Friday, October 28, 2011

WWE SmackDown 10/28/11

WWE SmackDown 10/28/11
October 28th, 2011
Toyota Center, Houston, Texas
Attendance: Unknown at this time

We're about five days removed from the WWE Vengeance PPV as the Smackdown crew rolls into Houston, Texas and honestly I can't say much has changed since last week despite the PPV, which was a good show (and you can read my report for it here: WWE Vengeance PPV Report 10.23.11) but still had the sense of being an obvious placeholder B-show in preparation for Survivor Series next month. Over on RAW John Cena chose The Rock as his dream partner for Survivor Series, but Del Rio is still the WWE champion and Mark Henry is still our World Heavyweight champion. Let's see what Smackdown has in store for us to kick start the road to Survivor Series tonight, shall we?

Your hosts are Michael Cole, Booker T, and Josh Matthews

We open the show up with the Smackdown GM Teddy Long already in the ring to announce that because of the ring implosion during the Mark Henry/Big Show match at Vengeance, the World Heavyweight Title is "in a state of flux". Look at Teddy busting out the big words. Of course before he can explain what his plans are, he's interrupted by Christian, who arrives to a chorus of boos. He enters the ring with his own mic and says that the Big Show blew his one shot at the title and that he should fill that number one contendership void now. Christian gets ready to go another one of his delusional tangents to defend this belief when the unmistakable opening riff of "Cult of Personality" rings out, signalling CM Punk's surprise appearance on Smackdown. Now that's a way to get people more interested in Smackdown, bring over the actual A-List stars from RAW. Usual huge pop for Punk. Teddy explains that because Smackdown has been loaning talent to RAW for their weekly "supershows" now, that he was able to snag a few RAW superstars to wrestle on tonight's "Super Smackdown" apparently. Punk gives Teddy a ringing endorsement as GM in comparison to John Laurinaitis over on RAW and then explains that he was excited to come on tonight's show because he's a fan of Christian's, or as Punk refers to him, "Rusty bird"? Christian fires back that he doesn't believe Punk is deserving of a title shot against Del Rio on RAW, and Punk retorts by poking fun at Christian's constant "bitching", which starts a big CM Punk chant. Christian claims that no one wants Punk here tonight but the crowd loudly disagrees with that sentiment. Punk challenges Christian to a one-on-one match on tonight's show, and Teddy instantly approves it. Right on, now that sounds like a classic Smackdown match.

The Miz/R-Truth vs. Air Boom (Kofi Kingston/Evan Bourne)

Well, we haven't seen this match done a good dozen times in the last few weeks have we? Kofi and Miz start us off tonight and it's not long before Miz takes the upper hand and tags out to Truth. Truth eats a pair of boots from Kofi in the corner, allowing him to tag Evan into the match, who explodes on Truth with a quick flurry of acrobatic kicks. Truth knocks Bourne out of the ring, allowing Miz to get a cheap shot in as we take a quick and unexpected commercial break. When we return Truth and Miz are continuing the double-team domination of Evan Bourne. Bourne fires off an enziguri on Truth and gets the hot tag to Kofi, who wipes out Miz with a rolling clothesline, dropkick, and several forearm strikes. Kofi gets a two count off of a huge cross-body onto Miz, but Truth breaks it up. Bourne tries a pescado to the floor on Truth but misses, and Kofi is given the "Little Jimmy's Finale" by both of the heels, which is a combination of both of their finishing moves. Awful name, but it's enough to put Kofi away and give them the win at 4:28 (shown). With Miz and Truth being booked into the main event of Summerslam against The Rock and John Cena, they needed one more convincing win over Air Boom and they got it here rather quickly. Quick and inoffensive. After the match Miz and Truth sow the seeds of dissension by commenting that The Rock is a poor choice for Cena's partner because he might be the only guy to hate Cena more than they do. *3/4

After a commercial break we cut backstage to the locker room where Daniel Bryan is talking to a bunch of the guys about being trained by Shawn Michaels after they watch a clip for the new Bret Hart/HBK DVD coming out. Tyson Kidd walks up to interrupt him and they start an argument over who the better wrestler was, with Bryan obviously sticking up for Shawn and Kidd obviously sticking up for his trainer Bret Hart. Santino of all people is the one to separate them, telling them they should settle their argument in the ring, and both men agree. Bryan vs. Kidd? Sounds good to me.

Elsewhere backstage Teddy Long is talking to Hornswoggle, who is fist-bumping with his Zack Ryder head-band and sunglasses on. That's not a good sign, anytime Hornswoggle endorses your product it's only a matter of time before the IWC turns on you (ex: DX). Dolph Ziggler, Jack Swagger, and Vickie Guerrero walk up to interrupt them so Teddy books Dolph into a match tonight against Randy Orton, and Swagger is banned from ringside. The heels take off in anger as the cheesy 80s saxophone music kicks in and NXT-reject Aksana is back apparently to try and rape Teddy again. Is there a single person that's actually interested in this angle?

Wade Barrett vs. Trent Barreta

Hey it's my main man, radical dudebuster Trent Barreta! Oh and he's facing Wade Barrett...damnit, jobbing duties again for Trent. Keep hangin' in there kid, one day the brass will give you a shot like they did to Ryder. This is nothing more than your usual squash match for Wade, but Trent is probably one of the better bump-takers in the company right now so he makes Wade look like a million bucks. Trent gets a few lucky shots in but Barrett puts him away easily with the Waste Land at 2:32. About what you'd expect from a squash match with these two. 3/4*

Randy Orton vs. Dolph Ziggler

These two had a rather spirited match on RAW a few weeks/months back so this should be solid. Cody Rhodes joins the commentary table for the match as well. Both men are (surprise surprise) all head and chin-locks to start the match, feeling each other out. Booker provides us with our first unintentionally homoerotic line of the night by glowing about this match-up, proclaiming "These two are going one-on-one; man on man, that's what I like to see!" Crowd is hot for every early near-move and counter and are firmly behind Orton as he starts to grind Dolph into the mat with a pesky armbar. Ziggler manages to escape the hold and the action spills to the outside floor where Orton leap-frogs over Vickie Guerrero to clothesline Ziggler in a cute spot that leads us into a commercial break. When we return Ziggler is dropkicking Orton out of his boots for a near fall back inside the ring. Stiff knee to the gut nets Dolph another two count, and he tries to apply a scissors submission hold that vaguely resembles the old Rings of Saturn. Orton ties to lift Ziggler up onto his back, but Ziggler counters into a big DDT for another near fall. Ziggler fires off a big neckbreaker, but again Orton kicks out much to Vickie's chagrin at ringside. Ziggler goes to the top rope but Orton crotches him and superplexes him off the top rope with a devastating impact for a close two count. Back on his feet Orton is fired up and starts to slowly go into his trademark Viper routine (snap powerslam, second-rope DDT, etc). He goes for the RKO but Ziggler blocks it and delivers a stiff superkick that almost gets him the upset pin before Orton rolls out of the count. Ziggler goes for the Zig-Zag, but Orton evades and Ziggler steps right into the RKO from Orton, which means good-night for Mr. Ziggler and another Orton victory at 10:28 (shown). Great television match and a welcoming return to form for Smackdown's usual in-ring quality here. Orton and Ziggler have some fine chemistry together, I wouldn't mind watching them wrestle some more once the feud with Rhodes is over. ***

After a quick recap of the supposed "end" of the two Sin Cara's feud we cut backstage to Matt Striker who is with an unmasked Hunico/Sin Cara Negro to ask him how he feels about the whole situation. He complains that Cara took away his identity, and then rambles something in Spanish before saying that Cara took something from him and it's payback time.

Daniel Bryan vs. Tyson Kidd

Now this is a match-up I'd love to see given a good chunk of time on a future PPV. Shoving match from both men to start followed by a quick trade of armdrags and counter-holds. Bryan does his usual top turnbuckle back-flip counter spot and then nails Kidd with a big running dropkick in the corner while Booker raves about Tim Tebow. Kidd counters a top-rope frankensteiner from Bryan into a sunset flip for a near fall and both men trade several more cradle attempts until Kidd tries to apply the sharpshooter. Bryan quickly counters into the LaBell Lock however and Kidd unfortunately taps out way too early for my liking, giving the match to Bryan at 2:36. I guess this was all just a quick segment to remind viewers of the upcoming Bret Hart/HBK DVD coming out, but I think giving these guys a few more minutes to flesh out a decent TV match would have been more beneficial to everyone in the long run. Oh well. Oh and I guess this ends Bryan's losing streak, though Matthews only mentions it in passing once the match is actually over. *3/4

After another RAW recap and a graphic hyping The Rock for next week's RAW, Michael Cole grabs a mic and stands up on the commentary table to do his usual lame heel shtick about JR. If you watched RAW, then you've already seen this segment, because it's the exact same one from RAW, same poorly photoshopped pictures and all. Moving along.

The Big Show makes his way out after Cole is done with his slideshow and we take a quick break. When we return Show is in the ring with a mic and he proceeds to put over Mark Henry and the match they had this Sunday, which to be honest was far better than anyone was expecting, so give them a bit of credit. Show assures us that Teddy Long has promised him a rematch at Henry's title but before he can elaborate, Mark Henry's music hits and the World Heavyweight champion makes his way down the aisle to interrupt Show. Henry talks some trash to Show about their PPV match and then teases entering the ring to fight him, but he feigns a back injury instead and walks off to massive boos. Here's to hoping these two put on an equally as good match the second time around.

