Another week, another three-and-a-half hours of WWE programming that you probably missed. But no need to panic, as you should have come to learn by now that I always have your back.
While you neglect lower-class shows like NXT, Main Event, Superstars and Saturday Morning Slam, I give them all of the attention they deserve. Now you can find out what these shows are up to as you prepare for the upper-class show, Monday Night Raw.
After you get through my results and reviews, I'd like to take a minute to ponder the influence this show has on the career of a mid-carder like Brodus Clay. Does success on shows like these give any indication of the superstar's immediate or long-term future?
I'd really like to hear what my readers think (and that especially applies to you, Dustin's Diamonds).
With the Survivor Series on the horizon and many slots yet to be filled on the card, this is a chance for mid-card stars to really shine and earn a spot on the pay-per-view.
Much like the Royal Rumble, the Survivor Series can be a place for superstars that normally don't get a Sunday evening paycheck to make a PPV appearance, especially if a few more traditional Survivor Series matches are put in place.
My "notes" version of all four shows is below.
If it piques your interest enough to read on, the slideshow breaks down the shows individually, segment by segment, complete with my questions and predictions.
On NXT, the show opens with the Usos getting a victory over Michael McGillicutty and Johnny Curtis, the post-match of which featured a silent appearance from The Ascension. After the match, Trent Barretta and Kassius Ohno set up a rematch from last week for next week's NXT.
Xavier Woods (who I like to think of as a skinny Funkasaurus) does the job for Leo Krueger, and Big E. Langston turns down Vickie Guerrero's business offer as she makes her return to NXT.
Then we get a segment in which Jinder Mahal, Justin Gabriel, Drew McIntye and Bo Dallas are set up with a Fatal 4-Way next week to determine the No. 1 Contender for the NXT Championship.
Roman Reigns wins in his debut match against CJ Parker, and Antonio Cesaro defeats Tyson Kidd in a solid match for the final match.
On Main Event, we are only treated to one superstar's video package (Del Rio's) before Orton, Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara defeat ADR and the Primetime Players. ADR takes the fall, but the feud with Orton will continue until at least Survivor Series. The tension between the Primetime Players and Rey and Sin Cara builds as they are both aiming for tag team gold.
The first match was long enough that we didn't have as many Raw Rebounds as normal. The second and final match saw Wade Barrett with a solid victory over Tyson Kidd before setting up a match with Sheamus at next week's Main Event from England.
On Superstars, the Usos open the show for the second week in a row, and for the second week in a row they get a victory, this time over Epico and Primo.
Along with plenty of Raw Rebounds, we also get to see Brodus Clay with a clean victory over McGillicutty.
On Saturday Morning Slam, Sin Cara got a victory over El Local with an impressively quick senton bomb, while Brodus Clay got a victory over Cody Rhodes after his stand Splat finisher.
The theme of the week centered around the Mexican holiday, Day of the Dead, so the other segments included a look at lucha libre wrestling, masks in Mexican wrestling, and Rey Mysterio's favorite masks. It was nice to see Juventud Guerrera and La Parka featured in the Video Vault.
Now, if you care to read more about any of these happenings, please enjoy the slideshow.
NXT wastes no time and begin the program by introducing The Usos for the opening match. William Regal and Tony Luftman are on commentary, and NXT is trying out a new ring announcer. For the record, she's very attractive, but not yet very good at introductions.
The Usos vs. Michael McGillicutty and Johnny Curtis (match length 4:18)
The Usos are up against McGillicutty and Curtis. According to the commentary, Michael and Johnny have been getting along well as a team for the last few months. I've never seen Johnny Curtis perform on NXT. His current gimmick is ridiculous and hilarious. I hope he continues to develop it and then make it work on Raw or SmackDown.
The Usos are pretty over with the NXT crowd, and they're much more likely to get a victory over a team from NXT than someone from the hot WWE tag division. The heels dominate the opening part of the match, isolating Jimmy and making several tags, clearly building to a hot tag for Jey.
Before long, Jey gets the hot tag, takes out both opponents, and you can feel the end coming.
McGillicutty is laid out in the middle of the ring, and Jimmy is tagged back in. He does an impressive splash from the top rope and picks up the win for Rikishi's twins.
Post-match, The Ascension's music hit and the team appears in a booth above the audience. Not a lot is made of the bit other than reminding us that The Ascension are the tag team to beat in NXT these days.
