Derrick Bateman: The greatest NXT Rookie ever?
Since its inception in the spring of 1979*, WWE NXT has been the launching pad of some of WWE’s most unforgettable talents including Eli Cottonwood, Maxine (xoxo) and Greg “The Hammer” Valentine. But only one man has transcended the genre, face-punched the doubters and clenched the beating heart of the entire WWE Universe with his sterilized hands thus negating the chance of infection.
That man's name is Derrick Bateman.
Combining the frat boyish good looks of a mustache-free Burt Reynolds** with the athletic prowess of a young Pete Sampras and the charisma of a box of kittens, Derrick took to NXT season 4 like The Doobie Brothers take it to the streets. Upon his debut, the curly headed renegade didn’t only stand toe-to-toe with former WWE Champion Alberto Del Rio (it’s true, look it up), but developed a unique kinship with Pro Daniel Bryan. The chemistry of the duo was eerily reminiscent of an all-male version of “Thelma and Louise” (if Thelma and Louise wore tights and there was no driving involved) and provided some of internet television's most classic moments.
Whether they were discussing the greatness of America, courting The Bella Twins (successfully?) or kicking heads and submitting the opposition, Derrick and Daniel absolutely made NXT their own. Then, Derrick was apparently eliminated before the season finale in his own hometown, but there is no concrete evidence of any of this ever happening and he is not bitter by any means, so moving on.
Despite suffering a debilitating knee injury while performing a sweet jump kick on season 4, Derrick accepted the challenge of redeeming NXT Redemption. Like any journey worth taking, the road to WWE is arduous and laden with many obstacles (including, but not limited to, arch nemesis and leader of the charisma-less Titus O'Neil.) But with a steamier passion, longer locks and a fiancée way hotter than Daniel Bryan could ever possibly buy (bite me, Daniel), Derrick Bateman has returned to fight valiantly for what is rightfully his — true, undeniable victory on the long, grueling campaign that is WWE NXT: Redemption.
**Editors note: Derrick Bateman has full respect for Burt Reynolds' mustache and meant no disrespect in anyway. Mr. Bateman considers Mr. Reynolds’ mustache a father figure as he has centered many of his life decisions on it. It is his muse, his guiding light and, at times, his friend.
*WWE.com editor’s note: WWE NXT really began in 2009.