Complete Report Card and Predictions Following WWE SmackDown for August 23

The Doctor Chris MuellerFeatured ColumnistAugust 24, 2013

Complete Report Card and Predictions Following WWE SmackDown for August 23

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    Every week here on Bleacher Report, I will take an in-depth look at SmackDown, recapping all of the action, offering analysis, and grading the matches, segments and anything else that takes place on the show, as well as provide some predictions on the direction of storylines.

    This week featured some fallout from SummerSlam, but most of the show seemed dedicated to establishing some fresh feuds to take us through Night of Champions.

    Alberto Del Rio and RVD are heading toward a World title match, Randy Orton and Daniel Bryan are the new WWE title feud and The World's Strongest Man has teamed up with The World's Largest Athlete to take on The Shield.

    Night of Champions is likely to feature fewer rematches than recent pay-per-views, which could help make it one of the better shows of the year if the new feuds work.

    Friday's show featured six matches. Let's get right into the show with Randy Orton's opening promo.

Randy Orton and Daniel Bryan Segment

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    The show opened with Randy Orton giving a promo to establish his heel turn and address his recent WWE title win. Daniel Bryan came out after a few minutes and the two had a great back-and-forth interaction.

    This whole segment worked on every level. Orton as a heel is what WWE has needed for a long time, and he fell right back into the role.

    Bryan was very entertaining in this segment constantly referring to Orton as pretty, but it was the conviction with which he delivered his speech about clawing his way to the top that sold the segment.

    Bryan getting the better of Orton after blocking an RKO certainly made the crowd happy, but finding out we have to wait until Night of Champions for a rematch did not go over as well. After the commercial break, we saw Vickie Guerrero make a match with Wade Barrett and Bryan inside a steel cage for later in the evening.

    The chemistry between Orton and Bryan was great throughout the whole interaction. This is a feud that will make the WWE title seem interesting again.

    Grade: A+

Cody Rhodes vs. Curtis Axel

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    Even though this match lasted nearly two full segments, it didn't seem long enough. Cody Rhodes and Curtis Axel did a good job in the time they did have, as would be expected of two guys like them.

    Rhodes got in a fair amount of offense, but it was Axel who took home the win, which was somewhat surprising.

    Rhodes is coming off of two straight victories over Money in the Bank winner Damien Sandow, and for him to lose a match to Axel didn't seem to make a lot of sense, even with a small assist from Paul Heyman on Axel's behalf.

    Now that Rhodes is a babyface it opens up a lot of doors for feuds he would not have been able to have as a heel, and a feud with Axel is something I would like to see.

    Hopefully this is not the last we have seen of these two in the ring together.

    Grade: B-

    Some notes from the match:

    • Rhodes has really embraced more high-flying moves as of late. It makes his arsenal that much more diverse.
    • I'm still not sold on Axel's finisher. He should have used the Perfectplex as a finisher for the first six months of his run before moving on.
    • It is surprisingly hard to find any matches where Larry Hennig or Mr. Perfect interacted with Dusty Rhodes or Dustin Runnels at all.

     

Dolph Ziggler vs. Big E Langston

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    Big E Langston assaulted Dolph Ziggler before the match even had a chance to get started, and it really established his intensity well.

    Seconds after the bell rang, Langston had Ziggler propelled 10 feet in the air, only to let him fall to the mat face first.

    This was a quick match, but I loved every second of it. Ziggler was tossed around by the big man before he pulled out the win with a Zig Zag out of nowhere. He even overcame a cheap shot from AJ and a massive clothesline from Langston.

    Normally, the thought of any match under four or five minutes makes me dislike it automatically, but this was a fun match despite its length.

    Grade: B-

    Some notes from the match:

    • I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Langston should have gotten the push that was given to Ryback.
    • Line of the night from JBL about AJ: "You can see the back of her head through her eyes."
    • Television doesn't do AJ's scream justice. It is a lot more blood-curdling in person.

Alberto Del Rio vs. Christian

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    This SummerSlam rematch was just as good as any of the previous encounters these two have had.

