Welcome to this week's Breakdown! Considering the issues I have been encountering as of late with posting the Breakdown along with Predicts on weeks of a PPV, Kendra will be doing me a huge favor and taking over the Breakdown on those weeks. But enough about future events, let's get on to Smackdown!
Break it Down!
In Ring Segment: 9
Vickie introducing Orton helped him get some more heat, but after Monday night, I'm not sure he needed it. Between the betrayal at SummerSlam and his arrogant attitude on Raw, he came out to a chorus of boos. Randy Orton promises to give us what we want? We want Bryan as champ! And he's a role model? So my kids are supposed to look up to an opportunistic snake in the grass? I think not. I'd rather have them look up to Brock Lesnar than that! At least he is straight forward with his motivations! But what really got me was Orton claiming he didn't know HHH was going to Pedigree Bryan. Why was he out there then? To “remind” Bryan he has the case? Bull! But all of these little intricacies with Orton's heel character is what makes it so good. If he is getting a reaction like this out of me, what is he doing to the casual fans? The heat he was getting off of each statement attests to just how effective this turn was. And while I am loath to admit it, with Cena out and Punk working his program with Heyman, Orton is the face of the company right now. Although, that face is already getting some gray in it! It's just a patch, but Orton's beard had some salt in it! That is some class by Bryan to thank Cena for the title opportunity! While this may not be ROH, that is the Code of Honor shining through. Time for the face of the WWE to change? Hmm... Makes me think he may be in league with the Shield! I know they were the McMahon's security on Raw, but what better way to turn them face than to have them turn on the Corporate Evolution? Orton is pretty... Ha! Orton's a pretty princess! Really, that had me rolling in the floor! Bryan is new old-school. He did what the stars 20+ years ago did to make it to the top, but in this modern era. And that, no matter where you are on his character or abilities, is something that deserves respect. And while I'd love to see the rematch tonight, as it has been ages since the WWE Title was contested on Smackdown, we knew they'd want to build this up some more. It is already white hot and by Night of Champions, it will be a supernova.
Backstage Segment: 7.75
Vickie's anger is excellent! With Mr. McMahon placing her into the Smackdown GM role, we knew she would have to become a bit of a stooge to management, but now Bryan has every single person in the upper echelon against him! You want to talk about the odds being stacked against someone, they can't get any worse than this! Barrett is really lacking on the mic unless he has someone exceptional to work off of. I understand why so many people like him, as he has a great look and is great in the ring now that he isn't using the Wasteland finisher. But he needs a mouthpiece. So, the jobber supreme thinks he can beat the main eventer? That made me laugh out loud. When was the last time Barrett actually got a well earned victory over someone that mattered? As Vickie was going through the list, I kept thinking that each one couldn't work because it wasn't any better than No DQ until she hit the Cage Match. This could be fun!
Cody Rhodes vs. Curtis Axel: 7
So Cody shaved the mustache, but they are still showing the graphic of the comb on his Tron. Come on Production, get it together! For the most part, this match was nothing to really write home about. Rhodes and Axel both looked good in the ring, but after the matches Cody had with Sandow over the last week, I expect better than this from him. In each of those two matches, he told a story with his ring work. But with this match, it felt like he was just going through the motions. And looking at the ending, I understand why! After two bin wins against MITB winner Damien Sandow, why is Cody losing here? Those wins, by extention of the fact that Sandow is a future World Champion, placed him into a higher tier. For him to lose against a midcard title holder, it makes not only him look like those wins may have been flukes, but it directly makes Sandow look even weaker than the two losses ever could by themselves. His case has just plummeted in value.
Winner: Curtis Axel (Pin)
In Ring Segment: 8.5
Heyman spins everything so well! He shows why ECW was as big of a success as it was every time he is on the stick. His promotional abilities are bar none the best this industry has ever seen. And while Axel is improving on the mic, he is still rougher than I would like for someone who is being pushed as a big deal with Paul Heyman. But after not being on the SummerSlam card, what relevance does the IC title have anymore? Sure, Punk facing Axel helps both men in the short term. But if Punk beats Axel, that further hurts the IC Title's status. The only way I can see this helping is if Punk won the IC Title somewhere down the line. Punk has stated in the past that he is a “Collect them all” kind of guy, and while he has held it before, it could easily be a vessel to go over to the US Title, which is the only active title he hasn't held.
Big E. Langston vs. Dolph Ziggler: 5.5
After seeing them in a program for the last month and a half, this match bored me to tears. Sure, Ziggler hit his high spots and Big E. was his usual, powerful self in the ring, but it felt like there was no real reason for this match other than to officially blow off the feud. And in my opinion, that was done quite well at SummerSlam. With the match being a repeat of all of the other matches we have seen of the two of them over the past month, it just left a bad taste in my mouth.
Winner: Dolph Ziggler (Pin)
Christian vs. Alberto Del Rio: 5
AGAIN?! This is the fourth time in as many weeks! I know that I seem to have this gripe a lot lately, but it isn't unfounded! There is only so many times I can watch a pair of workers face each other in one on one matches, even if they are well executed and worked. But 4 times in a month is excessive. And this crowd was as apathetic to this match as I am. It's clearly overplayed. That isn't to say this was a bad match, despite the grade, but with the fact that we have seen it so many times and it felt as if the crowd was bored at this point, there was no way that this could rise above mediocrity.
