411 Instant Analysis 12.13.13: WWE Smackdown
Posted by Nick Sellers on 12.13.2013
Daniel Bryan got a win over the Wyatt Family, Randy Orton apologized to Triple H, John Cena delivered a promo about his match with Orton at TLC and more! Check out 411's Instant Analysis of this week's WWE Smackdown!
Sellers on Smackdown 12/13/13
While it's importance in the overall picture of WWE's blueprint pales in comparison to Raw and the PPV's, Smackdown is still a show which has some high quality matches to watch and occasionally some very good promos which don't get the same praise and coverage as content on Raw does.
To me, without John Cena – the biggest star in the company - appearing every week, the show suffers in terms of how people perceive it.
But the end of the roster split has helped things considerably, and at least there's more star power these days. Also, it's usually a much tighter, compact broadcast than Raw because it's only 2 hours. The post-production actually helps keep things even slicker, though the piped chanting that gets added does grind my gears somewhat.
To that end, here's the first Sellers on Smackdown entry. Although this is mainly intended for Instant Analysis purposes, hopefully there's scope to expand this in the future, looking back at past episodes throughout the show's history and further highlighting some it's contributions to WWE's product as we approach it's 15th year of existence. I've got some ideas in the pipeline, so keep your ear to the ground (or rather, your eyes on these articles) over the coming weeks. Feel free to add some suggestions in the comments too.
Disclaimer: Keeping with other Instant Analysis columns, this isn't a full move-by-move recap (we already implement these) and instead we break the show down segment by segment, match by match. Comments are added, then a rating is given. All ratings are totally subjective and do feel free to comment otherwise.
Match #1: Daniel Bryan vs Erik Rowan w/Luke Harper & Bray Wyatt
(Result: Bryan wins via DQ after Bray interfered and tripped him. Bryan then dodges the advances of Rowan and Harper, slips out of the ring and hits Bray with the running knee while Bray is still rocking in his chair, before Yessing up the aisle and making his exit.
Terrific way to open the show with a rock solid bout. Rowan actually seems to be growing in confidence with his in-ring work and these short, sharp matches against an energetic babyface foil are perfect for him and Harper. Daniel Bryan getting one up on the family at the end sent the crowd batty, and the running knee while Bray was still rocking in his chair was a nice touch. I know having two handicap matches at TLC isn't a popular choice for with the IWC, and I'm like many who'd love to see Daniel Bryan fighting for World titles or something instead, but the recent rivalry with the Wyatt's has become increasingly compelling of late, even with only a fortnight of so of build-up.
8/10. Great opener and Bryan gathers significant momentum heading into the PPV.
- After the Real Americans come out for their match, Zeb Coulter criticises Santa Claus for being an illegal immigrant, sneaking over the border from the North Pole. Brilliant!
Match #2: Rhodes Brothers vs Real Americans w/Zeb Coulter
(Result: Antonio Cesaro pinned Cody Rhodes after grabbing Cody's arm whilst he was perched on the top rope before nailing him with a Very European Uppercut)
Not the most frenetically paced of tag matches but it kept the broadcast moving along nicely with more solid wrasslin' action. For some reason I think the Rhodes boys are losing a bit of steam now, and by contrast the Real Americans seem to be gathering momentum. Cracking finish as well as Cesaro drags Cody from up top only to give him a massive European uppercut for the pin. Another feather in the cap for the heels as they gather more momentum, and I think they might take the straps on Sunday. There would be plenty of babyface challengers for them to kept very busy right through until Wrestlemania and possibly beyond.
7/10. A solid bout with good energy displayed by all involved.
Bad News Barrett promo
So Barrett's new venture gets another outing. He slams the people who voted for the Slammys on the WWE app and laughs at how we all have to live vicariously through winners him rather than win a Slammy of their own. The court hammer and asking the crowd for decorum were nice additions to the act, but I think this angle/gimmick still needs time to come to fruition before it starts translating to the audience. But Barrett's such a natural antagonist that given time, he could definitely make this work.
6.5/10 for this particular instance, even with the new stuff being added to the character. I still think there's potential here in the long-term, however.
- We get an excellent video package highlighting Randy Ortton and John Cena's careers and how they have paralleled. Excellent production as ever. The only gripe was that parts of their career narrative were a bit muddled and it glossed over a few things, but that' doesn't detract from it's quality too much.
9/10. Another pat on the back for WWE's post-production team.
Match #3: Mark Henry vs Damien Sandow
(Result: Mark Henry wins via countout after Sandow refused to get back in the ring. Big E then tosses him back in where he's caught by Henry. He tries throwing him back to Big E, but Sandow blocks it and runs off. Big E chases him to the back to end the segment).
Lightning quick, but Sandow opting to let himself be counted off was a smart strategy for his character. Why let yourself get weakened and pummeled by the World's Strongest Man when he's got an important title match coming up in a few days? His outsmarting of Big E after the bell rang was a subtle, yet good move in order to build up a bit more suspense for their bout. Very quick but a nice reminder of another decent mid are bout to tune in for on Sunday.
6.5/10 just because it was so short. Also, Big E's commentary wasn't exactly riveting, though admittedly he didn't have much time to actually do much with that role anyway.
