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Rookies on the rise

Rookies on the rise

SEATTLE -- In just the third week of competition on WWE NXT, several Rookies earned monumental victories. Despite some occasional clashes with their Pros, each proved why he could be the next Superstar to join the Raw roster.

Justin Gabriel def. Wade Barrett (PHOTOS | WATCH)
Justin Gabriel wowed the WWE Universe for the second week in a row, earning an impressive victory over fellow Rookie, Wade Barrett, on WWE NXT. Under the guidance of his Pro, Matt Hardy, Gabriel capitalized on his tag team win over Skip Sheffield last week and continued his forward momentum, pinning Barrett after hitting the 450 Splash. (WATCH: Hardy preps Gabriel for his match) Gabriel ups his perfect record to 2-0, surely making the NXT Pros take notice. But after the victory, Barrett's Pro, World Heavyweight Champion Chris Jericho, entered the ring and hit Gabriel with a Codebreaker and locked him into the Walls of Jericho, preying on the Rookie's back, which Barrett targeted throughout their match. (WATCH: Meet Rookie Justin Gabriel)

Heath Slater def. Carlito (PHOTOS | WATCH)
Heath Slater sent an important message to Carlito Tuesday night, a week after the Superstar spit apple in the Rookie's face on WWE NXT: He is not backing down. With his Pro, Christian, at ringside, Slater defeated Carlito just minutes after the apple-spitting Pro said he should be happy he humiliated him like that and should be begging him to do it again. Carlito's Rookie, Michael Tarver, could only watch in shock as Carlito was rolled up by the "one-man rock band" Slater. With this victory, Slater earns the impressive distinction of becoming the first Rookie to defeat a Pro in singles action on WWE NXT.

R-Truth & David Otunga def. The Miz & Daniel Bryan (PHOTOS | WATCH)
After an explosive, post-match brawl on last week's WWE NXT, R-Truth & his Rookie, David Otunga, put their differences aside to earn a tag team win over The Miz & Daniel Bryan, another Pro & Rookie duo who aren't exactly the best of friends either. The Miz threatened Bryan with his career before the match, saying he'll be sure he's thrown off the show if he's pinned. But it was the United States and Unified Tag Team Champion The Miz who was pinned by Otunga, who upped his record to 2-1.

With his team's loss, Bryan has yet to win a match on WWE NXT, but this home state defeat is one Washington native Bryan solely blames on his Pro. During the match, The Miz began to fight with Bryan, distracting the referee, allowing R-Truth to capitalize with a kick to The Miz, allowing Otunga to pin him for the win. (WATCH: Bryan confronts The Miz post-loss) Plus, The Miz may not have been on his A-game after the previous night's Raw when R-Truth and his WrestleMania tag team partner, John Morrison, intentionally disqualified themselves in their match against Show-Miz after sending the "Cleveland Screamer" over the top rope and punishing The World's Largest Athlete.

CM Punk encourages Darren Young (WATCH)
On Tuesday's WWE NXT, CM Punk and his Straight Edge Society associates persuaded Rookie Darren Young to become a part of their group. The Pro pointed out that Young's win last week came with the Society's support, and that he should be more open to new ideas, because with a little help and guidance, Straight Edge can make anyone a winner. (WATCH: Meet Rookie Darren Young)

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