Friday, November 18, 2011

WWE SmackDown 11/18/11

WWE SmackDown 11/18/11
November 18th, 2011
Webster Bank Arena, Bridgeport, Connecticut
Attendance: Unknown at this time

Welcome back to another edition of 411's Smackdown Report everyone. We're only 48 hours away from the big Survivor Series PPV emanating from Madison Square Garden this Sunday, featuring the in-ring return of The Rock for his first match in seven and a half years, so this should be a strictly go-home show. Let's see what we have on tap tonight.

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

We cold open the show with Mark Henry assaulting Daniel Bryan backstage, talking trash to the American Dragon while he chokes him against a concrete wall and then drags him from the backstage arena, out to the ringside area, and eventually into the ring itself. Henry continues the assault, giving him several World's Strongest Slam's as several referees hit the ring to try and stop Henry. Bryan is dragged out of the ring by the officials while Henry grabs a mic and tells us there will be more of what we just saw to come before making a generic promise to defeat the Big Show this Sunday at Survivor Series.

Dolph Ziggler vs. Sin Cara

Vickie does her usual pre-match heel shtick to get the crowd warmed up while she introduces the US champ Ziggler (this is a non-title match however). Ziggler takes Cara down with ease with some simple amateur wrestling in the early-going before slapping him in the face. Cara nails Ziggler with a handspring back elbow and follows it up with a headscissors that sends Ziggler out to the floor. Not one to waste time, Cara leaps out after him with a lightning-fast tope suicida to the floor! Ziggler regains the advantage back in the ring moments later however, locking on a Fujiwara armbar while the crowd tries rallying behind Cara with chants. Cara fights the hold off with a flurry of quick kicks before sending Ziggler into the corner with a Mexican armdrag. He nails Ziggler with a kick to the side of the temple in the corner and then tries for the Swanton bomb, but Ziggler moves and Cara sees this, rolling right back up to his feet and flipping Ziggler into a cradle for a near fall. Ziggler counters that into a cradle of his own however, grabs a handful of Cara's trunks for the cheap leverage, and he picks up the dirty win at 4:27. This one just flew right by and these two seemed to work quite well with each other, I'd love to see them given another five or ten minutes to flesh things out a bit. This was great for a quick four minute TV match though. **1/4

After the match Cara attacks Ziggler with a few dropkicks, tired of Ziggler's trash-talking. Jack Swagger runs down to make the save though with a huge lariat. The two heels double-team Cara until Mason Ryan of all people runs out to the make the save for Cara, complete with generic nu-metal theme and all. Ugh, they're really not going to give up on Mason Ryan, are they?

Mason Ryan vs. Jack Swagger

When we return from the commercial break we join this match in-progress, as apparently Teddy Long put it together during the break. Swagger is all over Ryan to start with big right hands in the corner but it's not long before Ryan takes over with some big knees and boots before he powerslams Swagger for a two count.Swagger takes Ryan's knee out and goes for the Gut Wrench powerbomb, but Ryan is too big and he counters into a full-nelson slam for the win at 4:21 (shown). You can probably tell from my lack of in-depth details on the match how exciting this was. I really don't know what they see in Ryan besides his massive arms, but they're going to push him whether we like it or not gosh darn-it. 3/4*

Backstage we see Alicia Fox and Justin Gabriel flirting it up when Zack Ryder approaches them both to sign his online petition for a US title shot. The Big Show walks in moments later and signs it as well in a cheery mood, but that's gone as soon as Ryder informs him about Mark Henry's "statement" to Show earlier in the show.

After a quick commercial break, Christian limps out from the back with a crutch, a cast, and a neck brace to some light booing. Christian tells us about his (legit) injury and then blames it on Teddy Long for booking him into a match with Sheamus on last week's show. We even get a picture of his purple and blue ankle on the Titan Tron, and Christian claims he could be out for a few months and may never be the same again. Christian takes it to the fans next, asking them if they even care that he's injured (to which he gets a rowdy "No!" in response). The usual great mic-work from Christian here tonight, he really excels with heel promos. He claims to be sickened and ashamed by the fans and then shouts out "Good riddance!" in Scrooge-like anger and takes off into the back, ending the segment. Good stuff, just a shame that Christian's going to be out for awhile. Here's to hoping he's back to his A-Game in time for Wrestlemania.

