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411 Instant Analysis 12.20.13: WWE Smackdown
Posted by Nick Sellers on 12.20.2013





Sellers on Smackdown 12/20/13

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.

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- Taped from San Antonio, Texas

- Cole and JBL on commentary.


Main event promo to open the show.

(Orton comes out to gloat over his actions on Monday's Raw, and John Cena comes out to verbally joust with him. Daniel Bryan then comes out to do the same, saying the fans don't believe Orton is the face of the WWE, and when Cena beats Orton in a rematch, he knows he'll give Bryan a fair shot at the title. Then the Shield saunter down from the crowd and Orton bails. CM Punk then runs down to quickly even the odds and make it 3 vs 3. Before anything happens, Vickie Guerrero comes out and books the inevitable six-man tag as the main event. Lots going on!)

This week we start with three stars who closed Monday's Raw in addition to other big names in The Shield and CM Punk.

Incredibly, on what's perceived to be WWE's secondary broadcast, we were introduced to 7 big names here in just one segment (8 characters in total if you count Vickie to make the match official.) That would make a good opening on Raw, never mind Smackdown. It was refreshing to see so many of the big names getting involved right at the top of the broadcast and I wish it would happen more often. It's a great way to introduce so many of your primary characters in one sitting and really set the tone for the evening ahead.

I talked about Cena's presence on the show last week, and once again it totally gratifies the existence of the show just by having him on it. Orton and Bryan opening the show along with him immediately continues on from the hot ending of Raw giving us immediate continuity. In many ways, it reminded me of the earliest editions of Smackdown from 99/2000 where they followed a similar pattern. Hopefully that's a trend that continues.

8/10. The promo delivery from Orton, Bryan and Cena wasn't groundbreaking but all got their points across well, and the sheer amount of star power involved gave it a fantastic buzz and atmosphere about it all.


- Real Americans are out not, and Zeb Coulter holds up a placard which reads "Deport Santa." Delightful villiainy on Zeb's part.


Match #1: Big E Langston w/Mark Henry vs Jack Swagger w/Antonio Cesaro & Zeb Coulter

(Result: Big E via the Big Ending. Cesaro tried to interfere, but Mark Henry cleaned his clock allowing Big E to carry on without distraction.)

Short, but a decent showcase for Big E to keep him looking strong. Zeb stole the show with his constant hounding of Santa Clause and Michael Cole on commentary. It'll be interesting to see if they do go with the rumored Henry vs Big E feud, but for now they're sticking with them as a team and I've got no problem with that. As for the Real Americans, they lose no momentum by losing out in singles matches in my view, and I still think they're due a tag title run just because there'd be so many babyface teams around to chase them for the straps.

7/10. Served it's purposes of keeping Big E looking strong and Zeb's colorful - if slightly cartoonish - hounding of Santa was delightful.


Match #2: Brie Bella w/Nicki Bella vs Tamina w/AJ Lee


(Result: Tamina dominates but misses a Superfly Splash, hitting Brie's knees, before getting rolled up for the quick pin. Brie shoves down AJ at the announce table for good measure. ).

Tamina is really finding her feet as the hoss of the division. Although she's effectively her sidekick, putting her with AJ in the Diesel-to-AJ's-HBK role was an inspired choice. With the Bellas, I've enjoyed some of their outings lately and I think they're slowly getting more over as a face duo now, though because they're naturally quite antagonistic bitches that'll take a while to wash with some of the audience. I do like how they can be babyface divas with an attitude though and they're not your typically, one dimensional goody-two-shoes prototype. AJ continues to run her mouth to perfection, this time through the commentary medium, pulling no punches and heeling it up marvelously. On the actual match, Tamnina got lots of good stuff in and Brie played the face in peril well, but I think the crowd would've appreciated a little more in the way of a comeback than just a rollup win out of the blue.

7/10 Would've liked to see Brie get a better comeback in, but it was a great showcase for Tamina and AJ's commentary really added to the segment. Looks like AJ is starting a programme with the Bellas. The two most over diva acts going head to head? Sign me up. (I know they worked together last week, but they were still building up to the match with Natalya at TLC).


Match #3: Sin Cara vs Drew McIntyre w/Jinder Mahal (Heath Slater is injured)

(Result: Sin Cara via the Swanton)

Cheeky dig from JBL after the pin gets counted: "It's like we've got a new Sin Cara!" Top trolling. This was the typical Sin Cara showcase. Nothing we haven't seen before.

6/10. Seen it all before but it keeps Sin Cara's revival going and I've no problem with that.


- Up next, Tons of Funk explode!


Match #4: Sweet T vs Brodus Clay


(Result: Sweet T via a rollup. Brodus nails two big splashes and goes for a third, but the Funkadactyls and Xavier Woods come out dancing at the top of the ramp, distracting Brodus allowing Tensai to recover and catch him off guard.)

