Mr. Taylor's Top 10 Rookies in the History of NXT
What's up, Bleacher Creatures?
''Time is of the essence, so let's get to it!''
On Feb. 23, 2010, WWE debuted a brand new reality wrestling show called ''WWE NXT'' on SyFy.
It was the second reality competition show, produced by the WWE since Tough Enough.The main theme of the show featured WWE developmental wrestlers called ''NXT Rookies,'' competing against each other, to determine who would become the WWE's next breakout star.
Each rookie was paired with a current WWE wrestler dubbed their ''Pro,'' who would mentor and mold their respective rookie, while they developed their character and wrestling skills throughout the whole competition.
There have been three seasons of NXT so far, with the first two already finished and the third still airing on WWE.com.
Season one of NXT gave us the feud between Daniel Bryan and his own pro, the Miz. Along with Michael Cole being caught in the middle of it and always putting down and degrading Daniel Bryan, while always sucking up to the Miz, giving him all the praise and admiration.
Wade Barrett won season one and along with the other eliminated rookies, gave birth to the latest heel stable in the WWE today, called the Nexus.
Season two introduced us to the first ever female pros in Layla and Michelle McCool (Lay-cool), who coached their NXT rookie Kaval, who went on to win season two. It also made also made Lay-cool the first set of pros to coach one rookie at the same time.
It also re-introduced the Miz as a pro for the second time and let us witness the meaningless beat down on Kaval, at the hands of all the eliminated rookies of that season, that didn't lead to anything big.
It appears that season two of NXT will give us two new Nexus members in Husky Harris and Michael McGillicutty, but only time will tell.
Season three finally featured female rookies only and once again featured one rookie being coached by two pros. The main storyline of the show so far, is the feud between rookie Kaitlyn and her pro Vickie Guerrero, mostly due to Kaitlyn putting the moves on Vickie's boyfriend, Dolph Ziggler.
It seems that this season will guarantee another break up between the Bella twins, but I really don't care to be honest.
This article comprises of my top ten NXT rookies in the history of the show, featuring rookies from all three seasons, in no particular order. So without further ado: ''Mr. Taylor's Top 10 Rookies in The History of NXT!''
Season 1: Justin Gabriel
I had no previous knowledge about Justin Gabriel before NXT and was very surprised to know that he was South African and a second generation wrestler.
His mic work was always horrendous, but there was no denying his high flying and athletic ability and it was always a breath of fresh air to see him perform his 450 splash in front of the fans.
Justin had the look of a main-event wrestler and having pro-wrestling in his blood is always a great way to get yourself noticed as a young and upcoming wrestler. Justin being paired with Matt Hardy wasn't anything special and no conflict never came between them, but having Matt as his Pro was a good way to get him noticed by the fans and get him over as a face.
I never expected Justin to go all the way and win, but I damn sure expected him to get a spot on the main roster after the first season ended and glad they didn't let his talent go to waste.
His stint in Nexus has gone pretty well thus far and I can see him in the group until the end, as long as he doesn't get injured and sticks to company's rules.
After Nexus is over, I see Justin getting a very solid push as a singles guy and hopefully we can see him win the United States or Intercontinental title gold in the future.
Season 3: Naomi
Just like Justin, I also had no previous knowledge of Naomi at all, but man was I presently surprised about her physique. It had been a while since WWE had a diva with a butt the size of Naomi's and it was about time that happened again.
Not only her behind was in shape, but her entire framework just screamed of excellence and no wonder WWE choose her to be a wrestler on NXT.
Naomi won the crowd over from the start and has remained as one of the biggest face rookies on the show thus far. She definitely has good enough mic skills, the charisma, crowd presence, and the athletic ability needed to make the next main-event diva in WWE.
Her innovative style and unique look can only bring her positive results in this business and she has all the tools needed to become the next huge African-American Diva in WWE.
Season 1: Wade Barrett
The first time I saw Wade Barrett on NXT, I could easily see that this guy was a true star in the making and had the ''IT'' factor, right off the bat. Being an Englishman, was a major plus for Barrett and from the first time I heard this guy speak, I was in awe of how great his mic skills was and how comfortable he looked in front of the fans like he was already a main-event wrestler.
