April 16, 2009
WWE Superstars: Debut show a dud
By MATT MACKINDER - SLAM! Wrestling
As if WWE needed more TV exposure, tonight marks the debut of WWE Superstars, the company's newest one-hour show, on WGN America.
The show starts out just like Raw, ECW and SmackDown, complete with fireworks (or "pyro" to those fans under the age of 20) from the Titan Tron. Yawn. Jim Ross and Todd Grisham are our hosts to start the show and we get right to the ring. What? No 20-minute promo and confrontation to start the show? Maybe this won't be as bad as we all think.
Match #1 - The Undertaker vs. Matt Hardy
The match quickly spills to the floor where Hardy gets hurled into the ringside barrier. Back in the ring, 'Taker hits Old School and then we go to a commercial break.
Undertaker dominates Hardy in the corner and goes for a choke slam, only for Hardy to counter it into a neckbreaker. After 'Taker rebounds, Hardy snaps him off the top rope and then targets the neck of the Undertaker by hanging from 'Taker's neck with a unique front facelock-type maneuver.
Hardy takes a boot to the face coming off the second rope and Undertaker gets a near-fall. Snake Eyes, another boot and a leg drop later gets 'Taker another two-count. Undertaker then sets up for a choke slam only to have Hardy leave the ring, grab a chair and get counted out.
Winner via countout: The Undertaker
On cue, Jeff Hardy runs down and attacks his brother. Matt ends up back in the ring where 'Taker finally nails the choke slam. You would think the first match of a new show would be halfway decent, but this match was full of nothing. Absolutely nothing. If I didn't have to finish the show, I wouldn't.
Matt Striker and Josh "Nosebleed" Matthews are up next to call the finals of the Elimination Chase where the winner gets an ECW title match against Jack Swagger at Backlash on April 26.
Match #2 - Christian vs. Finlay w/ Hornswoggle - Finals of the Elimination Chase
Lots of mat wrestling (yes, WRESTLING) to start until the two go to the floor. Finlay gets a near-fall back in the ring and continues to take it to Captain Grunt 'n Groan, er Charisma, if that's what constitutes charisma.
Both try unsuccessfully to hit their finishers until Christian gets a two-count after a tornado DDT. A Killswitch from out of nowhere seconds later gives Christian the pin and the title shot in 10 days for the WWE's one and only silver belt.
Winner via pinfall and No. 1 contender for ECW title: Christian
Finlay and Christian shake hands and embrace after the match. Not as good as Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior after WrestleMania VI, but, well, it is what it is I suppose. I figured Swagger would watch this match from the stage or even do color commentary, but no dice there.
Let's see - the main event is a Raw match, so that means, yep, Michael Cole and Jerry "The King" Lawler show up to call the bout between Shane McMahon and Cody Rhodes. Eve Torres interviews Shane-O-Mac in the back and he verbally abuses Randy Orton. Yadda, yadda, yadda.
Match #3 - Shane McMahon vs. Cody Rhodes
Lawler tells us Ted DiBiase, Orton, Triple H and Batista are banned from ringside, which more than likely means there will be a free-for-all to end the show.
Shane with a couple armdrags early on and for the third match in a row, you guessed it - action on the floor. Must take some top-notch writers to write the same thing over and over.
The boss' son works on Rhodes' left arm and shoulder and the crowd starts to boo. Shane jumps off the ring steps to clothesline Rhodes on the floor, where the match continues. I think it's amazing how it takes all of two minutes for Shane to work-up a solid sweat.
After some bills are paid (including an ad for The Wrestler coming to DVD next Tuesday), Cody is in control and all Cole and King do is show they have no chemistry and sound better together when there is dead air.
Shane powers-out of a pseudo-Camel Clutch to ram Rhodes into the corner, but can't follow-up. Rhodes hits a second-rope bulldog and then catches Shane coming off the second rope with a dropkick. Cody tries to bring a chair into the ring, but referee Mike Chioda stops him. Cody and Shane exchange punches and Shane falls to the floor. Rhodes goes to grab him, but Shane clobbers him with a chair to the ribs for the cheap disqualification
Winner via DQ: Cody Rhodes
Shane goes nuts on Cody with the chair and then hits a sloppy Coast to Coast. I mean sloppy as in the tin trash can was barely dented.
There was and probably will be nothing special about this show. It's simply an extension of the three other shows. Simply put, it's an hour of my life I'm glad my kids are in bed because if they were awake, I'd rather spend time with them and my wife.
If there is a positive to this show, it's that it was straight in-ring action. A countout and DQ notwithstanding, it still was wrestling. But the cons far outweigh any pros.
Oh well. 'Til next week. Same time, same place.
Matt Mackinder is turning into a couch potato - first, a DVD reviewer and now reviewing WWE Superstars. Still, anything is better than watching ECW on Tuesday nights. Right? Email Matt at email@example.com.