Once again NXT has forgone plot of any kind and become NXTStars instead of what we had grown to love, which was a show about stories and the wrestling ability. Chris swore up and down because Drew finally gets to be used in the store and it’s when it’s gone away from storylines, leaving WWE with the continued stigma of never allowing us to have conclusion. Le sigh. However there were some decent matches on this episode! And some not-so-decent ones.
4. Heath Slater vs. Percy Watson
Look, I’ll be honest. I almost left this off in favor of just putting William Regal’s commentary at number four, and I know the fandom is wondering why the Hell I didn’t. Sadly, I’m going to say the reason people don’t want me to: Heath Slater. Despite an obnoxious personality he’s a good wrestler and he made Watson look good. When Watson originally showed up way back when to one of the original seasons of NXT I liked him… for an episode. Then his Eddie Murphy impression got on my nerves so badly I couldn’t handle him anymore. Then he returned sans glasses and I was a bit renewed in liking him. Then his wrestling decided not to develop any further. He’s not great, Slater is better, and that’s why Regal’s commentary nearly took the spot.
3. Maxine vs. Alicia Fox
Alicia Fox has very little depth perception, a common problem with the divas, but Maxine does not. She comes out and has the facial expressions, the moves, and tells a story of anger and loathing as she goes after Alicia. With no storylines in NXT any longer until the new format it means they need to do it in the ring and on commentary. Regal and Maxine take it away on this one and Maxine wins again with a sleeper. I do adore she plays around with her submissions as well. Especially since there was no way Fox was holding Maxine up the way other divas have been able to.
2. Johnny Curtis and Drew McIntyre
Again with Khali and Ezekiel Jackson! This time it’s Curtis and McIntyre tortured by whoever’s idea, though I refuse to blame the NXT writer I fell in love with (creatively!) back in September when Reks and Hawkins first came back as a tag team. However, Curtis and McIntyre have a lot of fun with this match, despite the fact that they are going to lose horribly. It’s just a shame they waited so long to move Drew over, now that the storylines are gone. If anyone could have given him some screen time it would have been NXT, and if anything could have drive NXT’s viewership up, it would have been Drew McIntyre.
1. Derrick Bateman vs. Jinder Mahal
USA! USA! USA! Oh yes, finally, a USA chant for a man who is actually from the US! It’s been awhile! And I’m glad it was for the man who emulates Chicks and America, Derrick Bateman. Derrick looks less than thrilled to be in this match, and who would be happy to know they are going out to lose to the camel clutch. I don’t know if you guys and gals have been paying attention, but I’m not a fan of this movie. Mostly because it’s the only one he uses. For the record, I hate Orton winning all of the time with the RKO as well, and I love Orton, so it’s not hate on Mahal, it’s the move. The first time I watched it I enjoyed Derrick, because he’s Derrick. He motivates the crowd in this match, his facial expressions tell the story while Regal compliments him on the side. When Mahal throws Derrick, and he slides, pops back up, and knees Mahal, it’s amazing. Once again the talent of Derrick comes alive. Watching it the second time I can’t help but hope that perhaps there is a higher meaning to this. Mahal is widely hated every time. Was this the help Derrick needed to get a little more over with the live crowds? Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but I’m hoping.
I guess William Regal is the sort of co-star for number 1 since he added life to every match. Without the storylines Regal is heavily relied upon for those thoughts and stories. It’s just a shame Mathews doesn’t play along.
Tonight I’m leaving a match off of this list. The match was Titus O’Neil against Yoshi Tatsu. Both are good wrestlers, but I couldn’t care less about O’Neil and Tatsu is misused. It proves it more when this is the quickest match of the night in which Tatsu loses to O’Neil.
4. Epico and Primo vs. Alex Riley and Mason Ryan
This was a great quality match. Ryan looked dominant and Riley regained some of that charisma that made him a fan favorite during NXT seasons 2. Epico and Primo are, as always, technically sound, and Rosa does what she does best which can be either gaining heat with her sultry attitude and sub-par dancing or gaining the large following for the same things. Despite the perfections in the ring, or at least non-botchiness of wrestlers who were before known for just that, the match itself does not tell a story. Epico and Primo are our tag team champions, they should be going up other tag teams, or men who will be a tag team again next week. The seemingly random pairings on Superstars are what hold tag teams back. That and the lack of booking.