CM Punk vs. Christian

Main event time baby, and we've got a good one tonight with the Punkster taking on Captain Charisma. Christian is all over Punk to start but Punk has an answer for every hold and move Christian attempts in the early going, rousing huge Punk chants out of the crowd. Christian gets some elbow shots in and a big back elbow shot off the second rope which garners him some boos. He tries for a top rope splash but Punk moves and sets him up for the GTS when suddenly Alberto Del Rio's music hits and this distracts Punk long enough for Christian to give him an impaler DDT as Del Rio and Ricardo make their way down to ringside and we take a quick commercial break. When we return Punk is being grinded into the mat with a headlock, some slaps, and a reverse DDT for a near fall. Christian goes right back to the headlock again but Punk fights it off with stiff slaps and sick spin-kick that wipes out Christian before Punk himself collapses seconds later from exhaustion. Punk gets his second wind seemingly here though, firing off a back drop, lariat, and a twisting DDT for a two and a half count on Christian. Punk misses a running knee in the corner and each man tease going for their respective finisher's, but Punk counters a sunset flip powerbomb with a superkick for another near fall. Punk rolls through a top-rope cross body block from Christian for another nearfall and tries for a springboard clothesline, but Christian catches him in mid-air with a sick powerslam! Punk kicks out though and succeeds on a second springboard clothesline attempt, but again Christian kicks out of the pin. Punk goes to the top rope and suddenly Ricardo distracts the ref while Del Rio knocks Punk off the top rope behind his back. Christian sets up for a spear when suddenly Sheamus' music hits and the Irishman makes his way down to ringside to scare Ricardo and Del Rio off. He also manages to distract Christian long enough for Punk to give him the GTS and pin him for the win at 9:35 (shown). This was another solid and fun TV match, but it felt like it was lacking that one small, indescribable element that differentiates a solid TV match from a great one to me, so I'll go slightly under three stars here. Worth checking out though. **3/4

Bottom Line: This was a much better show than we had seen in the previous few weeks. Alot of our readers seemed almost furious that I didn't enjoy the last few weeks worth of programming, but as I always say, there are two things I look for in a wrestling show to give it my recommendation and that's some solid in-ring action combined with some decent angle advancement, and we got that tonight (mostly). Orton vs. Ziggler was a lot of fun and a candidate for TV match of the week, and the main event was solid stuff as well if a bit vanilla. Overall an improvement over the last few weeks and a solid show, so a Thumbs Up from me tonight.

Score: 7.0

Sunday, October 23, 2011

WWE Vengeance 2011

WWE Vengeance 2011
October 23rd, 2011
AT&T Center, San Antonio, Texas
Attendance: Unknown at this time

Welcome everyone once again to 411mania's live coverage of WWE PPVs, most of you probably know me from doing the RAW, SmackDown, and TNA PPV reports, but tonight I'll be filling in for Scott Slimmer to do the WWE PPV. I haven't had much time to do alot of these recently, so I'm actually looking forward to the show despite the average looking card. We should have some solid action tonight though with John Cena taking on Alberto Del Rio in a Last Man Standing match for the WWE title, Triple H and CM Punk vs. The Miz and R-Truth, as well as Christian vs. Sheamus and a slew of other undercard matches to go along with the somewhat frightening prospect of the World Heavyweight title match between Mark Henry and the Big Show. Let's see if the WWE can't exceed our minimal expectations for this show, shall we?

Your hosts are Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler, and Booker T

WWE Tag Team Title Match
Air Boom (Kofi Kingston/Evan Bourne)
© vs. Dolph Ziggler/Jack Swagger

Before Justin Roberts can even announce our opening match, here comes Vickie "Screech" Guerrero to introduce them instead. Do Air Boom have another new remixed theme song now? They seem to change themes each week. Anywho, Dolph and Kofi start us off with some basic waist and wrist-lock exchanges. Kofi leap-frogs over Ziggler twice and then nails him with a back elbow and the sickest monkey flip I've ever seen in my life (Ziggler did a full 180 degree turn onto his face). Bourne tags in and they do a double-leapfrog dropkick. Kofi and Evan start utilizing some spiffy double-team combos comprising of all sorts of dropkicks and backflips. Kofi tries a cross-body onto Swagger and gets belly-to-belly suplexed out of his boots for a near fall. Heels take over control from here, with Ziggler nailing Kofi with a dropkick and then grinding him down with a scissors-hold on the mat. Swagger works a sleeper on Kofi for a bit until Kofi tags out to Bourne, whose all fired up and takes it out on Swagger with a flurry of frenzied spin kicks. Evan tries for the Air Bourne, but Swagger gets his knees up! Sick. Ziggler grabs a hold of Bourne's arm and grinds him down as the crowd starts to rally behind young Evan. They trade cradle near falls and Ziggler explodes with a huge lariat on Bourne for another two count. Swagger tags in and delivers a Vader bomb and Bourne still kicks out. Evan tries to tag out, but Swagger applies the ankle lock on him and then tags Ziggler in, who chokes Evan behind the ref's back with some classic heel antics. Big neckbreaker from Ziggler and Swagger tags back in as Evan takes the babyface beatdown of the year before blocking another Vader bomb with a stiff dropkick. Finally Kofi gets the hot tag and he explodes on Ziggler with a series of dropkicks and forearms. Kingston does the frog-splash cross-body onto Ziggler and the crowd totally buys into the near fall, but somehow Ziggler kicks out! Kofi hits the Boom Drop on him, followed by the S.O.S., but Swagger breaks the pin up. Swagger tries for the ankle lock, but Bourne takes him out with a pair of flying shotgun knees. Ziggler tries to roll Kofi up with a handful of tights, but Kofi kicks out, nails him with a dropkick, tags Evan back in, and Bourne delivers Air Bourne to Ziggler for the pin to retain the titles at 13:23! My god, that was the best damn PPV opening match I've seen from the WWE in many months and this was probably the best two-on-two tag match I've seen all year long. Red-hot action here with all four men firing on all cylinders to start off the PPV the right way. ***1/2

WWE US Title Match
Dolph Ziggler
© vs. Zack Ryder

Oh but remember, Dolph has to defend his US title against Zack Ryder directly after the opening tag match, so down runs the Long Island Iced Z and we have ourselves a US title match. Ryder is all over Ziggler to start, but Ziggler is able to fire off a neckbreaker. A huge "Let's Go Ryder!" chant starts up as Ziggler bails to the outside to try and catch his breath. Air Boom are still at ringside, so they kindly offer to toss Dolph back into the ring, the ref than expels Air Boom from ringside. ARE YOU SERIOUS BRO? The distraction allows Ziggler some time to regain his composure and take control of the match from here, grinding Ryder down into the mat with a headlock and elbow drop combination. Ryder misses the face-wash boot in the corner and Ziggler hits him with the Fameasser, but Ryder kicks out of it at the count of two. Ryder nails him with a pair of knees and then connects with a sickeningly stiff facewash boot in the corner on him. Swagger tries to trip Ryder up but Ryder holds onto the ropes only to turn around and walk right into a huge superkick from Dolph, which is enough for Ziggler to retain at 6:04. This was obviously rushed and chaotic, but it was very fun and worked well as a bit of an extension of the opening match. **1/2

Backstage CM Punk is seen talking with Ted DiBiase briefly before Triple H approaches him so they can come to an agreement for their tag team match tonight against R-Truth and The Miz. They promise to show them what a real "unsafe work environment" is.

Before the next match begins we see a "exclusive" interview with Kelly Kelly on Beth Phoenix, but Beth walks up and attacks her of course, choking her until Eve Torres is able to break them up. Sheesh, that really IS an unsafe work environment!

WWE Diva's Title Match
Beth Phoenix
© vs. Eve Torres

These two women are right into "catfight" mode to start as they try pulling each other's hair as the bell sounds. Eve tries a sunset flip for a near fall and Beth takes her down with a shoulder-block for a near fall of her own. Eve hits an enziguri on Beth and then she ties Beth's hands up in the second rope with the tassles on her skirt! The ref unties her and they butt heads. Beth shows her strength again by gorilla press slamming Eve onto the guard barrier outside the ring. Back in the ring Beth works over Eve's ribs with a scissors-hold. Eve wriggles out of it though and uses her body as a weapon with a standing senton that gets her a two count on Phoenix. Eve locks her arms and legs around Beth's arms in a scissors-hold that's reminsicent of jiu-jitsu and Eve looks really impressive here actually until Beth gets the rope-break. Both women are intent on trying to make the other scream and cry out as a sign of weakness. Beth slams Eve's head on the mat and then tries the Glam Slam, but Eve counters with a roll-up for a close two count. Eve nails Beth with a sidekick and follows it with a moonsault, but Beth rolls out of the way, picks Eve up, and gives her the Glam Slam to retain the title at 7:18. Sweet God almighty, that was actually a good, spirited little contest there! Probably the best one-on-one women's match I've seen in the WWE all year long, kudos to the ladies for a job well done here. **3/4

Backstage the Big Show tells Matt Striker the usual stuff. "Vengeance will be mine, I shall smite thy enemies, yadda yadda yadda", calling out Mark Henry for their title match tonight. In more interesting news we get the first preview of the upcoming Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart feud and the incredible sit-down interview Jim Ross did with both men. If there's a "DVD of the Year" award, this might win it in terms of new original content for the WWE, can't wait to see it.

Christian vs. Sheamus

Here we go now, this is a solid mid-show match right here. Christian is hesitant to start the match of course, soaking in his cowardly heel ways. When the bell does ring, Christian slaps Sheamus a few times before the big man feeds him a forearm and a scoop slam. Sheamus wraps Christian up in the ropes and lays in a flurry of hammer fists before bringing Christian back in with a great delayed vertical suplex for a two count. Crowd seems pretty worn out after the first three matches, which is a shame because these guys work great together. Christian fires off a neckbreaker and stomps away at Sheamus in the corner. Sheamus tries to mount a comeback but Christian takes him down with a flying back elbow from the second rope followed by a dropkick. Christian misses a diving headbutt and this gives Sheamus the chance to start his comeback with a huge powerslam followed by a fallaway slam. Sheamus delivers a slingshot shoulder-block over the top rope onto Christian, but still the slimey Canadian kicks out! Sheamus tries for the Brogue Kick, but Christian sees it coming and gives him a reverse DDT for another two count. Both men tease delivering their finishing maneuvers multiple times in a nifty sequence of counters, but Christian nails Sheamus in the face with a pair of boots and a cross-body, but Sheamus catches him into the Irish Curse backbreaker. Sheamus tries for the Brogue Kick again, but Christian spears him for yet another rapid near-fall! Christian delivers a sick top-rope frankensteiner on the big man and sets up for another spear, but Sheamus nails him with the Brogue Kick and that's enough to give Sheamus the win at 10:39! This one started off slow because the crowd seemed drained from the last few matches, but once these two guys got their signature counter-trading and high impact moves going along the crowd got right back into things and this was another great match with a hot finish. ***1/4

The Miz and R-Truth approach John Laurinaitis backstage to thank him for hiring them back. When he walks off they go into a battle of who can top the other in a contest of "Who sucks the hardest?" with contestants including CM Punk, Triple H, and the entire state of Texas. This is one strange team that oddly works. Also, when did the WWE start using actual good music for their PPVs? They hype the new Crystal Method album and the theme for this show,

