Another week of television, another week in which you probably neglected WWE's four lower-rung shows.
Maybe you think the programming isn't that great. Maybe you can't find the time to cram in another three-and-a-half hours of sports entertainment. Maybe the five hours you spend watching Raw and SmackDown is all you can handle for one week.
Well, it's your lucky day: Whatever your excuse is, I'm here to make sure you're all caught up before another episode of Raw.
What is WWE putting out on these shows? Which contracted grapplers are they building up when you're not looking? Who gets buried on shows that no one seems to be watching?
To answer those questions, we can take a look at my weekly review of WWE's four "other" shows: NXT, Main Event, Superstars and Saturday Morning Slam. After we review everything that happened on these shows, we'll decide who benefited the most last week and who needs to be sending feelers to TNA and ROH.
My "highlights" version of all four shows is below.
If it piques your interest enough to read on, this slideshow breaks down the shows individually, segment by segment, complete with my Questions, Predictions and/or Honorable Mentions.
If you disagree with my selections for who benefited/suffered the most, there's a comment section below.
On NXT, The Wyatt Family (Luke Harper and Erick Rowan) defeated the team of Yoshi Tatsu and Percy Watson, as Harper pinned Tatsu. The blonde Australian Emma came up short against NXT's top female, Paige.
Primo and Epico got a victory over Bo Dallas and Michael McGillicutty, in response to Dallas defeating Epico last week. Finally, in the main event, Big E. Langston defeated Seth Rollins for the NXT Championship.
On Main Event, Dolph Ziggler and Sheamus squared off. They managed to make their match feel especially significant with a good video package and some well-placed promos. In the end, the Celtic Warrior defeated Mr. Money In The Bank, but merely by count-out. They also teased a Sheamus/Langston brawl; perhaps they're planting seeds for a future feud.
The only other match on the card saw Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett defeat Zack Ryder in a non-title singles match. They also announced Antonio Cesaro vs. Randy Orton for next week's show.
This week's Superstars started off with The Miz defeating Tensai in a forgettable but not unbearable singles bout. The new tag team of Brodus Clay and Zack Ryder defeated the Prime Time Players.
Of course, there were plenty of Raw replays that actually took up more of the program than the original matches.
On Saturday Morning Slam, almost the entire show was dedicated to the confrontation between Randy Orton and Damien Sandow. It was a really, really solid match that should have been on Raw or SmackDown, in terms of both quality and longevity. Orton got the win.
Orton's newest rival, Sheamus, got the only other segment on the show, as it closed with the Great White being featured in the Superstar Spotlight, also announcing that the former WWE Champion will be on SMS next week to face an opponent to be named later.
Now, if you care to read more about any of these happenings, please enjoy the slideshow.
This week's episode opens with a vignette reminding us what happened in the main event last week: The Shield got Rollins' NXT Championship match against Corey Graves thrown out, and another match was set up for this week: Seth Rollins vs. Big E. Langston for the NXT Championship.
Back in the Full Sail Live arena, Tom Phillips and William Regal are on commentary as Yoshi Tatsu and Percy Watson make their way to the ring for the opening contest.
Yoshi Tatsu and Percy Watson vs. The Wyatt Family (match length 4:14)
Per usual, Bray Wyatt appears at the top of the ramp, going all-out with his standard cult-leader monologue. Shortly after, Luke Harper and Erick Rowen come out for their match, Rowen dragging a rocking chair so that Bray can watch comfortably from his spot on the ramp.
For the record, all three members of the Wyatt Family are just creepy enough to be believed as members of a cult. The beards are impressive; I could see Daniel Bryan (or even Team Rhodes Scholars) making a pretty hilarious cameo just to comment on their facial hair.
Quick tags are made by both teams as the match starts, but it's clear that the Family has the advantage in terms of strength and aggression.
As the end of the match approached, Tatsu is given a minute or so of solid offense, taking out both opponents with his precision kicks. However, he misses with his top-rope attack, and Harper follows up (with something that looks like Barrett's new finisher) to take home the win for Team Wyatt.
Paige vs. Emma (match length 2:40)
Emma makes her way to the ring after a commercial break, as we're set for our first Divas match of the program. She's facing NXT's most-popular Diva, Paige. It's a completely international affair, Paige being from England and Emma from Australia.
Emma has some weird gimmick where she dances like an idiot. I don't think that's going to help her much against Paige. A minute or so into the match, Paige is grabbing at her own ankle and knee; she's either really good at selling her in-ring injuries or someone legitimately messed up.
Whether the injury was legit or not, both women continue to use it throughout the match, a good sign that both of them know what's going on inside the ring. Emma remains in control until Paige fights her way out of a single-leg Boston Crab. Moments later she hits the Paige Turner and the match is over.
