It Might Mean Something About The Tag Titles, But Then Again…
Well, we’re really jumping into this last SmackDown of 2013, but considering that they’re rushing us into an Usos match…no complaints. They’ll be facing the Wyatts, so they’d better not like getting dragged into parking lots. And if the Usos keep their shirts on, then how do I tell them apart? Blind guesswork? CORRECT.
Jimmy immediately jumps Rowan on the apron and backdrops Harper out after him to start. Jey then leaps out onto Rowan; Harper runs back into the ring and right into a kick and a roll-up before just smacking the taste out of Jimmy’s mouth with an uppercut. A big boot knocks Jey off the apron, but this means that Jimmy can fight back, hitting what almost looked like a Whisper in the Wind for the two. A superkick dazes Harper, but Rowan gets the blind tag. Jimmy ducks a big boot, running straight into a forearm from Rowan and a clothesline from Harper. Rowan hits a splash and…oh. Okay then.
SmackDown matches these days seem to be all kinds of abrupt. Explains the excitement early on, I guess. 2 Stars.
Jey gets tossed into the ring by a fidgety-looking Wyatt, and he puts him out with the Sister Abigail. Michael Cole calls Bray a mental case, which is totally not how you talk about crazy people and definitely not being a star.
Following a commercial, here is John Cena. It is honestly odd not seeing a championship belt on that waist. We see a replay of the ending to Christmas RAW. John hypes us up for the New Year, playing worryingly-muscular cheerleader. He reads out his list of New Year’s Resolutions and I don’t get all that many references, but the bear hug to the real bear line made me chuckle. He starts talking about getting his title rematch tonight, and when was the last time that ever worked?
The Shield, apparently interested in protecting championships on free TV, emerge from the crowd. Without preamble, they jump Cena, which I guess is how they ring in the New Year: seems legit. But here comes Mark Henry, knocking the Shield around before the numbers game comes into play. And following Henry is Langston, evening the score as Team Muscle tosses out Team Greasy. Kane shows up and makes three separate singles matches, finally laying the traditions of Teddy Long to rest. Seth seemed pretty happy to be facing Cena, on the face of it.
Renee Young is backstage with Randy ‘Two Belts’ Orton. He says that he’s got nothing else to prove, but he might enter the Royal Rumble, just to deprive WrestleMania of its main event. Say what you like about Orton, you have to respect the effort he’s willing to put into being a dick. Ziggler shows up to get all up in Orton’s business and no…Ziggler…honey…oh, this isn’t going to go well. Kane breaks up what would have probably been Orton turning Ziggler into a macabre modern art masterpiece in order to give him a match in which to do that officially. He calls the backstage a ‘safe zone’, which makes it sound like he’s advising Orton on sexual harassment.
Michael Cole Doesn’t Know What ‘Traditional’ Means
Oh, here’s Cody Rhodes, apparently competing in singles action tonight against Antonio Cesaro. Zeb’s new thing seems to be signs, but no sign of a Die Hard 3 reference just yet. They lock up and tussle, but Cody takes advantage, holding Cesaro in a headlock. Cesaro works his way out of it and the two men continue to trade counters and holds to start. Cody throws Antonio out of the ring from an armlock and then Goldy psyches him out on the outside. Back in the ring, Cesaro starts hitting Cody with strikes, but Rhodes nearly gets the pin from his corner roll-up before Cesaro low-bridges him out of the ring. Another confrontation on the outside, then back in the ring.
Cesaro’s now in control, working Cody over in the corner. Michael Cole is arguing morality, which for him is an logic-free zone. Suplex to Rhodes, then Cesaro wrenches the head, but Cody fights back hitting knees, punches and Rhodes Uppercut before an inverted suplex that puts Cesaro down for two. Cody stays on Cesaro, hitting his catch-up clothesline before knocking an interfering Swagger off the apron. Cesaro, taking advantage, rolls Cody up for three.
A little longer of a match, but still over pretty fast. I guess we have got four singles matches left to go. 2 Stars.
Why Not ‘Goldberfect’?
In the ring we have the Prime Time Players, who will be taking on…pfft…‘Rybaxel’. Young and Ryback lock up and Ryback overpowers Young pretty easily, keeping him down with strikes. Darren evades a gorilla press attempt, dropkicking Ryback’s legs out from under him, following it up with a knee the head. Tag made to Titus, who uses an inverted suplex to slam Young onto Ryback. Ryback fights his way out of Titus’ control, but O’Neil puts him back down with a shoulder block.
Axel hits a blind tag, and catches an unknowing Titus with a knee to the back; Ryback finishes the job with the boot to the face. Axel comes in aggressively, attacking Titus in the corner. Titus tries to fight back, but Axel finally levels him with a dropkick and chokes him before tagging in Ryback. Rybaxel is in firm control as Cole wonders what could have brought Batista back to the WWE. Money, Michael: lots and lots of money. Ryback has a front facelock on O’Neil before driving him into the corner and tagging in Axel. Axel comes at Titus, but gets a boot to the stomach and Titus makes the tag.
