So as most of you may or may not know, I usually watch Smackdown on my laptop. Tonight, I had the opportunity to watch it on my parent’s very large screen HDTV while I was dog sitting for them. Let me just say that it makes a world of difference. Yeesh. I’m in the process of purchasing another laptop, and I’m going to make sure it can connect to my HDTV at my house (which I’m just using for my XBOX). On to more pertinent opening thoughts, I’d like to recognize and express my sympathy for the family of Killer Karl Kox. I never knew the guy, and sadly, I never witnessed any of his matches or anything like that. I understand the impact he had though on many people, and if he is anything like his son, Kody, then he must have been a class act. As I mentioned on the post announcing his death, Kody goes by the same name his dad did down here at Metroplex Wrestling, where he manages “Just” James Johnson. This is about the closest a death has hit home with me that didn’t involve my family, so take a moment and tell the people you love that you love them. Alright, now, let’s get to the WWE show that doesn’t suck, let’s get to SMACKDOWN!
The Captains Trade Words
If there’s one thing I can’t stand about “multiple opponent” promos, it’s when one person goes down the list and just says what he thinks of that person. It’s just so…e-fed? Hopefully certain of us will understand that. Oh, I also hope that a good number of you caught in the promotional photo for the Survivor Series match that Cody Rhodes was NOT wearing his mask. Is this the end of “Dashed” Cody Rhodes? We won’t find out tonight, because he’s not here. At any rate, Randy cut quite a boring promo, and I was relieved to see Barrett come out and play. I don’t know what Barrett did before the show to get the heat he got, but man, he got it. It didn’t even sound piped in. It’s not often that a Superstar in the WWE gets a second chance at breaking through this quickly, but I believe that this could be the time that Barrett can push through to the top again. Barrett has been very careful in reinventing himself and his character, and while there are some monotone, boring facets to his person, he’s still doing a better job of being relevant that Alberto del Rio. I would be more than happy to see Barrett take the win in this Survivor Series match and carry momentum into a feud with either Sheamus or Orton. Wade Barrett for Royal Rumble Champion 2012? Every time Christian comes out and talks, and I mentioned this in a comment last week, I keep thinking of that villain in The Incredibles and the line, “Hey! You caught me monologuing!” He is a stereotypical villain, the rat that everyone wants to see punched, and his promos are starting to become “classic” heel promos. The neck brace, the “born leader, but I don’t want my injury to be a distraction, so this guy rules” mention, all of it is very reminiscent of 90s heel promo work. Am I tired of seeing a card with the match “Sheamus vs. Christian”? Absolutely. Do I tire of their matches? Absolutely not.
Segment Grade: B+
Sheamus vs. Christian
The saying of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” comes to mind here, as this is nothing that we haven’t seen from these two before, but the formula to their matches works, and that alone merits a decent grade. Honestly, these two know each other so well that they wouldn’t need to go over their matches beforehand to plot them out. Was this match of the night? No, but it was a darn good opener, and it was relevant to Survivor Series. More on the “Members vs. Members” Survivor Series build later. I’m not entirely sure it’s possible to make Christian look weak anymore with losses. At the end of the match, I didn’t feel like Captain Charisma took a hit or had been buried in anyway. It’s great for him if he’s reached the point where he can lose and still be a legitimate threat or player. I loved the little bit at the end where he went by the announcer booth and picked up the cast away neck brace. If it makes an appearance at Survivor Series, I’m marking out.
Match Grade: B+
Oh my…it’s A.J.
Why? Why can’t I EVER be witness to a woman like A.J. in my everyday travels? At any rate, Daniel Bryan’s character seems to be taking an interesting turn. I’ll comment more on it later, but the Chickbusters presence was very welcome to this blog writer’s eyes. Mark Henry seemed less intimidating tonight…until he used the “You’ve got guts. It’s a shame I’m going to spill them all over the ring” line. Yep, still scary.
Segment Grade: B
It feels like the first time…
Ha, Aksana calling Alicia Fox Rihanna was funny as hell. Now…where are we going with this??
Segment Grade: D
Ted DiBiase vs. Jinder Mahal
I looked down to text someone, and when I looked up, Ted DiBiase had pinned Jinder Mahal. Case in point to Richard’s Ask WNW question regarding Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose: If you bring someone up too early, or without a proper storyline, your career is in the toilet. Example: Jinder Mahal. It’s a shame, because Mahal had some potential to be a really good heel. Instead, he is on the receiving end of (I haven’t used this in a while) A MAHAL-ING.
