Complete Report Card and Predictions Following WWE SmackDown for November 1

The Doctor Chris Mueller@@BR_DoctorFeatured ColumnistNovember 2, 2013

Complete Report Card and Predictions Following WWE SmackDown for November 1

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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 the return of John Cena to SmackDown as World Heavyweight champion. He seemed to be showing signs of his more thuggish character from earlier in his career, and it could indicate a character change for the leader of the Cenation.

    The card was thin at just four matches, but WWE managed to feature over 20 Superstars and Divas in wrestling and non-wrestling roles.

    There wasn't a singles match all night. Every bout featured tag team or six-man tag team action. WWE also relied heavily on video packages this week, which should come as no surprise when you look at the number of different storylines going on at the same time.

    Normally I would lambaste a two-hour show with only four matches, but WWE had a lot of ground to cover with closing out old feuds, starting up new feuds and paying attention to the feuds that will continue through Survivor Series.

    Let's get right into this week's show with the opening segment featuring John Cena's triumphant return to SmackDown.


The Return of Thug-Life Cena

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    John Cena came out to open the show with a kind of swagger we have not seen in years. He was acting a lot like he did during the early part of his career when he was a rapper.

    The way he spoke, the lines he used and the way he carried himself were all very different from the John Cena of recent years.

    This might have been the best promo Cena has given in years simply due to the fact that he was a lot more likeable this way. The crowd seemed to be behind him throughout the segment, and it could be a sign that this kind of character is what fans want to see from him.

    The way he ran down The Real Americans was also clearly different from how he usually responds to his rivals.

    Damien Sandow came out and gave a strong promo to Cena about being a false champion. The three men surrounded Cena, but Cody Rhodes and Goldust made the save.

    Vickie came out and made this into a six-man tag match for later in the evening.

    All in all, this was a good opening segment. Cena was charismatic and entertaining, the heels all played their parts wonderfully and we got a main event out of it that was pretty entertaining when you consider all of the Superstars involved.

    Grade: B+

    Some notes from the segment:

    • Cena was using a lot of rhymes, to the point where I thought he would break out into a full-on rap verse to insult his opponents like he used to.
    • Cena keeping his hat on instead of throwing it into the crowd was another thing that made him seem more thuggish in his appearance for some reason.
    • Cena compared Jack Swagger to Biff from Back to the Future, which is a joke several writers, including myself, here on Bleacher Report have been making for years.

The Usos vs. Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose

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    It's nice to see a different combination of members of The Shield in a regular tag match now that they don't hold the tag team titles anymore.

    The Shield gave a promo about The Usos before the match took place where the trio said they were tired of facing The Usos over and over because they had beaten them so many times.

    The Usos proved they were still a match for The Shield by picking up the win in a very exciting tag tam match. They were given two full segments to work this match, and they made good use of every minute.

    Roman Reigns nearly came into play at one point, but Big E. Langston came out to back up The Usos and make sure the match stayed between just the four men in the ring.

    Jimmy picked up the win for The Usos with a roll-up on Dean Ambrose, but that only happened because Jey threw caution to the wind and dove over the top rope onto Rollins and Reigns on the floor.

    The attack from The Shield after the match was thwarted by Langston's presence, and a clear standoff between Reigns and Langston could indicate a future singles match between the two powerhouses.

    Grade: A

    Some notes from the match:

    • This match was a perfect example of why tag team wrestling can be some of the most entertaining wrestling on any show.
    • Langston's injury under his eye looks really nasty. I don't even like thinking about what it must be like to get stitches near your eye.
    • Stitches are a pretty regular thing for doctors, but imagine being the guy who has to use a needle near the eyeball of a man who could crush you with one hand. The pressure to not make a single slip would be ridiculous.

Prime Time Players vs. The Wyatt Family

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    This tag match was shorter than the previous match, clocking in at just under four minutes, but it was entertaining, and it made The Wyatt Family look great.

    Luke Harper and Erick Rowan both gave convincing performances, as they dominated their opponents for the majority of the match.

    Titus O'Neil had a short burst of offense off a hot tag, but he was stopped dead in his tracks by the clothesline Harper delivered that won the match for The Wyatts.

    Both members of The Prime Time Players took an extra bit of punishment after the match, which is to be expected in just about any match involving The Wyatt Family.

    This match wasn't a show-stealer, but it was a solid performance from four talented wrestlers, and this is just another example of why tag team wrestling in WWE is becoming a bigger priority.