Wade was the only rookie in NXT history to be paired with a wrestling legend, like Chris Jericho. That showed just how high the company was on pushing him from the get go. Barrett's level of mic skills and charisma were unmatched by the other rookies and even though he wasn't the best wrestler in the bunch, he always showed just how physical and aggressive he could get in the ring and could always look good, once paired with the right opponent.
Wade was always my first choice to be victorious and win the first season of NXT and glad WWE didn't pull a swerve or try to surprise us by letting someone else win. Wade stood out the most during the whole show and really soaked up what it meant to have the WWE mold, more than any other rookie involved in the competition at the time.
Wade is currently the leader of Nexus and I'm enjoying seeing John Cena be his little puppy dog while in Nexus. Wade's degrading and insulting promo on Cena last week, was totally refreshing to see and Cena sold just how sad he was on not being able to show his real feelings towards Wade to perfection.
I doubt WWE is going to take the title off Randy Orton come this Sunday, but Wade does deserve to win the title down the line. Nexus should at least have one title to their name before they disband for good and having the leader of their group win the WWE title, can only make them look even more credible and stronger as a dominant heel stable.
Season 3: AJ Lee
AJ Lee was also a mystery to me prior to NXT and I was very surprised by just how small she was. It was obvious to see, that AJ was the smallest in terms of height and body mass out of all the other rookies.
It didn't really matter though, because she could wrestle better than all of the other rookies and had the most wrestling experience.
AJ's charisma and mic skills are above average and she has to have the cutest and shy shoulder shrug I've ever seen on a WWE woman wrestler.
AJ Lee is a face, but she has that crazy girl vibe on her some how and she could make a really cool psycho heel if WWE ever decided to go in that direction.
AJ is one of my top favorites to win season three and I would expect her to get into the top three coming down to the end.
Even if she doesn't, I think AJ deserves to be on the main roster and not putting her on either RAW or Smackdown!, would be a travesty as far as bringing in good looking and talented divas are concerned.
Season 2: Michael McGillicutty
Everyone knew this guy as Joe Hennig, but I never expected them to change his name to Michael McGillicutty when he debuted on WWE NXT season two. It was the same third-generation wrestler and son of ''Mr. Perfect'' Curt Hennig, only this time he was paying tribute to his mother's maiden name.
Michael's mic work was mostly average at times and he lacked in showing character, but he could wrestle and could be athletic and technical in any match.
McGillicutty was one of favorite guy to watch in the ring on NXT, but only in terms of his wrestling talents. Never expected him to win either, but I knew that he would go on to the main roster regardless.
I thought something epic was going to happen after he and the other rookies of season 2 destroyed Kaval at the end of season two, but it was another lame storyline by the WWE that didn't come to pass.
Michael didn't get to join Nexus this Monday, but I think he will be added to the group sooner or later and it is a good way to keep him relevant on the roster, so hopefully it will happen in the future.
Season 2: Kaval
The man known as ''Low Ki'' across the wrestling world, had finally reached to the big leagues and debuted on WWE NXT season two, with the new name Kaval.
Kaval's monotone voice always weakened all of his promos, but he was still able to get the message over to the fans while on NXT.
Kaval wasn't the most charismatic out of all the other rookies as well, but there was no denying his wrestling ability and he could fly, be technical and athletic tremendously well and always had the experience factor in terms of wrestling the longest out of all the other rookies.
I didn't like Kaval being paired with Lay-Cool from the start, but it sure as hell grew on me and it turned out to be the most talked about and entertaining pairing in season two and I always looked forward to seeing him interact with them every week.
I never expected Kaval to win the whole competition and my money was on Alex Riley, but it never really bothered me as much, but the way his last moments on NXT ended damn sure did.
I thought something big would have come out of all the other rookies beating up Kaval, but nothing really did. If WWE knew they couldn't make up a good plan for all the other rookies, then they should have let Kaval have his time to shine and celebrate more without being jumped.
I'm still thrown at how stupid WWE was to replace Kaval with Tyler Reks (not that I don't like his new character) but it made more sense to put a more well known and over character into the team.
Hopefully WWE will add Kaval back into the team this Friday and if not, then they should definitely push him into a feud with Dolph Ziggler for the Intercontinental title, once Bragging Rights is over.
