I’m always amazed at the levels and depths of hypocrisy we humans can amass in such a short time. In particular I love how we tend to clamor for change, going to extreme lengths at time to alter our current situations, yet fiercely defend all that we hold true to our hearts because at best we’re all creatures of habit.
Pro wrestling falls into this category more so than anything else I can think of at the moment. Fans across the board want more from an organization’s product, but actually do very little to expose themselves to anything outside of the product they’re complaining about.
This is to say that some who complain about the staleness of RAW or the atrociousness that is Smackdown on SyFy probably don’t watch anything the WWE offers outside of those two shows. That in and of itself is a damn shame seeing as the WWE offers tons of programming outside those two flagship and groundbreaking shows.
Hence this nifty review of the January 4th episode of WWE NXT Redemption, something that I haven’t seen done often on Hit the Ropes Radio (shameless plug), the wrestling section of Bleacher Report (shameless plug), The Enigmatic Generation of Wrestling (shameless plug), the RiZE Revolution (shameless plug) and perhaps even the NXT page of WWE.com (…the site sells itself).
For starters, the show isn’t as terrible as some make it out to be if you accept it for what it is in its current state. What started out as a glorified Tough Enough has transformed into a neatly packaged, one hour mini-drama that appears to be the incubation chamber for future WWE Superstars.
Strip away the redemption points, throw out the stupid and asinine “challenges” (which they did long ago, thankfully), and what you have left is about 45 minutes of serviceable wrestling and well-crafted, simple story lines. Think of NXT as the agent that cleanses your palate between the foolishness that may/may not take place on Monday and Friday nights.
Sticking closely to this notion gives the show a unique flavor and the ability to develop a small crop of stars that (hopefully) will become champions and larger-than-life WWE Superstars in the near future.
The following graphic shows the superstars on NXT that are featured prominently on the brand. The stars listed in red are currently involved in major story lines featured on the January 4 show:
Notice how out of the 16 stars I mentioned, only 6 of them are currently involved in major story lines. To further shock you senseless, there are only 2 major story lines on the show to begin with, and those story lines intertwine each other at points effortlessly.
Think of RAW and Smackdown with the various convoluted dramas that involve a select few members of a 50+ person roster…please stop once your head starts hurting.
Yesterday’s show furthered drama between Derrick Bateman and Maxine, two creepy lovers that were engaged to be married. Enter Johnny Curtis, who apparently went out on one date with Maxine prior to the “Bate-a-Max” (get it?) union, and all of a sudden the even creepier third wheel is constantly hitting on/making out with Bateman’s woman. Maxine called the engagement off two week’s ago after she witnessed Bateman hit on her mom…
Work with me, it’s actually a decent story…
Last week’s show saw Maxine officially align herself with Johnny “Mr. Steal Yo’ Girl” Curtis, and this week she viciously crushed Bateman’s heart by announcing to him during his main event match that she was engaged to Curtis and would wed him in two weeks.
Bateman lost in the main event to Darren “No Days Off” Young, who is involved in making Titus O’Neil’s life a living hell. Young believes he’s the true alpha male on NXT, and Titus O’Neil is the popular baby face thorn in his side. Percy Watson is just along for the ride, kinda like how Zack Ryder is John Cena’s plucky young sidekick.
By understanding all of this, we can look at NXT from a different perspective to reveal the golden nuggets we’ve been lusting after for so long. Four matches took place on the show yesterday:
- Alex Riley defeated Michael McGillicutty via pinfall with the TKO (Fireman’s Carry into 3/4 Turn Neckbreaker)
- Maxine defeated Kaitlyn in 1:53 (important to know) via submission with a Standing Dragon Sleeper w/ Leg Scissors
- Trent Baretta w/ Yoshi Tatsu defeated Curt Hawkins w/ Tyler Reks via pinfall with a Tornado DDT
- Darren Young defeated Derrick Batemen via pinfall with the Fireman’s Carry Double Knee Gutbuster
Here’s what the show produced overall:
- Darren Young asserts himself as the top heel of the show, with Johnny Curtis trailing close behind him.
- Young’s “No Days Off” persona comes off as a brutal and intense fighter that wrestles with fire and passion. Curtis’ smarmy and slimy character excels on the mic, but still wrestles like the green or red practice grapplers on the Smackdown vs. RAW games.
- Maxine has the mic skills, looks, and wrestling acumen to potentially be a top heel manager/valet that could one day be a Diva champion to be reckoned with. She could climb the ladder in the same way as Trish Stratus, but probably won’t be the face of the company because she’s not blond.
- Albeit short, the 1:53 Divas Match between Maxine and Kaitlyn told an excellent story. Kaitlyn, a female body builder, wrestles with power moves and intensity. Maxine, who was essentially tossed around for most of the match, managed to pull out a victory by forcing Kaitlyn to tap out to a submission that has caused her trouble before. Notice it wasn’t a 47 second match that ended with a roll-up…
- Trent Baretta, Yoshi Tatsu, and Curt Hawkins prove that there are plenty of exciting stars available to boost the incredibly lackluster Tag Team and Mid-Card Divisions. Tyler Reks just doesn’t do it for me; I find it hard to believe someone’s viciousness when they sound like Drew Carey.
- With a little more mic time,Alex Riley will be ready to be primed as a future WWE Champion. Mike McGillicutty has that same swagger, but honestly needs a gimmick that allows him to stand out from the likes of Ted DiBiase or anyone else who wears a banana hammock, knee pads, wrist tape, and black boots.
- Speaking of which, McGillicutty was introduced as “The Natural” Michael McGillicutty. With Curt “Mr. Perfect” Hennig as his father, Larry “The Axe” Hennig as his grandfather, and that cool ass throwback nickname, the creative team can’t do ANYTHING with this man?
Other important notes from the show:
- The 100th episode of NXT is coming up in two weeks…even though I like the show, I’m not sure if I should be excited for this or not…
- To celebrate 100 episodes of NXT, former contestants have been invited to return to the show to give their thoughts. Justin Gabriel dropped in last week, and Michael McGillicutty and Alex Riley surprised us this week. If we’re blessed and highly favored by the wrestling gods, Brodus Clay will show up next week and take out the entire NXT roster.
In all, I would have to say that the January 4 episode of NXT Redemption was good, perhaps even better than RAW from a creative direction perspective (the NXT crowds are typically dead because…as stated at the beginning…most fans don’t watch the show enough to know who the hell they’re looking at). Granted the show isn’t as polished, refined, or well-received as RAW or Smackdown, but it’s not supposed to be and your expectations shouldn’t be that bourgeoisie.
I suggest you give it a try, and to make sure you don’t have any excuses for not watching it, here it is in its entirety: