Friday, December 16, 2011

WWE Friday Night SmackDown! 12/16/11

WWE Friday Night SmackDown!
December 16th, 2011
RBC Center, Raleigh, North Carolina
Attendance: Unknown at this time

Welcome everyone once again to another edition of 411mania's Friday Night SmackDown! coverage. We're only two days away from the big TLC PPV on Sunday, and with the card pretty much set in stone at this point you can expect tonight to likely be the usual go-home show. We're emanating from Raleigh, North Carolina this week and there's no telling what could go down tonight, so let's start the show!

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

We open the show with the usual intro stuff, Jack Swagger vs. Big Show is booked, as well as a tag team main event pitting Randy Orton & Zack Ryder against Wade Barrett & Dolph Ziggler. That sounds promising.

Josh Matthews hits the ring next and introduces Booker T for a formal interview in preparation for his Intercontinental title match this Sunday against Cody Rhodes. He asks Booker if it's safe to say he's ready to face Cody this Sunday, and Booker feigns being insulted, turning the question around and asking the fans if he looks ready (to which he gets a nice pop). Booker says this whole situation is because of Cody's ego and his desire to be "legitimized", but Booker will be damned if he's going to make his name off himself. He promises that Cody will get the beatdown of his life this Sunday and then finishes up with the classic "Now can you dig that....sucka?" catch phrase.

Moments later Cody Rhodes' music hits and he makes his way out to the rampway with a microphone to tell us all how it's "really" going to go down on Sunday. He says Booker will hit the ring psyched and excited, and if this were a movie he'd take Cody's title, but this isn't a movie and reality dictates that Booker will fall to him. Booker's heard enough though and asks him about the reality of coming over and whooping his ass right now? Cody says because Booker has interfered in his last two matches against Daniel Bryan, he's had a third match against Bryan booked for tonight (next in fact) and that according to Teddy Long, if Booker interferes the match this Sunday is off and he'll be suspended. He rips off Booker's catch-phrase but is interrupted moments later by Daniel Bryan's music and our opening contest...

Cody Rhodes (15-16) vs. Daniel Bryan (11-14-1)

Hopefully we get a clean finish this time, because these two work great together. Booker joins the commentary team as Rhodes and Bryan lock-up intensely. They exchange counters and Bryan looks for the LeBell lock early, but Cody exits the ring and we take a quick commercial break. When we return Bryan is in control, trying for a Mexican surfboard submission but settling for just slamming Rhodes legs into the mat. He tries to suplex Rhodes from the apron, but Rhodes counters with his own suplex that sends Bryan tumbling nastily to the floor! Back in the ring Cody delivers a gourdbuster and then wraps his legs around Bryan's waist in a nasty vice grip. Bryan escapes and lays a few kicks into Cody's chest, but Rhodes comes back with a vicious lariat for the first real near fall of the match. Bryan tries a few different pin cradle combinations, but Rhodes kicks out every time so Bryan tries a missile dropkick, but he still only gets a two count. Bryan fires off some more stiff kicks to Rhodes and he tries to escape to the top rope, but Bryan just follows him there and delivers a towering top-rope back suplex, but Rhodes manages to reverse the momentum in mid-air and land directly on Bryan's taped up ribs. Rhodes tries for his jumping knee strike but misses and both men exchange roll-ups, with Cody rolling through right back up to his feet and delivering the Cross Rhodes to Bryan in one wonderfully fluid motion to pin Bryan clean at 5:44 (shown). Great little TV match here just as you'd expect from these two together, even if it was a bit on the short side. The finish was great and Booker was borderline hilarious ranting and raving on commentary, so thumbs up all around here, great way to start the show. ***

Alicia Fox (6-4) vs. Natalya (6-7)

After a quick commercial we return and segueway right into our next match. Natalya comes down to the ring tossing tissues around, mocking Fox's tears during a previous attack. Fox grabs a headlock but it's not long before Natalya is bludgeoning the smaller Fox and locking her into an abdominal stretch. Natalya tries a roll-up, but Fox counters that into a cradle of her own that somehow is able to get her the "fluke" 3 count at 1:02. After the match Fox rips out some of Nattie's hair and calls her synthetic and tries to coin a painful pun catch phrase about Natalya being "Out-Foxed". Nattie hits the ring again but Fox nails her and delivers her somersault scissors kick finisher for good measure. Man, I really hate that finish. It's bad enough in a 10 minute match when someone spends most of the match getting beat on and then gets the fluke pin out of nowhere, so you can imagine how foolish it looks in only a minute. DUD

