Tuesday, 13 August 2013

WWE Smackdown 9th August 2013 Review

Smackdown this week presented two strong television bouts, one of which was a preview of a World Heavyweight Championship match booked for SummerSlam. With a special video from Brock Lesnar also debuting on the show, this was another strong edition of the WWE’s B-Show.



World Heavyweight Champion 

Alberto Del Rio

When this match was announced I questioned why WWE had chosen to give away this match on free television when in less than two weeks they will be expecting people to pay for it as part of the SummerSlam Pay-per-view. Considering, in terms of build up, this is the weakest bout on the card, we really should’ve have been given a reason to care this week on Smackdown. Many would argue that because this match wasn’t for the title, the incentive of purchasing SummerSlam would be the possibility of the title change, however the likelihood that their SummerSlam match will be shorter than this one with the card already looking stacked surely counteracts that.

That being said Christian and Del Rio put on a fantastic bout, with neither man holding back. This match certainly wouldn’t have looked out of place on SummerSlam, going for almost twenty minutes of television time, building up steadily, with a number of exciting spots thrown in throughout, like Del Rio regaining control of the match, after dodging Christian’s top rope dive to the outside. Christian and Del Rio are usually overlooked by wrestling fans on the most part, with both regularly putting on solid television bouts and when given pay per views contests they usually prove their worth to the company as well. A lot of top WWE wrestlers would have gone into this contest half-heartedly knowing that SummerSlam was just around the corner, and there would be some who would argue that that is the right way of going out things, but I think it’s commendable to both men continue to delivery strong bouts on Raw and Smackdown, which makes me wants to watch their matches each week.

The ending however annoyed me a little, I had expected some kind of draw or disqualification finish, which would result in an extra stipulation being added to the bout at SummerSlam, to give bring something extra to their pay-per-view battle. They seemingly had the perfect opportunity to end the bout, when both Christian and Del Rio took impressive bumps from the top rope to the arena floor, and I began to think we were going to see a double count out finish. However, this was not the case as the match continued for another five minutes afterwards, with a nice closing sequence with Christian getting several near falls on Del Rio, which really helped you get behind Captain Charisma, until the former two time World Heavyweight Champion, played possum suckering Del Rio into a small package to gain a pinfall victory. Personally, I think these last five minutes or so would’ve been best saved for SummerSlam, even if the result had been reversed, as it’s not only going to be difficult for both me to not only compete with the better built matches on the card, but also with this match they had on free television.

After the bout had finished Del Rio tried to attack Christian, only to eventually receive a Killswitch that left him lying in the centre of the ring. In an almost mirror image of the end of Raw, World Heavyweight Championship Money in the Bank winner Damien Sandow headed to the ring in an attempt to cash in his briefcase for a World Heavyweight Championship match with Alberto Del Rio. Luckily for Del Rio, Sandow’s former partner turned rival Cody Rhodes made the save, hitting a diving crossbody before raining in the punches, followed by Cross Rhodes to leave Sandow laying the ring with Del Rio and close the show. It’s interesting that Rhodes and Sandow have been involved with a number of the final segments on Smackdown recently, with WWE showing a lot of faith in the duo. Could it be possible that Damien Sandow could be cashing in that Money in the Bank briefcase on 18th August at SummerSlam? 

Rob Van Dam 


WWE Championship Money in the Bank Winner 

Randy Orton

Now, personally I had expected this match to take place at SummerSlam, with two big WWE names battling it out at the Biggest Event of the Summer, especially after last week’s World Heavyweight Championship Number One Contenders Triple Threat had seen both men come up short against Christian. The added incentive for the match being that Orton had been the one that had put an end to Rob Van Dam’s original WWE run at One Night Stand 2007. Whilst both men would be respectful towards one another, it would serve as a good reminder that Orton has a darker side to his personality, as WWE continues to build toward his heel turn somewhere down the line.

