Friday, April 27, 2012

WWE Friday Night SmackDown! 4/27/12--- Claudio Castagnoli's in-ring debut!

WWE Friday Night SmackDown
April 27th, 2012
Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids, Michigan
Attendance: Unknown at this time

Welcome back everyone to another edition of 411's WWE SmackDown report. We're only 48 hours away from the big Extreme Rules PPV featuring the in-ring wrestling return of Brock Lesnar against John Cena, so this should be your standard go-home show, probably loaded with more of the same Lesnar/Cena video packages we've seen the last few weeks to try and give one last hard sell for the PPV. Onto the show!

Your hosts are Michael Cole and Booker T

We open the show with Sheamus vs. Mark Henry announced for later tonight before Cole and Booker inform us that Josh Matthews isn't here tonight because he's still recovering from the attack by Brock Lesnar on RAW this past week.

Daniel Bryan makes his way out next to formally kick off the show with a promo. He's practically gleeful because he's finally cut all ties to AJ and then proceeds to again blame the Wrestlemania loss on her, saying the loss should count on her record, not his. He talks about his role as special guest referee for the Sheamus/Mark Henry match on RAW this past week and he claims to have called it right down the middle as we see footage of his fast count on Sheamus in slow-motion so as to make it look legit. He gloats about putting Sheamus in the YES! Lock, claiming he made him tap before calling his whole title run a fluke. He promises to win the title at Extreme Rules when he's interrupted by the still utterly heatless Alberto Del Rio (not that it's his fault really considering how badly he was booked after winning the Rumble last year). Del Rio and Ricardo mock Bryan with their own SI! chant as Alberto promises to beat the winner of Bryan/Sheamus for the title. And now here comes Big Show to interrupt Del Rio. Have I mentioned how lazy these cookie cutter Smackdown opening segments are every week? Same exact formula every single time. Show leads the crowd in dueling "YES!" and "SI!" chants briefly before making a move on the heels, who take off immediately leaving Ricardo in the ring to eat a chokeslam. Well that segment basically guarantees us a Sheamus win on Sunday.

Big Show (22-6) vs. Alberto Del Rio (11-8)
When we return from the break we've joined our opening match in progress, a rematch from last week. Show overpowers Del Rio easily, sending him out to the floor early. Del Rio hangs Show over the top rope and then goes right to the armwork back in the ring. He tries for the cross-armbar but Show powers out easily and then hits the spear. He signals for the chokeslam, but Cody Rhodes hits the ring to give him a chop block, giving Show the DQ win for the second week in a row at 1:54. Cody and Del Rio beat down Show for a bit and then Cody tries to attack Show with a chair and a cane, but Show just yanks off Cody's belt and whips him senseless with it until he runs off. This wasn't half bad while it lasted but you knew where this was going as soon as the bell rung because you know neither of these guys are going to eat a clean pinfall here. *1/4

Backstage Big Johnny Ace is with Eve Torres, letting her know that if she sees any changes she'd like to make to come to him. She proposes that all staff wear name tags from now on. Teddy Long walks up and wants to know if Eve has taken his job then where does that leave him? Johnny tells him he has to answer to Eve now, and Eve laughs and tells him to go get himself a name tag. Well atleast they found something for Eve to do that doesn't involve making Zack Ryder constantly look like a schmuck.

Damien Sandow educates us on the nature of the Age of Enlightenment before ripping into his fellow WWE roster members. I'm all for a snobby heel giving lectures, so long as they let him do his thing in the ring.

Nikki Bella (1-2) vs. Alicia Fox (10-5)
And now we have our newly crowned Diva's champion, Nikki Bella, taking on Alicia Fox. She knocks Fox down with a kick early and then chokes her over the second rope before firing off a nice snapmare. Nikki applies a variation of the Octopus Hold briefly but Fox shoves her off and fires off a pair of dropkicks. Fox hits a nice back elbow from the second rope and then ducks a clothesline from Nikki only to get tossed to the mat viciously by her hair in a nice reversal. Nikki and Brie do the old twin switcheroo while the ref checks on Fox and Brie gives Fox the X-Factor for the win at 1:48. Hey now, this wasn't half bad! Both ladies (particularly Nikki) looked fired up for once and believe it or not I actually wouldn't have minded seeing more of this. *3/4

Backstage Titus O'Neill and Darren Young mock Yoshi Tatsu in a slightly racist tone, trying to discern who his tag team partner tonight will be. Ezekiel Jackson (with hair!) walks up to reveal himself as his partner and Young and Titus go into this weird song and dance about how "Big Zeke ain't got no cuts" or something like that. That was odd, but shit, atleast they're showing some personality.

Backstage Teddy Long, wearing what looks like a combination of a smock and a maid's uniform with a gigantic goofy nametag plastered across the front is cleaning when Aksana walks in. He thanks her for standing by his side during this tough time (she has?) and then Johnny interrupts of course. Ace tells Aksana "that favor she asked for" is going to happen tonight, and that favor is a tryout match for Antonio Cesaro (Claudio Castagnoli) with Aksana as the guest ring announcer, and if Cesaro wins he'll have a roster spot on Smackdown. Eve then tells Teddy that he's going to have his own ringside commentary table (The Teddy Table!) to fill in for the absent Josh Matthews. Johnny tells him he'll be in his ear the entire time and he won't be able to say anything unless Ace informs him to (hey that sounds awfully familiar, doesn't it Mick Foley?).

Titus O'Neill/Darren Young vs. Yoshi Tatsu/Ezekiel Jackson
Teddy sounds like a programmed robot on commentary. Cole takes a cheap shot at JR's stint as talent scout (are you kidding me? He's one of the greatest scouts in the history of this business) and then berates Long some more as they do everything but call the match in the ring. Speaking of which, Darren Young and Titus O'Neill trade quick tags to start, isolating Yoshi Tatsu in their corner. They totally dominate Yoshi and then finish him off with a sloppy Doomsday Device of sorts at 1:49. Zeke never even tagged in here, as this was just a squash of Yoshi by Titus and Darren Young with all three men on commentary putting them over as the second coming of tag wrestling. Not if they're going to nearly kill people in the ring with sloppy work they won't. 3/4*

Michael Cole is in the ring next for an interview with Randy Orton next. Usual nice pop for Orton. Cole informs Orton about Johnny Ace's edict that if any wrestler touches an announcer they'll be immediately suspended, and Orton reminds him that he's not always the most rational man. Cole shows a video package on the Titan Tron recapping the Kane/Orton feud thus far. Orton puts over how personal this feud is with Kane when JINDER FUCKING MAHAL of all people interrupts him. He says he believes that Orton and Kane will take each other out and that their time on the top is over. Mahal says he's richer, younger, and better than Orton and will be waiting for him "on the other side". Randy asks him if he's an announcer. Jinder says no, so he gets an RKO. The utter randomness of Jinder Mahal showing up in this segment was pretty amusing, I wonder if they're going to push the kid now? I honestly hope not, he hasn't impressed me at all.

Antonio Cesaro (0-0) vs. Tyson Kidd
And now let us indy geeks commence in our mutual fangasm as the former Claudio Castagnoli (one of the top indy wrestlers of the last 5 years for the uneducated) makes his in-ring debut against Tyson Kidd. Aksana introduces him and Cole puts him over as a former rugby player who was expelled from the league for "excessive aggression" and Aksana's possible new love interest. Antonio takes it right to Kidd with a combination of boots, elbows, and forearms before airing him out with a nice gut-wrench suplex. Kidd tries to escape Antonio but he gives him the pop-up European uppercut! The crowd loves that move and they should as it's one of Antonio's signature moves that he's known for. Cesaro lifts Kidd up in a cradle piledriver position but instead of driving him straight down he slams him to the mat (similar to the Styles Clash position) and that sick reverse piledriver is enough for Cesaro to pick up the win at 1:09. Total destruction of Kidd by Claudio/Antonio here (going to take awhile to get used to his new name) and he got to show off a few of his fancy moves in front of a WWE audience, who loved it. We all said Claudio was bound to be in the WWE one day and here he is, getting his shit over immediately in his first match in fine fashion. *

After the match Teddy has to go into the ring to raise Antonio's hand, and after he does Aksana and Antonio start making out right in front of him. Teddy, heartbroken, actually begins to cry and then takes off. The complete and total castration of Teddy Long continues.

Brock Lesnar video package time again, hyping his match against John Cena at Extreme Rules.

Cody Rhodes (21-22) vs. The Great Khali
What's up with Cody always being fed to the giants? Cody tries for a lockup with Khali but the size difference is so huge that he winds up just hugging Khali's leg. That's adorable. Khali throws a few chops and then Cody takes him down by the leg. He hits a big missile dropkick on Khali (and Khali actually bumps!) and then goes back to working over Khali's leg. Khali tosses him off though and clotheslines him a few times. Cody tries for the Disaster Kick but Khali catches him with the Punjabi Plunge at 2:01. It's announced that Cody and Big Show's match on Sunday will be a "Spin the Wheel, Make the Deal" kind of gig. What was the point of squashing Rhodes in two minutes here again? How does that make someone want to see Rhodes wrestle Big Show? Shitty booking, but hey, Khali took a back bump like a man for the first time in eons. 1/2*

Backstage Abraham Washington tries to convince Epico, Primo, and Rosa Mendes to hire him as their manager. He gives them until Monday to make a decision. Ryback (the former Skip Sheffield) walks in and AW trails after him. Elsewhere backstage the Uso brothers watch on as a local jobber is introduced in the ring.

Ryback (3-0) vs. Jacob Kaye
Kaye gets on the mic before the match and actually cuts a decent heel promo on the hometown crowd, claiming he's trying to get himself out of Grand Rapids. Ryback comes out and eats his face. No, not really, but that's basically what's about to happen. Ryback boots Kaye and then gives him a press slam powerslam before taking his head off with a nasty lariat. He finishes Kaye off with the running Samoan drop at 1:08. A bit more interesting than the usual Ryback squashes because Kaye actually cut a decent promo before the match to get a bit of heat for the thing. Nice exhibition for Ryback. 1/2*

Backstage Matt Striker is with AJ and wants to know what's up with her and Bryan. She says nothing and he keeps pestering her, asking for a prediction of a winner this Sunday when Kaitlyn interrupts to tell Striker to take off because AJ doesn't need this right now. AJ tries to walk away but Kaitlyn stops her and tells her that her breaking up with Bryan is a good thing because of how badly he treated her. She says Bryan never did anything for her and AJ slaps her right in the face and then immediately steps back in horror at her actions. Nice segment to put over where AJ's mindset is at with Daniel Bryan going into this Sunday, this entire relationship has been one of the better booked ones in awhile. That entire sentence shames me.

