Fandjango (Not Because Langston’s Black, But Because I Just Finished Watching Django Unchained Again)
SmackDown kicks off as we are immediately ambushed by a wild Fandango. The hell, WWE? He will face Langston as Damien Sandow is on commentary: glorious. Fandango goes for a test of strength before Langston backdrops him and gores him into the turnbuckle. So it’s not going well. Fandango manages a kick before Langston shoves him out of the ring…and Fandango just levelled Big E with a clothesline on the outside: did not see that coming. Back in the ring, he unloads on Langston, locking him in a front-facelock. Langston throws off the facelock with authority and slams Fandango with a few of his own clotheslines, followed by a belly-to-belly slam. He splashes a prone Fandango, then the straps come down as this reporter hums The Stripper (every damn time), but Fandango counters this burlesque with a kick to the head. A knee to the face gets two for our resident dancer, who then climbs up high before E brings him down and pancakes him in the corner before the Big Ending gets three.
Quick and to the point. Fandango got in more offence than I thought he would, but after what ‘Sin Cara’ did this Monday, what’s our reference? 2 Stars.
Sandow looks cranky and gets into the ring, but Big E clocks him and the two engage in a stare-down. Michael Cole says he wasn’t sure what Sandow’s intentions were, because Sandow is apparently courting Langston in 19th century England. Sandow leaves the ring, like Mr Darcy crossed with a bitch.
Back from a commercial break, we’re met by the WWE champion, Mr Orton. He briefs us on the unification situation, and he plans on proving us all wrong. He shows us footage of him getting his ass handed to him this Monday, because even the top heel of the WWE is going to plug Cena. In ten days, Orton will prove that he is who he says he is. This is immediately undercut by the asskissing of the millennium aimed at the Authority, with an apology thrown in.
Daniel Bryan makes his way to the ring, escaping three abduction attempts in the process. He says that Orton should apologise to the fans for impersonating a champion. Did Bryan just make accusations of identity theft? Because Orton will go to the papers if he has to. Bryan brings up the prospect of the two of them fighting, which comes under the heading of ‘Fighting Talk’. Orton tries to say no, but the entire arena says yes. So now if Randy goes into the match, he’s a victim of peer pressure.
I’d Back ‘The Heyman Exes’ As A Team Name
Approaching the ring for a tag match are the Rhodeses, ready for a match against Ryback and Curtis Axel. Cody and Ryback start off, with Ryback’s power allowing him to take control before Cody tags in Goldust. Ryback presses Dust above his head before dropping him on the ropes for two. Bodyslam to Goldust, then a splash from both Ryback and Axel. Ryback is tagged back in, with both men splashing onto Goldust in the corner. Axel comes back in, putting Goldust in a headlock before sending him off the ropes. Goldust avoids a dropkick and jackknifes Axel. Axel kicks out, rushes Dust and gets powerslammed. Goldust wills his way to the corner, and Cody comes right in with a dropkick, then misses the Disaster Kick. Axel gets rolled up out of the corner for two, then misses Cody with a charge to hit the turnbuckle shoulder-first. Cody heads up to the top for a moonsault and Ryback breaks up the pin. Goldust clotheslined Ryback out of the ring, and Cody hits a Disaster Kick off the announce table to the big man. Back in the ring, Axel rolls up Cody for the win.
A second loss to the tag team champs in one week. I love this team, but I can totally get behind losses accrued if this is the price of building up the tag division. The match was fine: nothing special. 2 Stars.
Returning from commercial, we are met by Bad News Barrett. As an Englishmen, his accent really throws me off; it sounds like he’s delivering this speech in a pub in one of our many soap operas.
Hey, This Way Is Quicker
Here comes Alberto Del Rio, and after that loss to ‘Sin Cara’ on Monday, he’s dead to all of us. His opponent is Kofi Kingston, who is still wearing that godawful bandanna. And Alberto, a very stylish male, jumps the everloving crap out of Kingston for his crimes against fashion. I guess if there’s no legal match, then Del Rio can’t get beaten by ridiculous underdogs… Alberto locks in the cross armbreaker for a second or two and then leaves, apparently not emotionally invested in this physical assault.
We relive the Shield’s assault on Punk, and I love JBL’s Ockham’s Razor judgement that Punk got jumped because nobody likes him. We are shown an uncertain location backstage where the Shield are hanging out (with the Wyatts out of sight, all giggling and daring each other to photobomb the promo). The Shield argue about who’s going to fight CM Punk and I cannot get over how much Roman Reigns looks like Crixus from that Spartacus series.
