Rock’em Sock’em Rookies – NXT 4/20/10

This weeks rookies challenge was a joust similar to that of American Gladiators but with an unstable pedestal. This took place throughout the show with three rounds of competition with Darren Young and Skip Sheffield as the final two.

The two rookies ended up having to do two rounds as both men hit the pad at the same time. The ref awarded the victory to Sheffield who celebrated only for Matt Striker to reverse the decision and start the contest over. Personally this would have been the perfect time to put one over on Sheffield and have him place 2nd in yet another challenge but alas it seemed to be a pretty legit bout with Sheffield winning.

Notable incidents during the challenge where Barrett and Sheffield getting into a bit of a tiff post bout and Michael Tarver refusing to compete effectively giving Daniel Bryan a bye into round 2.

As for the rest of the show…

Justin Gabriel vs. David Otunga

Both rookies came out with their Pros (That’s right, R-Truth is not still blown up from Raw) and the match was underway. Good contest with Otunga showing a little more ring savvy than usual. Gabriel did an impressive dive over the top rope to which R-Truth enjoyed. Apparently Truth isn’t getting along with Otunga anymore and that became clear when Gabriel went to roll Otunga up for the pin and R-Truth watched as his rookie pleaded for assistance and offering none. Gabriel wins and dissension falls between Truth and Otunga.

Michael Tarver vs. Skip Sheffield vs. Darren Young

This is how I thought this NXT thing was going to be when first announced. It was a nicely set up triple threat.  It started off with Tarver coming out to the ring and explaining his recent refusal to take part in the challenge. It vaguely made sense but the jist of it is that he thinks these mini competitions are stupid. He’s also a downgraded himself from pit bull to bulldog.

Anyway he decides to make an open challenge to anyone in the back. Out comes Skip Sheffield who’s going to make his Pro William Regal proud representing him while he’s stuck in Europe. Sheffield is really good on the mic for a big meat-head. The two get ready to square off but before the bell can ring CM Punk comes out with the SES and Darren Young putting his rookie in the match-up as form of beneficial tutelage.

Sheffield and Tarver immediately try to take out Young who’s on a roll as of late but as usual in triple threats when it comes down to who gets the pin the teamwork falls apart. Young picks up some momentum but just as he’s about to hit a top rope maneuver on Tarver, Luke Gallows comes out and knocks him off in jealousy. Gallows attacks Sheffield and signals Tarver to go for the win but he inevitably screws it up and Young hits his full nelson flapjack finisher for the win.

Heath Slater vs. Chris Jericho

This is one of those match ups that meant to keep Slater right where he’s at in his comfortable #4 spot. He puts up a good showing and Jericho gets the win. Wait…Slater won?

That’s right, in a surprise upset Slater counters The Walls of Jericho, rolling him up for the pinfall making that his 2nd Pro defeated in singles competition and the only one to have beaten a Pro period 1-on-1. Note: I’m not counting Luke Gallows as a Pro, sorry Daren Young.

Afterthoughts

#8 Darren Young – The kids on a hot streak and looked really strong this week. His finisher looked a lot better since the first time he did it and his little feud with Gallows for Punks attention is interesting.

#7 Michael Tarver – Despite not participating in the challenges or pretty much anything else in the time NXT has been on the air he actually had a good match this week. Will it help him stave off elimination? No. No it won’t.

#6 Skip Sheffield – He won a challenge! He didn’t get second so clearly there is no conspiracy to keep the Cornfed Meathead down. Yep! Yep! Yep! What it do?

#5 David Otunga – The A-List has had a rough time in the ring as far as the win column is concerned lately and with his Pro no longer willing to help he’s got a tough road ahead of him. At least his hair will have something intricate shaved into it every week.

#4 Heath Slater – He beat Chris Jericho!!! WTF? He should be #1 or #2 next Pros poll but he still looks ridiculous.

#3 Justin Gabriel – Good win this week as usual. Expect him to get a good storyline down the road after the first elimination but until then he’ll just be consistent.  That’s not a bad thing though.

#2 Wade Barrett – With the exception of his argument with Sheffield after their joust he was pretty quite this week.

# Daniel Bryan – He’s gone from fighting to earn respect to somewhat of a joke since being named #1 in the Pro’s Poll. I don’t know how I feel about that. I assume he gets bottom half next poll and hopefully starts picking up wins. On the plus side, we only had to hear Michael Cole berate him once.

Wade Barrett and Heath Slater got behind the scenes interviews from the Pros on them. The Pros agree that Barrett is the complete package and is outstanding as a performer. They also agree that there’s something about Slater the like but can’t really get past his over-the-top persona and ridiculousness.  I found it odd that I agreed completely with everything the Miz said about both of them.

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