Winner: Alberto Del Rio (Sub)
Post Match Segment: 7.5
ADR had a small cut in the corner of his right eye. It looks like he may have had a tear duct burst, as it was happening more as he teared up. But that is irrelevant to the fact that Del Rio is seemingly trying to enter the same sort of heel role that Orton is, by claiming to be a role model. And that is a huge mistake. ADR already has enough issues with getting over with the crowd, and pigeonholing him into a role that is already filled by someone who clearly eclipses him is only going to make things worse. Ricardo is quickly showing he was the only strong link in that duo now that they are on opposing sides! And as another positive, Ricardo becoming RVD's manager gives RVD someone who can consistently talk well. His one major flaw has always been his issues on the mic. Christian and RVD set up this ending beautifully, although I would have preferred to see RVD perform a 5 Star Frog Splash instead of Rolling Thunder. This looks like the start of a good feud, but with ADR involved, I can't say it will be the best we could get out of RVD.
2 on 3 Handicap Match
Big Show and Mark Henry vs. 3MB: 6.25
Oh no he didn't! Show did not just do the Hogan! I don't mind Show going back to being a bit goofy, but that was a bit much for me. Slater has been getting more tats! His sleeves are coming along nicely and I like the idea of him doing it, because it is more of a rock and roll type thing. Of course, 3MB were just there for the squash factor and to lead into the following segment, but they do their jobs (pun intended) very well. I just wish Drew hadn't been the one to take the pin!
Winners: Big Show and Mark Henry (Pin)
The Shield Promo: 6.5
While I want to like this, I felt it fell a bit flat. The Shield are on a high that few teams experience in their careers, and this promo is not up to par with what we know they can do. Maybe it was the fact Ambrose wasn't there to reign it in and tie it all together with a bow, but it just didn't gave me that thrill that it normally does.
Darren Young vs. Antonio Cesaro: 8
Cesaro bloodied Young's mouth early in the match with that really stiff dropkick! In fact, both men worked this match as stiff as a Japanese Strong style match! We know Cesaro can put on a fantastic match anytime he is in the ring, and while I have never really been much of a fan of Darren Young's, he flat out impressed me in this short match with how hard he worked it. He has obviously been working his butt off to improve himself, and I think that if he and Titus continue to show this kind of progress, then they could easily break the glass ceiling. Now if they would switch his finisher from the Gutcheck, I'll be perfectly happy!
Winner: Darren Young (Pin)
Ryback Bullying Segment: 0
These segments are just pathetic. Can Creative not come up with anything else for him? All this really does is show the contradictions in their programming and in the message they are trying to spread via the Be A Star program. Personally, I could care less if we see anymore of these segments or Ryback again, at the rate things are going for him.
And you can call this a nitpick on my part, but I hate how they had the “Dad” portrayed. As a parent of two myself, I wouldn't be allowing my kid to be watching WWE without my supervision. Granted, my kids are 6 and 2, but that is why so many things are wrong with today's youth. Parents don't care about what their children are ingesting when it comes to media. I see parents buying their 6-8 year old kids Call of Duty, violent and derogatory music, and allow them completely unfiltered access to the internet. Maybe it was just how I was raised, but WWE is the most violent thing I let my son watch, and I am right there with him, explaining that these are trained athletes who know what they are doing and that he should NEVER repeat what he sees on TV. And I don't let him watch TNA because of the fact that they are so much more extreme than WWE. Does that ensure he won't? Of course not, but at least I am doing my part to make sure he understands things better. And if he does try something he sees on here, he doesn't get to watch it or any other TV for 2 weeks, among other punishments. It's all about structure, which sadly has fallen by the wayside.
Los Matadores Vignette: 2.25
This is going to be bad... Los Matadores looks like the epitome of the bad early 90's gimmicks WWE tried to purvey upon us fans. And while I know that WWE is looking for a way to capitalize on Primo and Epico, a stereotypical gimmick isn't the way to do it. Look at Cryme Tyme! Now, I will of course reserve full judgment on them until their “debut” just like I did Fandango, but I don't see this going very well.
Steel Cage Match
Wade Barrett vs. Daniel Bryan: 9.25
I may be the only one that finds this funny, but when Barrett's music hits with “God save the Queen”, his picture is showing! So is Barrett a “queen” outside of the ring, if you catch my drift? Kidding aside, Barrett and Bryan's match, while the best match of the night, it was yet another example of an overplayed match, as this one was the 4th time they have faced off in 3 weeks and the 5th in 6 weeks. But the difference between this one and all of the others was the fact that the feud has escalated each match into a bigger and more aggressive match type. That kind of progression is what the others needed. I love the newer cage that WWE has been using of late. It looks and feels much better than the previous one. Cage matches, like most matches than confine their competitors, do limit the workers ability to use their entire move sets. But despite those limitations, both Barrett and Bryan show some great offense. Barrett's Winds of Change is one of those moves that is just so beautifully executed, I have to wonder why WWE doesn't have him use it as a finisher instead of the Bull Hammer. I especially loved Bryan's Dropkick combo on Barrett into the cage! That was a great way for Bryan to use a standard move in his arsenal in a different way. And the Electric Chair backdrop, while a cage match staple, was great too! But the powerbomb that Bryan pulled on Barrett was incredibly sick! That was incredible! And while I am not a fan of the Knee Strike as a finisher, at least he has an impact finisher. Was Orton under the ring the whole match?! That was an impressive way to end Smackdown! Sure, it's been done before, but at least it is something fresh to close the show!
Overall Wrestling Grade: 7
Overall Segment Grade: 6
Overall Show Grade: 6.5
Once again, Smackdown suffered from a sore lack of direction after the opening segment until the main event. It feels like WWE can't keep a clear focus on who or what they want to push and develop. And while I like the feud between Orton and Bryan, if it is going to overshadow everything else going on in WWE besides Punk and Heyman, I'm not sure it is worth it. This is why WWE is seeing an all-time slump in ratings. They only want to build one or two stars at a time. If we want to see a better product, we need more even focusing.