Boy, it’s not often that we get such an incredible night of wrestling on free TV as we did on Monday night! Cena vs Punk was arguably already the match of the year and it has barely begun! After Monday night, though, the question remains “Where do we go from here?” Punk and Cena raised the bar Monday night for everyone in the locker room with their match, and showed them that resting on their laurels is not by any means necessary. And there have been a lot of people in the locker room doing just that. Hopefully, we will see an increase in the quality of the matches every week because of this. So, are you ready? I SAID, ARE YOU READY?
Break it down!
I have just a bit of housekeeping before I begin. I have decided to revamp the grading system at the suggestion of WNW reader Mark Freeman. I will from here on out be using a 0-10 scoring system. A score of 6.75-7.75 is considered an “average” score, with items that score below a 6 having some severe flaws. 9-9.75 are considered exceptional, with a perfect 10 being something that should be considered a once-in-a-lifetime performance by the individuals involved.
Opening Video - 4
The video did a decent job in recapping the events that occurred on Raw with Orton, Sheamus, and The Shield, but we really did not need them to further shove the fact that tonight was Social Media Smackdown. And please, for the love of all of Sonic’s greasy, fried fast food, change the narrator for these clips! He is making me want to fall asleep while stabbing my ears out!
World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio vs Damien Sandow - 8.5 Michael Cole - 0
First off, I have to say that Ricardo’s gradual lengthening of Alberto is absolute brilliance. It is getting the fans behind Del Rio further, and is making me wonder just how long he can hold it. And the one week where JBL isn’t on Smackdown, we open the show with a match! Sandow’s elegance on the mic is only matched by the vast grammatical advantage that he has over us plebeians! Now that I have gotten that out of my system, Sandow did very well in subtly referencing Zeb Coulter and Swagger, and his promo was very well done in cutting Del Rio and the crowd. The same can’t be said for Del Rio’s cacka quip. After Raw, I expect much more from Del Rio than a one liner.
We had a great overall match here, starting with the technical exchange to start. It was nice to see both Del Rio and Sandow to get out of their comfort zones in this match, with Del Rio hitting the second rope Moonsault and the German Suplex, and Sandow hitting that Reverse Sit-Out Slam. I will say that it did not look like Del Rio connected well with the Tilt-a-Whirl Backbreaker, and I would be glad if I never saw him use it again. Once again, I will state my dislike of the fact that Del Rio does practically nothing to set up for the Cross Armbreaker, but I will talk more on this later in the Breakdown. I was very surprised by the amount of offence that Sandow got in on Del Rio. Maybe this will finally be the start of that big push that we all know Vince wants for Sandow? Also, am I the only person that noticed that Del Rio was sporting a large brace on his right knee? Maybe he’s working hurt, although you couldn’t tell it tonight.
Cole is getting a big, fat zero from me simply because of a statement he made right at the start of the broadcast, which was “This is Live Social Media Smackdown!” We all know that unless it is on Tuesday night, Smackdown is not live. Major flub = 0
Winner: Alberto Del Rio (Sub)
Active Video – 3.5
Oh, boy! We get to choose Del Rio’s opponent next week for Smackdown on a taped episode this week? I really wonder sometime just how stupid Vince thinks we are.
Recap of Cena vs Punk on Raw – 8.25
This is what a good recap video should do! It should draw you in, make you want to either see the match or segment again, and give just enough anticipation of what’s to come that you won’t want to miss next week’s episode.
Backstage Segment - 6
Ok, so we get another “Anything you can do, I can do better” segment between Daniel Bryan and Kane. Personally, I’m getting tired of this childish banter between them. Let’s just hope the split is pre-Wrestlemania, as I know that if it goes all the way to Extreme Rules that I will quickly become venomous on them.
Best Two out of Three Falls match for the United States Championship
United States Champion Antonio Cesaro vs The Miz – 7.75 Josh Mathews - 0
First things first, Josh Mathews gets a fail for being either grossly wrong or grossly vague. He stated tonight that this match was the “First ever Best Two out of Three Falls match for the United States Championship on Social Media Smackdown.” First off, if he had only said that it was the first time the Championship had been defended this way on Smackdown, he would have been right. But it is not a first time for the Championship to have been defended in this manner, as Dolph Ziggler defended the US Title against Kofi Kingston on the June 20th, 2011 edition of Raw under the same rules. Also, of course it would have been a first time ever on Social Media Smackdown, as this was the first ever SMS!
