Monday, 19 August 2013

WWE Smackdown 16th August 2013 Review

With SummerSlam just two days away, Smackdown was the last major push for pay-per-view buys for WWE. Therefore, they had to make sure that they covered as much of the SummerSlam card as possible, whilst also presented some entertaining bouts that would help to remind people of the storylines that the company had running into the show. They did a fairly good job, with Daniel Bryan's No Disqualification bout with Wade Barrett the highlight for me.

No Disqualification Match: 

Daniel Bryan 


Wade Barrett

The main event of the evening pitted Daniel Bryan against Wade Barrett in a No Disqualification match. This was essentially to blow off the short rivalry we've seen between Bryan and Barrett, that has been running for a few weeks, with each man picking up a victory over the other (even if Barrett's win on Raw was down to the questionable refereeing of Raw General Manager Brad Maddox) So in a strange way, this was the rubber match. All that needed to happen here was Daniel Bryan to pick up his return victory and head into SummerSlam looking strong.

Similiar to TNA's Hardcore Justice main event, the main body of the match was very good. Wade Barrett is very good at this type of match, and personally I think he's one of the best in WWE in this environment and against Daniel Bryan who has been on fire as of late, we had a great combination for a television main event. With Barrett wielding a singapore cane, Bryan managed to counter and launch into an entertaining comeback, complete with suicide dive and top rope drop kick. It was here that the circus that has been surrounding the John Cena vs. Daniel Bryan SummerSlam build up reared it's head once again with WWE Chairman Vince McMahon heading down to ringside. From here, the match lost a lot of it's shine and momemtum which was a real shame.

Barrett was mainly used to send a message to McMahon as Bryan began to dismantle the former Nexus leader, with McMahon looking on. With Bryan looking to have the victory with Barrett in the No! Lock, McMahon pulled referee Mike Chioda out of the ring, which apparently meant Chioda was out for the rest of the match, either that or Chioda has narcolepsy. With Bryan arguing with McMahon, Barrett hit the Bullhammer Elbow and looked to have the victory, but with the referee down, McMahon called down Maddox to make the count, which only ended up being a two. There was then another ref bump with Maddox taking a singapore cane shot from Barrett and a dropkick from Bryan. With McMahon looking to wear Chioda's referee shirt, Triple H headed down to the ring, and with Bryan hitting a flying headbutt, Triple H counted the pinfall to give Bryan the victory. For me, this was all a little over booked, and with WWE Championship Money in the Bank winner Randy Orton also coming out, it just wasn't needed.

John Cena and Daniel Bryan's match at SummerSlam has certainly suffered from over booking over the last five weeks. Personally, I would have preferred a much simpler build up, with the work that Bryan and Cena have done on the way to their match being great. The McMahon's involvement in the storyline could have worked, but it needed to be kept in the background and allow Cena and Bryan to sell the match to the fans. Triple H could still have been made referee, but only because of the size of the match and WWE needing someone they could rely on to call the match down the middle. Randy Orton has also been overused in the build up, with WWE clearly signposting a cash in at SummerSlam.



World Heavyweight Championship Money in the Bank Winner

 Damien Sandow

After Cody Rhodes and World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio faced off on this weeks Raw, Smackdown brought us the reverse match with Rhodes' and Del Rio's respective SummerSlam opponent locking up. We've seen Christian and Sandow face off before, with their strongest bout coming on the 3rd July episode of Main Event, the return match on Smackdown a few week's later didn't quite get the time it needed. With two big SummerSlam matches to build for, WWE had to be careful how they played this one, clearly Christian had to win to keep him strong heading into his World Heavyweight Championship match at SummerSlam, but Sandow also had to look competitive, especially with that Money in the Bank briefcase still in his possession.

Once again this match didn't quite get the time it needed to, running around WWE's default four minutes. What was presented was strong, with both men playing their roles well, with Sandow dominating the early going, with some entertaining offence, but they just weren't given enough time to show what they could do. It's a strange time when your number one contender to the World Heavyweight Championship is only afford four minutes of television time for his match, in the middle of the show, but that pretty much sums up the build up for this championship bout at SummerSlam and WWE's opinion of the World Heavyweight title in general.

The ending saw Sandow on a roll, about to hit Cubito Aequet, only for Christian to roll out of the way. With Sandow following Christian, he ended up walking straight in a small package from Christian to give the Number One Contender to the World Heavyweight Championship the pinfall victory. I thought this was a pretty good ending, as Sandow continued to look strong, but Christian picked up the victory. We've seen Christian pick up a lot of victories in this fashion over the last month, and I quite like it. It gives him that air of unpredictability, as we've seen him pick up victories out of nowhere. Hopefully, WWE continue with Christian's push, as he truly deserves it and certainly still has a lot to offer the WWE.

With Christian celebrating his victory, he was attacked from behind by Del Rio. With Del Rio doing some good mic work, telling Christian he wouldn't be winning the title at SummerSlam. With Del Rio continuing the beating, he went to lock in the Cross Arm Breaker only for Christian to reverse and hit a Killswitch to end the segment. Personally, this felt like to little to late in the build up for Christian vs. Del Rio at SummerSlam, we really needed to be seeing more interaction between the two a good few weeks ago. Whilst, I'm sure Christian and Del Rio will put on a good match, the build up for this one has been awful.