Better Than The Entirety Of TLC 2013
Back from break, and CM Punk approaches the ring. He will be facing Dean Ambrose, and it could be any member of the Shield and I’d love this match. Side-headlock and takeover to Ambrose, who headscissors Punk. Ambrose back into the headlock, reverses it, gets shot off the ropes, reversal follows reversal, Punk misses with a high kick and there’s a stare-down. Punk then boots Ambrose in the face, following it up with leg-drops. Ambrose reverses a suplex attempt, roughing up Punk in a corner and hitting back-elbow for two. Headlock is applied to Punk, but he shoots Ambrose off the ropes into a calf-kick. Axe-handles from Punk, followed by a GTS attempt, ending in Ambrose jumping to the outside. Is the referee not doing a count? Punk keeps Ambrose out of the ring, but when he goes out after him Ambrose drives him into the ring apron, doing damage to the already-injured ribs.
Back in the ring, Punk is guillotined on the bottom rope for two. Ambrose remains in control, wrenching Punk’s head as Punk tries to fight out…only to run right into a spinebuster. Ambrose stays on Punk, making that whole three-on-one deal look like it’s going to be pretty anti-climactic. Dean then tries to come off the top rope onto Punk, but Punk rolls out of the way, and then springboards off the top rope into a clothesline. Running high knee and a clothesline to Ambrose gets two. Ambrose tries to jump Punk as he goes for the Macho Elbow, but Punk turns it into his swinging neckbreaker, which Ambrose reverses into a backslide, turning it into an armbar. Punk makes it to his feet, goes for the GTS but Dean turns it into a sleeper hold, only for Punk to turn it into the Anaconda Vice. Ambrose gets his foot under the bottom rope, forcing the hold to be broken. Bodyslam to Ambrose, and Punk goes again for the Macho Elbow; Dean stops him as he reaches the top, bringing him down via a double-underhook superplex. Ambrose applies the armbar again, directly in the middle of the ring. Punk drags himself and Dean towards the ropes, getting his foot on them to break the hold. As Ambrose argues with the ref, Punk rolls him up for a near-fall. Dean kicks out, and promptly gets his head kicked in for another near-fall. Punk signals for the GTS; Ambrose reverses, going for his finisher; Punk turns it back into the GTS; Ambrose reverses again, shoving Punk shoulder-first into the corner and rolling him up for a two-count. Ambrose attempts his finisher, but Punk brings his foot up to kick Ambrose in the face, hits the GTS and gets the three.
Well, it was always going to be good. Punk played a great injured face, remaining wily with his kicks from out of nowhere. Dean’s facial expressions and in-ring movements make his matches fresh and interesting as well. 3 Stars.
Renee Young is backstage with Rey Mysterio, asking him about being the unified title. Is Chris Jericho seriously this hard to find? Zeb and White Power show up and get racist, which is kinda their thing. Mysterio calls them hippogriffs, which means the Real Americans now have a match against Rey and a partner of his choosing. If it’s El Torito, I swear I’ll stop watching and will just review my neighbour walking his dog instead.
The Tamina Van Dyke Show
We’re back for a Divas match, and it’s going to be Tamina Snuka against Natalya Neidhart. AJ is going to be commentating, and it’s just a shame Lawler’s not there to catch any random statutory comments. At TLC, it will be AJ against Natalya for the title, in what is the most logical match there could be for this division and therefore seems like an odd choice. Side headlock to Tamina, who powers out, then Natalya gets her in a waistlock. Tamina throws that off, then runs right into a clothesline. Tamina gets rough, throwing Natalya along the apron and into the turnbuckle, then hits her with her jacket and drives her into the apron. Back in the ring, Natalya kicks out at two and gets locked in a surfboard. AJ’s facial expression at Michael’s journalist questions is radiating so much apathy that my television sighs aloud. Natalya flips her way out of the surfboard, looking to come back, but Tamina drives her right into the corner, staying on her. Natalya avoids a charge, snapmares Tamina and follows it up with a dropkick to the face. Tamina kicks out of a roll-up, then the sharpshooter before hitting Natalya with a Samoan Drop. AJ says she’s made every cast member of Total Divas tap, which I think includes Cena, Fandango and Bryan. Tamina heads up to the top, misses the Superfly Splash and…gets pinned off that. Gee, let’s hope that AJ manages to apparently knock herself out with her own finishing move, Natalya.
I was quite enjoying that match, what with AJ’s snarkiness and the rougher (for the Divas Division) style of wrestling. Shame about the finish, which was…yeah. 2 Stars.
Three Former World Title Holders…And Cesaro
Back from break, the Real Americans are in the ring already and here comes Rey Mysterio. I’m going to bet his partner is ‘Sin Cara’…and I probably could have been more wrong, but not by much. So it’s Mysterio and the Big Show against the Real Americans. Show starts with Swagger, beating him down in the corner before Rey comes in and hits the most blatant low-blow dropkick I’ve ever seen, which is apparently cool with the ref. Hurricanrana off the second rope, then Rey tries to hit a wheelbarrow bulldog, but Swagger manages to turn it very smoothly into a German suplex. Tag now to Cesaro, who stomps on Rey before tagging Swagger back in. The announcers bring up the idea of Cesaro swinging Big Show, meaning it’s not going to happen. Cesaro hangs Rey up on the ropes and Swagger locks in a front facelock. Rey tries to fight out to his corner, but Swagger slides him out of the ring. Cesaro then jumps Mysterio on the outside before literally carrying him into the ring. Tag to Swagger, who keeps beating down Rey. Rey manages to flip Swagger into a DDT. Did Cole just say ‘Batman wears a mask’ in Mysterio’s defence? Batman also cripples people, Michael. Cesaro tries to jump Big Show on the outside, but Show just tosses him away: I’ve waited so long to see someone doing that. Big Show now in with a head of steam, tossing Cesaro this way and that before hurling Swagger out of the ring. Spear to Cesaro; the pin’s broken up by Swagger and Mysterio 619s Swagger. Chokeslam to Cesaro, Rey splashes down from Big Show’s shoulders and that’s it.
