WWE Superstars 316
1. Prime Time Players vs Los Matadores – I’m so far behind on these reviews that Brennan & Saxton were jibber jabbering about Extreme Rules. This was right around the period of time when WWE really started to beef up the tag team scene in preparation for the 14-person slop fest at Elimination Chamber, so as a fan of beefed up tag team scenes, I was looking forward to C-show matchups like this one. The Puerto Rican Matadores are an excellent team that tape nerds will appreciate more in hindsight, and 2014 Superstars MVP Titus O’Neil is almost always fun to watch. Even the most mediocre wrestler ever, Darren Young, looked good here on the big hot tag that led to the PTP win. It wasn’t quite clean, as
Fernando Diego Fernando Epico Primo WHOEVER nearly collided with Torito (who was up on the ring apron for no reason in particular), allowing Young to hit his gutbuster finish and pick up the win. Nothing wrong with a completely watchable 2-star special to kick off a C-show. **
The ill-fated Heath Slater/John Cena U.S. Title open challenge is shown (yes, it was ages ago, and yes, I’m a slacker, so to refresh your memory, this was broken up by Rusev who attacked Slater before the match had a chance to start). Slater is so good as a prelim goofball heel that I don’t think I ever want to see him pushed. It takes all kinds, the world needs ditch diggers, insert favorite cliche here, but Slater really is phenomenal in his role.
2. Lucha Dragons vs The Ascension – More lower midcard tag madness. Woo! I once spent an entire column ripping hard on The Ascension, so I’ll go easy on them here. Yes, this was loaded with patented boring Ascension offense. Yes, I worry about Konnor getting worse and not better because he’s well into his mid 30’s and a pretty husky fella, so a slower metabolism isn’t going to help his stuck in molasses plodding and total lack of instincts/feel/natural ability. But I’ll say something nice. After years of teaming together and working this act, they’re finally showing better aggressiveness, at least in their facials and mannerisms, if not their ring work. I’ll accept that as baby steps, and as the bottom of the rung team on the heel side of things, I suppose you could do (a little) worse. Basic stuff here. Two long rest holds (one each from KONNOR and VIKTOR), a hot tag to Sin Cara, and a Lucha Dragons win. This was a longer, less engaging version of the prior match. Skip it. *1/2
WWE Superstars 317
1. Luke Harper vs Jack Swagger – Two totally forgotten and totally underutilized dudes in a hoss fight that nobody will ever see. How about sticking a match like this on RAW every now and then to see if somebody can get over? I mean, I get that the show is only THREE HOURS AND TWENTY MINUTES and that you have to use every precious second of that THREE HOURS AND TWENTY MINUTES wisely (read: no less than three segments featuring Kane, Jamie Noble, and Joey Mercury), but it sure would be nice to not see the same dozen faces on RAW every week, which is one of the reasons the John Cena U.S. Title gimmick has been so fun. Speaking of fun, so was this match, from the dueling gator rolls, to the Swagger ankle lock attempts, all the way to the vicious looking Harper superkick/discus lariat finish. Crowd was amped up by the end of this, too. Cool match. Sigh. **3/4
2. Lucha Dragons vs Los Matadores – Somewhere along the way, The Matadores went through the most subtle and under the radar heel turn of all time, and I guess Torito never got the memo. I’m OK with all of this though, especially in a company where nothing is ever subtle and shades of gray are not allowed to exist. Last week against The Ascension, Kalisto was the babyface in peril. This week, Sin Cara. The Matadores offense, including an outside the ring ‘rana by Torito, was infinitely more interesting than The Ascensions lame offense, and Kalisto is perhaps the best hot tag around, so even though this was the same formula with the same result as the Ascension match, with the face team going over after selling forever, this was a much, much better bout. ***
WWE Superstars 318
1. Kalisto vs Heath Slater – Shades of Samuray Del Sol vs Caleb Konley (in case you’re wondering, that match never happened). 2015 is Heath Slater’s 10th year in the WWE system. Want perspective? His first WWE match was against Sonny Siaki, and he was in Deep South at the same time as Kenny Omega. He also once wrestled Gymini. Slater is one of the longest uninterrupted tenure performers in the company. This was an all-action squash with Kalisto picking up the win. **1/2
2. Stardust vs R-Truth – Ugh. I’m nearly a thousand words into this and still have a million episodes to go, so even though this match actually wasn’t that bad, I’m not wasting any more space writing about Stardust and Truth. The highlight was Stardust missing a springboard Disaster Kick attempt from the outside ring apron to the opposite corner, but he ultimately won the bout moments later. **1/2
WWE Superstars 319
1. Summer Rae vs Alicia Fox – Remember when Alicia Fox was a crazy person? Now she swings a boa. As for Summer Rae, veteran readers or this column or listeners to the VOW Podcast know that I’m hardly a fan. However, this was easily the best Summer Rae match of all time. Granted, that’s more like stepping over a sidewalk crack than clearing any sort of hurdle, but this was the first time I’d ever watched Summer Rae wrestle and not felt bad for the roughly 7,587 indie wrestlers more deserving of a WWE roster spot than her. While still a little sloppy, she was at least competent, and even showed some aggressiveness and legitimately stiff looking, good hard offense at times. Fox wins, but the story here was Summer Rae’s progress. Summer, I salute you with a Coke Zero. Good work. **
