Friday, August 26, 2011

WWE Friday Night SmackDown 8/26/11

WWE Friday Night SmackDown 8/26/11
August 26th, 2011
Scotiabank Saddledome, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Attendance: Unknown at this time

With the hot summer nights winding down as we approach the fall season, the WWE takes a pit-stop in the Hitman's old stomping grounds in Calgary, Alberta, Canada for tonight's edition of Friday Night SmackDown. On last week's show we saw Mark Henry win a battle royal to become the new number one contender for Randy Orton's title, but we still don't know when exactly that match will take place. Hopefully we can get some answers tonight and maybe even a good show to boot. Let's do this thing.

Your hosts are Michael Cole, Booker T, and Josh Matthews

We open the show with an announcement for a Summerslam rematch later tonight between Sheamus and Mark Henry before suddenly Bret Hart's music hits! The Hitman himself is in the building tonight and he comes out to a thundering roar of cheers for the old hometown hero. He makes his way to the ring and grabs a microphone to tell the fans that Teddy Long won't be able to make it to the show tonight, so under the orders of the new COO Triple H, he has been appointed the General Manager of Smackdown for one night only, tonight! He plugs the big live Tuesday Smackdown special next week and announces that the main event will pit Mark Henry against Randy Orton for the World Heavyweight Title.

Suddenly, Christian's music hits and the former champ comes out to a steady mix of jeers and cheers. He comes out to the entrance ramp and says that he wants to make it perfectly clear that it wasn't his fault for losing at Summerslam, but rather Edge's fault for getting into his head before the match. Christian mentions he's entitled to one more rematch, and he wants it to happen on the Tuesday super show. Bret says that Edge gave Christian the best advice he could, and that Christian is starting to become an embarrassment to everyone in the WWE and Canada itself. Christian says what's "really embarrassing" is that when guys like Bret and Edge come out and can't let go of their careers now that they're retired. Christian says maybe he and Edge just can't stand the fact that he's the only Canadian that's still relevant in the WWE. Christian pulls out a piece of paper from Teddy Long and hands it to Bret. It's a legal document stating that no WWE superstar will receive a World Heavyweight title match before Christian gets his shot first. Bret begrudgingly agrees to the rematch and then decides that the match will be contested inside of a steel cage! That way, there won't be any more excuses when Christian loses.

Mark Henry's music hits next though and the world's strongest man makes his way down to the ring. He complains about having his earned title opportunity pushed aside and then says that he wants to face the winner of the cage match between Orton and Christian. Henry tries to intimidate Bret a bit when Sheamus' music hits and the Celtic Warrior comes out to a nice pop with a mic of his own. He tells a humorous little story about a mean black bull that his uncle had to castrate, warning Henry that he might have to do the same to him. He hits the ring and both men begin brawling. Henry takes off and we wrap up our opening segment as Randy Orton vs. Ted DiBiase is announced for later tonight.

Christian (16-7) vs. Daniel Bryan

When we return from the break, Christian is already in the ring and set to take on the Money in the Bank winner Daniel Bryan (complete with a nifty little hype video package putting over Bryan's ability in the ring). They lock up to start and leap-frog over one another before Bryan escapes an Irish whip and delivers a dragon-screw legwhip to Christian. Bryan knocks Christian out of the ring and then wipes him out with a big tope suicida on the floor. Back in the ring Bryan works a textbook Mexican surfboard until Christian fights it off with a boot to the face. Bryan goes to work with big precision kicks to Christian's chest, but he grabs a hold of Bryan and back-drops him out of the ring as we cut to commercial. When we return Christian is working a loose chinlock on Bryan. They trade blows and Bryan hits a top rope missile dropkick on Christian for a two count. He lays in some more stiff kicks and Christian tries his trademark ring-assisted kick to the face, but Bryan blocks him up with more kicks and then hits a knee drop on him from the top rope for another near fall. Christian delivers a flying back elbow from the top rope and sets up for the spear, but Bryan blocks it. He flips behind Christian, who then tries a sunset-flip from the second rope, but Bryan counters that for another near fall. Some excellent counter wrestling going on right here. Bryan misses a top rope frankensteiner attempt and eats a Tornado DDT, but he manages to still kick out. Bryan counters the Killswitch attempt into the LeBell Lock, but Christian quickly gets the rope break. Bryan misses a running dropkick in the corner and Christian capitalizes on it by delivering the Killswitch to pick up the win at 8:08 (shown). Excellent way to kick off the show with two guys who have honed their craft into a lean, mean wrestling machine over the years. Lots of great counter-wrestling, a fast pace, just about everything you'd want out of a quality opening match for television here. ***

You may or may not have gotten a short clip of a great old Mysterio/Jericho match from Smackdown in 2009 here depending on whether or not your local cable affiliate features the WWE "From the Vault" featurettes.