    Alberto Del Rio and Christian seem to bring out the best in each other, and each time they face off it feels like a totally different match. You can't say that with a lot of people who have several matches in a short span of time.

    This match was all over the place. Momentum shifted at a moment's notice, and the two of them string together different series of moves to put together a great midshow match.

    The end of the match saw Christian fight valiantly to counter the cross armbreaker but eventually succumb to the pain and tap out.

    Del Rio delivered a promo after the match, which was interrupted by Ricardo Rodriguez. Ricky brought out RVD to fight Del Rio, but Christian took him out first with a missile dropkick. RVD followed that up with Rolling Thunder, and then he celebrated with Ricardo Rodriguez and the World title to mock Del Rio.

    Grade: A

    Some notes from the match:

    • The two counts in this match were as close as they can get. That ref really knew how to sell a close kick out.
    • Del Rio needs the cars back for his entrance.
    • Christian's tan bothers me a little. He looks leathery sometimes.

3MB vs. Big Show and Mark Henry

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    This match was simply an excuse to show off how dominating Big Show and Mark Henry can be as a team, and that is not a bad thing.

    Establishing that they have chemistry is important if they are going to be a team for awhile. Henry and Show as a team certainly has its appeal, but they have to make it work.

    This handicap match was quick, but is showed how WWE's two biggest Superstars can make one monster tag team. This match won't get a high grade because it was a typical squash, but it gets an A for effort.

    Grade: C-

    Some notes from the match:

    • Is it me, or does Slater have a new tattoo every single time we see him?
    • Big Show and Henry remind me a little of The Natural Disasters.
    • Someone needs to get Jimmy Hart to manage Henry and Show immediately.
    • Dean Ambrose's absence during the promo from Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins was strange. It almost seems like they have slowly been making Ambrose separate himself.

Darren Young vs. Antonio Cesaro

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    This was another short match, but the two men involved kept the pace quick, allowing it to feel like there was more to it.

    It is not quite clear when it happened, but at one point Darren Young's mouth was really bloody from a busted lip or something. It looked really gross when he yelled before hitting the Gut Check to Antonio Cesaro to pick up the win.

    Titus O'Neil and Young are officially babyfaces, and the crowd seems ready to cheer for them. Hopefully, they become a more serious threat to the tag team champions going forward.

    Grade: C

Daniel Bryan vs. Wade Barrett (Steel Cage Match)

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    SmackDown ended with a great cage match between Barrett and Bryan, followed immediately by a sneak attack by WWE champion Orton on Bryan.

    The Match itself was really fun to watch. Both men took a few hard hits into the cage, and Bryan used the same move he used to defeat John Cena to win this match.

    The running knee to the face is a very brutal looking move, and it makes Bryan look like a very dangerous competitor. Establishing it as a finisher was the right way to go.

    Grade: A

    Some notes from the match:

    • Vickie sure was lucky that there just happened to be a cage hanging above the ring.
    • It was a wise move on Barrett's part to start growing the beard back.
    • Orton coming out from under the ring to attack Bryan was confusing at first because it looked like he literally appeared out of thin air.

Final Thoughts and Predictions

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    This was a pretty good episode of SmackDown. There seems to be a pattern developing where there are two really good matches every week, with some filled mixed in throughout the rest of the show.

    Bryan's rise to the top of WWE is only going to get more interesting from here, and the fact that he has a heel Orton to feud with means he will get a great program out of the situation.

    RVD seems to be the newest challenger for Del Rio's World title, and Big Show has teamed up with Henry to step up and take on The Shield for the tag team titles.

    Axel is still without a real feud, but he could enter into some kind of program with Rhodes after picking up a victory over him.

    Night of Champions is already looking like it will be a series of fresh matches, so hopefully WWE continues to establish some newer feuds to make it a great PPV.

    Predictions:

    • Dean Ambrose will part ways with Rollins and Reigns within two months.
    • RVD will win the World title, then Sandow will cash in on him within 24 hours.
    • Crowds will find some way to mock Orton with "Pretty" chants by Monday.
    • Bryan will face Triple H in a match before 2013 is over.

    What did you think of this week's show?

     

    Thanks for reading, and follow me on Twitter @BR_Doctor.