In the final episode of the first season, WWE announces its next breakout star. Read on for our full review, and thoughts on the series as a whole…
Elimination Triple Threat
(Winner via pinfall: Wade Barrett)
If ever there was an episode that summed up how vastly underwhelming and unplanned NXT‘s first season was, it was this one; the season finale. 47 minutes of television featuring very little ring action (one match!), with countless recaps and filler mic time. In truth, it was a bit of a mess, and certainly an anti-climax.
The wrestling here was good, but on a show where there was only to be one competitive match, I felt that in-ring action was once again short changed. It’s not as though an NXT Challenge stole time from the match either, as there wasn’t one this week. Wade Barrett winning it made the most sense given the weekly rankings (he’s topped all but one week), but that and various promos completely telegraphed the ending of the show for me.
I thought too much time was spent on introducing season two rookies, which was done via video packages and Michael Cole and Josh Matthews on commentary. All the focus seemed to be on the new cast coming in the week after, rather than on the finalists of the first ever season of the show, making the whole process of revealing the winner feel like an afterthought. They were even able to make the reveal of the winner feel incredibly awkward, as Regal started congratulating Barrett before the result was announced, leading to some confusion on my part as to whether Regal had actually made an error and spoiled the result, or whether it was just a poorly planned promo from everyone involved that got a bit convoluted and fractured. Either way, we all knew that Barrett was winning this, mostly because WWE have been telling us so for multiple episodes. They wanted him to win, and so he did.
I’m happy to have reached the end of this first season, and I’ve enjoyed producing this series of reviews. The show hasn’t been great by any means, and it hasn’t even been good on many occasions, but there was a hook that kept me watching. Mostly, that hook was the talent, all of whom were quite engaging throughout. There was also an odd sense of curiosity in finding out if it was going to be car crash television from episode to episode.
For certain, this show picked up the moment Daniel Bryan attacked Michale Cole (the first time!), and it came to life the most whenever it focused on Bryan in the episodes after his elimination. Michael Cole was great in these segments too, and you could tell he was enjoying it. Beyond that, my favourite moment was the beer keg challenge.
Because this show never prioritised it’s actual wrestling content, there isn’t a lot to choose from when picking a favourite match. To do so, I have to go all the way back to the first episode, when Daniel Bryan battled then-World Heavyweight Champion Chris Jericho. That match was exciting, and there was genuine positive energy on the show at that point, something that was lost as the show went on. I don’t believe there was a single bad wrestler amongst the eight competitors, but they never had the time to show their abilities properly.
Season One was poorly planned, but some things did work, and it did give me hope that the second season might improve. The real enjoyment here came from watching some future household names make their start in the company, and I’m happy I did this rewatch. It doesn’t score well as a show, but it has delivered some absolute gold at times, intentionally or not. It is certainly worth me moving onto the second season, if only out of sheer curiosity.
All in all, whilst the first season was rocky, the strong performers dragged it through the rough patches. It is must-watch television for those who never saw it in 2010, and a great opportunity to see some future big names start off.
Match of the Night
Justin Gabriel vs. David Otunga vs. Wade Barrett
(-0.5 for the reasons given in the review)