Triple H/CM Punk vs. The Miz/R-Truth

And now we arrive at one of the main selling points of this show, Punk and Triple H teaming up to take on The Miz and R-Truth, who are basically John Laurinaitis' henchmen at this point. The video package to hype the feud beforehand is excellent here as well, one of the better ones they've done in awhile. Both Punk and Triple H get their usual big pops from the crowd with their entrances. Triple H, love him or hate him, is a staple in the WWE and it feels good to sit back on a Sunday night and watch him wrestle again. Punk and Miz start us off with Punk laying in some stiff kicks before tagging in Triple H. Miz scurries off and tags Truth in. It's K-Kwik vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley time! Triple H takes him down with a shoulder-block. Truth counters out of a whiplash into the corner with an extravagant, boasting cartwheel and Triple H takes a page out of Indiana Jones book and sets him straight with a blunt and stiff right hand. Punk tags in briefly to work Miz over before tagging Hunter back in, who applies a beautiful figure-four leglock to The Miz (and Punk holds his hands to add pressure to the hold in a page out of the Evolution heel playbook). Miz gets a rope break but Punk just tags in and grabs a hold of his arm in an armbar. Punk grinds him down for a bit until Hunter tags back in and goes to town on both Miz and Truth, clotheslining the both of them out of the ring. Suddenly in a moment straight out of Bizarro World, Michael Cole compares Triple H and CM Punk to the Republicans in the GOP, unsure of what they want. See, Cole's a heel, and Vince is a conservative, so his thinking is probably "If Cole harps on about the Republicans, people will love them!". Oh Vince you sly fox. Back to the action, back in the ring Truth is fending off Hunter with a side-headlock. Truth hits the spinning corkscrew elbow on Triple H, but only for a two count. Miz tags in and slaps a headlock onto Hunter to grind him down before tagging Truth in, who applies a leglock around Hunter's head to do the same thing until Hunter drops Truth in the electric chair slam position. Hunter delivers a huge DDT to Truth and then finally gets the hot tag to Punk, who springboards into the ring with a flying forearm before exploding on both of the heels with a flurry of running knees and lariat combos. Punk goes to the top rope and hits a perfect Macho Man-esque elbow drop onto The Miz while Triple H and Truth brawl around ringside. Suddenly Kevin Nash appears out of nowhere in the front row and nails Triple H! Back in the ring Punk sets up for the Go 2 Sleep, but Truth and Miz counter it and perform a combination of their respective finishers on him to pick up the win at 15:37! This was about as formulaic as a tag team match gets, but the formula is the standard for a reason (because it usually works). This wasn't an epic or anything or even a match you might remember a year from now, but this was solid tag team formula stuff while it lasted, and the booking advances the whole Triple H/Punk/Nash angle, as you know damn well they're going to get Kevin Nash back on PPV in a match sometime soon come hell or high water. ***

After the match Kevin Nash beats down Triple H some more and delivers the jackknife powerbomb on his former best friend before walking off into the crowd to a chorus of boos.Triple H appears to have injured his shoulder from that powerbomb from Nash, though I'm not sure if that's legit or not (probably not). Backstage Alberto Del Rio barges in on John Laurinaitis, demanding to know why he was booked into a Last Man Standing match tonight. Johnny tells him not to worry, because everything's going to be okay. Then we get a close up of some seriously creepy Cena and Undertaker wax models for no apparent reason. Okay then. Thanks?

Randy Orton vs. Cody Rhodes

Ah yes, the budding battle of former Legacy stablemates. This has been in the works for a few years now and these two have become very familiar with one another, so this should be another solid encounter. Both men are fired up to start with the usual lock-up attempts, but Cody quickly takes off outside and slides back in quickly to fake out Orton and deliver a gourdbuster to him, followed by a kneedrop. Rhodes slaps a headlock onto Orton for a bit but Orton counters with a back suplex. Rhodes nails him with a dropkick and then synches on a deep Boston crab on the Viper, who writhes in pain on the mat. Randy tries to escape, but Rhodes pulls out a stiff Alabama Slam for a close two count. Rhodes goes for a beautiful moonsault, but there's no one home and Rhodes crashes and burns. Orton fires off a powerslam on Rhodes and then dropkicks him while he's coming off the top rope. Rhodes nails Orton with the Beautiful Disaster knee to the face (I guess they're calling it that now) but it only nets him a two count. Rhodes tries to counter the second-rope DDT, but Orton counters that counter with a backbreaker! Rhodes tries for the moonsault again, and this time he hits it on a standing Orton for another close near fall. Rhodes misses the follow-up knee-drop and has one of his bagmen try to distract Orton, then he delivers the Cross-Rhodes to Randy and nearly wins it, but the Viper kicks out! Rhodes wastes time mocking Orton's whole Viper routine, which gives Orton enough time to go into his own routine and deliver an RKO to Rhodes while Cody's trying to call out more bagmen, and Orton picks up the win at 12:13. Another contest that started off slow and that the crowd seemed a bit bored with, but eventually they got into it as both men picked up the pace and delivered the solid encounter you'd expect from them. ***

World Heavyweight Title Match
Mark Henry
© vs. Big Show

So this is one of those matches that sounds interesting on paper, but when it actually happens, you realize "Oh, right, this is probably going to suck". OR IS IT? Big Show immediately unloads on Henry with a flurry of punches in the corner, which sends Henry to the floor to catch his breath and regain his composure. Show hip-tosses Mark Henry back into the ring (which is actually kind of impressive) and then gives a freaking superkick to Henry as well! What the heck, has Show been taking yoga or something? He hasn't been this limber in a long time. Henry has had enough and grabs his title, trying to take off and take the count-out loss, but Show stops him and drags him into the ring. Henry chop blocks Show out from under his knee and then delivers a gigantic (literally!) scoop slam on the Big Show! Show's formerly injured leg is hurting him again and Henry immediately zones in on it, working it over with elbow drops and stretches. Henry continues the leg work on Show, twisting his foot and knee into nasty angles until both men wind up on their knees, trading huge left and right hands in a slugfest. Show manages to deliver the chokeslam to Henry, but the big man kicks out! Big Show tries for his lethal right hand punch, but Henry counters into the World's Strongest Slam. Big Show still kicks out of that as well though and Henry is flabbergasted. He goes to the top rope and Big Show tosses him off with a top rope chokeslam, but again Henry kicks out! Henry then manages to deliver a SUPERPLEX to the Big Show from the top rope, which completely destroys the ring and all four corners go flying as the ropes sag down limply around the two gargantuan bodies in the middle of the ring, totally exhausted. That was crazy and probably the best "ring breaking" spot the WWE has ever done. The crowd is going apeshit for all of this mind you. Both men are still down and the referees signal for the EMTs as it appears we're going to have ourselves a no contest here at around the 13:00 minute mark. Because these two men weigh as much as a brick house, the EMTs have to call down a medical cart to host the two men. Teddy Long and John Laurinaitis make their way out to the ring as they're really trying to sell this as legit. Both men are given standing ovations as they're taken away by medical personnel. Honestly this was the best possible route they could have gone with this match, because it keeps the resurgent heel Henry strong and still champion whilst not having the Big Show take a clean pin and lose credibility as one of the top faces on SmackDown. The match itself was plodding to begin with, but they actually picked it up really nicely towards the end and the last few sequences of spots were jaw-dropping. Give this match a proper finish and I'd call this in the *** territory, but alas, I don't rate matches that end in a "No Contest". N/A

After both men have been carted off, John Laurinaitis grabs a mic and introduces himself to the crowd. He informs them that no matter what injuries sustained by the Big Show or Mark Henry or the condition of the ring, we WILL have a WWE title match tonight.

WWE Title Last Man Standing Match
Alberto Del Rio
© vs. John Cena

Cena has a new anti-bullying t-shirt that reads "Rise Above Hate" on the front. I'm usually not a fan of the corny anti-bullying messages the WWE tries to spread, but that's a simple statement we can all take to heart. Cena stands right next to a guy wearing a "We Hate Cena" t-shirt at ringside and then hops into the ring, which still has no ropes or turnbuckles because of the last match. The bell sounds and Ricardo helps out Del Rio so he can get a hot start. Del Rio hands out a snap suplex and a big boot followed by a kick right to the center of Cena's spine. Del Rio shoots Cena face-first into the steel post outside the ring as Cole and King put over how this is the first time that the WWE has ever had a show continue on after the ring has been destroyed like this. Del Rio delivers a flurry of back suplexes to Cena back in the ring and the ref gets a seven count out of it. The usual dueling Cena chants start up as Cena starts his comeback already, barely seven minutes into the match. Shoulder-block followed by the five knuckle shuffle. Del Rio walks right into an Attitude Adjustment moments later and both men are down for the count this time. Ricardo tries to interfere again, but Cena kicks him off. The distraction allows Del Rio to sink in a deep, deep sleeper hold onto Cena however, seemingly knocking John unconscious. Cena gets up at the last second however and then just launches Del Rio out of the ring and back-first into the barricade! Creative spot there because of the no-rope environment. Ricardo tries once again to interfere, so Cena crotches him on the steel post. Del Rio stomps away at Cena in the ring before being knocked into the steel post from a drop toe hold. Cena tries throwing a set of steel steps at Del Rio, but he moves at the last second and then slams Cena face-first into it instead. Both men brawl up the rampway and into the backstage area where Cena drags Del Rio over a table of snacks. Cena tries to push this gigantic piece of equipment onto Alberto, but Del Rio escapes in time and then body slams Cena onto that same piece of equipment. Cena tumbles to the floor and Del Rio throws a large steel structure on top of him. Del Rio throws a second, third, and fourth piece of steel on top of Cena, but he STILL gets up at the ref's count of eight so they brawl back into the ringside area. Ricardo again tries to interfere, so Del Rio tosses Cena through the large letter "V" symbol on the stage area. Del Rio sets up a table and starts to climb up some scaffolding to jump down onto Cena, but Cena pops back up and tosses Del Rio down and through the table! Del Rio gets up at the count of nine though. They brawl back down to ringside and around the announcer's tables now. Del Rio tries for an enziguri on Cena, but he hits the ringpost instead. This gives Cena enough time to pick him up and deliver the Attitude Adjustment to Del Rio through the Spanish announcer's table! Suddenly The Miz and R-Truth hit the ring and attack Cena though, delivering their respective finisher's on him and laying him out. The ref comes close to the ten count again, but finally Cena gets up at the last millisecond so Del Rio nails Cena with the title belt, which is ultimately enough to put Cena down for the ten count and give Del Rio the win at 26:59. This was a strange match, switching back and forth from periods of utter boredom to the kind of very creative, well-orchestrated spots that you come to expect from gimmick matches like these. Probably one of the better matches these two have had together and while it's nowhere near the best LMS match I've ever seen, it was a worthy enough addition to the history of gimmick matches in the company. ***1/4

Bottom Line: I went into this show with low expectations, and I found myself pleasantly surprised by the consistently high quality of in-ring action through-out the evening. There were no match of the year contenders here or even a **** match, but every match on this show managed to hit atleast the **1/2 star mark, which is damn consistent and applaudable. If you're looking for a solid, consistent wrestling PPV, this would be a recommendable show to you. However, if you're looking for a great show that's going to stop you in your tracks and have you talking about it for weeks, this wasn't it. But there's nothing wrong with that, they can't all be epics, can they? Thumbs Up from me tonight.

