Friday, September 30, 2011

WWE SmackDown 9/30/11

WWE SmackDown 9/30/11
September 30th, 2011
Scottrade Center, St. Louis, Missouri
Attendance: Unknown at this time

Well it's Friday again and you know what that means---pay day! Well, that, plus it's time once again for another edition of WWE SmackDown on SyFy. We're only two days away from the Hell in a Cell PPV this Sunday so odds are this will be the usual somewhat low-key hard sell show before a PPV. After an extremely disappointing show last week, let's hope they can rebound nicely tonight.

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

We open the show tonight with Booker T making his way out to the ring to a nice ovation to kick off the show with a special interview with the World Heavyweight champion Mark Henry. The World's Strongest Man makes his way out to the ring moments later with a mic and the interview is on. Booker starts off with a glowing congratulations for Henry's title win, but Mark isn't having any of it. He asks Booker how he can kiss his ass and insult him in the same sentence, and Booker tells him that if he were to insult Mark, he'd know it. The image of Booker T with reading glasses as the authority figure here is somewhat surreal. Henry calls out Randy Orton next, his opponent at Hell in a Cell and goes into the usual "Hall of Pain" spiel before threatening to basically decapitate Randy and end his career. Booker starts getting a bit testy with Mark, asking him what he'll do when Randy tries the RKO on him. Mark shrugs it off and says simply "He can't beat me". He promises to beat Orton on Sunday as well as the Great Khali here tonight, which segues us nicely into our opening match.

Mark Henry (8-7) vs. The Great Khali (3-6)

These two were supposed to wrestle on RAW this week, but Henry jumped Khali before the match and it never happened. Khali is hot (or as "hot" as Khali gets) to start with big punches and chops to Henry, taking him down with a giant tomahawk chop. Another big tomahawk chop gets Khali a close two count. Back on their feet Henry tosses Khali into the corner and lays in some boots on him. He drags Khali to the center of the ring and splashes him, but Khali kicks out at two. Never fear as Henry gives him the World's Strongest Slam moments later and this one is mercifully over at 2:50. I can literally sum up the entire play-by-play of this match in one sentence: chop, chop, slam, slam, 3 count. It does a good job of putting Henry over as a monster though. 1/2*

After the match Henry isn't done with Khali though. He grabs a steel chair and slams it into a grounded Khali, wrapping it around his leg and delivering a Vader Bomb to the entangled leg of Khali in the chair. Referees rush to the ring to help out an injured Khali as Henry takes off to the back and we cut to commercial. When we return we see Jinder Mahal backstage yelling at Khali on a stretcher until Teddy Long walks in to separate them.

Evan Bourne (2-1) vs. Jack Swagger (6-4)

These two have pretty decent chemistry together, so this ought to be good while it lasts. Vickie Guerrero and Dolph Ziggler are at ringside with Jack while Bourne has Kofi Kingston ins his corner. Swagger starts off quickly at the bell with big right hands a towering back suplex on Bourne. Bourne fires back with a few roundhouse kicks and tries for a hurricanrana, but Swagger catches him in mid-air and slams him to the mat with a devastating sidewalk slam. Bourne gets right back up though and hits a dropkick and a few more spinkicks before taking Swagger down with a floating knee strike for a two count. Vickie gets up on the ring apron and distracts the ref briefly so that Ziggler can get a cheap shot in on Bourne and set him up for Swagger's gut-wrench powerbomb. Bourne escapes the gut-wrench though and he climbs to the top rope to attempt the Air Bourne. Vickie crotches Evan though while the ref is busy with Kofi and Ziggler at ringside, which allows Swagger to apply the ankle lock on Bourne, who taps out quickly at 2:33. Way too short considering what these two are capable of, but it was certainly an exciting and chaotic two and a half minutes. *1/2

"Good" Sin Cara (16-3) vs. Heath Slater (4-20...heh)