Elsewhere backstage we see Daniel Bryan backstage laying on a doctor's cot trying to recover from Mark Henry's attack earlier, with AJ looking on after Bryan. Big Show walks in quietly and says that he should have been there to stop Henry tonight. He takes off and we cut to commercial again.

Ted DiBiase vs. Derrick Bateman

Apparently Bateman is engaged to Maxine from FCW. Yeah, I don't watch much NXT as you can tell outside of the Yoshi-Kidd matches. Typical shoulder-block/hip-toss opening sequence by both men before a back elbow gets DiBiase the first near fall. Bateman rings DiBiase's neck over the top rope behind the ref's back and then takes advantage back int he ring with a stiff neckbreaker for his own near fall. Bateman locks on a chinlock briefly but Ted responds with a flying knee and a clothesline. DiBiase counters an Irish whip attempt into the Dream Street slam and that's enough for the win at 2:36. Just a squash for Ted, but Bateman didn't look half bad for once either. 1/2*

Backstage we see Big Show looking for Mark Henry backstage. He runs into Tyson Kidd who claims Henry is gone and Jinder Mahal who says something to Show in Hindi. Kidd humorously squirms away, not wanting the same thing to happen to him.

Moments later the Big Show makes his way out to the ring to cut a promo. He says that he's worried that if he goes into Survivor Series with all of the rage in him right now he'll probably get DQed against Mark Henry, and he doesn't want that to happen. Show gives us the footage of Henry defeating Show back at the Money in the Bank PPV in July, which signaled the real beginning of this most recent Mark Henry push. Show claims that footage is a reminder to him of his goal, which is to take the World Heavyweight title from Henry. Show then proceeds to freak out like a rabid dog, barking and swinging his hands around wildly while unintentionally spitting all over the camera. I guess that was supposed to be intimidating, but it was kind of just disturbing. Show takes off.

Kofi Kingston vs. Hunico

Hm, this could be decent. Hunico, still dressing like an extra from Stand and Deliver, grabs a mic when he gets to ringside and says something in Spanish. I don't speak your Alien language moon-man! Nice wristlock/armdrag trading sequence to open up. Kofi tries for a monkey flip but Hunico sees it coming and dropkicks him in the face. He delivers a huge sitout gourdbuster to Kofi and then transitions from a chinlock into a loose variation of the Muta-lock. Kofi tries countering with a cradle but gets dropkicked in the gut again. Hunico stomps away at Kofi in the corner and then misses a quebrada attempt, which gives Kofi the chance to finally work some offense in. He hits the Boom Drop and then tries for the Trouble in Paradise, but Hunico evades it momentarily. Kofi hits him with a cross-body off the top rope, but Hunico rolls through and nearly pins Kofi. Hunico argues with the ref about the count, which gives Kofi enough time to sneak up and deliver the S.O.S. for the pinfall at 5:01. This was just as fast-paced and fun as I figured it would be, it was just a bit short unfortunately. Hunico probably could have used the win alot more than Kofi, but that's a minor gripe. **1/2

Beth Phoenix/Natalya vs. AJ Lee/Kaitlyn

And it's time for our token diva's match of the evening. Apparently a Lumberjill match has been booked for this Sunday with Beth defending her Diva's title against Eve. Beth and Kaitlyn start us off and of course Beth totally dominates her before tagging Natalya in for a double-team electric-chair slam. Natalya locks on a deep abdominal stretch onto Kaitlyn, who just looks totally out-matched before delivering a sloppy hip-toss. AJ gets the hot tag and hits a huge cross-body off the top rope onto Nattie. She tries for a sunset flip but Natalya counters into the sharpshooter. AJ hangs on briefly until Nattie really synches the hold in and AJ taps out at 2:53. Another match where the finish was obvious, but there were a few entertaining seconds. *

To really emphasize how much of a throwaway show this is, they replay the entire Rock/Cena/Miz/R-Truth segment from RAW this past Monday. I don't mind highlights, but replaying entire promos seems a bit excessive, they could have fleshed out a few matches earlier in the evening instead with the extra time.