After a commercial break we return and see the Slammy nominees for "Pipe Bomb of the Year" again. Afterwards we cut to Jack Swagger talking backstage with Vickie Guerrero. Mark Henry approaches him and tells him he needs to take out Big Show's ankle tonight, and if he does that he'll be first in line for a World title shot. Swagger tells him he's going to hurt Show tonight not for Henry, but for himself. He brags about beating Show before and then promises to win the World title anyways. Could we be seeing the beginning of a face turn for Swagger?

The Uso's (Jimmy Uso/Jey Uso) vs. Epico/Primo

Rosa Mendes comes out with Epico and Primo again, 'cause you know, all Spanish people just inexplicably hang out together. The Uso's start off trading quick tags and working basic elbow drops and cross-bodies on Epico. Moments later they've traded roles and now the Colon boys are trading quick tags and isolating one of the Uso's in their corner (I can't tell them apart and neither can you, so let's just call this one Jimmy). Jimmy manages to escape harm and tag out to Jey, who hits the ring in House of Fire mode, delivering a sick spinning elbow to Primo followed by the old Rikishi running-ass slam in the corner. Jimmy and Epico fight out to the floor while Jey gets hung up on the top rope by Primo, who delivers the back-stabber lung-blower to him to pick up the win at 2:59. Fun little sprint, but every time I see these teams wrestle I'm always left with the feeling that they could put on a fantastic match if they were ever actually given more than three minutes at a time. **

Big Show (12-5) vs. Jack Swagger (8-7)

Just as these two are ready to square off in our next match, Mark Henry interrupts and makes his way down to ringside with a steel chair to watch the match. Swagger tries to jump Show from behind while he's distracted, but Show sees him coming and bludgeons him. Swagger goes right for the ankle with a chop block and follows with a shoulder-block for a two count. Show tosses Swagger out of the ring like a ragdoll and then brings him right back into the ring and wipes him out with a forearm from his knees on his way back in. He scoop slams Swagger and stares down Henry at ringside. Show chokes Swagger over the second rope and continues to stare a hole through Henry. Show lays in some huge chops in the corner and tries an Irish whip, but Swagger finally mounts some defense and slams Show's leg into the corner. He follows up with a pair of Swagger bombs, but again Show kicks out with ease. Show hits a few clotheslines and tries for the chokeslam, but Swagger counters into the ankle lock! Show manages to kick him off eventually though and then nails Swagger with the knock-out punch to pick up the win at 5:47. Show tosses Swagger out of the ring like trash after the match just to piss off Henry, so Mark nails a nearby cameraman with a steel chair just to be a dick. The match here actually was a lot better than you've come to expect from Show over the years, this was mostly Show dominating but Swagger made it look convincing. Solid for what it was. **1/4

Backstage we see Zack Ryder approach Orton to ask if they're on the same page tonight, and Orton calmly responds "No". Ryder asks if they're even in the same book and Orton gives him a "Maybe". Ryder celebrates with some fist-bumping. These two make an amusing odd couple.

Ted DiBiase (7-10) vs. Heath Slater (4-23)

I want to find whoever created Slater's theme music and throw them into a bottomless pit. We get some more footage from DiBiase's "posse parties" before the match. So weird. DiBiase is hot to start here, countering Slater's lock-up attempts into various creative roll-ups and cradles for a string of early near falls. Slater, unamused, slaps him in the face which only serves to fire DiBiase up as he tosses Slater out of the ring, slams him into the guard-rail, and then starts handing out high-fives to some uniformed soldiers at ringside. I don't know what's gotten into DiBiase, but he's on his game tonight. Back in the ring Slater tosses DiBiase into the corner turn-buckle and stomps away at him. He stretches Ted's back across the turnbuckle in a nasty submission and then hits an axe handle off the top rope back inside for a two count. Slater tries a Russian leg sweep, but again he only gets two. Slater gets caught with a knee off the top rope moments later and DiBiase hits a lariat followed by the Dream Street slam to put Heath away at 3:09. Another fun little sprint, and DiBiase looked excellent here. **

After the match Jinder Mahal hits the ring to attack DiBiase. He puts him into the camel clutch but is interrupted moments later by Teddy Long, who books him into a match right now since he wants to fight so badly, against none other than Sheamus.

