Welcome to the Smackdown Breakdown! I apologize for getting off track for a bit, but life's bumps hit in very unexpected ways, such as a laptop losing its hard drive in the middle of an article or an illness in the family. This week I am going to open with a little something different, and I might just make this a regular feature of the Breakdown for future iterations, provided it goes well. I asked on my Facebook for questions from you, the fans of WNW, so I could answer them this week.
Where does John Cena rank in importance in WWE History?
Considering everything he has brought to the table over the last few years, including the move to PG, I'd have to say he's the #3 guy. Hulk Hogan is obviously #1, as without him WWE wouldn't have ever experienced it's initial boom in the late 80's and early 90's. Steve Austin and The Rock have to be tied for #2 thanks to their major contributions to the Attitude Era and major visibility to the wider public audience. Cena has had the mainstream success, but not at the levels of the other three men. However, there is no denying the changes and the impact he has had on the business as a whole, whether you agree with them or not.
What are your thoughts on WWE unifying the top titles?
Honestly, I am completely opposed to it despite the misuse of the World Heavyweight Championship. WWE currently has over 70 full time members on the main roster alone, and without the two major titles there would not be enough opportunities for talent to rise to main event status. However, WWE has proven that they are only concerned with pushing certain workers into that role, despite how we feel about their talent. Mind you, I am not saying that we need the brand extension again, as I feel that time has passed, but WWE needs to find ways to give the newer guys and some of the lesser used talents a chance to grow and show us what they have to offer. If nothing else, that was the one thing the Attitude Era and Brand Extensions did well.
What are your top 10 wrestlers?
I am not a fan of top ten lists, as they are extremely subjective, but I also know that you can tell a lot about a person by their choices. I have to divide this into 2 groups, however, as I feel there are some fantastic workers in ring that never had “the full package” to become a massive star. So for the in-ring side, 10. Lance Storm and Curt Henning (tied), 9. Ricky Steamboat, 8. Lou Thesz, 7. Dean Malinko, 6. Daniel Bryan, 5. Great Muta, 4. Bret Hart, 3. Ric Flair, 2. Shawn Michaels, 1. Kurt Angle. As for the entire package: 10. Chris Jericho, 9. The Rock 8. Daniel Bryan, 7. Jerry Lawler, 6. Sting, 5. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, 4. Ric Flair, 3. The Undertaker, 2. Shawn Michaels, 1. “Macho Man” Randy Savage
Who is the most promising developmental talent?
Right now, it is easily Sami Zayn. He has the look you could want for an up-and-coming star, some of the best ring work in NXT, and is superb on the mic. His current feud with Bo Dallas and the NXT management is the high point of each week's broadcast. He is more than ready for the main roster, and I am sure he will wow the audiences with his matches.
Opening Segment: 8.25
Oh boy, we are opening yet another show with Triple H! Say what you will about my cynicism about this, but we get this each and every show here lately. Show got 6 people fired for his tirade against The Authority on Monday night, and it just shows how much Triple H's attitude is different now that he is the one in charge. If it was him and HBK, they'd be all craps and giggles, but now that it is against him, he can't take the heat! Add in the fact that he lawyered up when pressed harder on Big Show and you can say his Corporate Evolution is complete! And while we saw the patented Triple H character flip-flop here, it was over Cena's return, so I can't say that it was unwarranted. And while Triple H teased the HBK betrayal, I just can't see it happening at HIAC. Bryan was spot on with his section of the promo tonight. No real fluff, nothing more than was needed. It was just a well executed hype promo. But Bryan did pander a bit too much to the crowd for my liking, as there was little need for him to stop Triple H just to get in his face again.
The Wyatt Family vs. The Usos: 7
The Miz on commentary was a nice change of pace from the constant bickering of JBL and Cole. I am getting just about as sick of them fighting as I was of Cole and Jerry Lawler a couple of years ago! Of course, the real reason The Miz was out there was to help continue his pseudo-feud with Bray Wyatt, but it didn't take away from the match. Rowan and Harper did not look quite as strong as they did on Raw this week, but they weren't as awkward as when they first debuted on the main roster. Time has definitely helped improve them. And the Usos needed this win to look like viable competitors entering into their Tag Team Championship match on Sunday.
Winners: The Usos (Pin)
Nikki Bella vs. AJ Lee: 5.5
Whomever did the Bellas makeup did an awful job! They looked like clowns! Here lately, I have really been enjoying the Divas matches, as it seems like everyone has been stepping their game up a bit. But this match was just awful and it really couldn't be helped. Nikki, after having a 4+ month layoff due to her injury, had a ton of ring rust, and it really showed during this match. She has improved a bit in the ring in her time away, but there is no substitute for being in front of thousands of people. And we got yet another botch on a kick by Tamina! She didn't come close to Brie and it is showing that she didn't do enough in her time off. The only positive for this whole debacle is that AJ got to use that beautiful Black Widow submission again!
