323 starts off with the great Dusty Rhodes “Happy trails to you! Until we meet again” tribute video. I will never get tired of watching that. I’ve seen it a billion times now and it freezes me in my tracks every time.
1. Cesaro vs Bo Dallas – Jimmy Uso joined Rich Brennan & Byron Saxton on commentary. This was about a week after the terrible Tyson Kidd injury, which only 5% of people survive, so as a tribute Cesaro put away Dallas using Kidd’s sharpshooter following the giant swing. I can’t stand Bo Dallas. I find him incredibly annoying (in the go away heat way) and a total chore to watch. Even in this relatively short Superstars match, he managed to slow things down with a cringey cravat spot. He thinks he’s getting heel troll heat with his rest holds, but he’s just boring people to death and working an antiquated style that modern crowds don’t care about or react to. Cesaro looked great as usual, and it looks like the unfortunate (and likely career ending) Kidd injury may have ended up being the uncomfortable catalyst for another long overdue singles push. **
2. Los Matadores vs The Ascension vs Luke Harper & Erick Rowan – A triple threat tag team match? After a million samey tag matches on the last batch of shows I reviewed, this was a fun change. Similar to the Kidd/Cesaro dynamic, Erick Rowan would end up suffering an injury shortly after this match took place, sending Luke Harper back into the singles ranks following the short lived revival of the old Wyatt Family tag team. Unlike Cesaro, Harper hasn’t benefited from his partner’s bad situation with a revived singles push, but the injuries have led to a series of highly touted singles matches between the two men left standing (more on that later). Harper is probably the single most underutilized piece of talent on the entire roster. I find it completely baffling that a company that has no trouble finding important things for Kane to do can’t even muster up an A-show mid card spot for a big hoss with a great look who can go in the ring like Harper. At worst he should be having good matches on RAW putting over babyfaces on the rise. Anyway, this match stunk when The Ascension were involved, but was fun when any of the other four men were in the ring. The ex-Wyatt Family hit The Way (3D) on
Fernando Diego Eddie Carlito whoever to pick up the win. **1/2
A Tough Enough promo aired. I couldn’t possibly have less interest in Tough Enough, because my interest level is firmly at zero, and I haven’t bothered to watch a single second. I think Dave Meltzer hit the nail right on the head as to why nobody cares. Everybody knows the competition is pointless, because winning has never proven to be a stepping stone to stardom, and often times winning isn’t even a stepping stone to a job, period. Losing doesn’t mean anything either, because the company simply signs anybody they see as having potential (read: all of the pretty girls) no matter how poorly they do in the fake competition. For those reasons, the show has no stock with viewers, and as a direct result it’s failing in the ratings. I feel bad for the countless indie wrestlers who get worked into sending in tryout videos when in reality they have no chance of ever getting selected for the show.
1. Lucha Dragons vs Heath Slater & Bo Dallas – If 2014 Superstars was the year of cool, underrated singles matches with guys like Titus O’Neil & Justin Gabriel, then 2015 has become the year of the prelim level tag team matches (I hesitate to use “cool & underrated” in this case, since a good chunk of these matches involve The Ascension). I enjoyed the Slater/Adam Rose sleaze team from a few weeks back, so I was obviously bummed to see Bo Dallas in the Rose spot here. This was a classic babyface in peril southern tag match crammed into 4 minutes, with heat on Kalisto, a hot tag to Sin Cara, and Kalisto hitting a gorgeous 450 on Slater for the win. You’ve seen this match on WCW Pro roughly five hundred times, with Slater & Dallas reprising the role of Southern Posse or Disorderly Conduct. **
2. Luke Harper vs Cesaro – This was the first of three (so far) highly touted C-show singles matches between these now partner-less dudes, with the other two bouts taking place on Main Event. With Jimmy Uso on commentary for this, we were reminded that possibly the three best teams in the company have been broken up via injury. I knew this was going to be all action when Cesaro did a tope within the first thirty seconds. This felt like a really good 16-minute match joined in progress at the 9 minute mark, which sounds like a complaint but actually isn’t. I went completely apeshit when Harper used a flying headscissors and followed it up with a superkick for a near fall. Moments later Harper went for the discus lariat, but Cesaro used a reversal that i’m not even going to attempt to describe to tie up Harper and crucifix him for the pin. It wasn’t long enough to be special, but it was really good and felt like the closing stretch of a good G1 bout. ***1/4