Sheamus (29-15-1) vs. Mark Henry
And now for our main event. Henry overpowers Sheamus to start but misses a clothesline and Sheamus takes advantage by giving the big man a DDT. Henry tosses Sheamus out to the floor with one hand when he tries for a wristlock and then tosses the Irishman back in. Sheamus manages to hit the slingshot shoulder-block on Henry for a near fall as we take our last commercial break. When we return Henry is still in control with a big bodyslam. Sheamus manages to start his clubbing forearms spot in the ropes with Henry but he cuts him off halfway through the ten count and just flings Sheamus across the floor like a ragdoll. He slams Sheamus into the barricade nastily as well. Back inside Henry takes Sheamus out with another clothesline, squashing every comeback attempt the Celtic Warrior tries for. Finally Sheamus is able to fire off a flying forearm to get Henry down long enough for him to deliver a nice DDT for a near fall. Sheamus starts chest-beating (THIS. IS. MICHIGAN!) but Henry just mows him down with another clothesline. Sheamus gets a boot up on Henry and then leaps off the top rope, over Mark, and to the mat. By the time Mark turns around, Sheamus blasts him with the Brogue Kick for the win at 7:23 (shown). Sheamus is just the right kind of powerhouse worker that can have good matches with big guys like Henry here. It was rough in a few spots but overall, a solid main event to close out the show but not one you'll remember in, say, two weeks time. **3/4

After the match Daniel Bryan comes out to give Sheamus the old golf clap. Sheamus says Daniel got off easy at Wrestlemania and then steals his YES! line to close out the show.

Bottom Line: Bit of an odd go-home show here, on one hand I loved seeing the influx of new talent like Antonio Cesaro on the show but that first hour was just one segment after another with only a few 2 minute matches thrown in to break up the monotony. Luckily all of the segments tonight basically worked, some were even great, and the main event delivered a fun and hard hitting little match with a great ending and hard sell for the PPV, but there was just a LOT of talking tonight. I won't go thumbs down because I enjoyed most of the show and segments, but it's a very mild Thumbs Up tonight.

Score: 5.5/10

Monday, April 23, 2012

WWE RAW 4/9/12

WWE RAW 4/9/12
April 9th, 2012
Verizon Center, Washington, D.C.
Attendance: Unknown at this time

We're only a week removed from Wrestlemania and nothing has been set up or revealed for the upcoming Extreme Rules PPV yet really, the world's just been all too caught up in Brock-o-mania and Daniel Bryan (YES! YES! YES!) Fever. Thus tonight's show should be quite interesting, so let's do this bad boy. We open up with the King and Cole letting us know that the "3 Stooges" are going to be the guest hosts of RAW tonight, as just when you thought that god awful guest host gimmick had been completely beaten into the ground and finally disappeared, they're back again, for revenge.Oh and also Mark Henry gets a rematch with CM Punk for the WWE Title tonight, because Johnny's his bottom or something.

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

We open live in the arena with our new omnipotent one, GM Johnny "Ace" Laurinaitis, alongside his ever effervescent sidekick David bow-tie Otunga and they show us a lengthy highlights package of what happened on last week's show with Brock Lesnar appearing on Raw to, as the kids say, "fuck Cena's shit up". Ace introduces Brock as a new signing who will bring newfound respect and credibility to the WWE, which I suppose is true in a sense. Cole notes his accomplishments in both the WWE and UFC, so I guess they don't have much of a problem acknowledging the UFC on-air these days. Brock comes down to the ring to a big ovation and takes the mic from Laurinaitis. He thanks Johnny for bringing back some legitimacy to the WWE but before he can get any further John Cena interrupts him of course. Cena comes into the ring all smiles but he slaps Brock right in the face and Brock takes him down to the mat and just smashes him in the face with a few of the stiffest punches I've seen in a long time. They start brawling before virtually the entire WWE locker room spills out into the ring to separate the two men. Cena's mouth is all busted up and he's spitting blood trying to leap through the sea of wrestlers into Lesnar to get a shot at him. Very reminiscent of what you'd expect on RAW during the Attitude Era, but organic to the situation so it worked and was a great way to start the show.

When we return from the break we see a close-up replay of the punch that busted Cena's mouth open which was legit but was "worked" from an angle perspective of course, which just shows how much Cena cares about kicking off this feud with Lesnar right, props to John there. Backstage Johnny reams out Teddy Long for what just happened and makes him the scapegoat. Teddy takes off and Eve Torres approaches him, and tells Johnny to "call her". We get it, she's an evil manipulative slut.

"The Funkasaurus" Brodus Clay/Santino Marella vs. Dolph Ziggler/Jack Swagger
Holy opposing wrestling styles Batman! Santino and Dolph start us off as Dolph takes Santino down for a quick cover and he responds with a deep arm drag. Swagger and Brodus hop in next to face off and Brodus wins the power battle, hitting a running knee on Swagger. He tries for a t-bone suplex but Swagger cuts him off with a pair of running shoulder-blocks. We cut to commercial with Swagger working over Clay's shoulder and when we return Ziggler is laying an elbow into Santino's chest for a two count. Swagger tags back in and works over Santino's back with his knee. Santino tries to get the hot tag to Clay, but the heels cut him off mid-ring and exchange tags. Ziggler nails Santino with a clothesline but he's able to get the hot tag to Brodus anyways. Clay gives Ziggler a pumphandle suplex and then hits a huge splash to finish him off at 4:25 (shown). This was fine as a quick formula tag to put Clay over against someone besides a jobber, and look I like the Funkasaurus gimmick as much as the next guy with a sense of humor does, but why is Ziggler eating these meaningless clean pins for comedy midcarders? It wasn't that long ago Ziggler was considered ready for the main event scene and I still think he is, but these clean pins he keeps eating for comedy guys aren't helping him at all in the credibility department. *3/4

Backstage The Miz wants to know when John Laurinaitis is going to make good on his promises after The Miz helped his team win at Wrestlemania. John blows him off though and tells him he'll get his due next week. Miz takes off and Teddy Long approaches, but before John can start yelling at him about finding John Cena again, here comes the man himself, still a bit bloody from the punch he took earlier. Cena says if John was looking for someone to bring back legitimacy to the WWE, he's looking at the guy who's going to do it, and that the real movie star who might not want his good looks wrecked by a punch just walked out (referring to Lesnar). Cena says he's ready for Brock at Extreme Rules and that Johnny's latest hired gun will fail him before begging Ace to give him a match tonight because he's still fired up. Laurinaitis tells Teddy to inform David Otunga that he's facing Cena later tonight. That might have been one of the best little quick promos of Cena's career, because that was all very earnest and he's come off as a bit of a bad ass tonight. It seems clear they're hellbent on remaking Cena's image to the hardcore fans as a badass take-no-shit wrestler but the one thing they need to cut out is all that damn smiling. Steve Austin never smiled John.

Elsewhere backstage Santino Marella asks Tyler Reks and Curt Hawkins if they've seen the 3 Stooges around backstage. Santino continues looking for them as we get highlights of Henry slamming Punk last week outside the ring to set up their rematch tonight. When we return from commercial Santino is still looking for the stooges, but he finds Kane instead. He asks him if he's seen the stooges but Kane remains silent so he takes off. This is hardly the night for this, is it?

Cody Rhodes vs. R-Truth
Someone really needs to put that last bullet into the zombie brain that is the brand split, 'cause it's just sad at this point. Truth does a bit of his dancing while running the ropes spots before Cody grabs a hold of him and lays him out on the mat with the Alabama Slam, always a killer looking move. Of course Big Show comes out in the middle of the match to replay highlights of when Show interrupted him last week to show him highlights of Wrestlemania. And once again of course it distracts Cody long enough for Truth to hit him with the "What's Up" reverse STO which I guess is now being called the "Little Jimmy" at 1:40. This was not so much a wrestling match as it was an angle, so I won't be too harsh on the rating, but man, what is it with this company and trying to destroy all momentum any hot young heel generates? Do they hate money? 1/2*

Elsewhere backstage Santino sniffs a large wooden box labeled "Fragile", and out pop the 3 Stooges, or atleast the new version of them, in all of their glory. Or unglory. If that's a word. Which it isn't. Former Bret Hart rival Will Sasso is playing Curly, not sure why I felt the need to share that with you loyal readers. Santino teaches Moe the Cobra and then the Stooges try to put their heads together to come up with something fun for the "WWE Universe" tonight. I would crack jokes here about how stupid this whole thing is, but the irony and humor of having the 3 Stooges playing the metaphorical role of writers/bookers in this segment asking themselves what the WWE Universe wants just writes itself.

Lord Tensai vs. Yoshi Tatsu
This would actually make the perfect first feud for Tensai here, Tatsu is a great young babyface who could get the crowd going red hot behind him with Tensai in the monster heel role, man, the booking here could just write itself. Most likely this is just a one off match though. Tensai lays in some chops and then slams Tatsu's arm underneath his large girth. Big "Albert!" chant as he headbutts Tatsu senseless and then delivers a beautiful double-underhook suplex followed by a back senton. He hits the double-handed chokeslam and looks to apply THE CLAW, but the ref calls for the bell as Yoshi is out and awards the match to Tensai at 2;23. Tensai gives Yoshi THE CLAW after the bell anyways just to be a dick. I know he just destroyed Yoshi in total squash fashion but I'd still love to see these two in a real feud, because Tensai can hand out the power moves with the best of them and Yoshi can bump his ass off enough to make it entertaining. *

CM Punk is out next to a big pop but he's all serious business as they've been replaying the clip of Jericho smashing a bottle of whiskey over Punk's face all night long. Punk explains how proud he is to be straight edge and why he's kept his reasons for that lifestyle to himself for all these years and then he starts to rip into Jericho because even though he tried all of these psychological tactics to "get in Punk's head", he still tapped out to Punk at Wrestlemania. Punk says last week was taking it one step too far though, to actually have whiskey poured on him (hey Punk I'll take your place next time!) because that whiskey scent reminded him exactly of how his father used to smell. Of course this is just the time for Jericho to interrupt via the Titan Tron to ask Punk if he's still hungover from that whiskey from last week. Jericho keeps trying to lead Punk down the path to alcoholism, but Punk's going to use all of this anger instead against Jericho because this is no longer about being the "Best in the World" it's about Punk kicking Jericho's ass. Great segment all around here from two guys who know how to build a promo and story like few others in this business. This feud might just only be starting to get awesome right now people, strap yourselves in.

WWE Title Match
CM Punk
© vs. Mark Henry
This is a rematch from last week (which was a shockingly good match), and I'm all for it. Punk is all kinds of fired up to start at the bell, taking it right to Henry with vicious knees and kicks, but Henry responds with a big clothesline to send Punk out to the floor. Punk grabs a monitor from the commentary table and smashes Henry with it, which lamely gets him DQed at all of 0:48 seconds. Okay then, I guess we're going the "angle as a match" route again then. 1/4*

After the match Punk looks to slam Henry with the monitor again when Jericho's music hits and the man himself shows up with two cases of beer. This distracts Punk long enough for Henry to demolish him back in the ring with the World's Strongest Slam. Jericho brings out a can of beer to pour in Punk's face, but Punk  spears him and takes the fight to him instead. Jericho regains control though and pours out an entire six pack all over Punk while trash talking him at the same time. he gives him a Codebreaker celebrates with the WWE title as we take a break. Delicious heel behavior from Jericho there. Am I crazy or does anyone else feel like this might all be leading to something involving Stone Cold down the line?

Alberto Del Rio vs. Zack Ryder

This doesn't bode well for Ryder. Del Rio is all over him at the bell with kicks before Ryder gets a knee up in his face in the corner and hits the Broski Boot. Ryder looks for the Rough Ryder but Del Rio blocks it, applies the cross armbar, and Ryder taps so quickly I'm not even sure he was on the mat with the move even fully applied before the ref was already calling for the bell at 1:26. Ryder's heat is so far gone and buried it's not even funny anymore. 1/4*

Next out the Three Stooges (or rather, the three actors portraying the Three Stooges in the new film) come out for some "comedy" I believe they refer to it as. Will Sasso comes out dressed as Hulk Hogan, complete with the Real American music and everything. Crowd shits all over this whole segment, booing the Stooges to hell and back and I don't blame them. I guess it's open season on Hulk again since he's gone to TNA. Finally Kane comes out to chokeslam Will Hogan and end this abortion.

Backstage Mark Henry promises Josh Matthews that he'll win the WWE Title from CM Punk next week.

Elsewhere backstage Josh Matthews catches up with Brock Lesnar and asks him if he's proud to be back in the WWE. Brock says he's proud that Johnny Ace had enough wisdom to bring him back in and put him on top where he belongs. Lesnar says Cena can't hold his jock strap and then reminds us that he's not here to make friends, he's here to kick ass. Solid little promo from Lesnar but the fans are still treating him as a mega babyface and can you blame them? He's the closest thing we've had to Steve Austin since...well, Steve Austin.

John Cena vs. David Otunga
Otunga should be required by law to wear his bow-tie at all times, including during his matches. Cena tries to lock up with him to start up but Otunga has so much baby oil on him John can't even hold onto him. The dueling Cena chants start up as Otunga stomps away on Cena in the corner. Otunga beats Cena down for a bit and then Cena launches into his usual routine with the sideslam and the Five Knuckle Shuffle. He delivers the AA and then applies the STF and Otunga taps out at 5:07. Total nothing match that just served as a back-drop for what's about to happen next. *

After the match Brock Lesnar hits the ring and just punts Cena square in the balls Ro-Sham-Bo style before giving him the F5 for the second week in a row as we head off the air.

Bottom Line: Meh, outside of the opening and closing of the show this was utterly forgettable and dull for the most part with an incredibly bad trio of "guest hosts" to boot. Everything with Lesnar and Cena was money and worth checking out, but feel free to skip just about everything else, and unfortunately that just doesn't cut it anymore for me to give this show a recommendation, so a minor Thumbs Down for tonight's show despite the great Lesnar/Cena pull-apart brawl.

Score: 4.5/10

WWE RAW 4/16/12

WWE RAW 4/16/12
April 16th, 2012
O2 Arena, London, England
Attendance: Unknown at this time

The London crowds are usually always great and the WWE usually tries to give them a better show than they do in your average American city, so I couldn't help but do a quick review of this show for posterity's sake. Plus it would be nice to watch a wrestling crowd that's actually happy to be at the show after having to do the Lockdown report a few days ago (insert "zing!" here).

Your hosts are Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler

WWE Title No DQ/No Count-Out Match
CM Punk
© vs. Mark Henry
Always good to start off the show with a match, especially a big one. This is their third title match in as many weeks, but their last match only lasted about a minute before Punk got DQed, hence the No DQ/No Count-Out stip here. Punk starts off with his usual strategy, firing off quick kicks at Henry in an attempt to take the big man down, but Henry gives him a huge spinebuster that sends him out to the floor. Henry follows him out and Punk scurries back into the ring to launch himself back out and hit Henry with a big tope. Henry grabs a hold of Punk and chokes him against the steel ring post, but Punk buys himself some time with a couple of boots before taking a page out of Jeff Hardy's book by leaping onto the guard barrier and tip-toeing his way across it before jumping off and planting Henry's face onto the floor with a floatover bulldog! Look at Punk pulling out new tricks. Punk tries to leap onto Henry from the ring apron, but Mark catches him and just slams him right into the guard barrier as we take our first commercial break. When we return Henry is working an awkward chinlock on Punk before wiping him out with a clothesline. Punk grabs a steel chair from ringside and jabs it into Henry's stomach before waffling him in the chest with it for a two count. Now Henry takes the chair from Punk and gets his turn to slam Punk with it. He sets the chair up in the corner but Punk fights off being thrown into it with big chops before Henry takes his head off with another clothesline. Punk regains his composure and fires off a chop-block and a DDT on the big man before attempting a high cross-body off the top rope, only for Henry to catch him in mid-air. Punk wriggles out of his grip though and gives him a superkick. He hits a Muay Thai knee in the corner but Henry just flings him across the ring when he tries for the follow-up bulldog. Henry chases after Punk only to be sent face-first into the forgotten about chair still set up in the corner! Punk goes to the top and hits the big Macho Man elbow from up high with the steel chair in hand, and that's enough to put away the monster at 10:09 (shown). Another great little match between these two with a distinct Sting/Vader-like dynamic, and making it a No DQ match should put an end to this mini-feud for now as I can't see an argument for another rematch for Henry. Great match to open the show. ***1/4

After the match CM Punk is celebrating in the ring when he's interrupted by Chris Jericho on the Titan Tron. He's live from a local pub and he announces that he's been granted a WWE title rematch against Punk at Extreme Rules in a Chicago Street Fight. Punk is pleased by the news though, because now he gets to destroy Jericho in front of his hometown friends and family. Jericho demands Punk come to the match sober though, as he shows footage of CM Punk entering the same pub earlier in the day. Punk claims he was just getting some fish and chips though, and shit man, I don't blame him, that's where you get the good stuff. Jericho doesn't buy it though, and he promises to take his title from him in a few weeks. Punk doesn't even get a chance to respond as the pre-taped promo is cut off as they hype a Brock Lesnar interview for later in tonight's show.

Backstage R-Truth does some hokey Sherlock Holmes shtick with Teddy Long.

US Title Match
Santino Marella
© vs. David Otunga
Santino does a whole soccer (yeah, I said it) jersey routine on his way out to suck up to the local fans. Oh how the US title has fallen. Both men lock up and Otunga fires off a bodyslam for a two count and then follows it up with a pair of elbow drops. Santino tries his usual split spot but Otunga just kicks him in the face. Santino hits a hip-toss and the diving headbutt and then pulls out The Cobra to finish Otunga off at 2:01. I don't mind Santino, really, but get him the hell away from the US title. I mean I know that title is dead just like all midcard titles but surely they can find someone more deserving? 1/4*

Backstage Josh Matthews attempts to interview Lord Tensai when his sidekick Sakamoto (KAZMA from the Kaentai Dojo for your indie puro lovers) cuts him off and starts ranting in Japanese. Tensai says that Josh should fear him.

Next up we get a very well put together video segment on Brock Lesnar, which mentions his accolades in NCAA and the UFC and manages to really put over Lesnar's outsider heel character that's basically just a version of his real self. Brock was never one for cutting promos, so these UFC like pretaped segments and interviews are the way to go I think.

Up next Zack Ryder and Kane come out to have a match, but before it can even start Kane jumps Ryder with a big boot outside the ring and then beats him down in the ring, giving him a chokeslam. Yeah let's just completely bury Ryder if we haven't already, can't have people going out and getting over on their own accord, that would be silly. Whatever potential they had with Ryder when his show took off and his heat started up, they've just about killed most of it all off now through sheer brute force of making him look like shit week after week after week. I'm not saying the guy needs to be main eventing, but for god's sake, throw him a bone in the midcard or something, he's earned it. Having Kane make Ryder his bitch week after week does nothing to help Kane's character and it only hinders Zack's.

Backstage Kofi Kingston tries to work that famous Gayan charm on AJ but Daniel Bryan interrupts to tell him off and he decides that he's going to rename his finisher, the LeBell Lock (named after Gene LeBell), to the YES! Lock. That's awesome.

John Cena makes his way out to the ring next for a promo. I've said it before but Cena just looks better in green, it's a Bostonian's favorite color. Cena gripes about the new GM Johnny Ace's treatment of himself and his attempt to replace him (meanwhile the crowd is still yapping out "YES!" like those mindless seagulls in Finding Nemo). Cena says that Lesnar stands simply for destruction and then goes into the hard sell for the PPV match in two weeks. He's promptly interrupted by Johnny Ace, who books him into an Extreme Rules match later tonight to prepare him for his match-up at the PPV. He adds that on next week's RAW they'll do the contract signing for the Lesnar/Cena match, but won't reveal who Cena will face until later tonight.

Backstage R-Truth, posing as Sherlock Holmes, stands around looking goofy while Hornswoggle tries to warn him that something's wrong with a book case. Well, okay then.

Daniel Bryan vs. Kofi Kingston
Crowd is red-hot for Bryan here still, and he starts off with a nice back suplex takeover on Kofi before nailing a running dropkick in the corner. Bryan goes to work on Kofi's arm now before kneeing him straight in the gut. He returns to the hammerlock but Kofi breaks it up with a leg lariat before getting sent out to the floor. Bryan misses the running kick from the apron, and Kofi capitalizes by hitting a huge spinning cross body off the top rope to Bryan on the floor. We take a commercial break after that spot and when we return Kofi is giving Bryan a big monkey flip. Bryan lures him into the corner and then just kicks the second rope into Kofi's throat before unloading with a series of high kicks on him in the corner. We cut to AJ looking on from backstage as Bryan works a chinlock on Kofi. Kofi breaks it up and hits a series of dropkicks and forearms before hitting the Boom Drop on Daniel. He tries for the Trouble in Paradise and Bryan counters by attempting the YES! Lock, but Kofi counters that into the S.O.S. for a two count. Bryan meets Kofi at the top rope with a big forearm smash and then tries for the superplex, but Kofi headbutts him off the top and misses a frog splash. Bryan grabs a hold of him and applies the YES! Lock and Kofi has no choice but to tap out at 6:37 (shown). After the match Bryan continues to apply the YES! Lock when Sheamus comes out to make the save. Really good little match to put Bryan over in front of a crowd that was hot for him, these two busted tail for the time they got, my only complaint is that I just wish we had gotten to see a little bit more of the match instead of that commercial break. **3/4

"The Funkasaurus" Brodus Clay vs. Dolph Ziggler
I've loved Ziggler since his debut but if this is all the WWE has for him when he nearly f'n kills himself every time he's out there taking crazy bumps, I feel bad for him. Someone give this kid his damn push already. Ziggler hits a dropkick on Clay at the bell but it has no affect and Clay launches him with a pumphandle slam. Jack Swagger hops in the ring to interfere and Ziggler get's DQed at all of 0:21 seconds. I appreciate that they're trying to do something with Clay besides have him squash jobbers, but Ziggler deserves better. DUD

Backstage Eve Torres wants to have a meeting with Big Johnny and David Otunga. And we go straight from awkward sexual tension to a heartfelt video package and tribute to the recently deceased Chief Jay Strongbow.

Elsewhere R-Truth claims to have found Teddy Long a job---it's his old one, GM of Smackdown. Oh, my sides, they're in stitches from this brilliantly written sketch comedy gold.

