Wednesday, 24 July 2013

WWE Smackdown 19th July 2013 Review

WWE has started making Smackdown feel a little bit more important over the last month or so, starting with The Shield’s first loss, it has steadily began building from there, with news of a new General Manager this week things can surely only get better as the show finally feels like it has a focus again.

WWE Championship Mr. Money in the Bank Randy Orton 


World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio

This match was made by returning Smackdown General Manager and Hall of Famer Booker T, making his first WWE appearance in three months at the start of the show (more on that later). For me, it felt like WWE had sort of booked themselves into a corner with this match, as whatever the outcome here, I would have had something to complain about. Firstly, the World Heavyweight Champion shouldn’t lose cleanly in a non-title match, as it devalues the title, and if the World Heavyweight Champion does happen to lose in a non-title match, the victor should be revieving a World Heavyweight Championship down the line, they’ve proven they can beat the champion, if they don’t then go after the title, it makes the belt look meaningless. Secondly, WWE couldn’t really have Randy Orton lose either, holding the Money in the Bank briefcase for the WWE Championship, Orton has to look strong, as repeated losses will make his subsequent WWE Championship reign look like a fluke, as we’ve seen many times before with WWE, with reigns for CM Punk and Daniel Bryan both falling flat.

Therefore, I was fully expecting to sit through this match with very little interest, especially seeing as it’s a match that WWE has used a lot in the past including at match at last year’s Hell in a Cell Pay-Per-View. For the early part of the match, this was true, as it felt a lot like Del Rio and Orton were going through the motions, with a lot of re-hashed spots and rest holds, that made it difficult to engage early on. Having said this the match was technically sound, and it was difficult to complain about what was actually happening in the ring, it just needed a hook for me to be fully invested in the contest.

The match really did pick up towards the end, in both terms of pace and intensity. With a huge enziguiri from Del Rio taking Orton off the apron it felt like the match finally sparked to life, with Del Rio working well as a heel, talking smack to Orton using Orton’s signature build up for an RKO, even attempting Orton’s finisher which was reversed. After this there came a number of nice reversal including Del Rio reversing an RKO in a Backstabber, and the finish which Orton roll out of a Cross Arm Breaker, duck a Superkick and hit an RKO for the pinfall victory. It was quick and snappy ending with Orton’s RKO looking the best it has in a while.

It’s interesting to think that this is the kind of match that Randy Orton would have been losing six months ago, as his star had truly dimmed with WWE seemingly punishing Orton for his second wellness policy violation. Therefore it would seem like the punishment is finally over, as with the Money in the Bank briefcase in hand, and a new lease of life in the character Randy Orton seems to be heading back to the top, he just has to stop going through the motions in his matches and bring the action all the time, if he wants to win back a lot of the fans that he’s lost over the last few years. 

WWE Chairman Vince McMahon announces a New Smackdown General Manager

It was a big week for Smackdown as the opening segment saw the blue show gain a new General Manager. The show kicked off with Smackdown Senior Adviser Teddy Long announcing that Vince McMahon would be on Smackdown tonight to give Teddy a job evaluation, and as Teddy rallied the crowd to see if he was doing a good job, he was interrupted by a returning Smackdown General Manager Booker T. Booker thanked Teddy for stepping in for him, before pulling out his signature catchphrase “Can you dig that, Sucka?” which the Smackdown crowd seemed to love. Of course, Booker was then interrupted by WWE Chairman Vince McMahon who headed down the ring. It’s not often that Mr. McMahon appears on Smackdown, so when he does you know it’s for something big, making the show feel important once more.