3. Eve and Beth Phoenix vs. Tamina and Natalya
Wait, you really put a divas match over a men’s match? You bet, and for the reason that I didn’t give the match before it a higher score is what helped this one out. It told a story. I was seriously prepared to be annoyed that just because Natalya is a face again, why does that mean that Beth Phoenix and her automatically have to hate one another? It doesn’t. Beth Phoenix offers to allow Natalya to leave the match, not wanting to fight her friend. Natalya, however, doesn’t want to just give up and plays around with Beth in the ring. Natalya shows an attitude that is suiting to her, completely goofy, and no fart jokes. Tamina is a strong opponent that dominates through this ring once she is tagged in. “Tamina now having her way with Eve.” When Eve first shows up for this match she is met with, “Hoe-ski! Hoe-ski!” chants and then the calling taunt of, “Hooooeskiii.” It was an entertaining match that gave the women a chance to tell a story and show off some of their rings skills, without relying on Scott to do all of the work for a match.
2. Drew McIntyre vs. Ezekiel Jackson
This match gets to show off what Drew can really do. Instead of making Drew a joke in the ring, which is not what he deserves at all if we are basing things on talent, he is able to put on what is a great match out of Ezekiel Jackson. When Drew’s music starts there is a cheer that raises through the crowd, a song that still gives me chills every time I hear it. When Drew steps out the crowd gets even louder. Josh announces that this match is, “more of a brawl than we were expecting.” While I’m not sure if that is true, it definitely is a blow-for-blow match-up that has these two men throwing punches, and each other, often. In the end, after a match of decent length and decent strengths, Drew gets to win. On Superstars. This way Teddy Long can do what he normally does and forget it ever happened, Playa!
1. Scott Stanford
You know what the Drew McIntyre vs. Ezekiel Jackson match needed? Scott Stanford. On his half of Superstars he dominates the telling of the story from the commentators side. Once again he spends his time talking up talent that is normally thrown away by the people of the internet. Mason Ryan and Alex Riley, who have of late become jokes to the twitter community, get the Scott Stanford treatment which makes these men shine a little bit brighter. As I said earlier, the women focus on telling their own story and so Scott focuses on their strengths and abilities. There is not a person who walks into that ring that Scott doesn’t have a good thing to say about, even after Eve continually breaks his boy, Zack Ryder’s, heart continually! If he can still go out to the ring and make Eve sound like a great worker then perhaps he’s still being forgotten when he should be at least doing both halves of Superstars.
Here I would normally list Scott’s best lines through Superstars, but there were so many that I just couldn’t keep up! Feel free to leave a comment of your favorite line of his for the night, would love to know what you think!
Shortly after watching this week’s episode a friend yelled at me for his having “wasted” an hour on this show. It was the first time he had watched Superstars in a long time. Did I force him to try to watch during a bad show? No, this was actually a better put together show than some have been of late, though like NXT they are falling into a lack of variety in matches. No, he said the matches were of a type that could be described as, “The crowd goes mild.”
People want wrestling, but it’s been proven time and again they want a story to go with their matches. As certain commentators *coughScottStanfordcough* try to give us a background to the matches many others simply commentate a match or talk about what is coming up in the WWE. If people simply wanted to watch men beat up one another they would watch boxing, or better (or worse depending on whose point of view you are looking from) UFC.
This particular blog is not a complaint on what WWE is doing wrong, though. This is the top four reasons to watch Superstars, and I’m sorry they were not enough to keep my friend interested. Is he jaded? Possibly. A lot of people spend their nights complaining about RAW but will tune in next week. Superstars should be the show to tune in to watch out of enjoyment.
