The Genesis of the Countdown of the Top WWE NXT Eliminations

April 8th, 2011 by | Tags: , ,

WWE’s NXT experiment has been going on for a bit over a year and despite its ups and downs, it still draws me in with its uniqueness. For those late to the party, the show is about 6-8 wrestling “Rookies” who are trying to earn their way onto the main roster by being paired with their “Pros”. A group of established wrestlers mentor these new guys and it’s turned into a fake reality show where these guys are voted off based on internet popularity and the consensus of the Pros. It’s a mess of a show, but one that I watch regularly. When it’s good, it’s good. When it’s bad, it’s usually so bad it’s good.

Currently, it’s in its fifth season. The first season, which aired on SyFy, ended with Wade Barrett winning decisively. He would go on to lead the Nexus in a storyline that was plenty awesome until they wrote themselves into a corner and “fired” John Cena despite his continued appearances on the show. The winner of the second season was Kaval, an indy wrestling darling whose victory was short-lived. WWE has a boneheaded tendency to shove popular acts down the card to see how they react. If they take their burial in stride? They’ll be pushed stronger later. If you’re like Kaval and you complain about it on Twitter? You’re gone. The third season was an all-female roster and was renowned for being a gigantic train wreck. By this time, it stopped airing on TV and became broadcast on the internet only (SyFy started airing Smackdown as their lone WWE show instead). The winner was Kaitlyn, who has gone on to do nothing since she really isn’t prepared to be on TV yet in the first place. For the fourth season, the winner was Johnny Curtis, who has gone on to do absolutely nothing, boggling the mind of anyone following the show.

Sometimes it isn’t the winners who matter. I want to talk about the losers. One of the more interesting parts of the show is when they have to vote off a Rookie. The way it will usually go is that all the remaining Rookies will line up outside the ring and the host Matt Striker will direct their attention to a roulette-like graphic that stops on the one the fans and Pros decided was the least impressive. That doomed wrestler will then look all bummed and will be given the opportunity to give a farewell promo. With a couple exceptions, there’s value to find in all of these. Sometimes they’ll give a promo so good that you might wonder, “Why didn’t this guy act this awesome before he got voted off?” Sometimes they’ll mumble through some embarrassing tirade that makes you shake your head in disbelief. Sometimes fights will break out. Sometimes the Pros will mess with them. Either way, it’s always a highlight.

So here’s the top 25 goodbyes in NXT history. How can there be 25 when there were 24 losers? I’ll get to that in time. Keep in mind, these aren’t listed from worst to best. No, that would be another list entirely. These are in order from how entertained I was by them.

Season 3
Date: November 30, 2010 (Week 13)
Rank: 2nd
Pro: Kelly Kelly

Naomi reacted to the news that Kaitlyn is the next breakout star by shrugging, calling it bittersweet and spending five seconds talking about how everyone worked hard. Yep, that’s it.

Not only are the women lacking in the last name department, but most of them lack the personality as shown in this list. Let’s get the other two out of the way.

Season 3
Date: October 5, 2010 (Week 5)
Rank: 6th
Pros: The Bella Twins

I didn’t watch the show enough to remember a thing about Jamie and this segment didn’t do much to make me think I was missing out. As the first person to be voted off Season 3, Jamie gave a mundane and rather emotionless speech where she thanked the fans, thanked her Pros and wished everyone the best.

Season 3
Date: November 2, 2010 (Week 9)
Rank: 5th
Pro: Alicia Fox

Maxine’s deal was being the ice queen of the Diva hopefuls. Something angry and scathing would have been perfect here, but instead she played it down the middle by saying that she was “not your average woman” and that she’d be back. At least the same show featured her making out with Hornswoggle backstage after weeks of being openly disgusted with him. That’s something.

This is making me feel bad. Let’s get a dude on the low end of the list.

Season 1
Date: June 10, 2010 (Week 15)
Rank: 2nd
Pro: R-Truth

The season finale of NXT Season 1 featured a Triple Threat Match between the three finalists, the elimination of Justin Gabriel and then Wade Barrett and David Otunga deciding things via a trading of insults. Otunga is a very bad wrestler, but other than his marriage/engagement/whatever to Jennifer Hudson and his unique look, the only thing that makes anyone pay attention to him in a positive way is his decent mic skills. Having Wade Barrett face Otunga in a battle of mic skills on paper is like that Thundercats multi-parter where Lion-O had to prove himself leader by beating all his teammates at their own skills. In the end, Barrett outclassed Otunga to a horrible degree and it’s like Otunga forgot that he was supposed to be a halfway good talker.

