Depending on when you read this, it’s New Year’s Eve 2011 or sometime in January of 2012. Either way, Happy New Year (ya drunk, irresponsible jerks)!
By now you’ve no doubt heard about Randy Orton’s back injury which he suffered at the Smackdown taping this past Tuesday. We’ll definitely bear witness to that here on Smackdown, so let’s play “Where’s Waldo?” and find the moment the injury takes place!
We kick things off with a video recapping Orton’s feud with Barrett. Evidently the company is selling this as their final encounter (and with Orton’s injury, it just might be). The voice-over guy ironically predicts that one of them won’t walk out of the show in one piece. He must be psychic. Anyway, we’re in Indianapolis and Booker T is heading to the ring. He should walk with his back to the ring, if the past is any indication. Surprisingly Rhodes doesn’t assault him; so much for predictability. Booker’s speech indicates that he’s going into retirement (fo’ reelz) and he says he’s done with Cody. Speak of the devil! Here comes the Intercontinental Champion! Rhodes makes the obligatory Nascar reference and shits on the Colts. Since Booker recapped his year, Cody does the same and tries to save face by saying he helped Booker win their match on Monday by getting that fire burning inside him. Booker retorts that if Cody wants to be a man he’ll get in the ring and congratulate the 5-time WCW Champion and show some respect. Rhodes agrees and they shake hands, but as Booker heads to the commentary table, Cody remarks that this is all over. He calls Booker a “nostalgia act” who is caught between a rock and a hard place. If Booker continues to compete, his body will deteriorate. If he announces, he’ll sully his legacy as a semi-illiterate joke. He should just completely retire from the biz.
Here comes GOLDUST?! Here’s some continuity for you: Booker T and Goldust were Tag Team Champions. He comes out as Dustin Rhodes and the announcers break kayfabe to say he was playing a character as Goldust. He defends Booker and says he understands that Cody needs to make a name for himself, but he shouldn’t do it at the expense of Booker T. Rhodes the Younger does what any cocky, athletic, brash, young heel would do: he laughs at the notion. Cody picks Dustin apart for destroying the Rhodes family name. Booker jumps on the mic and says maybe they should do a rubber match. Cody agrees but it’s going to take place next week and it will be for the Intercontinental Championship! As Booker leaves the ring, Cody nails Dustin with the Beautiful Disaster.
That should be a great match and now I’m intrigued to see where this is going. Could we get the rumored brother vs brother match at Wrestlemania?
Ted DiBiase vs Jinder Mahal
Mahal has control early as he flapjacks Teddy into the ropes. He nails a running knee to the face and then drives said knee into Ted’s mug while using the ropes as leverage. Suplex after that and Jinder is dominating the early proceedings. A series of knees to the head and Mahal has found his theme for the night. DiBiase gets run off the ropes but ducks a clothesline attempt to nail a drop kick on the way back. Ted hits his signature off the ropes clothesline and a spinebuster as Mahal charges after him. Ted climbs to the top rope, jumps over a charging Mahal and “tweaks his knee” on the landing. This allows the heel to nail a flatliner and the Camel Clutch ends it.
Backstage Teddy Long is on the phone when Aksana’s music hits. She says she can’t wait for Teddy’s New Year’s Eve party. This little moment is interrupted by…DREW McINTYRE?! And Long re-signed him to Smackdown?! YES!!!!!! Teddy acknowledges Drew’s lack of success on Raw and even goes so far as to say he lacked passion (in other words, the writers are ribbing Drew here). He says he’s not going to pay McIntyre if he doesn’t prove his worth tonight against Ezekiel Jackson and win. Drew reassures Teddy that he’ll get the job done.
THAT was uncomfortable. It’s obvious the company is sending an on-air message to Drew to wow them tonight or risk getting future endeavored. I hope he puts on quite a show with that lummox Jackson.
