Sunday, 28 September 2014

WWE Superstars TV Report

Noteworthy: A great episode sees Naomi and Kofi look strong while Justin Gabriel continues to impress. The first ever WWE Superstars all-African match takes place and in doing so Kofi and Gabriel produce by far the match of the week on WWE programming.

Naomi beat Alicia Fox with the Slayomission in 4:55

Remember when Alicia Fox was a getting a weird character push as the ‘crazy chick’ always on a meltdown? Yeah, she was on Raw and everything. Not so much now. Cruel how they really mess these pros around these days. Here are two of the most athletic Divas getting pretty much wasted on Superstars

They chain wrestle until Fox takes Naomi down and then proceeds to growl at Naomi like some kind of feral cat. Naomi tries a small package but Fox kicks out. Weirdly, for the first few minutes there’s no hard cam which isn’t unusual on Superstars as they’re presumably still sorting things out for the live Raw feed, but it seems to kick in later in the match here.

Out of a whip to the corner there’s a kick to the face from Fox and Naomi is then pancaked, but kicks out at two. We get a short chin lock followed by a kick to the face, another whip and then a backbreaker into a pin attempt from Fox. She lets out a primal scream when Naomi again kicks out and so, she applies an abdominal stretch.

Naomi forces her way out and as Fox climbs to the top rope, Naomi hits Fox with the most amazing enzuigiri. It looks beautiful and Fox just plummets to the mat. They both go down until Naomi powers up with two drop kicks and a hurricanrana. She then tries a backslide on Fox and turns it into her new finisher – which she’s calling the Slayomission - a headscissors crucifix choke. Fox taps and gives Naomi the win in what was a nice 4 minute Divas match.

Kofi Kingston beat Justin Gabriel with the Trouble in Paradise in 9:18

Coming off the back of great outings for Gabriel against Sin Cara the last three weeks on this show (and indeed nice work on NXT), he’s up against his African counterpart in what I think might be the first all African-born WWE Superstars match in history.

On WWE shows Gabriel is now playing a heel while, a few weeks of taping behind on NXT (which I suppose you could now consider a different brand), he’s still a babyface – and, as I’ve said the last few weeks, infinitely better for being so. Kofi, meanwhile is possibly, maybe, about to be doing something in a stable with Big E and Xavier Woods but, for now, is just Kofi the plucky babyface.

Early athletic mat wrestling from both men is extremely hard to keep up with. This is creative and fun because these two are great together. Gabriel slaps on a full nelson which Kofi powers out of and tries to turn into a pin but Gabriel easily kicks out early. Kofi goes for an early Trouble in Paradise but Gabriel spins out of the ring as we go to a break.

As we return, Kofi is ducking under Gabriel’s clotheslines as they run the ropes and tries a cross body but Gabriel blocks it with knees in what was a really creative spot. He covers but only gets a two count. He gets up and starts kicking Kingston in the spine, then hits a side suplex and goes for a rear chin lock. He beats Kofi down for a while until Kofi uses a headscissors taken down thrusting Gabriel face first into the bottom buckle as both stay down.

Kofi takes the advantage and uses chops, a drop kick, a flying forearm followed by the Boom Drop to take it to Gabriel and he then goes for the Trouble in Paradise. Gabriel sees it and Kofi manages to turn it into a top rope springboard cross body for two. This is just pure entertainment.

Kofi then uses a middle rope springboard drop kick and Gabriel takes a walk. Kofi launches himself over the top for a diving seated senton, rolls Gabriel back in and uses a top rope cross body, but it is reversed on the mat by Gabriel into pin. Kofi kicks out; Gabriel goes for a top rope lionsault, lands on his feet and uses a thrust kick to keep Kofi down. He goes up to set up for the 450 but is crotched. Kofi climbs up but the superplex is blocked and Kofi is pushed off the ropes. Gabriel goes for a diving cross body but Kofi hits the Trouble in Paradise in mid-air and covers him for the win.

Just an excellent match that was full of creativity. I would proffer that this is by far and away more imaginative than anything that has been on Raw or Smackdown for weeks, as far as an in ring match goes. Gabriel is at the top of his game, but who is watching this show to witness it?

Sunday, 21 September 2014

WWE Superstars TV Report – 19st September 2014

Noteworthy: Harper and Rowan made their Superstars debut. Sin Cara and Justin Gabriel had their rubber match. This week it felt like a show that was actually relevant.

Luke Harper & Erik Rowan beat Los Matadores (w/ El Torito) in 4:57

With no space on Raw for them, Harper and Rowan were relegated to a tag match here on Superstars. Because of course Raw, Monday, was so good what with it being packed FULL of all those great segments and matches…

Erik Rowan and Fernando start things off and Fernando is quick to do his signature hand to the face as he halts the offense of Rowan, thrusts his arm in the air and shouts, “ole!” This kind of comedy really works with the bigger guys. A buffoonish Rowan is then caught unawares by a backslide pin attempt but immediately gets up, catches Fernando and hits a fall away slam.

