Last night the stars of WWE Smackdown rolled into my hometown of Chattanooga, Tenn.
It's been about two years I think since Smackdown last came to my neck of the woods and I gotta say, watching the guys of today and thinking back on last year's house show, it was kind of interesting noting how a lot of the guys from the last event weren't here (some, like Christian, from injury, others like Edge from retirement, and more simply from being on RAW or TNA, like Jack Swagger and Jeff Hardy.)
This was actually a really interesting experience, because this was my first time going as a mark. (I actually found myself noting a lot of things I wouldn't have last year, as a result of finding this site.)
Another thing that made me take notice was the event and how things played out. Overall, I think Smackdown did a great job last night, and I give the show a B+. Far better than the live special they did Tuesday.
Now, onto what went down at UTC Mackenzie Arena as Smackdown invaded Chattanooga.
Opening Segment: Teddy Long addresses the audience
One of the first things I noticed was the crowd reaction Teddy got. Especially when he began his little shuffle-like dance. The crowd seemed to really enjoy the Smackdown GM as he asked a bit about Thanksgiving, before announcing the three big matches we'd be seeing that night.
Wade Barrett (replacing the originally scheduled Christian) would go with Sheamus in a Street Fight, Booker T would go one-on-one with Cody Rhodes for the I.C. Title, and Mark Henry would defend the World Heavyweight Championship against Randy Orton in a Steel Cage Match, and after a "Holla-Holla-Holla" we got things rolling with the first match.
Match One: Jinder Mahal vs. Ted DiBiase
Overall, I would say this match was average. Not horrible, but not great, either. Ted DiBiase got a good face reaction, and, in a move I'm sure will shock some people, Mahal got a very good heel reaction from the crowd (We also got a lot of USA chants, so maybe that played a part).
I, personally, couldn't cheer as loud as I wanted, as I was in enemy territory most of the night. Very Anti-Mahal place, Chattanooga is, but I like him, though as expected, after countering an attempt at Mahal's Full Nelson Slam, Ted managed to tie him up, and hit Dream Street for the win.
Good showing by Mahal, but what happened after the match is what had a lot of people riled up. As Ted tried to make his way to the back, he gets blindsided by Cody Rhodes.
I wasn't as close as I'd liked to be, so I didn't see if he did anything much to him, but I was happy, though a bit confused. Oh well, on to the next match...a real shocker, in my opinion.
Match Two: Tyson Kidd vs. Damien Sandow
Maybe it was because nobody knew who Damien Sandow was (I only knew him from a few FCW matches. Not bad. Teamed with Titus O'Neil to win the tag titles), but Tyson Kidd got a really impressive face reaction.
Sandow got a decent heel reaction, but that turned mostly into laughter when he took his robe off to reveal a pair of pink trunks and purple knee pads. (Not a good look for ya, dude.)
Anyway, as the match went on, I was more surprised at how behind Kidd the whole crowd was. Tyson, as always, put on a technical clinic against the much bigger Sandow, and both showed a bit of charisma, playing a game with the crowd about who pulled who's hair. (Damien lost.)
To my pleasant surprise, we even got a "Tyson" chant (and being my name is Tyson, I loved it. Was this close to getting in the ring, myself, but thought I'd let Kidd go a little longer).
Overall, another decent match, with Kidd getting the win via a roll-up on Sandow. Real story here was Kidd as a face. I liked it. I think WWE should roll with that.
Match Three: Heath Slater vs. Justin Gabriel
As expected when I first heard his music, Chattanooga was not a fan of the "One-Man (Southern) Rock Band." They were fans of his opponent, though and Justin Gabriel got the biggest pop of the night so far, making his entrance, and I think this was actually second best match of the night.
The match was very good. Nice pace from the start, with Slater and Gabriel exchanging some holds in a good display of skill. There were a few times where Slater slowed it down, but Gabriel would shift the match into high gear several times.
Funny thing, though, from the crowd I could hear someone yell "Slater looks like the girl from Wendy's," and well, that just made my section of the audience laugh, except me. Anywho, it was a really good match, with a surprising finish, as Heath seemed to have Gabriel's 450 scouted, stopping him once, but failing to stop it the second time, as Gabriel actually hit a springboard variation of his 450 Splash which got a huge pop from the people.
After the match, however, making a second appearance, was Cody Rhodes, attacking Justin Gabriel. Seemed to me WWE was really pushing Cody, as the crowd, for the most part, was just hating this kid. Great move by WWE to help build up Cody.
Promo Segment: Cody Rhodes
After doing away with Justin Gabriel (and pushing down Hornswoggle, who'd come out for some reason), Cody came down to the ring, proclaiming that Booker T would not be taking his title, in fact, he went on to call him, I believe it was "intellectually challenged."
He even went on to say something to the effect of, "Everyone of you here has a ticket that says WWE presents SmackDown, well I've got news for you, I am SmackDown," before leaving.
Solid promo, by Cody Rhodes, but I'd expect nothing less (is it me, or between Dolph Ziggler and Cody Rhodes, these mid-card champions are really stepping up?)
Match Four: Daniel Bryan vs. Hunico
Surprisingly enough, Hunico got very little reaction from the crowd. That said, it was a stark contrast to his opponent as Daniel Bryan got a huge ovation (so much so, it distorted my hearing to the point that I could swear Daniel Bryan had gotten ANOTHER new theme).
Anyway, the main story of this match was Daniel Bryan. For the most part, it was a full-on Daniel Bryan house. For almost the entire match (except when they were anticipating the application of Bryan's Surfboard maneuver), they were chanting the name of Smackdown's Money in The Bank Winner.
Needless to say, Hunico put on a pretty good showing as well, but when he found himself in the LeBell Lock, he quickly tapped out.