Wade Barrett is in the ring with a microphone when we return from the commercial break. He's set to face some nameless jobber aparently. He talks about how he has shaken the WWE down to it's very foundation during his short time in the company already and about how facing this random jobber is beneath him before he exits the ring and leaves before the match ever officially starts. Later it's announced that Alberto Del Rio will face Sin Cara on the big live Smackdown next week.

Sin Cara (12-2) vs. Heath Slater (4-17)

Reportedly this match was such a mess the first time around that they had to film the entire match over again later that night, which I assume is the version we're getting here. Cara is once again being played by Hunico and not the original Mistico, who apparently was sent home after the tapings, perhaps permanently. Slater has some new absolutely godawful country song as his theme, to complete the total package of suck that is Heath Slater. The match itself winds up being so heavily edited that it's over before you know it. Cara dropkicks Slater into the corner and gives him a cannonball senton before getting right back to his feet and following up with a springboard forearm/headbutt combo for a two count. 20 points to Booker T for using the word "mollywop" several times during this match too. Cara sends Slater to the floor and then wipes him out with a big cross-body off the top rope before tossing him back into the ring. He hits a springboard somersault senton followed by a lionsault, which is enough to put Slater away at a whopping 1:43. This was edited and clipped to hell in order to make up for the disaster that this match apparently was live, but atleast the parts that they left in made Cara look like a total star, flying all over the place like a freakin' pinball and totally dominating Slater. For a clipped 2 minute jobber match, this was fun. **

We get a clip of Orton RKOing Ted DiBiase last week on the show right in front of Cody Rhodes followed by Randy Orton walking backstage before we head to the commercial break.

Randy Orton (14-6) vs. Ted DiBiase (3-9)

Cody is with Ted again, along with the usual squadron of Matrix agents carrying around Cody's twisted paper bag masks. He has a mic and cuts a brief promo on Orton on the way to the ring as he claims to be a miracle worker, resurrecting both the Intercontinental title and his friend Ted DiBiase's career. Ted immediately takes Orton down at the bell with a legscissors before trying to work a side headlock that Orton shakes off briefly before Ted goes right back at it. They trade leap-frog sequences and Orton delivers his picture perfect standing dropkick for just a one count. Orton switches between a wristlock and a side-headlock on DiBiase followed by a lariat. Ted fires back with a lariat of his own and lays in some closed fists. Orton catches Ted in a dropkick attempt and then catapults him into the turnbuckle. He gives him a pair of lariats and an Austin-like Lou Thesz press before setting Ted up for the second-rope DDT. Cody hops on the apron but Randy knocks him right back off it and slams Ted back into the ring. Orton sets up for an RKO on Cody, but Ted hits him with a baseball slide dropkick to break it up as we take a commercial break. When we return Ted actually looks impressive for once with a sweet backbreaker/dropkick combo for a near fall. Orton responds with a thunderous superplex, but DiBiase kicks out as well. Orton has a small cut on his forehead dribbling blood as he starts to go into his trademark "Viper" sequence of moves (I'd use the term "five moves of doom" but that's so 90s). Ted actually counters one of Orton's backbreakers into a roll-up and then delivers a nice Rydeen Bomb on Orton for another near fall. This is a damned good match so far. DiBiase blocks an RKO attempt, but he eats the second-rope DDT instead. DiBiase counters another RKO attempt right into the Dream Street cobra clutch, but Orton escapes that as well and they criss-cross the ropes a bit before Orton manages to finally deliver the RKO on Ted for the hard earned pin at 8:41 (shown). This started off casually enough before rocketing right into an impressive exchange of one counter after another after the commercial break. Ted actually looked outstanding here for once with his workrate and Orton is always game for a good TV match, so this wound up being another excellent television match that exceeded my expectations. ***

After the match Cody offers his hand to stand Ted up, but then delivers the Cross Rhodes to him for failing him yet again against Randy Orton. To add insult to injury he tosses one of his paper bag masks onto Ted's face. Rhodes character is seriously brilliant, it's just the kind of thing that every rabid internet smark (myself included) has always dreamed about, it's like they plucked him straight out of a Jeph Loeb Batman comic book or something.
Lookout Calender Man, we have a Paper Bag Man!

