glory from Justin Gabriel after his 450 splash on Otunga by not allowing Gabriel to get the pin and instead taking it himself, a mover reminiscent of his pro. Later on, Gabriel’s daredevil mentality came second best to Barratt’s composure when he raised his knees to another 450 splash and pinned Gabriel with a modified crable. This match was the perfect excercise in getting one guy over as the clear winner of the competition.
This was also the case with the presense of the eliminated ‘rookies’ at ringside, none of whom said Otunga or Gabriel should win. This was also good for some of the characters who may have to try harder than others to make the main roster, such as Tarver or Slater, who got one last chance at air time.
In the end, as is clear, Wade Barratt became the WWE’s ‘next breakout star,’ and few would argue that he doesn’t deserve it. It’ll be interesting to see what title he challenges for. My pressumption beforehand was that Otunga would win and challenge R-Truth, but Barratt doesn’t have any really obvious targets. I also pressumed that he’d challenge for a mid-card title, but he mentioned the World Heavyweight Championship. If it was me, i’d have him challenge R-Truth. At least there is NXT history there, and being on RAW, he’ll get a lot of help (that he’ll perhaps need) from being alligned with Chris Jericho, if indeed he is.
Speaking of Chris Jericho, though I doubt he’d be interested in ‘management,’ throughout this competition, he’s struck me as being fantastic in the role, reminiscent perhaps of Jim Cornette c. late 90’s. And one major plus of the show is that it allows superstars who perhaps don’t get the opportunities they deserve, to show themselves off in a unique role. Obviously people like Jericho, Miz and Punk don’t need this and are there instead for drawing power, but for people like William Regal, it gives them a chance to make an impact and show they have potential in their own right, and indeed, since NXT, Christian has entered the IC title hunt, Regal looks to be starting some sort of feud on RAW, Matt Hardy is in the middle of a major one with Drew McIntyre and most notably, R-Truth has become US champion. NXT certainly can’t take all the credit for this – a lot must go to the superstars themselves – but it does seem significant.
With this in mind, I am thankful that Cody Rhodes and MVP will be pros next year. This could be the thing to keep the name of Cody Rhodes hot after his brilliant inclusion in Legacy, and for MVP, it might just be enough to tip the balance towards giving him his deserved place at the main event level. Cody Rhodes’ pairing with Husky Harris seems inspired given his father’s monicker of ‘The Common Man,’ something the figure of Husky seems to aesthetically gel with very well. Meanwhile LayCool’s inclusion as pros is also welcome, showing that female wrestlers have just as much credibility as mentors as men do. Their pairing with Kaval will surely lead to some comic segments given how completely different he is from his pros.
I’ve mentioned some of the new rookies, so i’ll give some first impressions on those that were impressive enough to make them:
Already mentioned, Husky Harris’s pairing with Cody Rhodes is of great interest, and having, like Rhodes, a wrestling legacy, he should have some intersting stuff to offer, though I must admit, his legacy isn’t quite as impressive as say, Randy Orton or The Hart’s or the Uso’s given that his father was the I.R.S. Man …
Eli Cottonwood resembles a monster in a horror movie, and of course this is a great thing! I’ll withhold judgement until I see him in the ring, but I just hope he isn’t like, or used like a giant like the Great Khali. I also don’t like his name. There are quite a few uninspiring or silly names in season 2, and I think Eli would benefit by shortening his name to Eli Cotton.
Percy Watson certainly seems like apotentially fun guy, but he also seems potentially irritating. I guess whatever way it goes will be, rightly, due to his designation of face or heel. Casting no aspersions, he comes across as very camp, and if indeed WWE have taken the positive step of having a gay wrestler join the televised fold, I hope he isn’t used like Orlando Jordan, a character who only serves to re-ingrain stereotypes.
Perhaps the most exciting inclusion in season 2 will be Kaval (formerly known as Low Ki among other things). This guy already has an awful lot of experience and credibility, much like Daniel Bryan (with whom i’d love to see him wrestle!), and if he can talk and get over with the crowd, then he is surely the favourite. Like Bryan, I don’t know if he needs NXT, but, like Bryan, lets hope it offers a great springboard for him.
Michael McGillicutty has to be the stupidest name out there, but the mere fact that he is the son of Mr. Perfect is enough to arouse interest in this superstar. I didn’t think much of his, admittedly brief, promo last night however, and I wish he would go by his real name of Joe Hennig, or perhaps Joe Henning.
I’m not too keen on Alex Riley. It seemed from his promo that he was trying to emulate the Miz, which will be a novelty for a couple of weeks, but when it becomes clear that he isn’t as talented (which I imagine it will), it might just become tiresome. I’ll reserve judgement.