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 was more about wrestling and less about the non-wrestling segments, which is always a good thing when the matches are of good quality.
This week's show featured six matches, four of which were tag matches of some kind. We were also treated to an intercontinental title match and a match between the World Champion and the man who holds a briefcase with a guaranteed world title match.
I am always looking for ways to improve my recaps for you, the readers, so I have decided to start including links to more videos within the slideshow whenever I reference something from WWE's past.
Let's get right into the show with the opening segment featuring Vickie Guerrero, Alberto Del Rio and Damien Sandow.
After a video recapped the events between Big Show and Triple H from Raw, Vickie Guerrero came out to open the show in some hot pants. I use the word "hot" very lightly here.
Vickie said Big Show's house has been put up for sale after he was fired. Before too long, Alberto Del Rio came out to ask Vickie to cancel the match between himself and John Cena at Hell in a Cell.
ADR pretended to be into Vickie in order to get her to do what he wanted, and she even made the suggestion that he kiss her to prove his words were real. I have to admit that Vickie saying "Don't do it like the gringos, do it like the Mexicans" made me laugh a little due to her delivery.
Damien Sandow came out while all this was happening and called Del Rio a phony who only sees Vickie as someone he can take advantage of. Sandow was playing the babyface role a little bit, which could indicate an upcoming turn for the Intellectual Savior to the Masses.
Del Rio attacked Sandow, but Sandow ended up getting the upper hand and sending the World Champ out of the ring.
This wasn't exactly a strong or weak opening segment, but it did provide a bit of entertainment, and it set up a match many people have probably wanted to see.
Some notes from the segment:
- Are short shorts and a blazer ever appropriate business attire?
- Vickie showed a little bit of personality and humor that we traditionally do not see from her. I have to say that I am starting to like Vickie more and more. She is a solid character who can be funny at times.
- Sandow as a heel is great, but as a babyface he could really take off with the fans. His maligning humor and etymological prowess would make him very entertaining as a good guy.
- I hope fans of Modern Family appreciate that last line.
- Sandow's shirt using Descartes' famous quote would be even cooler if it actually said "Cogito ergo sum," but that might go over a lot of fans' heads.
Truth and Axel had an average match, but it could have been a lot better had it been given more time, which it should have gotten since this was an Intercontinental Title Match.
We only got to see a couple minutes before and after the mid-match commercial break, which made the match feel a lot shorter than it probably seemed for the live crowd.
I hope this feud continues because Truth and Axel complement each other very well. They have enough in common and enough differences to make for a good combination.
Paul Heyman did his usual top-notch job of managing from outside the ring, which at this point is the most consistent thing we see from week to week in WWE.
Hopefully we'll get another title match at Hell in the Cell where they will really get the opportunity to excite the crowd.
Some notes from the match:
Before the match began WWE showed a statistic about the WWE app being downloaded 8 million times. I spent 12 years in the mobile communications industry, and for an app to have 8 million downloads is somewhat impressive when it's not Angry Birds or a social network.
Either WWE is getting really good at the canned responses from the crowd, or the audience popped huge for R-Truth.
Truth might have found the Fountain of Youth, because he doesn't look like he has aged since he was in TNA, and it's even more impressive because he was a smoker for a long time, or still is. I'm not sure.
Bobby Heenan is my favorite manager of all time, but Heyman is quickly catching up to him.
Tyson Kidd has finally returned, but not in the way his fans hoped he would. Kidd was put under a mask with Ricardo Rodriguez to act as a generic jobber team for Los Matadores.
I hate to say this, and I am sure a lot of you will think I'm crazy, but I am beginning to soften on Los Matadores. We used to get gimmicks like this all the time when I was a kid, and they are very popular with the younger fans.
WWE is beginning to mix ingredients from its various "eras," and it could be the key to its longevity. Appealing to kids with these kinds of gimmicks while appealing to older fans with more mature storylines like Big Show's financial issues makes it so everyone has something to relate to.
