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?