Big Show/The Great Khali vs. Epico/Primo
Oh I'm sure this will end well. Apparently Epico and Primo complained about not being on TV recently on Twitter, thus this match. Abraham Washington comes out during the match to scout the talent on the ramp, and if this actually leads to a return of managers in the WWE I'll be pretty shocked. Khali dominates Epico and both men try to escape with their tag titles (yeah, these guys are the tag team champions in case you forgot; don't worry, we all did) but the giants haul them back into the ring and hand out stereo chokeslams for the win at 1:56. I love pointless segments where they squash the tag team champions for no reason whatsoever, brings back all kinds of great WCW Thunder memories. Atrocious. DUD

Extreme Rules Match
John Cena vs. Lord Tensai

And Cena's mystery opponent is...Lord Tensai (AKA Albert/A-Train/Giant Bernard). Not a bad choice actually from a booking perspective. Tensai takes it to Cena early with big right hands. He tries for a suplex but Cena blocks and counters with one of his own. Tensai headbutts him and then boots him into the corner. Cena gets sent to the floor by a running clothesline in the corner and Tensai chases him out of the ring to follow up with kicks. Tensai launches Cena shoulder-first into the steel steps and then sets up for a powerbomb possibly, but Cena counters with the backdrop. Cena grabs the steel steps and drives them into Tensai's shoulder and skull now and then tosses the big man back into the ring. Sakamoto gets some cheap shots in at ringside on Cena and then David Otunga rolls him back into the ring for Tensai to give him a huge double underhook suplex for a two count. Tensai works a nerve hold briefly and Cena tires to counter into the Attitude Adjustment, but he doesn't have the strength for it. Tensai misses a running shoulder in the corner and Cena is able to take him down with a big running shoulder-block. He tries for the Five Knuckle Shuffle but Tensai counters with a big chop and a back senton. Tensai works a Fujiwara armbar on Cena but John rolls through and counters into the crossface, but Otunga comes into the ring to break it up so Cena gives him the AA. Tensai spits the GREEN MIST into Cena's eyes when he turns around and delivers the sitout powerbomb to pick up the upset win at 7:00. Not a very "extreme" match considering the stipulations, but this was a nice little brawl that puts over Tensai huge with the pin on Cena. It'll be interesting to see where they try to take the Tensai character from here after his lukewarm initial reception and now with his having scored a pin over one of the top dogs. **1/2

Bottom Line: Really good show this week as we got three different matches that got decent time and all of them ranged from solid to pretty damn good, one of the better RAW's in awhile from a wrestling standpoint. Cena cut a solid promo to help put over the match with Lesnar and then jobbed relatively cleanly to a new talent, so props to him and the booking committee tonight as well. There were still some segments that were utterly pointless drivel but you have to learn to accept a little bit of crap to go along with a few excellent matches and segments sometimes. Easy Thumbs Up here.

Score: 8/10

Friday, April 20, 2012

WWE Friday Night SmackDown! 4/20/12

WWE Friday Night SmackDown!
April 20th, 2012
O2 Arena, London, England
Attendance: Unknown at this time

Welcome back everyone to another edition of 411mania's Friday Night SmackDown coverage by yours truly. Tonight we've got a bit of a special show (and not just because it's 4/20 you stoners) as we're emanating from the O2 Arena in London, England which usually means the WWE tries to step up their game a little bit for their British fans. We'll see if that trend continues tonight, let's hop right into things.

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

We open the show with the announcement of a six man tag pitting Sheamus, Randy Orton, and the Great Khali against Daniel Bryan, Cody Rhodes, and Mark Henry for our main event tonight before Daniel Bryan's theme music hits and the WWE production crew go into overdrive mode trying to hush the obvious cheers and legions of people with "Yes!" signs.

Bryan grabs the microphone and recounts his 18 second title loss at Wrestlemania once again before cutting a promo on Sheamus and his match against him at Extreme Rules. Bryan notes that if Sheamus even touches a referee he'll be fired in that match, then he reminisces about winning the Money in the Bank briefcase in Chicago, the site of the Extreme Rules PPV this year. Bryan calls Sheamus a coward and then promises to out-wrestle Sheamus in the 2/3 Falls match before leading the crowd into another big "Yes!" chant. AJ comes storming down the rampway with a mic to interrupt though, getting into the ring despite Bryan telling her to take off. AJ wants to try and work things out again but Bryan wants nothing to do with that. She wants to wish him good luck in his match against Sheamus, but Bryan wishes that he had never even met AJ or said yes when she asked him out. He goes so far as to say he wishes she was never even born before cracking up into this evil diabolical smile that reminds me of the Simpsons episode "New Kid on the Block". Bryan tells her he'll never take her back and then storms off to big heat. Bryan's promos are just getting better and better every time he has a camera on him.

Natalya (8-14) vs. AJ (5-9)
When we return from the break we're led right into our opening match here. AJ is still totally distraught and Natalya actually attempts to console her but gets a bitch slap in the face for her troubles. AJ has a huge freak out and won't stop punching Natalya in the corner and pulling her hair, which is apparently enough for the ref to DQ her at 0:48 seconds. More of an angle than a match, but it was a perfectly executed angle and really got over the distressed state AJ is in now that she's realizing Bryan really wants nothing to do with her. Smart character development. 1/2*

We get another Damien Sandow vignette where he quotes Benjamin Franklin and talks down to us simpletons and cretins in the most smarmy of tones. With his in-ring skills and an interesting character like this, Sandow might actually make a splash as a heel.

Brodus Clay (3-4) vs. Hunico (7-3)
Hornswoggle comes out with Clay to join in on the big pre-match dance routine, complete with matching red Adidas tracksuit. Hunico shoves Hornswoggle after the bell rings so Clay lays him out with a huge back body drop. He hits the pumphandle t-bone suplex and then follows up with the big splash to pick up the easy win at 1:12. Just a squash match to get Brodus out in front of the London crowd and gauge their reaction to him, but I'm not sure Hunico needed to be the one to do the job unless they're already out of plans for him. Eventually they're going to have to do something with Brodus though. 1/4*

Backstage the eternal NXTers Titus O'Neill and Darren Young catch up to Teddy Long to ream him out for being Johnny Ace's lackey and get a bit of revenge for Teddy passing over signing them in the past. Johnny walks in and says he can't believe Teddy didn't sign them, as O'Neill and Young say the fans want new young talent now. Yeah, we do...just not you two. Johnny puts one of the Queen's guards hats on Teddy's head and apparently he's under a magic vow of silence now.

Elsewhere backstage Matt Striker is with Randy Orton and wants to know the condition of Randy's father after Kane's attack on him. Randy says he's okay but Kane won't be after their Falls Count Anywhere match at Extreme Rules. Basic quickie promo.

Titus O'Neill/Darren Young vs. Jimmy Uso/Jey Uso
Not much heat for O'Neill and Young outside of the "we don't like to watch you perform, please go away" boos. Darren starts off with Jimmy, who lays him out with a corkscrew elbow and then tags his brother Jey in. Jey lays in chops then tags back out to Jimmy for a double team elbow drop. Young gets a boot in finally and is able to tag out to O'Neill, who dominates the smaller Uso's with a big leg drop before letting Young back in to hit a DDT for a near fall. Jimmy tags back in and is all fired up, hitting a Samoan drop on Young and following it with the Samoan ass slam of doom int he corner. Jey gets tossed by Titus, which leaves Jimmy all alone and the heels take advantage and hit him with the old Hart Attack double team move for the win at 3:35. Nice introduction for these two, except for the fact that both guys have shown absolutely nothing in their years in NXT, but hey, maybe they'll kick it up a notch now that they're on one of the big shows. I love the use of the Hart Attack though. **

The RAW Rebound recounts the latest updates in the CM Punk/Chris Jericho rivalry, which continues to heat up. Great video package work here actually.

Alberto Del Rio (11-8) vs. Big Show (21-6)

This is a non-title match apparently, though I have no clue why other than to protect Show.  Del Rio tries to take his kicks to Show at the bell, but the giant just mauls him like a child and slaps him with a big open palm chop. Elbow drop from Show gets him a two count and then Del Rio cuts him off with a big chop block, taking Show down to the mat and laying in some kicks and punches. Del Rio tries working a headlock for a bit and then takes the giant down with an armbreaker. Show counters the cross-armbreaker attempt though and slams Del Rio down to the mat in a feat of strength reminiscent of some of the antics of one Bob Backlund in his old MSG title defenses. Show hits him with a forearm and then takes Del Rio down with the spear. He goes for the chokeslam, but Ricardo Rodriguez distracts the ref long enough for Cody Rhodes to run down to the ring and give Show the Beautiful Disaster kick, which is enough to get Del Rio the cheap win at 5:17. Decently worked match considering the size differential between both men, Del Rio picks up a cheap win, Cody gets some revenge on Show, and everyone hates the heels. Perfectly booked match and segment. **

Danny Lerman, a local wrestler from Leicester, England, is introduced by Lillian Garcia next and he dedicates his following match to his mother while Drew McIntyre and Heath Slater watch on and laugh from backstage as Ryback is introduced. Not sure what kind of angle they're building to here, but it looks bad.

Ryback (2-0) vs. Danny Lerman (0-0)

Josh Matthews tries to compare Ryback to Mike Tyson and Patrick Willis in the same sentence, giving us all a nice chuckle. Ryback of course totally dominates the smaller Lerman with a big fallaway slam followed by a clothesline and a big Fisherman's Buster for the win at 1:13. Squash city. 1/4*

Up next they re-air the interview segment they did with Brock Lesnar that aired on RAW this past Monday. Very well put together package to show you how dominant of an athlete Brock has been, these UFC-like interviews work much better for Lesnar as he was never much of a promo guy, and this package did a great job of making it seem like Lesnar is the biggest thing to hit the WWE since...well, since he left.

Backstage the dead-eyed gaze of Teddy Long is greeted by one William Regal, who's in a chipper mood and gets a nice pop. Aksana walks in with Antonio Cesaro (AKA Claudio Castagnoli) on her arm and introduces him to Teddy as a rugby player trying to make it as a wrestler on Smackdown. She blows Teddy off to go into Johnny Ace's office with Antonio while Teddy just sits there during all of this looking like a zombie. I'm ecstatic that Claudio just made his TV debut to be honest, and the potential match-ups he could have with some of the WWE's better mid-carders have me drooling already.

We've got the big six man tag team main event up next and my lovely DVR tells me we've got 20 minutes remaining in this show, so watch out because this one might actually get some decent time. Before the match even starts Cody takes out Khali's leg from under him and apparently injures Khali to the point where has to be carried out. Never fear though, because here comes the Big Show to replace him.