I was a little bit wary of this bout going in, as whilst both men are capable of putting on great wrestling matches, they have both fallen foul of phoning in their matches and looking like they’d rather be somewhere else as well. Luckily, Orton and Van Dam both turned up and preceded to put on another strong television bout. The face against face dynamic allowed the match to break out of the pattern that most WWE TV matches do, as both Orton and Van Dam spent periods of the match in control. Orton obviously brought his slow calculating style to preceding, with a number of headlocks, but Van Dam’s scramble-like selling made these possibly dull moments in the match come to like. Not to be outdone by Van Dam’s exciting moveset, Orton continued to up his game with a number of nicely worked spots, including a version of Orton’s signature Inverted Headlock Backbreaker, that saw Orton pick Van Dam out of the corner.

After a nice sequence that saw Van Dam reverse an RKO into the same pinning combination he used to defeat Alberto Del Rio on Raw this week for a near fall, we headed into the closing sequence of the match. Van Dam hit Rolling Thunder, before heading to the top rope, where he went on to miss a Five Star Frog Splash, allowing Randy Orton to hit an RKO and gain a pinfall victory. For me this was fitting ending to match, that built well throughout, and continued to build Orton as a future WWE Champion. When Smackdown is allowed to showcase matches like this, it should be a must watch for any WWE fan, because this really should have been on SummerSlam.

Talking of SummerSlam, both Rob Van Dam and Randy Orton are currently not scheduled to appear on the card. It does seem strange that WWE has resigned Van Dam and just over a month in to his comeback, he isn’t scheduled to appear on pay-per-view, or even in any resembling a rivalry. Whilst the card is stacked from SummerSlam anyway, Van Dam is certainly a name that if handled correctly could have added something to the card, adding him to the Christian vs. Alberto Del Rio match, especially seeing as Van Dam holds a victory over Del Rio, would have elevated not only the World Heavyweight Championship Match, which currently looks a little lost, but given Van Dam something of importance to do on the show. Whilst Orton isn’t scheduled in a match, I think it’s unlikely that we won’t see Orton at some point during the John Cena vs. Daniel Bryan match, so maybe WWE don’t want to showcase Orton on the show elsewhere to make that moment stand out even more, even if most are expecting it to happen.

Best of the Rest (In The World)

Number One Contender to the WWE Championship Daniel Bryan was also in action on Smackdown this week as he faced off against Preston’s Wade Barrett. Prior to his match with Barrett, Bryan was interviewed backstage by Renee Young regarding what happened on this week’s Raw. Bryan claimed he changed his mind about the corporate makeover, when Vince McMahon ordered him to change his beard and that he would be John Cena to become the new WWE Champion at SummerSlam. It was a decent enough promo, but really didn’t reveal much that we didn’t already know. I would have preferred to see this focus more on Bryan’s opponent, Barrett, who Bryan had shaved on Raw, it wasn’t like there wasn’t anything for him to say, with Barrett and Bryan sharing a lot of history.

This bout was similar to the one we saw a 19th July edition of Smackdown, with Barrett working over Bryan with strong strikes and power moves, until Bryan made his comeback. This match did get a little bit of extra time, which allowed the two to work a better story into the match and faux comeback from Bryan at one point. With the opening segment from Raw to work off the matches felt slightly elevated in importance, with Barrett looking to get revenge for having his beard shaved, this was, of course worked into the finish with Barrett attempting to shave Bryan’s beard, only for Bryan to block and launch in a comeback. With Bryan hitting a Diving Headbutt, before locking in the No Lock to pick up a submission victory, John Cena’s SummerSlam opponent continued to roll heading into the Biggest Show of the Summer, whilst Barrett still looks for a first win on major WWE programming since dropping the Intercontinental Champion to Curtis Axel.