Backstage, Briley Pierce interviews Trent Barretta about his victory over Kassius Ohno last week, and his chances of earning a shot at Seth Rollins' title. Before Barretta can say much of anything, Ohno interrupts and dismisses Pierce from the conversation.
Ohno claims that Barretta's victory over him was a fluke, and only happened because of Richie Steamboat's interference. They set up a rematch for next week's NXT.
Barretta makes fun of Ohno's beard and intentionally mispronounces his name (KASS-ee-us).
Before we go to commercial break, we find out that we'll see the debut of Roman Reigns as well as United States Champion Antonio Cesaro vs. Tyson Kidd in the main event.
When we return from commercial break, Xavier Woods makes his way to the ring for the next match. He has a "funk" gimmick; could he end up as Clay's sidekick one day? His opponent is Leo Krueger, who I always say looks like Skinner's face and gimmick on Kane's body.
Xavier Woods vs. Leo Krueger (match length 4:12)
They are really playing up Krueger's "hunter" mentality, and Woods is made to look like the underdog. I don't think Krueger's gimmick would do well in WWE, but Woods is talented enough to use a connection with Clay to get his foot in the door.
Woods get in just enough offense that this match may not qualify as a squash, but there was never any question who was going to win.
Krueger gets a pinfall victory after a modified neckbreaker.
Following the match, a highlight reel was shown for Big E. Langston. When it is finished, he is at the top of the ramp being interviewed by Byron Saxton. Saxton asks why Langston insists on a five-count when he pins his opponents.
Langston begins a strange promo about how great the number five is when Vickie Guerrero interrupts (with a second or two of bad editing) with "Excuse me!"
Guerrero explains that she is at NXT to recruit young men for her stable (remember that NXT episodes are taped and play several weeks later), and she tries to flirt with Langston.
He rejects her offer, and Guerrero leaves embarrassed.
After a commercial break, Jinder Mahal makes his way to the ring (again, remember this was taped several weeks ago, before the debut of 3MB) to say he wants another shot at the NXT Championship.
Justin Gabriel comes out next and says essentially the same thing.
Drew McIntyre comes out next and says essentially the same thing.
Bo Dallas comes out next and says essentially the same thing.
Any wrestling fan knows what comes next. Dusty Rhodes makes an appearance and sets up a Fatal Fourway for next week's NXT, the winner of which receives a championship match against Seth Rollins.
Roman Reigns vs. CJ Parker (match length 17:05-13:25)
Regal and Luftman are really trying to build Reigns as a superstar with the "it" factor, the intangible quality that all of the great superstars have had.
Much like the Krueger/Woods match from earlier in the show, it may not qualify as a squash, but Reigns had control for the vast majority of the match. He gets the pinfall over Parker with a move that looks something like an elevated Rock Bottom.
Physically, I can't help but think that Reigns looks like a taller, leaner, prettier version of Rhyno.
There is a commercial break before the main event, and we have yet to see a single Raw Rebound or even have anything from Raw mentioned on the show!
Antonio Cesaro vs. Tyson Kidd (televised match length 7:49)
We go directly into the match after the commercial break, and Jim Ross is here to welcome us back.
From the very get-go, this match was great. A wrestling purest or old-school fan would love to see matches like this on Raw more often.
When we return from the commercial break, I realize that this match will go about nine minutes if they aren't ending the program with another bit. A lot of great reversals and near-falls in this match to keep it interesting the whole time.
Antonio Cesaro eventually hits the Neutralizer and gets the pin. The show goes off the air with a shot of Cesaro holding his US Title about his head while JR talked about next week's Fatal Four-way.
Prediction: If WWE ever decided to really market NXT programming to the older and smarkier audience, it would be very successful. They loved the last season of Tough Enough (which WWE still hasn't brought back), and for some of the same reasons, I think they'd like NXT.
Question: Will the quality of wrestling for an average Raw match ever be as high as that of the average NXT match?
This week's Main Event starts with Michael Cole explaining that they have big news regarding "rogue referee" Brad Maddux and the conclusion of Hell in a Cell's main event. After a few highlights from the pay-per-view, we are back in the arena with Cole and JBL handling the commentary.
Cole informs us that Maddux has been suspended indefinitely and that tomorrow (Thursday, November 1) WWE headquarters will be looking into it more thoroughly.
Additionally, Maddux failed to become a WWE Superstar, so he came in as a referee when Raw expanded to three hours and additional talent was needed.
