NXT started in early 2010 as a proving ground for new talent, combining elements of Raw and Smackdown (wrestling) with elements of the Million Dollar Tough Enough (reality TV-style eliminations, absurd challenges). The first season was won by Wade Barrett, but the real exclamation point at the end of the season came when all eight rookies stormed the ring and wreaked unprecedented havoc on Raw.
For those young WWE hopefuls, you could say that the training wheels had finally come off. In keeping with that theme, on the season finale of NXT 2, all of the wheels came off.
On this most disastrous of all non-Diva NXT episodes, we had a little foreshadowing of things to come in the form of the five previously eliminated contestants, who were all seated in the front row.
This group was comprised of rookies like Titus O’Neil, the current Prime Time Player who was then better known for his humble attitude, “make it a win” promo, and, a few months later, the accidental tweet of his own modestly-sized sex organ (uh… I heard).
Also among the rookies was the nerdy “Showtime” Percy Watson, known for his thick-framed plastic glasses and “Oh yeah!” catchphrase.
Husky Harris was the son of Mike Rotunda, grandson of Blackjack Windham, and victim of WWE Developmental’s random ring name generator.
Also on that list were the other eliminated rookies, Eli (Mustache) Cottonwood…
…and Lucky Cannon.
Speaking of embarrassing names, none was worse than finalist Michael McGillicutty’s. The real-life Joe Hennig, son of Mr. Perfect, was given this atrocious pseudonym (or as Bob Backlund would call it, a misnomer), perhaps to afford him such clever plays-on-words as his “McGillicutter” finisher and the “McGillibuddies” nickname for his hypothetical fan base.
Some readers might be thinking, “Wait just a damn minute, Art. Wasn’t McGillicutty named for his mother’s maiden name?” To them, I would say, first of all, to watch their language. Second of all, McGillicutty is not his mother’s maiden name, but Leonard. No, “McGillicutty” was Lucy Ricardo’s maiden name on I Love Lucy.
As a certified Miz-fit, Michael Cole naturally put over Miz’s rookie and finalist Alex Riley at all times. In fact, given Riley’s resemblance to both Miz and Cole, I wouldn’t be surprised if he were Miz and Cole’s love child. Actually, given my knowledge of basic biology, I would be very much surprised, but if any two men ever produced a child together, it would be those two.
(I used one of those very scientific “If They Mated” websites to produce this abomination, which looks more like Cody Rhodes than Alex Riley.)
On the other hand, Cole took every opportunity to tear down NXT 2 finalist Kaval, as if he had Vince McMahon screaming in his ear to toe the company line. This was probably because Vince McMahon actually was in every announcer’s ear telling them to toe the company line, thanks to the miracle of headphones. It’s as if Vince resented the fact that internet wrestling fans kept voting for Kaval on wwe.com, thus offsetting the “Pros’ votes” and keeping him alive in the competition. WWE has corrected this phenomenon as of late by charging $1 for the WWE App, a price too steep for most smarks, who don’t see voting rights for meaningless match stipulations and access to pointless backstage interviews as a worthwhile investment. Whatever the case, Cole hated any wrestling fan who used the internet (but later loved filling us in on the latest trending topics on Twitter).
And speaking of Cole, he and Josh Mathews never missed an opportunity to bicker with each other, a tradition started during the infancy of the Heel Cole gimmick that continues to this day among Raw’s three-man announce team.
In the episode’s only match, Alex Riley won a Triple Threat match against the other two rookies, a victory that was immediately rendered moot by his elimination by the pros.
In his last chance to sway the pros to his side, McGillicutty proceeded to cut perhaps the second-worst promo in WWE history on Kaval, complete with such immortal lines as:
- “I don’t know whether to spank ya or to breast-feed ya!”
- “You wear a wetsuit to the ring. What, are you going swimming? This isn’t a swimming pool… no matter how much you want it to be.”
- “What makes you think you’re gonna do any better now that you are here… or… after you get eliminated, you won’t be here any longer.”
- “What does that mean, ‘Kaval’? It means, ‘flute,’ I think, right? Look it up, it means flute. Good name. I’m glad – I hope his parents are happy.”
One thing McGillicutty did deserve credit for was his use of Wikipedia to research his promo. A kaval, it turns out, is indeed a type of flute.
Next, Kaval cut a promo that was decent enough to make Michael Cole give him his due. And Cole hated Kaval. It probably didn’t hurt that he name-dropped Eddie Guerrero without mentioning that he’s dead or gloating that he’s in hell.
After the pros conferred and voted once again (a process which probably consisted of swimming pool and breastfeeding jokes), Kaval was chosen as the winner.