2. The Mega Powers vs Adam Rose & Heath Slater – Something to think about. The original Mega Powers last teamed together in WWE 26 years ago, so the 1989 equivalent to this tribute act had two lower mid carders done it during the original Mega Powers time would have been something like Paul Roma & Jose Luis Rivera parodying Antonino Rocca & Miguel Perez. The utterly, completely, and 100% useless Rosa Mendes now seconds Adam Rose, who is also now sans Rosebuds. They keep trying, but Rosa Mendes is like fetch. Mendes is now ripping off Carmella’s bad cut off shorts look, too. What a fugazi. While watching this, I couldn’t help but think that Mendes’ new scuzball gimmick would be a much better fit for seconding Slater rather than Rose. As for Rose, I still think there is potential to catch on as a cult favorite if he turns up the creepiness a bit in his character. I think we’re all rooting for him after seeing the ESPN E:60 special which humanized him in ways that WWE will never accomplish on their own TV. Axel hit the big boot/legdrop on Rose for the win. This Mega Powers deal is a harmless undercard act, even if half of your typical RAW crowd wasn’t alive for the real thing. **
WWE Superstars 320
1. Adam Rose vs Heath Slater – The original Mega Powers actually teamed together almost triple as many times in WCW as they did in WWF. With that in mind, this match, featuring the two men the new Mega Powers defeated the week before, would be like The Butcher battling Avalanche after falling to Hogan & Savage on WCW Worldwide in 1995. This was actually a nifty little match, with a cool finish as Rose went for a La Magistral, which Slater reversed by simply dropping down half way over and hooking the leg for the win. Rose has now been stripped of his Rosebuds, saddled with Mendes, lost to Slater on TV, and relegated to NXT job duty. The next step is a trip to Rahway and a suicidal six way with The Drunken Swashbuckler and Habib From The Carwash. **1/2
2. Erick Rowan & Luke Harper vs The Mega Powers – Rowan & Harper together as a tag team isn’t the worst idea at all, considering the company does nothing with either guy. Rowan is another act that must have turned when I wasn’t paying attention. Remember his somewhat solid upper mid card face push, as a genius VINTNER? Forgive me if I missed it, but would it kill them to do a short backstage deal where Rowan runs into Harper and they decide to realign with each other, to at least lazily explain why he’s a heel now? It doesn’t even have to be on RAW. I’ve praised the company in the past for doing little storyline advancements on the C-shows, including this one, because at the very least it rewards the hardcore fans for paying attention to and devoting time to watching everything. Anyway, the match. Imagine Harper & Rowan going toe to toe with a comedy act during their Wyatt Family peak. Yeesh. At least they didn’t lose. It was boring. **
WWE Superstars 321
1. Lucha Dragons vs The Ascension – This was post Elimination Chamber, where I believe The Ascension put in their best ever performance, so I was excited to see if it would carry over. It didn’t. Despite a heavier dose of Viktor, the Ascension’s offense was still dreadfully boring, and more importantly, lacks any of the oomph or stiffness that is badly needed for the act to work. Do these guys even watch tapes of the teams they’re modeled after? Unless the idea is so super ultra meta that they work light and attempt to come off as non menacing as possible on purpose, which I do not believe is the case, but even then they could still be non self aware parody goofs if that was the idea while also still working to their size & look. The bottom line is there is never an excuse for boring. Anyway, I always waste far too many words on such a hopelessly boring and perhaps non rehab-able act. This was slightly better than the same match on episode 316, thanks almost entirely to Lucha Dragons. **1/4
Orton vs Sheamus RAW highlights. Imagine wanting to see that match in full or not fast forwarding through those “highlights”.
2. Erick Rowan & Luke Harper vs Los Matadores – So it looks like Rowan is now indeed firmly a heel, and the Matadores are whatever they need to be based on the opponents at hand. Ambiguous face/heel alignment is usually a kiss of death in WWE, because it indicates the company doesn’t care. This was a squash in favor of the heels, and was probably another match that would have been better served on RAW to get the new/old heel team over. Torito took a nice bump off of the apron. **
WWE Superstars 322
1. Paige vs Layla – Jimmy Uso was back on commentary for the second week in a row, and they recapped the Paige/Bella feud with a video package to push the Money in the Bank match. The airing of that package was the first time during all seven of these shows that I felt like I was watching something that mattered big picture. Hey, it’s LAYLA, who was making only her second TV appearance of 2015. Layla worked this match wearing a gaudy collection of rings that would make my most stereotypically eye-talian female cousins blush. This was one long cross faced chicken variation by Layla, with a short nothing comeback and pin for Paige. Absolutely nothing to this, but hey, it was good to see Layla on TV I guess. *
2. Lucha Dragons vs The Ascension – Look, I know this is a bloated seven episode review, so the odds for a rematch or two were strong, but three times in seven weeks? Is Gedo booking this shit? I’m running out of ways to tell you The Ascension stinks. I was hoping this would be different from the prior two encounters, but who was I kidding? The Ascension are what they are, which is boring shit. Lucha Dragons work hard, make the hot tag, do some cool flying, win. Rinse, repeat. **1/2, almost entirely for the great stuff from Lucha Dragons post hot tag.