Score: 7.0/10

Friday, October 21, 2011

WWE SmackDown 10/21/11

WWE SmackDown 10/21/11
October 21st, 2011
Palacio de los Deportes, Mexico City, Mexico
Attendance: 11,000+ *

With only 3 days to go before the Vengeance PPV this Sunday, the WWE finishes up their recent tour of Mexico with tonight's SmackDown emanating from the famous Palacio de los Deportes in Mexico City, which has seen many a classic lucha libre battle over the years from both AAA and CMLL. Big crowd on hand for tonight's show, reportedly a little more than 11,000, and I'd imagine the WWE wants to make a good impression on the Mexican fans, so this should hopefully be a fun show. Oh, and I'll be covering the WWE Vengeance PPV this Sunday live for 411 in place of Scott, so everyone make sure to check us out for the live report/review from yours truly!

Your hosts are Michael Cole, Booker T, and Josh Matthews

We open the show with WWE champion Alberto Del Rio making his entrance out to the ring alongside his personal announcer Ricardo Rodriguez, and he's met with a surprisingly loud pop from his home country fans. Del Rio grabs a mic and says that he was supposed to meet the Big Show tonight in preparation for his Last Man Standing title match against John Cena this Sunday, but that won't be happening apparently because of the attack on Del Rio by Cena on RAW this week. Of course this brings out Teddy Long, who informs us that earlier in the day WWE physicians checked out Del Rio and he's been cleared to compete tonight, but Teddy things Del Rio is just trying to weasel out of a match. This is a rather bizarre segment honestly, the crowd is cheering EVERYTHING Del Rio does like he's the hottest thing since sliced bread, they're practically frothing from the mouth waiting to cheer him as a babyface, but instead he tries to do his usual cowardly heel shtick and the crowd just seems confused, as if they expected Del Rio to be the good guy tonight legitimately. Teddy polls the crowd, asking them if they want to see Del Rio face the Big Show, and they cheer in approval, so of course it's booked for later tonight. Teddy takes off and we're set for our first match of the evening.

Mark Henry vs. John Morrison

Holy crap, either the WWE production team has gotten a lot better at piping in fake pops, or John Morrison is MEGA OVER in Mexico, especially with the ladies. This is a rematch from RAW, where Henry squashed Morrison easily. JoMo tries to get some feisty shots in as the bell rings but Henry just tosses him out of the ring like a ragdoll and then squeezes his head against the steel post on the outside. Back inside Morrison manages to actually get some offense in though, cutting Henry's legs out from under him and nailing him with a Shining Wizard that gives him just enough time to hit the Starship Pain, which Henry of course kicks out of easily at two. Henry is done playing around now and just tosses Morrison into mid-air before slamming him down with the thunderous World's Strongest Slam, which easily finishers Morrison off giving Henry the win at 3:27. So this was basically just a move-by-move retread of the match from RAW. We get the message, Mark Henry is a monster, he squashes midcarders. Can it be someone besides Morrison now? 1/4*

Backstage Vickie Guerrero is talking to Christian about possible business together when Teddy Long barges in to ask what they're doing in his office. Teddy books Christian in a match this Sunday against Sheamus, and Christian takes off pouting as Teddy informs Vickie that not only does Dolph Ziggler have to wrestle with Jack Swagger for the tag team titles against Air Boom this Sunday, but he also has to defend his US title against Zack Ryder at the PPV as well.

Daniel Bryan vs. Wade Barrett

Before the match we get a spiffy little video promo from Barrett, spouting his usual "I let the Corre drag me down for too long" tagline.These two had a great little match back at Summerslam, and they show off some nice chemistry in the early going with a few submission attempts being traded before Barrett gives Bryan a towering sidewalk slam for a nearfall. Bryan nails Barrett in the jaw with a huge missile dropkick moments later and gets a quick count of his own. Barrett nearly boots Bryan's head off and then lays in some closed fists to the referee's chagrin. Wade shoots Bryan into the corner but he back-flips off the turnbuckle and then bounces off the ropes, nailing Barrett with a flying forearm. Barrett delivers a big pumphandle slam, but again Bryan kicks out at two. Bryan tries to leap off the top rope onto Barrett, but Barrett catches him in mid-air on his shoulders in the perfect position to deliver the Waste Land to Bryan, which is enough for Barrett to pin him clean at 5:14. Well that was going swimmingly until the abrupt finish. These two work quite well together, but I'm not sure I understand the booking. I mean, I guess they're trying to do the whole "losing streak pisses Bryan off so much he flips out gets a big push" thing, but they already did that back when he was in NXT, so I'm not sure what they're trying to accomplish here. Match was good stuff though. **1/2

Sheamus/Zack Ryder vs. Christian/Dolph Ziggler

Vickie gets some decent heat before the match starts, which is pretty impressive since you'd figure anyone named "Guerrero" is going to be cheered endlessly in Mexico. Christian and Ryder start us off with some nice rope running but it's not long before the heels are double-teaming Ryder behind the ref's back, using all sorts of dirty heel tactics on the Long Island Iced Z. Ziggler tags in and takes it to Ryder with a stiff neckbreaker before tagging back out to Christian who continues the beatdown briefly until Ryder gets the hot tag to Sheamus. The Irishman cleans house on the heels and the Irish Curse backbreaker gets him a two count on Dolph. Christian scurries off for safety, abandoning Ziggler in the ring and leaving him open for a huge Brogue Kick from Sheamus, which is enough to get him the pin at 3:58. More of an angle than a match, but it was somewhat amusing while it lasted I suppose. Could have certainly used a few more minutes to flesh things out though. 1/2*

After a commercial break we return to see Cody Rhodes in the ring with a microphone taking in a chorus of boos from the Mexican crowd. Rhodes accuses Orton of trying to disfigure him and then brings up their past in Legacy and how Orton used him and threw him away when he was done with him, which is technically true from a kayfabe perspective. He whines a bit more about Randy's ego (also true) before Orton's music hits and the Viper walks out to a huge ovation with a mic of his own. He tells Cody that he made a mistake in trying to humiliate him, and that in return Orton will tear him apart this Sunday at Vengeance. He pounces to the ring to attack, but Cody's bodyguards cut Randy off and Cody gets some cheap shots in. Randy fights Rhodes off though and delivers the second-rope DDT to one of his bagmen minions. He stomps another bagman's head against the steel steps and Rhodes takes off running with his classic IC belt in hand as Orton gives the RKO to another one of Cody's minions. Solid little segment to build heat for the match this Sunday, nothing special, but solid stuff.

Mask vs. Mask Match
"Good" Sin Cara vs. "Evil" Sin Cara

For the sake of convenience, I'll refer to the Good Sin Cara as just "Sin Cara", and the evil Sin Cara as "Hunico", his former FCW name. This is a big match, or atleast in theory it should be, and I understand why they'd want to have it in front of the Mexican crowd, but man, this seems like a waste just giving this away on free TV when there's a freakin' PPV in 3 days. Luckily since we're in Mexico, the crowd actually understands lucha libre wrestling, and so the reaction for this match is far better than any match the two Sin Cara's have had on American soil yet. This actually almost feels like a big-time lucha match up in a more generic, sterile WWE-lite kind of way. They waste no time in going for the big acrobatics, with Sin Cara wiping out Hunico on the floor with a huge cross-body after a hurricanrana. Sin Cara does the tilt-a-whirl headscissors and the crowd pops big. Hunico dropkicks Cara in mid-air on a springboard attempt moments later though and gets a near fall. Hunico is tossed to the floor again as we take a commercial break and when we return Cara is on the losing end of a huge backbreaker from Hunico back in the ring. The commentators run-down the rules while Hunico goes to work on Cara with several variations on the tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. The crowd starts to rally behind Cara with chants of "Mistico!" and the two luchadors trade various wristlock-cartwheel counters to pop them some more. A sloppy hurricanrana counter gets Cara a two count and a big Death Valley Driver gets Hunico one of his own. There's really not much of any flow at all in this match so far, despite the high-flying fun. A big top-rope frankensteiner from Cara, followed by a Swanton bomb nearly wins it, but Hunico kicks out at the last second. No problem, Cara breaks out LA MISTICA moments later and Hunico taps out immediately, giving Cara the win at 10:22 (shown). As a WWE-style lucha match, this was pretty good. But as a regular lucha libre match? This was nothing. Mexican fans could see a match of this caliber literally any day of the week at a variety of different Mexican promotions. There wasn't much flow to anything here, but at the very least they kept moving and hopping around so it certainly never got boring atleast. After the match Cara rips off Hunico's dark Sin Cara mask in triumph, hopefully ending their very lackluster and underwhelming feud. **1/2

After another commercial break we return to see Natalya and Beth Phoenix in the ring, mocking the divas and the fans in attendance. They talk about how nothing is more beautiful than watching barbie dolls beg for mercy, and this whole segment is starting to veer into unintentionally sexy territory until Eve Torres comes out to interrupt the heels. Oh, I guess Eve is challenging Beth for the title at the PPV. Good to know that, I guess. Eve talks about how ugly Beth and Nattie are on the inside and then claims to not be a "barbie doll". Beth mocks Eve a bit more before getting shoved down by Eve and nearly popping out of her dress at the same time. Well, that almost became the most entertaining segment of the night. Almost.

Alberto Del Rio vs. Big Show

And it's main event time, as the WWE champion Alberto Del Rio squares off against a recently returned Big Show. Thrilling. Usual Big Show vs. heel match here with Big Show manhandling Del Rio and tossing him all over the ring to start until we take a commercial break and see him continuing to manhandle Del Rio with ease. The action spills to the floor briefly before returning back inside, where the squash of our champion continues. Show applies a loose version of the Cobra Clutch onto Del Rio and then leg-drops him for a near fall. Del Rio manages to get a bit of momentum built with a series of boots to Big Show's head followed by an armbreaker, but this doesn't get him very far either. Big Show goes for the choke slam, but Del Rio counters right into his armbar finisher! Big Show comes dangerously close to tapping, but he fights the submission off and looks to finish Del Rio off when Ricardo hops in for the obvious DQ finish we all saw coming an hour ago, ending the match at 8:40 (shown). Another incredibly lackluster main event this week. I get the idea of trying to make Big Show look strong going into the PPV, but you don't do it at the expense of Del Rio, you're WWE champion in front of his home crowd. This match accomplished nothing for either man really, and all it served to really do was just kill time until the PPV this Sunday. So, by definition, I'd call this filler and a waste of our time. Sorry guys, the work wasn't bad, but I expect a bit more out of Smackdown main events than this. *1/2

After the match Mark Henry hits the ring to try and attack Big Show, but he eats the right hand of DOOM from Show and is knocked out clean. We go off the air with Mark Henry and Del Rio, our two champions, down in the ring squirming as a bloated Big Show walks off with a big grin on his face. Well, atleast someone enjoyed the show.

Bottom Line: I don't know what has happened to this show, but it's fallen off of a cliff in the last month. We've gone from several highly competitive, long matches each week on Smackdown to a month full of shitty five minute main events ending in DQs, useless promos, and a whole lot of people standing around, going through the motions. I know I sound overly negative here, but the show itself was actually an improvement on last week. Still though, absolutely nothing here is going to be remembered in oh...say two weeks from now? Even the two good matches on the show were disappointing because they both ended too soon and had little direction or flow. Not the worst show I've ever seen, but not a good one either. Thumbs Down.

Score: 4.5/10

* - Source: Gate & Attendance Figures for WWE Mexico Tour,

Sunday, October 16, 2011

TNA Bound For Glory 2011

TNA Bound for Glory 2011
October 16th, 2011
Liacouras Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Attendance: 2,500*

Welcome everyone once again to another edition of 411's live coverage of a TNA Impact Wrestling PPV event. This time we've got the biggest show of the year for the company, Bound For Glory, and for once the card legitimately looks fairly stacked and like an actual "supercard". We've got all sorts of good stuff booked for tonight, including a Full Metal Mayhem match between Rob Van Dam and Jerry Lynn, an I Quit match between AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels, a World title match between Kurt Angle and Robert Roode, and of course the much maligned purported "final showdown" between the legends Hulk Hogan and Sting as well as a rock-solid undercard to tie it all up neatly. I've been a vocal critic of TNA in the past, but the build for this show has been done quite well and I am legitimately extremely excited for a TNA PPV for the first time in quite a while, so enough preambling, let's hop right into this bad boy!

Your hosts are Mike Tenay and Taz

We're broadcasting live from the home of the prototypical smark and former ECW stronghold, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the usual pre-hype show with Jeremy Borash and Christy Hemme as our hosts. Not sure if the Mexican American/Ink Inc match is going to be on this preshow or just on Facebook, so not sure if I'll be covering it, sorry folks. Wait, no, I guess I will.

TNA Tag Team Title Match
Mexican America
(Hernandez/Anarquia) © vs. Ink Inc (Shannon Moore/Jesse Neal)

Ink Inc is accompanied by the former Christina Von Eerie, now known as "Toxine" or "Moxine" or something along those lines in TNA since debuting on the last episode of Impact. As a longtime PWG fan, I love Von Eerie, so the more of her we see, the better. Shannon Moore is all hot and bothered to start with Anarquia, opening with some basic wristlock and hold exchanges before quickly tagging out to Neal. They trade quick tags in their corner, using some of their usual spunky semi-high flyin' offense on the chicano heels. Super Mex tags in to break up the good times though and works Shannon over with a variation on the Argentine backbreaker before resorting to the usual heel doube-team isolation tactics, trading quick tags in and out with Anarquia and using Sarita and Rosita at ringside to throw in cheap shots behind the ref's back every so often. Moore fires off a quebrada to break up the double-teaming and is able to get the hot tag to Jesse, who fires off a spinebuster and a huge spear on the Mexicans for a close two count. Tag rules go out the window again as Shannon Moore takes out Anarquia outside the ring with an Asai moonsault. Not to be outdone, Super Mex flashes back to the year 2002 or 2003 and hits a huge tope out after them, taking out everyone at ringside! The ladies jump in for some fun as well but Toxine fends them both off, rips the protective mask off of Sarita, and then gives her a sick facebreaker before literally pantsing Anarquia. Christina Von Eerie, how I love thee. Half of the participants spill to the floor in a wild brawl and in the chaos Super Mex is able to roll up Jesse for the pin to retain the titles at 8:00. Well for a free match to get you excited for the PPV, this was a rousing success I'd say. These four guys definitely put in an above average effort from their normal work, and the results was a fun little quick formula tag match with some sports entertainment-y goodness to get you interested in buying the show. One of those matches that you probably won't remember in 20 minutes, but it did it's job well so no complaints here. **1/2

TNA X-Division Title Match
Austin Aries
© vs. Brian Kendrick

Perfect choice for the opening match here, and the smark faithful are out strong tonight in Philly, with huge "Austin Aries!" chants from the moment he enters the building. Nice wristlock exchange to start between the two men with some frenetic head and leg-scissor counter exchanges that start the match off hot and heavy. Crowd actually seems to be booing Kendrick a bit much to my shock, I guess Philly hates hippies? Slingshot pescado from Kendrick takes out Aries on the floor, and the crowd vocally boos Kendrick this time. I'd say the old double-turn should be in the future for these two. Back in the ring Aries breaks up a few monkey flip attempts with a stiff lariat. Kendrick tries to wear Aries down with a side-headlock, but Aries breaks it up with an STO takedown and then teases the pendulum elbow to roaring cheers from the crowd. He takes a bit too long teasing though, and Kendrick fends him off with a trio of pesky dropkicks instead. Kendrick snaps off a quick tornado DDT for a near fall, but still the crowd clamors for Aries. Man, I knew Philly was a smark strong-hold but even I'm shocked by how vocal this crowd is for Aries. And just to bring it up another notch as soon as I type that, here's Aries flying out of the ring to wipe out Kendrick at ringside with the flying tope suicida! Back in the ring Aries has Kendrick on the top rope, playing to the crowd again, and he takes too long and leaves himself open for the Sliced Bread from Kendrick off the top, but somehow Aries gets his foot on the bottom rope before the 3 count! Aries is able to recover fortunately enough and gets in a quick cheap shot before hitting Kendrick with the sick brainbuster, which is enough to put Kendrick away and have Aries retain the title at 10:27. Just about everything you'd want in an opening match here, a vocally hot crowd to go along with two relatively young, athletic performers busting out some signature X-Division action to get the show started off on a good note. Solid opener. ***

Backstage Karen Angle is with her kids and Tracy Brooks. I can't tell who look more uncomfortable, the children, or Brooks. Who knows

Full Metal Mayhem Match
Rob Van Dam vs. Jerry Lynn

Fuck. Yes. This, quite simply, is one of the main reasons I bought this show. As a longtime mark for the rivalry between these two men back in the ECW days, I don't care if they're 60 and crippled, you throw them out there with some tables, ladders, and chairs and I'm going to tune in, simple as that. Lots of "ECW!" chants to start as you'd expect. They start off with their usual opening sequence of rapid-fire strike and takedown exchanges, and even in their middle age these guys can still fire 'em off with the best of 'em. Both men trade a tornado DDT/reverse DDT combo from the top rope but neither man is able to fully deliver the move, each man countering the other's every move. Both men collide in mid-air in a sketchy moment, and RVD follows up with a legdrop onto Lynn, sending both men tumbling to the mats at ringside. Rob goes for a springboard moonsault off of the steel guardrail at ringside, but Lynn moves at the last second and he crashes & burns. Lynn pulls out a huge ladder from underneath the ring and tosses it into the ring just as RVD recovers and subsequently tosses Lynn in after it. RVD takes too long lollygagging at ringside though and Lynn dropkicks the ladder into his face. Never lollygag around ladders. RVD counters Lynn with a jumping cross-body from the second rope onto a steel chair, and that nets him a quick two count. Lynn looks to recover in the corner, but of course that gives Rob the perfect opportunity to give him the Van Daminator in the corner. Rob launches Lynn into the ladder and then delivers Rolling Thunder to him with the ladder on top of Jerry for good measure. RVD tries for another Van Daminator when Lynn is able to counter with a ladder shot. He sets RVD on the ladder against the second rope and tries for a dropkick off the top rope, but RVD moves at the last second and Lynn eats ladder again. Ouch. Again Rob goes for the Van Daminator, and Lynn sees it coming and slaps the chair into Rob's face before giving him a big German suplex for a close two count. Rob comes back with a lionsault onto Lynn with the ladder on top of him again. In a neat spot RVD goes for the Rolling Thunder and Lynn jumps off the second rope and slams him to the mat from mid-air. Lynn sets a ladder up between the ring and apron. RVD tries for a suplex off the apron, but Lynn counters with a sunset flip power bomb that's meant to launch RVD on the ladder, but instead Rob winds up with the back of his head nailing the floor and a chunk of the guard rail! Sick bump there, if slightly accidental, but back in the ring it only gets Lynn a measly two count. Lynn grabs a chair but RVD kicks it back into his face of course. Lynn has got a nasty mouse under his eye now, I'm not sure what from, but damn, these guys are seriously killing each other for the fan's amusement. Gotta love that. Lynn is set up in the corner with a ladder in his face, and Van Dam goes COAST TO COAST with the missile Van Terminator in the corner! Crowd goes apeshit for that one and I don't blame 'em. Rob pins him and somewhat surprisingly that's enough to give him the win at 13:13. That was certainly a chaotic, spotty trainwreck of a match but I mean that in the best way possible, as these two made up for the step or two they've lost in old age with the quick countering by simply killing themselves out there with huge bumps that made sense and set the crowd wild. Both men shake hands and high five afterwards in a sign of mutual respect, and that was the perfect way to end this. One hell of a fun match while it lasted. ***3/4

Samoa Joe vs. Matt Morgan vs. Crimson

I'm not sure how I feel about Crimson being shoehorned into the mix here as a way to just get him on the show, but at the same time I can understand their desire to save some time for other matches by throwing him into this one here. Crimson and Morgan team up on Joe in the early going, and I'm literally having trouble telling the two apart in their matching white trunks, dueling hair cuts, and lame tattoos. Joe eats a beating from both men for a few minutes before he's able to outsmart them, sending Crimson to the floor and taking Morgan's legs out from under him in an effort to ground the Blueprint. Sidewalk slam from Morgan and Crimson tries to steal the pin, but Joe kicks out. He sends Morgan to the floor, tosses Crimson out on top of him, and then takes Crimson out moments later with the elbow tope suicida in an impressive display of power and agility from the big man. Morgan goes to the top rope in a rare move and takes out Crimson with a nice little cross-body moments later. Well shucks, you don't see that very often. Back in the ring babyface Crimson takes it to Joe with a cravat neckbreaker and the crowd boos him to hell and back in support of the veteran Joe. Crimson and Morgan inevitably fall into the stereotypical praftall of psychology here as they each start fighting over the pin attempts on Joe and eventually implode in an exchange of huge right hands, the alliance broken. Joe isolates Crimson in the ring by himself and takes it to him with a running elbow and spin-kick before looking for the Muscle Buster, but Morgan jumps in and breaks it up. Morgan (sort of) hits a running knee that looked alot like a botched Carbon Footprint attempt on Joe, and Crimson spears the hell out of Joe to get the cheap pin on the Samoan Submission Machine to keep his undefeated streak alive at 7:11. I'm impressed tonight with the seemingly above-average efforts from everyone involved in the show so far, Joe looked motivated for once, Morgan busted out a few new moves, and Crimson was adequate enough. Solid little triple threat until the anti-climactic finish. **3/4

Backstage JB is with Bully Ray, who cuts an absolutely awesome heel promo on the Philly crowd, espouting his New York roots and turning his back on the Philly faithful, telling them that he's spent his entire career exploiting them and milking them out of all of their money since day one. Great way to get heat for a guy who otherwise might have gotten cheered because of his ECW roots in this town.

Falls Count Anywhere Match
Bully Ray vs. Mr. Anderson

These two managed to have a surprisingly good match at last month's show, so I'm actually kind of looking forward to this match with the added benefit of the gimmick. Dear God, I'm looking forward to a match involving Bubba Ray Dudley in the year 2011, may the wrestling Jesus have mercy on my soul. Anderson, who cut one of the absolute lamest most pandering, cheesy promos I've ever heard on the pre-show about how much he loves Philly, runs right out to the ring as the bell rings and we're off hot and heavy with these two trading right hands until Anderson scores a neckbreaker for the first quick near fall. Ray fires off a big boot and lays in some stiff chops on Kenny. Anderson grabs a sign from ringside that says "Welcome to Philly asshole" and waffles Ray over the head with it, revealing a steel Dead End road sign underneath the paper wrapping. Cute. The action spills to the floor where Anderson smashes a cup of beer over Ray's head before sending his face into the concrete. Ray fights back with a whip into the steel ring steps and gets a two count outside of the ring from it. Ray grabs a table and sets it up, but Anderson brawls with him up the ramp before they can use it. Anderson tries a suplex at the top of the ramp, but Ray counters with a suplex of his own for another two count and then signals for Anderson's trademark mic to come down. Ray does his own little mocking introduction emphasising his hometown of New York but of course Anderson knocks him down before he can finish and adds in the witty line of "This ain't New York, welcome to Philly BITCH" before smashing Ray over the head with the mic to a rousing ovation from the crowd. That was one of the few legitimately funny things I've ever seen Mr. Anderson do, seriously. The action spills into the backstage area now where Ray delivers a sick little piledriver to Anderson right on the concrete floor, but somehow Anderson still kicks out of it. Both men brawl back to the ringside area and eventually back into the ring itself, but not before Anderson drags one of the steel guardrails into the ring itself. Ray grabs another table from under the ring and sets it up in the corner in the ring. Anderson back-drops Ray right onto the steel guard-rail, which bends the steel in a nasty manner. Anderson tries for the swanton bomb off the top, but Ray moves and he eats nothing but steel instead. Ray gives him the Bubba Bomb through the table set up in the corner for good measure, and STILL Anderson manages to kick out at two! The crowd is as surprised as I am, and a loose "Anderson" chant starts up briefly. Ray sets up Anderson on the steel guard rail and goes for the Dick Togo-like back senton splash, but Anderson moves this time and Ray eats the steel again. Anderson plants Ray's face into the steel guard-rail with the Mic Check, and now it's Ray's turn to shockingly kick out at the two count! This got violent and nasty real quick, didn't it? Anderson grabs a garbage can from under the ring and nails Ray with it, who sets himself up on the table at ringside for Anderson to deliver the Swanton from the top rope, but Anderson overshoots him and the table doesn't even slightly break, garnering huge boos from the crowd. Anderson does the only thing he can and scrambles to make up for it by giving Ray another Mic Check, this time through the table, and that's enough for Anderson to get the win at 14:34. And you thought the Full Metal Mayhem was going to be violent? This was a nasty, fun and intensely heated brawl that surprisingly went over really well with the fans, atleast until the shaky finish. Still, Anderson recovered quickly and it wasn't a complete momentum-killer, so you can't dock too many points from them for it. Another match far better than it had any right being between these two, who seem to have some odd kind of chemistry together that just seems to work. ***1/4

Backstage Eric Bischoff is speaking to one of the referees, Jackson James, who is apparently Bischoff's son? This is just being revealed now you see. It would appear Bischoff is enacting an insurance policy with having the ref in his back pocket for the Hogan/Sting match. Or something. Do you really care? Just do the pose, the Hulk Up, the leg drop and go home Hulk. I don't really care about the extra-marital shenanigans.

TNA Knockouts Title Match.
© vs. Velvet Sky vs. Madison Rayne vs. Mickie James

Karen Jarrett is our Special Guest Referee here, to add to the squadron of harping she-devils all in the ring at the same time. Traditional four-corner tag rules in this one and Mickie and Winter start us off with some basic hold trades. Rayne tags in and Mickie fires off a tilt-a-whirl headscissors and then lays in some closed fists on Madison, garnering Karen Jarrett's ire in the process. Velvet tags in and has Madison down for the count, but Karen is busy tying her shoe and won't count the pin. Mickie tags in and Karen won't count her pin attempts either. Mickie and Velvet trade right hands and try to do the fiesty babyface thing, but this crowd is getting restless and the "Boring" chants are getting louder by the minute. Tag rules go out the window of courrse as all four women brawl listlessly in the ring with no real sense of direction or purpose at all. Man, this is BAD. Mickie squares off with Winter in the ring while Velvet and Madison brawl at ringside, and Angelina hands a blood capsule to Winter, who pops it in her mouth and then tries to spew the questionable red mist right into Mickie's face, but Mickie moves and Karen gets the mist instead. Mickie gives Winter the jumping DDT and has her down for the count, but we don't have a ref, so Tracy Brooks makes her way out to take over for the apparently blinded Karen Jarrett. Velvet delivers a double-underhook sitout facebuster (X-Factor) to Madison and Tracy counts the three count, giving Velvet her first KO title at 8:40. This was the usual clusterfuck off meandering, directionless nonsense but Velvet winning the title is supposed to be a "feel good" moment or something. Whatever, the fans shit all over this match (justifiably so) and only gave Velvet the polite golf-clap for the title win anyways, so whatever this was trying to accomplish, it didn't do a very good job of it. *1/4

I Quit Match
AJ Styles vs. Christopher Daniels

As if this match didn't already sell itself based on name value alone, the pre-match hype video package is probably one of the best I've ever seen TNA put together. Kudos to the production crew. AJ is pissed to start and lays in closed shots on Daniels at the opening bell. Both men seem to be wearing slightly Sting-inspired tights tonight with Daniels rocking a Crow-ish pair of black trunks and AJ rocking a brightly colored pair of vintage Sting-like tights with touches of pink and blue. AJ grabs the mic and tries to get Daniels to quit early, but Daniels tells him off with a loving invite for fellatio. AJ doesn't swing both ways though, so he bashes the mic over Daniel's head and goes to work on an armbar, giving the mic to referee Earl Hebner to ask Daniels again if he quits.AJ gives Daniels a nice delayed vertical suplex and then applies the Muta Lock, but Daniels quickly breaks it up. Styles tries for the juji-gatame armbar, but again Daniels wriggles his way out. AJ feeds him a dropkick that sends him out of the ring to the floor, and Styles takes him out moments later with a beautiful somersault senton over the top rope to the floor on the Fallen Angel. Daniels grabs a tool box from under the ring and tosses a wrench at AJ, but misses fortunately. Never fear, Daniels grabs a freakin' screwdriver and tries to goug AJ's face with it back in the ring. Daniels lunges at AJ with the screwdriver but misses and stabs the turnbuckle instead. They semi-botch a counter sequence on the ring apron but nothing too noticeable to the average eye. Back in the ring Daniels asks AJ if he quits, but he won't. Daniels hits him with the Best Moonsault Ever, but that won't make AJ quit either so he applies a deep half Boston Crab on him instead. Back on their feet both men trade knife-edge chops until Daniels delivers a back-suplex to AJ. He grabs a steel chair from outside the ring and sets it up with the bottom rung over AJ's throat while he sits backwards on it, pressing the chair into his chest. Daniels trash talks him while AJ is choking and wheezing and it provides a great image and back-drop for the heel Daniels to get some more heat out of the crowd and get them solidly behind AJ for the finish. Daniels makes it personal by bringing AJ's wife into it, and that seems to spark the fire in AJ enough for the comeback as he launches Daniels off of him and destroys him with a trio of spin kicks, followed by his patented backflip into reverse DDT spot. He hits a jumping enziguri on Daniels and follows it with a springboard flying forearm. He tries for the Styles Clash, but Daniels counters a side-slam and goes for the BME again. He misses though and AJ hits him with the pele kick, followed by the Styles Clash! AJ grabs the chair to set up for some more punishment, but he sees the screwdriver stabbed into the turnbuckle and grabs it instead. AJ advances on Daniels to use it, and like a cowardly heel Daniel's screams "Okay okay I quit AJ, just don't hurt me!" and then runs off backstage, giving AJ the win at 13:50. Well that was an unexpected finish, but I suppose it sets up another rematch down the line and hey, I can't claim I saw that coming. I figured we'd atleast get AJ getting his vengeance with a post-match beatdown, but no dice there either. The match itself was the usual solid stuff you've come to expect from these two, but because of the finish the whole thing came off as just the bare minimum you'd come to expect from these two in order to save the special stuff or the real blow-off match down the line, whenever that is. Still good stuff, even if I honestly liked their Impact match about a month back a bit better. ***

After the match AJ goes up the ramp to leave, when Daniels pops up from behind him out of nowhere and delivers the Angel's Wings to AJ on the stage to the crowd's shock and dismay! Smart move there to try and give Daniels some heat back after a rather humiliating loss there to AJ. Yeah, there's definitely another match between these two down the line.