Not a bad match, really. It’s kind of a sad nostalgia to me to see Rey now as time and injuries have taken hold, when I remember being dazzled by him in 2002. That being said, it’s great to see that the fans still enjoy watching him. 2.5 Stars.
We have a quick look at the history of both championships, and we still manage not to show Chris Jericho. Are we seriously pretending this didn’t happen? Triple H, in an interview, says that this is going to be the biggest thing that’s happened in a long time. So…since December 9th, 2001? He also says it’ll be remembered forever, and the irony is just gorgeous. He guarantees that we’ll have a new champion, and all of these promises must mean they’re following through, right?
Oops, here’s Bad News Barrett. Apparently at TLC, we’ll have a champion of champions. But he’ll be a target. Can’t Wade just…I don’t know…beat people up?
No Clean Finish, Even On Free TV
Out comes Bryan, followed by Orton. The match gets underway as the two men tie up; they jockey for position in a corner, neither of them getting the upper hand. Orton gets a kick to the gut, knocks Bryan down with a shoulder block before Bryan flips him over his knee and starts kicking and punching him. Orton creates separation with a headbutt, attacking Bryan before Daniel fights his way out, going back to the kicks and then wrenching the arm. Orton manages to turn the third arm-wrench into his backbreaker, which looked nice, and then misses his high knee. Bryan comes back with kicks to the leg, and then dropkicks Orton right out of the ring; he tries to dive out after him but stops as Orton wisely ducks for cover.
Back from the break, Orton is in control of the match, pulling back on Bryan’s arm and head. We’re shown that Orton gained his advantage by throwing Bryan into the steps during commercials. Randy stays on his opponent, stomping him in the gut. A suplex to Daniel gets two, and is followed by a headlock. Dear Christ: Cole just mentioned Jericho; to the gulag! Michael explains the difference between the WCW World Championship and World Heavyweight Championship and are we seriously doing this? Bryan has managed to regain control after backflipping over Orton, who was distracted by Michael Cole’s weasel-logic. Clothesline takes down Orton, followed by two odd-looking dropkicks in the corner, followed by kicks and an even more odd-looking hurricanrana. Orton manages to counter a backdrop, but is sent out of the ring by Bryan, who dives out onto him.
Back in the ring, Bryan heads up to the top and dropkicks Orton before kipping up and bringing the kicks. Orton ducks, powerslamming Bryan for the near-fall. Randy then hits his patented DDT and then calls for the RKO; Bryan backslides Orton and then kicks him right in the head. He goes for a flying headbutt, but then Rowan and Harper appear. Orton jumps Bryan before hitting an RKO.
That was okay. Really, for a Bryan match, it seemed a little sparse and there were moments when things seemed a little off. I also think you could afford to give Orton, the man heading into a title unification match, a clean win over a guy who is not in the championship picture. 2.5 Stars.
Are the Wyatts trying to annoy Bryan into joining them? Is this like some kind of Father Ted/Mrs Doyle situation? Bray Wyatt appears on the titantron and tries to get Bryan, again, to join them. Couldn’t he just say: ‘It’s the beard; we want it, Bryan. We want you and your Glorious Beard. Beards are to us what racism is to the Real Americans. We’re having a Beards vs. Racism match with them at WrestleMania, and we’re going to eat Zeb’s moustache’? I’d watch that.
SmackDown seemed kind of up-and-down this week. I don’t know what it was. I know I’m confused by Barrett and annoyed by the constant guarantees of a shenanigan-less unified champion. None of the matches were bad, but none were really great. I was left feeling…okay. So I think I’ll give it a five.
Tags: aj lee, alberto del rio, Antonio Cesaro, Bad News Barrett, big e langston, big show, Bray Wyatt, cm punk, Cody Rhodes, Curtis Axel, Damien Sandow, Daniel Bryan, dean ambrose, Fandango, goldust, jack swagger, jbl, Kofi Kingston, Luke Harper, Michael Cole, natalya neidhart, randy orton, Real Americans, rey mysterio, Roman Reigns, ryback, seth rollins, sin cara, Smackdown, Tamina Snuka, The Shield, Wade Barrett, WWE, wyatt family, Zeb Coulter