Friday, March 23, 2012

WWE Friday Night Smackdown 3/23/12

WWE Friday Night Smackdown
March 23rd, 2012
Prudential Center, Newark, New Jersey
Attendance: Unknown at this time

Welcome back everyone to another edition of 411's WWE Friday Night Smackdown coverage. We're only 9 days away from Wrestlemania at this point so everyone is just trying to get to the big show in one piece right about now. Tonight we've got a big tag team main event pitting CM Punk and Sheamus against Daniel Bryan and The Miz, so let's kick things off.

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

We open the show tonight with the World Heavyweight champion Daniel Bryan and his girlfriend AJ Lee making their way out to the ring. The first thing Bryan has to say is..."YES! YES! YES!". Bryan asks AJ what it's like to be in love with the World Heavyweight champion and when she starts to talk about her match tonight he clears his throat and tells her to just answer the question. She goes on about Daniel caressing her and sometimes at night they even spoon! She continues listing off Daniel's qualities much to the champion's pleasure, with Daniel even convincing her to call him a great lover. Bryan wraps up the segment by patting himself on the back a bit more, but is quickly interrupted by the Celtic Warrior Sheamus. Sheamus tells us he threw up in his mouth a bit listening to AJ before calling Bryan a coward. Crowd is all over Bryan, calling him "Danny" when he points out he only wants to be called Daniel. Sheamus promises to win the title and kick Bryan's teeth down his throat before taking off to wrap up our opening segment. Good little way to start the show, Bryan's really getting great heat these days with the AJ angle.

Mark Henry (14-10) vs. R-Truth (7-3)
This is a battle of two opposing team members for the Team Teddy vs. Team Johnny match at Wrestlemania. Henry overpowers Truth easily to start, dumping him out of the ring. Back inside Henry misses an elbow drop and Truth takes advantage with a DDT. Truth tries a cross-body off the top rope but Henry catches him in mid-air and gives him the World's Strongest Slam to pick up the quick win at 3:01. Total squash of R-Truth here, which I simply don't understand when you have so many NXT/Superstars jobbers employed for that exact purpose. 1/2*

We get the video package announcing Yokozuna as the latest WWE Hall of Fame entrance. Definitely one of the more successful guys Vince and the WWF undoubtedly "made" themselves, so a HOF induction makes sense.

We get footage of Zack Ryder trying to rally the WWE fans outside of the arena with chants of "We want Ryder!" to convince Teddy to let him join his team and then cut backstage to Zack alongside Teddy Long, Aksana, Santino Marella, and Kofi Kingston. Teddy isn't sure if he wants to bring Ryder onto the team with the whole Eve thing, so Ryder brings in Hornswoggle with a Teddy Long flag, but when that still doesn't convince him, he brings in Great Khali decked out in Ryder gear telling him that if he lets Ryder on the team, Khali is in too, so Long finally obliges and brings them aboard.

AJ Lee (4-9) vs. Brie Bella (2-0)

Nikki tries to give Brie advice on the match via pre-taped promo but Brie doesn't want to any from her. Bryan is in AJ's corner again of course, and he gives her a few pointers when Brie takes her down quickly at the bell. AJ gets in some petty offense but Brie dominates for the most part. AJ transitions from a sloppy headscissors into a Fujiwara arm bar and then argues with Nikki on the apron. Brie tries to jump her from behind but AJ moves so that she winds up knocking Nikki off the apron, and AJ rolls Brie up to pick up the win at 2:47. Typical nothing Diva's match, AJ continues to look a bit sloppy but she's over so it doesn't really matter. 1/4*

Bryan celebrates after the match and then Nikki grabs a microphone to talk about the things she and her sister disagree on---like the fact that Brie is rooting for Team Johnny and Nikki is rooting for Team Teddy. She leads the crowd in a lame Team Teddy chant and then they take off. Well that was random.

Zack Ryder (6-1) vs. Jack Swagger (9-9)

Vickie is in Swagger's corner as usual while Hornswoggle is in Ryder's corner. Swagger tries a wristlock to start but Ryder counters with a dropkick. Powerslam from Swagger and he goes back to working over Ryder's arm. Swagger eats a pair of knees in the corner and a flying forearm before Zack slams him face-first into the mat and follows up with the Broski Boot facewash in the corner for a two count. Ryder looks for the Rough Ryder but Swagger catches him and powerbombs him into the corner turnbuckle before hitting a Swagger Bomb, but somehow Zack kicks out at two anyways. Vickie and Hornswoggle distract Swagger long enough on the apron for Ryder to hit him with the Rough Ryder and pick up the win at 4:30. Decent action between these two, but like most of the matches tonight it was too short to amount to anything beyond average and forgettable. *3/4

We get some footage shot earlier today of Matt Striker interviewing Cody Rhodes about his match with the Big Show at Wrestlemania. Cody says the usual and promises to win before taking off to catch a plane.