Next, we are shown highlights from last week's Main Event that set up this week's six-man tag featuring Randy Orton, Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara vs. Alberto Del Rio and the Primetime Players.
I thought, perhaps, this week's format would be different, since we normally have a singles match with long video packages of each wrestler. This week, it looks like we'll still get those video packages for Del Rio and Orton.
As I've said before, these video packages would be good for someone who is a casual or former fan but isn't intimately familiar with today's current roster. They're unnecessary for fans who watch WWE regularly.
As we head to the first commercial break, I realize I may have been wrong about my last paragraph. All six men have been introduced and are in the ring, but we never sat through a video package for Orton. Maybe this week is just about building ADR.
Randy Orton, Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara vs. Alberto Del Rio and the Primetime Players (televised match length 15:10)
Darren Young and Rey Mysterio start things off for their respective teams when the bell rings about ten minutes into the program. Mysterio gets the early advantage and tags in his pupil Sin Cara. He only remains in the match for a few offensive moves before tagging in The Viper.
The match continues to go back-and-forth, both teams making frequent tags, every wrestler having at least some time as the legal in-ring competitor for their team. It's not an incredibly intriguing match, but it's not bad either. As we head to commercial break, Orton has things in clear control for his team.
Shortly after we return from the break, Mysterio and Titus O'Neal are tagged in. Before long, Sin Cara gets the tag and ends up playing the part of sacrificial lamb for his team, as the heels keep him in their corner and isolate him from his partners.
Eventually, Sin Cara tags in his mentor and the ebb-and-flow continues through another commercial break. When we return, it is clear that Young has control over Mysterio as he tags in ADR.
Mysterio teases a comeback when he sets the aristocrat up for the 619, but ADR avoids it and tags in O'Neal. Mysterio is taking quite the beating now, and you've got to believe Orton will get the hot tag soon.
ADR is in the ring again and misses Mysterio, ramming his shoulder into the steel post, but even that doesn't provide the ultimate underdog enough time to make a tag, as Young returns to the action.
As ADR gets tagged back in yet again, you can almost feel the end coming, and you just know Orton has to get the tag soon. After Mysterio hits a tilt-a-whirl DDT on ADR, Orton finally gets the hot tag and unloads on all three members of the opposition.
Orton hits ADR with the second-rope DDT and sets up for the RKO. The PTP prevent him from hitting it at first, but this brings in Mysterio and Sin Cara who clear PTP from the ring.
At this point, Sin Cara sets Del Rio up and Mysterio hits the 619. ADR then stumbles into an RKO and Orton gets the pin and the win for his team. A solid six-man tag going the length of a pay-per-view match.
Post-match, Matt Striker interviews the winning team. Mysterio says that tonight's match shows that he and Sin Cara will be a part of the tag division for a long time.
This is followed by Sin Cara giving a quick promo in Spanish, and Mysterio translates. Sin Cara had said that the reason Mysterio and he have formed a team is because they want the WWE Tag Team Championship.
When Striker attempts to get a word from Orton, he says that the message of the match to ADR is that Orton is the real Viper of the WWE. Then we receive the bad news that we get an update on the "AJ Lee" scandal after the commercial break.
Before we get to that update, we return from the commercial break and Josh Matthews is backstage with the Primetime Players. They say that they will be the future tag team champions, not Sin Cara and Rey Mysterio, and Titus makes the bold claim that they will be the WWE Tag Team Champions at WrestleMania 29.
As Matthews tries to end the interview, ADR grabs the mic and tells Orton that he had better watch his back on SmackDown this week. After the Raw Rebound, Cole tells us that Vickie Guerrero is claiming to have even more "evidence" of the Cena/Lee affair, and we'll get that proof on Monday night.
Wade Barrett is announced for the next match and makes his way to the ring. Before we head to commercial break, Tyson Kidd is announced as his opponent. The sponsor's interruption comes just before the match officially starts.
Wade Barrett vs. Tyson Kidd (televised match length 3:40)
We return from commercial break and the match has already started. Barrett is in control. Barrett has been on a roll since his return to action, whereas Kidd hasn't had much success since the mini-push he received around Money In The Bank. No reason to believe Kidd will pull the upset, but as they say, anything can happen in the WWE.
Kidd pulls off some impressive kicks that give him control of the match, but Barrett takes control back shortly thereafter. Kidd only gets one more short burst of offense before Barrett turns things around and finishes the match with the Souvenir elbow.
This match was solid and could have continued for the remainder of the program, but then we couldn't set up next week's show.
