United States Champion and Unified Tag Team Champion The Miz Interrupted Daniel Bryan
Quite honestly, when Bryan said during his debut promo that he would one day headline WrestleMania and win a world title, I laughed, never thinking that would actually happen. To be fair, I wasn't aware of him whatsoever before he arrived in WWE. Nevertheless, Bryan mentioned in his book years later that almost everything that happened promo-wise on NXT was a shoot, so if Bryan's dialogue wasn't scripted, then he did fairly well for himself here. I enjoyed his interaction with his pro Miz, and those two would have far and away the most compelling story on this season of NXT.
Christian and Heath Slater def. Carlito and Michael Tarver
I liked the video packages that aired before the bout highlighting both Tarver and Slater. It gave us a good albeit brief look at what they were all about, and Tarver's vignette impressed me more. That said, neither of them did anything to impress me in the ring here, but it did help that they had seasoned veterans Christian and Carlito to fall back on. It was a nice little matchup on the whole, but Christian pinning Tarver in Tarver's debut match may not have been the best booking decision.
Unified WWE TAg Team Champions The Miz and Big Show def. Yoshi Tatsu and Goldust
I forgot what Tatsu and Goldust did to earn a shot at the straps, but they weren't considered threats to the tag titles at all. I guess WWE added Miz and Show to this last ECW episode to give it some "star power," but why not just bring in some old ECW legends instead? Would that have been too much to ask? At any rate, this was a decent little match, but the crowd couldn't have cared less and barely reacted to the finish.
Shelton Benjamin, Vance Archer, Trent Beretta, Caylen Croft and Vladimir Kozlov Crashed The Abraham Washington Show
Watching this reminded me just how unbearably bad The Abraham Washington Show was on WWE ECW. Good god, this was terrible! Washington was a talented dude, but I think most of the heat he elicited was go-away heat, and Tony Atlas laughing relentlessly in the background hardly helped matters. This was merely the company's way of getting a bunch of the newer ECW guys on the last show without any of it making the slightest bit of sense.
Christian Interrupted ECW Champion Jack Swagger
The belief over the years has been that Christian was supposed to return at 2009's Royal Rumble pay-per-view and get involved in the WWE Championship match between Edge and Jeff Hardy, but those plans were reportedly scrapped when word leaked out that Christian was coming back. Thus, he was placed on ECW instead. It wasn't exactly Raw or SmackDown, but he made the most of his time on ECW and was immediately positioned as the top babyface on the brand. I enjoyed the exchange these two had on the mic and it was a small taste of what their feud would be like in the months that followed, also setting up their main event match for later on in the night.
World Tag Team Champion The Miz def. Tommy Dreamer
Dreamer had announced shortly before this that if he didn't win the ECW Championship before his contract expired that June (which I believe was legitimate), he would leave the company. Well, he wasn't exactly off to the strongest start in 2009 with a loss to Miz here, but the loss was what it should have been considering Miz and John Morrison were on the rise. As a match, this was fine, but it didn't have the greatest flow at certain points.
Jinder Mahal def. Richie Steamboat in an NXT Championship Tournament Semifinal Match
I was fairly down on Mahal's semifinal match with Bo Dallas because it bored me to tears and there wasn't anything exciting about it, and although I think Dallas was a better all-around performer than Steamboat at this point, this was a way better match in my opinion. At only five minute in length, it didn't overstay its welcome and there weren't any dead spots. Mahal continued to build momentum ahead of his inevitable NXT Championship clash with Seth Rollins.
Scotty 2 Hotty def. Heath Slater
Although this took place well after Raw 1000, Slater was still doing the open challenge gimmick with the Legends, and Hotty was the perfect person to answer the call for an NXT show given his Orlando roots and how we hadn't seen him in a while prior to this (and how he wasn't on the same level as Vader or Sycho Sid). He looked great in the ring even at 39-years-old and they had a fun little match with Hotty going over as expected. Slater really got over as an annoying heel with this gimmick, but it sadly didn't lead anywhere except for 3MB later that year.
Michael McGillicutty def. Justin Gabriel in an NXT Championship Tournament Quarterfinal Match
Fans have given McGillicutty (a.k.a. Curtis Axel) a lot of flack over the years for not having any personality, but his in-ring work speaks for itself, and when given the time to shine, he can really impress like he did here. Gabriel had an equally good showing and I liked the dynamic they had. Gabriel made one mistake and it cost him the match, so I liked that aspect of the finish a lot.
Kassius Ohno def. CJ Parker
It's interesting. When I first started watching NXT back in 2012, nothing about Ohno intrigued me at all and I can't say I was a fan of his slow-paced style. Knowing now how great the guy is, I understand what he was going for with this character in NXT. It wasn't the flashiest, but he was a hard-hitter and came across as ruthless here. Parker also deserves props selling Ohno's offense incredibly well.
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