I normally am not a guy who focuses on judging the current product against the past, but after taking over predicts from Kendra and looking over the three PPVs we have built to in the last month, I feel I need to finally get something off of my chest. I don’t know if it is just the fact that fans these days have a short attention span, a lower tolerance to seeing similar matches being contested, or if Creative and the company heads (Yes, I am referring to both WWE and TNA here) are just so out of touch with their fan bases that they can’t see the issues, but the building of feuds and rivalries have become almost nonexistent. Unless it can be compartmentalized down to 6 weeks, neither company seems to want to mess with it. But we all know that it didn’t always used to be this way. In the 80’s and early 90’s, feuds were built across months, even years. Take for example Undertaker’s feud with Harvey Whippleman. Whippleman brought in many different stars such as Kamala, Giant Gonzales, Mr. Hughes, and Adam Bomb over the course of a year and a half. And even in the early 00’s we had longer storylines such as the Invasion, the Triple H/HBK storyline, Evolution, and Jericho/HBK. But now we are lucky if they last up to 3 months, with The Shield and A’s and 8’s being the lone exceptions. I truly think if WWE and TNA could start looking at the longer picture, we might just be more inclined to want to watch the product.
Break it Down!
Opening Video: 6
Talk about unnecessary censorship! There was no reason to censor Jericho here! Otherwise, this was a standard opening video, which as everyone knows means it was pretty bad.
Miz TV: 6.5
There was an awful glare on the camera at the start of this! Production should have seen that on the reel and cut to another camera shot. And one of my biggest pet peeves with these talk shows is the fact that they have furniture in the ring, but never use it! Why even bother with it? Miz really showed his irritation with Daniel Bryan, even after all of this time and a face turn, which surprised me. I was talking with Kendra about it, and she agrees that it felt a little heelish for him. I will say that the intensity of everyone involved here was great, and looks to be setting up some great rivalries down the line! While it looks like they are slowly burning the breakup of Hell No, I kind of hope that WWE will just let them part without a feud. Kane could easily move on to a feud for a top title and Bryan is easily poised for a run with a world title. Not another Teddy Long Special! I know that he is basically the joke incarnated, but it really gets under my skin that we have to put up with this drivel every week!
Chris Jericho vs. Curtis Axel: 9.5
Axel has that confidence that his father had in his promos and I adore it! I have many fond memories of his father and I am so glad that WWE has finally given Curtis Axel the platform to showcase his talents while honoring his family’s legacy. Heyman on announce was a treat! I may be one of the few people who miss when Heyman was paired with JR in 2001, but Heyman is a good color commentator. This was an excellently wrestled match, and it really showed just how well Axel could do at the top of the card. And finally, someone sells the running neckbreaker right! Granted, the only two stars that have been hit with it so far are Cena and Sin Cara, so that might explain why it took Jericho for it to be sold well! Heyman was obviously going to manipulate the match so Axel could win, but his calling on Punk’s music was genius! And what a pop it received! Easily the loudest of the night! Everyone has been wondering when Axel would get a pinfall over a huge name, and here they go. Sure, it may not have been a clean win, but they are building him up as a major heel prospect of Heyman’s, so why not let him win dirty for a good while? This way, when he gets that big clean win, it feels even more special. Jericho was doing everything he could to hold back a smile as he walked up the ramp. You can really tell that he is enjoying building up these young stars. Of course, Jericho let his frustration get the better of him here and attacked Axel. And Axel sold the Codebreaker Perfectly!
Winner: Curtis Axel (Pin)
Backstage Segment: 8
Ryback was very flat and monotone here, but Kane was awesome! He really carried this segment. Kane mentioned Tombstoning the priest, lighting JR on fire, and burying Taker alive, but what about electrocuting Shane’s testicles? I guess that isn’t PG enough for them!
Wyatt Family: 10
I’m summing up both vignettes here. If you aren’t excited about them yet, check your pulse, as they are probably the single best hyped debut WWE has done in years. They’re coming.
Raw Rebound: 6
Other than to push the growing issues Triple H had on Raw, this served no purpose but to waste 5 minutes off of Smackdown.
Alberto Del Rio vs. Heath Slater: 7
I should have known that this was a throw away segment as soon as I saw 3MB were in it. Seriously, when was the last time they weren’t involved in one? And while the rest of the brawl was completely forgettable, Ricardo leaping off the top rope put a smile on my face. Ziggler’s announcement, while expected thanks to the news that he passed his ImPACT test, was still a breath of fresh air in an otherwise stale segment. On a side note, Ziggler would be a much better narrator for the opening video than the person they have now!