Randy Orton/Sheamus/Big Show vs. Daniel Bryan/Cody Rhodes/Mark Henry
We return from the commercial break with this match already joined-in-progress. Randy is working over Daniel Bryan's wrist when he tags Sheamus in, sending Bryan off to make the tag to Cody Rhodes instead. Sheamus gives Rhodes the big Finlay roll for a two count. Sheamus counters a swinging neckbreaker attempt and winds up shooting Cody into the ropes for the big forearm smashes. Cody dropkicks him out of the ring though and then hits him with a baseball slide. Bryan follows up with a running dropkick on Sheamus on the floor behind the ref's back as well before Bryan officially tags in and tosses Sheamus into the ring, weakened. Bryan stomps away at Sheamus in the corner and then tags Mark Henry in. Henry works Sheamus over in the corner a bit before tagging Cody back in, who hops on Sheamus' back with a chinlock. Sheamus is our babyface in peril as he fights off the Disaster Kick from Rhodes with a big forearm and gets the hot tag to Randy Orton. Orton cleans house on former Legacy stablemate Rhodes and then gives him the delayed second rope DDT. Bryan hops in the ring and Orton gives him a big powerslam, but Henry hops into the ring and clobbers Orton behind the ref's back to give the heel's the advantage again as we take our last commercial break. When we return Henry has tagged Bryan back in to pick apart Orton. He hits a beautiful running dropkick on Orton in the corner and follows up with a scoop slam. He tries to top it off with the diving headbutt from the top rope, but Orton moves to avoid the move and is able to tag out to Big Show while Bryan tags out to Henry. The two giants square off with Show taking advantage until Rhodes kicks Show in the back, allowing Henry to clobber him and tag back out to Cody. Rhodes pinpoints the giant's knee and applies the figure four leglock, leaving Show to wriggle and writhe in pain on the mat. Henry tags in and then hits a big splash on Show while he's still in the figure four, but that won't put him away, so they tag Bryan in for an implant DDT but that won't do it either. Show gets the hot tag to Sheamus and the World champion goes to town on Daniel Bryan with huge forearms and a tilt-a-whirl powerslam, gaining a measure of revenge for his earlier beatdown. Show knocks out Cody outside the ring with the WMD fist while Sheamus fights off the YES! Lock attempt from Bryan in the ring. Henry tags back in, but Sheamus nails him with the Brogue Kick and then tags in Randy Orton. Show gives Henry the WMD punch while he's reeling in the ropes and then Orton finishes him off with the RKO for the triumvirate of finishers and the win at 13:13 (shown). Really hot six man tag here that delivered in a big way to send the London crowd home happy, there was so much going on in this match that it's hard to really properly regale it. The heels used perfect psychology and tactics as you'd expect while the babyfaces all took their beatings like men and showed great fire on the comebacks. There was just so much strategy and psychology going on in this one, along with the hot crowd and solid action it made for a great main event. ***1/4

We go off the air with the faces all celebrating in the ring. That does it for tonight folks, have a safe and happy 4/20 everyone.

Bottom Line: Solid show this week to make up for the disaster that was the live Tuesday "Old School" special last week, the London shows always make for good fun because the crowds are always so hot and the WWE generally tries to give the fans a few solid matches in an overall attempt to step their game up. Excellent main event chock full of more psychology and strategy then you could shake a stick at, throw in the great Bryan/AJ promo and everything in-between and this was a pretty easy Thumbs Up even if the first hour was pretty darn light on the action.

Score: 7.5/10

Sunday, April 15, 2012

TNA Lockdown 2012

TNA Lockdown 2012
April 15th, 2012
Nashville Municipal Auditorium, Nashville, Tennessee
Attendance: Unknown at this time

Welcome back everyone to another edition of 411's live TNA PPV coverage. Tonight we've got one of TNA's biggest annual shows, Lockdown, with the big World title grudge match between Robert Roode and James Storm inside of a steel cage (as is every other match tonight). We've also got the annual Lethal Lockdown match, as well as Jeff Hardy vs. Kurt Angle and a few other matches to round out the card, so let's kick things off.

Your hosts are Mike Tenay and Taz

We open up the show with some pre-taped footage of James Storm explaining how personal his match with Bobby Roode is tonight before taking off for the show earlier today. The hype package is totally Roode-Storm focused as well and is quite well done. Backstage Garrett Bischoff tries to convince his teammates to let him start off the Lethal Lockdown match tonight so he can earn their respect, and they agree.

Lethal Lockdown Match
Team Garrett Bischoff (Garrett Bischoff/AJ Styles/Austin Aries/Mr. Anderson/Rob Van Dam/) vs. Team Eric Bischoff (Eric Bischoff/Gunner/Bully Ray/Christopher Daniels/Kazarian)

Bit of an odd choice for an opener, but I'm down. Garrett starts us off with "Mr. Intensity" Gunner (that nickname has to be a rib, right?). Gunner tries for a powerslam to start but Garrett counters with a nice superkick. Garrett hits a dropkick from the second rope, but Gunner lariats him moments later. Gunner dominates Garrett until the countdown starts and Bully Ray is our next man out for Team Eric. Just as you'd expect the heels do an extended beatdown on Garrett until the next countdown, as the crowd begins chanting for Austin Aries and sure enough he's our next man out. Aries is red hot to start, cleaning house on the heels with elbows before Ray catches him with a big boot. Aries counters with a nice missile dropkick on Ray as the buzzer counts down again and Kazarian is our next man out, sporting a freshly shaven head that renders him nearly unrecognizable. Kazarian shoots Garrett into a top-rope clothesline from Gunner in a neat double team maneuver as the heels have regained the advantage again with the numbers in their favor. Next out is AJ Styles to a big pop, and he slams the cage door in Kaz's face on his way into the cage, where he nails Gunner with a pele kick. He nails Ray with a dropkick and then lays in some stiff chops to Gunner in the corner while Austin Aries hits a huge elbow on Bully Ray. Christopher Daniels is next out to return the advantage to the heels. Garrett gets launched into the cage like a freaking lawn dart by Bully Ray and man, he just got shot into that cage like a damn bullet, that' was ugly. Ray takes turns handing out big double axe handles from the top rope on AJ and Aries. Anderson is our next man out.Kaz and Daniels double team their former friend Styles as our next man out is Eric Bischoff. In a wrestling match. In the year 2012. Eric goes right for his son, holding him up while all of the heels get their own cheap shots in on him, including a sick bicycle kick from Kaz. Finally our last entrant, Rob Van Dam, makes his way to the ring and takes out Daniels immediately with a lariat as the weapons begin to be lowered from the ceiling and now pins and submissions officially count. Everyone starts grabbing plunder from the ceiling, mostly garbage cans and hockey/kendo sticks and everyone starts nailing each other with weapons shots while Eric cowers in a corner hiding. AJ and Aries spot him and lay him out while Anderson snaps off a neckbreaker to Daniels. Anderson gives Ray the Green Bay Plunge while Kazarian fires off a huge kick on Styles in the corner. AJ and Kaz both start climbing the top of the cage like monkey bars, and AJ drops Kaz off drop the middle of the cage before dropping off himself with a sick elbow drop. As if that wasn't enough, RVD follows up with the Five Star Frog Splash on Kaz. Everyone starts trading big moves from here with RVD kicking a chair into Ray's face while Daniels delivers the Angel's Wings to RVD. Garrett manages to cover Daniels but his father breaks the pin up with some singapore cane shots. Eric keeps nailing his son with the cane, but he starts celebrating prematurely and his son manages to grab a guitar from the ceiling and break the thing over Eric's head, which is enough to get him the pin and give his team the win at 26:10. This was a strange Lethal Lockdown match, because honestly, the gimmick never really came much into play outside of a few weapons shots. Usually you expect a big spot to cap off one of these matches and really put over the brutality, but we didn't get that here, though that may be because they're saving those spots for later tonight. The match itself was technically pretty good, and well worked during the countdown process but this really didn't capture the brutality and intensity you'd expect from the Lethal Lockdown match. ***

TNA Tag Team Title Match
Samoa Joe/Magnus
© vs. Motor City Machine Guns (Alex Shelley/Chris Sabin)
From this point on all matches can end by escaping the cage as well as pin or submission. It's great to see the Guns finally back and 100% healthy, now hopefully they can get the singles pushes they deserve. Magnus and Shelley start us off with some nice rope-running sequences, trading waist-locks before Magnus nails a lariat. Joe and Sabin tag in and Sabin nails him with a big dropkick before tagging back out to Shelley. Joe tags Magnus back in and the Guns send Magnus back and forth with punches like a pinball. Shelley tries for the poetry in motion, but Magnus counters by catching Sabin and then giving him a huge fallaway slam right into Shelley. Joe tags back in and the heels are able to begin isolating Chris Sabin, cutting the ring in half and trading quick tags to one another while working Sabin over. Sabin manages to get a big tornado DDT on Joe while booting Magnus and he gets the hot tag to Shelley. Magnus blocks the Sliced Bread attempt from Shelley but he gets caught in the corner while Joe eats a superkick. He tries for the Sliced Bread again but Magnus blocks it and the heels try for a double suplex off the top rope, but Sabin power bombs Joe from the top rope instead! Shelley blasts Magnus face first into the cage, sending him flying off the cage and he follows up with a double-stomp from the top rope, but Joe manages to break up the pin attempt. The Guns hit a double suplex on Magnus for a two count. Joe grabs Sabin and puts him into the Coquina Clutch while Shelley hits Magnus with the Sliced Bread, but Joe breaks the pin attempt up, abandoning his submission attempt in the process. Magnus blocks another Sliced Bread attempt and hits a sick Michinoku Driver on Shelley. Joe is able to grab Sabin and give him the snapmare and Magnus hits the top rope elbow drop as the heels are able to retain off their signature double team move much to the crowd's displeasure at 11:20. This was an outstanding tag team match from an in-ring perspective but my god this crowd just sat on their hands the entire match and there was just zero heat whatsoever to anything going on, which is a damn shame because all four of these guys busted their asses and I saw more out of Magnus and Joe in particular tonight than I have in months. It's just a shame the crowd didn't give a shit, because this was awesome. ***1/4

Backstage Jeremy Borash catches up with Robbie E and Robbie T so they can get some fist-pumping and other generic Jersey Shore references in.

TNA TV Title Match
© vs. Robbie E.
God bless Bully Ray for reinventing himself as a singles competitor, but I'm sorry, it's not going to work with Devon, especially not as TV champion. The ref has to tell Robbie T to leave the cage, allowing Robbie E to jump Devon from behind before the bell. Robbie E, former X-Division champion mind you, goes right for chinlock city as usual. When that doesn't work he tries to climb to the top rope, but Devon crotches him. Devon sends him into the corner and then plants him on the mat with a spinebuster, which is apparently enough to put Robbie away at 3:25. After the match the heels beat down Devon to try and get their heat back, but it's not like anyone has ever actually cared about Robbie. This basically just served to give Devon a clean title defense on PPV as if that proves he justifies his push. *

Backstage JB is with Matt Morgan, who informs us that tonight the ring is his prison and Crimson is going to be his red-headed bitch. When did they start hosting events in Oz?

