Tuesday, August 18, 2009

WWE Superstars reviewed

Last month, I wrote about my thoughts on what works and what doesn't with WWE. A couple weeks ago, I was contacted by a representative of a kind of marketing group representing WGN America (a TV station) and WWE. They suggested I check out WWE Superstars on that network. I looked for the station when the show was first announced and couldn't find it, and was about to reply back saying that I didn't get the channel, when I thought to look on their website, which pointed me to the right channel. (We have DirecTV, and I still don't understand the need to have hundreds of channels when you can't find the one you want - and they still don't carry MyNetworkTV, which broadcasts WWE SmackDown.) So I set the DVR to record the show. I just watched it last night, four days after it aired. (Better late than never, I guess.)

WWE Superstars advertises itself as a show which matches up talent from all three brands (RAW, ECW, and SmackDown). Because RAW tours by itself and ECW and SmackDown tour separately, I knew there was something fishy about Superstars. There was no way, I figured, that they could do a separate show. And I'm sure this is a no-brainer to anybody who's gone to a taping of any of the three brands' shows. It's relatively common knowledge among fans who look at the WWE from the "backstage perspective" (I really hate to use the term "smark", which means "smart mark", a mark being someone who takes the product at face value (they believe it's real) and a "smark" being someone who knows it's fake but loves it anyway) that these tapings tend to have a "dark match" or two that is not taped, I suppose to justify people paying $50 a seat when they could have just as easily watched the show on TV, not to mention the other perks.

What WWE Superstars does is, it takes the dark matches from all three shows and puts them in a one-hour timeslot. If you're there watching the show live, I imagine the show starts out as Superstars for one match, and then becomes RAW, ECW, or SmackDown. (Fun fact: Did you know that, for ratings purposes, RAW is only one hour long? The second half is rated as "RAW Zone", so if you see "Zone" tacked onto the logo... that's why.) As far as scheduling, I'm still working on the details. I know for RAW, they use the previous Monday's RAW, because I recognized a sign ("Less Big Show, More Gail Kim") that I saw last week on RAW. That's kind of a no-brainer, though, because RAW is always billed as live, so if they shot on Thursday and delayed most of it till Monday - that just wouldn't make sense. ECW and SmackDown are taped together, and I don't know what their road schedule looks like. It's a safe bet to assume that their segments are from the previous episodes as well.

As a show, Superstars is pretty cool, actually. It sounds like it would be a mess. It kind of is. It has three segments - last Thursday had SmackDown go first, ECW go next, and then RAW at the end. For each segment, the announcers from that show call the match. You'll also notice the ropes change color as well. Oddly enough SmackDown used red ropes Thursday; I could have sworn they used blue in the past, but I could be mistaken. ECW's, the middle segment, were silver, and RAW's were the usual red. If it weren't for that sign, I wouldn't have noticed that the second half of the show, dedicated to RAW, was at a different arena than the first half. You probably wouldn't if you weren't looking, but I look for stuff like that.

Superstars isn't any different, really, from ECW, SmackDown, or RAW, as far as the basic idea. It's mostly a recap show, highlighting the drama from the past episode of each show, and one match from each that didn't make it to TV. That being said, what's good about Superstars is that it seems to avoid the stupid "joke" matches. On RAW, there are always a couple matches that either end badly or end with a joke, or are just a joke altogether. Perfect example: the Home Alone ending to the Hornswoggle/Guerrero match. When I watched Superstars, all three of the matches were good.
  • The SmackDown match featured John Morrison and David Hart Smith, and it was a good match, lasted at least 10 minutes, and showed good performances from both performers, particularly Morrison (who it's hard not to call by his last character's name, Johnny Nitro - he's always been good, though). I did call out his current character in my other blog entry as being a cheap ripoff of a deceased rock legend, but that doesn't make him any less entertaining.
  • The ECW match had newcomer Sheamus and Goldust (Dusty Rhodes' son; Cody Rhodes' brother). Pretty good match, a little above average, but not bad at all.
  • Lastly, the RAW match was a mixed tag-team match, with Kofi Kingston and Mickie James against Carlito and Rosa Mendes. Normally, I don't like tag teams, especially ones with lax rules, for example when one team tags out, the other team has to switch up as well (so men can't fight women), but this was alright. Kofi Kingston's good anyway, and I can never look at Mickie James enough. (Yes, my wife knows - she says the same about Jeff Hardy.)
All in all, I have to say that WWE Superstars is a good show. I didn't expect to like it for a few reasons, but it's surprised and impressed me. I wouldn't have taken the time to write about it if I didn't like it, but I probably wouldn't have given it a chance if it hadn't been suggested to me. I don't like the idea of bloggers being paid or otherwise compensated to write articles (and I was not), but if somebody wants to recommend a show or something, chances are I'll give it an even chance and write up what I think about it.

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