Vince said only one person could be in charge on Smackdown and got both Teddy and Booker to come up with a match for the show to help him make his mind up, with Teddy choosing Chris Jericho vs. Curtis Axel with the Intercontinental Championship on the line and Booker choosing the previously mentioned Randy Orton vs. Alberto Del Rio match, but before Vince could make a decision Raw General Manager Brad Maddox headed to the ring, to throw his hat into the ring to become Smackdown General Manager as well, announcing that Rob Van Dam would make his Smackdown return on the show. Vince then went on to make his decision naming Vickie Guerrero as the new General Manager of Smackdown. It was an interesting choice, with Vickie being fired from her role as Raw General Manager two weeks ago, I was glad to see Vickie get a regular spot on WWE television again as I genuinely do enjoy her as a heel character, but it’s a shame we lose Booker T who had only just made his return.

Vickie went on to cut a good promo on the fans being the reason she lost her job on Raw, re positioning herself as a fully blown heel, which is definitely the best role for Vickie to play, as the crowd just loves to boo her. It was good to see Vickie back with the confidence that made her earlier run as Smackdown General Manager so enjoyable in the first place, instead of the beaten down character we saw her playing on Raw a few weeks ago. It will be interesting to see how Vickie fits back into this heel role, and the Smackdown General Manager role, hopefully she’ll be back up to her old tricks to keep the show interesting again.

We got a glimpse of what Vickie will be like as General Manager, with a few backstage segments where she quickly disapatched of some old foes. Firstly, Teddy Long as she suckered him in to believing she could have a job for him before calling security, in a fun segment. Then it was Raw General Manager Brad Maddox’s turn, as he offered a hand shake to Vickie only to receive thunderous slap from the new Smackdown General Manager. I’m hoping that we see Vickie align herself with a wrestler again soon, similar to her runs with Edge and Dolph Ziggler, as this could really bring a lot of spice to Smackdown, making the show must watch television over the next few months. 

Best of the Rest (In the World)

Elsewhere this week, the feud between Chris Jericho and Curtis Axel came to a close with Jericho getting a shot at Axel’s Intercontinental Championship. It’s been an exciting series of matches between Jericho and Axel with Y2J handing Axel his first loss under Paul Heyman’s tutelage on 8th July Raw, followed up with another victory on the same week’s Smackdown. Both matches have been very well worked building towards the finish well, therefore I awaited this match with anticipation expecting it to surpass the previous two and with the rumour this could be Jericho’s last match in WWE for some time I was expecting something special.

On that count I was not disappointed, with Jericho and Axel putting on a classic Interconintental Championship match, that had me gripped from the beginning. Yes, I knew the likelihood of Jericho winning this one was slim, but somehow the way the story was told had me believing that he might by the end. As the match built with neither man having much control for very long, going back and forth with some nice reversals, including Jericho ducking a clothesline and turning it into a bridging Northern Lights suplex for a near fall. Of course, towards the end the involvement of Axel’s manager Paul Heyman increased, distracting Jericho on the top rope, but Axel didn’t have control for long as he spent two agonising spells in the Walls of Jericho, really helping to cement Axel as a top competitor when he made it to the ropes. The ending saw Heyman distract Jericho again, allowing Axel to hit a big boot, followed up with Hangman’s Facebuster for a Pinfall victory and to retain the Intercontinental Championship. After the match, Ryback headed to ring, and after some struggle from Jericho, finished off Y2J with a Shellshocked, possibly setting up for a rematch when Jericho returns to WWE.

The brand new Number One Contender to John Cena’s WWE Championship was also in action, as Daniel Bryan took on Preston’s Wade Barrett. The match was disappointingly short, as it showed promise of being a really good contest if given enough time to breath, with Bryan and Barrett having good chemistry in the ring with a number of well-worked reversal. This match was basically their to showcase Bryan’s ability as he picked up a quick submission victory after transitioning a crucifix roll up into a No! Lock. It’s important for Daniel Bryan to pick up victories heading into Summerslam against Cena, however it’s still disappointing to see Wade Barrett in the position he finds himself in at the moment.

