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By Richard Trionfo on 2011-03-16 02:38:08
Tonight’s NXT Redemption Thoughts completes a rare hat trick for me because in addition to the NXT Report on the site, I filled in for David Jakielo and did the post game show.

I thought this week’s show was one of the better episodes of NXT in the fifty-six week history of the show. While the first challenge was on par with the other Talk the Talk Challenges, the feel of the show was a lot more positive than most of the previous shows. I think WWE has found the right combinations of announcers and may have found a star in William Regal, who as I mentioned on the post game audio, reminds me of Tazz when he was working with Michael Cole and Jim Ross. We also had two good wrestling matches from the rookies and some good video packages.

With that said, here are my thoughts on this week’s show:

The Challenges

We had two challenges this week that were blasts from the past. The first challenge was the Talk the Talk Challenge which I thought was the weaker of the two challenges. The second challenge was the St. Patrick’s Day Keg Carry Challenge. Each challenge was worth two Redemption Points.

The Talk The Talk Challenge had a mixed bag of performances.

I thought the best performance was given by Darren Young who decided to go outside the box/ring and get close to the people at ringside and talk about how he was going to win this season because he is the most talented. He also put over the importance of the Guerrero family since Chavo is his pro.

I would have given the silver medal to Conor O’Brian who gave another emotional promo about how it is his dream to be in the WWE and part of NXT and that everyone else can achieve their dreams. O’Brian has shown a lot of emotion this season and is a much different person than he was when he was going for the Son of Rat Boy gimmick during Season Four.

The bronze would have gone to Titus O’Neill, but it would have been a big gap between second and third. O’Neill gave a good recreation of a conversation he had with Hornswoggle and he really got into the Hornswoggle character during the dialogue. It reminded me of the debate between Magnitude and Leonard on the Student Council episode of Community. Grisham and Regal did their best version of Troy and Abed to explain what we heard.

I did not think that the other three promos that missed the medal stand were close to the top three and would have been in the bottom of this Quickfire Challenge.

I thought Jacob Novak’s rap was a little off and maybe not the best thing to do in Kansas City. It made John Cena’s last rap sound like Public Enemy in their prime (I’m not a big fan of current rap so I couldn’t tell you who the top guys are today). The kid on Monday night at Rock’s house did a better job.

Byron Saxton spent too much time talking about Lucky Cannon and his wardrobe choices. It felt like it would have worked better if he was in detention on a Saturday in Shermer, Illinois, not in a WWE ring in Kansas City. But Barry Manilow approves along with John Bender.

The final promo was from Lucky Cannon and it sounded like a Charlie Sheen monologue if he was dressed like Liberace. One positive about Cannon’s promo was that he is taking his character in a complete 180 from his prior NXT incarnation.

However, my vote does not count as much as the crowd in Kansas City, and they gave the win to Titus O’Neill.

The second challenge was the Keg Carry Challenge and it made sense because we are two days from St. Patrick’s Day. However, with it being the Ides of March, maybe they should have had their previous pro behind them trying to make them drop the keg.

We did get to see Titus O’Neill’s failure during Season Two when he could not carry the keg around the ring.

Of course since this is NXT Redemption Island, O’Neill won the challenge. The other four rookies who participated in the challenge had good times and there was nothing like when Daniel Bryan was always a minute slower than the other rookies in whatever challenge they had because he went first.

The one rookie who did not participate decided to read a poem to Maryse in French. Unlike Phil Connors trying to seduce Rita in Groundhog Day. Maybe he should try reading box scores for the Montreal Canadiens or sing something from Celine Dion.

Lucky ended up being unlucky in love despite his declaration that Maryse would be his, not Yoshi Tatsu’s.

Current Redemption Point Standings

Titus O’Neill: 4 Points
Darren Young: 3 Points
Everyone Else: 0 Points

The Matches

We had two matches this week on the show and I thought both did a decent job of showcasing the talents of the rookies involved. While they did not have a lot of time in the ring, they did not hurt their overall performance as a result of the matches.

The first match was a singles match between Conor O’Brian and Darren Young and I thought this was the better match of the two. Young showed a lot of proficiency with his strikes, especially European uppercuts. O’Brian took advantage of Young’s style to work on the arm after sending him into the ring post. O’Brian did a good job using the ring as an additional method to add pressure to the arm while avoiding disqualification. Young showed a ‘rookie’ mistake when he used the injured left arm for a clothesline, but he did a ‘veteran’ thing by selling the injury done to the arm and he did not use the arm again. Young incorporated a new finisher with a gutbuster out of a fireman’s carry position.