Still selling the injury post-match, I'm convinced it's legit. I guess you'll have to check the dirt sheet to find out.
Prediction: Whether in a drawn-out angle or simply a one-off segment, once Paige makes it to regular WWE programming, look for a moment between Paige and Sheamus with a joke about their lack of melanin.
After a commercial break, Adrian Neville gives a brief, backstage promo that says little more than the fact that he's a high-flyer who will make his NXT television debut next week.
Back in the arena, we get ready for a tag match that was set up after last week's match between Epico and Bo Dallas.
Primo and Epico vs. Bo Dallas and Michael McGillicutty (televised match length 9:50)
Based on the "We-Want-Ros-A" chants, it looks like the Colons are becoming the tag team version of Marc Mero: despite some legitimate skills and moderate success, they aren't anywhere near as popular as their valet.
After some initial back-and-forth to start the match, Primo and Epico are in control as we go to our first commercial break, isolating McGillicutty as Dallas looks on from the apron, hoping for the hot tag. When we return from the break, Dallas is in the ring and has taken control, working over Epico.
The experience of the former WWE Tag Team Champions ultimately proves to be too much for the young faces teaming together for the first time. They spend a few minutes isolating Dallas and performing some solid double-team moves.
The Colons continue their excellent tag team offense for several minutes, an obvious build for a hot tag to McGillicutty. Once McGillicutty gets the tag, he goes to work on Primo. He has him rolled up for what appears to be an easy three-count, but Epico crashes the party to make the save.
After breaking up the pin, Epico knocks Dallas off of the apron. McGillicutty sends Epico out of the ring as well, but this gives Primo an opportunity to sneak up and perform the Backstabber for the win.
Question: Will this alliance between McGillicutty and Dallas continue, in terms of tag team matches, or was this simply a one-off to give the Colons a rare win?
We go to another commercial break, and Jim Ross has joined the commentary team for the main event when we return.
Seth Rollins vs. Big E. Langston (televised match length 6:45)
No Disqualification NXT Championship Match
Rollins makes his way to the ring through the audience, sans entrance music, with an image that simply says "Shield" rather than an actual video. He shows up with the belt, but without his fellow Shield members.
The match makes this Iowan proud: Seth Rollins hails from Davenport, Iowa, and Big E. Langston (real name Ettore Ewen) is a former defensive lineman for the Iowa Hawkeyes.
The no-disqualification stipulation, in terms of storyline, is meant to prevent the match from getting thrown out like Rollins' last match. However, you also know that The Shield will be getting involved, and likely some of the NXT locker room as well.
Langston knocks Rollins out of the ring early on. As he goes out after him, Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns show up to take the challenger out. Langston is laid out on the floor as we head to a commercial break.
Both men are back in the ring after the break, with Rollins in complete control as the rest of The Shield watches from outside the ring.
While Rollins has Langston's head and neck in a leg-locked submission hold, Langston simply gets up (submission hold still in tact), lifting Rollins in the process, and nails a sweet one-man Electric Chair to change the momentum of the match.
Langston makes Rollins look like a rag doll as he dominates him in the ring, and then he knocks Ambrose and Reigns off of the apron when they threaten to enter the ring. The Shield then returns things to a three-on-one situation in the ring, but this results in the NXT locker room emptying into the arena.
Once fifteen or twenty guys get out there, they force Reigns and Ambrose to the back, leaving things one-on-one for the NXT Championship. Rollins becomes exasperated after his next pin attempt is only a two-count.
Langston hits the Big Ending a minute later and leaves as the new NXT Champion.
Michael Cole and The Miz are hosting Main Event this week, with the big match being Sheamus vs. Dolph Ziggler.
Per Main Event protocol, we are treated to a video package highlighting Sheamus, Ziggler and the tension between them.
After the video package, Matt Striker is backstage for an interview with Sheamus. The interview sets up the question: will Sheamus be able to capture the World Heavyweight Championship before Ziggler cashes in his Money in the Bank contract?
I'm not going to lie: Sheamus bores me on the mic. I didn't pay close attention to his response. Something about Brogue Kicking everyone.
Immediately following that segment, Josh Mathews is backstage and catches the Ziggler posse on the way to the ring. He asks Ziggler if his loss to Cena on Raw has slowed Ziggler's momentum down. Langston gets in Mathews' face, scares him off, and the trio laugh as they make their way to the ring.
While the entrance music and video are playing for Sheamus, they show a replay of Raw from two weeks ago in which Ziggler was facing off against Sheamus, only to have The Shield bring the match to an early finish. Sheamus is alone in the ring as we head to our first commercial break.
Ziggler and company make their way to the ring when we return from the commercial break, and we're set for our first match.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Sheamus (televised match length 17:42)
Because this isn't the undercard on Raw or SmackDown, these men are given time to put together a really solid match. The first few minutes are filled with fairly standard feeling-each-other-out action, no one pulling off any big moves or taking a noticeable advantage.