Darren comes in hard and fast, hitting a belly-to-belly and a Northern Lights suplex. Ryback interferes but O’Neil and Young clothesline him out of the ring; Axel tries to roll up Darren, but he reverses it for the three count.
I liked this match. It was nice to have a showcase of PTP, and I was quite impressed. Axel also looked pretty decent tonight. 2.5 Stars.
If Backstage Is The Safe Zone, Does That Mean That Ziggler’s In The…(Deep Breath) DANGER ZONE?!
The owner of the world’s most blinged-out shoulderpads enters the ring, followed by your resident dead man walking, Mister Ziggles. It’s cute how the announcers call this a ‘great opportunity’.
They lock up and jockey for control in the corner before Orton slithers out of the ring. He takes his time coming back and gets Dolph in the headlock; he gets shot off the ropes and hits a shoulder block. Ziggler fights back, backing Orton into a corner before Orton takes him down with a headbutt and a suplex. The announcers talk about Ziggler’s losing streak, which means the whole world knows you suck. Ziggler manages to block a charge from Orton, hitting punches in the corner, followed up by a snapmare and an elbow drop. Orton begs off, but then trips Ziggler into the turnbuckle, back in control.
Both men trade punches, with Ziggler suddenly catching Orton with a dropkick which looks like it hit right in the ear. Orton looks about ready to take his ball and go home, but then wavers and approaches the ring…before rolling back out. Ziggler follows him and the two men bash each other’s heads off the steel steps. Back in the ring, Orton’s down and Ziggler moves to take advantage. He tries for a neckbreaker, but Orton throws him off the ropes and into an elbow. Orton misses another charge; Ziggler hits a dropkick, then misses a splash into the corner; Orton hurls him into the turnbuckle, with Ziggler hitting his head off the steel steps as he exits the ring.
Dolph just beats the ten count to get into the ring, and now Orton’s stalking him, punishing with stomps and knees. Ziggler tries to fight his way out from a headlock, but Orton stays on him, wrenching his head back in a sleeper. Ziggler, however, hits a jawbreaker and catches Orton with a crossbody. A splash to the corner and a neckbreaker to Orton, but he misses the Fameasser; Orton misses the powerslam and Ziggler gets the near-fall from the DDT. Dolph tries to climb up to the top, but Orton catches him and tries for a superplex; Ziggler fights him back to the floor, and a missile dropkick gets two. A Fameasser nearly puts Orton away, but he gets Ziggler with a thumb to the eye and wins with the RKO.
I enjoyed that one. Ziggler certainly got back some prestige for hanging with Orton, and Randy managed to dominate a lot of the match. 3 Stars.
Orton then cries havoc and kicks the crap out of Ziggler on the outside, including hitting a DDT on the padded concrete; Dolph is out.
Backstage, the Shield talk about what they’re going to do to Cena, Henry and Langston. The Wyatts and Punk are on a taco run.
Sandow Will Return As ‘Malicious Easter Bunny’
Here’s Daniel Bryan, who will be up against Damien Sandow. Bryan quickly takes control, taking Sandow down with a knee to the stomach. Sandow clutches the bottom rope and then takes Bryan down at the legs before tossing him out of the ring. Sandow doesn’t waste time, tossing Bryan into the barricade and both men return to the ring. Damien hits the bodyslam and the Elbow of Disdain for the two, then gets Bryan in a chinlock; Bryan fights back, but Sandow puts him down with an elbow, beating him down in the corner. Bryan is whipped into the opposite corner, but backflips over Sandow and hits a clothesline, followed by a dropkick in the corner and a Frankensteiner. Multiple kicks to Sandow, but he ducks the last one for a roll-up; Bryan kicks out and hits a kick to the head of Sandow. The CENASLAYER hits and that’s three.
A quick and simple match, but I quite liked it. Both Sandow and Bryan are a lot of fun to watch in the ring. 2.5 Stars.
The Wyatts make their presence known on the ramp, which means the Shield and Punk are eating the tacos without them. Bray does his Bob Dylan monologue, which is probably a thinly-veiled, parking-lot-related threat.
Well, All These Guys At Ringside Couldn’t Possibly Cause Interference
The Shield all make their way to the ring, and Cena, Langston and Henry to the same. Our first match of the trio is Langston and Ambrose, so let’s get to it. Langston immediately drives Ambrose into the corner, slamming his shoulder into his stomach, then spears him in the opposite corner. When he tries it again, Dean clotheslines him and starts pounding him with punches and then hits a dropkick on Langston against the ropes. He locks in a sleeper hold, but Langston fights out, only for Ambrose to bring him down with a knee to the stomach.
Ambrose goes high, but Langston slams him back down, followed up by clotheslines and a belly-to-belly suplex, then the Warrior Splash. Ambrose, however, grabs Langston and pulls him through the ropes to the outside. Rollins and Reigns stalk him, but Cena and Henry are there to ensure no dickishness. On the inside, Langston levels Ambrose and hits the Big Ending for the three.
It was quick, but I’m sure that there are those who would not judge an act by its brevity. All that was there was good; I like Langston’s character as an immensely powerful man but one who needs guidance. Ambrose looked great here too. 2.5 Stars.