Now that I have taken out my frustrations about his wording, this was a pretty good match. Miz is starting to really work the legs in his matches to help set up the Figure-Four, and that helps sell the move more. Speaking of the Figure-Four, Miz has been working on it, as it looked better executed tonight than it has been. But Cesaro did minor things, such as stomps with the worn leg, which made no sense. Sure he sold them a bit after the fact, but if it is hurting, you don’t use it! Honestly, every time I see Cesaro deadlift someone or perform the Neutralizer, I am extremely impressed. At 35, this man has more raw power than most of the roster. But a big negative for this bout was the fact that they needed to have the second fall in the commercial break just so they could further shove the WWE App’s “second screen experience” down our throats? I hated when they used to do this period on any match, but I understand that they need the advertising revenue. Now it just screams cheap cop-out to get people to download the app. I will say that the way Cesaro stole the match tonight is a great way to keep this feud going until Wrestlemania and to cement Cesaro as a heel. We don’t see a lot of blatant heel tactics anymore, it seems, and the fact that we’ve seen someone win via a handful of trunks two weeks in a row is refreshing.
Winner: Antonio Cesaro (Order of Falls - 1: Cesaro (Pin) 2: Miz (Sub) 3: Cesaro (Pin-Dirty))
JBL Tout - 9
Although I missed him this week on commentary, I’m extremely happy to see John Layfield climbing up Mount Death, as I know it is for an excellent cause. I am a sucker for charity!
Backstage Segment - 5
So let me get this straight, the brooding, cunning loner that just two years ago destroyed the four remaining members of the New Nexus suddenly needs his back watched over three people that employ the same exact tactics as the Nexus? Yeah, I’m not buying that. This just feels forced and useless to have Orton shoehorned into this feud.
Fandango Vignettes – 0.5
I’m placing the two vignettes here, as they both served absolutely no purpose other than to shove his “debut” down our throats. Next.
In Ring Interview Segment – 7.75
Zeb is excellent on the mic, and every time he speaks, I want to listen. But he is starting to hit the point where his material is starting to have a cycle to it, as such I felt like I had heard his promo tonight before. JR, as always, provides the excellent foil for any heel, and I full well expected this to turn into another “abuse Jim Ross” segment. Swagger still has issues with his lisp, but when he talked tonight it wasn’t quite as prominent as it once was. Maybe he underwent some acting classes or speech therapy? All I know is Swagger did impress me tonight. Del Rio coming out to save JR was expected, but still nice to see. I am, however, extremely tired of Del Rio’s “real Jackass” quip. He has used it twice now, and it is already old.
Announce Interlude - 5
So we get a choice of either a match from a week and a half ago (Ziggler), a match from last Friday (Barrett), and a match we have yet to see (Cesaro)? So much for the up-and-comers Del Rio wanted to face…
WWE Tag Team Champions Team Hell No (Kane and Daniel Bryan) vs The Primetime Players (Darren Young and Titus O’Neil) – Kane is blindfolded and Daniel Bryan has one arm tied behind his back – 4
Ugh, this again? It was bad enough on Raw, but we just had to have it again tonight! At least this time The Primetime Players picked up a win, and that shows a step in the right direction for them. Other than that, the only good things I can say about this match are that the goat mask was a funny touch, and that at least it at least furthered their breakup
Winners: The Primetime Players (Pin)
The Call Trailer - 7
I know I ripped on these last week, and I still feel like there were way too many videos last week. But despite that, I want to say that it is very impressive that WWE Studios is bringing in these higher caliber movies. This makes the second one that I want to go see via the preview, the first being Dead Man Down. Let’s just hope that they get away from the straight to DVD movies!
Backstage Promo – 5.5
Big Show fell flat for me here. Maybe it was the length, maybe it was his delivery, but something with this promo just didn’t click for me.
