Coming to you live from the frozen tundra that is Central Massachusetts, it’s time for the showcase of the lower card we call Superstars. In an effort to remain honest with you the Superstars Nation, you should know that your humble correspondent – while not always operating with full deck most weeks – is a touch under the weather entering this week’s broadcast. It could be because of the below zero temperatures in the Northeast. It could be that he frequently forgets his hat and gloves. It might be because like Scrooge, he keeps his palatial one-bedroom palace as cold as Alberto Del Rio’s last two title reigns! Be that as it may, he prepares for six straight days to be worthy of your eyeballs each week and no bout of sniffles will keep him from delivering all the red-hot wrestling takes one 48-minute program can offer. So grab some hot tea, slurp down some chicken soup and let’s head down to ringside!
Your announcers tonight are Tom Phillips and the Immortal Alex Riley.
NATALYA VS. SUMMER RAE
The Queen of Harts, fresh off her very first wish granted in the Make-A-Wish Foundation, starts us off against the always eye pleasing Summer Rae. The Divas Division appears to be in a stand still right now. It was announced this week that Kaitlyn has left the company after she hugged it out with AJ and Tamina kicked her into next week on Main Event. No one is really being heavily pushed for the title and the hottest feud right now somehow involves the Bellas and Aksana. Huh? Meanwhile, Summer looks like she’s on the rise and that will remain apparent if she keeps getting chances to stand on her own in matches such as this one.
Summer really makes those kicks count. In baseball they say certain batters “don’t get cheated with their swings.” The same can be said for this diva’s kicking abilities. At one point she nearly took Natty’s head off with a standing heel kick that I believe caught the former Divas Champion off guard. If you watch again, Natalya definitely appeared to have injured her nose on that stiff kick. Natty favored her nose even when she made her comeback filled with clotheslines, a suplex and a powerslam but this was a seesaw battle until the very end. Shades of her uncle Bret, Natalya faked a leg injury which led to Summer losing concentration for a moment. That moment proved to be quite costly as Natty hooked in the sharpshooter and the dancer cried uncle! WINNER: NATALYA
Raw went Old School this week and the nostalgia festival began with an appearance from “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair. I only mention this because there likely won’t be many opportunities for me to talk about the limousine riding, jet flying, kiss stealing, wheeling dealing son of a gun on a Superstars recap. He looked great here and I wouldn’t complain if he found himself on TV more often. His interactions with Randy Orton brought back memories of the Evolution days. I almost think Orton needs a faction rather than just be a whining loner but I don’t make those decisions. Hopefully his Rumble match with Cena turns out better than the one at TLC.
We next get a video package of Brock Lesnar decimating Mark Henry from two weeks ago. It’s a shame “The World’s Strongest Man” is being used as cannon fodder for “The Beast” because that was a match I actually looked forward to seeing. We flip to Monday where Heyman cuts a promo, reads off Brock’s new t-shirt and Lesnar “breaks” Henry’s arm like a toothpick. Now it appears Big Show will play the role of “guy Lesnar will devour on his quest to either receiving a title shot or the Undertaker at Wrestlemania.” It could be a fun big guy heavyweight slugfest we all come to love or it may end the big friendly giant’s career for good. Should it be the latter, I really wish Great Khali was given this spot but I digress.
DOLPH ZIGGLER VS. RYBACK
The match you’ve been hearing about all week is upon us and another tragic chapter in the ballad of The Show Off. This bout has become infamous because for the second time since last spring, Ziggler suffered a concussion in the ring following a stiff clothesline by Ryback. Ziggler said before the broadcast that what he does in this match will “blow you away, just watch!” Sadly it could be a very long time before any of us get blown away by the in-ring abilities of the former World Heavyweight Champion.
Not long into the match, Ryback whipped Ziggler into the ropes and attempted said clothesline. It looked as if Dolph ducked out of the way but enough of his opponent’s massive forearm caught the Ziggler on the forehead which sent him crashing face first to the mat. Ziggler slid out of the ring and was checked by the official just before we went to break. Following our limited commercial interruption, the match resumed and Ryback executed a slingshot that sent Dolph and his scrambled cranium into the top turnbuckle. To his credit, Ziggy fought back despite taking some stiff chops and strikes from the big guy. Ryback pulled the Davey Boy Smith and held Ziggler up in a vertical suplex for what seemed like an eternity before crashing him down on the mat.
Dolph connected with the famouser but you could tell he was still wobbly on his feet. A failed Zig-Zag led to a very nasty meat hook clothesline and I’m pretty sure Dolph didn’t have any idea where he was after that blast. It was stiff and given what we eventually found out happened in the match, it was quite scary to witness in real-time. I bet Ziggler didn’t even realize he had been shell-shocked since he was likely out cold before the maneuver was even delivered. WINNER: RYBACK (But really, no one.)
Everything about this match is sad. Ziggler, an up-and-coming world champion a year ago, in the midst of a rather long skid, gets bit by the concussion bug again and his push or even more importantly, his career could very well be in jeopardy. The once promising career of Ryback has also been in the tank of late and his recklessness in and out of the ring has made his main event push look like a distant memory. There are reports that Dolph’s condition has improved since Monday. We as fans can only hope he returns to form and can show off for all of us in the WWE Universe once again.
We end with clips of Piper’s Pit with Roddy Piper interviewing The Shield. This is followed by the tail-end of the Punk vs. Roman Reigns main event. I loved Punk putting over the new stud on the block and this furthers the Shield breakup story very nicely. Reigns will be a big time star in no time but this night was all about the throwbacks and none were bigger than the appearance of Jake “The Snake” Roberts. I really hope Jake stays clean and sober. He looked great out there and it appeared as if he was having the time of his life. DDP is a miracle worker if Jake’s road to redemption ends with a happy ending. A great night and a fun show which isn’t the norm with a three-hour program.
Some stiff shots hurt the in-ring product this week but it only goes to emphasize the point that these superstars are professionals and indeed to take real risks. Stay safe and healthy everyone!