TNA Knockouts Title Match
Gail Kim
© vs. Velvet Sky
Taz takes a cheap-shot at Jerry Lawler before the match by dissing anyone who would wear a crown. Kim jumps Velvet at the bell but she manages to get a sunset flip for a quick two count. Gail tries choking Velvet in the corner but she fights back with chops and a pair of knees to the face. Gail tries to climb the cage but Velvet yanks her back down. Gail starts working over Velvet's back on her knee and then she decides to switch it up into a dragon sleeper. Kim starts to become overconfident here, taunting Sky while she beats her down. She misses a spear into the corner and both ladies trade forearm smashes back on their feet. Sky hits a clothesline and a pair of elbows followed by a headscissors and a snapmare. Velvet dropkicks Gail and then hits a nice running bulldog. Gail tries to climb the cage again but Velvet meets her at the top and then delivers a sick sunset flip powerbomb off the top rope to Kim! Gail manages to grab the rope at the count of two, but that was a very nice bump from both ladies. Rayne and Sky start bickering while Gail tries to escape out the door, but instead Velvet rolls her up. Kim counters into a roll up of her own though and manages to get the pin to retain her title at 7:30. I think I can safely say this was the best singles match of Velvet Sky's career thus far, she really showed marked improvement here compared to where she was even a year ago in the ring, and Kim is always game for a solid match. The sunset powerbomb was a great spot but the ending was a bit deflating and again the heat just wasn't there, but this was good. **3/4

Ric Flair's music hits next as we're graced by the presence of the Nature Boy himself, fresh off of his Wrestlemania Hall of Fame appearance for the WWE. Ric gets right in the ring with a mic and starts poking fun at some fans in the front row, reminding us all just who he is. Ric says he could be anywhere tonight, but he's in Nashville, because he's pissed off, and he's pissed off at Hulk Hogan. He notes how Eric Bischoff's career is over now because his team lost the Lethal Lockdown match and insults another fan when he's interrupted by the newly appointed GM of TNA, the Immortal one himself, Hulk Hogan. Hogan grabs a mic and says that Flair is the single greatest wrestler to ever live, which is a pretty surreal thing to hear considering their storied past relationship on and off camera. Hogan tells Flair to go ahead and air his grievances, so Flair tells him that he hasn't liked him for 30 years, he doesn't like how he treated Bischoff, and he doesn't like how he's running the company. Flair says he should have been in the Lockdown match tonight, not Bischoff, then threatens to kick his ass. Hogan responds by saying if they hooked up the roof would blow up. Hogan nails Flair with a big right hand and then takes off, leaving Flair to do his usual psychotic, tie-tearing, shirt-ripping temper tantrum. Oh dear lord in Heaven, PLEASE tell me they aren't building to a Hogan/Flair match. In the eternal words of Jud Crandall, "sometimes dead is better". Move on.

Crimson vs. Matt Morgan
I've been trying my best to keep up with TNA but I still can't quite tell whether Crimson is supposed to be fully heel or not. These two tagged together and then split up, which is basically the exact same angle that Morgan did last year with Hernandez. Morgan dominates to start with a big knee on Crimson and calls for an early chokeslam, but Crimson blocks it and hits a chop-block on his knee. Crimson chokes Morgan over the second rope for a bit Morgan tries to mount a comeback but Crimson plants him with a big spinebuster. Morgan manages to fire off a lariat but collapses immediately afterwards. Back on his feet he hits Crimson with a boot and then slams him into the corner turnbuckle before folding him in half with a big back suplex. Both men try climbing the cage, where Crimson knocks Morgan off and Morgan get's his leg caught in the ropes on his way down, trapping him like a wild animal. Crimson opts to just climb out over the top and escapes to the floor for the win at 7:59. A bit slow to start but this one picked up some steam as it went on and amounted to a decent enough power vs. power contest. Some nice moments but overall average stuff. **1/4

Jeff Hardy vs. Kurt Angle

Jeff Hardy comes out looking like Dr. Doom with his hood up and some metallic facepaint. Angle usually makes it a habit to try and commit suicide via crazy bumps every year at Lockdown but that's sort of Jeff's gig too, so I'm expecting this one to be brutal. Hardy takes the quick advantage at the bell with a dropkick and legdrop to Angle's groin, but Angle responds in true heel fashion by raking his eyes. Angle did injure his knee a few weeks back though, so maybe he won't go insane with the spots tonight. Hardy hits the big dropkick on Angle in the corner, but Angle counters by sending him face first into the steel cage. Angle grinds Hardy's face against the cage like a cheese grater and Jeff has been busted open. Angle continues the punishment, slamming Hardy face first into the cage yet again. Hardy is able to catch his breath finally and manages to counter a rope running sequence into the Whisper in the Wind for a two count. Hardy headscissors Angle face-first into the cage and then hits him with the Twist of Fate. Hardy tries to scale the cage but Angle runs up to catch him and delivers the Angle Slam from the top rope to Hardy! Somehow Jeff is able to kick out of that though. Again Hardy tries to climb the cage but Angle grabs his foot so Jeff knocks him back to the mat and hits a Vader Bomb splash out of the corner for another near fall. Hardy tries to escape but Angle grabs him in the ankle lock, only for Hardy to counter into an ankle lock of his own. Angle breaks it up but Hardy nails him with the Twist of Fate again. He hits the Swanton Bomb from the top rope in one corner then hits another Swanton from the opposite corner, but still Angle kicks out! Angle hits the Angle Slam, but of course Hardy kicks out of that too so he takes the straps down. He tries for another slam, but instead Hardy hits him his own Angle Slam and then takes off his shirt and begins to scale the cage. Swanton Bomb from the top of the cage on Angle! And you bet your ass that's enough to give Jeff the pin at 14:52. Just as good as last month's match, but distinctly different as this was more of a battle of attrition than a pure wrestling contest like the month prior. Not as good as some of Angle's Lockdown matches in year's past, but still great stuff and the final spot from Hardy was typically nasty. ***3/4

TNA Knockout Tag Team Title Match
ODB/Eric Young
© vs. Sarita/Rosita
Well hey, as good a choice as any for a filler match before the main event. Total comedy stuff here as you'd expect, and really, there's nothing wrong with that for this spot in the card. The heels do a bit of dancing while working over ODB in their corner. Sarita and Rosita start showing off their goods to Eric in the corner to tell him what he's missing out on, but that's ODB's man don't ya know so she just takes a shot of whiskey and cleans house on the heels before finishing off Rosita with a Death Valley Driver at 4:17. Just some quick comedy stuff to give everyone a chance to catch their breath before the main event. 1/2*

Backstage Bobby Roode tells Jeremy Borash that tonight he's going to prove he always has been and always will be better than James Storm. Tonight just isn't a wrestling match to Bobby, it's a FIGHT. Some nice fire from Bobby before the main event.

TNA World Title Match
Robert Roode
© vs. James Storm
For once TNA has done a good job of building up a feud since Bound For Glory, as everything since then has been leading to this match here. Roode takes forever on his entrance so Storm just grabs him and they start brawling outside the ring. Storm slams him face first into the steel steps and then spits some beer into Bobby's eyes. Storm hits an elbow on Roode off the commentary table. Roode tries to mount some kind of offense but gets sent into the steel guardrail instead. Storm grabs a chair but Roode avoids it and slams Storm into the cage. He grabs one of Storm's beers and takes a sip while Storm blades himself off-camera. Finally Roode rolls a bloody Storm into the ring and we get our opening bell after about five minutes of brawling. Roode dominates Storm from here, building up crowd heat for the comeback. Storm fires off some right hands, teasing the comeback, but again Roode takes him down. Roode starts grating Storm's bloody head over the cage and the boos reign down while Bobby trash talks him in the corner. Finally Storm catches his second wind and takes over, manhandling Roode in the corner with big stomps and kicks. He gives Roode a back body drop and then sets up for the Eye of the Storm, but the champ slips out and avoids it. Storm catapults him into the cage instead. Storm hits a lungblower for a two count and starts grating Roode's face into the cage again. Roode counters by locking him into a nasty crossface submission. Eventually Storm breaks that up and both men climb to the top rope. They jockey for position until Roode manages to boost himself up on Storm's body and get halfway over the top of the cage. He nearly climbs over to the other side but Storm grabs him by his hair and pulls him back in and we're back to square one with both men trading shots on the top rope. Storm slams Roode's face into the cage a few times and finally shoves him off. Storm opts to stay in the cage instead of escape, and gets met with a beer bottle to the face from Roode for his decision, but still Storm kicks out. Back on his feet Storm hits the superkick on Roode out of nowhere. Storm sets up for another superkick and hits it, but it sends Roode flying out of the cage door and onto the floor, giving Roode the escape win at 19:01. And the crowd completely deflates as chants of "Bullshit!" ring out. This was exactly what Roode said it would be---a fight, and a bloody and brutal one at that. Everything was building nicely and this reminded me of an old school NWA cage match to end a blood feud, but then you have Roode retain the title belt by another fluke win? Seriously? Are they really going to drag this feud out until Bound for Glory now or something? I mean common sense tells you the good guy goes over here, but when has TNA ever used any of that stuff? Solid match with a puzzling finish, but a bit underwhelming all things considered. ***3/4

After the match Storm spits on Roode before embracing his wife, in disbelief over his luck again.

Bottom Line: Lockdown is usually one of TNA's best shows of the year and this year was no different from a match quality perspective---there were solid matches all up and down this card from the opener to the tag title match, the Hardy/Angle contest, and the main event even down to the Knockout's match, which was far better than I was expecting. But man oh man did this crowd just absolutely suck, I would have figured a Nashville crowd would be hot for this show of all shows but they basically sat on their hands the entire night while crickets chirped on in the background, the only thing that got them out of their seats the entire night was Hardy's Swanton off the cage. Put this show in front of a crowd that doesn't suck and this would have been a much better show, but as it remains it's just simply a solid one. Thumbs Up for TNA Lockdown 2012.

Score: 7.0/10

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

WWE Super SmackDown 4/10/12

WWE Super SmackDown
April 10th, 2012
Hampton Coliseum, Hampton, Virginia
Attendance: Unknown at this time

Welcome back everyone to another special live Tuesday "Super SmackDown" show being covered by yours truly here at Tonight's show is being dubbed a special "Blast From the Past" show with appearances by legends like Sgt. Slaughter, Dusty Rhodes, Roddy Piper, Mick Foley and Hacksaw Jim Duggan among others. Why this is being done, I have no earthly idea, but if it gets us a Piper's Pit then I'm all for it. Make sure to refresh this page after every commercial break for live updates with the usual smarky, quasi-witty analysis thrown in from myself, and maybe check out the YES! YES! YES! Facebook page while you're at it:

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

We open with the clip of Daniel Bryan publicly dumping AJ on last week's show, and sure enough he's going to be our guest in the return of Piper's Pit to Smackdown for the first time in six years tonight. Mean Gene Okerlund is in the ring to do interviews again just like the old days, which is pretty nifty, and he introduces the new World Heavyweight champion, Sheamus. Sheamus says he's glad to be in the ring with a legend like Mean Gene while a minor "Daniel Bryan!" chant starts up and dies pretty quickly. Sheamus apologizes for giving a referee the Brogue Kick last week and losing his cool. Before he can get any further in his apology though, he's interrupted by the regal music of our GM John Laurinaitis. Johnny makes his way down to the ring and shows the clip of Sheamus taking out the ref last week before getting into his face about his actions. He asks Sheamus to publicly apologize to the referee, even though he literally just did, as apparently Ace didn't hear him and makes Sheamus apologize once again. Then he makes him apologize to the rest of the referees as well as the entire world itself. That's not good enough though as Laurinaitis decides to put Sheamus on probation (is it double-secret?) and if he touches a referee again he'll be fired. Oh and he's being fined $500,000 dollars too. He finishes up by telling him that Daniel Bryan and Alberto Del Rio will be taking on Sheamus...and Mean Gene Okerlund?! Seriously?

