Last week, WWE released 7 NXT developmental prospects, including 2 very promising stars in Briley Pierce and Audrey Marie and that has started the questions of whether or not more cuts may be coming down the pipeline. And after Monday’s Raw and Wednesday’s Main Event, I believe we may have seen the first two of those main roster cuts. Ryder has been on the bubble for quite awhile thanks to his very outspoken nature against the company in the last few months via social media. Heath Slater has had very little progression over the past couple of years since the Nexus and Corre broke up. And it wouldn’t be the first time that they used a “Stuffed into an object” angle to release someone. They did it to knock the Spirit Squad down to developmental, where a few of them were released shortly after and Kenny Dykstra received the treatment back in 2009. And honestly, I wouldn’t be sad to see either of them go. But if WWE is going to start releasing people, then I can think of more than a few deserving people on the main roster, such as Mason Ryan, Hunico and Camacho, Aksana, Alex Riley, The Bellas, Curt Hawkins, Ezekiel Jackson, JTG, and Jinder Mahal. WWE needs to look at the roster and trim the fat, as they obviously can’t showcase all of them on the programming they have now.
As a side note here, I know that some of you will notice that I became a bit harsher in my grading of Smackdown last week and that will continue from here on out, as I feel WWE needs to start using Smackdown to elevate the talent and not to promote endless recaps of Raw and/or used for pointless segments that further storylines or the talent.
Break it Down!
Opening Video: 3
What else can I say about these opening videos? Every week they are yet another senseless and boring as heck recap of what happened on Raw or last week’s show. I wish WWE would just go back to using the musical intro, as they fill in enough of the show with the same sort of recaps as they do in the opening video every week.
Miz TV: 6
Miz looked and sounded even more plastic than usual to start off in this segment. I don’t know if it was just overly scripted or if he is just that badly out of practice, but between his look now and how he came across in this segment, I just can’t buy into him at the same level as he once was. Summer Rae has a degree in dance? Not with those moves! And not that I can verify anywhere! I do know that she was in the LFL, though! How VKM missed that idea is beyond me… But I digress! It was very obvious in a lot of sections of the segment that the crowd was piped in. I know it doesn’t look good to most fans if people aren’t getting a reaction, and maybe it is my old-school mentality kicking in here, but I prefer that WWE doesn’t edit in the reactions, as it shows what the fans truly think of workers. Dead silence is one of the worst things they can hope for when they are out there. Miz has a lot of room to talk about self absorbed narcissism! When your catch phrase is “I’m Awesome” I think it is a guarantee that you have the biggest ego in the room! Although I will grant that he had a good one-liner with the bag of Skittles quip! And I can’t believe I’m saying this after all of the segments he has bombed in recent memory, but Barrett was pretty good on the mike here! Honestly, I felt he outshone both Miz and Fandango combined. Of course, since Miz and Barrett have a match this had to devolve into a fight. What is this, Springer?
Intercontinental Title Match
Wade Barrett (c) vs. The Miz: 7
I can’t believe that they started a title match during a commercial! That shows just how little respect that WWE has currently for the Intercontinental Title. And that just sickens me. If WWE’s going to continue treating these midcard belts with such disrespect, then they need to either merge them together or retire them. Fandango seemed kind of nervous on the announce desk. While he had a low, sultry tone to it, he seemed more like he was a bit shy on there than he should have. And yet again they took away from a decent match with more of Fandango’s dancing! I understand that they are trying to build up a program between all three of the men involved, but to take away from matches to have Fandango dance in them is driving me nuts!
Winner: The Miz (DQ) – Wade Barrett Retains
Backstage Segment: 8
Let the divorce of Hell No begin! And I use the word divorce because I anticipate that their break up will be as messy and brutal as one. And I love how they are showing Daniel Bryan’s psyche slowly breaking with him arguing with himself here. It’s odd to see Kane be the logical one here! Maybe Daniel needs to see Dr. Shelby again!
Swagger vs. Bryan: 8
Of course, with Daniel Bryan’s mental state breaking, we were sure to see a more aggressive and stiff side to his work come out during this match. And I have to say that this was a good technical bout. And we saw the start of the break in the backstage segment earlier, but we saw here that Daniel is going crazier, and very dark! Could this be the beginning of the serious heel turn we have been waiting for? I sure hope so! And as a side note, this match shows just how much Swagger’s stock has fallen in just the last couple of weeks. He has gone from a Number One Contender’s Match to losing to both Orton and Bryan in the same week. And the only person Swagger has to blame is himself.
Ryback Recap: 5
Honestly, I don’t know what else I can say about this that hasn’t already been said. Ryback is growing well into himself as a heel, but he had to resort to cheap tactics just to get heat on Monday night. And I already covered my thoughts on the attacks on Ryder and Slater above, so honestly, this is just filler to me.
