Induction: NXT Season 2 Finale: Bros before Pros, or Why Curtis Axel isn’t world champion already

34 Submitted by on Thu, 15 August 2013, 20:00

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. 2nxt01
titus keg 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. 2nxt03
2nxt04 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… 2nxt05
2nxt06 …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. 2nxt07
2nxt08 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. 2nxt10
2nxt11 (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, 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). 2nxt09
2nxt10 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. 2nxt11
2nxt12 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. 2nxt13
2nxt14 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. 2nxt15
2nxt16 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. 2nxt17
2nxt18 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. genesis of mcgillicutty
2nxt19 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. 2nxt20
2nxt21 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. nosell
titus fall 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. grab husky harris
2nxt22 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. 2nxt23
riley watson 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. waldo headlock
2nxt24 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). 2nxt25
nexus 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.

kaitlyn maxine

Oh yeah!

Written by

A wrestling fan ever since the days of Wrestlemania IX, Art graduated from college in the same building where Art Donovan called King of the Ring 1994. He also runs the "How Much Does This Guy Weigh?" blog, where he reviews New Generation-Era Monday Night Raws. Follow him on Twitter @Art0Donnell. Email at:
34 Responses to "Induction: NXT Season 2 Finale: Bros before Pros, or Why Curtis Axel isn’t world champion already"
  1. king1836 says:

    I saw the chaotic ending and I remember laughing hard LOL

  2. Mariano Fernandez says:

    “I don’t know whether to spank ya or to breast-feed ya!”

    John Cena used that in a battle rap against Rey Mysterio, in his Doctor of Thuganomics days.

    Promo here:

    • Des says:

      It made sense for Cena to do it because Mysterio’s comparatively tiny for a wrestler and has a young face. Low Ki’s 5′ 8″ which isn’t that short even for a pro wrestler, plus he has years of experience in his face. Hennig obviously just remembered that line and thought it sounded cool, but it was embarrassing and just made him look like an idiot and a plagiarist. He might as well have ripped off Scott Steiner’s shoot promos on Kimberly Page and Ric Flair, it would have made just as much sense.

  3. Peter says:

    This made me laugh so hard. And I’ve been following Low Ki since the start of his career and that is the first time I ever saw him smile. Well done!

  4. JustAGuyGuy says:

    It’s always weird to see a pre-Crisis Bray Wyatt.

  5. Adam X says:

    Fun Fact: Eli Rottonwood was the first Wyatt Family member before they rightly released him and brought in Rowan and Harper.

    Good call.

  6. Cameron A. says:

    Kaval decided to challenge Dolph Ziggler for the Intercontinental Championship. If I remember correctly, Kaval wanted to earn his victories the hard way, but I don’t think WWE delineated what title shots an NXT winner could gun for until Kaval’s IC “cash-in”. I don’t understand why neither WWE nor TNA could package Low-Ki decently.

  7. Big Jim says:

    Well it’s obvious why they had nothing for Kaval. Solid wrestler, no-nonsense in-ring attitude, ridiculous finisher that I’m still impressed by every time I see it…yep, I see nothing that could be done with him at all.

  8. John Darc says:

    How can you say the Genesis of McSillyPutty was the worst promo when you specifically namedrop Eli Mustache Cottonwood?

  9. hobu0 says:

    Kaval wins a fan voted theme show…yet the WWE immediately buried him. I mean, how can anyone not see that as a big “fuck you” from the company is beyond me…..

    • Anonymous says:

      Exactly. They don’t even care what the people who watch their own show want to see. They just air what they want and ignore the ever declining ratings to justify doing it.

    • Des says:

      Bit like when there was a contest to create a new member of the Bash Street Kids comic strip, and the character was dropped within a few weeks.

    • Surfer Sandman says:

      He got a raw deal.

      Too bad we’re stuck with such ESTEEMED talents as Joe Hennig, Bray Wyatt and Alex Riley.

      Fuck. This. Company.

  10. Anonymous says:

    “Michael McGillicutty” is the worst talker in the history of professional wrestling and I can’t even think of anyone else who could challenge him for that title.

    • John Q Occupier says:

      The Great Khali, maybe?

      • CP says:

        Giant Gonzalez anyone?

        • Des says:

          Bobby Lashley wasn’t exactly stellar on the microphone, either. It’s a very bold statement to suggest Hennig is the worst in history because it insinuates you’ve heard every single wrestler’s promos including people in down-trodden gym hall indie feds. If you want to make the case he’s the worst in WWE history then fine, but even then I don’t know if I agree.

