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TV REPORTS
CALDWELL'S NXT TV REPORT 2/23: Complete coverage of the NXT debut show - Chris Jericho vs. Daniel Bryan

Feb 23, 2010 - 10:10:17 PM
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WWE NXT TV Report
February 23, 2010 - Season 1, Episode 1
Taped in Milwaukee, Wis.
By James Caldwell, Torch assistant editor


After 193 weeks and three-and-a-half years, ECW TV came to a close last week. Now, WWE's Tuesday night timeslot rolls over to the NXT reality show with eight WWE Pros and eight WWE Rookies from FCW developmental. Let's see how this plays out after three weeks of hype and a good heaping of mainstream publicity this week.

After the standard WWE intro, they introduced the 8 Rookie, 8 Pros concept with an eye on a dream to become a WWE pro. They showed a brief music video intro video on the eight rookies, listing the cast members and their pros.

Backstage: They showed the eight rookies assembled with a gold background. Bryan Danielson was sporting a red robe. The Miz then walked in to address Daniel Bryan. Daniel stepped up and Miz introduced himself as one of eight NXT pros. He sized up Bryan and called him an Internet darling, a star of the minor leagues. Miz said Internet bloggers say he's great and ready for WWE. Bryan said he's ready. Miz told him to expect anything. He told Bryan to go to the ring and introduce himself to the audience. Miz said he would even give him his music. Cue up Miz's theme music and Bryan walked off. They continued to focus on Miz standing backstage with the other seven rookies. He said if Bryan doesn't show some personality, then he'll slap some personality into him.

In-ring: Daniel Bryan walked out to the ring and Michael Cole (wait, didn't McMahon say groundbreaking, innovative TV?) and Josh Mathews are on the broadcast. They welcomed in Matt Striker as the host from backstage. Striker, who was more casual, as if he were in a Docker's commercial, said he jumped at the opportunity to interview each Rookie to get authentic, real insight as they look for a WWE dream. He said he will be standing backstage to hear from Bryan after his promo.

Back to the ring where Bryan took the mic and thanked the audience for their reception. Bryan mocked The Miz to draw some boos. He thanked his fans throughout the world and said, "I'm sorry." He said he wished his Pro was William Regal. Bryan introduced himself and said he's been wrestling all over the world for ten years. He said NXT is the next evolution in the WWE. Suddenly, Miz's music interrupted. Miz walked out and said this is going to be a lot of fun. "I have my work cut out for you being your Pro," he said. Miz stepped into the ring and Bryan told Miz to be careful or he'll submit him right now. Miz said Bryan that he might be a "Submission Machine," but he has no personality. Bryan came back with a shot at Miz from Real World.

Miz then did his catchphrase and told Bryan what's up. Bryan had his own catchphrase: "Tap or snap." Miz polled the crowd if they think that was good. Cheers from the crowd. Miz asked the crowd if they even think Bryan deserves to be in the same ring as him. They cheered louder. Miz said he doesn't think so. "You failed," Miz said before slapping Bryan. Miz then walked out of the ring muttering to himself as Bryan leaned against the ropes. "You got nothing on me," Bryan whispered as Miz hit the ramp. After they replayed the slap, Bryan took the mic and said there will be a time when he will slap him back. Cut to break.

JC: Interesting start to the show. It looks like each Pro will give each Rookie a weekly task or some sort of challenge to demonstrate a trait to connect with the audience. Good tension from Miz and Bryan, with Bryan getting over some early jitters and having a good conclusion to the segment with Miz. I can actually see "Tap or Snap" on a t-shirt.

[Commercial Break]

During the commercial: Striker brought in Daniel Bryan to get his reaction. Bryan said he doesn't consider that embarrassing, as he looks forward to getting back at Miz with a slap harder than what Miz dished out. Striker challenged Daniel that he doesn't have Miz's WWE experience and he needs to listen to him. Bryan said he can become a Pro on his own. Striker, entering teacher mode, told Bryan to listen to Miz.

[Q2]

Announcers: Cole said Daniel Bryan will face Chris Jericho later tonight. ... In-ring: Carlito came out on stage with Michael Tarver. Carlito introduced a video package on Tarver with Tarver talking on-camera from FCW about his background. Nice video package showing Tarver training along with clips of him talking. Tarver said he's been through a lot trying to earn his way to WWE.

In-ring: Tarver and Carlito were in the ring together with Carlito trying to give Tarver some instructions. Mathews talked about Tarver jumping off the screen. Out came Christian and Heath Slater as their opponents tonight. Cue up a video package on Heath Slater talking about himself as a rock star without the instruments. They included FCW clips and Slater talking on camera about his personality. "You gotta feel the moment," Slater said. He said his motivation is proving everyone wrong.

