I’ve exhausted the list of WCW shows available, so lets go to WWE’s developmental when it was in the process of changing into the company’s best asset. It’s the 18th January 2012 and we’re in the Curtis and Mack Centre of Las Vegas, Nevada for the 100th episode of WWE NXT! Your main event tonight: in wrestling terms it’s Curt Hawkins and Tyler Reks vs Trent Barreta and Yoshi Tatsu, but it’s really the Vegas wedding of Johnny Curtis and Maxine!
I think this is actually right around the time that NXT became NXT, dropping the Tough Enough-esque format of it being a rookie competition and just becoming its own brand, albeit without a championship for people to chase for another eight or so months. It was just literally dropped too as I recall, with no explanation, they just stopped talking about the competition format and rookies being eliminated and all that stuff. This “season” of NXT had already seen such luminaries as Byron Saxton and Konnor eliminated by this time: Titus O’Neil, Darren Young and Derrick “EC3” Bateman were the remainder. At this time then you have those three, a bunch of the main roster undercard and a few other developmental guys slumming it on this show, with the brand really taking off once it subsumed FCW. But that’s to come.
Splash intro and we get thrown to a recap of NXT’s main story at the mo, and it is a doozy. Bateman and Maxine, who I know better as Lucha Underground’s Catrina, were NXT’s power couple due to be married until she broke the engagement after the duplicitous schemes of Johnny Curtis, aka Fandango (but also because Bateman apparently frenched her mom). Bateman promised to win back “the max to my beta” (wow) but Curtis wasn’t having that, insisting Maxine was his. After several scenes of these guys forcing their tongues down Maxine’s throat, we see that Curtis faked an e-mail from Bateman running Maxine down, and Maxine decided to marry Curtis, mostly to get back at Bateman. Bateman, upon discovering the ruse, literally shouts “CURTIIIISSSS!” This is full-on soap opera insanity, and I’d have more time for it if it wasn’t for the many instances of “I’m going to force myself on this woman but it’s OK because she’s secretly into it”.
“We are wild and young”, ironically a song about a guy not wanting to get married too quickly, and Josh Matthews welcomes us to NXT’s 100th episode. As part of the celebrations for the centenary, Michael Cole gets introduced as a guest announcer and is promptly booed by the audience as he announces “I don’t want to be here either”. So its Cole-mine Cole huh? A reminder that 90% of his time on NXT previously was dumping on Daniel Bryan. He doesn’t know what he is doing “in this cesspool” which is the best way to move into our first contest.
Titus O’Neil vs Darren Young
“This guy’s still here?” asks Cole on O’Neil. The future Prime Time Players facing off and I know both can go, but not likely to get much time. Brief lock-up, Young flees, baits O’Neil, but eats a boot for his trouble. Uppercut, backbreaker, two for O’Neil. Brief wrist-lock chain, and Young gets thrown into the corner and out of the ring, as Cole makes fun of O’Neil’s barking. Way to do your job with the talent Cole: better to focus on bigging up the heels. O’Neil follows Young out and hits a powerslam, then chucks him into the barricade. Is this a squash? Onto the apron, Young gets a kick in, and nails a neckbreaker as we go to break.
When we’re back they are exchanging strikes in the ring, and Young hits a hard clothesline for two. Reverse suplex for two as Cole starts ribbing on NXT’s writers, it’s like late 90’s Nitro here. Resthold headlock from Young, O’Neil sent into the corner, then takes a big gutbuster for two. Crowd actually sounds into this in fairness. Young going for another, O’Neil out of it and nails a pop-up/sit down powerbomb for the 1, 2, 3 in just over five.
Winner: Millions of dollars, millions of dollars, millions and millions and millions and millions…
Verdict: Noting special, and nothing objectionable. Both guys made to look good in what time they had.
Cole mocks the fans who are engaged with the product before O’Neil gets on the mike. Thanks the audience for…”ABSOLUTELY NOTHING”. Swerve! He’s sick of NXT’s “silly challenges” and having Hornswoggle as a pro, but he’s happy as the the star of NXT. The fans have been dead weight for him, and he’s done with them. Haven’t seen a promo heel turn in a while. Despite the turn, Cole keeps running O’Neil down which makes no sense.
Backstage, Curtis is putting on a tuxedo t-shirt and Cole says “I like this guy: he’s creepy, he’s eerie…the Dexter-like Johnny Curtis”. What a gimmick description that is. After the break, an “alumni match”.
Heath Slater vs Percy Watson
“I couldn’t be any more less interested in this match”. Why is Cole being asked to do this? And what’s up with that sentence? Leapfrog chain, and Watson hits a one-legged drop-kick. Stomps, wrist-lock, suplex for two. Slater back with strikes as Cole talks about a nearby wax museum that has a model of him. Slater airbanding before getting in some more kicks. Slingshot spot under the ropes, snapmare, rest-hold, as Matthews tries to explain the Bateman/Melina/Curtis story to an uninterested Cole.
Watson to his feet, Slater dodges a terrible looking clothesline and gets two off a jumping neckbreaker. Watson dodges a corner splash, hits some stiff-looking strikes, then a flying clothesline. Drop-kick, corner splash, running shoulder charge. Basic offence, but being done well. Standing splash for two, Slater gets in a kick, then walks into a Flatliner, which is enough in only around three minutes.
