WWE Smackdown - June 22nd, 2012
It becomes harder and harder to think in terms of "proper intro" when on a weekly basis we see relatively the same things John Lauranaitis is gone, and in place of John Cena, we'll see HHH in the main event at Summerslam. Raw expands to 3 hours on July 23rd - WWE needs to provide a legitimate focus on the young, up and coming talent instead of arbitrarily expanding segments by five minutes each.
We open up Smackdown with Teddy Long greeting the crowd and informing them that John Lauranaitis was fired. Who's watching Smackdown that doesn't know that, Teddy? Teddy doesn't seem to be employed in any capacity - He's not the General Manager, but he still dances out in a suit. The GM of the night will be Mick Foley. The crowd is happy, until Big Show interrupts the proceedings. Now first of all, Brodus Clay is not allowed on Raw because of Big Show. Big Show is now on Smackdown. Find the disconnect. I'll chalk this one up to Ace being fired meaning that Ace's rules are no longer valid. Show reminds us all that he doesn't care about Big Johnny and he doesn't care about the WWE Universe; he only cares about himself. Show congratulates Cena on his win in the cage match; it only took five of his 'cronies' to help him win. Big Show says in an actual fight, he'd stomp Cena. He says that he is moving on from Cena to bigger things; namely, the Money in the Bank ladder match. Big Show can't be stopped, regardless of how many men are in the match. Nobody can stop him once he cashes in. Brodus Clay walks out. There's no dancing tonight; he's all business. Clay slides in which allows Big Show to lay boots to him, but Clay fights to his feet and delivers a headbutt to Big Show's chest. Otunga slides in from out of nowhere and clips Clay in the knee, continuing on from the YouTube pre show match from No Way Out. Show lands a big kick to Clay's knee and then his ribs. Brodus fights up to his knees and Big Show delivers the WMD. Show heads to the back, not at all acknowledging Otunga. Otunga proceeds to make bad mama jokes and mock Brodus' dancing.
Big Show standing tall over a 'monster' wrestler is good. Big Show needing help from a mook like David Otunga to do it? Not so good. There's not a person watching this show interested in an Otunga/Clay feud, and even outside of a match, Otunga was hit with a more than audible "You can't wrestle" chant. Until Otunga intervened, this one was looking towards a thumbs up.
Match 1: Ryback vs Frank Venezia and Jared Wahkler
Winner: Ryback via pinfall
Once again, the opponents who are trash talking Ryback, knowing they're facing Ryback, are scared when Ryback's music hits. Ryback ran wild on these poor fellas: Deadlift slamming them into one another, along with a buckle bomb, dead lifted into a powerbomb on the other and a spinebuster. The stacked Fisherman Samoan Buster Drop ends the match. At the PPV, Ryback was asking to be fed three. I guess they're not quite settled on doing that yet, but Booker does make it a point to ask if Cole and Josh Matthews think Ryback could do that to three guys. Cole then goes "maybe 4 or 5" because he has no concept of comedic timing.
Mick Foley and Yoshi Tatsu are in the back. Vickie Guerrero walks in and asks Tatsu if he shouldn't be making sushi or something. Tasteful as always, WWE. Tatsu tells Vickie she's ugly on his way out. Vickie tells Mick that next week she's in charge of both shows (keeping up the theme of past GM's as interims) and if he's not nice, she'll make him her assistant. Foley suggests a better assistant and Great Khali dances in. Foley joins in and goes for (and calls) a Dude Love dance move, but they cut away. Altogether bad use of air time.
Raw 1000 moment with Daniel Bryan: Marty Jannetty beats Shawn Michaels for the Intercontinental Title. Imagine that - a guy known for his wrestling has a Raw 1000 memory about wrestling.