Randy Orton/Sheamus vs. Wade Barrett/Cody Rhodes

Main event time and as usual for this show it looks like a pretty good one on paper with two members of Team Orton taking on two members of Team Barrett before the big Survivor Series match showdown. We're told Rhodes doesn't need the mask anymore, which saddens me. I liked Cody as the real-life comic book villain. Sheamus and Rhodes start out first but it's not long before Cody is tagging out to Barrett. Sheamus feeds him a huge back elbow but can't even get a one count from it so he ties Wade up in the top two ropes and lays in those big clubbing forearms to Barrett's chest. Barrett responds with a back elbow of his own and Sheamus is able to tag out to Orton for the huge pop. Orton lariats Barrett and then delivers the powerslam to him. He follows up with the second-rope DDT and then sets up for the RKO, but Rhodes tries to stop him with an attack off the top rope only to be met with a boot to the gut and a gutwrench slam from Randy. Orton turns around and eats a boot from Barrett as we take a commercial break. When we return Rhodes is delivering a powerslam to Orton while we see Christian has arrived at ringside to provide some moral support for the heels. Barrett and Rhodes isolate Orton, trading quick tags. Orton tries to tag out but the heels double-team him behind the refs back to help build some more heat for that hot tag you know is coming to Sheamus soon enough. Barrett grinds Orton down with a chinlock, but Orton eventually counters with a back-breaker. Rhodes gets the tag as Sheamus gets a hot tag of his own, hitting the ring and destroying Cody with a top-rope shoulderblock. Sheamus tosses Barrett out of the ring and sets up for the Brogue Kick on Rhodes, but Christian trips him up and then jabs Sheamus right in the throat with his crutch right in front of the referee. That signals the DQ, awarding the match to Orton and Sheamus at 7:49 (shown). This was going along quite nicely up until the abrupt DQ finish, but you can understand their hesitance to have anyone go over clean here since this match is really just a tease for the big eight man Survivor Series match involving these four this Sunday. Pretty darn good while it lasted, but not up to par with what you usually expect out of a Smackdown main event. **1/2

After the bell rings Rhodes takes out Sheamus with a leaping knee strike while Barrett tosses Orton into the guard barrier outside the ring under Christian's direction. Rhodes and Barrett hit the ring to stomp away at Sheamus in the corner They try to use Christian's crutch on him, but Sheamus fights them off and snaps the crutch over Barrett's back while Orton delivers an RKO to Rhodes! Just to be a dick Sheamus follows up with the Celtic Cross powerbomb, as the faces stand triumphant over the heels here. Considering everyone already assumes Orton's team is winning, it probably would have been wiser to have made Rhodes and Barrett look strong going into Sunday. Oh but I digress. We close out the show with Sheamus and Orton celebrating in the ring.

Bottom Line: This was the usual go-home filler show, but it was atleast one of the better ones I've seen in awhile. There's nothing here that hits *** but a few matches come close with the fun Hunico/Kingston and Ziggler/Cara matches. Every match felt like the wrestlers were holding back, saving energy for Sunday though so this was really just your run of the mill, skippable go-home Smackdown. Not terrible or anything, but not enough for a real recommendation, so a very slight Thumbs Down tonight, leaning towards the middle.

Score: 5/10

Friday, November 11, 2011

WWE SmackDown! 11/11/11

WWE Friday Night SmackDown 11/11/11
November 11th, 2011
Echo Arena, Liverpool, England, UK
Attendance: 3,500*

Welcome once again to another edition of 411's Friday Night SmackDown! Report. I'd like to apologize for the slightly abridged version of the report last week, I was in a bit of a rush when I submitted the initial report. I forgot to include the W/L records yet again (I know, I brainfart sometimes guys, sorry) but I've since edited them into last week's SmackDown report and I've fixed my statsheet so if you want to see last week's standings just check out the TV report archive and click on last week's show, or just read ahead to see all the new, updated standings. Anyways, tonight Smackdown emanates from Liverpool, England so odds are we've got a pretty decent show on tap as the WWE usually likes to put on good shows whenever they hit the UK for TV tapings. We're only a little over a week away from Survivor Series, so the Smackdown portion of that card should really come into place tonight. Let's do this thing.

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

We open the show with the Viper, Randy Orton making his way out to the ring while we see a clip of the great street fight he had against Cody Rhodes on last week's show. The commentary team announce a 5 on 5 traditional Survivor Series match for the PPV that was just signed featuring a team led by Orton (along with Kofi Kingston, Sheamus, Sin Cara, and Mason Ryan) against a team led by Wade Barrett (along with Christian, Cody Rhodes, Jack Swagger, and Hunico), so Orton grabs a mic and says that despite his past history of "not playing well with others", he has no problem leading a team up against the likes of Christian and Cody Rhodes, but he doesn't know Hunico or care about Swagger and before he can comment on Barrett, the Englishman's theme music hits and the former Nexus leader makes his way out to the ring to interrupt Orton.