The Damien Sandow Show: 8.5
It is about time Sandow gets a talk show to showcase his eloquent mike skills! And demeaning Striker was icing on the cake! I like Striker, but he is a good punching bag! And I think I may have said it before, but the way Sandow holds the mike fits him perfectly, like a fine wine in a glass. It’s little things like that which sells the gimmick more and more. Oh, come on! Sheamus has to interrupt a perfect segment! Although it wasn’t entirely unexpected, considering Sandow’s earlier rant. And Sandow has shown that one word could be a bigger heat magnet than an entire promo! “Silence!” has become one of the best catchphrases to come out of the recent batch of new superstars! I have to admit I popped for “Red-headed Philistinian friend”! Looks like we are getting a Sandow/Sheamus feud, and while I’m not enthused over the prospect as I don’t see WWE letting Sandow go over Sheamus, it is a step in the right direction for Sandow.
Big Show vs. Y2J: 7
Ouch! That chop that Jericho got from Big Show as he came off the top rope sounded really painful! And that was a beautiful Codebreaker on the outside by Jericho! But Show’s loss here begs the question, what are they trying to do with Show? Show has looked really weak since WrestleMania, and it doesn’t make any sense to bury the big man when they are hurting for talent.
Winner: Chris Jericho (Count Out)
Raw Rebound: 4
I’ve made my thoughts on concussions and how they affect people very clear both here in the Breakdown and in the comments section here on WNW. And the fact of the matter is that my own personal experiences with post concussion syndrome makes me very biased about them being used as a storyline. Thus, I will say my grading on any of these segments will be most likely negative. I can only hope that WWE intends to use this to educate the general public on the dangers and complications of concussions instead of making it all about the possibility that one has ended Triple H’s career.
Curtis Axel and Paul Heyman: 7.5
First off, Curtis Axel’s theme is a buy as soon as it hits iTunes for me! And Heyman can get someone over faster than anyone else I have ever seen and I watched Memphis in its heyday when The King’s blessing was an automatic draw! Although I won’t agree with Heyman that Lesnar is a first ballot Hall of Famer, there is no denying what Heyman’s touch does for a talent. Axel did well on the mike here, but wasn’t anything spectacular. I hope he steps it up quickly.
Curtis Axel vs. Sin Cara: 7
Ugh, the mood lighting returns! That is the third biggest reason that I hate Sin Cara, with number two being how injury prone he is and number one being how much he botches. Axel really oversold the kicks from Sin Cara. His kicking out the opposite leg that he was being kicked in was ridiculous. Other than that, I really didn’t see anything that stood out too much in this match. I do have to say that I like Axel’s finisher. It is a simplistic looking move, but has a good impact.
Winner: Curtis Axel (Pin)
United States Title Match
Dean Ambrose (c) vs. Kofi Kingston: 6
I like that we have had two Title matches in tonight’s episode! And I really have to agree with JBL that Ambrose has that different style to his ring work that really makes him stand out from the other Superstars in WWE today. It’s just a shame that this match was just a setup for another Classic Teddy Long Tag Match. Yes, Teddy Long drove this match grade down that far!
Winner: Kofi Kingston (DQ) – Dean Ambrose Retains
Classic Teddy Long Six Man Tag:
The Shield vs. Randy Orton, Sheamus and Kofi Kingston: 8
Even though I love The Shield and think that they are the second greatest three man faction of all time, only behind The Freebirds, I can’t say that this match was much above anything else that we have seen from them. They go so hard every time they are out there that it is becoming commonplace. And I guess it is about time to acknowledge the fact that Orton is getting massive pops in any arena he goes to these days! The man’s popularity seemed to have tapered off for a bit after he came back from his wellness strike and all the way up to WrestleMania, but he has been on fire with the crowds lately. I hope that Reigns isn’t hurt too bad from that very awkward landing off of the Superman Elbow. Even in those big combat styled boots, you could see that ankle roll. That he still pulled off the Spear while hurting shows his dedication to the business. I will say that everyone did very well to protect Reigns after the injury, though. The one really stand out spot in the match was thanks to Rollins! That leg sweep into the turnbuckle was wicked looking! Rollins always seems to pull out these OMG moments in any match he is in, though.
Winners: The Shield (Pin)
Overall Wrestling Grade: 7
Overall Segment Grade: 5.25
Overall Show Grade: 6
Well, at least WWE stepped into the right direction this week as compared to the last episode of Smackdown, but the average was still subpar at best. It has been over a month since WWE has put out a must-see Smackdown, at least in my eyes, and while I know I am just one voice, I know that there are many others out there that feel the same way. My biggest problem in this week’s show was how little wrestling we had in the first hour. We had that horribly short Miz/Barrett match and the moderate Bryan/Swagger match, but we had 40-45 minutes of filler in just the first hour. Then we got the flipside during the second hour. Creative needs to spread the segments out more, as it burns out the fans watching at home otherwise.
Last week, Blitz grabbed back the Trivia belt! This week’s question, though, is sure to stump even the best of you! What current WWE Superstar has participated in the most verifiable matches in his career? Good luck and I will see you again for next week’s Breakdown!