When Darren Young arrived on the scene over a year ago when the first season of NXT debuted I liked him. He seemed to be the naïve party guy to CM Punk’s Straight Edge Society. They had differences that went over Young’s head for the most part because he seemed like his IQ was a little below average. Honestly, I loved it. He was most interested in smiling and going out and having a good time than the biting barbs of a man like Punk or even his help he received from Gallows or the attention he gave to Serena.
He somewhat triumphantly returned with the entrance of Nexus. Enter a new attitude and a new era for the man who had only been off screen for a couple of weeks. Every since his days in Nexus, and his ultimate exile, and then his days of Superstars, my dislike for the man had begun to grow. Here was just another angry superstar with an agenda. At least as a naïve partier he had shown personality that differed from most of the men in that first season class. Now he was just one in a crowd of many. Many who did it better than him.
Fast forward through his career to his return to NXT Redemption. Redemption? The man, as he kept reminding us, was at Summer Slam 2010! What does he need Redemption for? Another reason for me to grumble at the show. That and the show seemed entirely ready to hand the season over to Titus O’Neil.
On the day the only rookie I liked was eliminated (Conor O’Brian) another rookie entered. Derrick Bateman. And did Derrick Bateman save this season of Redemption.
At least, for a while he did.
Unless you have been living under a rock you will know that a little over 30 days ago Darren Young was suspended for violating the Wellness Policy put in place by the WWE. When it happened I simply shrugged and said, “Well that will mean more Bateman.” What I did not think about was, “That will mean more Titus O’Neil.”
For weeks we were subjected to the same matches, which was usually Bateman against O’Neil. I was ready to start throwing things at the screen every time that dog bark sounded and Matt Striker announced he was making an impromptu match; Bateman and O’Neil.
There are many superstars who have shown their faces of late on NXT. Curt Hawkins and Tyler Reks made their showing as a tag team and The Usos became a part of it. Does Bateman get to fight these men? Nope. Titus O’Neil and then a smattering of Percy Watson.
I was beginning to despise NXT. I have been the show’s biggest supporter as people were losing interest and now I am finding it harder and harder to want to pay attention (except when Bateman is being his wacky self, refusing to turn and look at Striker when he addresses him!).
During the show Chris and I actually sat down and complained about the lack of Darren Young. At least while he was on the show Bateman did not have to be the only one fighting O’Neil. These men should be showing their chops against pros, not just one another. After all how can we really compare their wrestling abilities if they are fighting the same man every week? How can they improve as wrestlers if there is no room to grow? Boredom makes the muscles and brain lazy.
Then a beacon of light shone down. That beacon of light, the return of Darren Young. I have never been so excited to see Darren Young in my life. This also might have renewed my faith in Young. Has he been a bad wrestler? Of course not. Is he bad on the mic? Actually, no. Given time to develop a character he feels comfortable with he could be excellent.
Maybe I have been a little hard on Young? If I could still be happy to see him then perhaps I was being too cynical.
Now I am looking forward to NXT next week! Don’t screw it up, WWE.
There were only about four things that happened this week in NXT so doing a top four almost seems pointless. Instead I’m going to point out the flaws of this week’s episode of NXT, and no it will not be that this season has gone on for 36 weeks.
This week we see a match between Kaitlyn and Tamina again. This is a solid match. These two women have a different style and Kaitlyn is likely my second favorite diva currently with the company. My first and third are Maxine and AJ. We’ll look into that phenomenon another time.
Before Kaitlyn’s match she and AJ are seen in the locker room for the second week in a row. This is the second week in a row I find myself straining to hear what the two of them are saying. There is no reason to shout in a locker room but I feel like the two of them are mumbling to one another and wonder how they even understood each other standing right there. These two have great chemistry, but they need to turn it up.
The Usos battle Tyson Kidd and Johnny Curtis. Finally Johnny Curtis gets some air time and it’s a solid match, which Curtis loses. The problem is not the match it is that you knew Curtis was going to lose to the Usos. It’s pretty much the same curse Superstars have every week, predictability in ring.
Speaking of predictable, tonight’s match is Percy Watson, Titus O’Neil, and AJ vs. Derrick Bateman, JTG, and Maxine. Bateman won last week so that must mean, yup, he’s losing to O’Neil again this week. Back and forth between these two, constantly. It feels like this has been going on the entire 36 weeks when I know it has not been that long.
But damn close.
O’Neil continues to harp that Maxine has fish lips and the crowd continues to not really react to it. While Maxine might have been my least favorite on NXT Season 3 she is now my favorite diva. Does she have fish lips? Well she does have full pouty lips, but that is sensual, not something to be harped upon. Plus, if you realize that a joke is not working, move on.
As always the highlight of the show is Maxine and Derrick with a smattering of JTG. While JTG might not be able to say how fly he is as well as Scott Stanford with his own, “JTG-6 because I’m so fly,” he is entertaining and moves well in the ring. Maxine and Derrick have chemistry between each other and just as they shine in the ring and out, separate or together. These two make NXT worth watching, even if the show is a recap of last week, and the week before that, and the… you get the picture.
