Tony Dawson and William Regal are on commentary duty as Michael McGillicutty makes his way to the ring to kick off the show. He has a non-title match against the WWE United States Champion.
Antonio Cesaro vs. Michael McGillicutty (match length 6:02)
Although they could have justified a squash match for Cesaro, they gave McGillicutty a chance to get some offense in. He never fully establishes himself as the man determining the pace of the match, but they didn't make it look too easy on the Swiss superstar.
Given the standard NXT commentary, Regal couldn't resist making multiple European references or describing Cesaro as a "throwback." We also heard about McGillicutty's father and grandfather. Cesaro ends the match with the Very European Uppercut followed immediately by the Neutralizer.
Before we head to commercial break, we're informed that tonight's main event will be Tyson Kidd vs. Leo Krueger.
Axl Keegan vs. Bo Dallas (match length 2:38)
Keegan is in the ring when we return from the break, waiting to make his NXT debut. Dallas seems to be very over in NXT, so if Keegan gets the win today, expect big things from him sooner rather than later.
Keegan does manage to get in some offense, but Dallas made fairly short work of him. He's working a new twist on his gimmick in which he "shows respect" to pain and is apparently looking for a "fight." He gets the victory after a spear and issues an open challenge post-match that is not immediately accepted.
We get a Raw Rebound as soon as we return from the commercial break. If there is more than one of these during NXT this week, I will begin to lose faith in the brilliance of this show.
Corey Graves vs. Yoshi Tatsu (match length 2:56)
Tatsu's involvement against a relative newbie means that they are going to throw Tatsu a bone for jobbing so often or that they're trying to establish Graves as someone with legitimate potential. Graves jumps Tatsu outside the ring before the match starts to get a bit of an advantage.
During the match, Dawson mentions that Graves claims to only have four submission holds but that he's really good at all four of them. An interesting take on submissions, given the opposite claims of technical wrestlers like Daniel Bryan, Chris Jericho or Dean Malenko.
Graves locks in the 13th Step submission and Tatsu taps to end a short match. It's a shame they're wasting Tatsu in matches that last under three minutes.
Roman Reigns vs. Gaven Reid (match length 2:09)
Gaven Reid is already in the ring when we return from another commercial break, as he waits patiently for Roman Reigns. I can see why someone like Triple H would like Reigns, being built as a thorough-bred with the look and physique of a champion.
Reigns wins this extended squash match with the Moment of Silence back suplex side slam. After the match, Reigns tosses Reid out of the ring, the referee quickly excuses himself and Byron Saxton enters the ring to announce Reigns as the winner. Reigns takes the mic and accuses Saxton of being jealous and dismisses him from the ring.
Backstage, Tom Phillips interviews Tyson Kidd about facing Leo Kruger. He begins to say that if the path to the NXT Championship goes through Leo Kruger then Kidd will go through Kruger. Before he can finish his thought, however, he is interrupted by Kassius Ohno.
Ohno says that Kidd thinks he's a "somebody" the same way that Richie Steamboat thought he was a "somebody," but Ohno took care of Steamboat just like he could do to Kidd. This smells a lot like the set-up to a main event for next week's NXT featuring Ohno and Kruger vs. Steamboat and Kidd. I guess we'll see.
Leo Kruger vs. Tyson Kidd (televised match length 11:15)
Jim Ross replaces Tony Dawson on commentary, and before the match starts, he explains to Regal that according to rumors, Kruger has some sort of business arrangement worked out with Kassius Ohno.
Kidd controls the pace of the match early on, showing off the value of his experience and technical skills. But Kruger manages a comeback and the referee is checking on Kidd as we head to a commercial break.
Kruger has Kidd in a standing full-nelson when we return from the break. The next several minutes are filled with Kidd attempting to make some sort of comeback against the stronger and more brutal South African. Kruger maintains control until Kidd prevents a top-rope attack with a simple arm drag.
To my surprise (and delight), Kidd gets a submission victory with the Dungeon Lock shortly after. Ohno then makes his way to the ring to double-team Kidd with Reigns, confirming the fact that they are in cahoots.
Regal makes his way to the ring to save Kidd from the beating as Ohno looks on in disbelief. As the show ends, Ross reminds us that Seth Rollins defends the NXT Championship against Jinder Mahal next week.
Prediction: Since the NXT Championship will be next week's main event, I fully expect the following main event to get set up during next week's undercard. Tyson Kidd and Richie Steamboat vs. Kassius Ohno and Leo Kruger.
Question: Is there any hope for Yoshi Tatsu? He easily one of the best workers in the company, seemingly doing his job (pun intended) without complaint, and he's been relegated to putting over NXT rookies? At least give him the chance to put on some impressive matches with upper-card workers on Raw or SmackDown.
Michael Cole and The Miz welcome us to another edition of WWE Main Event. After briefly mentioning Punk's injury (with a promise of a more detailed update later in the program) and taking a look at how tonight's match was set up, Kofi is backstage with Josh Mathews.
Kofi gives a fairly rudimentary babyface promo. He talks about how a wildcat can't be happy and smiling all the time, that his aggressive side needs to come out sometimes and that Cesaro's claim about being the best champion in WWE set Kofi off.