Barrett claims that Randy Orton should have a problem with him, because he has one with Orton. He references their brief feud in the past and then says that the one thing he hasn't accomplished yet in the WWE is winning a World title, and to do that he needs to prove he's Randy Orton's in-ring superior first. Suddenly Christian's music hits now and Barrett's Survivor Series teammate makes his way down to the ring with a neck-brace on and a microphone. Immediately he begins milking the injury he suffered from Sheamus last week and then claims that Barrett was able to beat Sheamus last week because Christian inspired him to succeed. Christian claims to have stepped aside last week when Teddy offered him the captain spot of the team for Survivor Series so that Barrett could step in because of how impressed he was with his victory over Sheamus last week. Before he can get any further however Orton slugs him with a right hand in the face, prompting Barrett and Christian to jump him. Sheamus' music hits however and the Irishman hits the ring to make the save for Orton.

After Christian and Barrett bail from the ring, Teddy Long's music hits and the GM comes out, seeing right through Christian's fake neck injury and informing him that he'll be facing Sheamus once again tonight, and that the main event tonight will be Randy Orton vs. Wade Barrett. Pretty by-the-numbers intro for the show but it sets up the rest of the program nicely.

Sheamus (13-11-1) vs. Christian (17-12-1)

These two are starting to reach Christian vs. Orton levels of familiarity, but I'm not complaining. Sheamus tries a headlock to start but Christian shakes it off and slaps him in the face, igniting an angry stomp-down from Sheamus. Sheamus delivers a huge gorilla press slam and Christian bails out of the ring for a time-out. He suckers Sheamus out of the ring and is able to get a few cheap-shots before once again Sheamus tosses him out of the ring. He tries slamming Christian, but Captain Charisma slides out of his grip and sends him face-first into the steel post. Back inside Christian hits a missile dropkick from the top for a two count. Christian knocks Sheamus out to the floor and tries for a big pescado out onto him, but Sheamus catches him and tosses him over his head with a huge fallaway slam back into the guard barrier! What a crazy spot, and that leads us into our first commercial break. When we return Christian is working a chinlock on Sheamus back in the ring. He slams Sheamus' neck over the top rope and then flies off the top rope only to eat a right hand to his chest and get shot sternum-first into the opposite turnbuckle. Christian tries for a leapfrog from the second turnbuckle but Sheamus once again catches him and slams him with the Irish Curse backbreaker this time for a two count. Christian escapes a Celtic Cross attempt and tries again to jump off the top, but yet again Sheamus catches him and tosses him overhead with another fallaway slam. Christian responds with a big tornado DDT from the corner for his own near fall. Sheamus hits a shoulder-block and goes for the Brogue Kick, which Christian tries countering into the Killswitch, but Sheamus escapes that and nails him with the Celtic Cross to yet again defeat Christian at 10:14 (shown). This was about on par with the usual effort between these two men, which means it was a damn good, closely contested TV match. Another good outing from these two. ***

After a quick commercial break we cut backstage to see Daniel Bryan talking to the adorable AJ. They would make the perfect IWC power couple, eh? Kaitlyn, who reminds me almost of WWE's answer to Velvet Sky, walks up to interrupt them and asks Bryan what the deal was with his match against Mark Henry last week when it appeared that he was contemplating cashing in his MITB contract, when he's claimed ever since winning that he's saving his contract for Wrestlemania. Bryan claims he was out on his feet and didn't really know what was going on until he came to his senses. AJ gives him the biggest pair of flirty-eyes I've ever seen before cowering away under the shadow of an approaching Mark Henry. Mark asks Bryan if he thought it was going to be that easy to become champ when it took him 15 years to win it. He goes to poke Bryan in the chest but Daniel knocks his hand off and tells him "IF" he's still champion by Wrestlemania time, he's going to cash in on him and beat him. Henry says he likes Bryan's guts, and it's a shame he's going to have to spill them all over the ring tonight. So I guess they're wrestling again. I'd say the seeds are officially being planted for a Mark Henry-Daniel Bryan title match at Wrestlemania, which I'm all for.