4. Jinder Mahal vs. Trent Barreta
Sure, as soon as I saw Barreta come out I knew he was going to lose. With a heavy sigh I sat back to watch the match. Jinder had been on fire for a few weeks on Smackdown before they realized something crucial about him: his wrestling skill was sloppy. It was not necessarily bad but if he continued the way he was going he was going to hurt someone, and like many wrestlers before him who allowed themselves to grow sloppy, it would not be himself but his opponent. A match with Barreta is almost a free pass to be free and try out new things as Barreta has more control than most of the main eventers. Calm down, I didn’t say he was better (is he?) just claimed he has more control. He flops and flips like a pro and Jinder needs someone like him to practice on. This match shows how far Mahal has come and showcases a man who needs to find something to do on one of the flagship shows.
3. Drew McIntyre vs. Ted Dibiase
The focus for Dibiase on this episode is the Dibiase Posse Parties that are held outside of the arena. Hundreds of people go to see the man before he enters, just generally hanging out. Dibiase’s song needs to change, for Dibiase did not work in the Million Dollar Son character. Dibiase is a good actor, he even proved his acting chops in the second best WWE movie to date (The Marine 2 which Scott Stanford makes mention of, no The Marine would not be the first best). Dibiase needs to find something he is more comfortable with, and the Posse Partier and outdoorsman that he is might be something more relatable. Tonight he fights the brilliant McIntyre, who has managed to win one fight on Superstars in months, and it was against Morrison two weeks ago. Tonight is not the night he wins again. I am sad, but it is interesting to see Dibiase growing and perhaps finding his niche.
2. The threat of Tyson Kidd kicking Josh Mathews in the face
Okay, so the threat was only said by Striker. “Tyson Kidd said to me a couple of weeks ago that he got upset with you and I. He said that we spent too much time talking about twitter and not enough time talking about Tyson Kidd’s match. He said that if we do that again this week he’s going to come over here and kick you in the face.” I have to admit when I saw Tyson Kidd step out for the night I groaned knowing a twitter conversation was coming. No matter where Kidd seems to be the conversation always leads to twitter. This man deserves more than twitter conversation when he’s on screen and tonight he had it. I do not know what the real reason is Striker and Mathews were told to lay off, maybe it was Kidd, but I thank the person, from the bottom of my heart.
1. Scott Stanford
The return of the list sees Scott Stanford at the return to the top! The man with the plan, the commentator with the stories. Tonight he’s feeling fresh, no redundancy in lines and his usual upbeat enthusiasm. While there are no stories to tell this time around for his two groupings he does give background on the men in the ring to keep the listener intrigued. He is a major part of the reason the Dibiase match was as entertaining as it was because his words put the Dibiase Posse Partier over more than anything else. While people shout “Dibiase” from their seats Scott will make sure you take note. You may not even realize he’s manipulated you into wanting to root for the man until it is too late. That is how good he is.
Tonight Mathews gets some respect for starting an odd conversation. He mentioned he was at the Dibiase Posse Tailgating Party and said,
“We roasted a turducken.”
So Scott could reply, “A turducken? I love those things!”
“Get’s so excited.”
“All three in one. What is that, a-”
“A duck, a chicken, and a turkey, right.”
“I’ll tell ya what, if I was a goose I’d feel left out.”
Three exciting matches took up the first half of Superstars this week. Drew McIntyre, Alex Riley, Epico, Primo, The Usos, Tyson Kidd, and Trent Barreta all make their appearances and show us what matches should look like.
There is not one match I could complain about. Alex Riley was my least favorite person on Superstars, and the more I’ve seen him on Superstars the more he’s grown on me. When someone I’ve come around to liking is my least favorite person on a show it’s likely a good sign.
The first match is Drew McIntyre against Alex Riley, and wow does McIntyre make his move set look brutal. This might have been my favorite match of the night just from the way the two of them worked this match and destroyed one another. It was also the perfect set up for Riley’s finisher that I’ve ever seen. Riley applies the finisher better than he has in the past and this becomes a match I would give an A grade to if I was grading.
The second match introduces the tag team of Epico and Primo who are in a stable now with Hunico. Epico and Primo are cousins and they do admit this on the show. Of course it’s hard not to notice as the two of them look like they could be brothers, not cousins. Epico and Primo get to show off their chops against The Usos, who are always energetic and alive within the ring. They come out to their dance where Scott Stanford comments, “The first time I saw that duo perform that dance I tried it myself and gave myself a black eye.”
