411 Instant Analysis 1.24.14: Sellers on Smackdown
Posted by Nick Sellers on 01.25.2014
The Shield & New Age Outlaws face The Usos, Rhodes Brothers and Big E Langston in a monstrous 10-man tag, Big Show & Rey Mysterio take on The Real Americans, CM Punk cuts a promo on The Authority and more! Check out 411's Instant Analysis for the go-home Smackdown before the Royal Rumble!
Morning. Slight delay this week; Yesterday was Mam's birthday and I was far too merry to file the report before this morning.
As usual, the order may be different depending on which version of the show you're watching from which location.
Match #1: Rey Mysterio & Big Show Def. The Real Americans
Nothing unique but a good way to kick off the show. The match picked up nicely down the stretch and Big Show got another chance to show off his strength and build more momentum going into his clash with Brock Lesnar, which right now is probably the most appealing feud they have running. The Real Americans are doing their fair share of jobs lately, but it's a great act and I'm sure they'll be in the tag title hunt again before we know it.
Rating: 7/10. - Good kick-off.
Paul Heyman addresses Big Show
Paul Heyman drops by. Beating Big Show won't be enough for Brock Lesnar, and he's going to run right through Big Show en route to dominating the WWE Universe. Short but sweet. As good as it would be for Brock to be on all the shows, having Heyman as a regular advocate is still very effective.
Match #2: The Miz Def. Brodus Clay
After his pre-match hounding, Bad News Barrett continued to do so here during the match, berating both men. Match itself was very dull, but this did provide a decent vehicle to Barrett to act like a total cock, and I think it actually worked in that sense. The BNB act is growing on me, but now's the time they need to actually get him back in the ring and start knocking some heads together to go along with his bad news stuff.
Rating: 6/10. - Match itself was absolutely nothing, but Barrett's schtick was a good way of progressing that character.
Match #3: AJ Lee Def. Cameron
AJ and Naomi has potential if the latter learns to pace herself and not blow through her entire moveset in about 10 seconds during a match. As for Cameron, I still think she'd make a much better valet than a wrestler. Perhaps the biggest problem with this feud is that despite AJ doing a couple of jobs, it's so glaringly obvious that AJ isn't losing the title and that this is essentially a placeholder feud. It would've been much more convincing if the Funkadactyls had split and Naomi was forging her own path and we got to know her character even more. Pity. Match here was about what you'd expect.
Rating: 6/10. - So so.
Another great promo from The Shield, and another clear sign that Roman Reigns is the daddy. I've got him down for the most eliminations in the Royal Rumble roundtable and I think that'd be the perfect way to give him his next big boost.
Match #4: Ryback & Curtis Axel Def. Los Matadres w/El Torito
Total filler here, but it was ok. I do like the Matadores and with a brilliant mascot in tow, this might be a marketable gimmick for Primo & Epico in the long-term. Ryback & Curtis Axel still have nothing better to do by the looks of it, so for now they're stuck together. After Ryback's mental escapades on Main Event previously, it's a pity they didn't really follow any of that up on this show.
Rating: 6.5/10. - Filler, but not bad.
Interesting that they teased friction between Cesaro and Swagger backstage. I think there's still some mileage there for them as a heel duo, but at the same time Cesaro is someone I'd live to see break out into singles stardom again. In this instance it was probably just to highlight the Rumble match is everyone for themselves.
CM Punk promo
Punk's promo was as good as you'd expect, and the perfect sign-off on the go home Smackdown before the PPV. Punk explaining the odds, how tough competing against 29 other superstars would be and winning it will prove he's the Best in the World were just what the doctor ordered for a Royal Rumble match which has probably not been highlighted as much in the build-up this year. Kane didn't really add much when he came out that we didn't already know, but it did give Punk an excuse to further taunt him and question what happened to the Big Red Machine since he went corporate.
Rating: 8/10. - Not one of his traditional "Pibebomb" explosive rants, but ticked all the boxes for promoting the Rumble match.
Match #5: Harper & Rowan Def. The PrimeTime Players
I like the PTP but if they're ever to be serious tag title challengers again they need a similar revival/relaunch to the Usos in terms of progressing back up the card with a lot of momentum. The charisma to make that happen is definitely within them though. Short, sweet way of putting over Harper & Rowan here, a tremendous big-man duo.
Rating: 6/10. - Too short for a much bigger rating even though it ticked the boxes they were looking for.
Post-match Bray takes out Darren Young, cuts a promo before Daniel Bryan retorts with one of his own. Again; short, simple and effective.
Match #6: Fandango w/Summer Raye vs Kofi Kingston w/El Torito
Solid if unspectacular from these two. I can't fault most of Kofi's matches, for his athleticism is always top-drawer stuff and he's obviously a big hit with the kids. But after 8 years as a babyface now with virtually no changes to his character in that time (apart from dropping the Jamaican accent and wearing longer tights instead of shorter ones) I am begging them to do something different with him or at least try and layer his current character more. Fandango is treading water right now too, but like Kofi he's capable of having good matches and I think the key is just finding the right feud for him to sink his teeth into.
Rating: 7/10. - Solid enough.
Match #7: The Shield & New Age Outlaws vs The Usos, Rhodes Brothers & Big E. Langston
Ah, the traditional all-out brawl to close the show to hype up the Rumble match. I'm an absolute sucker for mass-brawls closing the show and I'm glad we got that here. Could've maybe done with Batista getting in the mix too, but that's not a knock on the people who got involved here. Match itself was terrific and was full of action, quite comfortably the match of the night and to be brutally honest, probably the only thing worth tuning in for apart from the promos. As stated already, the build for the actual Rumble match this year has been a little quieter than usual, but tonight they did their level best to make up for lost time on that front, especially with Punk coming back out to get his hands dirty as well.
Rating: 8.5/10. - Match was great fun and the brawl to close the proceedings was grand.
The actual promos were great tonight, and at the end of the day they did a good job of selling various storylines going into the Rumble PPV. There was also some decent build for the actual Rumble match in particular which has been lacking a bit lately. The opener was good, the main event great, and everything else was instantly forgettable.
Show Rating: 6.5/10. - The promos alone make the show worth a view, as does the main event. Skip everything else though.