We get a quick little video package giving us some background info on Ezekiel Jackson in case we had forgotten about him since we saw him...what, last week? Anyways, elsewhere backstage we see Teddy Long talking to the Little Nature Bay himself, referee Charles Robinson. Suddenly they're interrupted by Aksana, who somehow is still employed. She puts her usual moves on Teddy while the cheesy sax music plays in the background. Yawn, still don't give even the slightest fuck about this angle, and I doubt anyone else does. Alicia Fox, looking smoking hot with her new red pigtails, is introduced by Teddy as someone who's going to help "show Aksana the ropes" or something like that. Aksana, being Russian and oblivious, thinks Teddy has gotten her pop singer Rihanna. That's slightly amusing. Moving along now.

Ted DiBiase (4-10) vs. Jinder Mahal (4-3)

I might be upset by the squash it appears Jinder is about to suffer if I actually thought he was talented. Jinder gets a nice knee lift strike in for a quick near fall as the match starts, but it's not long before DiBiase is unloading on him and delivering the Dream Street/cobra clutch slam and picking up the easy pin on Jinder at a whopping 1:07. Squash city, but I've seen worse squashes. 1/4*

Mark Henry (10-8) vs. Daniel Bryan (10-11-1)

So it looks like we're going to have to see Henry squash Bryan a dozen times to set him up as the big underdog for 'Mania next year. I like it, assuming this is building to a Bryan title win, that should give him a good rub in front of the fans eyes. It's only a matter of seconds after the bell rings before Henry is manhandling Bryan in and out of the ring. Bryan eventually manages to get a few lucky shots in and he tries to apply the LeBell Lock but Henry's just too big and he rolls out of the hold, slamming Bryan to the mat like a ragdoll in the process. Bryan doesn't back down though and eggs Henry on until he gives him the World's Strongest Slam, and that's enough to give Henry the win at 3:49. Just another squash match basically but this one actually had a point to it and this should help continue the on-going angle between the two men, setting Bryan up as the ultimate babyface under-dog for when he eventually does cash in on Henry (which I think it's safe to say is where this is headed at the moment). 3/4*

After the match is over Mark Henry isn't done with Bryan though. He grabs his title and a steel chair from ringside, but Bryan manages to take the chair from him and slam it over Henry's back. Henry totally no-sells the chairshot though and slams him once again, following it up with a huge elbow-drop. Henry straps the steel chair around Bryan's leg and prepares to slam it when suddenly the Big Show's music hits and the big man makes his way out to make the save. Henry slams Bryan with another chair-shot and then goes to hit Show, but Show knocks the chair out of his hands with his deadly right hand and stares down Henry until he takes off in true cowardly heel fashion. Big Show grabs a mic and tells him to stick around and watch what happens next. Good little segment.

Handicap Match
Big Show (11-5) vs. 3 Nameless Jobbers

Well it's been awhile since we've seen Show squash a couple of no-name jobbers in a handicap match, I'll give them that. This was almost all Show used to wrestle back in his WCW days, in order to hide his inexperience as a worker. The jobbers get a small bit of offense in before Show choke-slams two of the men. The third man tries to run away, but Show drags him back in the ring and nails him with the deadly right hand for the pin at 1:20. Yet another squash match, this was just to give Show something to do to look impressive to give him a bit of momentum going forward with his feud against Henry. It's always fun to watch a giant destroy three guys at once though. After the match Henry tells Show that he's not impressed. 1/4*

Alicia Fox (5-4) vs. Tamina (4-3)

Fox is with Aksana, while Tamina is with Rosa Mendes. Natalya joins the commentary team as well. Tamina works a nice double-underhook submission hold while Nattie argues with Josh on commentary (it's about as thrilling as it sounds). Fox breaks the hold and hits a flurry of dropkicks before Tamina gives her a huge scoop slam. She tries a diving headbutt, but misses. Fox delivers her somersault-legdrop move that she's begun using as a finisher it seems, and that's enough to put Tamina away at 2:02. Meh, not bad as these are two of the better divas on Smackdown, but still just your standard two minute diva's affair (i.e., instantly forgettable). 1/2*

Backstage Sheamus is asked by Matt Striker about his temper, but Sheamus claims he doesn't have one and jokes about how he likes to have a good time, referencing his skit with Beaker from the Muppets on last week's RAW. He gives Matt the old stink-eye and then takes off.

Hunico, alongside Epico and Primo, are out next as Hunico has new chicano-rap music straight out of a bad 90s movie. So it would appear the rumors of a heel stable nicknamed the "Mexican Freebirds" comprising these three men have some truth to them. After a quick commercial break we return and we've apparently got a tag team match on our hands.