    Grade: B

    Some notes from the match:

    • I hope The Wyatt Family stays together for a long time because I can't see WWE having too many other ideas for any of them outside of this gimmick.
    • Titus sold Harper's clothesline beautifully. He went from running on all cylinders to a dead stop instantly.
    • Why hasn't WWE come out with a Hawaiian shirt for The Wyatt Family yet? They already have the fedora and sheep mask. 


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    This segment was supposed to involve Shawn Michaels, but to further the storyline, Shawn Michaels never showed. Randy Orton came out instead, and that's when things got away from Miz.

    Orton is such a great heel, and this segment was a great example of what makes him so great as a bad guy.

    Orton struck with an RKO out of nowhere, and he certainly outshined Miz on the mic during Miz's own talk show. The whole thing didn't last more than a few minutes, but it did a good job selling Orton as the top heel in WWE.

    Grade: B-

    Some notes from the segment:

    • The RKO he delivered to Miz almost looked more dangerous because the carpet absorbed the normal noise we hear when two bodies hit the mat.
    • There was some truth in what Orton said about Miz not being as relevant as he used to be.


The Bellas and Natalya vs. AJ, Tamina and Alicia Fox

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    This was another match that lasted just over four minutes, but just like the previous match, it gave everyone involved a chance to mix it up without the whole match feeling rushed.

    This was a solid Divas match. AJ showed some of her versatility by using a variety of submission holds instead of the usual headlocks and hammerlocks most people use, but she ended up tapping out to Natalya's Sharpshooter in the end.

    We didn't get to see Tamina and Natalya interact too much, but if Natalya continues to feud with AJ, then we could end up seeing two of the most powerful multigenerational Divas have a test of strength.

    The WWE Divas have stepped it up in recent months, and this match showed how the level of physicality has gone up in their matches.

    Grade: B-

    Some notes from the match:

    • It was smart to limit Tamina's and Alicia Fox's time in the ring and let AJ do most of the heavy lifting.
    • I like that WWE is using a shirt and a headband to make The Bella Twins easier to tell apart, although Nikki's elective surgery kind of did that already.
    • I am not sure if I have ever said this before, but I wish this Divas match had been given more time.

John Cena and The Rhodes Brothers vs. The Real Americans and Damien Sandow

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    This match was like a prefect cross-section of WWE Superstars. You have two veterans who each have more than a decade under their belts in WWE with John Cena and Goldust.

    You have two midcard Superstars who always seem like they are on the cusp of breaking in the main event in Jack Swagger and Cody Rhodes.

    And Then you have two of the brightest new talents WWE has debuted in the past few years in Damien Sandow and Antonio Cesaro.

    WWE devoted the last half hour of the show to this match, and it's a good thing it did because all six men contributed to a great performance in the main event.

    All six men had the chance to have several minutes in this bout, but it was Goldust who took the brunt of the punishment delivered by the heels.

    There were too many highlights to list them all, but one that must be mentioned is the Cesaro Swing Cody took for over 20 spins.

    John Cena picked up the win for his team with an AA to Jack Swagger. Ending the show with the World and Tag champs standing tall in the ring was a pretty good way to cap things off.

    Grade: A

    Some notes from the match:

    • Cena's hurricanrana has improved. It's still not pretty, but it doesn't look as sloppy as it did the first few times he tried it.
    • This crowd was loving Cena. It's kind of nice to see him get some support instead of a mixed-to-negative response.

Final Throughts and Predictions

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    Even with only four matches, this was a pretty good episode of SmackDown. Every feud was addressed through a match, promo or video package.

    The main event delivered in a big way, and that is something that has grown into a trend with matches featuring Cody Rhodes and Goldust lately.

    The Usos and The Shield were given a good amount of time, and the other two matches were each given just over four minutes in order to make them not feel rushed.

    We did not have any singles matches on the card, but WWE did do a good job featuring 23 different Superstars in four tag team matches—both inside and outside the ring—and two other Superstars in a non-wrestling segment.

    The number of storylines that had to be addressed made this a very video package-heavy episode, but it did not take away from the value of the matches that took place.


    • John Cena's next shirt will feature some kind of reference to his old thug-life logos.
    • Natalya will be the next challenger for the Divas title.
    • Damien Sandow will challenge Cena for the WWE Championship at Survivor Series.
    • Vince McMahon will be the one who brings Big Show back to WWE.


    Thanks for reading, and follow me on Twitter @BR_Doctor