WWE's lineup of programming is mostly rated TV-PG, but Saturday Morning Slam (SMS) is the one exception, rated TV-G.
The show is heavily geared toward children in many ways: It is in a block of cartoons, features hyperactive music, voice-over work that sounds like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles b-roll audio, and most notably, features little to no wrestling moves aimed at the neck.
The show does feature a green light that bathes the audience to match the color scheme of the show, much like how Raw uses red and SmackDown uses blue, which can be a little odd at first.
At first, most older WWE fans might write off a show like this, but formatting aside, there are some good aspects that fans of any age can enjoy.
If you have a DVR and access to the network SMS in your area, you should consider watching at least one episode to see if you enjoy it.
Normally, I would just watch SMS highlights on YouTube. Last week, I was awake and had nothing to do when this show came on, so I thought, "What the hell," and gave it a shot.
I was a little surprised at how much it had to offer.
It Makes Everyone Look Like a Star
Anyone who complains about guys like Justin Gabriel and 3MB not being featured properly should watch SMS since they're prominently featured due to their kid-friendly images.
Gabriel is actually on a two-week winning streak on SMS right now.
He and former tag partner, Heath Slater, put on a great match this week that was fun to watch and highlighted both superstar's stronger qualities.
The lack of moves aimed at the neck actually forces superstars to come up with more innovative offensive attacks, rather than relying on side-headlocks like we so often see on other shows.
Gabriel and Slater used moves primarily aimed at the arms and mid-section, and the way they strung together their offense made the match quite possibly the best performance of Slater's singles career.
He played a great heel in this match, using moves that allowed him to actually play air guitar on his opponents ribs—something I remember seeing Honky Tonk Man do a few times.
The second match this week featured Sheamus and Cody Rhodes, two undeniably talented superstars who are work-horses in every sense of the word.
Both of these men often wrestle on more than one show each week between Raw, SmackDown and Main Event. Adding in another show to try and have an original match can't be easy, especially when you have the kind of restrictions SMS has regarding neck moves.
Rhodes used a short-arm scissors at one point, which goes to show you how deep these guys have to reach into their bag of tricks to meet the show's needs.
They might have to creatively edit matches to avoid certain moves being shown in full effect, but it doesn't take away from the value in the end.
It also has to be mentioned that Natalya is often used as an interviewer backstage, which will make any fan of the daughter of The Anvil happy.
She comes off as being comfortable in the role, despite being above it with her ability in the ring.
Superstars on Commentary
Another great addition to the show is having rotating superstars at the commentary table. Doing this allows them to connect to the fans in a different way than delivering promos in the middle of the ring.
Last week we got to see Slater join the commentary table, and he did a pretty good job. He put over heels and babyfaces well, and didn't go too overboard on the 3MB references.
A confrontation between Gabriel and Slater as a result of Slater's commentary actually led to their match this week.
As for this week's commentary, we were treated to the on-the-ball mic skills of Dolph Ziggler, who proved to be one of the more unbiased commentators in WWE.
By unbiased, I mean he insulted everyone on an equal level while also putting them over during their matches and pointing out what makes the superstars in the ring great wrestlers.
If he were to start berating Josh Mathews about every little mistake, I would say he is pretty similar to JBL in the way he calls matches.
Ziggler, like many wrestlers who move behind the table at some point, offers a little bit more entertainment value than Josh Mathews, who sat beside him this week.
Although, the combination of wrestling trunks and a sport coat made for an odd look on Ziggler.
He was not talking about his own feuds or putting himself over as the next World champion while calling matches. He focused on what is happening in the ring and he was entertaining while he does it.
Ziggler is clearly a student of the sport, judging from how comfortable he is with commentary.
The restrictions of being a G-rated show certainly kept him from saying things he probably would have gotten away with on SmackDown or Raw, but that is what this show is.
Ziggler paid respect to Fit Finlay at one point when calling attention to moves Sheamus has picked up from Finaly over the years.
It Has More High-Flying Action
SMS strategically uses superstars that appeal to the younger WWE fans, and in many cases, those superstars are very agile.
Besides the obvious kid-friendly stars like Ryback, John Cena and Sheamus, guys like Kofi Kingston, Sin Cara and Justin Gabriel are used more effectively on this show because of what they can do in the ring.
Most young fans don't want to watch a grounded, technical match of reversals and submissions. They want to see something exciting—the more airborne these guys get, the better.
When I first began watching wrestling, my favorite was Macho Man Randy Savage. This mainly had to do with the fact that he went to the top rope more often than the typical superstar.
Even superstars who don't always go to the top rope fly more often on this show to add to the excitement level.
One of the things WCW fans get nostalgic about the most is the cruiserweight division, and SMS is probably the closest thing you will get to those kinds of matches in WWE these days.
It's Somewhat of a Separate Entity
Even though this is a WWE show, it seems like there is very little cross-over with the rest of the WWE.
The feuds tend to carry over on a week-to-week basis, meaning very little from Raw or SmackDown is featured on the show in terms of storyline.
Both of this week's matches were a result of confrontations from last week.
The show features little to no recap videos of Raw and SmackDown, which is shocking this week considering they are heading into a pay-per-view and should want to give that as much exposure as possible.
There was not a single mention of Elimination Chamber, and seeing absolutely no coverage of anything involving CM Punk and The Rock was shocking.
If you want to get away from the repetitiveness of recap videos, this show can help.
Anyone Can Enjoy It if They Don't Judge it
Don't fool yourselves. In the end, this show is designed to appeal to children, but it is a WWE show first and foremost, and that means it can potentially be enjoyed by any fan.
Some fans may prefer the edgier content of the past, or even the significantly less edgy product of today that is still edgier than SMS, but any fan of WWE enjoys good wrestling.
If you can get past the cheesiness of the interstitial voice-overs from Vortex and the high-energy format designed for high-energy kids, then this show can provide you with a couple more decent matches each week.
If you like WWE, and chances are good that you do if you are reading this, then you should give this show a shot if you haven't before.
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