Harper tags in and goes for a quick pin and continues to cut off Fernando from making the tag. He hits a huge boot that looked like it sucked for two and then went for the gator roll and then a rear chin lock. With a fairly woeful enzuigiri, that pretty much hit the enormous Luke Harper on the shoulder, the tag to Diego is made. He runs wild, hits a drop toe hold onto the middle rope and a top rope senton, but is stymied when the pin is broken up Rowan.

Fernando comes in to take out Rowan and they both tumble to the outside, meanwhile Diego gets up and takes the meat hook clothesline from Harper for the pin. This kind of felt like half a match; the finish came a little too early and I would have had no issue with these four going 8 minutes. Not that it’s anything of much but El Torito barely did a thing here.

Sin Cara beat Justin Gabriel in 8:17

This was their third match in as many weeks with last week’s probably being their best. Things got a little bit shaky and sloppy at the end of this but this was completely acceptable given some of the standard of work that this show sometimes produces. What was really nice, too, was that the announcers took time early in the show to acknowledge the feud and the quality of the matches (with video clips) that they’d had so far kind of gave it some build up. You know, like a proper wrestling show.

Gabriel comes straight out of the blocks with chops, forearms, kicks and just about anything that a good dastardly heel ought to be trying. I have to say that Gabriel looks infinitely more comfortable as a heel: he carries himself better, he has a better move set, he’s got good facials and, although they won’t, is really somebody that they could do something with. Put him in with Rollins or Ambrose and you’d genuinely get really good results.

Sin Cara returns the favour and now uses just about everything he can think of to beat down Gabriel. They try hard to make it look like this is the blow off in the time that they’re given. He hits a cross body into the corner and then tries several roll up pins, followed by an enzuiguri which Gabriel sold, just kicking out at 2 7/8’s.

Sin Cara’s double underhook suplex is blocked and he wriggles out and really lays in some chops in the corner and then an angry Sin Cara scoop slams him for two. He goes to the top rope for a dive but gets caught by a boot from Gabriel, both men go down and we go to a break.

Gabriel uses a snap mare followed by repeated kicks to the back of Sin Cara and goes for several quick pins. He then even tries pulling the mask off and just grins from ear to ear to the boos that the crowd shower on him. A la Hunter, he puts Sin Cara in an abdominal stretch but nothing in this match is given long so Sin Cara hits a suplex and then picks up Gabriel off the mat and smacks him back down in a powerbomb. It’s a move he’s done a few times before but really makes him look strong.

Both men go down for a count of six and then Sin Cara starts to go home. He uses two springboard cross bodies, a tilt-a-whirl headscissors and an enzuigiri before climbing to the top rope to hit a senton. It looks like the finish but Gabriel grabs the rope at the last split second. He recovers quickly, gets angry, goes to the top rope for his 450 splash but is crotched and Sin Cara hits a frankensteiner into a pin for the win. The pin was sloppy as it took them too long to get into position but the match was really good.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

WWE Superstars TV Report – 12st September 2014

Noteworthy: Total Divas was pushed like crazy – yes, it’s back for a third season. Justin Gabriel is still with WWE and is now a cocky heel. Much to my dismay the Sin Cara lights have returned. Gabriel and Sin Cara had a hell of a match.

Naomi beat Summer Rae (w/ Layla) in 4:32

After a few weeks off, I returned to review this show and was met with this match. It was essentially a series of chin locks, had no heat and was really dull. Welcome to Superstars!

Naomi opens up with a fireman’s carry out of the lock up and then locks on the first of many arm bars. It’s quickly reversed by Summer who uses a swift kick to Naomi’s face and tries a quick pin. Naomi rolls under the ropes, stands on the apron and Layla distracts her and Summer drapes her through the ropes and punches and slaps her to the mat.

Another quick pin attempt is followed up by a leg drop from Summer, who enjoying the dominance, struts around with a quick dance across the ring, which Layla mirrors outside. She then uses those long dancer’s legs to choke Naomi in the corner with a foot to her throat and then we go a rear chin lock-athon for a few minutes.

The boredom is broken by Naomi who gets the heat, powering out of a chin lock, running the ropes and ducking under Summer’s clothesline attempt. She hits two drop kicks, a big back suplex and triumphantly uses a kip up to show that she’s ready to go home. She hits a facebuster for two and then, after an attempted distraction on the apron by Layla, she rolls up Summer with a school girl into a bridge for the win.

A really poor, dull match. Nothing wrong with the work, it just wasn’t very entertaining. For a show that is on early mornings for kids here in the UK and considering these are the dark matches to get the crowd ready for Raw, this was underwhelming to say the least.