Skype is Jericho - 7
Although this was just shameless self-promoting for Y2J, it didn’t feel out of place. It is Y2J, the third greatest schill meister behind HBK and HHH.
Fandango Backstage Segment – 2
First off, I got physically ill watching this segment. And you know it’s bad when the crowd is completely dead. Between his voice, him trying to teach Striker how to say his name, his attitude, and the fact that he couldn’t stop rubbing up and down his chest, I honestly hope that Fandango gets stuffed back into the Crate of Incredibly Horrid Gimmicks, and is locked into the bowels of Titan Towers, never EVER to be heard from again! Honestly, I only gave it the 2 because I like Matt Striker! And add to the fact that his “reason” to not have his debut tonight was because Striker couldn’t pronounce his name right? Rubbish!
Raw Rebound - 8
This was a great recap of the Brock/HHH fight on Raw. It was well done, and I know people would have liked to see the color here, too, but I feel the black-and-white added to the intensity of the segment’s recap
Announce Segment – 8.5
If this wasn’t fixed, this shows what we fans truly want, the World Heavyweight Championship on Ziggler! Hurry up and make it so!
Randy Orton vs Big Show – 6.75
Honestly, this match felt very forced and had no real emotion in it from either Orton or Show. The only thing that was somewhat impressive in this match was the top rope Spike DDT.
Winner: Randy Orton (DQ)
The Shield’s Attack – 8.25
Of course, considering the recap earlier at the start of the show and the backstage segment, of course we get The Shield coming out for revenge! And Sheamus held up for Orton and came to his aid, but what strikes me is when Show let loose that WMD on Reigns! Sure, Reigns could have sold it a bit better, but he took it like a champ! Then, expecting the temporary face reaction from Show, I was pleasantly surprised when he Chokeslammed Orton! That was an excellent move to keep Show a heel. Then came the obligatory Broque Kick from Sheamus for Show’s actions. Now I know it sounds like I am happy about how this went down, but I really think WWE is quickly destroying the momentum that The Shield has gained thus far. This week we have had The Shield take two major hits after coming off two massive wins at Elimination Chamber and the following Raw. If they keep this up, The Shield is going to be yet another WWE also-ran faction that will have its stars languish in the mid-card.
Wrestling Grade – 7.0
Overall Show Grade – 7.0
Honestly, this week wasn’t quite as bad as I expected, but I will say that it was a poor episode to have after coming off of such a white-hot Raw. Yes, they shoved the social media aspects down our throats, but it was no worse than a normal Raw. If anything, the social media focus kept them from running more videos!
I have made mention twice now that it is high time for Del Rio to get a more impactful Finisher than the Cross Armbreaker, as it honestly does not seem feasible that every opponent that he faces should have to tap out. First of all, it wasn’t that long ago in wrestling that tapping out was considered a sign of weakness to us fans. We even chanted that fact at HHH after he tapped at SummerSlam. Why should every person Del Rio face be perceived as weak after tapping out to the move? The problem is, they aren’t, because the move has become overexposed. The same thing could be said of CM Punk’s Anaconda Vice when he first started in ECW. The vice was his go-to finisher, and he used it for the first 6 months he was in WWECW before he started using the GTS. Del Rio, on the other hand, has been in the WWE for 2 ½ years and still only has the Cross Armbreaker. And he already has the perfect move in his arsenal to use! He has used Flash Kick Enziguri to beat Big Show on a couple of occasions. By adding it as a regular Finisher, it would add a new level of unpredictability to his matches, and still keep to his flashier style of wrestling. And I know and agree that this same argument can be made for Daniel Bryan. He has used the Regal-plex when he was on the Indies, so just bring it here to the mainstream! But on this I want to hear your thoughts!
Before I leave you this week, I wanted to give everyone some insight into the career of the man behind the character of Zeb Colter, Wayne Keown, best known as “Dirty” Dutch Mantell. This is Part 1 of a three part piece, so please join me on this trip down memory lane.
