WWE took CM Punk off all their opening show titles this week and so they took the opportunity to update the Superstars opening. Batista is there, as are The Wyatts and Curtis Axel. The latter is the only one I’m likely to see wrestle on this show. Ever.
A-Ry’s still off this show; Byron Saxton seems to be a permanent fixture which, as discussed last week, is a huge downgrade in quality.
Natalya comes out. She looks great at the moment: she has new ring gear, looks very slim and comes out full of beans, high-fiving everyone. Unfortunately, I think she’s about to job to Tamina Snuka.
Natalya v Tamina Snuka
Tamina Snuka has been around since 2010. I’d say in the last 4 years she’s got marginally better but she still lacks fluidity in the ring. She wears this black waistcoat/vest like something Nash or Austin would have worn in the last 90s and looks like a biker’s girlfriend who is just wearing the threads to fit in.
Natty gets the best out of Tamina here. There’s quick, neat little roll ups and some nice mat chain wrestling that Tamina just about keeps up with but Natalya is really just playing puppeteer here. Somewhere early on Tamina cuts her elbow and is bleeding a little throughout the match. Tamina uses some really nice heel offence culminating in a Samoan Drop.
Tamina goes for the Superfly splash but clearly doesn’t commit to it and Natalya rolls out of the way. Snuka boots her between the middle and bottom rope and they brawl on the outside, using the announce desk. Natalya rolls her back in and gets the heat; she goes for the Sharpshooter, but Snuka gets to the ropes. Natalya ducks a superkick and gets two on a surprise cover, but Snuka jumps up off the mat and hits a superkick for the win.
Nice little opener. Really good to see these Divas matches improving in quality over the last few weeks. Natalya really is the one to get a good match out of newer talent; she’s such a safe pair of hands. That Hart dungeon certainly developed some protective workers.
Winner: Tamina via pinfall in 4:07.
On the Raw Rebound this week we get Randy’s opening promo on Raw where he didn’t dare pause for breath for the first two minutes in case people chanted for CM Punk. The cage match follows and, yes, Cody’s ridiculous moonsault gets yet more air time. What a complete waste of a spot on free television. I should note, though, Superstars always carries a ‘don’t try this advert’ every week during the show.
Los Matadores are out next sans El Torrito but are joined for 8-man tag action with The Usos who perform the Siva Tau. Usos were wearing black armbands, it’s not made clear why.
Curt Hawkins is still employed! I checked my notes and this is his first WWE TV appearance since October 4th 2013. He’s out with 3MB and boy does he look tubby. Frankly, he looks out of shape. A shame because Curt is a decent worker.
Los Matadores & The Usos v 3MB & Curt Hawkins
This was all house show comedy from the get go. The announcers make out that this is some kind of initiation match for Curt Hawkins to try out for 3MB. Slater takes early offense, but gets sent to the outside as we go to a commercial. They do the spot where all four guys are outside the ring and Diego teases a dive through the ropes but stops short and all the guys cower and disperse out of fear.
After the break, Diego beats up Mahal, but a boot to the stomach and a blind tag from Slater puts Diego into the opposition corner. Jimmy Uso gets the hot tag from Diego and gets the heat on Hawkins. He hits his kick, a Samoan drop, his stink face alternative on Curt who kicks out of the cover and tags Slater in.
Hawkins shows that he’s more than capable in the ring here. He’s had an odd career to date in the WWE: he was a member of the Edge’s La Familia in Edge’s title runs in 2007, then he won the tag titles with Zack Ryder in 2008 but more lately he’d been tag teaming with Tyler Reks. When Reks left to be a Dad in 2012, Hawkins was back at the bottom of the deck again. Hunter quite likes Hawkins and used him to help get into ring shape for his match with Undertaker at WrestleMania 28.
There was a cool spot here where Jimmy goes to superkick Hawkins who is in front of Jey. Hawkins ducks, meaning that it looks like Jimmy will kick his brother but Jey catches his leg and then swings it back into Hawkins’ face.
The finish sees Slater use his ‘save’ to break up a cover between Jimmy and Curt. The ring fills and when it clears again, Jimmy suicide dives over the top rope on to 3MB outside. Inside the ring, Jey superkicks Hawkins, and The Usos hit Samoan Splash for the pin.
This felt a bit like they all felt that if they all turned up that it would just work and be OK. In reality, adding more men to this weekly Superstars match just made it slightly worse.
Winners: Los Matadores & The Usos via pinfall (7:52)
The show finishes with the end of the fantastic Randy Orton v Daniel Bryan match from Monday which was one of the longest ever main events on Raw.
– By James Cox | @wweukblog