We get a video package for Antonio Cesaro, both men are introduced to the match and we head to a commercial break before the action starts. When we return, both men's TLC challengers, Wade Barrett and R-Truth, have joined Cole and Miz on commentary.
Antonio Cesaro vs. Kofi Kingston (televised match length 8:08)
Champion vs. Champion
The match goes back-and-forth between these two solid workers. They have similar size, but they have contrasting styles of offense. There were a lot of good spots, and although I can't stand Kofi's character, I'd be okay with a few matches between these two down the line. Cesaro is in control as we head to a commercial break.
The men continue to try to get a clear advantage over each other for several minutes after we return from the break. Just as Kofi is setting up for the Trouble in Paradise, Barrett charges the ring to attack him. R-Truth is not far behind in his pursuit of Cesaro. The match gets thrown out.
Antonio Cesaro and Wade Barrett vs. Kofi Kingston and R-Truth (televised match length 11:52)
R-Truth grabs a mic after both heels have been chased from the ring and suggests a tag match, to which all competitors agree. Barrett enters the ring but is sent immediately to the outside and we take a commercial break as the heels regroup.
Truth and Barrett are mixing it up when we return from commercial break, Kingston and Barrett being tagged in shortly after. The chemistry between the former tag team champions is obvious, but their European opponents are not easily put down. Barrett is having his way with Kingston as we head to another commercial break.
When we return from the break, Truth is still struggling and Cesaro is tagged in. Truth eventually evens things up and both men make hot tags to their respective partners at the same time. Kingston is much more rested than Barrett, and after two near-falls in less than two minutes, Barrett tags Cesaro back in.
After some standard tag-match-almost-over chaos, Kingston and Cesaro are left alone in the ring. Kofi misses a Trouble in Paradise and Cesaro whips him into his own corner. Truth makes a blind tag and Cesaro sets Kingston up for the Neutralizer. Truth climbs to the top turnbuckle, jumps over Cesaro, who temporarily resists Truth's attempt to use his momentum for a pin. Kingston hits the Trouble in Paradise and Truth gets the pin.
Striker interviews both of the winners after the match and they both give very bland promos for their respective matches at TLC.
The final segment of the show is a recap from Monday Night Raw and the update that Ryback's match has changed at TLC. He'll be paired with Team Hell No to face all three members of the Shield. It will be a TLC rules match, with the stipulation that the match can only be won by pinfall or submission since no titles will be at stake.
Prediction: After Cesaro is finished working the United States Championship, he'll skip the IC and tag titles. His next title program will be for the World Heavyweight Championship.
Question: What is WWE's new fascination with champion vs. champion matches? It was a big deal at WrestleMania IV, because both titles were on the line and there were only two singles titles in the company. Two mid-card champions in a non-title match is not as epic as WWE would like us to think, especially now that the brand split is over with (for all practical purposes).
Scott Stanford and Matt Striker have commentary duty for this week's Superstars and Zack Ryder is on his way to the ring.
Zack Ryder vs. Tensai (televised match length 7:09)
We kick things off with a match between two guys that generally spend their time jobbing to everyone from lower mid-card wrestlers on their way up to legitimate main eventers with absolutely nothing better to do.
The match is fairly competitive, the momentum swaying back and forth, played out as you'd expect. Tensai relies on his strength and dominates the beginning of the match. He maintains control as the first commercial break interrupts the program.
Shorty after we return from the break, Ryder begins to mount a comeback, and this sets the tone for the remainder of the match. Ryder refuses to gives up, attempts to pull an upset, but Tensai always stops him. Matt Bloom eventually gets the win with a running senton.
After a commercial break, the next 13 minutes of programming (not to mention the additional commercial break) were simply Raw Rebounds.
David Otunga vs. Brodus Clay (match length 2:44)
Special Guest Referee The Great Khali
Special Guest Time Keeper Hornswoggle
Natalya is on commentary, and it looks like they're going full-steam ahead with some sort of odd relationship between The Anvil's daughter, the Punjabi Playmate and the resident leprechaun. With the Funkadactyls at ringside, the scene is a little busy.
The angle they're having Natalya play is that Khali (somehow) reminds her of her grandfather Stu Hart. And (somehow) she finds that attractive.
A few minutes into the match, Rosa Mendes comes to ringside with a bouquet of flowers and attacks Hornswoggle. Natayla comes to 'Swoggle's defense by tackling Rosa and Striker does his best Joey Styles impersonation as he yells "catfight!"
Inside the ring, Clay is dominating Otunga. He hits a Splash Down, Khali makes the three-count from a standing position and there's an enormous post-match dance party.
We go to one last commercial break, but all that's left after the break is another five minutes of Raw Rebounds. All those commercials and recaps for less than ten minutes of actual wrestling.
Prediction: WWE will go forward with this Natalya/Khali angle, and it will make the Anvil-ette look as lame as she did during her gassy gimmick.