Wayne Keown first broke into professional wrestling in 1972 as Wayne Cowen, wrestling for the local Atlanta, Georgia promotion. He was a self-taught wrestler, having decided to become a wrestler after returning from Vietnam. This was just as rare then as it is now. In fact there is only one self-taught wrestler currently on WWE’s active roster, Kofi Kingston. He, like most wrestlers of the time, ran the territorial circuit, primarily working with the National Wrestling Alliance. During the early years of his career he would undergo a pair of name changes, first to Wayne Mason Dixon, then to Dutch Mantell. But regardless of the name, his gimmick always stayed the same, a rough and tough individual who could fight with the best of them. He could easily transition between face and heel, making him one of the earliest examples of a tweener.
It was in NWA Mid-America’s Tennessee territory that Dutch would experience his first major success when he captured the NWA Tennessee Tag Team Championship with John Foley in December of 1974. They would hold the titles for about a month before losing them to Les Thatcher and Nelson Royal. They would recapture them a month later, only to lose them again to Thatcher and Royal on March 23rd, 1975. And we talk about fast title changes these days! His next title would come in the way of the NWA Southern Tag Team Titles on January 03, 1977, with David Schultz. However, it was short lived as well, as they would drop the titles to Memphis mainstays “Superstar” Bill Dundee and Ricky Gibson on January 28, 1977. During this time, NWA Mid America underwent a split between owner/promoter Nick Gulas and booker Jerry Jarrett. Jarrett would start his own promotion in Memphis, taking the biggest draw of the promotion with him in Jerry “The King” Lawler. Gulas would rely upon the drawing power of the Poffos and run more shows out of Nashville. Dutch would work in the Gulas side of NWA Mid America.
He would team up with Gypsy Joe to capture the NWA Mid America Tag Team Titles in early 1978, but Dutch surrendered his half, as he had his sights set on a much bigger prize, the NWA Mid America Heavyweight Title, which was currently held by a young up-and-coming star by the name of “Macho Man” Randy Savage. Savage had already been making waves in the NWA with his infamous promo style, and Dutch made the low-key transition that was common in those days to being a face. They held a bitter rivalry that resulted in a number of Taped Fist matches, No Disqualification matches, and I Quit matches. He would defeat Savage for the gold on March 25, 1978. They would continue their rivalry until the end of April, after which time Dutch began a number of smaller feuds against other stars such as Whipper Watson Jr., Don Fargo, Blue Yankee, and Mexican Angel. These feuds were back and forth, with Dutch’s opponent getting the title from him, only to lose it back to Dutch a couple of weeks later. During the later part of this time, Dutch would renew his rivalry with Savage. After winning back the title on November 11, 1978, Savage would challenge Dutch to a match just three nights later. Dutch would lose the title, and continue feuding with Savage through the end of the year.
Dutch also was wrestling for NWA’s Puerto Rican territory World Wrestling Council at the time, and had considerable success there in a tag team known as Los Vaqueros Locos. His gimmick was very close to the character of Zeb Colter today, in that he would run down anything he could about Puerto Rico and its people. He and his partner “Cowboy” Frankie Lane also would put up $1000 dollars to any team that could beat them. They quickly would become one of the most hated teams in Puerto Rico, to the point that Dutch was legitimately afraid to leave his hotel room, as Puerto Rico had some of the most rabid wrestling fans who, at that time, still believed professional wrestling to be real. But despite this, Los Vaqueros Locos would proceed to sell out Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico, a 16,000 seat stadium, for nine weeks in a row! This is a record that still stands to this day. Los Vaqueros Locos would win the NWA North American Tag Team Championship three times before Dutch would return to NWA Mid America.
He would proceed to capture the NWA Mid America Heavyweight Title from Dennis Condrey, only to lose it four days later to “Beautiful” Bobby Eaton. His next title came in March of 1980 in the NWA Southeastern Television Title, but that was short lived as well, dropping it to Troy T. Tyler on March 23rd. In June of 1980, Nick Gulas sold his share of NWA Mid America to Jerry Jarrett, resulting in NWA Mid America being unified under Jarrett’s Continental Wrestling Association banner. This sale would change Dutch Mantell’s career, but that will be covered in next week’s installment!