Hunico/Epico vs. The Usos (Jimmy Uso/Jey Uso)

I bet these four could have a great match if given a good 10 minutes or so. Good luck trying to tell these four apart though, the Uso's are identical and Hunico and Epico are nearly impossible to distinguish from one another as well without knowing exactly who's who. Okay, so apparently Epico starts us off with one of the Usos before Hunico tags in and the heels work over one of the Uso's in their corner utilizing traditional heel tag team tactics. Jimmy tags out to Jey moments later and nails Hunico with a big elbow for a near fall. Primo distracts one of the Uso's long enough for him to be taken out of the ring. Hunico slams the other Uso and then finishes him off with a beautiful Swanton Bomb that would make Jeff Hardy jealous to give the Mexican Freebirds their first win at 2:45. Another quick match, but again this one had a point as it gives us a nice introduction to this new heel stable. After the match they take out the other Uso with a pair of lung-blowers and another Swanton bomb just to be dicks. I'd actually quite like to see a feud develop between these teams, especially if the Freebirds are done feuding with Sin Cara. *1/4

Randy Orton (21-7-1) vs. Wade Barrett (7-24-1)

It's main event time now and we've got a pretty decent one tonight with Orton taking on his fellow Survivor Series team captain Wade Barrett. Barrett tries working a side headlock in the early going, but Orton slips out of it, dropkicks him, and slaps on one of his own. Barrett escapes and then gives Orton a big elbow-drop from the second rope for a two count. Orton lures Barrett out of the ring and slams him into the steel barricade. He tries to toss him into the steel steps, but Barrett leaps over the steps to avoid them and Orton eats them instead. Barrett gives him another strong toss into the steps just for good measure as we take our last commercial break of the evening. When we return Barrett is grinding Orton down with rest-holds while Cole puts over the importance of Survivor Series on commentary, doing his job well for once. Orton gets tied up in the ropes and Barrett gives him a huge big boot that sends Orton crumpling to the outside floor like a wet paper bag. Barrett tosses him back into the ring for a two count. Barrett goes back to the side headlock again but Randy shoots him off only to turn around and step right into a big swinging sidewalk slam from Barrett. Wade goes to the top rope, but Orton meets him there and superplexes him off the top for another close near fall. Orton starts hitting clotheslines left and right, followed by the snap powerslam and the second-rope DDT as Orton appears to have caught his second wind and is going into his Viper mode now. Orton sets up for the RKO, but Barrett shoves him into the ref and then nails Randy in the face with a right closed fist behind the ref's back and then rolls Orton up for the upset pin at 9:37 (shown). This was a solid main event and it's nice to see Barrett beat Orton as that should really help his recent resurgent push, but considering the quality of the opener on tonight's show, this was just ever so slightly below three stars. Your mileage may vary. **3/4

Bottom Line: Another solid edition of SmackDown this week as the brand seems to be kicking back into gear again in preparation for Survivor Series next week. We got yet another solid encounter between Sheamus and Christian (though hopefully that will be their last for a while) along with a solid main event that gives a nice rub to Wade Barrett (who as you can tell from his W/L record, badly needs these kind of credibility-boosting wins) makes this an easy one to recommend and give the Thumbs Up to.

Score: 7.5/10

*Source: Wrestling Observer Newsletter via

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

WWE SmackDown 11/4/11

WWE SmackDown 11/4/11
November 4th, 2011
BI-LO Center, Greenville, South Carolina
Attendance: Unknown at this time (early report suggests about half the arena was tarped off, arena capacity is in the 11-15,000 seat range) *

Welcome kind readers once again to another edition of 411's coverage of WWE SmackDown. I am your humble reporter/reviewer Colin Rinehart and from what I can gather we've got a pretty good show on tap this week, so let's not waste any more time and jump right into the thick of things as we open SmackDown from Greenville, South Carolina.