This match is the one that surprised me. I was sure they were going to let Epico and Primo lose since The Usos have been receiving a good show lately on NXT (if anyone has been watching!). Epico and Primo are heels in a stable with Hunico. Logically I saw them losing. Imagine my excitement, and then my torn emotions, when they won. I could have gone either way with this match but it was good to see Epico and Primo pick up the win. When was the last time Primo won?
The last match of the evening was Tyson Kidd vs. Trent Barreta. Kidd and Barreta are an excellent main event to end an excellent showing of matches. Barreta was bound to lose, it was time to let Kidd pick up a win again, but I was not disappointed with the ending. These two know how to set up moves so every action looks fluid.
Now for the commentary section of the show, because you know I can not review Superstars without talking commentary. My favorite commentator in the world is on Superstars, I must mention what a breath of fresh air this man is on any show. Scott shows enthusiasm where others sound robotic and he makes it about the superstars while others make it about themselves. This man knows what he’s doing and others should take note.
As Scott mentions a line about something Zack Ryder had told him about his tag team with Primo really being over Josh quips, “He also said something like that on twitter.” Cringe. But we leave it alone. It was one twitter reference out of two matches, that really isn’t too bad.
Then we get to the main event, Tyson Kidd vs. Trent Barreta. For whatever reason Josh Mathews has taken Jack Korpela’s place alongside Matt Striker. Anyone who follows me on twitter knows of my dislike for Josh Mathews. He is robotic and a shadow of the commentator he sits next to. He has no real personality of his own and seems to find it difficult to keep up. I avoided complaining about him sitting next to the great William Regal on NXT but tonight he and Matt Striker go too far.
As Tyson Kidd and Trent Barreta are being introduced Striker and Mathews talk about John Cena and The Rock before noticing Barreta is almost to the ring. They mention Barreta for a moment before going back to John Cena and The Rock. Fine, we know that happens.
Before the bell rings to start that match Striker brings up twitter. All right, fine, we know they have to talk about twitter. We aren’t stupid.
One minute into the match, no mention of the match, just social media.
About two minutes in they mention the match as Kidd gets a hook of the leg, no pin, back to twitter.
Three minutes in and Mathews makes the comment of, “Trent Barreta looking to trend world wide right now!” as he got for a move to finish Kidd off. It does not work. Now the match has finally taken precedent. Three minutes in. The match last about four minutes.
Someone made the comment on twitter to Mathews, “I wish Josh Mathews didn’t have to ruin good matches by constantly harping about twitter. The performances deserve better. #Superstars” Mathews’ response to this was, “Really? Does anyone else see the irony in this?”
Someone hand the man a dictionary. Is it sort of funny that the person used twitter to complain about Mathews talking about twitter? Sure. Is it ironic? No. Three minutes of commentary in a four minute match should not be used to talk constantly about social media. Kidd and Barreta deserved better than that. Sadly, this is also one of those times where Striker goes to the bottom of my list as well. I usually enjoy Striker, but social media is not more important than the match in front of you. Make your reference and move on. We are here to watch wres- er, sports entertainment. We are not here for a lesson on facebook and twitter. We “internet fans” already know how it works.
As my issue was with NXT yesterday I have with Superstars today. There were only three matches making it difficult to have a top four things. Instead I’m just going to explore the aspects of the show.
The matches feature the usual suspects, the first match of the night being Justin Gabriel and Jinder Mahal. Justin Gabriel comes out sporting a hairstyle that reminds me of a stegosaurus and seems to be equally as durable. Despite rolling around on it even when it seems to start to go flat he flicks his wrist and POOF instead stego-hawk. Cool? Jinder comes out, with a mic, and gives his entire promo in a Punjabi dialect that gets him instant boos. Unfortunately Gabriel wins with the only move he has, which is a 450 Splash. I was impressed with this 450 Splash the first time I saw it with Gabriel because it was the first time I had seen it. Now I’ve seen several other wrestlers in other companies do the same thing… and better. Bored! But Jinder has grown solidly as a wrestler and while he’s still not one of my favorites I still enjoy watching him.