Season 2: Husky Harris
Windham Rotunda was also another wrestler to not debut into NXT with his real name, but it never bothered me because ''Husky Harris'' was one of the few new names that I pleasantly liked, out of all the other names given to the rookies of season two.
Husky referring to himself as "The Army Tank with a Ferrari Engine," really made sense because for a guy his size, he could really move and could keep up all the other smaller and quicker rookies on NXT just fine.
He oozed charisma on the mic and ''the no care attitude,'' really worked in his favor and WWE pairing him with Cody Rhodes was one of the best parings in NXT history.
Two guys that are completely opposite in terms of how they looked, but were very similar in terms of having family lineage in wrestling and being generation wrestlers. I would have liked to see Husky in the top three in the end, but glad he got on the main roster even if he didn't win.
Along with Michael, I would expect Husky to be added to Nexus in the future and hopefully it won't take to long for WWE to pull the trigger and have them join Nexus before next year.
Season 2: Alex Riley
Alex was definitely season two's Wade Barrett and my money was on him to roll away with the competition from the start.
Alex was paired with ''The Awesome One,'' the Miz and it was clear to see the uncanny resemblance between them, both in their characters and physical appearance. If I saw these two as just regular guys walking down the street, the first think I would ask them, is if they were brothers.
Miz and Alex were another top pairing in NXT history. It was always awesome to see them tagging together in the ring and loved how they would brag about each other, every time they got the chance to.
Just like Wade Barrett, Alex had it all: the looks, charisma, mic skills, size, crowd presence and good wrestling ability to make a main eventer and my opinion on him winning season two never changed.
I guess WWE didn't want another heel wining the competition in a row again, so that could have been one of the reason why Kaval won.
In any case, glad Alex is on the main roster, but sooner or later they will have to end his protege storyline with Miz and hopefully he can get into the US title picture when that happens.
Season 1: Daniel Bryan
Daniel Bryan was most definitely the crown jewel of NXT season one, in terms of having the most wrestling experience and being the best damn wrestler of that season. Daniel never won a single match throughout his NXT stint, but he always showed great wrestling technique during most of the matches he lost.
Daniel's charisma and mic skills never really showed during the beginning of the show, but it blossomed during his feud with Michael Cole. Daniel showed so much charisma and emotion during his promos involving Michael Cole and his mic skills really improved overtime. Daniel's pairing with the Miz was the most interesting pairing of season one and it really showed just how raw Miz could get when degrading and humiliating someone.
I was surprised just how WWE treated a wrestler the caliber of Daniel in season one and I expected him to get into the top three at the end of the show. Daniel eventually got eliminated in the 12 week of NXT and then got released by the WWE due to choking a ring announcer, after having a short stint in Nexus. Daniel returned to the WWE regardless and is now currently the US champion on RAW and hopefully he will get a good solid five-month reign with the title.
Season 3: Kaitlyn
Kaitlyn was never supposed to be apart of NXT season three and replaced former WWE developmental diva Aloisia, after her controversial release took place. The first time I saw Kaitlyn, I was amazed by her physique and I quite frankly preferred her over Aloisia any day. Kaitlyn had good mic skills and her charisma really showed no matter how goofy she acted.
Kaitlyn was paired with the official consultant of Smackdown!, Vickie Guerrero and tension started to brew between them from the start. It mostly started due to Vickie feeling like Kaitlyn wasn't trying hard enough and not representing her well. But things escalated from the time Vickie's boyfriend, Dolph Ziggler got in between. Once Kaitlyn put her hands on Dolph and started to show affection for him, things have been hot between her and Vickie ever since.
Kaitlyn is not the best wrestler out of all the girls and is still learning, but damn she can hit a spear and it was one of the best spears I have seen performed by a woman wrestler in WWE. There is no doubt in my mind, that Kaitlyn won't reach the last three in this season and hopefully she can earn a spot on the main roster, once the show is over.
All in all, Kaval, Daniel Bryan, Wade Barrett, and the Nexus, were the best to come out of NXT so far. Hopefully we can get at least three main-event divas out of season three.
NOTE: I was having trouble posting this article before due to glitches and didn't want to wait any longer to post it, so sorry for the mistake in punctuation and paragraphing.
All comments, sharing and likes are welcome.