Kelly Kelly (6-4) vs. Tamina (4-2)

Intriguing match-up here. We get the old Superstars-lite split-screen promo from Natalya while Kelly makes her way to the ring, talking about how Kelly is a barbie doll come alive and that she doesn't like to play with dolls. I might be getting ahead of myself here, but could this vague angle they've been working with Beth and Natalya kicking ass in the Diva's division be a stalwart tactic until Kharma returns from her pregnancy to wreak real havoc? Nevertheless, they lock up at the bell. Kelly delivers a few forearms and a body press. She delivers a flurry of flying headscissors on Tamina until Tamina breaks it up and they devolve into a loose hair-pulling, bitch-slappin' catfight. Kelly delivers the handspring back elbow followed by the stinkface. She leaps off the second turnbuckle right into Tamina's arms, but Kelly escapes out of that and hits the old Rocker Dropper to put Tamina away at 2:48. Another spirited and athletic effort from Kelly Kelly and Tamina...well she sort of just stood there for Kelly to bounce off of. Which is just fine by me. **

Backstage Matt Striker is with Jinder Mahal and The Great Khali to ask them about their failure to win the battle royal last week. Jinder says Khali has been "re-educated" and his only mission is to serve him. Damn when did Smackdown's writing staff jump into poli-sci? Mahal says Khali will dominate Ezekiel Jackson tonight.

Ezekiel Jackson (12-10) vs. The Great Khali (1-3)

So this isn't exactly a scientific match-up on paper now is it? No, instead this is just the stiff and uneven brawl you'd expect it to be. Khali slaps Zeke around a bit and big Zeke gets npissed off enough to mount a decent comeback before Khali just levels him with a boot. He puts the vicegrip that he's been using to dispatch of jobbers for months now onto Zeke and Zeke actually manages to hold strong through-out the fingers of Khali and actually fight it off briefly to get a rope break. A distinct "Both of you suck!" chant starts up among the Calgary front row natives as Jinder Mahal tries to beat up on Zeke behind the ref's back. Khali winds up clubbing Mahal inadvertently and Zeke actually manages to lift the Great Khali onto his shoulders in the torture rack and Khali actually taps out to give Zeke the clean (and massive) win at 2:55. That is one gargantuan win for Big Zeke to get his heat back after dropping the title to Cody. This was actually probably the best damned Great Khali match I have seen in years, as they used simple psychology and worked their submission holds perfectly here. Again, my expectations have been exceeded. **

Sheamus (6-9-1) vs. Mark Henry (6-6)

And to cap off the night we have this battle of the bulls. Henry overpowers Sheamus quickly in the early going and it's obvious what strategy Sheamus must utilize here as he starts to pick apart Henry's limbs with all kinds of different strikes in order to "chop him down to size" as they say. Henry boots Sheamus in the face and follows it with a body splash and a backbreaker for a two count. Henry works Sheamus over a bit some more and then tries to deliver a press slam to him off the top rope, but Sheamus counters into a sick DDT. Sheamus follows up with a flying forearm and then starts laying in punches to Henry's chest in-between the ropes. He rocks him with a few stiff knees and a flying shoulder-block off the top rope for a two count. The action spills out to the floor where Henry tosses Sheamus into the padded guardrail before clearing the announcer's table of all of it's monitors. Henry tries a press slam, but Sheamus counters with the Brogue Kick right over the table and the referee counts Henry out giving Sheamus the win at 7:36. Call me crazy, but this was the best damned match I've seen Mark Henry work in YEARS. Simple and effective psychology, a great power battle and a creative ending pushes this match from "regular same old usual TV match" territory into "Well I'll be damned, they had a great match all things considered" territory. ***

After the match Mark Henry and Sheamus continue to brawl at ringside, where Henry gives Sheamus the World's Strongest Slam onto the steel steeps as we go off the air.

Bottom Line: This was an outstanding show by all accounts here. We had THREE different matches that cracked into *** territory, all of which showcased the burgeoning young and old talent together into a fantastic mix. SmackDown continues to be the gold standard of weekly television shows, and we roll onto another week. Obviously an enthusiastic Thumbs Up.

Score: 8.5/10

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