The second match of the evening moves us into the Raw portion, announced by the ever handsome Scott Stanford and that other guy he sits with. (Josh Mathews) The first match is Yoshi Tatus vs. Tyson Kidd. Yoshi is again sans face paint which is disappointing but these two put on a long match that never fails to entertain. However I kind of lose interest in a match when Mathews quips, “Their best feud so far has been on twitter.” Wait, what? So their in-ring work has not been their best feud? I know they are meant to push twitter but perhaps better wording would have been more succinct in this instance.
The last match of the night is Drew McIntyre vs. John Morrison. Would you believe that Drew McIntyre wins? Me either, but it’s true! That’s all that needs to be said here. I love Morrison but McIntyre deserved the win and the two men looked good in this match and made this win a step up for McIntyre, even if Morrison has been their own “loser” of late.
The last aspect is the aspect that is always my favorite part of the show, which is Scott Stanford. It was almost like a different man sitting out there. Almost. Is he still the one who calls the best during matches, of course? And he did seem to be getting a little Not PG? (“When those two were involved years ago-” “The last time these two hooked up-” “Unbelievable back and forth action!”) Which could just be a nod to us twitter crowd who constantly listen for those little things. He was full of excitement and still is the only man I think concentrates more on the men out in the ring than anything else going on around him. He had a few of his usual good lines, “And I quote… from Yoshi Tatsu,” and, “Is he looking for Hornswoggle, what’s Drew doing under there?” Still, my darling commentator seemed to not be himself. I look forward to the goofy lines that sell the show, and while tonight’s matches held up on their own, I hope next week sees the return of that same loveable man!
Every week I come out with the top 4 reasons to watch the lesser known shows. Last week for Superstars I could only come up with three. This week I’m not even going to bother. This was the week where I was with the rest of the crowds understanding what is chasing people away from watching this show.
We start off the show with Jinder Mahal and Ted Dibiase. Even the piped in sounds don’t bother trying to be enthusiastic. Jack Korpela tries to save this match by showing his usual enthusiasm that only Korpela can muster every week. His enthusiasm might not be on par with my favorite commentator’s, but he tries every week to tell the story in the ring.
I can honestly say I’m not sure if Matt Striker is bored with the match in front of him or just told he has to mention the pay-per-view X amount of times during the match. Listening to Striker is a recap of Raw and a preview to the pay-per-view. While Striker is excellent when calling a match I don’t need the recap. The people who watch Superstars have watched Raw. And likely NXT. And will watch Smackdown. And the pay-per-view. These are the die-hard fans. Give them more of what they want.
After a match that I could not get motivated for we switch to the Raw portion of the evening which brings out Santino vs. Heath Slater. This match is to be Slater’s embarrassment before he is suspended because for some reason all of the wrestlers that are suspended need their embarrassment before going off screen. What better way to embarrass a man than letting him lose to Santino? Except Santino is incredibly popular, even if his new coif of hair is a little disturbing. This was probably my favorite match of the night and the one that our announcers for Raw (Scott Stanford and Josh Mathews) seemed to appreciate the most.
The last match of the evening is Air Boom (Evan Bourne and Kofi Kingston in case you stopped watching WWE in the last few weeks) vs. Drew McIntyre and Michael McGuillicutty. You already know who is going to lose because, honestly, when was the last time Drew didn’t lose? This match could not hold my interest. I kept straining to hear the commentary in hopes that it would save the match and even Mathews and Stanford’s play at animosity could not save it. The two of them seemed as bored as I was feeling. This can’t possibly be a good sign.
Perhaps I am reading too much into it? I listen to Stanford’s commentary every week, three or four times. I pick out his best lines of the night. I make comments on the clothing he wears. I take screen caps of the man! So why did I feel like neither he nor Mathews wanted to be calling this last match?