Sin Cara beat Justin Gabriel with in 8:17

So the lights are back and it sucks. It occurred to me, too, that this huge tattoo that Hunico has across his right shoulder is a real giveaway if he ever wants to work as a different character. These two had a great match in a rematch from last week. Gabriel works much better as a heel and what he lacks in charisma he makes up for in ability.

The match is all pace from the bell to bell. Sin Cara takes forearms and chops from Gabriel from the outset but tries a quick small package. He then arm drags Gabriel into an arm bar but is hit with blows to the back of head by Gabriel who then tries to pull off the mask. He continues to beat Sin Cara down in the corner and then takes a drop kick through the ropes to the outside.

Sin Cara then launches the most beautiful moonsault and is caught perfectly by Gabriel on the outside. He then goes back up on the apron and tries for a top rope springboard move but is blocked by Gabriel who gets up and hits a corkscrew tope of his own onto Sin Cara on the outside as we go to the break.

Gabriel is in control as we return and uses a German suplex getting a two count. He then locks in a modified STF style submission hold which Sin Cara is able to break. Gabriel uses a snapemare and kicks to the spine to keep Sin Cara on the floor. Gabriel’s heel move set is far better than his babyface.

Sin Cara then reverses another German suplex attempt and hits one of his own and he powers up with two springboard cross bodies, a flying forearm, a tilt-a-whirl headscissors and finally a corner flip onto Gabriel. He climbs to the top rope but is crotched by Gabriel and is hip tossed to the mat. Gabriel then sets up on the top rope and hits another moonsault for a near fall.

While Sin Cara is down, he crouches in the corner and gestures like Edge for him to get to his feet. He charges but gets caught in a standing powerbomb by Sin Cara. They both go down. Gabriel reverses into a DDT and goes to the top rope for the 450. Sin Cara gets up and stops him with an enziguri but, because he didn’t get all of it, he is able to throw Sin Cara off the tope rope and land the 450 splash for the win.

Friday, 22 August 2014

WWE Superstars TV Report – 21st August 2014

Noteworthy: The show has new titles with slightly remixed music - it’s glossy and hi-def but, most important of all, Roman Reigns is the superstar who closes out the sequence. Hornswoggle wrestled dressed as a cow, tagging with El Torito. Yup, seriously. Emma and Alicia Fox had an identical match to the one they had last week.

El Torito and Hornswoggle (w/ Los Matadores) beat Slater Gator with a top rope splash in 3:45

So, Los Matadores came out and like something out of WCW c1999, Hornswoggle came out dressed as a cow complete with mooing noises over their entrance music. What I had assumed would be a Los Matadores match v Slater Gator was in fact a short, comedy squash match where two minis beat men more than twice their size.

Pre bell, Los Matadores take out both both O’Neil and Slater in order to try to save some face for the heels who were about to lose, quickly. El Torito gets swatted to the mat by Slater after the bell and then O’Neil tags in, tries to sling El Torito but he clings on to his arm and then drop kicks him.

So, Slater comes back in, misses a clothesline allowing Torito to gore Titus and then he turns around when Slater misses a big boot which instead catches O’Neil. Torito hits a facebuster, top rope moonsault to put Slater down and then Hornswoggle finishes him off with a wobbly top rope splash for the win.

I have no idea why the felt the need to squash these two with this bizarre tag team. I have even less idea why it made TV. This was Saturday Morning Slam fodder. Remember that?

The Raw Rebound was the Steph segment with Nikki splapping Brie followed by that amazing Paul Heyman promo.

Emma beat Alicia Fox with a cross body in 7:03

This was a rematch from Superstars last week and honestly had many of the same spots if not some completely identical ones.

They opened up with a lengthy wrist lock exchange. They’re clearly going 8 minutes here and we know it because apart from the pre-planned spots (mostly comedy) they really lack ideas.

Emma rolls out of the wrist look with a forward roll and then kicks Fox, ducks underneath her and rolls her up for a two count. Another roll up from Emma and Fox has meltdown, going outside, slamming her fists on the apron and then booting the announce table. She  feigns that the kick has hurt her leg and comes back into the ring asking for time from the referee.

Emma fills the space by doing her goofy dance and then Fox joins in and we have them both dancing. This show! Fox lures her in and kicks her down to mat and gets a two count from the cover. Fox then goes to a few long chin locks only to be broken by her signature Northern Lights suplex which garners a two count.

Shoves and taunts from Fox show get Emma angry and she uses a tilt-a-whirl headscissors on Fox who goes through the ropes to the outside. She rolls back in and Emma puts her in a small package for two. Fox misses a big boot gets rolled up again for two and the eats a big clothesline, again for two. The finish sees Emma hit a top rope cross body for the win.

The Raw Rebound closed the show with the Rollins and Ambrose match from Monday.