OK so...the order of these next events may be a bit out of place...I was getting pizza and simultaneously looking for someone...
Special Contest: Winner Gets to go Backstage
Hosted by Kaitlyn (I'm thinking WWE assumes we didn't see Smackdown and Kaitlyn's subsequent heel turn...and judging from the reaction, they'd be right.) Anyway, she guest hosted a...you guessed it. A dance contest. (Seriously, why is this WWEs go-to contest?)
So, four contestants came up, and while one of two of them did actually dance, the other two kind of stood there, (though one was apparently fist-pumping). The contest concluded with a young boy (Who Kaitlyn said was fist-pumping and looked about 7 or 8), and a young lady (looked about 14 or 15) winning.
Match Five: Alicia Fox and A.J. vs. Natalya and Rosa Mendes
I have to say, I was impressed. This match was actually pretty good, though Natalya spent a large part of it getting spanked by A.J. and Alicia, and Rosa really did seem out of place.
I have to say, I'm really liking the spotlight of Alicia Fox, though it was hard to tell who the crowd was more into between Alicia and A.J., but regardless, both got some big pops. There also seemed to be a little love for Natalya as well, so that was also a surprise.
Rosa wasn't as accepted, but with the amount of exposure she gets, I'm not surprised. The most interesting thing about this match was the amount of time the gals got. It was a pretty decent match, in my opinion with a good amount of time, ending with Alicia hitting that Somersault Legdrop for the win on Rosa.
Match Six: Wade Barrett vs. Sheamus in a Street Fight
As both Superstars made their entrance into the ring, It was quite clear they disliked Barrett and were firmly behind The Great White Sheamus, and I really enjoyed this match. Sheamus and Barrett had a really great back and forth, and the crowd was way into it.
There was a brief moment of disappointment when Barrett tried to leave to the back but Sheamus made sure to get him back, and that's when the crowd really got excited because weapons got involved, namely, a steel chair and a Kendo stick.
Barrett got to lay into Sheamus several times with both foreign objects, and there were several times it looked as if The Barrett Barrage was going to put an end to The Great White. That wouldn't be the case however, as just as Sheamus went for Wasteland, Sheamus sprung to life, delivering a brutal-looking series of moves, including a beat down via Kendo stick.
Though Barrett tried to get himself some momentum, but it was too late, as Sheamus reversed an attempted Pumphandle Slam into a Brogue Kick for the win. Great match by these two. A bit disappointed Barrett didn't get the win, but still he put on a great showing, and that's why this was actually Match of the Night to me.
Match Seven: Cody Rhodes vs. Booker T for the Intercontinental Championship
One thing that struck me as a bit odd is the fact that they kept saying Booker "Hadn't had his wrestling boots on in two years" as if we didn't just see Smackdown Tuesday, but I'm not gonna harp.
Booker T, who got a huge round of applause during his entrance, (and it was quite clear that the fans wanted to see a Spin-a-roonie,) cut a little promo about how Cody did all his jumping from behind, and talked about how he was Smackdown, and (I'm about to paraphrase here,) Cody was gone get his ass whipped tonight.
Overall, I'd say it was a really good match. Not as good as Sheamus vs. Barrett, but good. My main problem is how Cody was booked in this match. I know it's the new status quo to have heels be cowards, but still, Cody spent most of this match on the outside.
Booker, for his part, was in rare form. It was a great match, and I honestly thought they were going to have Booker take the title that night, as Booker actually managed to hit the Scissors Kick on Cody, though Rhodes managed to roll to the outside.
Cody then grabbed the belt and hit Booker right in the face in front of the ref, causing a DQ. Needless to say, Cody wasn't done here, and proceeded to lay into the Six-Time World Champion, before Booker put an end to it, with the Book-End, before Hornswoggle came down to deliver a Tadpole Splash. Booker was about to leave, but of course Hornswoggle (myself, and the rest of the audience,) wanted to see a Spin-a-Roonie, and we were not disappointed.
Overall, not a bad match by two awesome wrestlers. I would have booked Cody a bit more physically, and maybe had him retain clean, but that's me. They did good for a house show, so I expect we'll see even better on television. This would be my pick for third-best match of the night.
Main-Event: Mark Henry vs. Randy Orton for the World Heavyweight Championship
This wasn't a bad match and it did have that big match feel to it, but I don't know. Something about it, just didn't stick with me. Maybe it was because we've seen it before a few times.
Orton and Henry both looked good out there, despite the fact that Mark really couldn't use the cage, because it honestly looked like he could break it without really trying, and escaping via climbing looked like it would be a cakewalk for Orton. He could leap from the first rope and be more than half-way there, if not more.)
So, I can't think of much to tell you. Orton and Henry made each other look good, but I will say, while I wasn't happy with how it ended, it was a surprise, to say the least.
Orton was crawling to the cage door, after hitting an RKO on Mark Henry, and just before he could get out, in runs Barrett to make the save, allowing Mark Henry time to walk out the door, and return to help Barrett beat down Orton, but before they can do much, out runs Sheamus, and together, they take out Barrett and Henry.
So, overall, I'd say WWE made it up to me at least, for the live TV show they did Tuesday. This was by far, the better show. I just wish other people across the world could have seen it, cause it was pretty interesting.
Stories of the night include Cody Rhodes push, Tyson Kidd as a face, and a Divas match that was way beyond anything you'll see on WWE programming.
The only gripe I had was the fact that the only heel that won was Mark Henry. Maybe that's how house shows go, with mostly faces winning, but I don't see the logic in that, if the ending segment is designed to send them home happy anyway. That's just me.
Solid matches, for the most part. The only real disappointment I had (and from the chants, a lot of people had), was the lack of Vitamin Z. No Zack Ryder the whole show. I know he's a RAW superstar, but I'm still bummed he couldn't show up.