          • Thomas Moffatt says:

            Kofi Kingston has surpassed his pupil as the master of the awful promo – back in December around the time of the Slammys he delivered a horrific promo in the locker room – only Daniel Bryan and Kane saved the segment…. it was awful…

        • Des says:

          Nobody can seem to execute the ‘outsiders wreak havoc’ angle effectively. The nWo started off great but outstayed its welcome to the point where WCW was unable to recover. The Nexus angle started well but they dropped the ball by not letting Barrett beat Cena clean in the match where Cena would have to join the Nexus if he lost. They then dropped the ball with the angle where Cena was ‘fired’ for not letting Barrett win the title, he just returned the next night and then beat him clean at the next PPV, and Barrett’s never got back to that level. The Shield started well but seem to be in a mid-card holding pattern.

          At least this attempt at instigating such an angle ended up delivering some amazing, ‘The Room’-level unintentional comedy.

          • Walter Kovacs says:

            Well, outsiders wreak havoc has a built in shelf life. If you are still around after a few months … well, you aren’t an outsider anymore, now are you. It’s sort of like a new government coming into power promising change. Eventually, when you are the government long enough, YOU represent the status quo. Any attempt to portray the outsider are going to fall flat.

          • Buzz Line says:

            The ROH vs CZW feud was pretty good. The only real question is why the Kings Of Wrestling were allowed the challenge for the ROH tag team titles, without contracts, after it had been settled but everyone loved Hero by that point anyway so it still wasn’t too bad.

            NOAH hasn’t been in the best shape since Misawa died, really, but Suzuki-gun beats the crap out of the roster and takes over the company was a pretty good angle.

            I don’t even know how good people thought it was, what with most of them speaking Spanish, but IWA Puerto Rico’s invasion angles tended to have really long shelf lives. The company went defunct for a lot of understandable reasons but people not enjoying the angles wasn’t one of them. To this day fans on the Island chant “IWA” whenever something invokes pleasant memories there of. The Mexican vs Puerto Rican feud is also legendary in both versions of the World Wrestling Council (CMLL and WWC, and is still on going in the former in the form of Comando Caribeno).

            Admittedly Kovac’s point about Outsiders becoming status quo to happen more often than not. For example, IWA and WWC both had invading Dominican stables whose members ended up being baby faces who victimized by new waves of invaders. There are probably more cases of it petering out than reaching a satisfying conclusion but there are plenty of invasion angles that worked out in the long run. That’s why bookers keep trying them.

  11. Raven7309 says:

    Whoa, whoa, whoa!! Bray Wyatt, aka Husky Harris, is IRS’ “son??!!” How in the blue hell did Vince miss the opportunity to bring IRS out of retirement and have him do an in-ring audit on the Wyatt family’s expenses, followed up by Blackjack Mulligan hog tying Bray Wyatt?
    To paraphrase Kenny Bania from “Seinfeld”: “That’s gold Vince. That’s gold!!”

  12. 3rdStringPG says:

    Art, I think you may have meant “Blackjack Mulligan” in the entry on Husky Harris. Barry (Blackjack) Windham is his uncle. It can be confusing, though, since Blackjack Mulligan’s real name is Robert (Bob) Windham.

    Such a pity that Kaval/Low Ki immediately got buried in the WWE. Must be Vince’s long-running bias against smaller guys and his still-ongoing desire to populate the roster with big,burly muscle-heads.

    All in all, great induction, and to comment on one of the other replies, I didn’t know either that Eli Cottonwood (who has a D-League player profile on was originally supposed to be part of the Wyatt Family.

  13. Greg says:

    My guess is that LowKi’s notorious massive ego got in his way. That and he probably wanted to work his no-sell matches and creative said no.

    • Mitch Colburn says:

      Exactly. The guy doesn’t sell at all. Overrated punk. At least the others (most of whom were more talented anyway) would sell.

  14. Mr Maddog says:

    Thanks for reminding me why I stopped watching NXT…and all wrestling. :

  15. Des says:

    Nobody can seem to execute the ‘outsiders wreak havoc’ angle effectively. The nWo started off great but outstayed its welcome to the point where WCW was unable to recover. The Nexus angle started well but they dropped the ball by not letting Barrett beat Cena clean in the match where Cena would have to join the Nexus if he lost. They then dropped the ball with the angle where Cena was ‘fired’ for not letting Barrett win the title, he just returned the next night and then beat him clean at the next PPV, and Barrett’s never got back to that level. The Shield started well but seem to be in a mid-card holding pattern.

    At least this attempt at instigating such an angle ended up delivering some amazing, ‘The Room’-level unintentional comedy.

  16. Thomas Moffatt says:

    Lay-Cool are long overdue a Wrestlecrap induction – I found them unbearably annoying, nearly as bad as the Bellas…

  17. AlexanAdru says:

    Yeah this was pretty horrible. Though Titus, between his no selling and commentary, is absolute comic gold. Also Axel ever being world champ is a joke in and of itself if his promo “skills” are anything to go by.

  18. Doc 902714 says:


    You mean to tell me that Curtis Axel’s (Joe Hennig’s) mom’s maiden name was Leonice Leonard? Strange

    Also that Family matters reference in comparison to NXT finale Season 2 was pure GOLD

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