Match 2: Alberto del Rio vs Christian (Intercontinental Champion), non-title
Winner: Alberto del Rio via submission
This was a good match, with a good pay off and a good ending segment. It had a bad opening in terms of commentary, with Booker T saying ADR should have taken the title shot, even with the concussion, which would of course put him in danger of ending his career. Good call, Book. After a good amount of back and forth action, the match ends with a great sequence: Christian hits a tornado DDT and goes for the Killswitch, which ADR counters by dropping Christian's arm across his own shoulder, stunner-style. Del Rio tries for a senton, but comes up empty, which allows Christian to ready for the spear. Alberto sees this coming and delivers a stiff kick to the chin and tries the Cross Armbreaker, but Christian tries the Killswitch again, only to be blocked again. Christian ends up mounting the top rope, but Ricardo Rodriguez runs the distraction, allowing ADR to run the ropes and deliver an enzuigiri to Christian on the top, sending him to the mat and allowing him to slap on the Cross Armbreaker for the win. He actually did it to the opposite arm that he worked all match, but that's a detail to be let go. Del Rio is happy with this and heads to the back, but Cody Rhodes hits the ring and delivers a clothesline to the back of the head of Christian. Rhodes locks in a fujiwara armbar and Christian begins to fight to his feet, but Rhodes throws him shoulder first into the ringpost then screams that Christian is stealing his time and that Rhodes IS Smackdown. Good stuff all around and really the highlight of the night. This is a rivalry I'm glad to see continue and Rhodes' statements point to a facet of it beyond just the IC title. Rhodes is absolutely a front runner for the Money in the Bank briefcase this year.
A video package concerning the AJ/Daniel Bryan/CM Punk/Kane situation plays, with a heavy focus on AJ herself.
Match 3: Kane vs Daniel Bryan, Special Guest Timekeeper: AJ
Winner: Kane via pinfall
AJ flashes a big smile for Kane and a frown for Bryan. A lot of back and forth action in this match, which I wouldn't typically expect between Kane and Bryan. Bryan's strikes were allowed to hurt Kane, which is a nice change of pace and yet another indication of the confidence that WWE has in him, despite his "not fitting the mold". Josh Matthews mentions he's not comfortable with everyone's favorite crazy chick AJ sitting at ringside holding a hammer (for the bell, of course!). Commentator line of the night right there.
Bryan ends up delivering a drop toe hold to Kane, leaving his head on the middle turnbuckle, then kicks the middle rope to throw the turnbuckle into Kane's face. This is quickly becoming a signature for Bryan on TV and it works incredibly well for him as a heel. Bryan heads up top for a missile dropkick and in a rare shot, he slips from the top, which makes for Kane lifting him and carrying him to the opposite corner, where Bryan kicks him off and lands the missile dropkick. As I've said in the past, kudos to the guys that can call the audible on the fly and not just awkwardly climb up and try the exact same spot again; if there's one compliment I can give to Sheamus on the regular, it's this. Kane ends up taking over, but Bryan backflips over him, hits the ropes and runs into a big boot from Kane. Bryan dropkicks Kane's leg out from under him and lands an execution kick to the side of the head. Bryan climbs up top again and seemingly lands a diving headbutt, but Kane has caught him by the neck. Kane tries a Chokeslam, but Bryan counters into a guillotine. Kane tries to shake him off, and Bryan ends up going up and over into a sunset flip and transitions into the Labelle Lock. The bell rings, but Kane has not tapped. Bryan celebrates, but the ref tells him Kane didn't tap; Kane lands a Chokeslam and pins Bryan. AJ is shown being a tad bashful, then flashes a crafty little smirk at Kane and skips off. Kane kind of smiles back.
Once again, AJ shows that she can play her part as well as any of the men on the show, if not better. Her facials are believable instead of being cartoonish and she doesn't over complicate anything. This may be some of the best writing the creative team is doing at the moment, and if it ends up benefiting Bryan and/or Punk, all the better.
Mick Foley comes out to address the crowd and throws out his cheap pop of the night for the city. Heath Slater interrupts, as he now seems wont to do on a regular basis. Slater is lobbying a protest for what happened to him on Raw with Piper and Cyndi Lauper (See Here!). He's mad that he was embarrassed by them and Foley says he'll be embarrassed tonight by...Zack Ryder! Missed being on Long Island by one show...are you serious, bro?
Match 4: Heath Slater vs Zack Ryder
Winner: Zack Ryder via pinfall
Nice to see Ryder on TV, but he got about a two minute match. Ryder hits signature offense, Slater hits his signature neckbreaker, Ryder hits a Rough Ryder and pins him.
Back from a commercial, Foley and Ryder are in the back and are met by Damien Sandow. Sandow gives them the verbal business. After giving examples of Ryder's nonsense, Sandow says "no more". Maybe this could lead to a "real" match for Sandow instead of glorified squashes, which would finally bring him into the normalcy of the roster. This process seems to take too long for quite a few wrestlers. I'm to believe that Sandow dispatches of his opponents faster than someone like Antonio Cesaro? And everytime? It feels like 5 different people work on this and don't at all communicate with inconsistencies like that.