Best of the Rest (In The World)

Elsewhere, Paul Heyman was at Smackdown, first to manage Intercontinental Champion Curtis Axel (more on that later) and then to talk about CM Punk's actions on this week's Raw, as well as Punk's match agaisnt Heyman client Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam. Heyman, as usual did a great job here, putting over CM Punk's attack well, whilst also adding another layer onto the story. Heyman talked about how the dynamic of the SummerSlam bout had changed, with Lesnar now seeking revenge on Punk for the attack on Raw, rather than the other way around. It was short but sweet, with Heyman doing all he needed to do, basically putting a cherry on top of the story, before heading into the pay-per-view.

For me, this has been the strongest story heading into SummerSlam, with a story that has grown organically for over two months. This match has the biggest hype to live up to in my eyes, it has to deliver. It's clear to me that Punk and Heyman have had a lot of influence in the build up, as the booking has been so simple, but so effective at the same time. Have Punk keep fighting back, until Lesnar beats him down again, have Punk keep trying to get to Paul Heyman only for Brock Lesnar to turn up again. Whilst originally, I didn't think Punk could afford a loss to Lesnar, after loosing to fellow part timer The Undertaker at Wrestlemania, the use of Heyman has given them a good way to give Punk the victory, but not give Punk the victory.

The show kicked off with The Wyatt Family in the ring. Bray Wyatt cut another solid promo, he has definitely settled into his role on the main roster well, after a shaky start. Wyatt's promo told a story about a boy, which it seemed would be Wyatt himself, however Wyatt later revealed he was talking about Kane. It was a nice twist, and drew Kane out into the arena. With Kane attacking Luke Harper from behind and then fighting off Erick Rowan, we saw Kane finally get his hands on Wyatt. It didn't take long for Harper and Rowan to recover, with the Wyatts back in control, Wyatt hit Sister Abigail to close the segment. I enjoyed this opening segment, it gave a good preview of their SummerSlam bout, and left the question open as to how Wyatt would cope when Harper and Rowan were kept outside the ring by fire.

Also on Smackdown, Kaitlyn teamed with Natalya to take on Diva's Champion AJ Lee and Layla in Women's Tag Team action. The majority of the match was dominated by Layla and Natalya, with Layla working over Natalya, with some nice heel work. The wrestling between the two was strong, and the dynamic worked very well, especially with Lee happy to stand on the apron. The ending saw Natalya manage to get the hot tag to Kaitlyn and we saw a little bit of a SummerSlam preview. With Kaitlyn dominating it took involvement from Layla with a nice kick, to set up Lee for a Shining Wizard to get a pinfall victory for her team. I was impressed with this tag team bout, I think with Layla as a heel, these four women are probably the best they have in the division and it was great to see them put on this tag team battle.

There was also six man tag team action with Rob Van Dam, Mark Henry and the returning Big Show teaming up to tag on The Shield. Before the bout Van Dam had a nice interview with Renee Young, that put over his SummerSlam Kick Off bout with Dean Ambrose well, before a good reveal of Mark Henry and Big Show, as his enforcers. Having the two big men against The Shield certainly gave this one a different dynamic, with Rob Van Dam taking the majority of The Shield's offence before managing to get the tag to Big Show, who seemed to be pretty over with the crowd. The ending was another well worked finish, that saw Roman Reigns take Show over the top rope, and with Reigns setting up for a spear, he was met by Henry, only for Seth Rollins to come flying over the top rope. With Show only just making the count, he hit a Knockout Punch on Ambrose, before tagging into in Rob Van Dam to hit the Five Star Frogsplash to giving his team a pinfall victory. Another exciting bout on the show, even if it did see The Shield suffer another loss, hopefully WWE hasn't soured on the duo, because they still seem like they have a lot to give the company.

SummerSlam host The Miz was also in action as he faced Jack Swagger, who was accompanied by the rest of The Real American stable. I found it difficult to get into this match, as I just wasn't given a reason to be interested. The Miz hasn't wrestled on TV for a while, and neither man has been part of an angle recently either. Swagger seems uninterested as of late, and after falling so far down the card following Extreme Rules it's no wonder why, even if it is self-inflicted. The ending saw the referee send Antonio Cesaro and Zeb Colter to the locker room, with The Miz taking advantage and getting a roll up victory. I'm not sure what The Miz's role as SummerSlam host will actually entail, but if it means he isn't in a match like this one, it must be a good thing.

Intercontinental Champion Curtis Axel was also in action, as he took on Zack Ryder. It's been a while since we've seen Ryder on major WWE programming, so I was interested to see how this one would play out. It was essentially there to lead into Paul Heyman's SummerSlam thoughts, but it also worked making Axel look impressive. Ryder got in some offence, but it didn't take long for Axel to take control and pick up the victory with a Hangman's Facebuster. Overall, it was a strong quick television bout that succeed in it's aims, hopefully we'll see Axel get his own storyline heading into Night of Champions, to continue his rise up the card.

Ryback also turned up on Smackdown to be interviewed by Renee Young. The interview didn't last long, with Ryback decided to attack a backstage helper instead, launching him over a table. Whilst, I'm enjoying Ryback's character change at the moment as he's actually got a character, which was something that hurt his run at the top of the card. It will be intersting to see how WWE handle Ryback going forward, they could just about salvage the damage they did by pushing him into the main event scene before he was ready, but it's going to take some very good booking to do so.


What did I learn from this weeks Smackdown?

1. WWE have sign posted Randy Orton's Money in the Bank cash in way too much, more subtly is needed.

2. Christian and Del Rio will be a solid wrestling match, but the built up should have started weeks ago.

3. SummerSlam looks like the strongest WWE card for an awfully long time.

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