Last week I said I was ok with the rookie challenges as long as they had the same ones each season (at least until they get boring), and this week saw the return of the (much improved and more efficient) obstacle course to NXT. Another efficiency saving came with Matt Striker’s demonstration of the course, meaning we didn’t have to go through the whole thing slowly. This all meant it took up a lot less of the show than it did last season, which is a good thing.
The first segment of the show was an edition of MVP’s VIP Lounge, which was booked to get Percy Watson over as a face again, after last week’s attempts at a rookie attack on his pro. This makes me wonder why they couldn’t have used someone else like potential ‘tweener’ Michael McGillicutty. It would have fitted in well with his claim to be bringing back ‘ruthless aggression,’ without harming his character. Perhaps there is some kind of Percy Watson betrayal planned, which would make it all make more sense, but for now, it seemed a little short-sighted. Another function of it was to introduce all the rookies and pros cutting promos on why they/their rookie should stay in the show. Depending on who was talking, this was a good aspect of the show, but with almost everyone having their pro speak for them too, it was quite time consuming.
As my title suggests, a lot of schmaltz was forthcoming here, with Percy Watson apologising for planning an attack on MVP, McGillicutty suggesting his fans could be called ‘McGilliBuddys’ (a decent pun, but not befitting a wrestler whose whole schtik is being the perfect athlete, using ruthless aggression), and worst of all, perennial also-ran, Lucky Cannon, who took his time to thank the WWE Universe for allowing him to have the time of his life. None of this is necessarily a bad thing, but I wouldn’t want to hear it every week.
The first match of the night was the team of Cody Rhodes and Husky Harris taking on MVP and Percy Watson. As was the case with both of the matches, this was quite short, though not as short as the second match. They did however manage to squeeze a decent amount in to the match, and told a good story about the impatient rookies brawling needlessly outside of the ring while the cooler heads of the pros broke them up, re-envigourating the match in the ring. Eventually, it was Cody and Husky that went over, after Cody’s volley style chuck kick to MVP followed by Husky’s senton dive. The way both moves came in quick succession avoided making MVP seem weak, while helping Husky look all the stronger, with him getting the pin.
Lucky Cannon’s skydive continued with a loss to Alex Riley which, despite some early flourishes from Cannon, was little more than a squash match. It’s clear Lucky is being booked this way, perhaps to underline how hard he will have to fight if he wants to be ‘the WWE’s next break out star.’ Either that, or to legitimise him being eliminated from the conclusion. Right now, i’m edging towards the latter.
Next week, another rookie will be eliminated, so just for posterity, i’ll note that, having won the obstacle course challenge, Michael McGillicutty earned immunity for next week. McGillicutty is certainly being made to look strong, but aside from that, there’s not much of note to say about the actual challenge, apart also from Husky Harris deciding to make a statement (a bit like Tarver did last season) by destroying the course instead of seriously competing. It is actions such as this that have made Harris such a stand-out star on this season of NXT.
Seen that there’s an elimination next week, i’ll give my own personal standings, splitting them in to leagues of quality seperated by line-breaks, who i’d like to be eliminated, and a prediction for who will actually be eliminated:
1) Kaval (The strongest in the ring, and one of the most likeable)
2) Husky Harris (Made the biggest impact on the competition, though he does lack the in-ring skills somewhat)
3) Alex Riley (Great on the mic, solid in the ring and a good heel)
4) Michael McGillicutty (Very good in the ring, a bit non descript sometimes)
5) Percy Watson (I no longer believe he’s that charismatic. A pretty solid athlete, but not much else going on)
6) Eli Cottonwood (Has potential as a ‘monster,’ but never really shows it, instead often being quite goofy)
7) Lucky Cannon (Is too sanguine in his role of underdog. Non-descript and sometimes vomit-inducing with his hard-luck stories)
So I would obviously like to see Lucky Cannon eliminated, and for once, I think that may well be the actual outcome. We’ll find out next week!