The WWE Smack of the Night plays, and for once it's actually relevant: Tyson Kidd's frankensteiner to the outside during No Way Out's four-way tag match, followed by Darren Young landing his gutbuster and winning for his team.
Match 5: The Usos vs Prime Time Players
Winners: Prime Time Players via pinfall
The Usos take control early with chops and quick tags. Young eventually makes it to his corner to tag in Titus O'Neil who takes over and settles into a chinlock. The Uso in the ring fights back and lands the running ass to the face in the corner. Jey Uso and Darren Young end up tumbling over the top rope to the floor and Jimmy hits a samoan drop on Titus. Jimmy readies for the Superfly Splash, but Young trips him (after AW runs some classic manager distraction on the ref), allowing Titus to land the Clash of the Titus for the win.
Fun tag match, and it's followed by Young/O'Neil getting jumped by Primo and Epico in the back. It's nice to see some fire and energy for the tag division. Seems like every couple of years, WWE gets in a tag division mode and builds it a bit. Hopefully it holds up a bit and the NXT/Superstars team of Tyson Kidd and Justin Gabriel get used as well.
Santino Marella comes out with a microphone and has the cameramen focus on some signs and comments on them. He eventually calls an energetic fan into the ring, she plants a kiss on him and he sells it like the WMD. I love Santino, I really do. His antics almost always entertain me. But this is the type of time that can be used for Kidd, Gabriel or a real match for Slater/Ryder. This served no purpose, nobody had a better time because of it. Just bad.
A quick "recap" of CM Punk on Jimmy Fallon, focusing mostly on The Roots playing his entrance theme and the actual entrance he made; no content for the actual interview. More wasted opportunities.
Match 6: Dolph Ziggler vs Sheamus (World Heavyweight Champion), non-title
Winner: Sheamus via pinfall
Ziggler opens up in the corner, hanging onto the top rope and doing leg lifts. A show off shows off. It's these simple things, just keeping up with your own character, that put Ziggler above so much of the roster. Sheamus hits his rolling fireman's carry slam very early in the match; this really should be a late match thing, but whatever. Sheamus ends up hitting a fallaway slam into the barriers outside to lead to a commercial. Because both guys outside always leads to a commercial.
Ziggler has taken over while WWE paid the bills. Sheamus fights back and tosses Ziggler to the outside and throws him into the steel steps. Vickie jaws at Sheamus and he turns to her, allowing Ziggler to vault off the steps and land a huge fameasser outside on the floor. Awesome spot. Back in the ring, Ziggler lands offense for near falls: A neckbreaker, a low dropkick on the apron after putting Sheamus' neck on the middle rope and another neckbreaker. Sheamus fights up from a chinlock and goes into his usual comeback routine, but when he tries White Noise, Ziggler shimmies out and lands a jumping DDT (quick becoming a signature for him) for another nearfall. Sheamus lands a flying shoulder after punching Ziggler out of mid air and finally hits his signature forearms to the chest. Ziggler elbows out of the Irish Curse and kicks Sheamus' legs out from under him. He gets a Brough Kick for his troubles.
It's a shame that a match that fun can end with a guy taking kicks to his legs that render him unto his knees, only to turn around seconds later and deliver a jump kick to a guy's face. It's incredibly lazy. White Noise or the Celtic Cross could have been used here, but he opted for the one move based entirely on the body part that Ziggler just kicked out from under him. I don't know if it's lazy thinking in the ring or an active attempt by WWE to "Cena-ify" Sheamus. Sheamus is a good candidate to be a "next Cena", but having him do the same Superman garbage routine is just going to annoy fans.
I read this back and there's a lot of complaints in there, but don't let that detract from the good, where it's always best to focus: The tag division is getting proper attention, Ziggler and Rhodes are being showcased (at least in the eyes of WWE) and a storyline that doesn't involve John Cena, that actually focuses on a diva, gets huge focus and time well spent. A Cena-transformation may end up underway for Sheamus, but for now, he continues to put on solid matches, even if the occasional move selections is...odd.
Tomorrow night is ROH's Best in the World: Hostage Crisis, and I will be attending at the Manhattan Center. I'll be live tweeting on behalf of Pulse Wrestling and I'd love for you to join in the conversation by following me @sbfantom. In the weeks coming, I'll be summarizing the weekly TV for ROH for Pulse as well, moving forward. Join in on the conversation!