Backstage Cowboy Bob Orton wishes his son Randy good luck in his match against Mark Henry, which is apparently next.

Randy Orton (28-10-1) vs. Mark Henry (16-10)
This is supposedly a warm up match for Henry in preparation of his third shot at CM Punk's title on RAW next week. Orton goes right after Henry at the bell in the corner but Henry hits him with a big headbutt. Orton takes him into the opposite corner and Henry gives him a huge running powerslam out of it as we take another commercial break. When we return Henry is working an awkward chinlock on Orton as we see a clip of Henry getting sent into the steel steps and kicking out of a pin attempt during the break. Scoop slam followed by a running splash gets Henry a two count. He tries for a second one but Orton slides out of the way and hits him with a pair of clotheslines and a DDT. Henry tries for the World's Strongest Slam and Orton counters it into an attempt at the RKO, but Henry counters that by shoving Orton out of the ring. Henry follows him out of the ring but gets slammed into the steel post for his troubles. And just when the match is starting to get good, Kane's music hits and the Big Red Machine appears on the Titan Tron to tell Randy that he needed to beat Orton at Wrestlemania to once again become whole, and he did just that. Kane tells him they're just starting to have fun however and the camera pans out to reveal Randy's father, Bob, laid out on the floor beneath him. Well I should have seen that coming. Orton takes off to the back and the cameras follow him naturally as he makes his way to his wounded father only to have Kane jump him from behind with a steel pipe. Kane spouts off a cheesy one liner about being a sucker for family reunions just to bring the whole cheesy horror movie vibe full circle here. So no official ending to the match here I guess, it ran about 5:30 (shown) before it turned into an angle. Match was actually not bad while it lasted and was just starting to pick up steam before the abrupt non-finish. **

When we return we see a brief clip of Ted DiBiase and Tony Atlas watching on as jobber "Benny Camer" grabs a mic and says that this is his first match in the WWE, and is then promptly interrupted by his opponent, from Sin City apparently, Ryback.

Ryback (1-0) vs. Benny Camer (0-0)
What's with the no-name jobbers returning lately? Well hey, I guess it does make it a more "old school" show in a sense. Ryback lariats the hell out of Camer at the bell and then follows up with a big running Samoan drop for the quick win at 0:34 seconds. Squash city, as I like to say. No clue why they felt the need to repackage Sheffield as this "Ryback" character. What the hell is a Ryback? 1/4*

Backstage Heath Slater is trying to convince Tyson Kidd to be his tag team partner to face the Uso's tonight. He says he found them a Hall of Fame manager just for tonight, and that's one Jimmy Hart. I never thought I'd be excited to see Jimmy Hart again, but hell, he could be a good manager for a random tag team these days.

The Hardcore Legend himself Mick Foley is out next after the break, and he's apparently here to join the commentary team tonight. Cole gets the requisite insider shot in about Foley hating his time on commentary in the WWE during his last stint and we're off into our next match.

Tyson Kidd/Heath Slater vs. The Uso's (Jimmy Uso/Jey Uso)
Jimmy Hart is at ringside with Kidd and Slater as their manager for tonight as noted before. Not sure why Foley joined us on commentary for this match, but we'll go with it. Kidd and one of the Uso's start us off with a victory roll/roll-up trading sequence before Slater tags himself in and hits Jey? (yeah we'll go with Jey) with a big neckbreaker. Jimmy Uso tags in now and hits Slater with a corkscrew elbow and follows up with the running ass slam for a two count. Both Uso's hop in the ring now and Jimmy launches Slater in mid-air so Jey can give him a big Samoan drop. Jimmy Hart has been going off on Mick Foley at ringside with the loud-speaker during all of this and Foley is fed up now apparently, bringing out Mr. Socko to scare Hart off as the Uso's finish Slater off in the ring with the Superfly Splash at 2:37. After the match Foley gives Hart the mandible claw and then apologizes over his megaphone. Not so much a wrestling match as an excuse to have Mick Foley give Jimmy Hart the mandible claw. I mean, not that that isn't amusing, but was this really all they brought Mick and Jimmy in for tonight? The wrestlers here were totally secondary to the legends. *

Up next we've got Piper's Pit to hopefully save an otherwise "meh" show so far. The Rowdy one himself makes his way out to the ring and looks better than he has in awhile to be honest, though maybe that's just the WWE makeup. Piper starts off by telling the fans that he misses them in a nice moment, and then begins to talk about his guest tonight, Daniel Bryan, noting his 18 second Wrestlemania title loss and subsequent blaming of the loss on his girlfriend. We replay the clip of the break-up again and then Daniel Bryan, sporting the brand new YES! YES! YES! t-shirt (DO WANT), makes his way out. The Yes! Yes! Yes! chants start up immediately. Piper notes that Bryan looks rather happy for a former champion, and Bryan announces that John Laurinaitis has granted him his rightful rematch with Sheamus for the World Heavyweight title at Extreme Rules in a 2/3 Falls match! Well right on, that's a good start to make up for the 18 second title match at 'Mania. Piper would rather talk about AJ though, and he introduces Bryan's ex-girlfriend herself. The always adorable AJ makes her way out to the ring and thanks Roddy for letting her be on Piper's Pit. Piper is shocked that she would say hello to Daniel, and she goes on to say that even though it doesn't seem like it, deep down Daniel really is a good person. Piper doesn't buy it, but AJ seems serious and does in fact say that Daniel's loss was her fault. She says she just wants to make it up to Daniel. Piper tells AJ that she doesn't need to make anything up for Daniel because she's beautiful, intelligent, and strong, but Bryan interrupts him to tell AJ that if she really loves him, she'd leave the ring right now. Piper is awesome as the honorable old guy here, but AJ decides to leave the ring, which pleases Bryan immensely. Bryan goes to leave himself, but Piper tells him they're not finished. He notes Bryan's t-shirt and tells him some "No's" instead of "Yes's", such as not telling a lady to shut up or use her as a shield because it makes you a coward. Piper says he's glad that Bryan and Sheamus are having a 2/3 Falls match, because he'll get to see Sheamus kick his head off twice. Bryan slaps Piper right in the face and then takes off like a good heel as the Rowdy one takes off his jacket, which means serious business gentlemen. Great little segment to keep the heel heat for Bryan coming and I'm glad that they're going the Macho Man/Elizabeth route with him and AJ.

The Great Khali/Alicia Fox/Natalya vs. Drew McIntyre/Nikki Bella/Brie Bella

We return from the break with this mixed tag team match of epically random proportions. Khali starts off dominating Drew of course but he quickly decides he's "better than this" and leaves the ring to take off backstage, abandoning the match. Fox gives one of the Bella's a bridging Northern Lights suplex for the quick win at 0:55 seconds. After the match the Crypt Keeper from Tales From the Crypt---errr, excuse me, Mae Young, makes her way out to give Khali a big kiss. I'm pretty sure they'll be playing replays of this entire match/segment on loop somewhere in Hell. DUD

Next we get a pre-taped Damien Sandow promo telling us about the definition of the word "sophistication". He rambles on about the shallowness of the social media generation, then promises to be their beacon of light. Well hey, atleast he's got a somewhat unique gimmick and Sandow is actually a pretty fine worker so he could wind up becoming a contributing member of the roster.

And now we get the RAW Rebound highlighting the pull-apart brawl between Brock Lesnar and John Cena as well as Lesnar giving Cena another F5. Is this really the best use of time on a live show less than 24 hours later? Afterwards we cut backstage to Mean Gene Okerlund and Sheamus backstage. Gene thinks Sheamus has a trick up his sleeve because he's all smiles, but no, Sheamus is just not going to let Laurinaitis see him sweat, and if they win their match tonight the first pint's on Sheamus.

Hunico (6-3) vs. Hacksaw Jim Duggan (0-1)
This looks like a WCW Saturday Night match from fifteen years ago. How sad is it that this isn't even the first time Duggan's been on Smackdown in a few months, as he lost a random tag match with Santino not long ago. Hunico tells us it's his time in the WWE, but he gets sent to the floor by Duggan at the bell. Duggan wants back-up to combat with Hunico's sidekick Comacho at ringside, so he calls out Sgt. Slaughter to help him. Sarge tosses him the 2 x 4 and Duggan nails Hunico with it to get himself DQed at 1:01. Duggan slams Comacho with the 2 x 4 while the Sarge puts Hunico in the Cobra Clutch. Not that I'm pretending anyone cares about Hunico but what in the blue hell was the point of this? No, seriously, what the fuck did I just watch? DUD

Cody Rhodes makes his way out next to say that tonight has been a waste of our collective time, and I'm not sure I disagree with him. Rhodes says we should look to the future instead, a future where Rhodes is the Intercontinental champion once again but he's quickly interrupted by his own father, the American Dream Dusty Rhodes. Cody tells his dad that this doesn't concern him, but Dusty disagrees and says that he came into the WWE with all the potential in the world but he had to poke the bear that is the Big Show. Cody tries to cut him off and tell him that they can talk about this in the back because he's embarrassing him, when the Big Show's music hits and our Intercontinental Champion makes his way out to interrupt. Show shows us another "embarrassing moment" from Cody Rhodes, this time being one of the old "Dashing" Cody Rhodes promos where he applied some lip balm. I miss Dashing Cody Rhodes. Show takes off and I guess that's it, that's our segment. Another somewhat pointless promo.

Sheamus/Mean Gene Okerlund vs. Daniel Bryan/Alberto Del Rio
Yep, this is our "main event" folks. Bryan doesn't even get his own entrance, being introduced in the ring when we return. Del Rio gets his extravagant one though, don't worry. Howard Finkel does the introduction for Gene Okerlund, and I can't help but reminisce about that famous promo with Okerlund training with Hulk Hogan many years ago. Sheamus and Del Rio start off with Del Rio eating a big elbow. Bryan and Del Rio trade quick tags and start to work Sheamus over in their corner, and I'm sure you can already see where this match is going. Bryan avoids the Brogue Kick from Sheamus and then sends him to the floor, where Del Rio takes out Sheamus with a kick to the head. Del Rio and Bryan bring Mean Gene into the ring now and even Ricardo Rodriguez jumps into the fun. Before they can jump him though, Piper's music hits and the Rowdy one alongside the rest of the legends all come out to distract Bryan long enough so that Sheamus can recover, give him the Brogue Kick, and pick up the win at 3:24. And we have our record breaking third big fat DUD of the show ladies and gentlemen, give them a round of applause.

After the match all of the legends, including Howard Finkel, beat down the heels and begin to celebrate. Michael Cole makes his way into the ring to crack some jokes and Pat Patterson punches him in the face just to wrap up this entire clusterfuck of a show in truly surreal fashion.

Bottom Line: I don't mean to be crass, but what the fuck was this? We're only a week out from Wrestlemania and the huge return of Brock Lesnar the next night, and tonight they decide to have a two hour live show for THIS? Some legends we see all the time doing some comedy segments and a Piper's Pit? Where was the wrestling on this show? What was the point of 90% of this? In the ever important post-Wrestlemania weeks when you've still got the attention of some of the more transient fans, you put on a show like this? I mean, I love nostalgia as much as the next guy, but this was just a horrendous show outside of the Piper's Pit segment. I can honestly say this was one of the worst episodes of Smackdown ever. Huge Thumbs Down.