The win went to Barrett and Otunga was given a chance to redeem himself by giving his reaction. He went with a faux anger that led to him making as many pop culture references as he could fit into his spiel. He asked where Ashton was because he was obviously being Punk’d. Like that was still a thing. He alluded to his wife as someone else who was unfairly dropped from a reality show and ended it with his long-forgotten catchphrase, “Google that.” It came off far from genuine and Wade won anyway, so who cares what Otunga had to say?

A man would stand in Otunga’s shoes a season later and play it even worse, but we’ll get to that.

Season 4
Date: February 22, 2011 (Week 12)
Rank: 3rd
Pro: Daniel Bryan

I wish I could rank Derrick Bateman’s elimination at #25 for the sole fact that he never should have lost. The guy came off as the best worker of the group, had great synergy with his Pro and was filled with a hilarious brand of charisma. At the very least, he should have gone over Curtis.

Anyway, the date of elimination took place in Brodus Clay’s hometown, so everyone there was pretty anti-Bateman. When he was given the news that he was gone, he tried to fit too many thoughts into too little time, it seems. He mentioned how he had the most Twitter followers and therefore had the online vote, but then he tried talking too fast and became angry and tongue-tied. As he left to walk back up the ramp, the others stole the spotlight away via Brodus attacking Curtis.

Season 3
Date: N/A
Rank: N/A
Pro: Vickie Guerrero

This one’s the extra entry and is too silly not to include. Around the time of Season 2 ending, word had spread that WWE had hired an indy wrestler named Isis the Amazon. The near-7-foot-tall woman was said to be terrible in the ring from all accounts, but at least she’d be a special attraction that people would remember for good or bad (and let’s be honest: bad). During the Season 2 finale, they showed a video package for Isis under the name Aloisia with the announcement that not only was she not going to be taking part in WWE’s developmental program in Florida Championship Wrestling, but that Vickie Guerrero was going to be her Pro. Many jokes were made online about Michael Cole and Josh Matthews being happy and horrified from the potential of dying from Aloisia snu-snu. At the very least, she was going to have the entire show centered around her.

Yet it wasn’t meant to be.

We may never know the true reason Aloisia was released a mere couple days after being announced. Could be because she was so horrible in the ring that they couldn’t allow her on TV in any capacity. Could be because she was reportedly as crazy as she is tall. Could also be because of the “fetish” photos of her that surfaced online, despite how ultimately tame they were. Either way, she was written off the show via WWE.com by an angry Vickie Guerrero, soon replaced with eventual winner Kaitlyn.

Season 1
Date: May 18, 2010 (Week 13)
Rank: 5th
Pro: CM Punk

Darren Young, forever cursed with the label of “the black guy who looks like John Cena”, has gotten bad hand after bad hand from the WWE. He main events Summerslam, but is out of the match in seconds. He’s given a good showing against John Cena on the main event of Raw and is rewarded by being kicked out of the Nexus. When he works to screw them over, he’s RKO’d by Randy Orton for his troubles and makes no more appearances on TV outside of matches on Superstars and background spots. Despite being shunned by his mentor CM Punk and the Nexus, he has no role against the CM Punk-led Nexus. Now he’s on NXT Season 5 where he’s out to earn a spot onto the sixth season of NXT… so he can earn a spot onto the WWE roster THAT HE IS ALREADY ON! The poor guy.

Anyway, he didn’t do himself any favors when he got voted off. He started with a round of thanks for the fans and the other wrestlers. Seemed fine at first. Then he walked up the ramp and confronted the Pros. Rather than lay into CM Punk or anyone else, he slowly kept repeating, “I have respect for you, respect for you, respect for you…” with pauses here and there. The fans, realizing that nothing of note was going to happen here, sang “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye” as he left annoyed.

Season 2
Date: August 10, 2010 (Week 10)
Rank: 6th
Pro: Mark Henry

Truth be told, one of the thrills of NXT Season 2 was rooting against Lucky Cannon and being incensed when he survived as long as he did. The guy simply lacked anything that made him likeable. At least now, on NXT Season 5, he’s trying to go over the top as a heel and it’s showing signs of working.

When his number was up, Lucky started quoting Jerry Maguire (or Half-Baked if you feel so inclined) by claiming that he wasn’t going to do what everybody thought he was going to do and FLIP OUT! The douche-chilled silence was deafening. He then tried running down the guys who outlasted him, leading to Michael Cole begging, “Somebody please punch him in the mouth.”

The best part of this is how when he finished insulting everyone, he tried to shake their hands before leaving. Husky Harris refused a handshake, but held up the horns for the Wolfpack, which Lucky ignored.