Match #4:The Bella Twins vs AJ & Tamina
(Result: AJ wins via the Black Widow)
Another good piece of build-up for a Midcard match at the PPV, and proof that WWE's Divas division is showing a really glowing improvement. With the Bellas, It'll still take time but the fans are warming to the recently-turned twins and their offense here was very spunky (no pun intended!) and exactly how a babyface tag team should be. Tamina actually has an important purpose, filling the bodyguard/Diesel role for AJ brilliantly and her own offense in this match fitted that description perfectly. AJ was always going to win this to keep her strong for TLC. Natalya was on commentary for it, and I thought she did a nice job to promote it, talking about her journey to try and regain the belt she last had three years ago. Good portion of the show.
7.5/10. Good go-home build for the title match at the PPV and a really good TV bout in its own right.
John Cena promo
Typically excellent delivery from Cena further adding to the importance of the Champion of Champions PPV bout, the history with Orton and the importance of the two titles. Not as inspiring as his two Raw efforts recently but it was pretty close. Furthermore, having him on Smackdown immediately makes the show feel more important and less of an afterthought compared to Raw. Not having your biggest star appear just makes it unimportant if he's available, so it was good to have him around to further sell the Champion of Champions match.
8.5/10 – Cena single-handedly saving the interest in the title vs title match. Again. Should've closed the show.
Match #5: The Shield (Roman Reigns & Seth Rollins vs The Usos
(Result: Roman Reigns gets the fall with the Spear, after some magnificent trolling from Rollins who mimicked Punk's 'Go to Sleep' gesture, helping set up the Spear with part of the GTS move)
Energetic as usual from these four. We already know the quality that the Shield members possess, and Ambrose on color commentary (lots of superstars getting turns at the announce table tonight) and they displayed more of the same here, complete with some added arrogance with the mimicking of Punk's GTS taunt. The Usos are steadily improving over time and are becoming more over as a result too.
8/10.Another fine TV bout and some good verbal work from Ambrose on commentary too.
CM Punk addresses the Shield after the match.
Quite soft by his own 'Pipebomb' standards but putting him in the Shield's own turf, lurking around in dark areas backstage, was a nice touch. We get another reminder that he knows he's going down, but threatens to take members of the Shield with him.
7/10. Solid if unspectacular.
Match #6: Big Show w/Rey Mysterio vs Ryback w/Curtis Axel.
(Result – Show finishes off Ryback with the Chokeslam. Axel tries to upend him after the match, but Rey hits him with a 619 before Show catches him with the KO Punch.)
A blink and you'll miss it big man match. Essentially just a quick segment to give these four some exposure ahead of the four way tag. Both are fine as thrown together teams, though the little and large Rey/Show partnership has far more mileage than "Rybaxel" have.
6/10.. Served its purpose in quick fashion.
Wyatt family promo -
Bray sings a creepy lullaby to Bryan, explaining that he sings that song to all of his pets before he puts them down. From this, it seems as though the invitation for Bryan to join them is withdrawn. Usual haunting stuff from Bray and a good reminder of the goings on at the top of the show.
7/10.. Quick and easy, and the creepy lighting never gets tiring. It's a totally unique gimmick and little features like this totally accentuate that.
Match #7: Alberto Del Rio vs Kofi Kingston.
(Result: No match as Miz attacks Kofi before the bell, hits the Skull Crusing Finale on the the outside, and leaves Kofi unable to compete.)
Kofi gets taken out for the second week in a row before his match with Del Rio can even start. It's the second most effective thing Miz has done since his heel turn, only second to the initial turn itself where he jumps off the apron and busted out that glorious trolling expression. With his attack tonight, If they'd have just done that the next time they met after his turn in the tag match, there'd be much more steam in both this rivalry and the turn itself.
6/10.. Again served it's purpose, but too little too late in terms of how effective it could've been. Should have happened sooner and without all of the soft, confusing and boring stuff that's happened since.
Main Event promo - Randy Orton's apology -
(Orton calls out HHH, shows the footage and apolgizes. HHH accepts it. Orton then wants to know why John Cena was standing with the Authority at the end of Raw, questioning their faith in him. HHH cryptically replies that the Authority knows exactly where their faith lies.)
First, nice touch as Orton walks to the ring, looking a little overwhelmed by all the ladders and plunder around him and then looking up at the belts suspended above the ring. As is par for the course with Orton, his promo delivery was average but you got the jist of what he was trying to convey. HHH teasing that they knew where the authority's faith lies was delightfully sinister and adds suspense to the match but personally though I'd have had the Cena promo on last and this earlier in the show. While I think it was necessary to have this interaction on the show, it did gloss over the importance of the title situation completely, whereas Cena's promo encapsulated both the title situation AND his rivalry with Orton over who the face of the company is. Because this apology stuff went on last, it made the end of the broadcast feel a bit flat.
7/10 Orton does actually pull off tense, confused and paranoid well, but his vocal delivery just has no spark at all. HHH was pretty reserved too, but his delivery of that last line was sickeningly smug. Not a main event segment, but still came out well enough.
Solid show this week with some decent TV matches, lots of personalities and matches hyped for TLC and another top John Cena promo make this a great go home show for TLC on Sunday. There's very, very little negative about this week give or take the odd niggle here and there.