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

Street Fight Match
Randy Orton vs. Cody Rhodes

Well now, this is one hell of a way to open a show up. These two have the obvious factor of in-ring chemistry in their favor because of several years spent as both partners and foes, so throwing in a fun gimmick like the "Street Fight" moniker is just icing on the cake here. Tense lock-up and headlock from Orton to start, followed by his signature standing dropkick, which sends Rhodes out to the floor. Orton is briefly distracted by some of Cody's "bagmen" at ringside, and he's tossed into the steel steps because of this. No worries, Orton gets right back up and shoves Cody into the steel steps a few times before clotheslining him over the guard barrier and into the front row! Orton and Rhodes trade shots, brawling into the raucous southern crowd. They brawl around a few aisles and then return to the ringside area, where Rhodes uses one of his bagmen as a human shield until Orton backdrops the guy, lariats Cody and tosses him into the ring. Cody immediately slides out of the ring again, prompting one of his bagmen to hit the ring instead and Orton takes him out with an RKO in the ring almost immediately, segueing us right into our first commercial break. When we return to action Orton and Rhodes are trading blows on the ramp/staging area of the SmackDown set Rhodes slams Orton's head on the ramp and gains some measure of control. attempting to suplex Orton off the stage and to the concrete floor, but instead Orton counters and sends shivers down Rhodes spines with a snap suplex onto the steel ramp! Kudos to the WWE production crew for the nice up-close shot of the knots on Rhodes back from that one. Orton drags Cody down by the barricades next to the stage goes to work on him with one right hand after another, counting down. Orton brings Rhodes back down to ringside and thinks about suplexing him back into the ring, but instead he decides to drag Cody to the top rope and SUPER-plex him back into the ring instead for a two count. Rhodes fires off a dropkick of his own for a quick near cover before tossing Orton to the floor, where Orton quickly turns the tables on Cody by hip tossing him into the timekeeper's area. While Randy catches his breath though, Cody is playing the spry possum and he explodes out of the booth with an uproarious uppercut to Orton's face with his signature clear rubber mask! Orton looks out of it and from reports, he was apparently legit busted open in the back of his head right around this point, but it was of course edited out by the production crew as we cut to an extended commercial break. When we return Rhodes is tossing Orton over the commentary table at ringside and Booker T scatters! A wild pack of Booker T's appear! Fight or flee? Wait, wrong game. Okay, Rhodes drags Orton back into the ring and gives him a huge gourdbuster before applying a wristlock. Orton tries to fight Cody off again but Cody nails him with a forearm for a nearfall and then manages to lock a tight figure four leglock onto the Viper.only to bash Rnady in the face again with his hard rubber mask. Cody tries to use the mask again but Orton snatches it away from him and nails Rhodes with it in return. Orton fires off a few clotheslines along with his snap powerslam, which signals for the RKO, but Cody sees it coming (doesn't everyone now?) and instead launches his knee off the top rope and right into Orton's face for a sickening thud, but Orton still manages to kick out of the pin. Rhodes tries for Cross-Rhodes, but Orton counters it with a back drop and he sets Cody up on the timekeeper's section as if he were positioned on the top rope in the ring and Randy just DDTs him right there on the floor, putting a new spin on a trademark Orton move. Back inside the ring Randy puts the icing on the cake by RKO-ing Rhodes for the pin at 16:17 (shown). Another great match by these two work-horses that showcased their familiarity with one another and utilized the street fight stipulation to some fun old school Southern brawling with a pseudo comic-book affiliated results. Effervescent effort by both men and another Friday night delight. ***1/2

After that superb match, just to add insult to injury, Orton throws a bag on top of Rhodes head and basks in the crowds adulation a bit more in triumphant victory over his former stablemate.

Ted DiBiase vs. Tyson Kidd

I'm all for the WWE utilizing social media to get some of their young stars over with the young fans, but this term "DiBiase's Posse" has got to go. It sounds like a cliched mid-90s East Coast rap group. Which would actually be so much cooler than the real thing, but alas, here we have young strapping Ted taking on perennial jobber extraordinaire Tyson Kidd. And with such gusto these two lock up to start! Kidd manages to gain an upper hand early and tries a springboard elbow drop but Ted gets his own elbow up in Kidd's face in defiance. Kidd evades a pumphandle slam and eats a lariat for a two count instead. Kidd fights off the Dream Street attempts and then they go into an intricate series of counters that sees Kidd kicked off once and then backed into the corner. DiBiase slaps on the Dream Streat/Cobra Clutch hold again though and he maintains it long enough to slam Tyson to the mat with it and pick up the pinfall win at 2:08. Not much of a match as you can see but a nice refreshing jobber match after a long TV match is always a nice change of pace. *

Backstage Matt Striker asks the World Heavyweight Champion Mark Henry why he refuses to give the Big Show another shot at the title, but in the middle of the interview he sets his eyes on Daniel Bryan, (Money in the Bank winner, remember that?) and stops suddenly to confront him. Bryan stands his ground while Henry accuses him of "eyeballin'" him. Bryan tries to explain that he's waiting for Wrestlemania to cash in his MITB contract, but Henry manages to somewhat kind of sort of not really persuades Bryan to fight him later tonight, with or without the briefcase. My goodness, could they be planting the seeds of a feud building for Wrestlemania?