Season 2
Date: July 27, 2010 (Week 8)
Rank: 7th
Pro: John Morrison

Oh, Eli. Despite his great size, he lacked the physical build to make him a monster, so he had to wrestle like a regular dude. Because of that, his crazy murderer persona fell flat and he had to cling onto the comedy that came from the time he needed to improvise a promo on mustaches and failed tremendously.

It wasn’t enough and on the same episode where he was teased for stumbling through an obstacle course, he was let go. Instead of doing a farewell promo, he went right at Husky Harris in a random attack. Everyone dogpiled onto him until he was pulled away. On the ramp, he shoved his Pro John Morrison and a minute later ran back to the ring to start up a second brawl.

16) A.J.
Season 3
Date: November 23, 2010 (Week 12)
Rank: 3rd
Pro: Primo

AJ suffered from the same problem as Conor O’Brian. There was a strong concept in there, but without an ounce of subtlety to make it work. AJ was the geek girl next door. It was an interesting niche in that the WWE’s never tried to go that route for a Diva. Only they laid it on so thick that it came off as pandering and worked against her in the end.

Yet at the very least, she showed more emotion than her other lost Diva contestants. The farewell promo was still filled with pandering (mentioning how she never went to the prom because she was home playing videogames or whatever), but she was half-crying and spoke with actual passion. To add flavor, her Pro and budding romantic interest Primo was shown to be completely shocked and pissed off at this decision.

Season 2
Date: August 17, 2010 (Week 11)
Rank: 4th
Pro: “Dashing” Cody Rhodes

Husky’s farewell almost worked. His Pro Cody Rhodes, who initially hated Husky due to his appearance but grew to accept him, went on a fantastic tirade in response to the announcement that Husky was out of the competition. Husky tried to step in and take over, since this was supposed to be his mic time, but Cody wouldn’t let him talk. Cody ran down the three finalists and then attacked Kaval. He and Husky went after the little guy until the other faces made the save. Kaval fought back, climbed into the ring, up the ropes and hopped off with a Warrior’s Way to a standing Husky that didn’t look very good. Husky more or less no-sold it and walked away after MVP stared him down.

Season 2
Date: August 17, 2010 (11)
Rank: 5th
Pro: MVP

Percy getting the boot at 5th place was a real, “ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?!” moment for many, including the fans in the arena, who were very much unhappy with this decision. Though his act was starting to become stale by not adding enough variation, he was still considered to be a contender to reach the final episode. Percy gave a classy promo that showed respect for the fans, MVP, his opponents and came off as strong and reeking of charisma. Ending it with a final, “OH YEAH!” Percy shook the hand of Kaval and waved away the other three as not worth his time.

Season 1
Date: June 1, 2010 (Week 15)
Rank: 3rd
Pro: Matt Hardy

Justin Gabriel was the only guy from the first season of NXT to hand us some really bad promos. Well, maybe Heath Slater at times, but he had nothing that compared to a bad Gabriel speech. It wasn’t just the guy’s South African accent. He sometimes just had a hard time getting his point across. So it was a really nice surprise when his losing speech was as strong as it was, albeit somewhat generic. He explained his tenacity and how no matter what, he will keep trying and trying until reaching his dream of being a world champion.

That alone would have gotten him a higher spot on this list, but then, on his way up the ramp, his Pro Matt Hardy chose to butt in. Matt mucked it up by adding his own thoughts to the situation that were essentially the same as Gabriel’s, only far less interesting because he’s Matt Hardy.

Season 1
Date: May 11, 2010 (Week 12)
Rank: 6th
Pro: William Regal

They had tried playing with the idea of Skip Sheffield going heel earlier in the season, but that idea was quickly forgotten about and he went back to being a doofy cowboy hoss. Now clad in gear that included a spiked, leather vest, Skip reacted to the news of his loss by once again going heel. Claiming that he had been misguided, he made sure to point out that he should have listened to his Pro William Regal from the very beginning and that the fans had not seen the true Sheffield. He was angry and intimidating and proclaimed that he will be back. Then he stormed off without a second thought.

Not the flashiest exit, but it’s still very solid.

Season 4
Date: January 4, 2011 (Week 5)
Rank: 6th
Pro: Dolph Ziggler, traded to Chris Masters

As a little background for this, Novak started up as Dolph Ziggler’s Rookie, coming off as a Ziggler wannabe without the personality to carry himself. Since the company wanted to keep Ziggler around for the show and Novak being booted first was a sure thing, they had Ziggler win a battle royal where the winner would be able to switch his Rookie. Ziggler chose Byron Saxton, meaning Novak was stuck with Chris Masters (or should I say, Chris Masters was stuck with Novak) for the rest of the episode.