Kane made an appearance on Smackdown this week, in a three on one handicap bout against 3MB. Kane dominate the contest, with Heath Slater, Ayr’s Drew McIntyre and Jinder Mahal making good foils for the Big Red Machine, as he threw them about the ring and ringside. The most impressive part of the bout saw Kane throw Heath Slater over the announce table, making Slater look like rag doll. After Kane picked up the pinfall victory with a Chokeslam on Drew McIntyre, Kane’s SummerSlam opponent Bray Wyatt and his family appeared on the tron. Wyatt cut terrific promo talking about the Ring of Fire Match, it was beautifully delivered with a number intricacies that a lot of WWE wrestlers seem to lack, really allowing the viewer to be pulled in by what Wyatt was saying, because there really is nothing like this going on elsewhere on WWE programming. The revelation that Wyatt is in-fact “already dead” was interesting one, whether meant to be presented as a metaphor or if WWE are attempting to create some kind of new age Undertaker is yet to be seen.

Brock Lesnar made a rare appearance on Smackdown, but of course he wasn’t in the arena, WWE wouldn’t want to waste one of the Beast’s precious dates on the B-Show. It was in the form of pre-taped promo, which had been edited well and with a number of interesting effects added. Lesnar talked about his match at SummerSlam with CM Punk, detailing that this was not just a rivalry between Punk and Paul Heyman, and that he had always disliked Punk seeing him as a joke. Once again the Punk/Heyman and Lesnar feud was given another layer with this promo, and the decision to have this promo taped and edited was a good one, as we’ve seen multiple times before Lesnar can struggle to cut promos live.

Miz TV returned to Smackdown this week, with The Miz welcoming guests Diva’s Champion AJ Lee and Big E Langston onto the show. After The Miz had successfully wound up AJ with talk of ex-boyfriends, the Divas Champion launched into another strong promo about how she had been betrayed by everyone and how she would be the Divas Champion forever. What works well for me with the AJ Lee character is that she truly believes what she is saying and you can see the logic of her speech, even if it is slightly warped. It wasn’t long before Dolph Ziggler and Kaitlyn turned up to further add to AJ’s misery, winding her up further by saying they were both “over” her. After some bickering, The Miz interrupted and as the “Host of SummerSlam” made a mixed tag team match with AJ and Langston teaming up against Ziggler and Kaitlyn. After a catfight enshewed between AJ and Kaitlyn, Langston tried to break up the fight, only to receive a Zig Zag from Ziggler. It was decent segment overall with everyone playing their part well, but this match should have been booked at least two weeks.

Elsewhere, Fandango and Kofi Kingston had a rematch of their bout from on Raw. The bout was speedy encounter in the regular four minute WWE television bout format. After some back and forth, Kingston seemed to be gaining the upperhand, heading to the top rope for a potential dive to the outside, only for Summer Rae to attempt to protect Fandango. With Kingston jumping off the top rope anyway, Rae seemed to take a spill to the floor. It turned out the be just a distraction, allowing Fandango to throw Kingston into the ring post and hit a Diving Leg Drop for the pinfall victory, in a classic example of WWE even steven booking.

Damien Sandow also debuted a brand new Money in the Bank briefcase, during an interview with Renee Young. Whilst some Sandow’s dialogue didn’t quite fit the character (“Sandowize” anyone?), the briefcase certainly does, with a seemingly embossed leather look. It’s nice to see a return to the more personalised briefcase that we used to see when the likes of Rob Van Dam and Edge held the briefcase, as brings something extra to the character rather than seeing them carry around the same briefcase as the other winners of the ladder match. However, if the whole segment with Cody Rhodes throwing Sandow’s briefcase into the Gulf of Mexico was only to give Sandow a new briefcase, I’m sure they could have come up with a quicker way of doing so.


What did I learn from this week's Smackdown?

1. WWE should have held off on Christian vs. Del Rio until SummerSlam, they will struggle to top this week's bout and probably won't receive as much time.

2. Rob Van Dam vs. Randy Orton should probably also have been on SummerSlam.

3. WWE has no clue how to push Wade Barrett

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