Alicia Fox and Kaitlyn vs Natalya and Tamina
So Kaitlyn’s heel turn went out the window? Or are they saving that for tonight? Kaitlyn hits a cross body on Tamina and a snapmare. Kaitlyn tries to continue the assault by heading off the ropes but Nattie prevents that, which allows Tamina to attack her from behind. Natalya gets tagged in and she body slams her in the center of the ring. Nattie tries for a standing double leg drop but Kaitlyn avoids it and tags in Fox. Alicia nails the ugliest-looking scissor kick ever and picks up the victory. Tamina lands a super kick to her tag team partner and a Superfly Splash in response to their loss! Is this a face turn for Natalya? My God, this division blows.
Apparently the WWE has chosen Undertaker vs Triple H as Match of the Year. I’m not sure if I agree, but there hasn’t been a wealth of “great” matches this year if you ask me. The number 2 match? Cena vs Punk at MitB, obviously.
A promo for next Monday night is interrupted by the final mystery video. The announcers still don’t acknowledge the series of videos that have interrupted the feed for the past month. I wonder how they’ll react on Monday. Anywho, Daniel Bryan is backstage talking to AJ and she is looking AMAZING tonight. Ahem. Big Show interrupts (what’s with all the cockblocking tonight?) and says he didn’t really need to be “saved” by DB last week. Tonight they’re teaming up to face Mark Henry and David Otunga in a tag team bout. Or not, because here comes Teddy Long to say the previously announced tag match has been sacked in favor of Otunga vs Big Show with Henry in David’s corner. DB jokingly says that maybe giants DO need saving and wishes Show luck. Smell the tension!
I just don’t get it. We all know Mark Henry is injured. Why do they continue to book him in matches, then use the injury as an excuse to take him OUT of his matches? Stop booking him! Let him lumber around and interfere or distract or talk incoherently, or just keep him off TV until he’s healed.
Justin Gabriel vs Hunico
Hunico is out with another generic Mexican named Camacho (definitely not Hector “Macho” Camacho) on a low-rider bicycle. I didn’t even know those things existed. Am I really that much behind the times? Hunico starts things with a kick to the midsection and runs off the ropes, only to get dumped out of the ring. It looked like he tried to skin the cat but fell as Camacho comes to his aid. Gabriel tries for a baseball slide but Hunico avoids it, leaps onto the apron, and hits a nice moonsault to his opponent on the outside! Cole spends the majority of the match talking about the specs on Hunico’s bike and even mentions Eddie Munster as having started the fad.
Wow. I never thought I’d make a Munsters reference in a wrestling column.
Oh, there’s a match going on? Hunico sends Gabriel into the ring, runs at him, and winds up leaping into the turnbuckle as Gabriel dodges him. Jay Gabe (that’s right, I said it) is on the offensive and climbs to the top rope but gets an arm drag take down for his efforts from Hunico! Hunico drops onto Gabriel with a Senton Bomb and that’s all she wrote. Since Camacho did nothing DURING the match, he gets in the ring and the heels double team Gabriel with a Samoan Drop/Neckbreaker combo.
Put Hunico and Camacho with Epico, Primo, and Rosa Mendes and you’d have one hell of a stereotypical Boricua stable on your hands. On the plus side, I’d get to see more of Rosa.
Big Show vs David Otunga w/ Mark Henry
Can I predict that Daniel Bryan will somehow get involved and anger Big Show? For that matter, why the fuck do we have to see Otunga and Show face off and the WHC doesn’t wrestle? Otunga calls himself the “World’s Smartest Man” and I guess that’s true, since his wife can support him if his career falls flat. Or he can be a lawyer. Whatever. The man I affectionately referred to as the Starscream of Nexus just gets completely manhandled by Wight. Otunga escapes the ring and Mark Henry tells him to stop being a little bitch. Otunga rallies back but eats a shoulder tackle and a splash into the corner. Henry with the distraction allows Otunga to hit a chop block and take Show off his feet! Show kicks out of a cover forcibly which sends David out of the ring. Here comes DB, who attacks Henry from behind and then goads him to follow by dangling the belt like a carrot. I’m not kidding. So I guess the story here is that Bryan is going to continue to humiliate Show in a reversal of the typical “big guy protects little guy” angle. Back in the ring, Show finishes things with the WMD to Otunga’s jaw.