Novak was voted off to nobody’s surprise and proceeded to give a really crappy promo. Nothing unique or interesting about it and alone, it would have given him a spot in the 20’s on this list. But then Dolph Ziggler saved everything by heckling the poor guy from on top of the ramp. He made fun of his loss, made fun of Chris Masters for mentoring a loser and at one point even started sleeping as Novak addressed the crowd. Masters momentarily tried procuring the Masterlock onto Ziggler, but he escaped and ran to the back.

Amusingly, the production crew decided to replay Ziggler’s laughing reaction to the elimination via slow motion to close out the show.

Season 2
Date: August 31, 2010 (Week 13)
Rank: 3rd
Pro: The Miz

Alex Riley knew weeks in advance that he had no chance. When part of the show involves internet polling and your character is that of an unlikeable jock, you’re going to go down. When he was announced, he gave a smile as if it was only the other shoe dropping. Miz, on the other hand, was livid and went into a fit while Layla waved goodbye in his face and Kofi Kingston clapped right next to his ear.

Riley proceeded to give one hell of a promo that admitted that he didn’t have the legacy recognition of McGillicutty/Hennig nor the internet following of Kaval due to having actually gone to college. Yet still, he was good enough to hang with them, which showed what he was really made of. He ended it by standing on the second rope and yelling his name, much like his mentor the Miz would yell his catchphrase. Once done, Miz seemed calmer, as he was impressed with the way his Rookie handled himself.

They met up in the middle of the ramp. Riley looked to the camera and announced, “Alex Riley, for the last time, signing off,” while pretending to sign his name in the air.

Season 1
Date: May 11, 2010 (Week 12)
Rank: 8th
Pro: Carlito

Michael Tarver is a strange case and a guy I’ve always felt dear to my heart. Despite losing nearly all the time, he had a mad dog personality along with a knockout punch boxer gimmick that they had to drop early on because Big Show already had a knockout punch gimmick (coincidentally, Tarver was part of Floyd Mayweather’s Wrestlemania 24 entourage in opposition of Big Show). He’d freak out during the NXT competitions and would act like he’s too dangerous to do such things as obstacle courses. On the week before the first elimination of the show, Matt Striker asked the different Rookies who they thought deserved to be kicked off first. Most claimed Otunga, but Tarver went in a different direction. He claimed that he should be voted off.

He didn’t say it because he thought he was terrible or outright deserving, but because he’s dangerous. His idea was that if he were to stick around, bad things would happen to the other contestants. Therefore, you better hope he got voted off or everyone would die. Makes sense to me. Unfortunately, things became silly the next week at the opening of the show. Striker said that management believed that anyone who didn’t have the self-confidence didn’t belong and since Tarver said he should be eliminated, he must not have self-confidence. So… get the fudge out.

Tarver reacted by throwing a tantrum and yelling that he got held back. Later in the show, he was interviewed backstage by Matt Striker. Tarver, far calmer than earlier, admitted that while he didn’t find NXT to be very fair to him, he did consider the decision to drop him from the show to be fair. Tarver related it to how he is in fact a down-on-his-luck parent who has had money troubles, but delivered in a way that does make you suddenly feel for him. When asked about his tendency to act out during competitions and whether it was meant to be a way for him to get noticed, Tarver coldly told Striker, “I have made a living out of taking crumbs and making a feast. There is no possible way you could put me in a crowd of people and not notice me… unless you choose NOT to. And even then, I’ll make you notice me.”

When asked about his future plans, Tarver silently walked away.

Season 1
Date: May 25, 2010 (Week 14)
Rank: 4th
Pro: Christian

Slater got a pretty stacked farewell. “The One-Man Rock Band” had the problem of playing face when he was more natural as a “I want to punch him in his stupid face” heel. Before Slater said anything, Striker decided to ask some of the Pros what they thought in terms of why he was eliminated. Christian, his Pro, acted proud of him and put him over well. Miz claimed that Slater was only entertaining some of the time when he has to be entertaining all of the time. Slater, who has the best facial expressions in the business, complemented Miz’s speech with his wordless reactions. R-Truth said… well, nothing of worth. Then again, it is R-Truth. Chris Jericho didn’t criticize in any way, as going up against Wade Barrett makes defeat inevitable.

Heath Slater followed with his own speech, making sure to mention such things as his defeat over Chris Jericho and Carlito (who was no longer with the company, so he simply said that he was the first guy to pin a Pro) and how it took Kane to end his undefeated streak. This would not be the end of Slater as he warned the fans to, “Get ready for the encore.” Pretty good, although slurred at times.

