This season of NXT is only a few weeks old and it is already flowing much more smoothly than its Season One counterpart. Tonight, we had a Pro/Rookie tag team match as well as the first Rookie v. Pro match of the season. Mix in some video packages, awkward exchanges, and some Matt Striker abuse and we have the recipe for yet another episode of NXT! Let's take a look, shall we?
WWE United States Champion The Miz & Alex Riley v. MVP & Percy Watson
The Miz and Alex Riley are a match made in heaven. If it wasn't for the noticeable size difference, these two would be indistinguishable. Even with the instant rapport between the two, I liked how the Miz showed disapproval with Riley at points during the match. It makes the Rookie/Pro pairing actually mean something. Percy Watson is so entertaining, but he's like a juiced up Urkel. He needs more experience in the ring to go along with his noticeable promo skills in order to complete the package. Miz and Riley win in a good opening contest. Riley is this season's Wade Barrett and David Otunga rolled into one. He is the consumate WWE Superstar. Expect big things from him.
Titus O'Neil video package
O'Neil brings up his rough childhood and the lack of support and respect he had while growing up. His "working man" gimmick works better for faces (see: Dusty Rhodes), so having him as a heel doesn't make much sense. He gets cheered later on for his "working man" comments. I am not sure that is the reaction the WWE is looking for when it comes to O'Neil. Either way, he needs to get better in the ring if he wants the respect he yearns for.
Michael McGillicutty (with WWE Intercontinental Champion Kofi Kingston) v. Titus O'Neil (with Zack Ryder)
The discrepancy in talent between McGillicutty and O'Neil is astounding. Nevermind the bloodlines. O'Neil is the most physically imposing Rookie on Season Two, but is probably the most green in the ring. Irish whip clotheslines and reverse chin locks won't win matches in the WWE. Albeit, McGillicutty uses a swinging neckbreaker as a finishing move, but at least it looks brutal. McGillicutty (by the way, we were told that McGillicutty is his mother's maiden name, which it isn't) put on a clinic in less than five minutes. Perhaps O'Neil's struggles are a reflection of his "Pro," Zack Ryder, but I would be surprised if he doesn't find himself in last place when the first Pro's Poll is released next week.
Kaval (with WWE Co-Women's Champions LayCool) v. Eli Cottonwood (with John Morrison)
Kaval and Bryan Danielson took a very similar route to the WWE, so it doesn't surprise me that he is being booked the exact same way. Kaval took on Eli Cottonwood in a one-on-one match, and much like McGillicutty/O'Neil, the talent discrepancy is alarming. Cottonwood is as stiff as a corpse in the ring. He doesn't sell well and his offense isn't fluid. Kaval definitely carried Cottonwood through the entire match, but ultimately lost. Kaval did get some impressive spots in, including his reverse Warrior's Way and the springboard enziguiri. Cottonwood wins with a reverse chokeslam-like faceplant/flapjack manuever. Whatever it was, Kaval was out. Like Danielson, Kaval doesn't need wins to earn or maintain credbility. Cottonwood, on the other hand, needs all of the help he can get. I just hope Kaval actually wins at some point.
Lucky Cannon video package
We get to hear about Lucky Cannon, who is "lucky" because he survived a brutal assault that left him unable to speak or walk. That is quite the story (if it were true). I know the WWE wants to make Johnny Prime look "lucky." How about he wins some matches out of nowhere or has a penchant for knocking off Pros? Unfortunately, Cannon's backstory is a little too farfetched for me to get behind.
In the back, LayCool is trying to cheer Kaval up. They give him a present. It's a "I <3 LayCool" warmup. To further the comparions with Danielson, Kaval has been placed with two Pros who are total opposites of him. Kaval, however, is taking things in stride in order to learn and succeed, showing his disicpline and respect for the business. Will he snap or will he continue to silently accept his mentors? Stay tuned.
Cody Rhodes (with Husky Harris) v. Lucky Cannon (with Mark Henry)
Cannon would have his chance to prove how lucky he is when he faced Cody Rhodes in the main event. Last week, Rhodes said that Cannon would be lucky to last five minutes. so Rhodes makes the match a "Five Minute Challenge." All Cannon would have to do is not lose within five minutes. That didn't happen. Cannon lost in about 3:30. Cannon got some offense in, but the story told through the match was his lack of experience. Last season, Heath Slater beat Chris Jericho, but it happened halfway through the season. That was more believable considering Slater had several matches (and a win over another Pro in a tag match) under his belt. This was Cannon's second match; there was no way he was going to win, no matter how "lucky" he is. Good work. Storytelling is important and it worked out very nicely here.
Rhodes is an absolute stud. I have said it before, but Rhodes has shined while Ted DiBiase has sunk. He is getting better on the mic and his movement in the ring is so crisp. The step-up kick off the turnbuckle looked and sounded brutal. The Cross Rhodes at the end looked a little weird, but I think that was more Cannon than Rhodes.
Rookie Final Thoughts
With the first Pro's Pool being unveiled next week, Matt Striker gave the Rookies one last chance to speak their minds. Riley went first and said that he didn't have to beat up nerds on the school bus anymore because he gets to do it on NXT. Kaval (wearing his LayCool shirt) is next and mentions that he has had to work hard to get to the WWE and will prove size doesn't matter.
O'Neil follows with a "worked hard for everything and everyone doubted me" promo, which went over with the crowd. I wish he would stop with the "make it a win" schtick. McGillicutty must feel the same way because he mocks O'Neil before claiming that he possesses no weaknesses. I wish he would throw the word "perfect" into some of his promos to pay homage to his father. Surprisingly, Cottonwood delivers what I feel was the best promo, promising to wait in the shadows and bide his time until it's time to strike. Watson is next and he makes me laugh, but in a good way. The gimmick is a little over the top for my taste, but it works for him.
Cannon, fresh off his loss, pretty much said the same thing that he said during his video package. Last, but not least, Harris says he doesn't need 45 seconds and instead beats up Striker. Harris hits his senton splash and bails out. No one helps Striker. Do I blame them? No. Does it make sense? No. Striker has been taking quite the abuse lately. I would love to see him snap and put on the argyle trunks again. Rhodes looks pleased with Harris and the show goes off the air.
Don't forget to vote on WWE.com next week for the first Pro's Poll. Here is my Pro's Poll based on what I have seen so far.
Be sure to tune in NXT week to find out what happens NXT on NXT.
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