So are they going to turn DB heel or Show? I think it would benefit the company more if Show goes heel so DB can be made to look like a million bucks when he overcomes the giant. Turning Bryan heel only justifies Cole’s hatred of him and goes a long way in making him look like a little bitch instead of a plucky submission machine.
Drew McIntyre vs Ezekiel Jackson
An early attempt at a head lock gets Drew sent into the ropes for a body slam by Big Zeke. Drew fights back with a series of forearms to the head and a drop kick. Jackson continues to overpower Drew with clubbing blows to the back. The announcers keep talking down to McIntyre, by the way. As the ref gets in the middle of the two, Drew hits a cheap shot boot to the face! McIntyre lands a nice overhead bridge suplex pin that only gets two. We get a replay of the big boot cheap shot that hilariously missed the mark and Mathews says the ref didn’t see it. Well, no one saw it if he whiffed the move. Zeke fires back with a back body drop and his wind-up clothesline in the corner. Sidewalk Slam gets a two count. Drew gets back into it with Zeke in the corner and the ref admonishes him. As Drew’s back is turned, Jackson goes for the Torture Rack but McIntyre breaks free. Zeke charges at him in the corner but gets a face full of feet. Drew uses the ropes for leverage in a pin attempt but the official sees it and stops the count. Jackson rolls Drew up while he argues with the ref and pulls on McIntyre’s tights!!! Drew loses! I guess his argument for after the commercial break is that Jackson cheated to win.
I really hope they don’t pull the MVP losing streak angle out of mothballs for Drew McIntyre.
Well look at that! We’re back and Long is backstage with Drew, who is pleading his case. Long grows a pair and says he can’t stand losers who make excuses as McIntyre angrily storms off.
Sheamus is in the ring and he talks about the upcoming Royal Rumble, which is back to the standard 30 entrants. He says he’ll win the Royal Rumble this year and Hornswoggle shows up to further dilute Sheamus’s badass persona. Sigh. Hornswoggle says he’s entering the Rumble this year and I died a little inside. True story. Sheamus recounts Hornswoggle’s victory in that awful holiday battle royal and gives us another family story with the moral being, ‘Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice, you’re begging for a kick up the arse!” Hornswoggle backs away as Sheamus gets all “serious face” before smiling to show he was kidding. Here comes Heath Slater to make this moment even more obnoxious. He name drops Bushwhacker Luke and the Brooklyn Brawler as guys who claimed victory at the Rumble and had no chance (this is in reference to Hornswoggle’s chances, if you’re slow). Slater says he’s the top redhead on Smackdown and proclaims he is the One Man Southern Rock Band. Sheamus tells him he likes Southern rock but he thinks Heath is a “Journey” kind of guy. He references “Don’t Stop Believing” but then says maybe he’s an R. Kelly fan instead. The Celtic Warrior asks, “You know, I believe I can fly?” as he tosses Slater out of the ring.
With Orton hurt, do they pull the trigger on Sheamus as the top face of the B-Show or does McMahon let Daniel Bryan be Daniel Bryan? Guess we’ll find out after the Rumble.
Sheamus vs Heath Slater
Apparently Teddy Long made this into a match “during the commercial break.’ In other words, to simulate this being “live” the editing room decided to cut out the opening minutes of the match. Film magic, everyone. I’m not even going to recap this overly-long squash match. Sheamus dominates the opening, Heath makes a heel comeback, Sheamus rallies back to hit his moves and wins with the Brogue Kick. Formulaic.
Daniel Bryan and Big Show are in Teddy Long’s office and DB asks Big Show for a thank you. As they argue, Teddy says he’s going to compete with Raw (since Monday will give the fans a title match) and books Big Show vs Daniel Bryan for the World Heavyweight Championship next week! Show laughs and says DB had a fun little run as champ but it ends next week. Bryan quips that at least his title run will have been longer than Show’s latest. BURN!