The other match was a tag match with rookies Byron Saxton and Lucky Cannon involved. Also in the match were Yoshi Tatsu and Tyson Kidd. I want to focus on the rookies in this column so I will not discuss the pros unless they did something with a rookie.

I thought both Saxton and Cannon had their best performances on NXT. Saxton showed a lot of passion during the limited time that he was in the match. He did not get to do much more than connect with a series of forearms and a clothesline but he showed good technique in the ring.

Lucky Cannon did a good job of working on the midsection of Yoshi Tatsu during the match and he showed a lot of aggression during the match. He then showed a desire to win by making the blind tag to get the victory.

The Promos and Video Packages

There was one backstage vignette with Yoshi Tatsu, Maryse, and Lucky Cannon. We continued the month long wooing of Maryse by Yoshi Tatsu that started with the Kiss Cam on Valentine’s Day when Maryse chose Yoshi over Ted DiBiase. Maryse and Yoshi had some good chemistry even though they probably don’t understand what the other says. Then Lucky tries to usurp Yoshi to get Maryse’s affections but Maryse can see through Lucky’s façade (as long as he does not have his Spawn cape).

We saw video packages for the two rookies who did not wrestle this week, Jacob Novak and Titus O’Neill. Both video packages were well produced and each wrestler talked about their shortcomings in their first season of NXT and why they did not succeed. They talked about how they are going to change and learn from those mistakes and translate their early eliminations into wins.

Since they have had four rookies wrestle and two in video packages the first two weeks of this season, I would expect that we will see Darren Young and Lucky Cannon videos next week.

Other Stuff

I mentioned this last week after the season premiere and I also talked about it on the post game show, but my favorite announcer on WWE right now might be William Regal. He mixes his knowledge of wrestling with a subtle sense of humor and an announcing style that does not dominate the program. Regal is providing a verbal accompaniment to the action in the ring or the challenge. As I also mentioned on the audio, Regal worked a number of matches with Darren Young last year on Superstars and Regal has really put over Young during his matches. Regal also pointed out during the match between Young and O’Brian that Conor did a great job of using the ropes to work on Young’s arm and shoulder to gain the advantage however he can. He also pointed out the mistake that Young committed by using the injured arm for a clothesline.

Regal also injected some good humor during the challenges. When Conor O’Brian gave his promo, Regal wondered if he should get a Kleenex for Conor because he figured he would get emotional. He also commented that he wanted to punch Jacob Novak after his failed promo. The way that Regal delivered his lines on those issues, he did not say it in a way that buried the guy and he did not try to demean the person. He said it in a subtle way. Regal also made a good point about Lucky Cannon and how he has changed his character in a way to differentiate himself from his prior NXT run.

Regal made a good point about Titus O’Neill winning the Talk the Talk Challenge. He pointed out that Titus is doing a great job of connecting with the crowd and that it is some times more important than what he does in the ring during his matches. That was evident last season with Derrick Bateman who had the crowd reacting to almost all of his promos during the season and it might saved him from elimination.

William Regal is not the only person who deserves praise on the announce team this week.

I think that Todd Grisham is very underrated. Mike discussed this a bit in the audio that he did with Dave on Tuesday. Todd might not be the most charismatic announcer but he does a good job of telling the viewer what they need to enhance what they are watching. He has a good rapport with Regal and he seems happy to be on the show, which is a major improvement over Season Three when it felt like we were watching a hostage video hosted by Michael Cole and Josh Mathews.

When the announcing was at its worst in previous seasons, the one thing that kept me from shooting my television or my computer depending on where I was watching the show, was Matt Striker. Striker would throw in comments that might have been appreciated by a limited number of people, but I was one of them so it kept me interested in the show.

I did not know if Striker needed a co-host, but this week he worked very well with Maryse during their segments. It was a good partnership where each person contributed and the transitions did not seem awkward or forced.

My Rookie Rankings:

1st Place: Darren Young
2nd Place: Conor O'Brian
3rd Place: Titus O'Neill
4th Place: Byron Saxton
5th Place: Lucky Cannon
6th Place: Jacob Novak

What to watch on YouTube, Hulu, or I would recommend the entire show. When you take out the video packages from Raw, it ends up being a little more than a half hour.

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