His Diva trainers, Lay-Cool (whose combined years of wrestling experience still didn’t match his own), celebrated with him in the ring as McGillicutty sulked.
In retaliation, the defeated NXT rookie cut the worst promo in WWE history (in case you were still wondering why his first promo was only second-worst). After rambling on and on in an effort to build anticipation for the climax of his promo (“And starting this moment from now, from this moment on, this will be the moment, starting now…”), the runner-up finally dropped the bombshell that would rock the WWE and set him apart as a new, serious player in the future of the company. Yes, this would be the moment that he would shed his awful moniker and catapult himself to the top.
You see, this would be the genesis… of Joe Hennig! Actually, that’s not what he said, although it would have made a whole hell of a lot more sense and wouldn’t have made everyone listening burst out in laughter as I did.
What he actually declared in his most menacing tone was “The Genesis – of McGillicutty!” How exactly this could be the genesis of McGillicutty after he had already been wrestling for 13 weeks on TV is one of the great unsolved mysteries for the ages. It’s as if, after reading the part in Have a Nice Day where Foley claims that “Stone Cold” Steve Austin could never have gotten over as a badass if he had been saddled with a name as stupid as “Chilly McFreeze,” Joe took it as a personal challenge. Whatever the explanation, this promo was certainly one for the history books.
Kaval then took the mic and, like McGillicutty, admitted that he didn’t know what to say. Unfortunately, we never got to hear whether this would be the Genesis of the Adopted Ninja Baby, as he was jumped by Lucky Cannon, the least intimidating member of an NXT 2 roster that included a Steve Urkel impersonator.
It wasn’t just Lucky who got involved, as the rest of the rejected NXT-ers from ringside joined the fray as well to beat down Kaval.
The WWE pros then came to the rescue to fight off the rookies, and that’s when the whole scene became a bona fide fustercluck.
First, MVP delivered his running corner boot to Titus O’Neil, who no-sold it and walked away.
The big genital-tweeter (that is, the big tweeter of small genitals) was then thrown over the top rope, which he sold as lifelessly as Japanese wrestler Yoshihiko (who has the excuse of being, in fact, an inflatable doll).
The pros cleared the ring of most of the rebellious rookies, but for some reason they then just stood around, leaving Husky Harris alone as he dropped Kaval (who was the whole reason the pros rushed to ringside in the first place) with a uranage. “Does somebody want to grab Husky Harris?” asked Josh, clearly frustrated at this most disorganized of all beatdowns.
John Morrison, who had politely allowed Harris to slam Kaval, then decided to get involved again, but only after Michael McGillicutty and Alex Riley emerged from backstage to fight off the pros.
To make the melee even more embarrassing, all the contracted WWE Superstars got cleared out of the ring by the rookies. Then it got worse.
As McGillicutty and Harris continued to beat down Kaval, Alex Riley started beating up fellow rookie Percy Watson for no apparent reason, then threw him out of the ring.
Maybe it was an homage to the wrestling episode of Family Matters where Waldo Faldo ran in to beat up the Bushwhackers but ended up putting Urkel in a headlock.
Percy then re-emerged a minute later as if nothing happened and re-joined Riley and the other rookies in executing their finishers on Kaval.
Lay-Cool and the rest of the WWE Universe watched on in stunned silence (well, Lay-Cool was stunned, the fans were just confused) as NXT went off the air. The last sound the viewers at home heard from this frightening scene? An “Oh yeah!” from fun-loving “Showtime” Percy Watson (who was a real good sport about that whole Alex Riley scoop slam).
This fiasco just goes to show that you can’t recreate a singular moment like the Nexus rampage, especially not a mere three months after it happened.
Other differences between the NXT 1 attack and the NXT 2 attack? One sent a message that the rookies were all dead-set on making it in WWE, while the other demonstrated why all the rookies got eliminated in the first place.
There was no dominant faction or even an angle that resulted from the NXT 2 finale, just a pink slip for Kaval of all people, who was chosen as the winner but then told a few months later that the company had no ideas for him. He never even got to turn the ring into a swimming pool! Alex Riley got promoted to Raw anyway to be The Miz’s sidekick (whom he never absent-mindedly beat up), while McGillicutty and Harris would join the real Nexus but keep their laughable names. Lucky Cannon, Percy Watson, and Titus O’Neil would compete (the latter two as babyfaces again) on NXT Redemption, the year-long developmental hell that was unceremoniously scrapped and replaced with the current format of NXT.
After the shameful showing on the NXT 2 finale, WWE made a quick turnaround. Instead of showcasing unintentional comedy and a roster where only half the wrestlers even knew what they were doing in the ring, Season 3 would showcase unintentional comedy and a roster where none of the wrestlers even knew what they were doing in the ring.