1. The Ascension vs Mega Powers – This was way better than it had any right to be. I was expecting tons of comedy, but that wasn’t really what this was at all. Axel & Sandow got more out of The Ascension here than Lucha Dragons ever have, even if the Lucha Dragons bouts were better matches overall thanks to the hot closing stretches with the lucha guys flying around. I was really looking forward to burying this, but I can’t. It wasn’t bad. **
2. Fandango vs Adam Rose – Rose & Rosa Mendes cut promos before the match. I still think there is potential with Rose, but Mendes is the kiss of death. Why she has gotten so many chances is beyond my understanding. She brings absolutely nothing to the table, has zero talent, is older than they usually prefer their women to be, and after all of these years has never gotten over in any role. Fandango needs a complete repackaging. The gimmick is beyond dead, but he’s a talented guy who could still be salvaged if they have him disappear for six months before re-debuting him on NXT. Rose won, which was the right finish (if there is a such a thing on the lowest show on the totem pole that nobody pays attention to anyway), but being paired with Mendes gives him an added stink of failure that he’ll be forced to overcome. The best he can hope for is that they come up with new idea #376 for Rosa as soon as possible so she ends up as somebody else’s anchor. **
This episode was completely skippable. Don’t waste time with any of this.
1. Neville vs Heath Slater – I was HYPED for this. If you were doing a fantasy draft of WWE talent, with the purposes of building a complete roster, how many picks would you go through before selecting Slater? Think before you answer. After all of the big stars and potential long term money drawing talent were taken, you’d have to seriously think about taking a great hand like Slater over the bevy of hamster wheel mid carders who are are largely interchangeable and overexposed. Nobody has a match against Slater without coming out of it looking good, and there is real value in that. Neville sold the whole way here before hitting the Red Arrow but it was still a super fun match because of Slater’s cool cut off spots and charisma. **3/4
Highlights of Brock Lesnar murdering Kofi Kingston in Japan were shown. Speaking of great enhancement talent, what a great squash that match turned out to be, with Kofi running for his life and bouncing around for Brock’s throws. They aired a WWE dot com exclusive backstage Brock promo that took place immediately after the match, which I either missed when they ran on the other shows, or that they aired for the first time here. Brock had nothing special to say, and just did some generic I’M COMING FOR YA smack talk towards Rollins, but this was still cool as something a little different to break up the endless string of RAW Rebounds that Superstars is typically filled with.
2. Prime Time Players vs The Ascension – It was probably by accident, because I cant imagine that anybody pays close enough attention to the booking of this show week to week to think these kinds of things out in advance, but The Ascension winning a match the prior week to earn a crack at the champs is the kind of stuff that I eat up in my wrestling. It was also noted that The Ascension could earn a
tag title shot WWE Tag Team Title opportunity if they could beat the champs here. They even tossed in a little backstage skit with the Prime Time Players where Titus warned an overconfident Darren Young that The Ascension were going to be hungry, and that no team could be taken lightly now that they have the titles. Look, I know that these are little things, on the most insignificant show that the company produces, but the idea that The Ascension won the week before and were now being pushed as fighting for a title shot had me way more into this match than I would have been otherwise. Over the course of the hour they genuinely made this match feel important (which really every match involving champions should), from the perspective of instead of feeling like you’re watching an endless series of lower card matches that ultimately mean nothing, they were telling the viewer that it sort of matters who wins & loses (imagine that!). This also ended up being the second consecutive Ascension match that exceeded my expectations, as they worked over Young before being absolutely annihilated by a house of fire Titus on the hot tag. Titus was so good here that he woke up a completely dead crowd with his power offense. I really wish he had a better partner. Titus beat Konnor with the Clash of the Titus, and now The Ascension have to get back in line for a crack at the titles. Little attentions to detail can even help prop up an Ascension match. **1/2
This was the first Superstars in ages where I felt like I was watching a show that mattered, from the strong Neville win, to the Brock stuff, and then the good little two week storyline they ran with my boys Konnor & Viktor having a satisfying ending. It would be nice if Superstars was always this focused on a week to week basis.