Natalya vs. Alicia Fox

Now onto our requisite divas match. Natalya is apparently on the rag and Fox tries to fight back with some feisty dropkicks before bellowing out that Nattie's nose is bigger than hers in the heat of girl-talk midmatch. OMG so many elements at play here, amirite? Fox manages to counter a sharpshooter attempt into a scissors kick, that manages to be enough to pick up the win at 1:28. *

The Big Show heads out to the ring to cut a promo now, asking why Mark Henry wouldn't give him another title short. Big Show, being the drunken grizzly bear lumberjack that he is, tries referencing an old LL Cool J song ("Mama said knock you out!") to chilly results so Christian makes his way out to the ring to start shit with him. Christian cuts a great heel promo about how they do things "differently" in Canada where he's from. Big Show assures Christian that he won't KO him, instead, giving him a chokeslam on the spot right before he's scheduled to face Sheamus in a match. Instead Wade Barrett scurries down to ringside to replace Christian and we have ourselves a match.

Sheamus vs. Wade Barrett

Why must the British and Irish always fight? It's in their blood, that's why. Sheamus goes to town on Barrett as the match starts with a series of shoulderblocks and forearms followed by a knee strike and then the slingshot shoulder-block for a two count. Barrett manages to muster up some defense though and nail Sheamus in the head with a huge running boot to the face. We take a commercial break and when we return Barrett delivers a big pumphandle slam to Sheamus for a two count. Barrett nails him with yet another yakuza kick big boot and Sheamus is looking down and out. Big elbow drop gets another two count for Wade and now the Englishman is in full control, stomping away at Sheamus in the corner at will as (believe it or not) dueling Barrett and Sheamus chants start up. Sheamus is fired up now though and goes to work on Wade, lariating him in the corner and delivering a powerslam. He goes for the powerbomb to finish Wade off, but Christian distracts him long enough for Wade to roll Sheamus up and pin him at 7:30. This was a really rock-solid match full of crisp countering and lots of energetic brawling but it did tend to rely a bit heavily on the formula of matches that Sheamus has had for the last six months until the finish. Good stuff. ***

After the commercial break we cut backstage to see Wade and Sheamus fighting one another backstage after the match anyways. Something tells me they have unfinished business. They follow this with some more RAW rebound stuff and another creepy Brodus Clay promo.

Sin Cara vs. Epico

No idea who Epico is, don't have the time to look it up, but I'll just assume he's one of the many luchadors from FCW. Epico infact manages to deliver a series of rolling German suplexes to Cara, but Sin Cara kicks out repeatedly. Epico puts Cara into Gory Special for a bit to stretch him out until Cara fights back. Cara nails him with a kick and then goes for a top rope move, but Hunico (the "other" Sin Cara) runs down to the ring and jumps the original Sin Cara for a DQ finish at 2:17. This was reportedly another botch-filled encounter for Mistico so they had to heavily edit it for the ten billionth time to make it not look like shit. Dude, I've given as much flack as I can for you Mistico, either stop taking the drugs that's probably making you botch or fuck off man, you're only going to hurt lucha libre's recognition in the WWE on this path. End of rant. *

Mark Henry vs. Daniel Bryan

This isn't a title match obviously. Henry tosses Bryan to start in dominance, as expected. He hands out head-butts and forearms to put over how vicious Henry has become in his new heel persona. Luckily Big Show is at ringside to provide Bryan moral support during the beatdown of a match that this is. Bryan actually gets to do his bit of offense on Henry though, hitting him with a flurry of the usual stiff karate kicks for a shockingly close two count. Henry gets right back up though and slams Bryan in the corner until Big Show hits the ring to attack him, signalling the DQ at 6:23. Obviously not much of a match, but this could be a teaser of things to come when WWE rolls into springtime 2012. Check your tickets folks, cause Bryan Danielson actually might win a world title at Wrestlemania next year. *1/2

Bottom Line: Good episode this week. I'd hash it out more but I'm in a hurry, so I'll revise this later. For now all you need to now is this was a GREAT episode in fact, and you should watch it. THumbs Up.

Score: 8.5/10

* - Source: