Friday, September 9, 2011

WWE SmackDown 9/9/11

WWE Smackdown 9/9/11
September 9th, 2011
Huntington Center, Toledo, Ohio
Attendance: 3,200 (1,600 paid) *

With only little over a week to go before the big Night of Champions PPV the WWE rolls into Toledo, Ohio for another edition of Smackdown, back on it's regular night and timeslot on Fridays again, though we're not sure for how long. The promos for tonight's show have been hyping Mark Henry making an impact on tonight's show, but that's about all we've been told so let's just get right into it, shall we?

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

We open the show with a spiffy little video package detailing Henry's reign of terror on Smackdown over the summer before the man himself makes his way out to the ring to open the broadcast. He grabs a mic and rambles a bit about the "Hall of Pain" again, mentioning that his best years are not in fact behind him. Henry promises that Orton will be the next inductee to the Hall at Night of Champions and he'll be the new World Heavyweight champ. Before he can get much further though, the assistant Smackdown GM Zack Ryder's music hits and the Long Island Iced Z comes out with a mic of his own, asking Mark if he wants to be broskis. Ryder announces that tonight Teddy Long has enacted a "no contact policy" between Henry and Orton until the PPV. Henry isn't happy about that though and decides to take his frustrations out on Ryder. Ryder tries to mount an offense with a few big right hands but Henry swats him down like a fly and then press slams, drawing the crowds ire. That's what we used to call a mollywopping. Apparently this transitions us right into our first match of the next, pitting Henry up against big Ezekiel Jackson, next.

Mark Henry (6-7) vs. Ezekiel Jackson (13-10)

Quite the battle of strongmen here, so of course they start off the match with the traditional test of strength, the Greco-Roman knuckle-lock. Henry easily overpowers Zeke and back-drops him like a cruiserweight. Again Henry overpowers him but Zeke mounts some minor offense and Henry exits the ring for a breather. Zeke follows him out and eats a big boot and a trip into the steel ring post before being tossed back inside. Splat. Squash. World's Strongest Slam and this one's all over, giving Henry the win at 2:59. Boy, Zeke's stock sure has dropped fast (not that I'm complaining). Nice little squash for Henry to make him look impressive in preparation for his title match with Orton at the PPV, but nothing you haven't seen a million times. 1/2*

Backstage Teddy Long finishes up a phone call with the WWE video game executives when Aksana strolls in (with cheesy porno music in tow of course) with a microphone to ask Teddy if she can be the special guest ring announcer again. She makes some very unsubtle sexual puns, gives him the flirty eyes, and Teddy takes off to "go check on Zack Ryder". Teddy Long, playing for both teams? I never!

Sin Cara (14-2) vs. Tyson Kidd (0-5)

This is a rematch from a few weeks back and people are still curious as to why Cara attacked Daniel Bryan last week after their match, showing perhaps a darker side of Cara than we have seen yet. Luckily Kidd is one of the few guys who can keep up with Cara (either one, Hunico or Mistico) on the roster so this winds up being just as much fun as you'd expect. They open with some typical acrobatics, countering out of different moves with back-flips and springboards before a rana sends Kidd to the floor, where Cara wipes him out moments later with a cross-body block off the top rope to the floor. Back in the ring Kidd hip-tosses Cara back-first into the turnbuckle for a two count in a nasty spot, landing on his neck. Kidd lays some kicks into Cara's back and tries a back suplex, but Cara counters out into an enziguri. Springboard headbutt from Cara, but Kidd kicks out again. Cara delivers an Olympic Slam to Kidd and then hits the springboard somerdsault senton/lionsault combo to finish him off at 3:33. Fun little sprint of a squash match for Cara, but we've seen this same formula match for months now. *3/4

After the match Josh Matthews tries to get a few words with Cara, despite him not speaking English. Cara says in English "I am an intense competitor" before saying a few words in Spanish. He says now that he's here, no one is going to stop him because this is his essence and style, as the REAL Sin Cara. The crowd pops for that but suddenly Daniel Bryan's music hits and the Money in the Bank winner makes his way out to the ring to confront him. He feigns surprise at Cara's English speaking skills and then tells Cara that they have a problem, because Cara doesn't seem to respect him. Bryan challenges him to a rematch on next week's show, and Cara attacks him before locking Bryan into his own LeBell Lock! Great little segment, Cara has finally become an intriguing character, and all it took was a doppelganger or two!

Backstage Randy Orton is joined by Matt Striker, who asks him for some thoughts on facing Cody Rhodes in tonight's main event. Orton talks about how Cody has changed into an unstable person since breaking his nose, and he knows a thing or two about unstable (I'd say). He also mentions Mark Henry and the danger he poses to his title, but never fear, because like all of life's problems that too can be solved with an RKO it seems.

Kelly Kelly (7-5) vs. Natalya (3-4)

This is a grudge match of sorts based on the repeated attacks on Kelly Kelly by the new two woman wrecking crew of Natalya and Beth Phoenix, and Kelly is pissed as always, fired up like a little spark plug to start the match. She plants Nattie with a bulldog and then wraps Nattie into her headscissors submission in the ropes briefly before getting knocked to the floor. Natalya jumps Kelly from behind while Beth watches on from the staircase and then tosses her back inside. Natalya locks on an abdominal stretch for a bit before tossing Kelly around like a ragdoll. Natalya tries an airplane spin of sorts but Kelly counters into a sunset flip only for Nattie to roll through and try for the sharpshooter. Kelly counters into a cradle and gets the upset win at 2:57. Not bad, but nothing particularly interesting or memorable either. Typical Diva's match basically. *

Tony Chimel begins announcing the next match up but is promptly interrupted by Christian, rocking his best flannel right out of the grunge Seattle collection. Take a wild guess as to what Christian talks about here, go on, I'll wait. If you guessed "complain about being screwed out of a title match/contender's match/etc" then you win a gold star. Kudos to Christian though, he makes it work and milks some nice heat from the crowd with his incessant whining, in the best way possible. Christian says he deserves one more match when suddenly Sheamus' music hits and the Celtic Warrior interrupts Captain Charisma. He tells Christian to give the conspiracy talk a rest, because it's getting embarrassing at this point. He tells a cute little anecdote about the runt of a litter of puppies, comparing him to Christian. Christian says no one cares about his "shanty Irish background" and gets even more heat for that. Goodness, Sheamus is really getting over as a babyface, isn't he? Sheamus tells Christian to bounce, but Christian's all like "Nah my dude, I've got business to handle, ya heard?" No not really, he actually just quietly leaves the ring as Wade Barrett comes out for his match against Sheamus up next.

Sheamus (8-9-1) vs. Wade Barrett (4-22-1)

Good lord look at Barrett's W/L record, that's not pretty at all, especially for a guy who was main eventing PPVs a year ago. Basic feeling out process to start, complete with running shoulder-blocks off the rope and all before going to work on Wade in the corner. Barrett bails for a minute and nearly gets counted out, but back in the ring Sheamus goes to work on him with stomps in the corner. Barrett tosses Sheamus into the corner and follows up with a reverse chinlock as we take a commercial break. When we return Barrett is in mid-slam with Sheamus for a near fall. Barrett feeds him a huge boot and Sheamus drops to the outside floor like a sack of potatoes. Back in the ring both men trade stiff right hands until Sheamus gets fired up and starts mounting a comeback. Sheamus lays ten fists into his chest, follows it with a knee strike and then goes for the shoulder-block off the top rope, but Christian jumps into the ring suddenly and attacks Sheamus, giving him the DQ win at 6:54 (shown). Pretty good little match here considering the two styles of each man and the DQ finish. Sheamus is really starting to look like a world beater these days. After the match Christian barely escapes the Celtic Cross from Sheamus. **

Air Boom (Kofi Kingston/Evan Bourne) vs. The Great Khali/Jinder Mahal

Because this was the rematch we were all dying to see, wasn't it? Atleast Kofi and Evan are over in these new roles together. He snaps off a quick rana on Mahal to start but it's not long before Khali is in waffling him around with his huge hands. Mahal tags back in and Kofi gets the hot tag, delivering his standard sequence of high-flying spots. He hits the Boom Drop on Mahal and Khali goes to tag in but they wind up arguing again. Khali shoves Mahal right into the Trouble in Paradise and Air Boom wins it at 3:12. Pretty much a move-by-move replica of the match from Monday, and it wasn't very interesting then either. 3/4*

Before our main event begins, Cody Rhodes makes his way to the ring with a microphone. He talks about how he's an inspiration to the WWE universe and about how he's been surrounded by people jealous of his abilities for years. He talks about how Ted DiBiase disappointed him again and how he wasn't going to let Ted sink him any further, so he dropped him. Cody says that Orton has inspired him to show him just how "unstable" he can be. Nice promo from Cody, if a bit over-the-top (which is kind of hard to do since his character is so over-the-top the begin with).

Randy Orton (16-6) vs. Cody Rhodes (13-10)

Boy how things change in a year. A year ago Cody wouldn't have even cracked into the midcard of most shows, but now here he is fighting the world champion as one of the top heels on Smackdown. Bright things in his future I'd say. They lock up and trade head-lock exchanges before Orton nails Cody with a pair of standing dropkicks. Rhodes uses his mask to head-butt Orton and take an unfair advantage, stomping away at Orton while Cole defends the mask on commentary. Heel Cole on Smackdown is so much more tolerable with Booker and Josh as a buffer. Cody starts to pick away at Randy's leg, stomping away at it. Cody counters out of the second-rope DDT attempt and hits Randy with his sweet jumping knee strike, which sends Orton crumbling to the outside floor again like a wilted flower. Great selling from Orton there as we take a commercial break. When we return Cody is back on the offensive, stomping on Orton again. He grabs a keylock briefly and delivers a flurry of knees to Orton's chest before breaking the hold and dropping another knee for a near fall. Orton keeps trying to fight back, but he's starting to favor his left arm badly so Cody keys in on it, working an armbar and driving his knee into the forearm as the crowd rallies behind Orton with an "RKO!" chant. Rhodes goes for a bulldog but Orton sends him flying, giving him a brief window to catch his breath and regroup. Orton catches his second wind now, clotheslining Rhodes and delivering the snap powerslam (still favoring the arm all the while). Orton manages to nail Rhodes with the second-rope DDT this time around and he sets up for the RKO, going into "Viper Mode". Rhodes sees it coming and bails though, letting Orton chase him back into the ring. Cody tries for the Cross Rhodes but Orton counters out of that so Cody tries for the jumping knee strike again, but this time Orton sees it coming and carefully avoids Cody's leg before turning around delivering the RKO to pick up the win at 10:53 (shown). These nice long TV main event matches have become almost par for the course for Orton these days, but that only speaks to just how consistently excellent the guy has been in the ring all year long. Not as good as some of the recent Smackdown main events (notably the last Christian/Orton match), but still a really well worked and fun TV main event. ***

After the match Mark Henry's music hits and the World's Strongest Man makes his way out to the ring to confront Orton despite Teddy Long's call for a cease-fire. Orton lays in the first strikes though and looks to give him an RKO, but he's exhausted from the match he just wrestled so Henry overpowers him and gives him the World's Strongest Slam, leaving our champion laying in the middle of the ring as we go off the air with Mark Henry celebrating.

Bottom Line: Pretty decent show this week, we got another really solid TV match out of Randy Orton, this time against longtime friend and foe Cody Rhodes, but the first hour or so of the show just didn't really do much for me, it felt a bit like they were just going through the motions, trying to kill time until the next week's round of shows and eventual PPV instead of actually trying to build up or accomplish anything. Still though, the main event was fun, we had a few nifty segments involving Sin Cara and Daniel Bryan among others, and the show never felt elongated so I can't really say too much bad about it. We'll go with a slight Thumbs Up tonight, but not as good of a show as you normally come to expect from Smackdown these days unfortunately.

*Source(s): NoDQ Report by Roscoe De Soto, Wrestling Observer Newsletter September 12th, 2011 by Dave Meltzer

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