This week’s show was as mediocre as its counterparts, Raw and Smackdown, have been of late. The list of personnel proves this without you even needing to watch it: Kaitlyn, Aksana, 3MB (without Heath) and The Usos. Surely there is some NXT talent that would benefit from getting some ring action in front a big crowd on this pre-Raw taping?
Kaitlyn comes out first to kick off the show. I always think she lacks any real charisma but also doesn’t look hugely fussed: she half-asses it down the ramp and makes some kind of hand signal with both hands and half-smiles and that’s it; that’s her gimmick. Anyway, she got engaged this past week to a body-builder, P.J. Braun, a high-level competition bodybuilder and supplement entrepreneur who runs Blackstone Labs and Prime Nutrition, and so she’s on TV. Aksana is her opponent tonight – a Diva who has literally gone backwards or at least stayed vaguely the same in terms of her in-ring performance since she arrived in WWE in 2009.
Kaitlyn vs. Aksana
They lock up and Tom Phillips acknowledges the engagement: apparently ‘hearts are breaking across the world’ – am I the only that doesn’t see it? Kaitlyn charges at Aksana who screams and takes solace in the ropes so that the referee keeps Kaitlyn away. Kaitlyn scoop slams Aksana, whips her into a turnbuckle, hits her with a backbreaker and then shoulder barges her to the mat forcing Aksana to roll outside for a breather.
Outside, Aksana takes out Kaitlyn’s leg so that she falls on to the apron and lands on her back and head. Aksana seizes the opportunity and quickly rolls her back into the ring and covers her for a two count. She then grabs her hair and, screaming, whacks her head into the mat repeatedly. Boy can she scream. Still wailing, Aksana rubs her forearm into Kaitlyn’s face. As she poses to the crowd, she grabs Kaitlyn and chokes her on the middle rope and then applies a wrist lock by way of a rest.
Kaitlyn recovers from the hold and Aksana goes to heel on some fans forgetting about Kaitlyn. She gets school-girled for a two count and then eats an elbow to the face for her efforts. More posing from Aksana who then goes to the ropes and knees Kaitlyn to the back of the head, grabbing her and throwing her into the corner.
Kaitlyn takes a side slam and a cover for two and then takes elbows and kicks to the chest. When Aksana then misses a charge to the corner, Kaitlyn gets the heat: hitting elbows, clotheslines and a gutbuster. When she goes for the pin, Aksana kicks out and the tries a cover of her own as she attempts to use the ropes. She makes a horrible job of it, though, and Kaitlyn kicks out at one. While Aksana needlessly (and inexplicably) complains to the referee, she turns her back on Kaitlyn who then spears her out of her boots and covers her for the win.
A nothing match between two Divas without a main-roster programme.
Winner: Kaitlyn via pinfall (4:10)
The Raw Rebound is next – we get the entire opening segment of the show from Punk’s excellent promo to Steph and Kane’s interruption. Then we’re shown the last half of the 6-man tag match between the Rhodes’ brothers & Big Show and The Shield. Good job Big Show is no longer concussed or that match would have been tough on him…
Out next on Superstars are The Usos who have been given some nice spots of late and have benefitted from more TV and ppv exposure. They generally get over well with live crowds and especially do well in this pre-Raw slot where crowds are getting revved up for the show. Their performance of the Siva Tau is made more impactful by their face paint of late. Oh and they now have merchandise – well, a t-shirt – which they flaunt at the fans and the cameras as they makey their way to the ring. Their opponents tonight are Superstars perennials, Drew McIntyre and Jinder Mahal. Even in the age of the 6-man tag matches on Raw, these guys (especially Jinder) aren’t good enough to get on the show.
The Usos vs. Drew McIntyre & Jinder Mahal
There’s no Heath Slater tonight and he’s either just unwell, absent or legit-injured because Phillips and Riley talk about how he’s having ‘throat surgery’ because he’s the lead singer of the band and he over did it when rehearsing. Either this is a rib on him or a joke about him being injured or just nonsense. Who knows – probably the latter.