“Yeehaw we’re here in Texas baby, yeah.” Derrick Bateman opening up NXT for us this evening.
This week NXT picked itself back up from last week. It decided it was not going to do the same thing, entirely. While a few matches were familiar there was enough to keep the pace going that NXT found itself more entertaining than Raw.
As always, my top 4 reasons to watch NXT:
4. Lack of the Recap
Perhaps Raw understood the complaint. After showing Triple H being attacked by Kevin Nash when it happened then two recaps during the Monday night show perhaps the writers understood we did not need to see it again. Of course there was a Raw recap but I found myself celebrating that it was John Cena saying he chooses The Rock. And the spittle incident was cut as best they could. Less recap on NXT this week than usual. That earns it points.
3. Tyson Kidd, Curt Hawkins, Matt Striker
During the show Matt Striker hands to Hawkins a notice of suspension for one week, telling him not to worry about it since he was already injured and unable to work. Tyson tells Striker not to insult someone holding a cane. I love watching Striker in a more active role on NXT than the “Let me announce a few challenges,” role. Tyson Kidd has his chance to shine on NXT and proves it when he goes out to the ring to compete against Jey Uso. The Usos have a slightly tweaked entrance this week. They still give their chant but they have drum beats behind them and after they complete their chant a rap starts. It’s better than silence following them to the ring. I love Jey Uso but I found myself rooting for Tyson Kidd. This is further pushed by the fact that he had Curt Hawkins in his corner.
2. Kaitlyn, AJ, and Tamina
This NXT was too great and giving it four reasons was hard. So the girls are all together. Why? Because each one deserved her time to shine. Kaitlyn and AJ start off their scene talking to one another and Kaitlyn brags about how she is going to win against Tamina, who ends up standing right behind her. And old joke but it works so well for these women. Kaitlyn turns to Tamina and says, “You are surprisingly stealthy for such a… tall person!” Kaitlyn and Tamina proceed to put on a solid match that makes me wish Tamina would change her ring attire. She looks like she is dressed to go to a corporate luncheon without the suit jacket while Kaitlyn sports a new outfit that is her most flattering yet. I love both of these women and watching two powerful women wrestle, and well, makes me smile.
1. Derrick Bateman and Maxine
Derrick is consistently at the top of my list, for good reason. This week he has to be paired up with Maxine because there was so much good about NXT some had to be condensed. During Bateman’s match with Titus O’Neil, where Bateman wins thank heavens, Maxine and AJ proceed to do commentary. Jack Korpela grins like a school boy as he ogles Maxine and Maxine brushes it all off, though not unkindly, as she is a bit unkind to AJ. AJ is good on commentary, Maxine is great. Maxine gives barbs with little effort and looks incredible doing it.
While Derrick had some of the best lines of the night his best moment of the night came after his match when he had Maxine join him in the ring. He told her his love for her and then got down on one knee and asked Maxine to marry him. She proceeded to slap him, kiss him, then say yes. I was not sure if she was angry or wanted to cry or a little of both but it was the best moment in NXT history, better than Aksana and Goldust’s proposal and bomb of a marriage. I’m rooting for these two, in marriage, health, and career.
I always go with four, but an honorable mention goes to the beginning of the show.
“My by default best friend, JTG.” – Bateman about JTG “Next WD star!” – Bateman making fun of O’Neil and his inability to say “WWE”.
The show starts off with Derrick, JTG, and Maxine on one side and Percy Watson and Titus O’Neil on the other. I’m either a growing fan of JTG’s or I just really dislike Titus O’Neil and Percy Watson. Or a little of both. However Bateman and JTG seem to make a fun pairing that ended up becoming trapped in matches with these opposing men. Titus O’Neil needs to work on his mic skills and has to pander to the crowd to get pops by wearing pink bottoms and saying it was for the two women in his life he’s lost to breast cancer and for the women in the audience or watching who have also suffered. It’s a nice sentiment, but the poor man stumbles constantly over his words.
JTG and Bateman however shine with better mic skills, and then better skills in the ring. Sorry guys, even if JTG lost to Percy, he was the more entertaining of those two.
I was only going to do my four favorite things about FCW. FCW decided to make it very hard on me. Because four almost seems like a small number. This was a show filled with names you might recognize and names you need to look into. The Fink is your ring announcer for the evening and the first person he introduces is Ricardo Rodriguez, who insists he should introduce himself. The show only goes up from there.
4. The Ascension
There are two Ascension promos during this week’s episode of FCW. Two! I get shivers as this group shows their video promos. There is no one in this group not right for the part. I could watch them every moment of FCW. I could watch a television show just based off of this group. Hell, make this group a movie. They have personality, the look, and the moves. Unfortunately we don’t get to see the moves during this particular episode of FCW, but the promos are enough to keep you wondering and hoping for the next time.