We get plenty of footage before the match of the two different Sin Cara's squaring off last week on Smackdown, and they discuss the Sin Cara vs. Sin Cara match at the PPV this Sunday. For all intents and purposes, this is the "good" version of Sin Cara here, all happy babyface high-fives and everything. Is it just me or does Heath Slater's music get slightly worse with each passing week? Slater fires off a few right hands to start and Sin Cara springboards his ass right into Slater's face in a possibly botched spot before hitting Slater with a handspring back elbow off the ropes moments later. Cara hits a towering swanton bomb onto Slater moments later and that's enough for the pin at a whopping 0:43 seconds. So it would be cool if we got a match that went longer than two minutes at some point tonight guys. 1/4*

After the match the "evil" Sin Cara appears on the Titan Tron. He removes his blue Sin Cara mask to reveal a new badass black Sin Cara mask to go along with new swanky black tights emblazened with a large "M" over the front, to officially christen this new, evil rudo Sin Cara. He says in English that Cara stole his identity once before as Mistico (lucha libre nerds this is your cue to mark out as the WWE is playing off of real life events between these two wrestlers who both once wrestled under the name "Mistico" or "Mystico" in this new, evil Sin Cara's case). He says it's only right that now he returns the favor, and that this Sunday we'll find out who deserves to be known as Sin Cara. Very well done segment here to try and familiarize the WWE fans with the back-story behind these two masked wrestler's real-life rivalry, but I'm not sure how well the actual match is going to go over on the PPV. We'll have to wait and see.

We get an extended video package next highlighting the rivalry and recent events between Triple H, CM Punk, and John Laurinaitis. After the video airs we cut to backstage where Johnny Ace himself is sitting with Christian, Dolph Ziggler, Vickie Guerrero, Jack Swagger, Cody Rhodes, and David Otunga. He tells the group that he's been trying to get a meeting with Triple H since Tuesday so he understands their frustrations with this new "administration". Otunga, rocking a retro bow tie and a thermos to complete his new "lawyer" gimmick, thanks John for arranging this meeting. Dolph asks "So we're all in for Monday then?" to the room and everyone mutters a word of approval in return before David interrupts to placate Laurinaitis with some more compliments about how much of a "company man" he is. John says "Let's get to work", and everyone gets up out of their seats to leave the room. Well that was one shady little meeting, are they plotting Hunter's murder or something? Guess we'll have to wait until Monday to find out what they were so esoterically talking about in this segment. I'm genuinely intrigued though, so kudos to the writers for once I guess.

Kelly Kelly (8-5) vs. Natalya (4-5)

Beth Phoenix joins the commentary table for moral support here to talk trash about Kelly. Nattie underrates Kelly from the start, as Kelly takes it to her with rapid forearms and a dropkick before Natalya clocks her with a big clothesline. She grabs a hold of Kelly's arm and twists it around her back while applying a chin-lock in a nifty submission spot, and Kelly tries to fight it off but Nattie just slams her to the mat instead. Kelly fights off a back body-drop attempt with kicks and then rolls Natalya up with the classic victory roll cradle which is somehow enough to give Kelly the "upset" win at 1:27. Beth immediately jumps Kelly after the match and gives her the Glam-Slam. Natalya locks her into the sharpshooter and Beth grabs a mic to capture the unsettling sound of Kelly screaming and crying at the top of her lungs. --Insert tasteless sexual innuendo joke about making Kelly "really" scream HERE-- Beth promises to win the title, you know the drill. The match here was actually decently put together while it lasted, but that's really all the diva's like Kelly are capable of at this point---putting together a coherent 90 second match that gets a few spots in and gets the overall "story" of the match over quickly without having to actually work a 5 or 10 minute match. *

WWE Intercontinental Title Match
Cody Rhodes
© (14-11) vs. Sheamus (11-9-1)

