411 Instant Analysis 12.27.13: WWE Smackdown
Posted by Nick Sellers on 12.27.2013
Extended thoughts and coverage on a night where John Cena, Big E And Mark Henry all took on Shield members and Randy Orton took on Dolph Ziggler, with a crazy post-match beatdown taking place afterwards. All this and more with 411's Instant Analysis for this week's Smackdown!
Sellers on Smackdown for 12/27/13.
1) The Wyatt Family (Harper & Rowan w/Bray Wyatt) Def. The Usos
They wasted no time in putting over the Wyatt's pretty strongly here, which I think was the right move considering all the coverage they're now getting. Regarding the Usos, I think in this one-off instance they were a great foil for Harper & Rowan here and even though there was barely a minute between the opening and closing bells, they still got as couple of their own spots in and it wasn't the total squash that the spoiler reports would have you believe. This worked a treat to further establish Harper & Rowan as forces to be reckoned with in the tag ranks.
7.5/10. - Incredibly short, but they did well in such a short space of time.
- Quick note on Bray and his Sister Abigail finisher: I love how he launches himself into the move as well as his opponent. This, combined with the creepy kiss on the forehead before delivering it, gives it a real edge compared to other performers who've used it in the past.
Promo time with Cena and Co.
Looks like Cena appearing on Smackdown is becoming a regular thing now, or at least I hope so. His promo here was actually one of those that totally captures the divide he provides in terms of love/hate. It was admittedly a bit on the cheesy side -the kind of thing his detractors would loathe- but it was also relaxed, fun and had a typically Cena-spin on it, switching from crazy resolutions to wanting to get his WWE World title rematch. The Shield coming down instead keeps that storyline rolling on even further, and I'm all over that right now. It's also providing a pathway for Big E into the upper echelons of the card too. Not to sound like a broken record, but any time Cena is on a show it's worth watching, and once again they've continued to progress storylines from prior shows to extend narratives beyond just singular shows.
8/10. - Good stuff from Cena and more star power in segments like these really help the show. On the version I watched, this came after the first match, but I understand that this was actually taped beforehand live. I'd have made it the same for TV personally, but that's the most minor of minor gripes.
- The Animal is coming back. Hey, I'm down with that. Hopefully I get to cover him in future entries here.
- On the Orton/Ziggler backstage altercation, although he gets a good pasting later on, it was cool to see Ziggler rubbing shoulders with main event talent again. Also, Kane's insistance on having a safe working environment backstage is so sickening, slithery and deliciously corporate it hurts. Loving the change in direction for him.
Match #2:Antonio Cesaro w/Zeb Coulter & Jack Swagger Def. Cody Rhodes w/Goldust
Glad to see Cesaro getting some one-on-one time to impress again, whether it was to further a tag team angle or not. Another loss for the Rhodes brothers, but because of the competitive nature of their matches they don't come out looking like total chumps, and all it does is create excitement whenever the titles are actually on the line, because it plants that seed of doubt and tension which gets you hooked to see what happens. As I've pointed out before, The Real Americans would be my choice to take the straps soon because they are some good babyface challengers for them do battle with in the new year.
6.5. Would've liked to see them get a big longer, because it felt like it never really got going. Possibly a bit of a harsh rating. Still, I like that this rivalry is continuing.
Match #3: The Prime Time Players Def. Ryback & Curtis Axel
And speaking of babyface challengers for the tag straps, kudos to the booking committee for having the PTP go over here. It would've been a shame to see the PTP -an established duo who actually look and work like a good tag team should- lose a match to a team thrown together because neither Ryback or Curtis Axel have anything better to do. This was actually pretty good, another decent use of TV time. Ryback and Axel do make a half-decent bully-heel duo and as such they make a good foil for teams like this.
7.5/10. Might be the start of a wave of momentum for the PTP. Young in particular seems to have bags of energy which doesn't often get talked about.
