WWE Smackdown and Raw, June 8-11 2012
Due to unforeseen circumstances, we’ll do a roundup of the shows bordering the weekend in the WWE. Back to show by show updates later this week.
Smackdown starts with Alberto del Rio coming to the ring and showing a replay of his armbar on Sheamus from Raw. He threatens to break his arm at No Way Out and is subsequently interrupted by…Ricardo Rodriguez dressed as Sheamus. The mocking ensues until the real Sheamus heads to the ring, looking like he means business. Sheamus takes charge on both men and the fight spills to the ramp, where Sheamus threatens a Celtic Cross off the stage, but Ricardo stops him.
The fight is broken up by referees and Teddy Long comes out on stage, acting on Big Johnny’s behalf. Tonight we will see Sheamus take on Kane and next, we get Alberto del Rio in action (yay!) against The Great Khali (boo!).
Match 1 – Alberto del Rio vs The Great Khali
Winner: Alberto del Rio via submission
After taking the usual slaps, chops and clotheslines from Khali, ADR manages to slap on the Cross Armbreaker for the submission win. While I hate seeing Khali in action, making a guy that big submit wholly validates ADR’s armbar as a legit threat to anyone.
A replay of Big Show’s sit down interview saying that now he takes care of only himself.
Teddy Long is in the back and Brodus Clay, flanked by the Funkadactyls, enters. Long tells Clay that he is not allowed on Raw any longer for his own protection from Big Show, but he is now a permanent member of the Smackdown roster. Clay says to put Smackdown on notice; when he looks at his opponents, he will see Big Show.
Match 2 – Brodus Clay vs Derrick Bateman
Winner: Brodus Clay via pinfall
Aside from a running headbutt to Bateman on the outside (ouch), the usual Brodus fare, with a bit more aggression shown. He wins with the exploder and a splash. Still not enough change or character shown; you’re angry about what Big Show did, but you still dance down to the ring and with kids afterwards?
Raw 1000 moment with Booker T: His Raw debut against Buff Bagwell for the WCW title; a less than loved match amongst fans.
Match 3 – Sin Cara vs Drew MacIntyre
Winner: Sin Cara via pinfall
A bit of back and forth; Cara isn’t squashing anyone, but he still makes quick work of his opponents. Kudos to MacIntyre for being able to keep up with Cara and the lucha style at his size. Sin Cara goes for La Mistica to end it, but doesn’t have quite enough momentum, so Drew ends up holding him for a powerslam. Sin Cara then swings around again and lands a big DDT instead for the pin. Thumbs up for both men for calling a good audible. This shows growth for Cara since his return; before he was out, this would have ended up looking like a second attempt at La Mistica and would have ended poorly. Sin Cara continues to look crisp since his return – no sloppiness.
Match 4 – Tony Andriotis and Kevin Mahoney vs Ryback
Winner: Ryback via pinfall
Recently, I’ve been down on Ryback for all the squashes on local guys. He screams “FEED ME MORE” after every win, but doesn’t look for better opposition. Tonight changed my mind the moment he gave one guy a fall away slam INTO the other guy. Each week, Ryback seems to come up with one or two new things to do to these poor goofs, and that’s what a good squash is all about. Earlier in the week, he threw a guy higher than I’ve ever seen. Tonight, one was used as a weapon against the other. The powerbomb Ryback delivered to one of the men looked devastating. If Ryback keeps up the one or two new things a match, I’m ok with this. I’d still like to see some growth from him; at some point a change does need to be made.
WWE Smack of the Night: Over the Limit and Christian winning the Intercontinental Title. Now, Ryback just demolished two men. That powerbomb was the smack of the night. Instead they use that term for a win three weeks ago on a PPV. Just call it a replay.
Christian’s Peep Show with Cody Rhodes: Rhodes comes out first and destroys the set. He says that Christian is having a mid-life crisis in pandering to the crowd. Christian comes out and makes a joke, to which Rhodes responds by asking him who he’s fooling – he didn’t care about these people before he was injured, so what’s with the change of heart? Christian says that inducting Edge into the Hall of Fame was a moment of clarity; being out in the ring is a privilege. It’s three weeks late, but there’s your face turn. Love the fans, they love you back. Rhodes says that’s a load of garbage. Rhodes’ father is a Hall of Famer, Rhodes is a future Hall of Famer; Christian isn’t Hall of Fame material. Christian tells Rhodes to shut up and that he’ll finish the Peep Show by wiping the ring with him. Dolph Ziggler heads to the ring to finish this up because he’s here to do what he does best: Show off. Not bad – everyone played their part well. Christian is always fun to see and Rhodes continues to grow, especially as a talker. I’m more than happy to see this rivalry continue.