The match these four men had was short, but it was fast-paced and provided a couple of impressive spots. El Torito is especially impressive with his physicality at the age of 47.
Some notes from the match:
- This match could have earned a much higher grade had it lasted a little longer.
- I never realized Ricardo Rodriguez had those tattoos before.
- I can't put my finger on it, but Ricardo's mask is very similar to a Superstar we used to see in WCW all the time. Help me out people. Who is it?
- Kidd's low dropkick through Fernando's (or is it Diego?) legs into his face looked especially nasty because Fernando (or Diego) didn't have any way of lessening the impact since his head was against the ground during his backslide to Rodriguez.
This match was short, even for a six-Divas tag match, and nobody in the crowd knew who they were supposed to root for since everyone is playing a babyface at the moment. Face vs. Face matches can work very well, but when you have six babyfaces in the ring it makes things too convoluted.
Brie and Natalya had a nice exchange of wrestling to open the match, but soon everyone was getting in the ring to make sure each had a few seconds of action, which made everything fall apart.
Natalya and Brie should have had a singles match instead of this. It would have been a much better "wrestling" match.
Naomi picked up the win by pinning Kaitlyn, who I am happy to see back in the fold. WWE pushed her to the side after her feud with AJ, so having her back at least makes things a little better.
Some notes from the match:
- I wonder if WWE told Alicia Fox to stop dying her hair because Eva Marie was using the same color?
- Brie must feel a lot of pressure to be better in the ring being engaged to one of the best wrestlers in the business. She is looking better in the ring with each passing week.
- Eva Marie still looks very rigid in the ring. I honestly feel like she would be better served as a valet or manager to a Superstar or Diva.
- Cameron is still pretty green, too.
- I'm glad Naomi got the pin. I think WWE has faith in her skills, and they are just waiting for the right time to push her on her own. But to be fair, she barely sold the Spear from Kaitlyn.
We go from babyfaces vs. babyfaces to a heel vs. a heel. It might not be the usual way WWE does things, but the occasional changeup makes things interesting.
Sandow and Del Rio had a very entertaining match. It wasn't a spot-fest or a technical clinic, but they kept a quick pace and really meshed well together.
Sandow was clearly getting positive reactions at various points in the match, which gives me even more hope that he will turn babyface soon.
Del Rio picked up a hard-fought win with the Cross Armbreaker. I could go on for a long time describing the highlights, but you should just watch the match if you haven't already.
Some notes form the match:
- I usually like SmackDown better than Raw, but it's always hard to tell how crowds really react to people since WWE can edit in whatever response they want. Sandow might have gotten a babyface reaction when he came out, but you wouldn't know it by watching the show.
- Del Rio dropkicked Sandow right in the face at one point, sending Sandow's head into the turnbuckle. Spots like that always entertain me because they look so real.
- Sandow also took a couple other hard kicks to the dome, and Del Rio has some of the best footwork in WWE, so it made the match that much more exciting.
- John Cone, the ref for this match, did a great job. Not counting a pin because Sandow didn't have his shoulder on the mat at one point is one of those details not enough people appreciate. (Fun fact: He was the ref for Matt Hardy vs. Evander Holyfield.)
3MB looked great in this match. All three men got in some great offense against their opponents, and PTP also looked very strong in their performances. Khali did about as well as anyone could expect him to perform with his physical limitations.
Six-man matches are very hit-or-miss, but this one was fun to watch. Khali's time in the ring was limited, which helped make the match's pace feel quicker.
The other five men made this match entertaining. Drew McIntyre's trash talking to Darren Young certainly added to the entertainment value.
Khali picked up the win for his team with a big chop to Heath Slater.
Some notes from the match:
- I actually met someone named Khali for the first time earlier this week. I asked him what he thought of The Great Khali and he just shook his head and walked away. I couldn't tell if this was a reaction to the Great Khali or wrestling in general, but it made me laugh.
- WWE should acknowledge past storylines more often. Ignoring the original storyline between Khali and Jinder Mahal is just stupid.
