Coming up next week on WWE NXT: Daniel Bryan gets torn between alliances with The Miz and Boston Rob, CM Punk and Darren Young have trouble at the Roadblock, and Wade Barrett shocks the world when giving out his final rose. Plus, David Otunga does a Rumba to Remember!
Sound lame? Yeah, I think so too. But sadly, parts of that “preview” might not be too far from the truth in the very near future.
Yes, I’m one of the million and change viewers who watches WWE NXT. And sometimes, I wonder why. The wrestling part is fine, and for the first six weeks it was a great show highlighting eight guys trying to make it and the pros who love them. Perfectly acceptable wrestling.
But whose idea was it to rip off pretty much every other “reality” show (including the Diva Search, ostensibly) on television in the last few weeks?
I know it’s not easy to fill an hour of television time—but what exactly do a keg race, selling programs, the American Gladiators joust and a dizzy bat obstacle course have to do with professional wrestling?
Nothing, yet all four of those “events” have occurred on NXT in the last month.
The “speaking” challenge, where all eight rookies were given 30 seconds to expound upon a random word? That I can understand, because charisma is a huge part of wrestling these days, even more so than wrestling talent (just ask Shelton Benjamin).
But a virtual dizzy bat race, with the winner gaining an Immunity Pass for next week’s elimination? Really?
Last I checked, Survivor was on Thursday nights, yet for about 10 minutes last night I thought Russell Hantz was going to slide out from under the ring and sabotage the babyfaces.
It’s almost insulting to my intelligence in a way that the Diva Search never could be. At least that featured attractive women in skimpy clothing, and last I checked, one of WWE’s main demographics was men 18-49.
But this? This is just plain bad. And what makes it worse is that you’d never see anything like this on “real” WWE programming featuring “real” WWE Superstars. I mean, instead of that Triple Threat Match a few weeks back to determine John Cena’s opponent at Over the Limit, could you have imagined if Batista, Randy Orton, and Sheamus had to see who could climb the Sundae Slide the fastest?
I don’t think even former RAW guest hosts Cheech and Chong could’ve gotten high enough to book that, at least not without Divas involved.
Maybe I’m just salty because after 20-plus years as a wrestling fan, I’m now taking up precious DVR space to time-shift things I can watch my neighbor’s kids do in the backyard. Maybe it’s because my friends and I booked a more coherent “Tough Enough” style competition when we used to play WWE’s dice-based role playing game as teenagers (yes, I’m a loser, I know).
Hell, maybe it’s because I’m afraid my new On the Farm column (now featured in every issue of Inside Wrestler/The Wrestling Magazine) is going to require me to buy a pair of British Knights and interview Marc Summers.
Whatever the reason is, I know I’m not the only one. The ratings tell me that a show that debuted with a 1.35 cable rating (which is roughly 1.5m viewers) has drawn a .79 and .81 the last couple weeks.
That still beats Impact much of the time, which tells me that either the WWE brand is worth 750,000 viewers automatically or most of America somehow has Spike TV blacked out on Monday nights.
It’s sad, really, thinking of what WWE NXT could’ve been versus what it actually is.
But I’ll try not to think about it – at least until next week, when Darren Young dances the Argentine Tango with Cheryl Burke and Skip Sheffield sings "All of Me."