Match 5 – Christian (Intercontinental Champion) vs Dolph Ziggler, non title
Winner: Christian via pinfall
Ziggler struts early on. Apparently Rhodes is #1 in Booker T’s fave five at the moment; Rhodes calls Book a hypocrite. As I said before, Rhodes continues to get better on the mic, and he’s always fun talking trash on commentary as well. Ziggler goes for his version of the Fameasser, but Christian catches him with a sit out powerbomb; love that spot. Christian tries his springboard sunset flip from the corner, but Ziggler rolls through and lands what was one of two things: Either a Fameasser attempt with not quite enough jump to it or a climbing, enzuigiri-like Fameasser.
I like to believe it was the latter. With this advantage, Ziggler tries the Sleeper and the Zigzag, both of which are shaken off by Christian. Christian mounts the top rope and Ziggler meets him up there, but Christian slaps him off and lands the Frog Splash.
About time Christian hit the Frog Splash without the Killswitch to set it up. It’s good to separate them so that he can still use both as finishes believably. Ziggler once again loses as he breaks out on his own (No Vickie at ringside tonight), but he took the IC champion to the limit. The wins need to start coming in if we’re not building to some loss streak and a turn.
A recap of Cena and Cole from Raw. That can still go to hell.
Michael Cole grabs a mic after being mocked by his coworkers. Hornswoggle comes out dressed up like Jim Ross and mocks his speech pattern. When the music hit, you could see the entire crowd gasp with joy, only to see Hornswoggle come out instead. What a huge disappointment. Damien Sandow comes out to put an end to the “diminutive miscreant”’s shenanigans. He threatens ‘Swog and Tyson Kidd comes out to protect him. Kidd dropkicks Sandow out of the ring and Sandow heads up the ramp, keeping an eye on the Titantron.
The moment Kidd turns his back to tend to the little fella, Sandow sprints back to the ring and delivers knee strikes and the Cross Arm Neckbreaker to Kidd. Here’s hoping this leads to a Kidd/Sandow match, preferably getting more than the usual 2-3 minutes. I’d like to see what Sandow can really do and Kidd needs the chance to shine on TV.
A replay of the Punk/Bryan/Kane/AJ situation from Monday.
Matt Striker talks to Kane in the back before his match tonight. Kane says he doesn’t have feelings at all; ask Punk and Sheamus how they feel after chokeslams. Striker asks Kane about the look AJ shot him that seemed to take him aback; Kane just walks off. AJ pops out from behind some boxes after the scene clears. She’s still in Punk gear on each show, but could she be working for Bryan? For Punk? Maybe just for herself…
Teddy Long is forced to introduce Antonio Cesaro and his lover, Aksana. We get it, she broke Long’s heart. Now let Cesaro have a storyline that doesn’t involve Long.
Match 6 – Antonio Cesaro vs Jimmy Uso
Winner: Antonio Cesaro via pinfall
First and foremost, Cesaro needs a ‘real’ intro theme. What he has is so ludicrously generic. Uso shows a fire early in this match; if there’s one thing that can’t be denied it’s that the Usos have a great energy. The fans seem to love them too. After a few signature attacks from Jimmy, Antonio comes back with an elevated European uppercut and the Neutralizer for the win. Long is made to come into the ring and raise Cesaro’s hand. Poor Teddy. Cesaro is in the same mode as Ryback, Sin Cara and Sandow; same match every time, no expectation of a loss. It’s too much of this lately.
Raw 1000 moment with Sheamus: The “breakthrough battle royal” thanks to Jesse Ventura. Sheamus outlasted many established stars to show that he was there to stay. And he is.
Match 7 – Sheamus (World Heavyweight Champion) vs Kane, non-title
They go back and forth with power offense throughout the match; neither man is made to look invincible, which is nice. Sheamus lands White Noise, but the Brough Kick is stopped and after a series of back and forth counters, del Rio and Rodriguez hit the ring. The match is thrown out and in the chaos, AJ comes down to ringside, all smiles. Kane is distracted by her and eats a Brough Kick when he turns around toward Sheamus. This is the first time we’ve seen her do much of anything without Punk or Bryan on screen (aside from hide behind objects). If I had to wager a guess, she’ll turn out to be working for either Punk or Bryan and messing with Kane to help them out in the triple threat.