WWE had future endeavored Superstars from wwe.com only to turn around and bring it back two weeks later. Once they brought it back they only seemed to make the show progressively worse. Once again they seem to be anti-themselves. They were going to show it on the WWE Network, we would get it then. Then they turn around and bring it back and make it a more sub-par imitation of itself. Is this supposed to be what whets our appetites and makes us salivate for more? They are lucky they have Stanford or I might decide I have something better to do Thursday nights.
Best part of the evening was this exchange between Mathews and Stanford:
“One too many chimichangas for me, but other than that I’ve been having a ball.” “I spent the week trying to avoid hanging out with you.” “I noticed, I called you a few times.” “My phone doesn’t work down here.” “Very convenient.”
Other memorable Stanford quotes this episode:
“By the way, I really love the word chimichanga so is it all right if I just throw it in a few times?”
“Senoritas and margaritas.”
“Santino, staying alive once again.”
“Hook of the leg, no! Still can’t get to three.”
About Slater: “It’s amazing that he hangs out with Axle Rose. I used to love Journey.” Josh’s snort in retaliation to this tickled me pink. “Nah, I’m kidding, you kidding? Guns N’ Roses one of my favorites. Don’t stop believing, my friend.”
“That’s gotta do it!”
I would normally go with the top 4 reasons to watch Superstars but I’m struggling. I disliked the Smackdown match this week enough that I have to keep looking up who it was because it was forgettable to me. (It was Heath Slaters against Ezekiel Jackson) I am entertained by Heath Slater though the more popular opinion is to hate him, but Ezekiel Jackson bores me. I found him more entertaining when he was out with an injury and being a trooper on twitter than I’ve ever found him as a superstar.
That means this week it will be a slightly condensed list:
3. Alex Riley vs. Drew McIntyre
Once again Alex Riley is trying to prove he’s not as botchy as we think he is. Of course it’s hard to fail when up against Drew McIntyre, who is a star in the ring. It’s just a shame that WWE does not see it the way we do. These two work well off of each other and bring us a pretty entertaining match.
2. Santino vs. JTG
Santino makes a more triumphant return on Superstars because instead of squashing JTG he gets to put on a good match for us. Yes, he has more hair than anyone is use to but he’s still just as entertaining as ever. And despite what everyone says about JTG the man does know how to wrestle. Will he ever be a main eventer? Of course not. But he is good at what he does and someone needs to be in that position to help put other men over. Not that Santino needs help getting “over”. He’s beloved and entertaining and charismatic.
1. Scott Stanford
I laughed so hard at Stanford’s commentary this week I had to rewind the first match because I missed it. Stanford works in commentary the way men wish they could. He’s vibrant and going to make sure you are entertained, whether it be by the match in the ring or him as he makes sure you know something about every person who shows up in the ring. Working alongside Josh Mathews Stanford dominates the commentary section. Of course I think Stanford could dominate any of the current commentators with possibly the exception of Cole, and for Cole it would just be pure tenacity.
Superstars may not have been my favorite of the WWE shows this week, that title so far might go to NXT, but for those who complain they want wrestling… You might be protesting too much if you aren’t watching the show that features just that.
Remember, if you are in the States, Superstars is back on wwe.com brought to us every Thursday after 4pm EST and available any time after.
The best of Scott Stanford’s commentary this week
“Well here comes Mr. Chill. Mr. Fly. Mr. Minty Fresh.” – on JTG
“This guy is so cool, so fly, fresh, the folks at Febreeze are making a JTG fragrance.”
“Say hello to my little – No!”
“JTG, so fly this guy, he’s got TSA agents patting people down when they come to his house.”
“JTG is so cool, Josh, when he stops his SUV the rims don’t spin, the whole truck spins.”
“Kim Kardashian, Snooki, these are the people we look up to nowadays, huh? Maybe he’s got a point.” – On Drew thinking Americans are shallow
“Yes, things have certainly been going awry-” Josh Mathews on A-Ry
“McIntyre just staying alive here on Superstars.”
“This Alex Riley is a veritable Pu Pu Platter of talent, Josh. To use a Chinese food example, if I may.”
“I know what you’re thinking right now, if you look under the Chinese restaurant menu you would see my picture under Sum Dum Gai.” Josh: “I have moved on from your Chinese food references.”