Season 2
Date: June 29, 2010 (Week 4)
Rank: 8th
Pro: Zack Ryder

Right now, the show is in the middle of its fifth season, where the idea is redemption. Those who lost in earlier seasons get a second chance to make themselves known. Other than the utter insanity in Darren Young competing, it’s been relatively successful in concept. Look no further than Titus O’Neil, who has gone from utter disaster to passable hoss with the skills to become a big deal.

Look at the date of his elimination. Notice that he was gone the fourth week. That’s how bad he was. They played that elimination because the dude was not even close to being ready. He was a liability and he flubbed his lines regularly. He had to go.

Titus ended it on a surprisingly positive note. He put together a motivational speech where he admitted that his problems were nothing compared to those like some of the fans, who deal with cancer, losing loved ones to war and having to teach children under unsavory circumstances. Life is a game and it is what you make of it. He tied it into his – at the time – failed catchphrase, “Make it a win,” which actually won over the crowd and got a good ovation.

It was shocking. Who knew he had it in him? Why did it take him so long to deliver?

Sadly, the following week, despite him being gone from the show already, they showed a video package of all the Pros running down how much they thought Titus sucked. Way to kick a guy when he’s down.

Season 1
Date: May 11, 2010 (Week 12)
Rank: 7th
Pro: The Miz

Daniel Bryan’s tenure on NXT Season 1 was to get shit on over and over again. It went from making him an underdog (wrestling the champion Jericho on the first night and then wrestling for a few weeks with hurt ribs) to making him pathetic (losing to Darren Young in about a minute). People wondered what the hell the endgame was in this other than making him look foolish. The Pros were still high on him and kept ranking him high on their polls despite his bad luck streak. In the week prior to the first elimination, when asked who he thought deserved to be eliminated first, Bryan said that he did. It wasn’t in the macho/psycho way Tarver did that was meant to make a statement about how tough he was. Bryan just felt that as the guy who had no wins, he didn’t deserve to be there.

Bryan did in fact get a win on the following Raw, pinning Santino with a roll-up during an 8-on-4 tag match. Still, due to his words the week before, he was canned from NXT. He took it and left without a fight.

Later that night, Striker talked to him backstage about his elimination. The segment was about giving the internet what they wanted as Bryan took exception to Striker’s mention of working in the independents. Even though the company had played up his indy experience a lot, they chose to retcon it by using “Daniel Bryan”, the name they created for him for the sake of marketing ownership. Bryan said that if you were to look on YouTube for indy matches featuring Daniel Bryan, you’d find nothing because Daniel Bryan never competed in the indies. Daniel Bryan was a joke. The guy couldn’t even beat NXT Rookies!

Striker gave a knowing smile and asked about what was next. Bryan claimed that “Daniel Bryan” may have been done with forever, but Bryan Danielson had quite a future. During this, the camera man seemed to be suffering from epilepsy, as the shot kept shaking like something out of Blair Witch. It was a crazy little segment that didn’t really lead to all that much. Although Bryan would indeed continue to be on TV and continue his feud with commentator Michael Cole, he remained under the WWE’s slave moniker and his kayfabe-breaking mention of losing to Rookies as well as namedropping his real name were never mentioned ever again.

Still, it was pretty fucking cool.

Season 3
Date: November 16, 2010 (Week 11)
Rank: 4th
Pro: Goldust

The best Diva farewell easily goes to Aksana, the wacky lady from Lithuania. While her in-ring stuff was worse than the average Season 3 contestant, she had the most character and got to use it through a fun storyline that got her a lot of airtime on NXT as well as Raw. She told her Pro Goldust that she was going to be deported, which caused the smitten fool to eventually propose to her so she could stay. Goldust also was in the middle of a feud with Ted Dibiase Jr. where he stole his Million Dollar Belt. The two had a wedding on NXT, which featured Dibiase’s attempt to foil it unfoiled by Ted Dibiase Sr. showing up to be the minister. Once married, Aksana turned on Goldust and revealed that she was really a… well, a gold-digger.

Due to an injury to Goldust, they had to cut the angle short. In a very silly backstage segment, Goldust and Dusty Rhodes caught Aksana with a net, stole the Million Dollar Belt back from her clutches, gave it back to Ted Dibiase Sr. and then a dance party commenced. Keep in mind, this is a saner description than if I went into details.

When told that she was eliminated from NXT, Aksana fainted to the floor. A shot of Goldust on the stage showed that he appeared sad about these turn of events. Aksana grabbed a microphone and said in her charming broken English, “Somebody made mistake!” Despite her protests, she was forced to leave, but not before Goldust got in her way. He unzipped his tights, reached in and pulled out some papers. He told her that he wanted a divorce, causing her to angrily march off, having lost everything.