To change things up a bit, Sheamus attempts (and misses) the Brogue Kick, causing Ziggler to roll out of the ring. We head to another commercial break.
When we return, both men are back in the ring. Ziggler seems to be in control, but Sheamus turns things around a few seconds later. For the next several minutes, control of the match goes back and forth as the ebb-and-flow continues.
Every time it looks like Sheamus is about to make a comeback, Ziggler manages to avoid his attack or reverse the move to regain control himself. Eventually, however, Sheamus gets Ziggler on the apron and proceeds with his patented chest-pounding, signaling that he may finally have things where he needs them.
Ziggler falls to the floor, and Sheamus dives off of the apron to nail Ziggler with a shoulder tackle, and we head to another commercial break as Sheamus finally looks to be on a roll.
When we return from break, both men are in the ring again, and just as it looks like Sheamus has maintained control, Ziggler reverses things again. They're doing a great job of making these two appear as equals in the ring.
Shortly after, Sheamus hits the Irish Curse Backbreaker: two-count; attempted White Noise: reversed; Texas Cloverleaf: rope break.
Ziggler hits a top-rope missile dropkick: two-count; top-rope DDT: two-count.
Sheamus hits a top-rope battering ram: two-count.
Finally, Sheamus nails Ziggler with the Brogue Kick. It sends Ziggler out of the ring, and the ref is making his count fast enough that you know this is the end. Sheamus leaves the ring to try to bring Ziggler back in, but Langston is there to prevent Sheamus from doing so. The match ends in a count-out.
After the match, they teased a confrontation between Langston and Sheamus, but Langston simply walked away with a smile.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Sheamus will definitely be a main-event feud we'll see at least a few more times in the future. This match showed us that these two can put on a very, very solid program.
This week's episode of Main Event is being taped in Miami, so it seems appropriate that after another commercial break, we get a replay of The Rock and CM Punk from Monday Night Raw.
After a reminder that The Rock will also be on Friday Night SmackDown, the Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett makes his way to the ring for a non-title match with Zack Ryder.
Wade Barrett vs. Zack Ryder (televised match length 8:58)
Ryder is the first to go on the offensive by way of an arm bar, but Barrett quickly turns things around and tries to set the pace of the match. Ryder refuses to let him take control, and the first few moments of the match go on this way.
About two minutes into the match, Barrett finally seems to be in control, but Ryder refuses to give up. Ultimately, though, Barrett's strength and brutality seems to be a bit too much for the Long Island Iced Z.
As we head to a commercial break, Ryder is down on the floor outside the ring as Barrett looks on from inside the ring.
When we return, Barrett is dominating the Broski. Barrett maintains control for most of the remainder of this match. Ryder does get an offensive flurry or two, even connecting with the Broski Boot, but in the end, Barrett hits the Bull Hammer for the win.
Before they let us go, they announce that next week's main event on Main Event will be Randy Orton vs. Antonio Cesaro.
Prediction: The match between Orton and Cesaro will end much like this week's Sheamus/Ziggler match, without anyone getting a clean pin or submission.
Question: What happened to the big matches on Main Event being the result of action or drama from the previous week's Main Event?
Scott Stanford and Matt Striker are at the announcers' booth for Superstars as The Miz makes his way down the ramp for the opening match.
The Miz vs. Tensai (televised match length 7:46)
The opening moments of this match are standard ebb-and-flow, highlighting the size and strength advantage of the former Prince Albert. The commentary team contemplate the difficulty of eliminating Tensai from the Royal Rumble match.
Question: How do you feel about WWE doing this? Ever since some of the superstars started officially announcing their participation in the 2013 Rumble match, the announcers have posed questions about wrestlers who haven't officially announced their entry. I noticed them doing that on SmackDown, and now they're doing it on Superstars. If Tensai were to enter the Rumble, who would be able to eliminate him? I'm especially looking for a response from Dustin's Diamonds.
The Miz misses a top-rope move and Tensai covers him for a two-count just before we go to our first commercial break.
When we return from the advertisements, Tensai is fully in control. Over the next few minutes, The Miz makes a couple of attempts to reverse the momentum, but nothing sticks until he begins to hit his signature moves, ultimately resulting in the Skull Crushing Finale and a win for Mike Mizanin.
After a commercial break, we get a replay of the most recent match between John Cena and Dolph Ziggler from Monday Night Raw.
Then, after yet another commercial break, we get a replay of the WWE Championship Match between CM Punk and Ryback from Raw.
One more commercial break, and we finally get some more original programming.
Brodus Clay and Zack Ryder vs. The Prime Time Players (match length 4:25)
Ryder and Darren Young start the match-up, and you have to wonder if Clay and Ryder are going to be pushed as a tag team or if this is just a way to give the kids two of their favorite characters. Both of their careers have been stale as of late; if they don't get completely lost in the mix, maybe a move to the tag division would help.