Question: This episode was full of characters that need to be revamped. Tensai, Ryder, Otunga, Natalya, Khali and Clay all need to do something to give their career a fresh feel. Which of these superstars has what it takes for the investment of an overhaul to be worth WWE creative's time and effort?
In what seems to be the most-hyped edition of Saturday Morning Slam since its debut, John Cena faces off against Heath Slater in the main event, while Sheamus faces off against Titus O'Neal in the opening bout.
Josh Mathews and Booker T are hosting this week's edition of SMS and the other half of the Primetime Players, Darren Young, joins them on commentary for the first match.
Sheamus vs. Titus O'Neal (match length 3:33)
This looks to be a match between two young, powerful wrestlers who can both hold their own in the ring. Titus actually gets an early advantage and places Sheamus in an abdominal stretch to maintain control in a rest-hold.
Of course, on a Saturday morning show against a kiddie-favorite like Sheamus, you can't expect to stay in control for long. Sheamus hits the White Noise and the Brogue Kick before claiming victory.
Backstage, Matt Striker has the leader of the Cenation ready for an interview. Cena's promo was short and typical, except that he seemed to be trying to hype it up a little extra for the Saturday morning crowd. SuperCena on a sugar rush.
After a commercial break, Booker T hosts a segment in which he teaches how to do a Spin-a-Roonie. This is followed by the weekly Superstar Spotlight segment. This week's superstar is John Cena, and they highlight his "Hustle, Loyalty, Respect" motto.
Interesting side note about the recording of these shows, they specifically mentioned on Superstars that Matt had shaved his mustache (now that "Movember" is over) but he is still sporting the bushy beast in the interview segment.
After yet another commercial break, 3MB make their way to the ring with just over 10 minutes of programming remaining. Matthews and Booker T are alone on commentary for the main event.
As uninterested as I am in Cena's character, I have started to find myself curious as to what he'll say to the cameraman as he makes his entrance. Today's was simply, "wake up Saturday morning!"
John Cena vs. Heath Slater (televised match length 6:11)
In the first few minutes of the match, they let Heath appear to have a legitimate chance at sticking with Cena. When he gets frustrated, 3MB huddles outside the ring, and the camera angle is from below so that all of their faces are in view, like you'd see in a football movie. They agree to try some scheme they have planned.
They break from the huddle and all three men stand on separate sides of the apron. They all begin to step in the ring at the same time, and Cena goes after Mahal. Mahal gets out of the ring and Slater attacks Cena. All three members of 3MB get in the ring to do a choreographed and coordinated air-guitar session.
Mahal and McIntyre refrained from touching Cena, so Slater is not disqualified, but the referee orders both of Slater's bandmates to the back for the remainder of the match. Slater maintains control after a commercial break, but the crowd is very vocal for the face of the WWE.
But with the OMSRB on his own, it isn't long before Cena takes over again. He hits the Five-Knuckle Shuffle and the Attitude Adjustment before pinning Slater.
If the kids didn't like this episode of SMS, they aren't going to like anything. They got to see arguably the two most popular superstars among the youngest of the fans, both of whom hit two signature moves on two of the most obnoxious upper-midcard heels on the roster. Can't ask for much more than that on a Saturday morning show that only gets a 30-minute time slot.
Prediction: Heath Slater (along with 3MB) and Titus O'Neal (as part of PTP) will both continue to be pushed. They don't let just anyone job to the biggest names in the company.
Question: Once Cena and Sheamus begin to lose favor with the youngsters, who will step up as the next ultra babyface? Will it be Ryback? Will it be Sin Cara? Will it be someone we haven't even seen yet?
After taking a look at all four of WWE's "other" shows from last week, which superstar came away the biggest winner? Who came away the biggest loser?
Biggest winner: Antonio Cesaro
Despite the fact that Cesaro is regularly featured on Raw, SmackDown and the pay-per-views, it is rare that we get to see him on two shows this week, technically wrestling in three matches that lasted a total of more than 25 minutes.
On NXT, he got a decisive win over up-and-comer Michael McGillicutty that really let both men demonstrate exactly what they're bringing to the table.
Then, on Main Event, Cesaro was part of the action that lasted the entire episode. He put on a solid singles match with Kofi, and even though he took the fall for the tag match that followed, he looked at least as strong as Barrett (and Kofi and Truth, for that matter) and a tag match loss for a singles competitor isn't a huge deal anyway.
Biggest loser: Natalya
Beth Phoenix is done. Kharma never happened. Kelly Kelly and the Bellas have moved on. The second toughest Diva left is Kaitlyn. If ever Natalya was given a set of circumstances under which to succeed, WWE's current Diva situation is it.
So what are they doing with her? Putting her in a confusing relationship with Khali and Hornswoggle while mixing it up with Rosa Mendes. Their group was compared to the Oddities on Superstars, and we all remember how well that went over.
How long before Natalya is something other than the butt of a joke? First the flatulence, now the creepy crush.
Forget the gimmicks and let her dominance tell her story. Let her be the savior of the Divas division like she deserves.
Do you think someone else had a better week on these shows than Cesaro? Do you think someone took a bigger hit than Natalya? Please, let's discuss!