Season 4
Date: January 18, 2011 (Week 7)
Rank: 5th
Pro: Alberto Del Rio

Conor O’Brian is a man that wrestling fans should feel sorry for. Sure, his NXT Redemption status has him playing up his rough life of sleeping in a car because of fear of it being repossessed and other things that show how down on his luck he used to be. Just about anyone can find that sad. But also sad is the way he’s reportedly been shoveled into his NXT Season 4 gimmick.

Management: Ryan, you do great work! Welcome to the WWE.
Ryan Parmeter: Thank you. It’s a pleasure to be here.
Management: Before we have you start your developmental deal, we’d like to make a couple changes first.
Ryan Parmeter: Changes?
Management: Just suggestions. For instance, we want your in-ring name to be Conor O’Brian.
Ryan Parmeter: You mean like the talkshow host?
Management: What? No, that’s Conan O’Brien. It’s… it’s different enough.
Ryan Parmeter: I… guess that’s not so bad.
Management: Also, you look like a giant rat.
Ryan Parmeter: Hey!
Management: You do! So we want you to be a rat man.
Ryan Parmeter: You want me to do what?!
Management: We want you to play up how you look like a rat. Talk about cheese all the time. Be sneaky. That kind of crap. The kids’ll love it!
Ryan Parmeter: I don’t really feel comfortable doing this.
Management: Hey, don’t worry about it! If you don’t want to do it, you don’t have to.
Ryan Parmeter: Really? Phew. Had me worried for a second.
Management: By the way, you’re fired.
Ryan Parmeter: …Really?
Management: It’s a shame, I know.
Ryan Parmeter: That’s bullsh—
Management: Hey, Conor, you’re hired again.
Ryan Parmeter: I am?
Management: Yep! Welcome back. Anyway, about this rat man gimmick. Now that you’ve had time to sleep on it, what do you think?
Ryan Parmeter: *sigh*

Conor went a little overboard on the rat concept, talking about cheese more than he should. It’s not like there are that many jokes you can really make with that gimmick. Despite his perfect win-loss record, he was pretty much doomed after Novak hit the bricks. On his last show as a contestant, Conor had a match with Alberto Del Rio’s second banana and announcer Ricardo Rodriguez, who felt threatened by Conor’s loyalty to the boss. It was a comedy match where Conor dominated until his own cheating backfired and he knocked himself out. Ricardo got the pin and ended the winning streak.

At the end of that episode, Conor was revealed to be the latest cut. He started off with, “It’s been real, it’s been fun, it’s been real fun,” but before we could see where that gem was going to lead, Ricardo came back out in a robe to interrupt. He started announcing Conor’s defeat in Spanish as a way to mock him one last time. Conor had had enough and chased him backstage.

That would have been fine on its own, but it gets better. Matt Striker was making an announcement to close out the show when Conor stomped back over to the ringside area. He grabbed the mic and told the crowd, “You all absolutely suck!” Then, without a word of explanation, he crawled under the ring and remained there. Johnny Curtis and Derrick Bateman both looked at what just happened in complete bewilderment, joined by the ten people watching at home.

Season 4
Date: February 8, 2011 (Week 10)
Rank: 4th
Pro: Chris Masters, traded to Dolph Ziggler

Byron Saxton, a commentator-turned-wrestler, made it to final four in Season 4 before getting sent home. If the farewell promo is an NXT contestant’s last chance to show the world what they have to offer, then Byron gave one hell of a show with his impressive mood swings. Upon the announcement, Byron’s former Pro Chris Masters laughed at Dolph Ziggler, who had stolen Byron from him.

Byron’s initial reaction was crying. He started getting emotional, not understanding how this could happen. This sadness segued into anger, demanding to know why he wasn’t good enough for the fans. Then, at the drop of a hat, Byron smirked and told everyone, “I forgive you.” It was just a simple mistake and nobody’s perfect. They’re flawed people and therefore it was only natural that they’d make the wrong decision.

He walked up the ramp until Ziggler got in his face, pissed that his Rookie was smiling in the face of humiliation. Ziggler chewed him out big time, verbally burning him and demanding he get out of his sight. Byron said nothing, but got increasingly furious at his Pro. Especially when told, “Are you deaf AND a bad wrestler?!”

Chris Masters told him from up top the ramp that if he was any kind of man, he’d punch Ziggler. Instead, Byron took a few steps back, held his fist in the air and gave Ziggler a sly smile.

