Complete Report Card and Predictions Following WWE SmackDown for Sept. 6

The Doctor Chris MuellerFeatured ColumnistSeptember 7, 2013

Complete Report Card and Predictions Following WWE SmackDown for Sept. 6

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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's show featured several entertaining matches and segments, making for one of the best episodes of SmackDown all year.

    Just about every current storyline was touched upon, and we even had a new storyline start up within the Divas division.

    We are just over a week away from Night of Champions, and WWE appears to be putting a lot of focus on making sure that every angle has something to like.

    Let's get right into the show with the opening segment featuring Triple H holding a meeting with the entire WWE roster.

Opening Segment

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    Triple H, Vickie Guerrero and Brad Maddox opened the show in the ring with the entire WWE roster up on the stage, save for The Shield who were at ringside standing guard.

    Trips talked about firing Cody Rhodes and how the locker room has felt about it. He said he wants an open forum where anyone can express their feelings about anything.

    Damien Sandow complimented Triple H for firing Rhodes, and Trips responded by saying he didn't want this to turn into a situation where people just kiss his butt.

    Kofi says that making the locker room fear for their jobs isn't good for business, but before Triple H could answer, Heath Slater stepped in and insulted Big Show before telling Triple H he was doing a good job. Trips insulted Slater, which almost got a pop from the crowd.

    After a few other Superstars made some comments, Triple H pointed out how Daniel Bryan was not on the ramp with anyone else. He said Bryan's ego has gotten out of hand and he thinks he is better than everyone else.

    Before the segment was over Triple H made RVD vs. Randy Orton, Kofi vs. Curtis Axel and Daniel Bryan vs. any member of The Shield that he chooses.

    This segment might not be popular with many fans, but for me it actually struck a chord. I have been in a corporate environment for many years, and Triple H's way of running this meeting caused me to have several flashbacks to meetings I have been in where people claimed they wanted an open forum, only to punish those who spoke up against the corporation.

    Despite the lack of anything interesting really happening, I thought this segment worked. Why Vickie and Maddox needed to be there is a little bit of a mystery since they said nothing, but everything else clicked on some level.

    Grade: B-

    Some notes from the segment:

    • Triple H's line "Cody Rhodes fired Cody Rhodes" was clearly meant to remind us of the famous "Bret Screwed Bret" line from Vince McMahon.
    • Triple H is a great heel, but sometimes his heel comments get him babyface reactions. His humor is what will end up making it hard to hate him.
    • Was anyone else a little confused when Triple H said "Non-title Intercontinental Championship match?" Why wouldn't he just say "Non-title match?"

RVD vs. Randy Orton

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    RVD came right out of the gate strong in this match, hitting Orton with a bunch of signature moves before bring grounded with a powerslam when he tried to hit Rolling Thunder.

    The rest of the match was very back and forth. Both men hit all their signatures throughout the match, and the crowd even started a "This is awesome" chant at one point.

    This match really was awesome. It won't win Match of the Year, but it will probably be Match of the Night by a decent margin. Del Rio and Ricardo's involvement helped push the feud between RVD and ADR.

    Orton played the role of a heel to perfection, even going as far as to DDT RVD from the apron to the floor to show just how brutal he could be.

    Orton and RVD have that perfect blend of similarities and differences to make for a great match every time they get in the ring together. The live crowd should consider themselves lucky to have been able to see this match on a regular episode of SmackDown.

    Grade: A

    Some notes from the match:

    • Did anyone think JBL's comment about Ricardo Rodriguez looking like a vendor on the streets of California was a little racist? I know he didn't mean it to be taken that way, but you just know someone will have a fit about it.
    • Can you believe it has been almost 10 years since Orton won the IC title from RVD? Where did the time go?
    • How is RVD not being pushed straight to the top? He is one of the most over performers of all time, and he always makes every match he is in exciting.

Dolph Ziggler vs. Ryback

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    I cannot believe I am going to say this, and I fully expect a lot of people to tell me I am wrong, but I was extremely entertained throughout this whole match.

