Welcome to this week’s Breakdown! I am starting something new this week and highlighting one of our sister sites newer writers in this week’s opening. This will be an every three weeks or so feature. This time, I’d like to introduce you to Nicholas Wildey. He has published some great articles looking at subjects varying from CM Punk's return and Daniel Bryan’s future to what will happen when Vince finally leaves WWE and the perspective of Canadian fans. Nick, take it away!
The Shield has been easily one of the most exciting pieces of the WWE scene since CM Punk’s infamous promo in 2011. They have come in; taken over the entire roster, put the best show of the night on most nights and have been unbeatable. All three men had extremely high expectations on them and have been able to live up to and go beyond every one of those expectations. The biggest thing to me about The Shield is that when they perform, they look like real superstars. Each individual will in all likelihood be major stars one day, but for now, as a package they look like the real deal. Each man brings something different to the package and without even seeing them wrestle, their look aesthetically together is fantastic. Once you really start to dissect the team, each man is so essential for the complete feel and effect of the unit.
There is no question about it, Roman Reigns looks like he is more than capable of hurting someone and if you saw him in a bar, you would not try anything. He looks not only like a physical specimen and a true powerhouse, but a legitimately bad dude as well. When he gets in the ring, he’s more than just a muscle man and can wrestle with the best of them. Seth Rollins is the most high flying member of The Shield and has an almost Hardy Boys look and feel, which will attract not only young kids, but girls as well, which are usually hard to sell on professional wrestling. His promos need a little work, but these guys are within the first year of their WWE career. Dean Ambrose is my personal, and I think many will agree with me, favourite member of The Shield, who has clearly taken the role as the leader within the group. Every move he makes, every punch he throws, every face he makes, has more energy and passion in it than most people on any wrestling roster. Dean Ambrose deserves the US Title and he deserves the spot as leader, but of course this creates the possibility for dissension in the future.
That is of course the best and worst part of professional wrestling, no matter how good it is, it cannot last as the stories must evolve. Eventually either a new member will have to be brought into the group, or it will explode from within and those three men will enter into feuds with each other. Personally I’d be fine with them fighting each other, I want this solid unit around as long as possible and I hope to the lord above that all three men are pushed with confidence after the split. Of course once these men do split up the feud they enter into will be legendary, they will likely tear down the house with each match, putting it all on the line against each other when the time is right.
Break it Down!
Opening Video: 8.5
Wow! What a change adding some music to this video made! Production made a great call with that, as I was really tuned into the video. On top of that, they used a lot of action shots which helped keep your eyes on it. Please do this again next week!
In Ring Segment: 9
Bryan opening Smackdown can only spell good things for the rest of the show! He’s been on fire lately both in ring and on the mic. This started as a very great way to take his catchphrases and twist them into a promo without yelling them. It lets him show that he can do things other than crazed screaming promos. I loved the RK-No chant. Kane asking if Bryan is breaking up with him had me rolling! Kane is turning into the spurned girl of this relationship, which is where I expected Bryan to go! Bryan of course brought it back to the weak link, but I didn’t expect him to finally turn it onto Kane. With all of the whining on TV as well as backstage, it seems to me that a lot of WWE Superstars are going through Manopause! The Shield of course just further added to a fantastic segment, as it was hitting the point that the infighting was getting irritating. Though I will say I can’t wait for the match now!
Sheamus vs. Antonio Cesaro: 7
Ugh, Cesaro gets the dang entrance again? After having both Zeb Colter and the announce team talk him up on this past week’s Raw, you would think he would be doing better than fodder for Sheamus. Sandow’s promo to start wasn’t bad, but we have heard much better come from him. Cesaro’s strength is just flat out amazing no matter how many times I see it. That was a nasty cut on Sheamus’ shoulder. He obviously hit the corner of the stairs. Of course, out would come the gloves. But what I kept noticing was that the ref kept wiping the blood! Come on! Accidents happen, and blood will pour when it does. There is no need to hide it. Of course Sandow was going to attack as Sheamus came up the ramp! The camera angle gave it away. It was too tight on Sheamus compared to normal. While the match itself was a nice bit of a brawl, I just couldn’t get totally into it.
Winner: Sheamus (Pin)
Wyatt Family Vignettes: 10
Twisted. Unsettling. Creepy. Disturbed. Psychotic. I don’t know how you will describe the Wyatt family, but I bet it falls along those lines. By now, I have said all I can on the men here. They’re coming, and nothing can prepare the roster for them. I just hope that they debut soon, as the anticipation is killing me!
Punk Video: 10
Fantastic video! It reminds me as to why I love watching him.
Teddy Long Loses His Lunch: 9
Ziggler is right. Smackdown has been struggling over the last month since Ziggler was concussed. And I do believe it is because it hasn’t had its champion on it. Even the last couple of weeks, which have been much better than the average, have felt lacking. WWE needs to turn Big E face soon! He works so well as one in NXT and while stealing Teddy’s burger was a heel move, it felt too fun to be.