Season 4
Date: March 1, 2011 (Week 13)
Rank: 2nd
Pro: Ted Dibiase Jr., traded to Alberto Del Rio

Brodus Clay appeared to be the star of NXT Season 4 due to his size and unique appearance. While his in-ring stuff came off as unmotivated, the guy at least had the personality to carry himself. He ended up losing to Johnny Curtis, an act that I defended at first, but became stupider and stupider as time went by. Initially, I figured that since the prize of Season 4 was for the winning Pro/Rookie combination to get a shot at the Tag Team Championships, Curtis was the only one who made sense. Bateman had to lose because Daniel Bryan was too busy being US Champion and Brodus had to lose because Alberto Del Rio was too busy competing for the World Heavyweight Championship on Smackdown. I thought that Curtis/R-Truth vs. the Corre at Wrestlemania was only natural.

Instead, Brodus Clay has been on Raw and Smackdown regularly while Curtis has yet to be on TV in any capacity. As of this writing, it’s been over five weeks since this episode and Curtis is still MIA. What was the point?!

I’m going too far off-script. This is about Brodus reacting to the news that he would be the runner up. At first, he shook hands with his rival and seemed almost accepting of his defeat. Striker said that we likely haven’t seen the last of Brodus Clay and gave him the mic. His words mixed a feeling of betrayal and persecution with a portrayal of outright horror. He felt that he deserved to win after everything he did, yet he didn’t because he’s a monster and doesn’t look normal like Curtis, R-Truth and anyone else who isn’t some kind of Tazz/King Kong Bundy hybrid.

His outrage turned into a declaration of war, as if we were watching the origin of some kind of major supervillain. We destroyed his winning moment, so in return, he will destroy all our heroes and hopes and dreams. We broke his heart, so he’s going to return the favor. He kept going with it, not even taking a second to pause and acknowledge the increasing and loudening boos from the crowd.

He ended it with, “AND YOU DO. KNOW. THAT,” and dropped the mic as he left the ring. In terms of quality, Brodus Clay’s promo was easily the best. He was prepared and made you more interested in what he was going to do next than the actual winner. The thing to remember here is that this list isn’t so much about who was BEST, but who was the MOST ENTERTAINING. So while Brodus took his loss with style, our #1, on the other hand…

Season 2
Date: August 31, 2010 (Week 13)
Rank: 2nd
Pro: Kofi Kingston

I’ve felt bad for a lot of different NXT competitors over this list. Daniel Bryan, Darren Young, Michael Tarver, Kaval, Connor O’Brian, SERIOUSLY DARREN YOUNG, and so on. The thing that they all share is that they had all been screwed over by management. Michael McGillicutty, on the other hand, only has himself to blame for being screwed over.

Due to the events of the Season 2 finale, most people forget this, but McGillicutty was actually pretty good! In-ring, he was second to Kaval and he pulled off some solid promos. His problem seemed to be that he couldn’t come up with a personality outside of “sort of like his father but not” and they couldn’t even establish whether he was supposed to be a face or heel. One could argue that he just needed the right direction and he’d be gold. Truth is, McGillicutty had potential written all over him and the finale would be a great ending to what was a mostly enjoyable season.

And then… the show happened. It started with a bad omen as his Pro Kofi Kingston announced his Rookie’s finisher (the McGillicutter) wrong and introduced him as “The Master of the McGillicutty!” Things went fine with the McGillicutty vs. Kaval vs. Riley match that led to Riley’s departure. Then we got the war of words. Like with Otunga vs. Barrett, the two finalists had a minute to tear down their opponent verbally. McGillicutty went first. I was going to pull out some choice quotes from this bit, but the entire thing is like a highlight reel of bad things to say. I might as well just quote the whole thing.

“First of all, I’d like to ask LayCool something. Did you seriously submit your adopted ninja baby into the NXT competition? I mean, I don’t know whether to spank ya or breastfeed ya! You come out here; you wear a wetsuit to the ring—What, you goin’ swimming? This isn’t a swimming pool… no matter how much you want it to be. And it—if I’m not mistaken, it’s taken you thirteen YEARS to get here, right? Yeah? So what makes you think you’re going to do any better now that you are here? Or… after you’re eliminated, you won’t be here any longer. Kaval… That is your name, right? Kaval? What does that mean? Kaval. It means flute, I think. Right? Look it up, it means flute. Good name. I’m glad his parents—I hope his parents are happy. Kaval, let me tell you something. No matter how much you like it, (*BUZZER GOES OFF*) I can represent the company a whole lot better than you can.”

Remember, he prepared this speech. Kaval was so casual about how easy McGillicutty made it that all he had to do was talk about working his way to the top and namedropping Eddie Guerrero. It wasn’t even close. Kaval won and McGillicutty got to give his final word.

It started out okay, if a bit average. He acted incredulous that Kaval won and that he’d be the one getting a PPV title shot. He started going on about how he was the next generation and that he will one day win a world title. He was at least improving over his above garbled mess of a speech. Then he said it. He said it and he said it without anything resembling emotion.