Cody's got a mic with hem, god bless 'em. He proceeds to inform the live audience that they are all terrible, horrible, detestable, human beings and ...oh, wait, no, he's not doing that this time. Cody goes all cowardly heel on us by seemingly being offended by the mere suggestion that Sheamus deserves a title shot against him tonight, so of course that's the cue for Sheamus to come out, expel a detrimentally witty Irish limerick, and start the match up. Both men lock up and trade corner beatdowns on one another before Sheamus starts taking over with a lariat on Rhodes. He tries to club Cody in-between the two top ropes, but Cody sees this coming and tumbles to the floor for a breather. Doesn't matter because Cody walks right into a big back body drop when he does return to the ring, followed by the clubbing forearms in-between the top ropes. Cody fires off a headbutt at Sheamus and then nails him with a big jumping knee strike for a two count as we cut to commercial break. When we return Cody is working over Sheamus' arm briefly before nailing him in the face with a dropkick for another near fall. Michael Cole informs us about all sorts of complaints being filed in the company since Triple H has become COO of the company, to build some more suspense for the big curtain reveal on Monday. A firmly planted DDT nets Cody a two count on Sheamus, who's looking ragged now. Cody slams his arm into the steel ring-post and then jumps back into the ring and locks a pestering armbar onto Sheamus that he just won't give up for a good chunk of time until Sheamus counters by tossing Rhodes shoulder-first into the steel ring post. Sheamus hits a pair of clotheslines followed by a tilt-a-whirl bodyslam and a running knee lift, and the crowd is eating all of it up. Sheamus' transition from heel to babyface has been remarkable, and he's already got himself a signature set of moves to "go home" with that the crowd recognizes and pops for accordingly. Gotta love it when the people pick the star. Sheamus nails Cody with a diving shoulder-block off the top rope, but again Rhodes kicks out. Sheamus misses the Brogue Kick and Cody goes for another springboard jumping knee, but Sheamus nails him with a double axe-handle in the face instead, but again Rhodes manages to kick out! Sheamus sets Cody up for the Celtic Cross, but Christian runs down and hops into the ring to break it up, culling the cheap DQ finish at 8:07 (shown). Christian continues the attack on Sheamus after the match. This was a simply outstanding little IC title match up until the standard DQ finish, but even that doesn't really upset me here because it advances the angle. Great effort + getting the crowd all fired up to hell = a good match, disqualification aside. ***

Zack Ryder (0-1) vs. JTG (1-5)

And now for our weekly Zack Attack fix. Thank the heavens! JTG does his usual swagger walk that every sixth grader who thinks he's tough learns to do when they're twelve and Zack is just cool as a cucumber as they lock up. JTG gets some hammer fists in while a small "Let's go Ryder" chant starts up. JTG hits a nice swinging neckbreaker for a two count, so Ryder gets back up and walks into a sick fallaway pumphandle neckbreaker (he's making shit up here as he goes along, give me a break). JTG actually looks motivated and like a real-live wrestler for once! He drives his knee into Ryder's back and works a reverse chinlock. Ryder hits a pair of shotgun knees on JTG to regain some momentum, and then he's off. Ryder hits the "Broski Boot" as Matthews calls it (your typical running facewash kick into the corner with some fist-pumping thrown in) but it only gets him a two count. Never fear as Ryder hits the Rough Ryder leg lariat moments later on JTG, and that's all she wrote at 2:56. Strange match that managed to make both guys look good as they got their moves in, but Ryder got the quick win so you're probably thinking this was a squash match, right? But it wasn't, as JTG actually showed some really nice offense for the first time I've seen in a long time so this was a very entertaining little short match to put Ryder over. **

Backstage we see Triple H walk up behind John Laurinaitis, who is texting away on his phone. Hunter mockingly apologizes to John for randomly showing up here tonight on Smackdown unannounced before noting that he's aware of John's secret meetings all week long with all of the heel wrestlers. John says he's as loyal as they come and he's behind Hunter 100%. Hunter says that's good because if he can't trust John, then he might as well just wish him well on his "future endeavors" right now before walking off as we go to commercial.