Sheamus (16-11-1) vs. Jinder Mahal (4-5)

After a quick break we return for the opening bell and lock-up. Both men brawl to start, which of course leads to Sheamus beating down Mahal like the proverbial government mule. He delivers the big forearms to Jinder's chest while he's tied up in the ropes and follows it with a slingshot shoulder-block for a two count. Mahal manages to deliver a swinging neckbreaker for a two count, and he finds a bit of success with a chinlock. Sheamus overpowers him again though and continues the bruising beatdown. He delivers the Irish Curse backbreaker and then takes Mahal's head off with the Brogue Kick for the win at 3:51. Basically just a squash for Sheamus, but the crowd seemed into it. Then again you never can tell what's being piped in on this show. *1/2

We get some more lengthy video packages highlighting this past Monday's Slammy awards show to kill some more time, followed by a brief package highlighting the Triple H/Kevin Nash feud just for fun. Now onto our main event. In-between entrances we cut to commercial and get another mysterious promo with some creepy kids in a class-room while the child narrates a short piece about the world ending on January 2nd. This is followed by simply the word "Control.". Well, that reminded me of every bad student film ever made.

Randy Orton/Zack Ryder vs. Wade Barrett/Dolph Ziggler

Ryder and Ziggler start us off with some basic head-lock/shoulder-block exchanges. They run the ropes and Ziggler gets pancaked for a quick one count. Orton tags in and lays in some forearms on Ziggler's chest followed by some stomps on his leg. He suplexes Ziggler while staring down Barrett in the corner and then tags back out to Ryder. Ziggler finally gets some offense in and tags out to Barrett. He stomps away at Ryder a bit but then flees the ring when Orton tags back in again. Ziggler works over Orton in the corner after taking advantage of a distraction by Barrett. Ryder hops in for the save and dropkicks Ziggler out of the ring, giving us time to take a commercial break. When we return Orton is punching away at Ziggler in the corner again. Barrett gets a blind tag and nearly takes Randy's head off with a surprise big boot. He follows it with a swinging neckbreaker for a near fall. Barrett lays in a stiff, sick knee to Orton's ribs and then tags out to Ziggler. Dolph hits a flashy elbow for another two count. A beautiful standing drop-kick nets Dolph another near fall, so he tags out to Barrett. Orton responds with a spinning back suplex and is able to get the hot tag to Ryder, who hits the ring on fire, nailing Barrett with a barrage (heh) of elbows and knees. He hits the Broski Boot in the corner and tries for the Rough Ryder, but Ziggler breaks it up from behind and tags in. Ryder rolls through and nearly pins Ziggler with another close near fall, but Ziggler transitions right into a nasty half Boston crab/chinlock combination. Ryder gets dragged back into the heel's corner and Barrett tags in, suplexing Zack immediately. Barrett tries for the Waste Land, but Ryder counters with a huge DDT and is able to get the tag to Orton, who goes right into Viper mode with a snap powerslam on Ziggler, followed by his gut-wrench neckbreaker. Ryder clotheslines Barrett out of the ring, but gets slammed into the guard barrier while Ziggler rolls up Orton in the ring with a handful of tights and nearly steals it. Ziggler tries for the Fame-asser but Orton moves, turns around and hits the RKO! Orton pins Ziggler for the three count while staring down Barrett outside of the ring at 11:53 (shown). Great dynamic between these four men and it resulted in a typically excellent Smackdown main event this week with a hot finish to boot. Good stuff from everyone involved. ***

We close out the show with Barrett and Orton staring each-other down.

Bottom Line: Very good go-home show this week as we touched on almost every SmackDown angle and even got a few damn good TV matches out of it, surprisingly enough. I find that typically everyone seems to be holding back on the Smackdown show before a PPV, but not tonight, everyone was on their game it seemed like. Easy Thumbs Up for SmackDown this week.

Score: 7.5/10

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