Welcome to this week's Breakdown! I apologize for this being up later this week, but I had some life issues come up that I needed to take care of. I do want to say that I did get to have a somewhat good 4th of July despite everything, as I got the opportunity to watch Memphis Legend "Superstar" Bill Dundee and Brian Christopher in action at our local fireworks show. So without any further ado, let's get to it!
Break it Down!
Opening Video: 10
Since it appears that WWE has finally let go of the narrated recap to open Smackdown, this is the last time you will see this category until they bring it back. Though I will say that the removal of the recap shows that WWE does listen to their fans, just in small doses!
In Ring Segment: 5
It is a rare day when CM Punk appears live on Smackdown, but it is almost always a fantastic experience. Note that I said almost always, as this promo fell a bit flat. And it wasn't the words he spoke, as they were spot on, but it was the flippant attitude he had with them. It was almost as if he didn't want to be on the B show. And ADR only added to the irritations that I had with the segment! From the piped in reactions for him to the words that had no feeling to them yet again, ADR yet again proved he isn't at a main event level despite this being his 4th World Title reign. But the straw that broke my back with this is that it ended in yet another Teddy Long Special! It is a good match to make, but at least make it in a backstage segment! It is like WWE wants us to tune out each week!
Backstage Segment: 8
Heyman sounds so desperate to get around Punk! It just goes to show you that the right kind of emotion can really sell a segment. But all of this desperation makes me thing that Heyman's full turn against Punk further down the line will be incredible!
The Usos vs. Rhodes Scholars: 7.5
I mentioned on Monday night during the Raw Watch Party that The Uso's music really doesn't fit with the beginning of their entrance and the more I see it, the more I hope that WWE will change the music. I love the war dance, as it is an interesting part of their Samoan culture, but it feels out of place when followed with low level hip hop music. Damien Sandow was as eloquent as ever, but Cody sucked all of the steam the promo was building right out. The Usos have really been impressive as of late. Granted, they have been in matches against some of the best talents in the WWE for ring work, but they have quite obviously stepped up their game as of late. But regardless of the reason behind it, the Usos have shown that they are deserving of this opportunity.
Winners: The Usos (Pin)
Shield Promo: 9
Ambrose with MITB is a scary thought! Him lurking in the shadows of the crowd, just waiting for a champion to fall so he and The Shield can dole out World Championship justice... It gives me goosebumps! It is clear who WWE sees as the standout star of The Shield and I have this gut feeling that Ambrose could very well become the catalyst of The Shield's breakup. But that is a long ways down the road!
Kaitlyn vs Alicia Fox: 5
The match was fine until AJ came out. Kaitlyn was in distress for a good amount of time and Alicia Fox looked much better than she did on Monday Night. But after AJ came out, it turned into a total cluster! Both Kaitlyn and Alicia lost a lot of the crispness to their moves and started to look as bad as the Divas matches used to! I understand the need to further the story between AJ and Kaitlyn, but it is now getting to where it is at the expense of the ring work. And that should never happen.
Winner: Alicia Fox (Pin)
Backstage Segment: 8
The Bellas yet again nearly destroyed a segment! I don't care that they are there to help promote the upcoming Total Divas show, they bring absolutely nothing to the table except their looks. They are terrible on the mic and in the ring. Big E tried his darnedest to not crack up at AJ! And while he couldn't, I don't blame him! AJ played the flustered cowardly heel so well here!
Christian and Orton Interview: 7
Nice to see VKM's bullying didn't scare Renee off. But other than Orton using Christian's catchphrase, there wasn't really anything special here.
Wyatt Family Vignette: 9
They are finally almost here! And with the positioning of the promo at the end of Raw on Monday as well as the frequent promotion this week in the commercials on USA and SyFy, they are surely in line for a huge push.
Randy Orton vs. Christian: 8.5
It's unreal how Orton changes from one match to the next. On Raw he was back to being the same placid Superstar he has been the 6 months before Extreme Rules, but here against Christian he had that fire that he has been showing the fans over the last few weeks. And it wasn't anything that he really did any differently than he normally does, but it was the crispness to the moves and the motivation behind each and every move he performed. Everything seemed to pop just a little better than normal. And Christian had the same sort of motivation as Orton. However, there were a couple of factors that irked me during this match. The first was the awkward slide into a pin by Orton. It is something we never see him do and it really looked out of place, not to mention the fact that he didn't even transition it properly. The second one was the false finish that occurred off of Christian's Spear. While I normally am okay with a false finish, considering Christian just returned from a year absence. Orton kicking out of one of Christian's two finishers makes the move look weak.