A Smackdown with little to complain about. Existing storylines moved forward, Ryback came up with yet another way to introduce pain to a 165lb human being and Dolph Ziggler looked like a star vs a champion. If Khali on the show doesn’t ruin it, I’d mark it a win. AJ continues to be the biggest x-factor on either show; for once it’s a storyline without an obvious, predictable end game.
Raw is three hours this week; settle in kids, it’s gonna be a long trip.
To get things started off on the right foot, the first thing we get is John Lauranaitis coming to the ring. Hooray. He gets about two words out before Mr. McMahon interrupts. Short of a full transcript, Vince and Ace go back and forth for about 10 minutes, culminating in Vince telling Ace that if he doesn’t impress him tonight, he’s fired. I can’t type a series of letters to represent the phlegm and hatred in Vince when he says “fired”, so use your imagination. Ace wants to start impressing Vince by having Sheamus, who interrupted the goings on face Tensai.
Match 1 – Sheamus (World Heavyweight Champion) vs Tensai, non-title
Winner: Sheamus via pinfall
This was as hard hitting as it gets on Raw. The two big men beat the tar out of each other, and that’s fine by me. Good back and forth action, which is where Tensai shines, style-wise. In the winding down of the match, Tensai lands the Two Handed Chokeslam on Sheamus, who kicks out in a very close two. After a bit of dosey-do in the middle of the ring, Tensai turns around into the Brogue Kick for the win. Good, solid match with an abrupt, awkward end. Still not a bad way to open the show.
Vince and Ace are in the back with Teddy Long. Vince says that Tensai losing was strike 1 for Ace. Since Alberto del Rio is out with a concussion, Vince wants to know what Ace will do about Sheamus’ title match on Sunday. Vickie Guerrero suggests her boys, Ziggler and Swagger, who are both former world champions. Vince takes it under consideration and asks Big Johnny for his input. He delegates to Long, who suggests that Khali, Christian, Ziggler and Swagger have a fatal four way for the number one contendership. This makes Vince happy, which makes Ace sad, since he tries to take credit. They’re actively making Ace look like a failure tonight.
Back at ringside, Tensai is berating Sakamoto for the loss. Tensai ends up beating the hell out of him, and in the middle of the beating, they pan to the announcers, who are none too concerned.
Raw 1000 moment: Seth Green hosts and fights Legacy with Cena and Triple H. Worst moment ever.
R-Truth is interviewed, asking how he feels after the beating at the hands of the Big Show last week. Little Jimmy is apparently traumatized. He says Truth is, Cena will beat Big Show on Sunday. Then my new favorite thing happens.
Match 2 – Santino Marella (United States Champion) and Layla (Divas Champion) vs Ricardo Rodriguez and Beth Phoenix
Winners: Beth Phoenix and Ricardo Rodriguez via pinfall
Beth drew the short straw on partners this week. The men have some comedy outside the ring and Beth drops Layla with the Glamslam for the win. They needed a set up for the ladies’ match on Sunday, so this gives it. Santino, a champion, continues to feud with Ricardo, an announcer. I’m ok with the comedy bits, but at least move the US title to someone who could use a touch of elevation.
|Who can be mad at this?|
David Otunga is in the back brown-nosing to Vince; if Ace should get the pink slip, who better to replace him than someone with a Harvard education? Not that being a lawyer would make you a good manager of a wrestling program, but we’ll ignore that logic. Vince says he doesn’t like lawyers. Kofi barges in and says he wants Big Show tonight because of what he did to his partner. Yes, they are still the tag champs. Big Johnny pops in and says sure…in a cage!
Time for the big promo of the night. Daniel Bryan comes out and says that between himself, Punk and Kane, someone doesn’t belong. The other two have a common weakness: AJ. He’s done with her, so it’s a non-factor to him. Bryan says Punk is jealous of him, since he made him tap (after he got pinned) and Kane thinks the look AJ gave him was getting to second base. Bryan says AJ is still smitten with him, but he’s not interested. Bryan vows to leave No Way Out the WWE champion.
CM Punk comes out to give his two cents. He says that AJ is pretty cool. Outside the ring, she’s out of Bryan’s league; inside the ring, Punk is out of Bryan’s league. Punk reiterates that he digs crazy chicks, but even more, he digs his belt. He’ll beat Bryan or Kane; regardless, he’ll remain champ. Bryan rips on the crowd and calls Punk a sellout. Punk says that’s funny coming from the guy in the YES YES YES t-shirt. Then he calls him a goat face, which the crowd chants. Kane makes his entrance to explain the things he’s done to people in the past to reinforce his monster status after a momentary lapse last week at AJ’s gaze.
