WWE thought they could slip one by the Rudester when they released a new episode of Superstars on HuluPlus last night (Jan. 10), but I was ready for them. Even if they were promoting the show with the promise of Miz versus Tensai.
They sealed the deal by offering me some Prime Time Players in action against the team of Zack Ryder and Brodus Clay. And the remaining time? You get a recap! And you get a recap! And you get a recap!
Superstars has been in limbo for the last two or three months. Some weeks the show isn't released at all; other times it is a "greatest hits" or "best of" compilation. This episode is the first one, since November of last year, to offer new matches. But it is still apparent WWE doesn't have a clear direction in mind for this block of their programming schedule.
Intro theme and title, but no commentary or video... it does appear to be in Tampa, FL, so I'm assuming this was taped before Raw on Monday night... "I came to play" as Miz walks.
Miz defeats Tensai in approximately ten minutes via pinfall
- Full disclosure: I've defended the Miz, because I believe him to be a very marketable talent for WWE. I even advocated for turning him face. I don't like the way they have executed the turn and I think his work since has pretty much stunk. But the crowds seem to dig him, and this one pops loudly for his entrance and most of what he does throughout this match.
- Tensai's intro hits and he's almost to the ring before we get any commentary. I thought for a second this might be a live experience with no announcers. That could be cool and would differentiate the show. But, no, Matt Striker and Scott Stamford are here.
- Most of the early offense is from the awesome one, including a leap to the outside that looked pretty good and an attempt from the top rope that needs work. The play-by-play is emphasizing their size difference.
- Striker and Stamford's work here is odd. Striker seems to be playing a half-hearted heel, talking about his admiration for Tensai and how annoying he finds Miz. Stamford brings up the latter's comments regarding his character not changing even though fans are cheering him now. He's almost talking about the former Road Rules star as you would a heel, intimating that he is manipulating the fans.
- During a break, Tensai has powered his way into control of the bout. We get a powerful looking two-handed choke slam, a rest hold, then a lariat. The deposed Lord is shocked at Miz's kickout. A fast-paced back and forth follows, with leg strikes from the smaller man and strength-based attacks from the larger one. Eventually, the face pulls his version of the five moves of doom and wins it with a skull crushing finale.
- The announce team also spends a lot of time discussing the Royal Rumble and a story that Miz is trying to get matches booked against larger guys to get ready for it. Not even sure he's officially in, but this is a thing which could be on our horizon.
We get a five-minute highlight package of Cena's victory over Ziggler on Raw. To paraphrase the Asian groundskeepers from Major League, it's still crappy.
We then get a long highlight package of CM Punk and Ryback's TLC match from Raw. It's still very good.
Brodus Clay and Zack Ryder defeat The Primetime Players (Titus O'Neil and Darren Young) in approximately five minutes when Clay pins Young
- As Cagesider Dark Talon
warnedinformed us in his latest Wrestling Rumors of the Day, WWE is apparently going to running with the pair of Clay and Ryder. They come out with the full Funkasaurus entrance here, as Z's boy Stamford informs us that "the funk is gonna BRO-wl" and that the Long Islander calls the Funkadactyls "Cameron and Na-BRO-mi". Oh BRO-ther.
- We start with Ryder versus Young, but quick tags also see the big men facing off. Both Brodus ("Shewah" and "Get some, big Zack!") and Titus ("arra, arra, arra" and the whistle) are really vocal when they're the legal men and from the apron. PTP are really impressive together, and even show off one or two team maneuvers while working over Zack during the heels-in-charge portion of the contest.
- Iced Z reverses a suplex from Young into a neckbreaker in a sweet spot to start the comeback. Hot tag to the Funky One, who cleans house. O'Neil breaks up a pin but gets hit by a Rough Ryder for his trouble, and a big splash from Clay onto Darren takes it home for the good guys. Children enter the ring to dance with our victors, while adults are left to wonder who PTP pissed off backstage.
We close with a nearly fifteen minute replay of The Rock and Punk's interview segment that closed Raw on the 7th. Lots of good stuff has been written about it; the best compliment I can pay it is to say that I watched all of it for a third time when they ran it as part of Superstars. I never want this feud to end, and it has barely started.
So, Superstars is back and I'll grade its return as a middle-of-the-road 'C'. It offered some fresh match-ups that were worked solidly by all involved. The recaps were of good and/or important segments. But I don't know who is going to seek out an online show consisting largely of clips of things you can find online.
Did anyone else watch it? Or miss it while it was gone? Let us know what you think about the show, it's place in WWE's programming strategy, or both, in the comments below.