“And starting this moment… from now… from this moment on… this will be the moment… starting now… of the genesis… of McGillicutty.”

You know what? Don’t take my word for it. Here’s a clip for you.


The belief among many watching was that since the NXT Season 1 guys formed the Nexus on Raw, the NXT Season 2 guys would start the Genesis on Smackdown based on McGillicutty’s badly-expressed words. This idea became more likely when Husky Harris, Percy Watson, Lucky Cannon, Titus O’Neil and Eli Cottonwood rushed the ring and attacked Kaval during his victory speech. Why? Just because.

The Pros who were faces went and tried to help out. McGillicutty and Riley soon ran out to join the other Rookies. Under normal circumstances, this could have worked. If it ran smoothly, it could have had a lasting impact. Good God, did it run anything but.

MVP delivered a running Mafia Kick to Titus O’Neil. Despite it being one of MVP’s trademark moves, Titus completely no-sold it and merely stood there, confused over what to do. MVP simply threw him over the top rope. Eli Cottonwood vanished in the melee, never to be seen on WWE TV ever again. When the Pros were overpowered, they kind of just left Kaval to fend for himself rather than be too hurt to help or anything. But the biggest screw-up was Alex Riley grabbing Percy Watson during the brawl and giving him his finisher. THEY WERE ON THE SAME SIDE! A minute later, the NXT losers all stood in the ring (except for Cottonwood) with Percy showing no acknowledgment to the man standing to his side being the man who just tried to take him out.

It was a complete debacle and was never followed up upon in any fashion. McGillicutty, who appeared to be at least the next heel stable leader, instead became the most generic member of the Nexus, being the first true nail in that storyline’s casket.

Shows like Raw and Impact need to be criticized for their sucking because they really ought to know better. With NXT, I can’t stay angry. I recognize that it’s a Vince McMahon afterthought long forgotten about that only lives on life support because they have contracts to show it on international TV outlets. Regardless, the show remains my guilty pleasure and after this list, the reasons why I watch it should be as plain as the mustache on Eli Cottonwood’s face.

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8 comments to “The Genesis of the Countdown of the Top WWE NXT Eliminations”

  1. I see USA started up Tuff Enough again. Except with Austin instead of Al Snow…

  2. @LurkerWithout: It’s better that way. Not only is Austin more entertaining, but he’s also far less of a bitter nutjob.

  3. Brodus had an awesome, awesome farewell speech, that included the couplet “I don’t need a roster spot/just need a dark alley or a parking lot”. It was legitimately intimidating.

  4. The best things to come from the first run of Tough Enough were Tazz yelling at everyone, Chris Harvard, and The Miz. Maven had entertaining moments, but his best was still getting half-murdered by Bikertaker (while simultaniously eating popcorn). Snow was a good trainer, but came off as a milksop most of the time. Also, SCSA, Booker, and DeMott will do anything but hold the kids’ hands, and Trish is too professional to baby anyone either. I’m happy about the new trainers.

    Glad to see a detailed list featuring the NXT rookies, who rarely get a second mention even on big-time wrestling websites. I feel the worst about Kaval and Curtis, but at least Kaval had the sense to request his release rather than wait it out any longer. Wonder if JC, whose whole thing at the beginning was being tired of being stuck in developmental, was livid about his “Get Out Of FCW Card” being taken away from him and given to the third-place winner? Young, I think, was given his place on the new season to give him SOME kind of exposure since Superstars is gone, and he isn’t quite ready for Raw or SD!. Luck willing, he’ll be given time to shine, because I agree…his potential is pretty obvious.

    Sorry for the long post…I don’t get to chat about this stuff often. Thanks again for the article.

  5. re: tough enough

    Did you guys see Austin’s reaction to that one chick saying Melina vs Alicia Fox was her all-time favorite match?


  6. I love reading your wrestling posts ever since I got back into–scratch that, after you got me back into wrestling with your first post about NXT from last year. I’d ask if you could do more of them, but I’m assuming the ones that you do write and the only ones you really feel inspired or want to write, so that’s cool.

    Are you going to King of Trios next weekend? Any chance of a write-up about that if you are?

  7. @Schide: I wanted to hit King of Trios this year, but I don’t think I’ll be able to make it. I have a bachelor party to go to on the Saturday and on Tuesday I’m heading to Vegas for a few days, so I might be saving the money rather than making the Sunday trip.

    A King of Trios Countdown series could definitely be in the cards for the future, though.

  8. Alex Riley totally should have been a finalist in NXT2. It was clear that he was leaps and bounds among the rest of his peers that season barring Kaval (who would start the trend of NXT winners becoming bigger losers than the guys who actually DID lose NXT).