Match #4: Randy Orton Def. Dolph Ziggler
Absolutely rock solid in every department, and proof positive that Dolph can still be a good hand to go up against the main-eventers. As much as he's fallen down the pecking order, I think he showed here that he's still got plenty to offer. Personally I'd turn him back heel in the new year, then you've got the prospect of some excellent TV and PPV matches against the likes of Punk, Bryan, Cena, Mysterio, I could go on. Maybe they're actually heading down a different route for him too if the post-match assault is anything to go by. Maybe a couple of weeks off of TV and a return in the Rumble match would freshen things up for him. Back to the actual match, Christ did they throw some stiff shots into the mix there. This was really, really great. The RKO out of nowhere, against the run of play as I'd say if this was a footie game (soccer, to most of you cats), just further showed how lethal and how surprising that finisher can be. Speaking of Orton, I implore them to use him like this every week; A few stern, cocky words backstage (as opposed to boring, monotone and laborous diatribes) and a vicious, ass-kicking edge in the ring, utilized here with the volume turned up to 11. That's the proper way to use a viper, an Apex Predator, etc. More of that going into 2014, a-thank-you.
8.5/10 Great stuff from both, particularly Dolph who seemed to absolutely relish it. The two of them just seemed to click fantastically. Go check it out if you haven't already.
- Another on-point promo from The Shield backstage, though I think sooner rather than later they'll need to switch up the formula for that. All three of them are more than capable on the stick and I'd like to see them get more time in arenas now rather than in the backstage environment all the time.
Match #5: Daniel Bryan Def. Damien Sandow
Bryan's the Postman Pat of WWE - Always delivering. This was quick but kept him fresh in the minds of everyone showcasing most of his best stuff. Sandow sold well for him and he has something of a vicious streak which I'd like to see highlighted more next year.
7/10. Good little showcase for the Yes man.
- BRAY IS GOD. His words, not mine, though I do like him a lot. Seems as though there's still more to come between Bray and Bryan going into the new year. Cool with me.
Match #6: Big E. Langston Def. Dean Ambrose
Good way to kick off this three-part main event. Nothing we haven't seen before from both guys, but in the context of the story between the two respective parties tonight it worked really well. Big E is really getting a knack for timing and picking his spots which will serve him very well going into the new year. Also, before I forget, his big splash just has a certain beauty and majesty about it which for some reason just gives me a hot flush. Like a giant swan in full flight, or something. What am I saying?
7/10 Fine in isolation, great in the context of the bigger picture. As for Ambrose, he's done more than his fair share of jobs in recent weeks and I'm not sure if they're intentionally trying to make him out as the weak link, but they might want to be careful of that in future.
Match #7: Roman Reigns Def. Mark Henry
Another good outing for Roman, who's star shone brightly in this one. Henry sold well for him which only made him look more impressive, and Reigns is building up a nice moveset with the Superman Punch to go along with the Spear and Samoan Drops he does. A bit shorter and not as action packed as the previous match till the end, but again, in the context of this three-parter it was great.
7/10 Henry sold well for RR here. At first I was wondering why CM Punk wasn't involved this week, but having Henry do the job instead was a wise move I think.
Match #8:Seth Rollins Def. John Cena w/Mark Henry & Big E Langston
Oh man, this was fantastic. First, Seth Rollins- Take a bow. Funny how in his last ROH match before departing, Rollins (Then Tyler Black) actually used Cena's You Can't See Me taunt in reference to where he'd be heading, and now he's main eventing a WWE show with him and actually doing that same taunt to goad the man in person. His moves and counters in this one were stellar, and Cena deserves immense credit for giving him the time and freedom to do that. I believe they work-out and train together off-screen, and it's not surprising the two of them had the kind of chemistry here that they did. We had some great false finishes, well timed comebacks, sweet moves, everything you could possibly want in any WWE main event. Quite possibly the Smackdown match of the year.
Result: 9.5/10 Absolutely superb. A real coming out party for Rollins as a singles worker and with some real innovation in his counters too. Cena gave him plenty of time for offense and timed his own comeback well. Overall, a terrific culmination of this little series with The Shield.
Holy Mick Foley, where on Earth has this Smackdown resurgence come from? We had two stellar matches this week, good angle advancement all-round, and another generally tight broadcast with plenty of top stars and some excellent action.
I have no idea why they're putting so much effort into the show again. Maybe it's because they're trying to push it before the TV deals get renewed, maybe they just want to properly utilize the extra two hours of TV properly again. Or they're full of mince pies and festive turkey and as such they're feeling extra generous. Either way, I seriously hope it continues into 2014.
There I was, expecting this to be a nice, quiet gig. How wrong I've been so far!