Barrett gets on the stick to comment on how quickly he beat Kidd and how he isn't surprised Sheamus lost his title at the pay-per-view. Obviously, Sheamus comes out and the match is set for next week's Main Event.
Interesting note that next week's episode will be taped in England, and Barrett says he "never loses in England."
Prediction: WWE Creative is going to have to come up with something a little better if this show is to last. I like that a match is always set up for the following week, but it doesn't have to be so formulaic that it always happens after the final match is over.
Question: What roll will Barrett play at Survivor Series? Will he reignite his feud with Orton for TLC?
Superstars kicks off with a match from the booming tag team division, seeing The Usos take on Epico and Primo. Josh Matthews and Matt Striker are on commentary.
Rosa Mendes accompanies her men to the ring; does anyone else feel as though it's been a while since we've seen her on television?
The Usos vs. Epico & Primo (match length 7:21)
The Usos get the early advantage in the match even though both teams make quick tags early on. However, just before the commercial break, Primo makes a blind tag and manages to send Jey to the floor, taking advantage as the commercial break begins.
As we return from the break, we are informed that Epico and Primo have made several tags and have maintained Jey's isolation from his brother. They stay in control for several minutes before Jimmy receives the hot tag and unloads on his opponents.
The Usos hold control over their opponents until they take the victory by hitting their signature top-rope Samoan Splash. This was their second clean victory from this week's review.
It makes one wonder if they're going to get a legitimate push towards the WWE Tag Team titles before long.
Before the commercial break, we are given the unfortunate news that a Raw Rebound is in store for us after the break, reminding us of the AJ Lee/Vickie Guerrero/John Cena drama.
After the Rebound but before we head to commercial break, we find out Brodus Clay will be in action next. His opponent isn't mentioned, which is never a good sign.
Brodus Clay vs. Michael McGillicutty (televised match length 7:07)
It turns out Michael McGillicutty has Funkasaurus duty this evening, and he spends the beginning of that time being dominated by Brodus Clay.
Things remain this way until McGillicutty avoids a corner splash and sends Clay to the outside of the ring as we head to commercial break.
They are still outside the ring when we return, McGillicutty still in control and very aware of the referee's count. He has an advantage and is working on Clay's left arm and shoulder.
During a slow spot when Perfect Jr. is working on the shoulder, I'm almost positive I heard a faint "feed me more" chant in the background.
Ultimately, Clay's size and strength advantage would be too much for McGillicutty to overcome, and Clay hits the Splat at the end of a comeback to get the pinfall victory. Before we head to commercial break, we're informed that we'll be getting another Raw Rebound, setting up the Survivor Series main event.
That Raw Rebound takes up more than twelve minutes and it's the last thing we see before Superstars goes off the air.
Prediction: I'm not sure that it is in the immediate future, but I think WWE has long-term plans for both Brodus Clay and The Usos.
They both got wins this week on the lower shows that I would consider upsets, but they aren't getting any wins on Raw or SmackDown.
I'll elaborate more on the next slide.
Question: Will the WWE ever update The Usos gimmick, or will they continue to be a modern version of the Headshrinkers?
As we kick off Saturday Morning Slam, we're informed that the main event will be Brodus Clay vs. Cody Rhodes, and that we'll be taking a look at Día de los Muertos ("Day of the Dead") with an emphasis on luchadores.
Sin Cara vs. El Local (match length 5:05)
Josh Matthews and Santino Marella are on commentary for the opening match. They are getting the future fanbase of the WWE warmed up to Sin Cara, preparing for the time of the passing of the torch from Rey Mysterio.
El Local, if you are unaware, is Ricardo Rodriguez performing in the ring gear he used for the Chimaera character he has performed as in several different promotions in the past.
I have never seen the movie Nacho Libre, but I've always imagined the titular character to be something like El Local. He's dressed in a standard luchadore ensemble but is clearly much heavier than someone like Sin Cara or Rey Mysterio.
He works well as an opponent for someone wrestling the lucha libre style, but most of his own offense is based on his size and strength advantage.
It's good to see them putting Rodriguez's in-ring experience to use.
Although he did get a little offense in, there was no question that El Local was going to do the job to Sin Cara. A mildly entertaining spot from an adult perspective, and Sin Cara came out looking very good.
The finish came when Sin Cara jumped from the outside apron up to the top turnbuckle and immediately leaped off to hit a nice senton bomb.