Kane vs. Ryback: 8
Ok, anyone else get the Scott Steiner vibe when Ryback comes out in the ambulance? And that isn’t a good thing! This press slam of Kane was impressive, as that is a lot of weight to keep held over his head for such a long period of time. But then he had to follow the slam up with the Donkey Kong chest pound! Really, who in their right mind can take a guy seriously when he pounds his chest in the middle of the ring like a gorilla? Otherwise, this was a good, physical match. And while some will just attribute it to the fact that Ryback has worked with two individuals who can work the ring better than anyone in the WWE, I truly think Ryback is improving his style as well.
Winner: Kane (DQ)
Damien Sandow Show: 3
I have been a big fan of these segments so far, but this one was just awful! Let’s just go through the list of errors and fallacies in this segment, shall we? Deep Blue was a much larger supercomputer, and while modern machines can get to comparable move depth analysis, they cannot analyze as many positions as Deep Blue did. (Deep Blue analyzed over 200 million positions a second, while most modern chess computers only analyze up to 8 million.) The voice was awful and very obviously forced. The pieces were set up incorrectly on the screen. (The Queen goes on column D, not E.) The screen was not a touchscreen, as anyone could tell when the piece moved before Sandow moved his fingers up the screen. And finally, you could see someone come out from under the ring at the start of the fight! Although there were some witty lines here, it was just awful overall, with the only purpose being that Sandow finally used his “brute strength” on Sheamus.
Backstage Segment: 8
Daniel’s single minded focus is absolutely wonderful! Orton is appearing to be returning to his roots, and that is a good thing. He has always worked better as the loner.
Fandango vs. Ryder: 8
Summer Rae’s outfit tonight was simple, yet still very sexy. Ryder growing out his hair is working well for him. Here’s hoping for a gimmick change soon, as I don’t mind the Long Island Iced Z, but is killing any chance he has of being taken seriously. Nice counter by of the Rough Ryder by Fandango! That Powerbomb looked painful! Good match overall by both men. Ryder has always had great ring work and Fandango has proven that he is more than deserving of the push he has received. Miz on commentary only helped this match further. I can easily see him becoming a full time color commentator after his in ring career is over.
Winner: Fandango (Pin)
Ryback Smash!: 2
This recap would have made more sense right before his match instead of right here. Thus, it gets failed
Kaitlyn and Natalyia: 7
Ouch! Kaitlyn got really mean really quickly there! Maybe we are getting a heel turn for her? It would open up more opponents for her to face in the Divas Division. At least we will finally see the end of this storyline. Anyone else find it suspicious that WWE is concluding this storyline on Monday when Ziggler returns? I’m calling it right here that this is a set up by AJ, which will establish their Divas Title Match at Payback.
The Shield (Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins) vs. Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton: 9
I know I heap on the praise for The Shield every week, as well as Bryan, but these men are what make Smackdown a must watch program for me every week. Between 3 of the men in the ring here, we have some of WWE’s best talent. The pin by Bryan early on tonight was ingenious, as I never thought of transitioning an arm lock like that into a pin. Then the can-can kicks Bryan did between Rollins and Reigns brought a smile to my face! Speaking of Reigns, the one thing I love about him is his vocalizations! He sells through not just his body language, but his primal screams. And Rollins’ agility every week just astounds me! That man can move around a ring faster and higher than almost anyone else on the roster! And for the second week in a row, I thought the Rabid Squirrel killed Rollins with that Belly to Back Suplex! Of course, Ambrose needed to interfere to keep a strong team from picking up a clean win here. They will do what they need to in order to keep those Tag Titles from being at risk from needing a defense against top stars. And I know it seems like I have ignored Orton in this match up to this point, but the fact is that he really wasn’t important until it was over. I should have expected that RKO, but it still surprised me! It is the subtle changes in Orton’s facials that really sell his gimmick well, and the pure disgust he had on his face for Bryan showed more than they could have hoped for with all of the backstage segments and talk shows they could have done between the two of them. I can’t believe I am saying this, but I am looking forward to a feud between Orton and Bryan!
Winners: Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton (DQ)
Overall Wrestling Grade: 8.75
Overall Segment Grade: 6.25
Overall Show Grade: 7.5
Ever hear the saying that less is more? We had less wrestling than in previous weeks, but the quality of those matches were much higher than they were just two weeks ago! However, the same could not be said about the segments, as we had 10 segments that not only ate away at the overall pace of the show, but also were just atrocious in places! And I know that it is at least in part due to the fact that we had such a stellar Smackdown last week that I had higher hopes that they would continue the tide into this week, however that was not the case.
Last week, Navin swooped in and quickly took the Trivia Title! This week, I have one that will stump even the best wrestling scholars out there! What current active (Full Time) WWE Superstar has the highest average days as champion? They must have held a title at least twice, and this is average time held, not combined time held. I’m sure no one will get it this week! In fact, if someone does, I will let them issue next week’s trivia question!