- Titus O'Neil and Darren Young have come a long way since their days on NXT seasons one and two. I love being able to watch the progression of a talented Superstar over the years, and PTP are two of those people who we have been fortunate enough to watch mature as wrestlers.
- It is also inspiring to see Titus' devotion to raising awareness for breast cancer. He was pushing Breast Cancer Awareness Month before WWE got involved with Susan G. Komen. Watch this clip from NXT in 2011.
- I marked out a little when JBL brought up Barry Horowitz winning a match. My first WWE live event actually saw JBL, as Justin Hawk Bradshaw, face Barry Horowitz.
- Khali could be way more valuable to WWE if it didn't book him to look so weak. When he was facing Batista for the world title he looked like a dangerous giant, but now he is just a below-average kiddie gimmick.
Earlier in the night, Goldust and Cody Rhodes had an interview with Renee Young in which they thanked the fans for their support.
Goldust might actually be better now than he was during the height of his career. All four men had a great match, but Goldie looked the most impressive out of all of them in my opinion.
Cody has been adding more high flying moves to his already impressive arsenal, which is certainly going to help him continue to climb the WWE ladder of success.
This might be the best we have seen Luke Harper and Erick Rowan look in the ring since debuting on the main roster, which is too bad since it was in a losing effort.
Some notes from the match:
- I like how Cody still looks confused by Goldust's behavior sometimes. Goldust is such a unique character, and it is awesome to see him in such good shape and still be so entertaining after all the problems he has had in the past.
- Seeing Goldust be confused by someone else's weird behavior was hilarious.
- Did anyone else notice that Bray Wyatt wasn't able to blow out the lantern this time?
- I mentioned before that I think Goldust is better now than he was when he was first making it big in WWE, but I want to know your opinion. Watch this match from the 1996 Royal Rumble where he took on Razor Ramon for the IC title and tell me if he looks better now or if he looked better 17 years ago. This is another instance where the only way I could find the whole match was by including the whole PPV, so enjoy the rest of the show as well.
- Also, can you believe Dustin Runnels has been around this long? Cody was only 11 when that match took place. If I am in half as good of shape as Goldust is when I am 44, I will be one happy camper.
SmackDown was very good this week. Almost all of the matches had something positive to take away from them, but the advancement of some of WWE's current storylines really made for an entertaining show.
The best part may have been that WWE focused on the matches and kept the non-wrestling segments short and sweet.
Alberto Del Rio once again had the match of the night, but this time it was against someone we haven't seen him face too many times. ADR has a lot to be desired when it comes to his promos, but nobody can deny that this guy is fun to watch against just about anybody.
Even 3MB looked good in its match, and that is not something you will see me write very often.
This week we had no Dolph Ziggler, no Shield, no Randy Orton and no Daniel Bryan, but the show still managed to keep up the high level of quality we have come to expect from the blue brand.
Hell in a Cell is coming up at the end of a jam-packed PPV schedule for WWE, but with the way things are going it could end up being one of the better PPVs in recent months.
- Cody and Goldust will eventually have a match, hopefully at WrestleMania 30 if Goldie sticks around that long.
- John Cena will defeat ADR for the World title, only to have Damien Sandow cash in on him and turn babyface in the process due to the inevitable pop he will receive from the crowd when it happens.
- Drew McIntyre will leave 3MB, and the group will disband before the end of 2013.
- R-Truth and Curtis Axel will face off for the IC title again at HIAC, and Truth will win the belt this time.
- Big Show will win his job back at HIAC in some kind of ridiculous handicap match Triple H and Stephanie put him in, probably against The Shield.
- El Torito and Hornswoggle will have a match at some point in the near future, but nobody will care about the outcome.
- Vickie will turn babyface, but it won't be long before she is back to being a heel.
- Hell in a Cell will see at least one new champion crowned on top of the WWE title finally being won by Orton or Bryan.
What did you think of SmackDown, and what are your predictions for Hell in a Cell?
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