Match Grade: Squash
Mark Henry vs. Daniel Bryan
Okay, so, thanks to the HDTV I watched this on, I’m really seeing everything that Richard says about D-Bryan making his matches seem believable. The kicking segment with Henry on his knees best highlights this point. Does he do this spot in every match? Sure. But just observe his body and look at his movements. Bryan is ever so slightly putting a more concentrated effort into these blows tonight because his opponent is a freaking bear. Watch his face as Mark Henry picked him up after the LaBelle Lock. He’s got a “Crap, this didn’t work” look. You can see it in other workers; it’s the difference between bracing yourself for the impact of hitting the mat versus the realization of why you’re about to and what that’s going to mean for the rest of the match. Obviously Mark Henry has to go over here, and God bless Henry for making Daniel Bryan look legitimate. Henry could have easily just no sold everything Daniel gave him. It would have had the same “monster” effect, but now, Henry is the guy that can withstand punishment, which makes him all the more menacing. The after match stuff contained the interesting turn that Daniel Bryan’s character can take.
Match Grade: B-
Bryan out of the picture?
So the way I see it, Daniel Bryan can go two ways, they both depend on who is the World Heavyweight Champion, and they both have him being written out until at least the Rumble. With Option A, Mark Henry is still the champion at Wrestlemania, and Daniel Bryan comes back for his revenge for tonight’s assault. That’s an easy scenario. It’s very textbook booking. With Option B, we see a Daniel Bryan heel turn. The Big Show is champion at Wrestlemania in this scenario, and Daniel Bryan comes back and blames Show for not doing more to prevent Henry from taking him out and/or getting the stupid idea in his head to potentially cash in Money in the Bank last week, thus angering the World’s Strongest Man. This would require a lot more careful booking, especially having to channel some seemingly-absent charisma on Bryan’s part. As for the rest of this segment, I was again impressed with Henry on the stick, and I do think that the World Heavyweight Championship match is being built nicely, leaving the possibility open for either competitor to walk away victorious.
Segment Grade: B+
The Big Show vs. The British Boys
And then we get to this. Did we really need to see The Big Show beat up on two obvious jobbers and one Tyler Reks miniature to be reminded of the fact that he’s dominant? I mean, great for the three guys, who are no doubt indy wrestlers across the pond, but really?
Match Grade: Squash
Tamina w/Rosa Mendes vs. Alicia Fox w/Aksana
Why isn’t Tamina part of the Sisters of Salvation/#pinupstrong movement? Oh, because she jobbed to Alicia Fox tonight? Thank you for that. Alright, now if any of you are aspiring bookers, please ask yourself this question of this match: If you’re going to make a big deal about Aksana being at ringside for this match, why didn’t you do something with it? Pointless filler here. Oh, and once again, please shut Natalya up.
Match Grade: D
Um, I enjoyed the promo, but why did we have it? Were we really running that short on time? I mean, he didn’t even really talk about Survivor Series, and on top of that, I think he did enough talking with his actions earlier in the night.
Segment Grade: C+
The Usos vs. The Barrio Brothers
Don’t call me racist. The mini-tron for Hunico, Epico, and Primo had a chain link fence with barbed wire. They’re dressed in jeans and (I hate this term) wife-beaters. Come on! Also, The Usos got pyro! YES! At any rate, here I was, thinking that Primo is being inserted into another failed gimmick. Here I was, thinking that Hunico and Epico weren’t going to be more than flashes in the pan, gimmicks to help Sin Cara get over. Here I was, watching this match, going, “Wow…I’m actually seeing some decent tag team action.” That’s right folks, I’m excited about this new faction that seems to be making its mark. The unmasking of Hunico could be the best thing that happened to him, Epico, and poor Primo. Primo, while he may be the WWE veteran of the group, will actually fit in fantastically in this group. Here, we have a heel tag team/stable, that can be NATURAL heels. Admit it, The Usos as “Rich Samoans” was awkward. Otunga-cutty was awkward. Gabriater suffered from one member being too much of a face for his own good and the other one just sucking. The Awesome Truth, as successful as they are, are really just two singles competitors thrown together to take part in a non-title tag feud. And then we have Hunico, Epico, and Primo (HunEPrimo?) Three guys who look like they belong together as a group, as a tag team. This gives us now TWO true, old-fashioned tag teams. WHOA. Combine that with the other random names you can just throw together, and we could have a decent tag team division. On the other hand, how many weeks have I been saying that? The match was great. I was about to say that it needed a few more minutes, but for the pace it was fought at and the two teams involved, it worked out nicely. Couple that with the after-match trifecta assault, and this whole 10 minute segment was very well put together. I like the Usos and hope and wish to see more of them on WWE TV, perhaps when this Rocky stuff dies down. I think I just made my feelings clear on the Barrio Brothers. I don’t even mind that this had nothing to do with the Survivor Series build, save for getting Hunico over. But even then, it did more than just get Hunico over, it got all three of them over. I’d like to see a comment from ONE person here who DIDN’T believe that Hunico was done after being unmasked. This, my friends, is a pleasant surprise.