Winner: “Showtime”, but can’t say this does much for him.
Verdict: Surprisingly short encounter. I suppose it was fine for what it was, though Watson needs to work on those clotheslines.
Backstage, Maxine is getting ready for her wedding when Trent Barreta and Yoshi Tatsu rock-up. She complains about them potentially damaging her Italian dress, then one of them sneezes on it, to her chagrin. Cole laughs. Moving on.
It’s Rumble season, so we get some trivia: did you know that since 1993, 55% of Royal Rumble winners have gone on to win at Wrestlemania? That doesn’t seem like a huge amount really, but I suppose that it’s good that it isn’t just an automatic win at the Big One. Backstage Maxine gives out to the seamstress working on her damaged dress, before arguing with Curtis about the nuptials. Could there be trouble on the horizon?
Trent Berreta & Yoshi Tatsu vs Tyler Reks & Curt Hawkins
Who would have thought Hawkins would go onto have the most meaningful WWE career of these four? Berreta and Hawkins to start, lock-up, Hawkins on top. Reks in, Berreta avoids a double clothesline and calls in Tatsu to ambush Reks. Must have been a blind tag I didn’t see, good show. Tatsu in the corner with Reks, hitting strikes, but Reks powers out and lays in a beatdown, getting two off a reverse headlock elbow. Cole is so riveted he starts complaining about the “geeks on the internet” complaining about him.
In the ring, Reks hits a swinging Scoop Slam for two, and maintains the beatdown. Cole and Matthews argue about how responsible Cole is for Daniel Bryan being world champion. Indie fans would lose their minds watching this. Reks hits a big powerslam for two, rest-hold as the crowd starts trying to rally Tatsu. Out of another powerslam attempt, hits a swinging heel kick. Hot tag to Berreta, who cleans house. Standing enziguri to Reks, running forearm in the corner, running knee, two only. Berreta looking for a DDT, dumped to the apron, knee to Reks, Berreta to the top, hitting a corkscrew kick but Hawkins breaks up the count.
Things break down, the ref drags Tatsu away from Hawkins, who uses the distraction to hit Berreta with his cane. Reks hits what I can only describe as a Razor’s Edge into a facebuster, and that’s it in just under six.
Winners: I’m sure Hawkins/Reks will go far.
Verdict: Perfectly serviceable tag match without much in the way of surprises. NXT is so all-in on the wedding that none of the matches tonight seem to be in service of a storyline.
Matthews plugs the Rumble song, then we get the Raw Rebound. Mick Foley inserted himself into a six man tag where he beat up David Otunga, which with the dramatic music here seems extra ridiculous. John Laurinitis comes out to pull the Dusty Finish, CM Punk gives him the ol’ pipebomb experience, Foley gets in some verbal shots, and Johnny floors him. Decent package actually, and makes me want to actually check out that Punk/Ziggler match from that Rumble. WWE production gets it done again.
“This is like a dream, or a nightmare, right?” asks Cole as they set the ring up with white veils. An Elvis impersonator is here to do the officiating, for a cheap Las Vegas pop, as Cole confirms it is, in fact, Matt Striker. Cole calls the NXT hour “crap”. Striker does his level best to get some noise from the crowd with the world’s worst Presley impression, and introduces Johnny Curtis, who comes out with some random guy, who I assume is the Best Man. Maxine out after to the Wedding March, just by herself. Cole insists she is wearing a Vera Wang which seems like a stretch.
Maxine asks who the random guy is, and he’s “Chad” that Curtis met last night. Striker starts singing the wedding ceremony as Cole shouts “BOO!”. Curtis says “Yes”, Maxine says “Yes”, and Striker of course, asks for objections, which gets a pop from the crowd. Striker whips off the sunglasses, drops the accent and asks again “There’s really no-one who objects to the marriage of these two?”
“WAAIIIIIIIITTTT!” Nice Graduate impression from Bateman, who comes down the ramp insisting he didn’t send any nasty e-mail. The Jumbotron gives us security camera footage of Curtis stealing his phone from Bateman’s locker and and sending an e-mail. Cole hilariously points out that the footage shows Curtis sending a one-line e-mail, when the message in question was several lines. Bateman says he would never try and sabotage Maxine’s career. Curtis insists he’s on his way to the top and wants to make Maxine feel good. Creepy. Maxine clouts him, and Curtis and Bateman start going at it. Awkward brawling, Maxine starts ripping Curtis’ hair, he gets a kick from a Bateman, a facebuster and then Bateman tells Maxine “I always wanted you on top”. “Kiss her” chants, Maxine slaps him, and then we end as we began, with Bateman’s tongue in Maxine’s mouth. “This is horrible” says Cole, as we close with him criticising the writing of the show. Wow.
Best Match: Nothing really special here, so I guess the main event tag.
Best Wrestler: Reks can actually go, and has a nice finisher.
Worst Match: Um, Slater/Watson, just because of that botched clothesline spot?
Worst Wrestler: Watson, please see above.
Overall Verdict: NXT was a weird-ass show at the time, but the kernels of what it was going to become are present in small doses. Cole ruined whatever this episode had going for it though. Avoid.
To view more entries in this series, click here to go to the index.