The Good, the Great and the Awesome from SmackDown 10/11/13
Four days after an eventful Raw, SmackDown emanated from the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.
With the majority of the WWE roster leaving for an overseas tour, SmackDown featured a significantly depleted roster.
Which Superstars would step up in the absence of marquee stars and deliver noteworthy performances?
More importantly, what impact would Friday night's program have as WWE prepares for its Hell in a Cell pay-per-view in just over two weeks?
All of those questions would be answered as WWE took over the Syfy airwaves for its weekly Friday night program.
With a serious lack of star power at its disposal, WWE produced a solid show that showcased some of its younger stars.
Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow had particularly excellent nights, while Alberto Del Rio continued to prove why he is a legitimate contender for Wrestler of the Year with yet another outstanding in-ring performance.
The use of video packages actually helped enhance Friday's shows as opposed to hurting it. They ate up time and saved the company from having to deliver more matches, which would only have highlighted the lack of depth on the roster it had to play with.
What could have been a disastrous show with a dead crowd and an overall lack of enthusiasm instead was a mostly entertaining watch.
Los Matadores vs. Los Locals
The first few appearances of Los Matadores were certainly rough around the edges, and the performers under the mask attempted to work out the kinks in their act. Friday night, in a match against Los Locals (a masked duo consisting of Ricardo Rodriguez and who appeared to be Tyson Kidd), they were the sharpest they have been since debuting the new gimmick.
There are still a number of questions surrounding the act and how successful it can truly be, but for now, the newcomers are over and the younger members of the WWE Universe seem to enjoy what Primo and Epico are doing.
Six-Divas Tag Action
The Total Divas cast was spotlighted again this week as Brie Bella teamed with the Funkadactyls in six-Diva tag action against Natalya, Eva Marie and Kaitlyn.
The match was short, as is typical for televised Divas bouts, but it featured a faster pace than others and a series of finishing and signature maneuvers that had the crowd hot and led to a reversed rollup by Naomi on Kaitlyn that scored her team the win.
The Divas packed a lot of action into the few minutes they were allotted, and it made for a more entertaining bout than most Divas matches on Raw or SmackDown.
Vickie Toys with Del Rio, Sandow Interrupts
This week's broadcast kicked off with SmackDown general manager Vickie Guerrero in the squared circle. She discussed the actions of The Big Show from Monday's Raw but was interrupted by world heavyweight champion Alberto Del Rio.
Del Rio implored Vickie to call off the scheduled match between he and John Cena at Hell in a Cell. The GM asked Del Rio if he meant it when he called her sexy. When he said yes, she told him to prove it by kissing her.
He did, but Vickie was unimpressed. She told him to kiss her again, this time on the lips. He did and, again, she wanted more. She told him not to kiss her like an American but, rather, a Mexican.
He grabbed Vickie in his arms, dipped her down and delivered a passion smooch. Vickie seemed impressed but refused to cancel the match.
This brought out Damien Sandow, who seemed to have dropped his Intellectual Savior shtick in favor of a more straightforward promo style. After some back and forth, a match between he and Del Rio was set up for later in the show.
It was definitely a surprise to see the sudden change in character for Sandow, who came across more naturally during his brief exchange with Del Rio and Vickie. Still, the character was so different from anything else on the show that one must wonder if now is the time to eliminate it in favor of yet another nondescript young babyface.
Vickie was at her best on Friday in the first expanded mic time she has had in quite a while. Del Rio was solid as well as he came across as a champion who knows his days with the title may very well be coming to an end if the match against Cena goes on as scheduled.
Intercontinental Championship Match
In a rematch from Battleground, and as a result of the outcome of a tag team match on Monday's Raw, intercontinental champion Curtis Axel took on R-Truth.
Sunday's pay-per-view match was a well-wrestled one that never clicked with the Buffalo audience and, as a result, suffered enormously.
The fans inside the Nationwide were a little more welcoming of the championship clash, and what resulted was a much improved match between champion and challenger.
Axel is a talented in-ring worker. Everything he does is crisp and spot-on, but he has a serious lack of natural charisma. His opponent in this week's match, R-Truth, is the polar opposite. His charisma and flashy offensive move set makes up for his rather pedestrian, though solid, ring work.
Axel controlled the majority of the bout, Truth made his comeback, and after a hangman's facebuster, the champion picked up the win.
Perfectly acceptable wrestling with a hot crowd to boot.
Damien Sandow vs. Alberto Del Rio
For a match with no hype heading into it, Sandow and Del Rio delivered an outstanding match that started slow, picked up in the middle and had a hot crowd hanging on every near-fall late.
They appeared to be testing one another early in the bout, but once they established chemistry with one another, the match hit a second gear and wowed the fans in Columbus.
Sandow had little trouble portraying the babyface in the match, adding "You're Welcome" before a suplex and his Cubito Aequet elbow drop and eliciting a crowd response because of it. The way he hung in with the world heavyweight champion, who has proved himself a big-match performer throughout 2013, won over the audience and had them wanting to see him leave the arena with his arm raised in victory.
Unfortunately for Mr. Money in the Bank, Del Rio moved out of the way of a knee dropped, delivered a vicious side kick and, moments later, locked in the cross armbreaker for the tapout win.
If rumors via The Wrestling Observer (h/t Yardbarker.com) of a Sandow face turn come to fruition, Friday night's match against Del Rio should have management feeling confident in the performer's ability to succeed in the role.
Cody Rhodes and Goldust vs. The Wyatt Family
Entering SmackDown, the Wyatt Family sported an unblemished win-loss record. Luke Harper and Erick Rowan had defeated tag team title contenders The Prime Time Players in recent weeks, and their wins, coupled with Bray Wyatt's dominant performances, had many questioning if anyone could derail the group.
Enter Cody Rhodes and Goldust, who were also riding a wave of momentum into Friday night's show.
They had defeated Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns Sunday at Battleground, winning back their spots on the WWE roster.
The main event match was a good, old-school wrestling match that saw the larger heel duo dominate the majority of the action, only for Goldust to make the hot tag to his brother, Cody.
The second-generation star cleared house and delivered a cross-body block off the top rope and onto Rowan. After catching a boot from Harper in front of a Wyatt, Rhodes was rolled back into the ring where it looked like he would be the victim of Harper's trademark clothesline.
Goldust would throw himself in harms way and catch most of the clothesline, giving Cody a moment to recover. Harper tossed the youngest Rhodes into the corner and charged in after him. Cody caught him with a rollup and scored a huge upset victory for he and his older brother.
The win for Cody and Goldust was unexpected in that so much time has been devoted to establishing and building the Wyatt Family, and to have them lose so unceremoniously on WWE's secondary show SmackDown was surprising.
That does not mean it was a bad decision. As JBL stated on Friday's broadcast, the brothers defied the odds by defeating The Shield at Battleground and did so again by knocking off the previously undefeated Harper and Rowan.
The win came in a fluky manner, which allows Cody and Goldust to pick up the victory without really hurting their opponents at all.
More importantly, it enforces WWE's claim that anything can happen at any time. While unlikely, perhaps the unexpected result will cause more fans to tune into SmackDown next Friday night.