Speaking of, AJ trots out and tells the guys to stop it. She saw that deep down, in those dark eyes, Kane has a heart. She continues that you never really get over your first love, and she hasn’t. Then she calls Punk pretty much the coolest guy she’s ever met. She says that Sunday, she knows the best man will win (she says this while still decked out in CM Punk merch). Big Johnny says that tonight, Bryan and Kane will team against Punk and….AJ?! Well that hardly seems fair.
Match 3 – Christian vs Dolph Ziggler vs Jack Swagger vs The Great Khali, elimination four way match, winner is #1 contender to World Heavyweight Championship
Winner: Dolph Ziggler via pinfall
Khali smacks everyone around early, but eventually falls prey to being taken down, a Christian Frog Splash and all three men pinning him. Mercifully, Khali is out quickly. Now at this point, there was no mention of it being elimination, so I don’t think anyone at home or in the crowd thought the match was still on going. After some usual three man match nonsense and Christian fighting Ziggler and Swagger off, Christian lands the Killswitch on Swagger and Ziggler hits the ring to quickly pin his ‘friend’. This leaves Christian and Ziggler to finish up. Christian heads up top for another dive, which Ziggler dodges and then immediately drops Christian with the Zigzag for the win.
Fun match once Khali was eliminated and Ziggler is a bit aloof with Vickie trying to celebrate with him; he leaves to the back on his own. Would have been nice to have a bit of argument from Swagger about the goings on, but maybe they’ll touch on that on Smackdown and formally break the group up.
Natalya is in the back with Vince, chatting about the Hart family and Vince wrestling Bret Hart at Wrestlemania, which is a less than stellar memory for Mr. McMahon. Natalya heads off and Brodus Clay’s dancers approach Vince about Clay being allowed back on Raw. Vince doesn’t really give an answer, but summons a light show and music and dances with them. They leave, apparently satisfied with this and Zack Ryder stands off to the side, mouth agape at what he saw. Vince does Ryder’s catchphrase and leaves. Ryder’s on Raw for the first time in 6 or 7 weeks and doesn’t get a word in edgewise.
|Vinny Mac at his ludicrous best.|
Match 4 – Ryback vs Willard Fillmore and Rutherford Hayes
Winner: Ryback via pinfall
Okay, these are the best "random jobber" names yet. Ryback does his usual domination bit; nothing new this time. I think I got a bit spoiled after the last couple Ryback matches. If you’re going to have a guy do squashes, this is at least the way to do it. Ryback has run roughshod over everyone in his path, skinny they may be; why wasn’t he considered for the World Title shot? Oh right, he does squashes.
Vince is on a couch with Hornswoggle watching ‘Swog be Jim Ross on Smackdown. Vince takes the hat off ‘Swog’s head and mocks JR. This is in the worst taste. John Cena enters and Vince reminds Cena that he lost to The Rock; he also warns him not to run to the ring and save Kofi tonight. Otunga comes back in and Vince tells him not to kiss his ass because he doesn’t like that; pan to William Regal as Vince says “no offense”. Twelve people in the crowd are old enough to remember why that’s a reference to anything.
Match 5 – Kofi Kingston vs Big Show, steel cage match
Winner: Big Show via cage escape
Big Show beats the bejeezus out of Kofi for most of the match. Kofi lands a Trouble in Paradise and goes for the pin, but Show throws him off. Kofi tries a couple quick escapes, but gets stopped and ultimately takes the WMD. Show takes his sweet time leaving the cage, but eventually steps down to win.
R-Truth has a busted foot and Kofi just got demolished. We won’t see the tag titles for a while.
Match 6 – Sin Cara vs Curt Hawkins
Winner: Sin Cara via pinfall
On NXT, Hawkins has a personality. He has a voice. Hell, he has a tag team partner in Tyler Reks. On Raw? Just fodder for Cara to do some flipamagoos. Sin Cara wrestles his standard match and Hawkins keeps up. After a few minutes, Sin Cara hits La Mistica and pins Hawkins. Solid, but much like Ryback or Brodus Clay, it’s the same thing week in and out and nobody expects anything different out of him. We should…but we don’t.