1 -- CHRISTIAN & HEATH SLATER vs. CARLITO & MICHAEL TARVER

They have a little different camera angle with a rotating shot of the ring. Christian and Carlito started, but Carlito said he wants Slater. Slater scored an early two count on a roll-up, then Carlito took control and tagged in Tarver, who landed right hand blows on Slater. A lot different, tighter camera shots here almost at ring level. Slater then made a comeback and slapped on an armbar. Carlito proceeded to cheat for the advantage as the heels worked over Slater. The announcers picked up conversation on Daniel Bryan, with Mathews knocking him from the opening segment. Slater made a comeback and hot-tagged Christian, setting up Christian dueling with Carlito. Christian then hit a sunset flip for a two count and Carlito cut down Christian with a clothesline to the back. Tarver then tagged in and Christian met him with two boots to the face. Christian followed with a flying uppercut as Slater cleared Carlito. Christian then hit the Killswitch on Tarver for the pin and the win. The announcers said this is what they expect to see the next few weeks with some pairings not being able to work together at times.

WINNERS: Christian & Slater in 5:00. Um, why would they job Tarver his first night on the show when just built him up as a menacing potential heel with a Knockout resume? I wasn't expecting basic "house show wrestling matches" on NXT, so I'm apparently going to have to adjust expectations. I'm not a fan of this format thus far if they're going to present watered-down wrestling matches on the show. (*)

Backstage: They showed C.M. Punk, Luke Gallows, and Serena standing with arms folded, mesmerized as Darren Young tried to talk to them. Cole did a voice-over saying he is looking forward to Punk's pairing with Young. They cut to another shot of R-Truth talking to David Otunga, who was hiding underneath a hood. It's Darren Young vs. David Otunga up next.

[Commercial Break]

In-ring: C.M. Punk's music hit to bring out Straight Edge Society and Darren Young. SES walked ahead of Young, who tried to play to the crowd while Punk looked at him like he's nuts. They cut to an inset promo from Punk earlier today on having no idea why he's even on NXT. Punk said he expects Darren to accept straight-edge into his life. SES stood on the outside shooting Young blank looks as Young tried to talk to him for strategy. This has potential.

[Q3]

Video package: They focused on David Otunga acting like he's above everyone else being from Hollywood and being the fiancee of Jennifer Hudson. Otunga said he's bigger, stronger, and faster than everyone else. He said he's more intelligent than everyone else. He's got the charisma of The Rock, the cerebral assassin thing like Triple H, and the strength of John Cena. Otunga said he won't get caught up with the haters. He said becoming a WWE star is all he thinks about. He doesn't plan on failing now either. Otunga said he's the next WWE superstar. "Come on man, Google me," he said.

In-ring: R-Truth's music hit to bring out Truth rapping while David Otunga walked to the ring caught up in himself.

2 -- DAVID OTUNGA (w/R-Truth) vs. DARREN YOUNG (w/Straight Edge Society)

Cole quizzed Mathews on being part of Tough Enough as the FCW Rookies started things off with Otunga showing off some early power offense. He landed a big frontslam and scored a quick three count for the win. The announcers sold shock at how quickly this went down. Meanwhile, Punk just shrugged his shoulders and walked away with the SES following behind. Awesome. This has mass potential with Punk perhaps coming around to the concept and trying to teach his Rookie the ropes.

WINNER: Otunga in 1:00. Quick squash to get over Otunga. WWE is obviously high on him and the video package was great to set up his character. This gets a thumbs up.

Video recap: They went back to the opening segment when Miz slapped Daniel Bryan. The announcers then plugged new World Hvt. champion Chris Jericho vs. Daniel Bryan in the first NXT main event.

[Commercial Break]

Raw Rebound: Yep, it's still a WWE show, even with a slightly different take on their same ol' format. But, I understand. You're looking for a slightly different demo with NXT and hoping to hook viewers on Raw as well. WWE focused on last night's happenings with John Cena, Batista, and Vince McMahon to set up Batista vs. Cena for the WWE Title at WrestleMania. Interesting they chose this over HBK-Taker to focus on.

Announcers: Cole plugged Batista vs. Cena at WrestleMania. I can't believe we have to listen to Cole two nights in a row now. They showed the announcers on-camera with Cole saying he's mentoring Mathews. Mathews shot back that Cole has been mentored for 13 years. No mention of Jim Ross, but Mathews said it's all over Twitter and the Internet.

In-ring: World Hvt. champion Chris Jericho came to the ring flanked by Wade Barrett, who was billed as being from Manchester, England. Barrett's a tall drink of water. Jericho walked ahead of Barrett, who was sporting a full-length jacket and an oddly-placed flower on the lapel. Jericho and Barrett entered the ring, with Jericho turning his head to shoot Barrett a stare as they cut to break.