Rating: 1.0/10

Friday, April 6, 2012

WWE Friday Night SmackDown! 4/6/12

WWE Friday Night Smackdown
April 6th, 2012
Amway Center, Orlando, Florida
Attendance: Unknown at this time

Well we're only a few days removed from another memorable Wrestlemania and the return of none other than one Brock Lesnar the following night on RAW, and now we've arrived to the first Smackdown in the new John Laurinatitis as GM era. We're just a stone's throw away from Miami in Orlando tonight, and we've got a big match already announced for tonight with a returning Alberto Del Rio taking on our newly crowned World Heavyweight champion Sheamus in a non title match in our main event, and if Del Rio wins he gets a title shot down the line. We've also got Kane and Randy Orton in a Wrestlemania rematch, with No DQ, and that should be solid. Enough preambling, let's jump into the show itself.

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

We open the show tonight with the new GM John Laurinaitis being introduced by his assistant David Otunga, who's wearing what looks alarmingly like a cape. What was a man with a cape doing with my father?! Ace has cheesy new regal music that reminds me a bit of the music at the end of Star Wars when Luke, Han, and Chewie are all getting their medals. Laurinaitis says Smackdown will finally have the leadership it's lacked in the past now. He uses the "People Power" phrase again, and now I've got John Lennon stuck in my head. Laurinaitis wants to thank Teddy Long for his years of service to Smackdown, and the former GM obliges and makes his way out to the ring. Teddy says being jobless is okay for one thing, because it gives him the freedom to tell Laurinaitis to go to hell. Ace tries to give him a job as a lackey, but Long tells him to take his job and shove it. Ace brings out the "But how will you pay for your grand-children's college education?" line you see though because apparently the WWE Board of Directors enacted a college fund for Teddy's grand-children years ago, and now Otunga is in control of that fund. Well that's certainly convenient. So now they've found something else to hang over Teddy's head and apparently drag this GM feud out even further. Johnny wants Teddy to tell the fans that he's better than Teddy and his grandkid's education shall be safe. Teddy regretfully obliges and Laurinaitis decides to kick off the show by booking a handicap match pitting Mark Henry and David Otunga against R-Truth. Well that's certainly random.

2-on-1 Handicap Match
R-Truth (7-4) vs. Mark Henry (15-10)/David Otunga (3-3)

Not sure why Truth was chosen as our arbitrary babyface midcarder to punish here, but we'll roll with it. Otunga starts off with Truth and Truth manages to fire off some of his signature flashy kicks and corkscrew elbow on the lawyer-by-day before he tags out to Mark Henry. We see Abraham Washington watching on backstage as Henry catches Truth in mid-air and gives him the World's Strongest Slam. Otunga wants in now of course and he gets the pin at 2:04. Not entirely sure what the point of this was, but Otunga looked like quite the classic heel getting the pin after Henry did all the work there, it might be time to give him a singles feud of his own to try out. 1/4*

After the match Kane makes his way out to the ring as apparently we'll be having our Wrestlemania re-match right now.

No DQ Match
Randy Orton (27-10-1) vs. Kane
This is probably the stipulation we should have seen at 'Mania. Straight up brawling to start us off and Kane quickly clotheslines Orton out to the floor. He follows him out but gets tossed into the barricade for his troubles. Kane responds by sending Orton into the announcer's table, but Orton turns around and gives him the same treatment. More brawling on the floor and Kane's wig looks ridiculous here, he almost looks like the late Chris Kanyon in his Mortis years. They brawl up to the stage area where both men jockey for position near the edge of the stage, trying to hit one big move. Orton looks for the RKO but Kane gives him a big DDT on the stage instead as we cut to commercial with both guys sprawled out. When we return they're back inside the ring with Kane in control, exposing a steel turnbuckle. Kane tries to toss Orton into it, but settles for tossing him into a different corner and hitting a dropkick. Kane goes to the top rope, but Orton crotches him and hits him with a pair of lariats, a dropkick, and his trademark powerslam. He tries for the second-rope DDT but Kane hangs him up throat-first on the top rope. Orton lariats Kane again out on the floor, sending him into the front row now. Kane is able to counter his follow up attempt though and boot Orton in the face before tossing a steel chair into the ring. But one chair's not enough, no Kane decides to bring out five chairs instead. This of course gives Orton enough time to recover, grab one of the chairs, and nail Kane with it though. He gives Kane the second-rope DDT onto a chair, but the Big Red Machine is able to kick out at a two count. Kane grabs a chair and waffles Orton with it a few times now, but that's only enough to keep Randy down for a two count. Orton avoids a chokeslam and hits the RKO on Kane however and that's enough to give him his win back on Kane at 10:21 (shown). Better than their Wrestlemania match, which in itself wasn't half bad in it's own right. This was more of just a heated brawl with a nice finish and some chairs thrown in and I would have liked to have seen the stipulation worked a bit more but what we got was pretty damn solid. ***

Ryback (0-0) vs. Barry Stevens (0-0)
We return with one "Barry Stevens", local jobber extraordinaire with a really bad lisp who gets on the mic but is quickly interrupted by a returning Skip Sheffield, under his new ring name "Ryback". The WWE superstars backstage seem to be chuckling it up at these guys. Nice over-the-shoulder powerslam from Ryback followed by a big sitout fisherman's buster gives Skip the easy pin at 1:10. Just a quick old school squash of a local jobber for a debuting gimmick, I'm all for simple introductions like these. 1/4*

Daniel Bryan is out next with his girlfriend AJ and yes, the yes chants do in fact continue. Speaking of YES!, join the revolution why don't you? ( Bryan finally speaks but is unable to get a few sentences out before becoming quiet again. AJ grabs the mic to reassure him that he's a great wrestler and person, and the crowd seems to agree with their loud "YES!" chants. AJ says they're all here to support him, but Bryan thinks the "Yes!" chants are mocking him. Bryan says even if they aren't mocking and the chants are genuine from these "sheep", it doesn't make up for him losing the World Heavyweight title in 18 seconds. Bryan blames AJ's good luck kiss for his loss and then promptly breaks up with her on the spot so he can do his re-match with Sheamus down the line by himself, like he should have in the first place. She begs Bryan to talk backstage, but he tells her once again that they're through and then commands her to get out of "his" ring. No one's chanting "Yes!" anymore as AJ takes off devastated, wrapping the segment up. Great promo from Bryan here, and I hope they follow up with him and Sheamus instead of just tossing Del Rio into the mix.

Big Show (20-6) vs. Heath Slater (4-28)

Show has the IC belt with him but this isn't a title match. Show does another embarrassing Cody Rhodes video package before the match as the former champ joins the commentary team. Show of course totally dominates Slater here as this is little more than a squash match. Show hits a spear and then chokeslams Slater for the win at 1:15. After the match Cody teases confronting Show but decides to walk away instead. Just seemed like a reason to get Rhodes and Show on TV to ensure us that their feud will be continuing, and hopefully result in Rhodes being put over this time. 1/4*

Backstage Sheamus ensures John Laurinaitis that from now on he'll only give the Brogue Kick to people who really deserve it. He tells Ace another cute Irish story involving his cousin and an animals rectum, you know, the usual Sheamus promo, then takes off. Sheamus' family seems to have been a little too fond of their farm animals.

Nikki Bella (0-1) vs. Beth Phoenix (13-3)
Kelly Kelly makes her way out to watch this match from the rampway because we've got to fit all the diva's people marginally care about in one segment. The match itself is almost nonexistant as Beth just hits a few moves and then eats gets distracted by Kelly a minute in and eats a facebuster from Nikki which is apparently enough to beat the champ in all of 1:01. I know no one really cares about the woman's division and all, but I still don't get what's to be gained from booking your champions like this week after week. It seems the logic in this division is that getting a "push" means you get to lose in under a minute to a roll-up or something every week on TV while still being champion. I'll be all vitriolic and award them the dreaded DUD rating.

In a very cool move the WWE actually pays tribute to the recent passing of WWE Hall of Famer and legend Chief Jay Strongbow, one of the great MSG stars of an era past with a nice little video package highlighting his career.

Damien Sandow, one of the many regulars of the FCW developmental promotion, makes his Smackdown debut next with a taped promo. He's dressed elegantly in a robe and speaks about how much entertainment has changed in the modern era with people being preoccupied no longer by the works of Shakespeare but by Desperate Housewives and Jersey Shore. Sandow calls the masses mediocre and lazy and then promises to save us all from our own ignorance before thanking himself. Well that was weird, we'll see how far this "push" actually takes him.

Alberto Del Rio (10-7) vs. Sheamus (27-14-1)
This is Del Rio's in-ring return after several months off due to injury and it's a non-title match with the stipulation that if he wins, he gets a title shot at Sheamus down the line. Sheamus tries working some basic holds with the chin and wrist, but Del Rio counters with stiff kicks. Sheamus rolls through off a top rope attempt and then gives Del Rio the old Finlay Roll for a two count. Del Rio catches Sheamus with a ringer over the top rope and then goes right to work on the Celtic Warrior's arm. Del Rio looks to go for the cross armbar and Sheamus counters into an attempt at the Brogue Kick, but Del Rio avoids the boot and bails out of the ring for a breather with Ricardo as take our last commercial break. When we return Del Rio is being hit by a slingshot shoulder-block from Sheamus for a two count. Sheamus lays in ten big forearms on Del Rio in the top rope but Del Rio low-bridges him moments later and then follows up with a nice step-up enziguri to send the Irishman back outside to the floor. Del Rio continues the arm work on Sheamus, slamming him into the steel ring steps and then returning to a tight armbar back inside the ring. Sheamus manages to break the hold up and hit Del Rio with the Irish Curse backbreaker. Sheamus fires up with some stiff forearms and hits a running powerslam on Alberto before calling for the Brogue Kick. Ricardo hops in the ring now to run the distraction while Del Rio grabs a steel chair, but Sheamus takes Ricardo out. Unfortunately when the ref turns around he only sees Sheamus grabbing the steel chair from Del Rio, who channels the spirit of the late great Eddie Guerrero by pretending Sheamus has just hit him with the chair, and the ploy actually works as the ref DQs Sheamus at 7:38 (shown). So Del Rio gets a title shot because of that, and Sheamus gives the referee a Brogue Kick for being so inept. The match itself was pretty darn good for the time it got though and I honestly wouldn't mind seeing these two wrestle a title match down the line, though they should absolutely make sure not to forget Daniel Bryan in the fold. Haven't seen that finish in a while either, we'll see if they acknowledge that being Eddie's famous old trick or not next week. **1/2

We go off the air with Del Rio and Ricardo celebrating on the entrance ramp while Sheamus seethes in the ring.

Bottom Line: Good show this week, we got our traditional "Wrestlemania rematch" and it was actually better than the Wrestlemania match was, so you can't ask for much more there. We also got a solid main event and a great promo from Daniel Bryan, and while the rest of the show was basically squash matches, the whole thing just flew by in no time and leaves a lot of doors open for where they can go in the coming weeks leading up to the Extreme Rules PPV. Thumbs Up.

Score: 7.0/10