Elsewhere backstage Matt Striker is with the former champ, Randy Orton. Randy claims that no one intimidates him, not even Mark Henry. He counts nine--NINE!--staples in Cody Rhodes head as a result of their match last week before going over his past in the Hell in a Cell. Apparently he's been in three of them, my how time flies. Randy proclaims that he will end Henry's title reign this Sunday in the cell.

Randy Orton (17-7) vs. Christian (17-10)

And now we arrive at our main event tonight, another chapter in the feud of the year candidate rivalry between Randy Orton and Christian. Sah-weeeeet! Orton takes control from the get go with a waistlock followed by a headlock and a few clotheslines. Christian feigns a lock-up attempt and then hits Randy low, only to walk into a stiff shoulder-block and a lariat for a two count. Christian hits a missile dropkick off the top for another near fall and then lays in closed fists. Christian counters one of Randy's Irish whip attempts into a big spinebuster as we take a quick commercial break. When we return Christian delivers a big neckbreaker for a two count on Orton. Christian gets into Orton's face, slapping him and talking trash while he does it, but this only serves to fire up Orton. Christian's on top of his game though, and cuts Randy's comeback sequence off at the start and goes back to grinding Orton down on the mat with a chinlock. Eventually Orton breaks it up by driving Christian into the turnbuckle, and then he's all fired up and ready to go. He takes off Christian's head with a dropkick and then goes for his signature snap powerslam, but Christian sees it coming and manages to evade it long enough to walk into another slam from Orton anyways. Randy tees off on Christian in the corner with big right hands. They trade a few counter sequences in the corner and then Orton delivers the gut-wrench suplex powerbomb on Christian for another near fall. He tries for the second rope DDT but Christian fights it off and feigns another one of his signature corner moves that momentarily baffles Orton. Christian kicks out of the snap powerslam at two. Christian misses a cross-body off the top rope and Orton sizes him up for the RKO, but Christian counters with a back suplex. Christian sets up and manages to strike Orton with a huge spear that would make Edge jealous, but still Orton kicks out! Orton counters a Killswitch attempt from Christian into the second-rope DDT and Orton goes into the Viper Mode, ready to take Christian's head off with the RKO, and Christian sees this and wisely exits the ring. Orton chases him up the ramp and both men brawl with each other as the ref starts the ten count. He tosses Christian into the steel steps and then slowly stalks Christian as both men wind up getting counted out for the lousy double count-out finish at 10:56 (shown). I'll get to the post-match stuff in a moment, but damnit if we don't have ourselves yet another great TV match between Randy Orton and Christian. These guys know each other's movesets so well that they can literally just improvise new counter sequences (and counter sequences for THOSE counter sequences) at will, and the results are always solid gold. Another winner from these two chock full of intense chemistry and elaborate psychology, hell of a match until the shady finish. ***1/2

After the official match ends, Orton continues the attack on Christian, stripping the Spanish announcer's table to set up Christian for an RKO through it. Suddenly Cody Rhodes runs down to ringside though and nails Orton with a jumping knee strike. Christian and Rhodes beat down on Orton in the ring until Sheamus runs down and demolishes Rhodes with a Brogue Kick to a thunderous pop before running and chasing Christian off into the crowd. After all of this chaos finally Mark Henry makes his way down to the ring and gives him the World's Strongest Slam. Henry grabs a chair and prepares for a beatdown, but Orton is playing possum and he jumps up and RKO's Mark Henry right out of his boots!

Bottom Line: This was a total 180 degree turn from last week's show. As bad as last week's show was, this was good and even better. We got two really good little TV matches on this show in the IC title and Orton/Christian matches, some nice angle advancement for the whole Triple H/Johnny Ace angle, and the crowd was hot and into the action all night long. Really can't ask for much more than that from a weekly wrestling television show in this modern age, can we? Enthusiastic Thumbs Up tonight.

Rating: 9.0/10

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