Time for the main event! Is it wrong that I’m looking forward to seeing just how Orton gets hurt?
Falls Count Anywhere Match: Randy Orton vs Wade Barrett
No matter how this eventually plays out, this rivalry has been entertaining to say the least. Orton and Wade go punch for punch until the Viper forces Barrett into the corner and plasters him with a vicious uppercut and a stiff clothesline. They go to the outside and Orton whips Wade into the steel steps! Orton squashes Wade’s head into the steps and covers for a two count. He’s calling for an RKO but Barrett throws Randy into the post as we head to commercial.
Yay! Being Human is coming back January 16th!
We’re back and the action has returned to the ring as Barrett pounds away at Randy in the corner. Wade chokes Randy out on the top rope and follows through with a big boot that sends Orton back outside the ring. Barrett runs Orton back-first into the apron (was that it?!) but Orton fights back and gets thrown into the barricade (was THAT it?!) and back into the ring. Irish whip is reversed by Orton but Wade counters that counter with a boot to the face! Rest hold coming up as the crowd rallies behind Orton. Kitchen sink by Barrett as Orton lands on his back in pain. Not sure if that’s legit or just selling the move. Every attempt by Orton to regain control is stymied by Barrett and I have to give Randy credit for helping to make Wade look like a million bucks. Randy counters a pump handle slam into his signature moves. He calls for the second rope DDT but Barrett slips out. Orton decides to throw Wade over the announce table as the competitors remember that this is Falls Count Anywhere. They go into the crowd where Orton accidentally throws Barrett into the referee. Wade runs through the audience and they wind up in the hallway backstage. Conveniently we have another cameraman back there as Orton gets put through a remarkably flimsy snack table. Randy slams Wade’s head into a dumpster and some empty cardboard boxes (that’s gonna leave a mark!). As they continue down the hall, the make-up girls run off and Orton tries to use a director chair to destroy Wade but manages to destroy a computer monitor/TV set instead.
Wade continues to run and the nearby elevator opens up so he gets in! A crowd of people/extras/developmental talent hilariously runs from the elevator as Orton and Barrett continue their fight with the doors closing! If this is supposed to be legit, how will the production team know what floor they’re going to get off at? Never mind that, because we cut to an elevator camera! I can’t make this shit up, folks! Youtube this match to catch the insanity! This is THE most bizarre thing I’ve seen all year. The door opens as they brawl in the elevator and Barrett crawls out to escape.
The third (!) cameraman tries to keep up as they fight through what appears to be an office hallway. They enter a stairwell and the cameraman peeks through the fire escape because Barrett is supposed to play off the illusion that he threw Randy down a flight of stairs! The camera guy gets the go-ahead from his bosses to enter the stairwell and we get a shot of Orton at the bottom of the staircase lying in a heap. More and more it’s looking less likely that this injury is legit, especially with the news that Orton’s “six month healing period” has been reduced to a number of weeks. Wellness violation, anybody? The last shot we get of 2011 is of Barrett leaving the building and Orton trying to get up in pain.
I highly doubt that this injury is legitimate now that they pulled this ending, but it’s possible that Orton was hurt during the match and the ending was an audible. Or am I giving McMahon too much credit here?
Well, it’s been one hell of a year. Check out my latest Stomping Ground and be sure to vote in our Year-End Awards.
So long, Happy New Year, and thanks for all the fish.
Tags: aj lee, aksana, alicia fox, big show, Booker T, Camacho, cm punk, Cody Rhodes, Daniel Bryan, David Otunga, Drew McIntyre, Epico, Ezekiel Jackson, goldust, Heath Slater, Hornswoggle, hunico, Intercontinental Championship, john cena, Josh Mathews, Justin Gabriel, Kaitlyn, Mark Henry, Michael Cole, Mike Gojira, Natalya, Primo, randy orton, sheamus, Smackdown, tamina, Teddy Long, triple h, undertaker, Wade Barrett, World Heavyweight Championship, WWE