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WWE NXT Report
JAMES'S WWE NXT REPORT 3/8: Alt. perspective review of Tuesday's show - debut of "new, never before seen" concept for NXT

Mar 8, 2011 - 9:56:10 PM
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Hornswoggle_NO_150_5.jpg
WWE NXT Alt. Perspective report
March 8, 2011
Taped in Houston, Tex.
Report by Justin James, PWTorch contributor


The good news for those who watched NXT 4 is that Brodus Clay is indeed a roster member, and he is already involved in a top-tier scenario. With any luck, Christian vs. Clay will be an undercard match at WrestleMania, which could be pretty good given some mic work from both and decent time in the ring.

Pre-Show WWE promised a "new, never before seen" concept for NXT Season 5, but WWE has been extremely tight-lipped about it. There is no indication of who might be on the new show and Fink in the chat claims he doesn't know who the Pros are.

[Q1] The show opens with new graphics on the 'Tron: "NXT Redemption." Grisham says that this season is about "redemption" as well. William Regal is announcing with Grisham. Awesome. And Maryse is the co-host. She gives "air kisses" to Striker, who introduces the Rookies.

- Darren Young
- Conor O'Brian
- Lucky Cannon, dressed in a feminine version of Ric Flair's robe
- Byron Saxton
- Jacob Novak
- Titus O'Neil

This is supposed to be a "best of" season, but there's not a single person here worth keeping.

Striker and Maryse provide the new rules. The winner gets to go on to NXT 6, and Rookies can win "redemption points" not immunity points. Redemption points can be used to offset the voting from the WWE Universe.

- Chavo is the Pro to Darren Young. Chavo talked up Young after receiving a strong reaction.

- Vladimir Kozlov comes out in a suit to be Conor O'Brian's Pro. He says that O'Brian needs to be himself. Probably the longest promo of his career.

- Tyson Kidd is Lucky Cannon's pro. I think Lucky Cannon might be wearing lipstick. Regal notices it too. Orlando Jordan wants his gimmick back.

- Yoshi Tatsu is Byron Saxton's Pro and cuts his first promo since ECW.

- JTG is Jacob Novak's pro. JTG blames Novak's problems last season on the issues with Dolph Ziggler and Vickie Guererro.

Hornswoggle_NO_150_5.jpg
- Hornswoggle is paired with Titus O'Neil. Hornswoggle does his mumble routine and imitates Titus's dog bark.

For the record, William Regal is already my favorite announcer currently actively working for WWE.

[c - The True Store of WrestleMania DVD, WrestleMania 27 Magazine]

1 -- JACOB NOVAK (w/JTG) vs. DARREN YOUNG (w/Chavo)

Young and Novak lock up and eventually spill to the outside. They get back in the ring and Young takes over with a clothesline. Basic back and forth with William Regal doing a great job talking up the Rookies and the competition. More basic back and forth, big boot from Novak gets a two count and Novak moves to a headlock. Regal stands out, talking about "earning a spot" on the roster, which means a lot coming from a veteran like him. Novak and Young are both much more aggressive than we've seen in the past. Young is in control as Regal talks up his experience as a pro. Young pulls out a victory with a nondescript finisher.

WINNER: Young in 4:00. Boring match, I didn't even realize the end was coming.

[Q2] Maryse is walking backstage, and Yoshi Tatsu congratulates her for being a co-host. He seems like he's about to make a pass at her when Byron Saxton interrupts and says that he wants to strategize. Maryse leaves and Tatsu chides Saxton: "Your timing is no good!"

[c - Hall of Fame]

Raw Rebound. This is followed by a video package on Conor O'Brian talking about "hiding behind a persona" and dumping the "rat" gimmick with a very emotional, real package discussing his struggles in life.

Up next, "Boot Camp Obstacle Course." Before that, the audience is "treated" to a video package on "The Chaperone." Then, hype for Snooki guest-hosting Raw next week.

Maryse and Striker introduce the obstacle course.

- Titus O'Neil: 29.8 seconds

- Jacob Novak: 24.0 seconds

- Byron Saxton: Just misses 24 seconds

- Lucky Cannon pulls a Michael Tarver and refuses to do the course and vows to steal Maryse from Ted DiBiase. She gives him the Maryse hand to the face.

- Conor O'Brian: Regal says he's impressed by O'Brian's story from the video package, 27.1

- Darren Young: Chavo gets the crowd behind Young, 23.0

Winner: Darren Young with three redemption points.

Reax: This was a better contest than previously offered on NXT. It was quicker, and didn't have the usual referee and clock issues.

[Q3] Replay of Cole's guest referee announcement from Raw.

[c - FlexForce ad, Smackdown ad]

Back from break, Regal says that no one's had to redeem himself more than he has in his career.

Video package on Byron Saxton where he admits to making mistakes and says that he's going to learn from them.

[Q4]

2 -- TITUS O'NEIL (w/Hornswoggle) vs. LUCKY CANNON (w/Tyson Kidd)

Cannon plays the heel early on but O'Neil takes him to the corner. Cannon kicks him out of the ring and shows a mean streak as Kidd encourages him. Cannon's showing a lot of energy with a rear chinlock. Meanwhile, Regal drops a Finlay reference. Cannon puts his feet on the ropes while keeping O'Neil in a hold, and Hornswoggle kicks him off the ropes. Basic chain wrestling, but both O'Neil and Cannon make it look good.

O'Neil finally gets a break with a suplex, then lands a series of punches, and a furious shoulder tackle off the ropes. O'Neil catches boots to the face, then Kidd catches up to Hornswoggle, which distracts the ref. Cannon goes to the top rope, but Hornswoggle knocks him down. O'Neil catches Cannon with a jumping spinebuster for three. Innovative finisher. Post-match, Kidd tries to put Hornswoggle in the Sharpshooter, but O'Neal kicks him off. O'Neil and Hornswoggle stand tall in the ring.

WINNER: O'Neil in 4:00. I never thought I'd equate either of these two wrestlers with a good match, but I thought they put on a good match. I like O'Neil's finisher; it's better than the dozens of variations of neckbreakers and chokeslams from the rest of the roster. I thought Cannon did a good job playing a heel.

Final Reax: The best part of this show is already William Regal, followed by Maryse. Regal has toned down his heel mannerisms dramatically and even his voice is softer. He's doing what Booker T is failing to do, which is to use his in-ring history and knowledge of the wrestling game to put over the talent. He's a bit Striker-esque in his obscure references, but in a less obnoxious way. William Regal is simply phenomenal as an announcer and I'd like to see this role continue for him. Maryse stole the show just by being on it. She's got a really quick wit when left to her own devices, and her presence creates an interesting tension amongst the male characters.

That's about the end of "the good" so far. It's a shame that none of it has to do with the Rookies. Darren Young, Byron Saxton, and Conor O'Brian are the only ones who even deserve a second look unless something has changed since last time they were on NXT. Honestly, I doubt any of them are long-term keepers in WWE. There are only three standouts from past NXT seasons who are not already on the roster: Derrick Bateman, A.J., and Naomi. Lucky Cannon seems to have made the most tweaks since he was last on, with a new heel persona and a flamboyant gimmick. I think that Saxton and O'Brian will be well-served to drop previous characters (Rock Jr. and "The Rat," respectively) and play more realistic characters.

I am a bit curious about why they are already talking about NXT 6, and what is so special about it that someone would want to suffer through NXT 5 just to get to it.

[Torch art credit Joe Borzotta (c) PWTorch.com]


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