[Commercial Break]

[Q4]

Next week: Pro Matt Hardy brings his Rookie, Justin Gabriel, to the show next week. Apparently no mention of William Regal and Skip Sheffield this week.

In-ring: Jericho took the mic and said he doesn't want Savannah to introduce him because he wants Barrett to introduce him. Barrett, with his distinct voice being the color guy on FCW TV, said it's an absolute honor to stand next to Jericho. Barrett kept going, then Jericho pulled the mic down and said, "I just want you to introduce me." That was great. Barrett shook that off and introduced Jericho, which got a grin from Jericho. The Miz's music hit and out came Miz, followed by Daniel Bryan. Bryan then shoved Miz out of the way on the way down the ramp and hit the ring to salute the crowd and get his shine. Main event up next.

A thought: Is WWE ever going to officially announce a seasonal format or how someone "wins" this "competition?" Is there even a competition? I don't get the sense WWE has not figured out the format and they're flying by the seat of their pants trying to introduce everyone, establish baseline rivalries and alliances, and then go somewhere from there.

[Commercial Break]

3 -- World Hvt. champion CHRIS JERICHO (w/Wade Barrett) vs. DANIEL BRYAN (w/U.S. champion the Miz) -- non-title match

The bell sounded back from break and Bryan wanted to adhere to the Code of Honor with a handshake. Jericho slapped his hand and got in Bryan's face to tell Bryan who he is. Jericho then shoved Bryan before pie-facing him. Bryan came back with a slap and a flying dropkick before Jericho used the ref to his advantage to land a dropkick and kick Bryan in the head. Meanwhile, Cole said he never heard of Daniel Bryan before he showed up on NXT. And that's all we need to know about Cole in a nutshell. Mathews then cut a promo on Cole saying everyone in the WWE Universe loathes him, like Miz. Wow, are they building to Mathews vs. Cole at WrestleMania? Cole defended Miz, which is so odd since on Raw, Lawler defends Miz and Cole attacks Miz.

Anyways, Striker interviewed Barrett ringside as Bryan made his comeback with a Dragon screw legwhip. Cole then ripped on Bryan's background, saying, "It's the first time he's been on TV!" Um, ROH TV is on TV. Cole then cut a promo on the people who support Daniel Bryan on the Internet, in high school gyms, and "the dirt sheets." McMahon's probably been waiting a while to cut that promo through an announcer. And, if only Cole had this much passion on Raw. Suddenly, Bryan went for a flying suicide dive in front of the announce table and Jericho turned Bryan's momentum into the announce table. Back in the ring, Bryan put Jericho in a submission. Jericho sold wildly, then countered into the Walls of Jericho. They cut to a shot of the Rookies standing backstage watching as Bryan put up a fight. Mathews then introduced this being a competition among the NXT Rookies. No more details as Jericho then hit the codebreaker. He followed with the Walls of Jericho and Bryan tapped out after a few moments. Of course, Cole gloated about the Rookie being taught his lesson.

WINNER: Jericho in 6:00 via submission. Jericho gave Bryan a lot of good offense here and he was able to show off a hint of his signature offense from ROH. Cole, obviously being fed lines, made a fool out of himself being all over the place with his anti-Internet rants. And that was the point, with WWE trying to get people talking. This was a good final segment, though, with WWE selling conflict, issues, stars, and anticipation for how this plays out. (**)

[Q5 -- over-run]

Post-match: Miz entered the ring and stood over Bryan before landing several punches as Bryan was defenseless. Miz then stood up and saluted himself as Cole talked about Bryan being taught a lesson and all of the other Rookies needing to pay attention.

Backstage: Matt Striker stood next to the other six NXT rookies. Striker said, "This is the future. This is unique. This is NXT." ... They rolled a highlight video package on the show, concluding with a shot of Miz gloating to close the show.

OVERVIEW: We're still left with a lot of questions on how the "competition" and "season" works, but WWE gets a fair grade on introducing the concept and some of the characters. A good main event and good focus on David Otunga were the highlights of the wrestling portion of the show. They need more character-driven video packages and segments, not so much the watered-down, house show wrestling like the tag match. Hopefully there are actual consequences next week with WWE going through a process of evaluating what went wrong for Michael Tarver in the tag match, Darren Young in the second match, and lessons learned by Daniel Bryan as they continue to play out his program with Miz. The concept is still muddy, but they should be given time to sort things out.

We welcome your 0-10 score and comments on this show for an "NXT TV Reax" feature in the Torch Feedback section of PWTorch.com. To contribute your thoughts on NXT, email to pwtorch@gmail.com using our Feedback form.


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