    This match only lasted one segment, but so many things happened in that short amount of time that I can't help but compliment everyone involved.

    Dolph Ziggler and Ryback had a decent bout, but it was all of the little details that added up to make the whole affair very enjoyable.

    Ziggler was an awesome babyface, Ryback played the heel like a champ and Dean Ambrose's participation really helped add some drama to the situation.

    What really shocked me was Ryback's in-ring performance. While it was nothing groundbreaking, he was certainly selling offense from Ziggler better than he has in the past.

    Was this a five-star match? Not even close, but it was a good match, and that is all we can really hope for when Ryback is involved.

    Ryback picked up the win with Shell Shocked, but Ziggler was the one who came away with a potential storyline with Dean Ambrose that will probably lead to a title match at Night of Champions for the U.S. title.

    Grade: B

    Some notes from the match:

    • After weeks of trying to figure out who Ryback reminds me of with his new bully gimmick, I have finally figured it out. He is acting like Biff Tannen, even more so than Jack Swagger.
    • Dolph Ziggler chasing Ambrose around the announcer's table reminded me of every time I saw two kids get into a fight and chase each other on the playground for some reason. It was kind of funny.
    • Ryback slapping Ziggler across the face while he held him in a bear hug and lowered his shoulders down to the mat was great. It was just so heelish. I loved it.
    • I think I might be turning the corner and becoming a Ryback fan, or having an aneurysm. It's hard to tell.

Kofi Kingston vs. Curtis Axel

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    Maybe the fact that I had a great day today is skewing my opinion, but SmackDown just kept delivering.

    Axel and Kofi had a great match. There were creative exchanges, a lot of crowd participation and the brilliant performance of Paul Heyman. Everything worked.

    Even the editing of the match was great, and editing is not usually something that gets pointed out. Whoever went over all the footage and cut this match together told a great story.

    Every time Paul Heyman was shown on screen he was doing something that added to the match. Whether it was him stroking the IC title as he watched the match, distracting Kofi, yelling at the ref or the little detail of him slowly dropping the title to the floor as he watched Axel lose the match, Heyman's actions made the whole encounter more interesting.

    The dueling chants created a great atmosphere throughout the match, and both Axel and Kofi really seemed to be working the crowd like top stars. Everyone involved in this match, from the production team to the people involved, did their job well.

    Grade: B

    Some notes from the match:

    • Was that a Curtis Axel chant I heard in the beginning of the match? I know I heard a Perfectplex chant, but the first chant was hard to hear.
    • Paul Heyman was stroking the IC title like he was obsessed with it. I half-expected to see him mouthing the words "My precious" at one point.
    • Kofi really seems invigorated since returning, and as a Kofi fan, I couldn't be happier.

Naomi vs. Brie Bella

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    The match itself only lasted a couple of minutes, and it didn't even have a finish because Alicia Fox, Layla, Aksana and AJ came down and beat up the Total Divas.

    At first I thought this match would put a stop to the momentum the show had, but I was wrong. The attack by the women not featured on Total Divas was clearly done to start a storyline between the cast and the rest of the Divas, and WWE could not have made a better decision with this.

    For the first time in a long time, I actually find myself caring about the direction of a Divas storyline that isn't based solely around AJ Lee.

    I might be wrong, but I think WWE is actually trying to make big changes to the division, and hopefully enough effort is put into this angle to keep it interesting.

    Grade: C+

    Some notes from the match:

    • Sir Mix-a-Lot needs to put Naomi in a music video right now.
    • Nikki's disappearing act when the other Divas came down for a fight was impressive.
    • The grade for this would have been higher had the match itself been anything but average.

The Usos vs. The Real Americans

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    This match was all right, but it could have been so much better. There just wasn't enough time for these four men to really do anything, but it still had some highlights.

    The biggest problem with this match was Jack Swagger. Everything he did looked really sloppy and poorly timed, but Antonio Cesaro helped make up for Swagger's deficiency in this match a little bit.

    The match had a fast pace that kept the crowd into it, but the best part of the whole bout was the finish. Jey Uso was about to deliver the Superfly Splash when Swagger pushed him off the top rope right into a massive European uppercut from Cesaro.