Once Ryder is tagged into the match, PTP go into tag team specialist mode, dominating the match and isolating Long Island Iced Z from the Funkasaurus. Ryder manages to reverse Darren Young's suplex attempt, allowing him to tag in Brodus Clay.
O'Neal is forced to make the save when Clay goes for a pin on Young, but Zack takes him out with the Rough Ryder. Brodus hits his Running Splash finisher and this hodgepodge tag team gets a victory over one of the teams who helped rebuild the WWE's thriving tag division.
Prediction: Clay and Ryder will never be WWE Tag Team Champions, but they will come up with a horrible nickname for their team if they keep tagging.
After another commercial break, we get a replay of The Rock and CM Punk's confrontation from Monday Night Raw, and another episode of WWE Superstars is over.
Saturday Morning Slam opens with a replay of last week's confrontation between Randy Orton and Damien Sandow which sets up this week's main event. And just like the show Main Event, SMS opens with their marquee match-up.
Randy Orton vs. Damien Sandow (televised match length 10:02)
Booker T and Josh Mathews are on commentary for The Viper's SMS debut. After the superstars feel each other out for a bit, Sandow retreats to the outside of the ring. Orton chases him down and lays him out with a shoulder block and we head to our first commercial break.
When we return from the break, Orton is still in control. Sandow makes a couple of quick attempts to make a comeback, but Orton continually reigns him in. His domination goes all the way to the outside of the ring again, where the Viper uses the steel steps to his advantage.
When things finally return to the ring, Sandow gets the advantage and begins a solid offensive streak. He manages to extend the length of his advantage by putting Orton in a submission hold, but Orton breaks free. Sandow squashes his comeback and scores a two-count as we head to another commercial break.
When we return from the break, Sandow attempts a back-flip from the second turnbuckle, but Orton avoids contact and regains control. He hits his signature Power Slam and the crowd gets loud. This is followed up soon by the RKO, and Orton leaves with the expected victory.
Honorable Mention: Sandow benefited from this match, showing he can put on a solid match with one of the company's biggest stars and sending a message to the younger audience that he's is a legitimate competitor. Orton looks good, too, coming away with a clean win in a 10-plus-minute match on a 30-minute program.
The show ended with a Superstar Spotlight focusing on Sheamus. He will be in action next week, but no opponent is named.
Prediction: His opponent will be someone at the skill level of JTG or Epico, someone like Tensai at best.
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? Who looks like they're on good terms with WWE creative, and who looks like they'll be watching the next pay-per-view from the locker room?
Biggest Winner: Sheamus
This decision wasn't easy. I really don't like giving this award to someone who is already near the top of the dog pile.
Big E. Langston had a huge week, winning the NXT Championship, staring down Sheamus, and being featured in a ton of Raw replays. He did just win this award last week, however, and we're not even sure that they'll acknowledge the championship on Raw or SmackDown.
The Miz was right up there as well, with a solid pin over Tensai and more exposure to his personality by being at the announcers' booth for Main Event. But Tensai is no longer a legitimate threat, and his commentary gig isn't anything new.
Sheamus had a few bright spots that I think made him shine the brightest this week. For starters, he was involved in the best match of the week from these four shows when he faced off against Dolph Ziggler on Main Event. Sure, he only got the count-out victory, but that's because he Brogue Kicked Ziggler completely out of the ring.
Then, post-match, when Langston looked like he was going to get in the ring with Sheamus, the pale-skin Ginger refused to back down. And if that wasn't enough, they ended Saturday Morning Slam with what essentially came down to a Sheamus highlight reel and the announcement that he'll be back in action for SMS next week.
With the focus WWE is putting on Sheamus and company already entering the Rumble match, and with a feud slowly brewing between Sheamus and Orton, Sheamus certainly didn't need a rub on any of these shows. But he got it anyway.
Biggest Loser: Zack Ryder
I'm not sure what sort of long-term plans the WWE has for the Broski, if any, but he sure didn't come across as much of a threat on these shows this week.
When he came out to face Wade Barrett on Main Event, there was never any question that Ryder would come up short. Ryder looks like a mid-card jobber at best.
Even on Superstars, he came out looking bad. They teamed him with Brodus Clay, who has an outstanding record on Superstars. This unexplained tag team came out with a big win, but only because Clay received a hot tag. Ryder was a punching bag for PTP, leaving an image in the viewer's mind that Clay is the team's MVP.
Ryder was a Cinderella story, making a name for himself when no one else would, climbing the ranks of the WWE when no one else thought he could. It looks like WWE's writers aren't coming up with anything great for him; is it time for Long Island Iced Z to give his own career another makeover?