Vince finds Daniel Bryan warming up in the back. Vince wants Bryan’s opinion on Big Johnny, but ends up mocking him, saying that nobody ever expected Bryan to be anything. Bryan says they have something in common; they’re both self made successes. Vince cracks an “18 seconds” joke and that’s that. You have the most important figure in pro wrestling and one of the best pro wrestlers on the planet on the same screen, and that’s the best you can come up with – burying the guy. Splendid.
Raw 1000 moment: Dolph Ziggler remembers the first episode of Raw with Bobby Heenan’s shenanigans.
Match 7 – Heath Slater vs Vader
Winner: Vader via pinfall
Yes, THAT Vader. The man called Vader. Big Van Vader. He returns and gives us the good old Vader strikes in the corner and the expected and appreciated body attacks and clotheslines. Vader slams Slater and hits the Vader Bomb for the pin. The crowd, or at least the folks that remember and recognize Vader, were happy to see him. For a 57 year old man, he wrestled a good match. He’s apparently dropped a lot of weight recently; maybe we’ll see a few more of these in the coming weeks. If his body can take it, I’d love to see a Vadersault.
|As much as I'd like a shot of the Vaderbomb, this picture is amazing.|
AJ is freaking out in the back over the impending match. Punk tells her he’ll wrestle it as a handicap match and for her to just stay on the apron. She gives him a kiss on the cheek for luck and scampers off.
Match 8 – CM Punk and AJ vs Daniel Bryan and Kane
Winners: CM Punk and AJ via pinfall
Punk wrestles the first part of this match as a handicap; Kane and Bryan tag in and out on him and keep the pressure on. Punk gets tossed into his own corner and makes contact with AJ, which the ref (heartless bastard) calls a tag. AJ gets in the ring and looks up at Kane, then gives him the same smile she gave him a week ago. After this bout of cuteness, she proceeds to skip laps around the devil’s favorite demon. Kane stays stoic throughout until AJ stops skipping, hops up into Kane’s arms and plants a kiss on him. And not a peck. She goes all in. After she hops down, Kane tags Bryan and bails from the match. Bryan lunges at AJ near her corner, which allows Punk to tag in, delivering a kick to Bryan’s head and the Macho Elbow for a quick three.
In celebration, AJ plants herself cross legged in the middle of the ring, CM Punk-style and proceeds to smile for the world. This girl plays “out of her mind” like no other. She’s had the most character growth of anyone lately, and it’s deserved. She will end up playing into the finale of the WWE title match on Sunday; the only question is how? I don’t even want to speculate. I want to see it play out.
Vince comes out to close the show and summons Big Johnny. Big Show comes out before Vince delivers the career crescendo (I need to get that trademarked before WWE sees it) and confronts him. Show did everything Vince asked and never got to be the giant he should have been. Cena comes down (because we can’t end the show without him) and says that now everything revolves around Big Show. He got the iron clad contract; he got management behind him; he got the opponent he wants. But what happens if Big Show doesn’t win on Sunday? There’s no more excuses – he’ll have to show up to Raw every week. Vince decides that he’ll be ringside at No Way Out with Ace. If Big Show loses the cage match, then Vince fires Lauranaitis on PPV. A scuffle ensues between Cena, Ace and Big Show and in trying to sock Cena, Big Show misses and tags Vince (well, he missed by about 6 inches, but we’ll count it). Vince is out cold, and it’s sold like he’s not getting up for a long time. Ace yells at Big Show and this is apparently the end of the build up to the pay per view, shy of what we see on Friday. Not especially compelling to spend $40 on.
The WWE title and World Heavyweight title continue to take the backseat to John Cena and a giant who’s nearing retirement. The WWE title has the best little actress on the show in the mix and a legitimate x-factor in a match conclusion and the World title has Ziggler stepping up to make something of himself. Cena is the de facto main event as per the norm, with Big Show in a cage. Christian and Rhodes will fight for the IC title, and I suspect we see either Ryback and/or Sin Cara on the PPV as well. Brodus Clay faces Otunga on the youtube preshow, so we won’t be seeing him. This is why it’s so important to build the young guys, the new guys, your NXT guys; with a few injuries, the cupboard has gone bare. Some confidence in guys like Tyson Kidd or Curt Hawkins to have a competitive 10-15 match to prove themselves would help fill these shows.
All in all, this wasn’t a bad three hour Raw; we’ve seen FAR worse. But if this is the structure we can expect when Raw goes three hours every week starting in July, they can keep the extra hour. Fingers crossed they designate the earlier hour of the show to a bit of star building and/or take the opportunity to introduce us to guys like Dean Ambrose or Seth Rollins.