Jey and Jinder lock up and out of an Irish whip, Mahal shoulder barges Jey to the mat. Out of a chain Mahal then eats a drop kick to the chin and when Jey then rings the wrist, he tags in Jimmy. They do stereo reverse elbows and elbow drops on Jinder and then Jimmy covers him but Mahal kicks out at two.
Jimmy hits Jinder with reverse knife edges, rings the wrist but takes knees to the midsection as Jinder powers out. Out of a corner-to-corner whip, Jimmy the chops Mahal to the mat and shouts “Uoos!” to which the crowd reply “O!” Jimmy slaps Mahal, whips him into the corner, tags in Jey who launches himself at him and hits him with a stiff elbow to the face. Out of another quick tag, Jey lands a double axe handle on Jinder and he then sends him to the apron outside, over the top rope. Drew tries to go into business for himself but gets sent flying over the opposite side of the ring. The Usos get the crowd to clap and hit duelling planchas on the two as we go to a break.
After the commercials, Jinder is beating down Jimmy in the corner with punches and forearms. As the referee interferes, Jimmy is able to get back at Mahal who puts him in a headlock and runs the ropes with him. As he does so, Drew finally tags himself in. He immediately, ruthlessly goes after Jimmy’s left knee and stomps on it from behind sending Jimmy on to the mat in agony. Drew is an excellent heel.
Drew works over the knee, planting him upside down in the corner, stomping on his knee and then to his chest and face. He tags in Mahal and he continues in the same vain. Drew quickly tags back in and places the leg onto the bottom rope and stomps and sits on it. Meanwhile, on commentary they discuss their favourite moments from The Slammys of the past because they’re so entertained by what they see here.
As Jimmy tries to crawl across the ring for the tag, Drew picks him up and slaps him, holding his left leg out in front of him so that he has to hop on his right leg. Jimmy finally slaps him in the face back and so Drew goes back to Mahal for a tag and Jinder immediately storms in the ring to cut off Jimmy from getting to make the hot tag. Jinder applies a leg lock and Jimmy uses kicks to the back of the head to escape it until Jinder launches off the ropes and kicks him in the face. McIntyre comes back in and they continue to go after the left knee.
Out of the corner, Drew swings and misses a punch to Jimmy, who ducks and tries an O’Connor roll for the win but only gets a two count. Immediately an angry McIntrye gets up and drop kicks the left knee and goes for a pin himself, also getting two. He tags in Jinder and they work the left knee outside using the apron to smack the knee against the ring.
Finally, Jimmy is able to make the tag when Jinder goes to the second rope, misses the knee and instead winds up getting hit with an enziguri to the back of the head. Both men are down for the referee’s count until Jimmy finally gets the tag. Mahal tags in McIntyre at the same time but Jey gets all the heat with two flying clortheslines followed by the savate kick and a Goldust-esque slap to the face from the mat.
The finish starts with Jey hitting Drew with a really sloppy Samoan drop; he then hits the stinkface equivalent. When Jinder interrupts the pin, Jimmy chases Jinder off and it leaves Jey to hit a superkick to Drew (who sells it beautifully – he falls like the tallest oak in the forest) so that Jimmy can Superfly Splash him and cover him for the win.
The Usos rarely have poor matches but they always follow the same formula. Formulaic is no fun when you’ve seen it for the last 6 months on this show but they’re a good tag team and deserve the TV time they’ve been getting.
Winners: The Usos via pinfall (8:33)
The show finishes with a video package hyping how important, monumental and historic the title unification match (aka the dig-ourselves-out-of-a-ppv rut match) will be at TLC between Cena and Orton.
This was a nothing edition of Superstars that mirrored the quality of the TV output that we’ve been getting for the last month or so. I don’t see it improving much until the New Year.
– By James Cox