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

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