Winner: AJ Lee (Sub)
John Cena Video: 9.5
Like him, hate him, or feel indifferent to him, Cena has accomplished what few can say they have in this business. He has helped usher in two eras in the WWE and has made his name synonymous with the WWE like so few have. I'm glad to see him back this Sunday, if for no other reason than I know it is torturing him to not be entertaining each and every one of us.
Bray Wyatt Video: 8.75
That was absolutely creepy! Miz chained up, laying there helpless with LIAR painted across his chest just provokes eerie thoughts for me, especially this close to Halloween. Bray Wyatt could easily be the best character and gimmick that WWE has produced in the past 7-8 years. I just wonder what we will see once Kane returns!
3MB vs. Los Matadores: 5.75
Wow, that was really piped in! The crowd was really dead during Los Matadores' entrance. And this is the 5th time we have seen this match in the 4 weeks since they debuted. BAKA! It isn't like we are going to see anything vastly different from them. I understand that the heel teams in WWE are very few and far between, but when fans are chanting for the bull in the middle of the match just for something to keep themselves interested, then there is something wrong with the picture. I will say that the double team finisher Los Matadores used here is much better than the double backdrop they were using, but one move isn't going to save them. And while Zeb's promo wasn't the best he has put out, it served the purpose of setting up the match between Real Americans and Los Matadores at HIAC. I just find it funny that The Real Americans are more over than the team WWE is trying to build in Los Matadores!
Winners: Los Matadores (Pin)
2-on-1 No Disqualification Handicap Match
Ryback and Paul Heyman vs. “CM Skunk”: 8
When was the last time we saw a heel use a jobber parody for a squash match? It is something that I have always liked for some cheap heat. And while we knew what was coming, with Ryback flattening the Skunk and letting Heyman show his evil ways in the ring, it felt fresh because of the way they did it. Plus, the talent WWE got to play “CM Skunk” actually looked pretty good in the ring. The little bit of offense he did get in was good and he sold Ryback's moves like a champ. And Heyman's promo after the match only further fueled the hype going into HIAC! This will be a great match to watch! I just hope Sunday is the end of this feud. Punk and Heyman both need to move on.
Winners: Ryback and Paul Heyman (Pin)
Backstage Segment: 8.25
Big E. wrote his own ticket into the future of WWE this week on Raw, and he showed why he needed the change to face this week on Smackdown. This little backstage blurb was much more natural and fluid than anything he did as a heel. He may be a rookie in the WWE, but his future is quite bright. Maybe Big E. can be the African American star Vince McMahon has always wanted?
Alberto Del Rio Stage Promo: 7.75
Childs? I couldn't help but laugh at that one! I know English isn't Alberto's first language, but even he should have known the word children! In fact, I know he does, as he has used it in a promo before! Other than that one flub, this might have been one of ADR's stronger promos in recent months. He didn't come off as overly plastic and fake, and he seemed to have a bit of that fire he had when he first debuted to the main roster. Maybe we are seeing a step into a new direction for him.
R-Truth and Santino Shop Promo: 10!
This is how you do a proper comedy segment! You shill the merch in a fun way and promote the fun aspects of the characters at the same time. And while Truth's solo promotion on Raw was more fun, this was still an excellent break from the action.
The Great Khali vs. Fandango: 3.75
Wow... How far Fandnago has fallen is just incredible. From winning his debut match on the main roster at WrestleMania 29 against Chris Jericho to absolute joke talent facing Khali in less then 6 months. In fact, this has to be the second worst drop off of a push we have seen in years, the worst being Tensai's. And of course, being a match with Khali, this was just an awful piece of work. The only positive to this whole situation is the cat that Summer Rae could finally make her in ring main roster debut.
Daniel Bryan, Big E. Langston, and the Rhodes Dynasty vs. The Shield and Randy Orton: 9
Why didn't Cody and Goldust come out to their remixed theme that they debuted with on Raw? That was pretty good! And if you didn't get to hear it, the song Gold and Smoke has been released on iTunes here. This was an excellent match between 8 guys who are all at the top of their game. We had a bit of the past greatness in Goldust, who is proving with each and every match he performs that he can still run with the young pups at their level, the present with Bryan, Rhodes, and Orton, and the future in The Shield and Big E. Langston. And while there wasn't any spots that particularly struck a major chord for me, the entire match was just excellently worked from bell to bell. And the go home sequence, while a spot fest, helped to showcase two of the bigger matches on the card. But what surprised me the most was Big E.'s assist to Bryan's win! That shows a bit of confidence in him going forward. Maybe I was right about him writing his own ticket to the main event!
Winners: Daniel Bryan, Big E. Langston, and the Rhodes Dynasty (Pin)
Overall Wrestling Grade: 6.5
Overall Segment Grade: 8.75
Overall Show Grade: 8
With the horrid ring work until the end of the show, I honestly expected the averages to be lower! But we had some strong story development and great promos all night, which really helped keep the pace of the show alive. Don't forget to join us for the Live Coverage of Hell in a Cell here on WNW, and I will see you next week for the Breakdown!