I'm in the middle of re-watching the June 26 2006 episode of ECW on SciFi, which featured an Extreme Rules match between Rob Van Dam and Bob 'Hardcore' Holly. This was the match that earned Holly a boat-load of respect, as he received a nasty gash across his match in a table spot near the midpoint of the match.
With blood gushing from the visibly deep wound, Holly showed fans just how 'Hardcore' he truly was, working the rest of the match, and becoming one of the few 'WWE guys' to truly do the modern ECW banner justice.
While I'm not advocating a bloodbath every week on Tuesday nights in order to earn respect, I think he did deserve some recognition for the small part he played in the short-lived run of ECW's second time around.
Bob Holly was released from WWE in January 2009, and ECW was finally laid to rest last month, with the new pseudo-reality show "NXT" taking its place. NXT teams up 8 rookies with 8 'pros' in an innovative effort to build eight stars at once. Some of the pros chosen are a little questionable, but they provide a spot for WWE stars that don't really have anything else going for them.
Carlito and R-Truth might have been future-endeavored if not for NXT. The Miz, Chris Jericho, and CM Punk are on fire on their respective brands, and provide necessary star-power for NXT. William Regal, Matt Hardy, and Christian are all solid workers and have paid their dues, so to speak, but seem to be forever stuck under the proverbial glass ceiling in WWE. Therefore, NXT is a good 'waiting room' for these guys.
However, I think they could have gone further than just eight pairs. I know they plan to have future seasons, so it opens up other options, but I don't doubt that there will be duplicate/recurring pros.
Bob Holly would have been a perfect mentor for a rookie. They could have--and still could, in a future season--played off of Holly's history as a Tough Enough trainer. The rookie could be intimidated by Holly due to his reputation as a 'bully,' and a respect angle could form.
The good thing about NXT is that not only will it build eight stars at once, but it will possibly revitalize slumping WWE Pro careers or at the very least keep the established stars in the spotlight.
I can understand the recent release of Paul Burchill, as Burchill will draw no ratings. However, Holly and other Attitude-Era remnants may be a good choice.
Scotty Too Hotty isn't doing much these days, right? Scott Taylor might have been one of the most unlikely stars in recent pro-wrestling memory. Despite barely even having the wrestling credentials of a jobber, Taylor managed to get huge crowd reactions with his hokey 'W.O.R.M.' routine, and even in his recent months before his release he got good reactions. Scotty Too Hotty might be a great choice for season two of NXT.
Golddust is another Attitude-Era memory that still gets a great reaction. Whether he was teaming with Booker T or Yoshi Tatsu, his segments were humorous and memorable. Pairing Runnels up with a rookie could be compelling, as Golddust would mentor him based on how Golddust thinks is 'the way' to become a star. I can't see Runnels fitting into any segments on Raw or Smackdown, anyway, especially if the guest host gimmick is ending soon.
Marty Jannetty. You may have seen my Marty Jannetty Memorial Battle Royal slide-show, and all kidding aside (and no, he's not deceased. Just his career) I think he could be a great addition. Jannetty could tell his mentor that he wants to help him become the next Shawn Michaels. He could claim that Michaels learned everything he knows from him, but that it's 'OK' because he never wanted the spotlight. Potential revitalization of Jannetty, possibly as a heel, but more importantly, it throws a bone to the old-school fans.
These may not be initial ratings draws, but it could work for compelling programming. Right now, CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, and David Otunga are the reasons to watch the show. However, it's not going to help if you don't want to see 'more' Punk than you already see on Smackdown. The only 'exclusives' to the brand are the rookies, and aside from Bryan, the rookies are unknowns and do not have much appeal as a draw aside from the lure of watching a budding career of a future star unfold.
I'm not knocking NXT; it's a fantastic idea. However, hopefully they branch out and throw us more curveballs with next season's pairings.