Winner: Randy Orton (Pin)
Backstage Segment: 9
Finally, a Teddy Long decision I can agree with! Heyman was one of the better color commentary men of the past 15 years in WWE, despite not getting much of a fair shake at the job due to being the main color man throughout the Invasion angle.
Ziggler Promo: 6
I don't know what it was about this promo, but it felt completely off. Maybe it was just that he was a bit more subdued than he normally is, but I wanted more intensity from him. The only thing that I really liked was the way he delivered his catchphrase.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Drew McIntyre: 8.25
At least they didn't start this match during the commercial break, like they have been doing a lot of lately if the match involves a lower card worker. Drew showed that he is undeserving of his status as a jobber with his ring work in this match. Honestly, he looked better than half of the main roster! And whatever ring rust Ziggler has had from being out for a month has been worked completely out. He is back to looking crisp and nearly effortless with his moves. I just wish he had a little more offense in the match. It seems to be a common occurance that when a star turns face that they aren't allowed to be on the offensive as much.
Winner: Dolph Ziggler (Pin)
Mark Henry Video: 8.75
I have never been a big fan of Mark Henry, as he just has never had a big appeal to me. But this video showed just how much he has changed over the years. But it also showed the path of pure carnage, pain, and some of the incredible moments that he has been a part of over the last 17 years. Henry is more than deserving of our respect and a run with the WWE Title. My only gripe is that they kept censoring a single word he would say in his promos. But WWE has to be PG and cover their butts.
Justin Gabriel vs. Fandango: 8
I can't believe I am saying it, but I have missed Summer Rae and Fandango! And you can tell that Fandango missed being in the ring during his time off as he seemed quite giddy during his entrance. Now, I know that this isn't ballet, but this match felt as fluid as any dance I have ever seen. Gabriel and Fandango worked very well off of each other with the multiple evasions. Gabriel has looked impressive in his last two matches, even in loss, and is overdue for some sort of midcard push, as he has tons of talent. And Fandango is shining brightly too! WWE just has way too much talent and not enough creative members or storylines to go around.
Winner: Fandango (Pin)
Zeb Colter Video: 6
Swagger's face was really red here! I don't know if just got a bit too much sun or if there was some other reason for it, but I was distracted by it the whole time Zeb was talking. And while I agree with Zeb's early comments about how most people view the 4th of July, the part about the fireworks fell quite flat. Zeb was able to recover a bit towards the end, but the “We The People” to close it was just horrid! It felt way too rehearsed and had no passion behind it! I expect much better out of them.
CM Puck vs. Alberto Del Rio: 8.75
What an ovation for Punk! He easily had the pop of the night both times he came out. While he was a bit lazy early in the match, most notably with Punk's short-arm Clothesline, ADR picked it up towards the end. He has been focusing more on attacking the arm of his opponents so he can set up the Cross Armbreaker, which is something I have complained about for months. I still feel he needs a high impact finisher, but at least he is finally showing some logic towards the setup for what he does have. And maybe I am odd, but Heyman is one of those people that regardless of what is going on in the ring, I want to just listen to him. I actually had to mute the commentary as I was trying to write this up because I kept getting distracted by Heyman. The go-home sequence of this match was a fantastic way to continue Heyman and Punk's storyline while maintaining the strength of the current WHC. My only complaint was that Punk fell back the way he did after the GTS. Otherwise this was a great match to end Smackdown with!
Winner: None (Double Countout)
Overall Wrestling Grade: 7.75
Overall Segment Grade: 7.5
Overall Show Grade: 7.5
This show was very obviously hurt by the fact that some of Smackdown's normal stars were with the Raw crew, but Punk and Heyman did their best to make up for that fact. But it was quite obvious that none of the secondary titles were stateside this week. And while I didn't mind the focus on people other than Sheamus, Jericho, Ryback, and Hell No, they were missed. But the fact that those big stars weren't here this week and they still pulled together a show that was comparable to the last couple of weeks is pretty amazing. Add in the fact that there wasn't as many recaps as there are normally, and this week honestly felt better than the averages show. The only real downsides were the opening promo and the Divas match. Thanks for reading, and I will see you next week for The Breakdown and MITB Predicts!