    This match won't be included on any best of compilations, but it didn't kill the pace of the show.

    Grade: C

    Some notes from the match:

    • Zeb Colter doesn't use Fop, dammit. He's a Dapper Dan man. (if you have never seen Oh Brother, Where Art Thou, then this joke will go right over your head.)
    • Cesaro should have been using his variations on the European uppercut as his finisher since day one. His uppercuts are usually the most brutal move we see delivered all night.
    • I think Cesaro may have caught Uso a little more than he intended to with his uppercut.

Big Show vs. 3MB

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    Big Show was given the chance to blow off some steam by Triple H in the form of a match with 3MB. Usually a squash match would be something I would lambast, but this was pretty fun to watch.

    Unlike a lot of the IWC, I am actually a Big Show fan. I feel like he has a lot more to offer the business, but being booked poorly has hurt his image in the past.

    This match featured the Big Show we should be seeing every week. He came out looking pissed off, physically dominated all three men and then he left. You don't get this kind of thing on the indy circuit, and it is one of the things that makes WWE what it is.

    This was all about the story, not the match itself. Big Show's destruction off all three members of 3MB ended with a double chokeslam to Drew McIntyre and Jinder Mahal and a KO punch to Heath Slater that looked pretty realistic due to the angle it was shot from.

    Big Show paused on the ramp when he heard The Shield's music, but Triple H came out and brought the big man backstage. He was very casual about it, too. He just sort of waved Big Show to the back.

    Again, my good mood might be changing my perception of the show, but I enjoyed this a lot.

    Grade: B-

    Some notes from the match:

    • Big Show's running knee to the face of D-Mac against the barricade actually made me cringe a little. It looked like the kind of thing that could kill a man just due to the sheer size of Big Show.
    • The backstage segment prior to the match was subtly hilarious. Triple H asked Big Show why he was upset and Big Show said "You know why I am upset." We all know it's because of how Triple H has treated him recently, but Triple H's response of "I know, 3MB" had perfect comedic timing.

Seth Rollins vs. Daniel Bryan

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    There are not many Superstars in WWE who can take five minutes and turn it into an awesome way to end a show, but Daniel Bryan is one of them.

    Roman Reigns looked like he would be the one challenging Bryan in the beginning, but it was just a diversion so Seth Rollins could get the first shot in on Bryan.

    The pace was very fast throughout the whole bout, and Bryan looked just as good as he ever has, keeping Reigns and Ambrose at bay while he defeated Seth Rollins with a running knee to the face.

    I feel like a broken record saying this again, but everything in this match worked exactly the way it was supposed to, and the attack by Randy Orton to Bryan on the top of the ramp helped to cap off the show and push the storyline through to next week.

    Grade: A

    Some notes from the match:

    • The way Rollins landed on his head after the sick German suplex he took from Bryan makes me wonder if he was hurt afterward. It looked like a hard hit.
    • Bryan is starting to use the series of kicks to the chest a little too much, but he adds enough variety to every match to where it won't be a huge problem.

Final Thoughts and Predictions Going Forward

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    I can't remember the last time there was an episode of SmackDown that was this enjoyable. Literally every segment and match added to the show's quality in some way.

    Even the replay of The Wyatt Family video from Raw was great, and we've already seen it before.

    WWE has been great lately. The product as a whole has seen a big improvement in 2013 over 2012, and we can only hope it gets better from here.

    Predictions:

    • Bray Wyatt will eventually be known as one of WWE's greatest heels. Everything he says is delivered with the kind of performance you would expect out of a huge Hollywood star.
    • Dolph Ziggler will face Dean Ambrose for the U.S. title and Kofi will face Axel for the IC title at Night of Champions.
    • The cast of Total Divas will nearly double in the second season.
    • Big Show will turn heel before the end of 2013.
    • Cody Rhodes will return and feud with Randy Orton before the end of 2013.
    • At least one of you will make the "I give this show a 4/10" comment just because I gave it such a rave review.

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