Before we can cut to the next segment or match, Jeff Jarrett's music hits and the founder of TNA makes his way out to the ring to some nice heat and snatches a mic from Christy Hemme's hands. God bless Jeff Jarrett's heel routine, as he actually manages to irk this crowd enough to begin chanting for Jeff Hardy. A predominantly smark audience in Phila-freakin'-delphia is cheering Jeff Hardy's name right now, that's either a testament to Jarrett's heat-garnering ability or this crowd's excitement from what's been a very good show so far. He calls out Jeffrey "Nero" Hardy, who comes out with new music and a titan tron to complete the babyface comeback. Jeff grabs a mic and says he only has one thing to say to Jeff....before promptly dropping the mic and laying in big right hands on Jeff instead. You sly fox Jeffrey. The shirts get ripped, both men brawl, and here comes the black-shirt security to separate both men. Jeff is a REBEL WHO CANNOT BE CONTAINED however, didn't you know, and he manages to escape security and get some big shots in on Jeff before the road agents rush the ring to help security separate them and drag Jeff Jarrett off to the back while Hardy remains in the ring. Right behind him is a humorous sign, "Drinking Matters!". Don't know why I added that, but I chuckled. Jeff does some posing for the crowd and takes off. Hey, you know you're putting on a pretty decent show when a smark-filled Philadelphia crowd is cheering Jeff Hardy, a man so reviled by the smark fanbase that you'd think he was a convicted necrophiliac or something.

The Battle for TNA and/or Hulk's 401k
Hulk Hogan vs. Sting

Oh boy, and now we arrive at our co-main event of the evening, a match of much controversy online and one that certainly intrigues on sheer name value between the legendary Hulk Hogan and the iconic Sting. Yes, it's 2011 and these guys are a combined 110 years old together, but you really can't blame TNA for booking this match. Like it or not odds are this match did draw in a few buys from the older crowd sheerly for the nostalgia, much like last year's Hardcore Justice was able to capitalize on that same nostalgia for one of the best buyrates in company history. Okay, enough preambling, let's prepare for the match itself, which you can be rest assured is going to be absolutely atrocious from a workrate perspective. Dixie Carter is in the front row to add to the "drama", as if anyone on the planet even cares one iota about the purported "power struggle" in this angle. This crowd probably wouldn't piss on Dixie if she was on fire. Surprisingly enough Sting out-pops Hogan here, though not by much. The bell sounds and both men prepare for battle, but Hogan calls for someone to come from backstage, and suddenly Ric Flair's music hits and the Nature Boy himself is out to join us for this big-time match up to add to the drama. With Flair at ringside both men finally lock up and Sting grabs a side-headlock on the Hulkster, but he pushes him off and rips off his bandanna as the crowd explodes for Hulk randomly enough. Sting removes his shirt as wll, and things have gotten alot uglier now if you're watching this in HD. Hogan works a loose chinlock briefly until Sting bails out of the ring to try and regroup. Back in the ring Hogan trips him and delivers the devastating BACK RAKE OF DOOM! If there's an award for the most ironically entertaining move in the business, that might just be it. Sting bails again and Hogan distracts the ref while Flair gets in some cheap shots on the Stinger right in full view of Dixie Carter at ringside. Tenay actually raises his voice for a moment as if this was a WCW Saturday Night taping in 1997 while Hogan bites Sting's head at ringside. For those keeping count, total bumps by Hogan so far in this match: 0. Hogan nails Sting with some kind of foreign object in his hand and lets Flair get some more cheap shots on him and the ref, being in Bischoff's pocket, does nothing to stop any of these hijinks. Back in the ring Sting manages to get a few right hands in and the momentum shifts in his favor for the present. Sting has a hold of the foreign object now and he nails Hogan with it as both men are busted open and bleeding now. Sting hits a pair of Stinger Splashes onto Hulk's surgically repaired back in the corner and then he sinks in the Scorpion deathlock on Hogan, who taps out almost immediately right in front of the ref, who doesn't want to call for the bell initially but eventually does, apparently giving Sting the win at 9:43. I'll get to the post-match stuff in a moment, as for the match here itself, this was about what you'd expect---a sloppy, messy, dirty brawl that while not "technically sound" by any means, was certainly entertaining in a perverse kind of way. This is the part where I'm supposed to rate the match, so I'll go with *1/2 since I'm being generous and enjoyed the surrounding melodrama of the entire segment.

After the match Flair jumps in the ring and jumps Sting while Bischoff, Bully Ray, Scott Steiner, and Gunner emerge from backstage with steel chairs and all begin beating down Sting with them. Backstage we see Abyss looking on from the Gorilla position as the heeltastic beatdown continues. The ref, Bischoff's apparent son, has seen enough though and stops his father...who then promptly smashes the steel chair over his son's back. Well that's just bad parenting. The beatdown continues on Sting when suddenly...what's that? My god...Hulk feels the POWER of Hulkamania in him! It's surging through his veins! Hogan beats his chest and Hulks Up and the crowd goes absolutely wild as the old man Hulks up and fights off his former allies, saving Sting from a prolonged beatdown and giving the fans and Hogan one more chance to do the old hulk-up in front of a red-hot crowd. You see, that's really what this whole thing was about. The match was irrelevant, all they wanted to accomplish here was a nice little send-off for Hogan's in career in TNA's own kind of way, and they accomplished their goal in that regard quite well. Was the match technically "good"? No, it wasn't. In fact it was rather bad. But as an entire segment of "sports entertainment" (and I know how some fans hate those words), this did a great job and the crowd ate it up like cotton candy. And really, that's about all you could ask for from these guys at their ages. Hogan and Sting finish clearing the ring and posing for the crowd, who are really going out of their minds for both Hogan and Sting at this point. Both men shake hands and embrace to cap the entire segment off..

TNA World Title Match
Kurt Angle
© vs. Robert Roode

We're running pretty low on time with only about 20 minutes left in allotted time for this show, so don't expect a long, drawn out technical classic or anything here. As strange of a choice as Roode might seem for the big push for the BFG main event this year, he was one of the better options they had and is still relatively young, so hey, no complaints here even if I'm not 100% sold on Roode as a long-term main event caliber performer yet. No lock-ups to start here, instead these two begin immediately brawling in and out of the ring at the bell. Back in the ring Roode eats a lariat and then falls victim to the trio of rolling German suplexes from Angle. Angle goes to the top for a moonsault, but Roode leaps up and gives him a huge inside-out back suplex off the top rope. Kurt Angle: Still the craziest fucking bump-taker in the business today, for better or worse. That was just unnecessarily dangerous, and I love carnage. Roode fires up and explodes with a big lariat on Angle followed by a leaping neckbreaker from the second rope for a quick two count on the champ. Angle counters with a big belly-to-belly suplex and then absolutely plants Roode's head into the mat with a huge DDT. We're working on a clock here, so Angle pulls down the straps and starts going into his intense finish sequence early. Roode counters an Angle Slam attempt into a spinebuster, but only for two. Roode applies the crossface submission to Angle and things are looking dark for the Gold Medalist, but Angle counters out of it into the Ankle Lock! Roode counters that right back into the crossface though and both men roll around, trading one counter after another into their respective submission finishers until Angle rolls all the way through and delivers the Angle Slam, but Roode kicks out at two. Angle tries again for the Angle Slam, but Roode counters into a bridging Fisherman's suplex that nearly wins it for Bobby, but Angle kicks out at the last possible millisecond. A roll-up from Roode gets another near fall and Roode counters out of the Angle Slam yet again. Angle uses the ref as a shield and then low-blows Roode behind his back and delivers an Angle Slam, but still Roode kicks out again! Angle locks his hands around Roode's waist or another trio of Rolling German's, but Roode counters the third suplex into a Fujiwara armbar and then the crossface again. Angle barely gets the rope break, but not before the damage has been done. Angle somehow hits a big spear on Roode, pulling out energy from god know's where at this point as these guys have been going at a frenetic pace since the bell. Angle tries for a cross-body off the top rope, but he flies right into the crossface submission from Roode again. He slips out for the 900th time and both men trade attempts at their finishers before Angle delivers the Angle slam to Roode, and rolls him up for the pin. The ref counts three even though Roode's arm is underneath the rope and Angle has his hand on the second rope for the unfair advantage, and Angle apparently retains under dubious circumstances at 14:17. I'll get to the "Wut?" factor of having Roode lose here in a minute, but as a pure wrestling match, this was probably the best technical match up of the entire show and was just the kind of heated, athletic contest you'd expect from these two. The finish really leaves a bad taste in my mouth though. ***1/2

After the match a dejected Robert Roode lays in the ring in total shock as Kurt Angle is helped to the back and we go off the air of TNA's biggest show of the year with a defeated Robert Roode staring blankly in the ring as if he wanted to ask "What the fuck just happened to my 15 minutes of fame?" I don't know Bobby, I really don't. I have no clue what the logic is here of having Angle retain, I really don't. Incredilby anti-climactic way to finish what was otherwise easily the best PPV that TNA has put on in 2011.

Bottom Line: Far and away TNA's best PPV of the year so far, and I'd even go so far as to say this was probably the most consistently entertaining Bound For Glory yet in company history. This actually had the feeling of a "big" show, by TNA standards atleast, and the crowd was red hot and receptive to everything they did all night long here. They might have gone a bit overboard with the hardcore gimmick matches, but this show was in Philly after all and they paced them out nicely with a different style of wrestling in between them to space things out and give the fans a chance to catch their breath. There were no match of the year candidates to be found here and if you're expecting Sting vs. Hogan to be anything other than perversely entertaining you're out of luck, but if you're genuinely looking for an entertaining wrestling show with a multitude of entertaining matches of various styles in front of a hot Philly crowd, you'll probably dig this show as much as I did. I don't often praise this company, so when they do something right, it feels good to be able to give them their due deligence. Will, pay the piper his due folks, because this was a damn good show. Maybe it's because the Patriots beat the Cowboys or maybe it's the beer talking, but I had a blast watching this and I can honestly say that's the first time I've been able to say that about a TNA PPV since late 2009. Easy and enthusiastic Thumbs Up from me tonight.

Score: 8.5/10

Friday, October 14, 2011

WWE SmackDown 10/14/11

WWE SmackDown 10/14/11
October 14th, 2011
American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas
Attendance: Unknown at this time

Welcome everyone once again to another edition of 411's SmackDown Report from yours truly. It's another rainy day here in my neck of the woods so what better way to kill some time than with an episode of SmackDown? It was a big week in WWE-land, with Triple H being ousted as GM of RAW in favor of John Laurinaitis, and after a very unique episode of RAW hopefully we'll see SmackDown pick up the slack and deliver a good show. Well we're not getting any younger, so here we go.

Your hosts are Michael Cole, Booker T, and Josh Matthews

We open the show with the SmackDown GM Teddy Long making his way out to the stage, followed shortly by John Laurinaitis. Teddy announces that tonight's show puts Smackdown 2nd on the list of longest-running episodic TV shows, behind only RAW. To celebrate, they announce a 41 man battle royale, with the winner being able to select a title match of their choosing later tonight.