The “Great” Khali vs. Heath Slatter: 6
As soon as I saw who Khali’s opponent was going to be, I thought that this was going to be a train wreck into another train wreck, but I have to admit it wasn’t quite that bad! It was still hard to watch, but Khali was better than average here. Wait, Khali lives in Texas now? Just because everything is supposed to be bigger there doesn’t mean it’s the perfect home for you! I kid. Khali’s English is getting better. Wait, Slater got a win?! Did I fall into an alternate dimension? If it wasn’t over Khali, I’d be wondering if WWE has finally gained some confidence in him.
Winner: Heath Slater (Pin)
Alberto Del Rio and Chris Jericho vs. World Heavyweight Champion Dolph Ziggler and Big E. Langston: 7.75
EWWWW! Did the camera man have to zoom in on Big E’s wedgie? Seriously, is a longer singlet not an option here? While Kendra may like Big E’s “apple bottom”, it is an awful distraction for me. ADR won with a roll up? That was an incredibly lame ending to this match. While there wasn’t very much that was memorable about this match, Ziggler’s limited work showed that he doesn’t have much rust after such a long layoff. Hopefully, he can steal the show at Payback.
Winners: Alberto Del Rio and Chris Jericho (Pin)
Team Hell RK-No Recap: 2
Why was this recap even remotely needed? It isn’t like this is Raw where the show is 3 hours. 2 minutes out of the show to recap the start of the show just wastes the viewer’s time.
Jericho Interview: 7
Ha! Jericho popping Heyman in the mouth for his “Pipebomb” was perfect! Otherwise, this segment was lackluster to me. Since Jericho returned, he has slowly went from the fun Jericho that we knew from his early days to a more stoic personality, and it was the fun side of him that helped make him stand out of the crowd. Sadly, I am starting to see very little difference in him and the rest of the roster.
Diva’s Champion Kaitlyn vs. Aksana: 8
In my best Joey Styles voice: “CATFIGHT!!!” Heartbreak does crazy things to a person, and Kaitlyn was portraying that perfectly here tonight. I think if WWE can keep the focus of the Divas division off of the Bellas and the old model philosophy and keep pushing the ladies with actual talent, we may very well see a revival of the division! She AJ-slapped the heck out of the ref! That just looked utterly painful!
Cena/Ryback Recap: 2
Ok, why did we waste another 5 minutes to recap this feud? I understand that the PPV is this weekend, but you don’t need to find a way to shoehorn every storyline into an already pressed for time show.
Curtis Axel vs. Wade Barrett: 8.25
Boy, Hardees must have shelled out some major money to be the sponsor of not only an entire episode of Smackdown, but of two matches on Raw and Smackdown and a backstage segment on each show! Too bad it didn’t cut down on the commercials. Would anyone else mind if WWE replaced commercials with product placement? Barrett is getting a jobber entrance too? That really shows what WWE thinks of their champion. At least he got a promo in. The camera men are getting in some bad shots tonight! This time they got one of Barrett’s bulge! Shore it up Production team! Miz is recapturing some of that spark he had before he left on the mic! That was an absolutely beautiful Dropkick by Axel! While it was a quick match, it left a much bigger impression on me than both Sheamus/Cesaro and the Tag Match earlier. I also like how they are keeping with Axel having two finishers. It makes him that much more unpredictable in how he will finish a match.
Winner: Curtis Axel (Pin)
The Shield vs. Randy Orton and Team Hell No: 11
I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Orton is kicking things into high gear! If this Orton keeps showing up for matches, then I could even get behind a main event push for him again. He also worked quite a bit of the match, which we haven’t seen in a long time. The Shield worked flawlessly together, as usual, and while we didn’t see anything new from them, at this point do we need to? Everyone knows that when The Shield are in the ring, you can expect a superior product. Bryan was on fire after he got the tag from Kane! The three dropkicks were superb! And the wrenching back of Rollins while he was in the No Lock was just sick looking! I will gladly admit I marked out all through the go home sequence and when the bell rang at the end of the match! That was a fantastic way to end The Shield’s streak! Call it my pride in Daniel Bryan, but the look on Orton’s face and the reaction he gave to him has completely assured me that Bryan is the #2 star in WWE right now and that he may even soon be the #1, despite what Cena may want!
Winners: Team Hell RK-No! (Sub)
Overall Wrestling Grade: 8
Overall Segment Grade: 7
Overall Show Grade: 8
While the show lost some steam in the middle, I have to say that the opening and closing segments more than made up for it! WWE has a perfect formula with Bryan, The Shield, and Orton right now. Even if Payback goes the way I expect it to, I think we are just starting the journey of a fantastic summer of storylines and talent. And with Punk’s imminent return and the looming on air power struggle in the McMahon family, we just might see some sort of resurgence in WWE’s core audience.
This week, I will not be publishing a trivia question, but instead I encourage you to head on over to the Live Coverage of Payback and make your voices heard! Until next week!