Match Grade and Segment Grade: A
Randy Orton vs. Wade Barrett
At last, we come to our main event. This was a hotly contested fight with a very real, something to prove, feel to it. Despite what the results writer said, I don’t believe that the pops and heat were piped in. I’ve seen heels come out before the cameras start rolling to cut promos against their hometown crowd to get them riled up. It wouldn’t surprise me if Barrett had done the same. I’m glad Orton didn’t just go to town on Barrett and instead made him look like the “Nexus Leader” of old. Like I said earlier, this could be Barrett’s second opportunity to break out and take that next step. Right now, he’s not hindered by a stable, and this Barrett Barrage deal, as corny as it sounds, is working for him. I’m also not qualifying this victory as a dirty win. Why? When was the last time you saw a referee disqualify a wrestler for using an eye poke? You didn’t. It might be the heel in me, but since it’s not a DQ, it’s not dirty. CLEAN WIN FOR WADE BARRETT!
Match Grade: A
In-Ring Action: B I am more than okay with not having every Survivor Series contestant having matches tonight. Spread it out! You’ve got another week to build the event, so next week, we can have Kofi/Cody and Swagger/Sin Cara. Okay, the pairings are likely to be switched, but I wouldn’t mind seeing the matches I outlined. Incorporating future possibilities and build, I am giving the match of the night to the tag match. I think it would be too easy to give it to Sheamus and Christian, but the fact that the tag match introduced a NEW idea and concept to the WWE mix, I think, makes it a bigger match. Also, I wasn’t a fan of two Squash matches and a weird Divas match.
Out-of-Ring Action: C There was just a lot here that didn’t make sense. There was no capitalization on the Aksana angle, Sheamus seemed to be killing time, Randy was just drawling, and the best segments of the night were the two beatdowns (Henry/Bryan, Usos/Barrios). It felt like an odd night in this category. Also, Natalya was given permission to talk.
Overall: B- I’m giving this week’s episode a B- instead of a C+ because it did successfully build towards Survivor Series. I’m glad we have a fresh group being inserted, I’m perplexed for reasons I can’t understand about the Aksana stuff, and the WHC match and Survivor Series match are being built nicely. Next week, they better pull out the stops and make the go-home a good one. There’s a lot of potential for it, so let’s see what they do with it. As for the constant plugs for The Rock this Monday…I’m honestly not excited about it. I can’t see him doing anything other than squashing The Awesome Truth and maybe John Cena, and that is just not going to be enough to get me excited for that match.
Outside the Blog Zone
Last week at MPX: Consequences, I got my vengeance on “Center Stage” Danny Saint. Later that night, as the faction known as Team Kyle earned a Tag Team Championship match for next month, I decided that being a one-time champion just wasn’t enough and that the two wrestling representatives for Team Kyle (Kyle is their manager…very Heenan/Hart-esque) weren’t going to stand a chance. I sold my soul to the devil, I did the unimaginable, and I performed yet ANOTHER heel-to-heel turn. Representing Team Kyle, I, “The Choice” Matt Andrews and The Monster Regrub will challenge Bling and Sting, Pay Day and WASP, for the MPX Tag Team Championships. If…no, no, no…WHEN we defeat them, I will become the first man in Metroplex Wrestling history to hold both the MPX Championship and the Tag Team Championships. History maker? That’s me. …on another note, we were supposed to have Lance Hoyt back next month…but he had to go and win the freaking tag team titles over in Japan, so he gets to stay there another few weeks. Darn. Looks like I’m going to have to be the main attraction. Until next week, thanks for making me your CHOICE for Smackdown blogging.