Mercifully quick, but it's nice to see the first match after the Tons of Funk breakup happening on Smackdown rather than Raw, not that it matters a great deal. No R-Truth in sight so maybe Xavier is going forth with the Funkadactyls himself, or possibly with Tensai as his new partner. I like Xavier and if they're trying to use this as a platform to get him over, good luck to him. As for Brodus, jury's still out on him as far as I'm concerned.


5/10.
A bit dull to be brutally honest. Match had no heat but as a platform for Brodus to further his heel persona and for Woods to get more exposure it was ok.


Match #5: Cody Rhodes & Goldust vs Luke Harper & Erik Rowan w/Bray Wyatt


(Result Harper clotheslines Cody out of his boots for the pin, after a distraction from Bray.)

Great match with a slow build that culminated with a frenetic pace towards the conclusion. Goldust plays the face-in-peril in tag matches better than anyone I can remember in the last decade, and Cody's hot-tag and the resultant comeback from the younger Rhodes Brother was inspired. By contrast, The Wyatt's are getting better and better all the time as a duo, and Harper especially is an absolute beast. Interesting that it's the second broadcast in a week that Rhodes have lost in non-title matches, but it only highlights the diversity in the tag ranks at the moment and it makes any forthcoming title matches more interesting by planting such a seed of doubt.


8.5/10.
. Brilliantly paced, Goldie drawing sympathy for the comeback and Cody following it up with gusto. Great stuff.

- Bray joins his minions to deliver more punishment, but Daniel Bryan makes the save, running down with a chair and fending them off!

-Damien Sandow rips on the crowd for over indulging with presents at Christmas, only for The Miz (apparently a face in this scenario) comes out to lambast him and bellow "You couldn't even carry Santa's sack."


Match #6: Damien Sandow vs The Miz.


(Result - Damien Sandow via handful of tights.)

Glad to see Damien get some promo time again before a match, reverting back to his usual arrogant snobbery that made him so colorful in the first place. As for The Miz, I know they've got a movie to promote but the handling of his face/heel alignment is sucking any heat out of his persona he had left. Also, if they've made him a face here with a view to promoting his Xmas film, why have him lose here? I know you have to keep Sandow looking strong going into the Raw match with Mark Henry but why not feed him someone else like, I don't know, Yoshi Tatsu or one of the Matadores?

4/10.
. Too short and nobody knew how to react to Miz for yet another change to his face/heel alignment. At least Sandow got some good promo time out of it.

Match #7: Kofi Kingston vs Fandango


(Result - Fandango (clean!) with the top rope leg drop.)

Two terrific midcard characters in action here; Fandango has so much potential as a heel and Kofi has been a midcard babyface mainstay for a long time now. The card's been loaded with more matches than promos tonight, but it's good to see Fandango get another win under his belt and start creeping back up the card again. This is an act which I'd love to see get more exposure again in the long-term.


7/10
Match was fine and it's good to see an act like Fandango getting some positive airtime.

- Daniel Bryan gets attacked backstage by the Wyatt family, as Bray sings another creepy lullaby. Short, simple, sweet. Good to see this feud continuing. Bryan appears to get chucked off of a ledge, rendering him unable to compete in the main event.


Match #8: CM Punk & John Cena vs The Shield


(Match is thrown out for a DQ, but the real story is after the match. The Shield take out both Cena and Punk, but Big E Langston bursts in out of nowhere and makes the save! We get a potential glimpse into the future as Big E and Roman Reigns have an intense staredown before the heels ultimately retreat.)

First, the match. A decent TV main event, this time with Cena taking most of the punishment before Punk made the terrific comeback. Then the match gets thrown out for the DQ which at first might've been dissapointing. Then, The Shield takes out Cena and Punk and you're thinking at some point Bryan might come out to make the save. Then, completely out of the blue it's Langston of all people coming out, then we get a staredown with Roman Reigns. The two people touted as the future of the company getting their first proper interaction with one another.

...And this is happening on Smackdown?! They must be insane. And you know what? I absolutely LOVE it.


9/10
For the match and the closing segment. Brilliant way to close the show.



Overall -

Quite possibly the best Smackdown of the year and better than the majority of Raw's from this year. It was honestly that good. The opening promo with 7 different major characters was an unexpected delight, the Rhodes vs The Wyatt's was great, and the main event was a brilliant overall segment with a good match and a quite startling conclusion. Looks like Big E and RR might go into an IC title feud now, and as a stepping stone to future success I think it'll work very well. I'm just amazed all this stuff has happened on Smackdown and not a Raw or a PPV, and I hope it gets some decent coverage as a result because it's a pretty big deal.

There were probably too many matches for two hours if anything, and maybe I'd have left out a couple of them altogether so we could get more promo time instead. But what I did like was that from major to minor, we had so many different talents on the show, and most if not all were at least doing SOMETHING of note too. Marvelous.


9/10
For a tremendous edition, one of the best episodes in a long, long time with a bunch of great stuff happening.


Over and out.






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