Big Show (20-6) vs. Kane (17-11)

So I'd say the chances of a clean finish here are about one in a hundred. This is, as JR would say, "bowling shoe ugly", consisting mainly of kicks, punches, and power moves. Show misses a charge into the steel post and wraps his shoulder around it. Back in the ring Kane hits a dropkick for all of a one count. Both men trade punches on their knees and Show calls for the choke slam, but Kane connects with a DDT instead. Kane gets caught off the top rope with a chokeslam but before Show can try for a pin, Cody Rhodes runs in to attack him for the DQ at 3:44. But, but he said he left for the airport! That scoundrel! Randy Orton runs down to RKO Kane as well. Match was your usual Show/Kane plodding affair and the entire purpose of the match was basically just to have a few run-ins. 1/2*

The Funkasaurus Brodus Clay (2-4) vs. Heath Slater (4-27)
Still trying to figure out why they took Clay off TV for being too green, then brought him back 2 weeks later. What could he possibly have learned in those 2 weeks to become a safer worker? Anywho, match is just your standard Clay squash, he does a bit of dancing, Slater gets a couple of petty hits in and then Clay finishes him off with the the What the Funk splash at 1:25. Usual Brodus squash here, pretty soon they need to start coming up with an actual angle or feud for the guy though. 1/4*

Zack Ryder finds Eve Torres backstage after the break and wants to celebrate his victory. He compliments her beauty and intelligence and she manages to take offense at this somehow, calling off their dinner and storming off with a sneaky grin on her face. Why are they continuing to destroy Ryder's character to get a diva some cheap heel heat? Wish I knew.

The Great Khali (6-8) vs. Dolph Ziggler (4-15)
Christian joins us on commentary for some reason while Ziggler is accompanied to the ring by Laurinaitis and Otunga and Teddy is with Khali. Ziggler gets dumped from the ring quickly and then eats some big chops back inside. Ziggler tries working a side headlock but Khali breaks it up. Ziggler hops on Khali's back for the sleeper and suddenly John Laurinaitis calls for the bell immediately, claiming Khali submitted before Khali really even had a chance to start selling the move, let alone submit. Ziggler is declared the winner at 2;40, but of course Teddy won't have any of this and demands the match restart, so Ziggler is counted out at about 4:14 or so. Ziggler gets tossed back into the ring by Santino and Kofi afterwards to eat a chop from Khali anyways, ending this mess of a match. As if the Montreal shtick hasn't already been beaten to death. Remember when Ziggler debuted in the WWE back in 2009 with a string of clean wins over the Great Khali? Me neither. DUD

CM Punk/Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan/The Miz
Bryan appears to want to start the match, but immediately tags out to Miz when Sheamus decides to start as well. Sheamus works over Miz a bit and he and Punk trade a couple of quick tags, working Miz over in their corner. Irish Curse backbreaker from Sheamus, but Bryan breaks up the pin attempt so Sheamus goes after him, turning his back to Miz long enough to get jumped from behind and then eat a running boot as we take our last commercial break of the show. When we return Sheamus escapes a Miz beatdown to get the tag to Punk. Punk hits the running Muay Thai knee to Miz in the corner and tells AJ outside the ring to call him in a funny moment. Bryan distracts Punk when he tries for the Macho Man elbow, and Miz is able to capitalize with a DDT on the WWE champ before tagging the World champ in. "Danny Boy!" chants ring out again. Bryan works him over a bit and then tags Miz back in, who hits Punk with a knee lift. Miz plunges his knee into Punk's back, but Punk counters with a devastating kick to the skull. Bryan and Sheamus tag in and Sheamus lays in the 10 hammerfists on the apron, but Bryan quickly tags back out to The Miz and takes off running just as Sheamus hits Miz with the Brogue Kick to pick up the pin at 6:41 (shown). Not much of a main event this week after a string of good ones, this one was over before it ever really got a chance to develop any coherent story and I think we all knew Miz was going to be eating the pin here as soon as the participants were announced. Better than anything else on the show tonight though. **1/4

We go off the air with Daniel Bryan and AJ storming off up the entrance ramp as Sheamus and CM Punk celebrate in the ring.

Bottom Line: Bit of a step down this week compared to the last few shows, you can tell everyone on Smackdown has gone into Autopilot mode with only a little over a week before Wrestlemania, and I wouldn't be surprised if we got another recap/hype show next week like we did last year before 'Mania. I've seen much worse shows in my time as Smackdown recapper, but just nothing particularly compelling going on here tonight so you can feel free to skip it really, minor Thumbs Down.

Score: 4.5/10

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