Reigns comes in the ring and there’s another tense face-off between him and Langston before Henry takes the stage; I’m very interested to see how this will go. Both men lock up and break apart; Roman is not backing down. Test of strength, but Reigns goes for the strikes on Henry, who just drives him right out of the ring. Mark follows him, slamming him into the ring apron before throwing him back in. Seth’s got some great golf applause on him there. Henry keeps up the strikes, levelling Reigns with a big boot. Roman manages to hang Mark up on the ropes, then brings the big man down with a clothesline. The pin gets two, but Reigns stays on Henry, locking in a sleeper. The crowd get behind Sexual Chocolate, and he throws Reigns right off him, then hits shoulder-tackles, clotheslines and the JYD Tribute. A splash to the corner, then Reigns slips over Mark’s shoulder and Samoan Drops Henry like it was nothing. Superman Punch brings Henry down and the Spear gets three.
Hardly ballet, but very, very fun to watch. I’ll admit a Vince-like love of two monstrous men having at each other, and I thought Roman showcased himself excellently. Tell me this man is not bound for great things. 3 Stars.
Well, that means we’ve got one more match left to go and quite some time for it; let’s see what Cena and Rollins have got for us. I don’t hold much hope for a Rollins victory, but I’ve no doubt these two will entertain.
Rollins gets Cena in headlock; Cena slips out and the two trade holds to open the match. Henry is still recovering on the outside. Cena shoots Rollins off the ropes into a hip toss, and Seth gathers himself on the outside. Back in the ring, Seth and John trade strikes; Rollins dodges and Cena charges hard into the turnbuckle. Rollins keeps up the striking game, working Cena in the corner with stomps and punches, not letting Cena gather momentum. Cena tries for a bulldog, but Rollins counters right into a clothesline. Rollins locks in some form of sleeper, putting all of his weight on Cena, and turns it into a Camel Clutch. John makes it to his feet and pancakes Rollins into the corner, but Seth is fresh enough to bring Cena down again with a boot before Cena can get out of the box.
Rollins hits a hard-looking neckbreaker for two, then chokes Cena on the ropes and hits strikes on him from the outside. John is down and Seth stays right on him as the two of them talk strategy. Cena powers to his feet out of the hold, and flips Rollins over before clotheslining him. Both men try to reach their feet, and Rollins hits a DDT for a near-fall. Cena is tossed from corner to corner, but finally reverses an Irish whip, and Rollins is turned inside out in the corner, with both men down again.
Cena meets Rollins as both men stand, hitting clotheslines hard and fast. Rollins rolls out from a side slam, throwing Cena right into the turnbuckle for another near-fall. A neckbreaker is countered by Cena into the side slam. Five Knuckle Shuffle hits, but Rollins flips out of the Attitude Adjustment and hits a flying neckbreaker from the top rope! Rollins stalks Cena, splashing him in the corner, but a second splash is countered and Cena hits whatever-in-the-hell-kind-of-neckbreaker that was for a near-fall; John even looks surprised that Rollins kicked out. Cena goes up high, but Rollins bounces the ropes to bring Cena down and hits…an Asai DDT?! Cena kicks out at the very last second, and I never expected Rollins to put up this kind of offense. Rollins hits strike after strike; Cena tries for a powerbomb; Rollins tries to hurricanrana out of it but Cena hits the powerbomb for two. Cena gets Rollins up for the AA; Rollins hangs onto the ropes, so Cena tugs his feet hard; Rollins lands on his feet and hits an enzuigiri! He gets the cover, but Cena kicks out again. Seth goes up top, looking for the flying knee and he hits it; Cena kicks out again. Rollins goes for the Blackout; Cena counters into the STF; Rollins gets to the ropes. Ambrose leaps into the ring, but Langston takes him down; they brawl on the outside; Reigns brings down Langston with a clothesline, but Henry tosses Reigns into Ambrose. Rollins tries a diving crossbody; Cena rolls through, lifts him and hits the AA for the three.
Hell of a match. I’ve never been so impressed by Rollins, and kudos to Cena for his reactions to his resilience and the reversals they both pulled out. When Cena rolled through for the AA, I wasn’t disappointed that it was a Cena victory; I was disappointed that it was over at all. Just a great, great match. 4 Stars.
That show took a little time getting up there, but what a finish for SmackDown’s 2013. Nothing out of place, and a lot to love. I’d say that’s an eight out of ten for the night. Have a Happy New Year, all of you, and I look forward to writing more for you in 2014.
Tags: Antonio Cesaro, big e langston, Bray Wyatt, Cody Rhodes, Curtis Axel, Damien Sandow, Daniel Bryan, Darren Young, dean ambrose, Dolph Ziggler, Erick Rowan, goldust, jack swagger, jey uso, jimmy uso, john cena, kane, Luke Harper, Mark Henry, Prime Time Players, randy orton, Real Americans, Renee Young, Roman Reigns, ryback, Rybaxel, seth rollins, Smackdown, Spain's SmackDown Report, The Shield, the usos, titus o'neil, WWE, wyatt family, Zeb Coulter