Miz TV also returned this week, with regular guest Paul Heyman. We’ve seen Miz and Heyman square off in this segment a number of times, and somehow each time Heyman and Miz come up with something different to bring to the segment. Whilst I have been critical in previous reviews of The Miz as a face, I actually think he did a pretty good job here, even if it is strange to see The Miz as WWE’s moral compass. The Miz told Heyman he could say whatever he wanted, with Heyman ofcourse cutting a great promo asking CM Punk to back down from a fight with Brock Lesnar at Summerslam. The Miz then cut a scathing promo on Heyman, telling him he was revolted by him and the fact he swore on his children and still lied. I was really impressed with The Miz here who did a great job with his promo and got the delivery pretty much spot on. I enjoy the Miz TV segments with Heyman, as The Miz isn’t directly involved in the storyline, so is a lot more free to experiment with his role. 

The opening match of the show saw former stablemates Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger face off, with Swagger’s new stablemate Antonio Cesaro at ringside with their manager Zeb Colter. It was a good solid television match, that followed a coherent story, with Colter and Cesaro getting ejected after Cesaro had given Ziggler and uppercut behind the referees back. With Colter and Cesaro gone, Ziggler was able to take advantage after breaking out of the Patriot Lock to hit a Zig Zag for a pinfall victory. After the match, Ziggler cut a quick promo about dumping Divas Champion AJ Lee on Raw, saying he was sorry he didn’t do it sooner. This of course sent AJ into a rage backstage as she threw chairs around, before being calmed down by Big E Langston, who went onto kiss her on the forehead. It would appear that we’re moving toward Dolph Ziggler vs. Big E Langston at Summerslam, which leaves me wondering who Alberto Del Rio will face at the Biggest Party of the Summer.

New World Heavyweight Championship Mr. Money in the Bank Damien Sandow also appeared on Smackdown to explain his actions against Cody Rhodes at Money in the Bank, and Cody’s subsequent attack on Raw. Damien did a good job of playing the obnoxious heel, saying that forgiveness is a trait of the strong, before Cody came down to the ring. Damien offered to allow Cody to be the “Protector of the Case” and that he forgave Cody for his attack on Monday. As Sandow offered Rhodes the briefcase, Cody smashed it over his head instead, with Sandow escaping Cody before any real damage could be done. I liked this segment and I’m really getting into this Rhodes-Sandow feud, if WWE can keep this up they could make two new main eventers in one go.

The Shield’s Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns were supposed to be in action against The Usos, however the match never really got going. After The Usos quickly gained an upperhand, fellow Shield member United States Champion Dean Ambrose entered the ring to help his teammates. As The Shield beat down the Usos, Mark Henry came out to make the save, taking down the Shield after some help from the Usos. Mark Henry seems to fit nicely in this new rivalry with The Shield, I’m just wondering how the payoff for this feud is going to come about, with Henry get a shot at Ambrose’s United States Championship or find himself a partner and take on Rollins and Reigns?

Rob Van Dam made his return to Smackdown in a match against The Prime Time Players’ Darren Young. Van Dam looked a lot more comfortable in the ring than he did in the early part of his match with Chris Jericho on Raw, with The Prime Time Players making good foils for Van Dam’s in ring antics. Van Dam got the majority of the offence in after a swift comeback, hitting most of his signature moves including a huge leap of a Rolling Thunder, before picking up the victory with a Five Star Frogsplash in a decent television contest. I’m waiting to see RVD enter into an actual feud heading into Summerslam, as this will be the real test to see if he can still compete at this level for WWE. I’m also interested that Darren Young has been positioned in a number of high profile match ups over the last few months, against the likes of John Cena and CM Punk, performing well, and am wondering if WWE has any plans of making him a singles competitor full time.


What have I learnt from this week's Smackdown?

1. Randy Orton will only put in a decent match on his terms, otherwise he will simply go through the motions.

2. I've really missed Vickie Guerrero as a fully blown heel.

3. JBL does a lot more research than Michael Cole, for their commentary.

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