41 Man Battle Royal

Man that's a lot of people in one right, I'd list out each individual person in the match but I honestly don't think I'd be able to. Suffice to say all the big stars are in there, Randy Orton, CM Punk, everyone just about except for John Cena. Cody Rhodes is the first one eliminated as the bell rings, followed shortly by Johnny Curtis who I didn't realize was still employed. JTG (or as Booker calls him, "Jizzle") is out next, followed by Michael McGillicutty and Derrick Bateman. Yoshi Tatsu and Titus O'Neill are out next as it seems like we're cutting out the NXT boys quickly here. We take a quick commercial break and when we return it's just as cluttered as it was before in the ring, though apparently we're down to around 30 men now according to Josh. William Regal gets tossed next (bollocks!) and is followed by Percy Watson and John Morrison moments later. Ziggler is out next and he's followed by Trent Barreta moments later, taking a nasty back bump on his way out. DiBiase and Kidd are gone and we take a second commercial break. When we return Daniel Bryan is being eliminated and a few more people join him as Mason Ryan is on an elimination spree. He tosses out Justin Gabriel before Wade Barrett eliminates Ryan. Santino celebrates an elimination but of course is eliminated himself seconds later as we're really starting to thin out now, down to the last 20 or so, maybe less. Kofi Kingston is eliminated by Jack Swagger and is joined by Zack Ryder, David Otunga, and one of the Uso brothers moments later. Sheamus lariats Ezekiel Jackson out of the ring and then gives Heath Slater the Brogue Kick on the apron, eliminating him as well. Evil Sin Cara is out next from Sheamus, whose on fire at this point. He blocks a spear attempt from Christian and tosses him out next as we're down to about 8 men now. CM Punk eliminates R-Truth, but is then eliminated himself by The Miz seconds later, who exits the ring beneath the bottom rope to catch his breath. Christian sneaks back in the ring and eliminates Sheamus, who then chases him off to the back as Punk and R-Truth are brawling at ringside. Orton eliminates Wade Barrett and then RKO's Swagger before eliminating him as well. He gives Jinder Mahal, the apparent last man standing, an RKO of his own and then tosses him out and begins celebrating, thinking he's won the match. But of course The Miz, who was never eliminated, pops back into the ring and tosses Orton over the top rope, but Orton hangs onto the apron and isn't eliminated yet. He eats some big knee-lifts from Miz and then responds with a lariat and a powerslam. Miz is tossed to the apron but drags Orton out next to him, where Orton delivers an RKO to The Miz right on the ring apron and both men fall to the floor, with Miz falling to the floor first, giving Orton the win at 15:51 (shown). So Randy Orton gets a title shot of his choosing, how...ahem...."surprising". Not bad for a battle royal and the finish was fun, but really, if you've seen one of these damn things you've seen them all haven't you? **

After the match Josh Matthews heads to the ring to get a few words with Randy Orton about what champion he's going to choose to face, and of course Orton picks the World Heavyweight champ Mark Henry. So we've got Orton vs. Henry later tonight apparently.

Back from a commercial break we cut backstage to where Alberto Del Rio is preparing to exit the building with Ricardo Rodriguez. Teddy Long catches up to him and asks him where he's going, and Del Rio responds that he's leaving since Orton chose to face Mark Henry. Teddy informs him he's going to face Sheamus later tonight though, so he won't be going anywhere.

WWE Diva's Title Match
Beth Phoenix
© (8-2) vs. Kelly Kelly (9-5)

Beth is joined by Natalya while Kelly is joined by Eve Torres at ringside. The usual match ensues between these two with Kelly getting in some of her only spots to start the match before Beth quickly gains control and begins tossing Kelly around like a ragdoll. Kelly hits a nice DDT on Beth and goes for the handspring back elbow in the corner, but Beth counters and drags Kelly to the center of the ring and gives her the Glam Slam for the easy pin at 1:53. Wow, Kelly didn't even look competitive this time. Hopefully this means Beth will be moving on to a new challenger now. 1/2*

After another break the original Sin Cara's music hits for the next match, but we cut backstage to see Evil Sin Cara attacking him ruthlessly and then ripping Cara's mask off his head! Evil Sin Cara removes his own mask and then dons the original Cara's blue mask and walks off as we prepare for our next match.

"Evil" Sin Cara (17-4) vs. Justin Gabriel (9-13)

So it would appear that the evil Sin Cara, wearing the original's mask, will be taking his rivals place here against Justin Gabriel. Cole tries to explain the real-life rivalry back in Mexico between the two Sin Cara's but seems utterly lost as the bell rings. Gabriel nails Cara with a big dropkick that sends him to the outside floor and then he wipes him out with a twisting pescado. He tosses Cara back in the ring and goes for a springboard maneuver, but Cara dropkicks him in mid-air on his way back in. Spinning spinebuster from Gabriel gets a quick two count and he goes to the top rope but Cara immediately knocks him off and delivers a Swanton bomb onto Gabriel, which is enough to give him the quick pin at 1:36. Well that was way too short, I would have loved to have seen what these guys could have done with even a measly five minutes, but alas, all we got was a couple of nifty high-flying spots before Cara squashed Gabriel with ease. *

Backstage the tag team champions Air Boom are with Teddy Long when suddenly Vickie Guerrero walks up and demands a title match between Air Boom and Swagger/Ziggler. Zack Ryder walks up seconds later and proposes himself to replace Evan Bourne and challenge Swagger and Ziggler later tonight, which Teddy Long agrees to and books.

Alberto Del Rio (9-7) vs. Sheamus (13-9-1)

Del Rio gets some moderate heat during his entrance while Sheamus gets a great pop. The bell rings and both men start off evenly matched, countering out of each others moves and getting in a few shots of their own. Sheamus lays in the huge hammer-fists on Del Rio in-between the top two ropes and waffles him for a short near fall attempt. Del Rio responds with a big dropkick off the second rope for a near fall of his own. Del Rio works an armbar on Sheamus to try and set up for his finisher, but Sheamus powers up and re-gains the advantage with the Irish Curse backbreaker for a two count. Ricardo hops up onto the apron to distract the ref while Sheamus is on the top rope, which gives Christian a chance to run down to ringside and crotch Sheamus on the top. Del Rio gives him the step-up enziguri and then nails him with a stiff kick to the temple, which is enough to get the surprising pin on Sheamus at 3:58. Another match that definitely could have used a few extra minutes before the angle kicked in, but the finish does make sense atleast as it gives the WWE champ a quick win while protecting Sheamus and giving Christian more heat to use in the burgeoning rivalry between the two. After the match Christian spears Sheamus twice for good measure before taking off. *1/2

Dolph Ziggler/Jack Swagger vs. Kofi Kingston/Zack Ryder

I guess Bourne wasn't fully healed from a recent injury, hence why we have this makeshift tag match instead. Ryder and Swagger start us off with Ryder pancaking Swagger briefly before eating a belly-to-belly suplex. Ziggler tags in and delivers a neckbreaker on Ryder for a two count. Ziggler lays in a few more shots on Ryder before he's able to get the lukewarm tag to Kofi, who cleans house on the heels and delivers the Boom Drop on Ziggler. The heels exit the ring to catch their breath, and Kofi wipes them both out on the floor with a big tope suicida as we take a commercial break. When we return Ziggler is grinding Kofi down into the mat with a loose submission hold. Ziggler nails him with the Fameasser, but Kofi kicks out at two and Ziggler tags out to Swagger. Big back suplex gets Swagger a two count. Kofi and Ryder tease the hot tag, but Swagger cuts it off and continues the beat down on Kofi in the corner. Kofi responds with a huge tornado DDT and both men are able to tag out to their partners. Ryder is all fired up and delivers the Broski Boot to Ziggler in the corner for another close two count. Ziggler responds with a dropkick, but Ryder nails him with a pair of shotgun knees and attempts the Rough Ryder. Ziggler escapes the RR attempt though and locks his deadly sleeper hold onto Ryder. Zack is able to launch Ziggler off him into the corner though. He goes to tag Kofi, but Swagger knocks Kofi off the apron. While the ref is distracted with Swagger, Kofi hops back into the ring and nails Ziggler with the Trouble in Paradise, then positions Ryder on top of Ziggler for the legal pin and the win for the faces at 7:08 (shown). Fun little tag match here and probably our match of the night so far, but I'm not sure if this really means anything long term. Ryder gets a bit of heat out of the finish though atleast. **1/4

After a video package highlighting the events of RAW this week, we cut backstage to Sheamus who is with Matt Striker. Matt asks him about Christian's interference in his match, providing Sheamus the perfect opportunity to tell one of his goofy Irish anecdotes about a troll under a bridge before promising to kick Christian's face off of his skull. I'm not sure that's physically feasible dude.

World Heavyweight Title Match
Mark Henry
© (9-7) vs. Randy Orton (18-7-1)

It's rather surprising that this match up hasn't become painfully stale yet considering they've wrestled each other a good 4 or 5 times over the last month alone. That said, don't expect anything but the usual average match between these two. Orton is cautious to start with the big man, picking his spots. He tries a lariat on Henry, but it barely budges him. Orton gets tossed to the floor and Henry launches him face-first like a lawn dart into the steel ring post. Back in the ring Henry lays in big headbutts and forearms on Orton in the corner. Henry locks on the dreaded nerve hold of doom onto Orton, but Randy fights it off quickly with big right hands. He tries to mount a comeback, but Henry clotheslines him and delivers a big elbow drop to his sternum for another near fall as we cut to commercial. When we return Henry is stomping away at Orton in the corner. Henry hits a Davey Boy-esque running powerslam on Randy, but the Viper still kicks out at two. Henry hits him with a big splash, but again Orton kicks out. Henry tries for a Vader Bomb in the corner, but Orton blocks it with his knees and fires off a pair of lariats and a dropkick to finally take the big man off his feet. Suddenly Cody Rhodes appears at ringside and hops onto the apron to try and attack Orton, but Randy catches him and prepares to give him the second rope DDT before Henry breaks it up. The ref calls for the bell to DQ Henry I assume, ending the match at 7:05 (shown). This was about on par with their usual work together until the abrupt finish, so it was basically slightly below average. Not a great way to finish the show honestly. *3/4

After the match the beatdown commences on Orton until the Big Show runs down to make the heroic save. Show and Orton beat both of the heels down and we go off the air with the Big Show and Orton standing tall above the heels.

Bottom Line: This was a rather lame show to be honest this week. Once again the closest we got to a good match was in the ** range, with the 41 man battle royal taking up a large chunk of the first hour to set up a somewhat meaningless main event that didn't really accomplish anything for anyone involved. Lots of filler, the longest match of the night was a battle royal, and another DQ finish to the main event this week means unfortunately another rare Thumbs Down for Smackdown this week. It wasn't awful by any means, but there's literally nothing here worth going out of your way to see, at all.

Score: 3.0/10