This leads into a segment in which they explain that wrestlers in the lucha libre tradition are known for are the bright masks. This leads into an explanation of the Mexican holiday El Die de los Muretos, or The Day of the Dead, in which similar masks can be used.
The Video Vault segment then opens up with a look at a former superstar who seemed inspired by this holiday, La Parka. They also take a look at Juventud Guerrera and Rey Mysterio.
This is followed by a brief segment in which Mysterio talks about some of the favorite masks he's worn as a WWE Superstar.
Brodus Clay vs. Cody Rhodes (match length 5:14)
Following a commercial break, The Funkasaurus is introduced for the show's main event. Of course, he's accompanied by The Funkadactyls.
Dolph Ziggler has replace Santino on commentary. Cody Rhodes makes his way to the ring sans tag partner Damien Sandow.
Brodus takes control early in the match with standard size-and- strength-advantage moves. Cody Rhodes rolls to the outside of the ring to regroup, and we head to commercial break. Once we return from the commercial break, we get a stark reminder that this is, indeed, Saturday Morning Slam.
The match has returned to the ring, but Cody is still showing signs of frustration. Playing to the audience, Cody wants a chance to prove he can dance as well as Brodus.
Of course, he dances like an idiot when given the chance, something reminiscent of Carlton Banks (which Matthews makes reference to immediately after I type it into this review).
Rhodes attacks Brodus before he gets a chance to dance, and control of the match goes back-and-forth until the very end.
Rhodes attempts a high cross body, Brodus catches him and hits a powerslam, then Clay finishes him off with the Splat.
There is just enough time for an in-ring, post-match dance party, and the show is over.
Prediction: Saturday Morning Slam will be a place for WWE to test some of their more gimmick-y wrestlers to see if even the youngsters will care. Case in point: El Local.
Question: Does a win like this mean anything for someone like Brodus Clay, in terms of where his character is headed and whether or not he can expect any legitimate push?
Does it matter that he also got pinfall victories on NXT and Superstars?
So what do these shows even mean for the superstars that frequent them?
Is a winning streak on one of these shows an indication of a push to come on Raw or SmackDown?
Does a loss here mean that you've been viewed most unfavorably with WWE brass or WWE creative?
As we explore these questions briefly, I'd like to take a look at three cases: Brodus Clay, The Usos and Tyson Kidd.
Just last week, Brodus Clay got a victory over Camacho on NXT and a victory over Epico on Saturday Morning Slam. This week, he got wins over Michael McGillicutty on Superstars and Cody Rhodes on Saturday Morning Slam.
He hasn't seen the same success on Raw or SmackDown. What does this mean?
As far as I can tell, it means they have long-term plans for The Funkasaurus but nothing immediate. They need to keep him happy and at least mildly relevant until they are ready for his next big push.
One has to assume that will involve him finally ditching the funk gimmick and re-establishing himself as a monster, the likes of Rhyno or Rikishi or Tazz.
The Usos seem to be in a similar position as they struggle to establish themselves in the recently revived tag team division.
Last week, they scored an upset victory over the Primetime Players on Superstars. This week, they managed wins over Michael McGillicutty and Johnny Curtis on NXT and Epico and Primo on Superstars.
But when was the last time they even appeared on Raw or SmackDown?
I've got to believe that, for one reason or another, WWE wants to keep these guys around and they want to keep them happy. I honestly don't see them as WWE Tag Team Champions until they get a major gimmick update, but could they serve another function until then?
They are considered a formidable team on NXT, so a program with The Ascension can be expected. And with family ties to guys like The Rock and Rikishi, you can assume they'll be around for a while, jobbing to the top tag teams if nothing better.
But what about Tyson Kidd?
It wasn't that long ago that he was in a Money in the Bank match and was scoring victories over guys like Tensai on Raw.
Last week, he jobbed cleanly to Jinder Mahal on Superstars, then did the same this week for Antonio Cesaro on NXT and Wade Barrett on Main Event. Has Kidd stepped on some toes lately?
I don't think so. Kidd is still always spoken of very highly by whoever is doing commentary, and he always puts on solid matches.
The fact that he appeared on Main Event is a good sign, even if he took a clean loss to Barrett. It just so happens that Kidd knows how to put someone over, and it's always going to be a good match for the winner.
He suffers the curse of being an excellent performer without an excellent following.
So, can you learn something about a wrestler's place in the company from these shows?
Definitely. Can you base it strictly on their wins and losses? Definitely not.