3. Erik Rowan vs. Big E Langston
Erik Rowan came out and I can’t say I was ready to take this man seriously. Tall, bald, with a bushy red beard that was verging on Knoxian territory. I cringed and wondered how this man was going to work in the ring. Out came his opponent Big E Langston who I did not have much faith in either at first glance. Another large black man with Zeke like proportions. I was ready for a slow bout. I was wrong. This was an entertaining match between two large, strong men who were moving quicker through the ring than they had any right to. Watching Rowan pick up Langston had my mouth dropping and watching Langston turn much of it around on Rowan was awing. They had the moves and I now want to see them again.
2. Ricardo Rodriguez vs. Leakee
I have only started watching FCW in the last few weeks, so despite knowing Rodriguez was on FCW I had yet to see his moves. Being the opening match I did not have a build to his match but that was not needed. Rodriguez took center stage, introduced himself, and then out came Laekee, another member of the Anoa’I family. These two had chemistry and practice and were entertaining to watch together. I would have liked to have heard more from Leakee because then I might have been more excited when he won.
1. Leo Kruger vs. Husky Harris
I am not a big fan of Husky Harris. In fact I am not a fan at all. I did not like him on NXT and I do not like him at FCW. Why, then, does he rate as the partial number one on my list? Leo. Kruger. I would have made number one Leo Kruger to begin with if the match had not been solid and kept my interest the entire time. I enjoy Leo Kruger. He speaks well, he has smarmy down, and I do so enjoy smarmy, and the title looks good on him. Leo Kruger keeping his title had me jumping in my seat. I could have watched the entire show just for him and been happy, but luckily FCW provides entertainment consistently.
Other great things about this episode that did not make my top four was Kaitlyn and Caylee Turner (Alicia Fox’s little sister). Kaitlyn continues to show improvement in the ring and that she is the dominant strong woman of FCW and is at least in the running for number two on the WWE main roster. Caylee, while looking like her sister seems to have a softer appearance but moves that could still be just as strong.
William Regal is part of the announce team of FCW and is always entertaining. As he showed with his comment about Antonio Cesaro, “About the only thing to ever come out of Switzerland with any aggression about it.”
Speaking of Antonio Cesaro, this was his first match on FCW televised. Unfortunately he did not make it into my top four, and there is a reason for it. While Mr. Antonio Cesaro (as The Fink announced him) was entertaining and seemed to be enjoying himself in the ring it was the most predictable match of the night. He went up against Mike Dalton, who I had no idea who he was, and all we could think was this was the FCW guy who loses. We were right. Still, Cesaro made a good first showing and I look forward to seeing him again.
Other appearances of the night were Briley Pierce, Richie Steamboat, Naomi, Cameron Lynn, Byron Saxton, Percy Watson, Titus O’Neil, Maxine, Aksana, and Brad Maddox. FCW
4 Top reasons to watch NXT this week
This week I suffered from something close to déjà vu watching NXT. Didn’t I see these same matches last week? Just with the opposite endings?
However that was not nearly as bad as Percy Watson and Titus O’Neil trying to tell Maxine she had “fish lips”. They sounded enough like schoolyard bullies in their segment with Derrick Bateman and Maxine that Bateman mocked them with, “LOL. This coming from the man who barks like a wounded seal.”
Despite repetitiveness and awful insulting coming from Percy and Titus the show was still stellar. Why?
4. The Return of Matt Striker
I’ve complained for at least two weeks that Matt Striker had not been coming out on Superstars. I love Striker, more than I thought I did. When I was not seeing his face on NXT it was making me angry and then I complained a lot. His return made him not just the host of the show but seems to be pushing him as the acting General Manager of NXT. Another sign that NXT is becoming less about the competition and more about characters, plot, and wrestling.
3. Maxine vs. AJ
Sure, we saw this last week. And the week before. And possibly the week before. But these two work well together in the ring and AJ bends in ways that make me cringe. I feel like every time Maxine puts her into a hold that AJ should be snapping in half. Instead she simply rolls with it and continues to fight. Maxine also sported redder hair on NXT. I said it was so she and AJ looked less like sisters. Maxine said it was because she heard Laurinaitis liked redheads and she wanted to impress him.
2. Rematch between The Usos and Curt Hawkins and Tyler Reks
The ending was predictable, last week Curt Hawkins and Tyler Reks won. It still did not stop the four of these men from trying their hardest to steal the show. They almost could if it hadn’t been for…
1. Derrick Bateman
Derrick is consistently working at becoming the best on NXT. It was pointed out early in the show that there were only two contestants left. Apparently being suspended also made Darren a non-contestant now? Derrick came in halfway through the season and has stolen the show. He has the look, he is learning the moves, and he most certainly has the mic skills. At first he seemed uncomfortable as a heel, this episode he embraced it and enjoyed every aspect of his character. Paired with Maxine you either love the two of them or hate them but you will be entertained.
Other things of note during this show is the commentating team of William Regal and Jack Korpela. Regal has always given it his all and his all is pretty great. Korpela came in the first two weeks and did not know the rhythm of the show or his commentator partner. This episode he seems to have found his rhythm and while he is still not stellar he is no longer painful to hear. In fact I would say he’s good.
And you are still not watching NXT, are you?
Don’t forget WWE NXT is available on Wednesdays at 4pm EST and then any time after that.