Friday, December 23, 2011

WWE Friday Night SmackDown! 12/23/11

WWE Friday Night Smackdown 12/23/11
December 23rd, 2011
Richmond Coliseum, Richmond, Virginia
Attendance: Unknown at this time

Welcome back once again to another edition of 411's SmackDown Report! Tonight we've got a big show only two days before Christmas as we get to see the aftermath of this past Sunday's TLC PPV and Daniel Bryan's shocking World Heavyweight title win, and I for one can't wait to see what they plan to do with Bryan, positive or negative. We're emanating from Richmond, Virginia tonight so stick around, grab a cold one, kick back, and let's do this thing.

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

We open up the show this week with the introduction of the Big Show, who won the World title from Mark Henry this past Sunday only to lose it seconds later to Daniel Bryan, who cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase on the big man. Show doesn't seem to upset about it though. He talks about how he scratched and clawed his way for 9 years to get back to being a World champion again and how difficult it was for him to defeat Henry fair and square to accomplish his goal, and then just in a second it was all gone. We get a quick clip of Josh Matthews interviewing Show on RAW this past week, informing Show his title win was the shortest in history. Show says he's proud of himself for not going over the edge and blowing up, so of course that's Mark Henry's cue to make his entrance down to the ring, sporting a walking cast on his left ankle.

Henry immediately starts poking fun at Show's short-lived title win, telling him he should take a week off and just quit the business. Just as Henry is about to ask for a rematch, Daniel Bryan's music hits and our World Heavyweight champion makes his way down to the ring to join the fracas.

Bryan hits the ring to a nice reaction and says that even he can't believe he's the World champion right now. Bryan says he's not the world's strongest man, he's not the world's tallest athlete, the fastest, smartest, or even the most charismatic or attractive, but what he is is a very good wrestler, possibly a great one, and despite all of that he's still the World Heavyweight champion. Henry and Show start arguing again when Teddy Long comes out to set up a #1 Contender's match between Show and Henry for later tonight.

Zack Ryder vs. Cody Rhodes

Ryder looks great with the US title, WWWYKI. Rhodes and Ryder lock up to start and Ryder arm-drags Rhodes several times. Rhodes socks Ryder in the mouth with a right hand and tosses him out of the ring, but Ryder is right back in there. Rhodes knocks him off the apron again but Ryder catches him with a kick on his way out as Cody shoves Ryder into Booker T at the commentary table at ringside. We take a quick commercial break and when we return Rhodes is in the midst of delivering the Alabama Slam to Ryder for a two count. Rhodes works a loose crossface submission on Ryder and both men's skulls collide as they each scramble back to their feet. Ryder starts to make his comeback, hitting the Broski Boot on Cody in the corner for a close two count. Rhodes catches Ryder off the top rope and starts to re-gain the advantage when suddenly Booker T grabs a house mic and stands on the commentary table to sing a corny song called "Cody the Red-Nosed Reindeer", which is enough of a distraction for Ryder to hit the Rough Ryder and pick up the win at 5:59 (shown). So I guess the Cody/Booker feud is just getting started. This was going along solidly enough until the storyline kicked in and ended things. Ryder could have used a clean win here, but I guess this is good enough. **

Backstage we cut to Santino Marella sneaking up on Teddy Long to ask if he can apply to be Teddy's new assistant GM since Ryder won't have the time now. Cue the corny saxophone music and Aksana, who drops a few innuendos and suggests herself for the role instead. Santino and Aksana take off as Vickie Guerrero and Dolph Ziggler approach the GM next. Ziggler says he'll eventually ask for his US title rematch, but tonight he wants to wrestle the World champ, Daniel Bryan. Teddy obliges and then starts "dancing" (it looks more akin to an old man rambunctiously playing an invisible piano) when Vickie scowls and storms off with a "Bah Humbug!" Teddy's dance there might have been the most awkwardly funny thing I've seen in awhile.

Big Show and Mark Henry make their way out to the ring next to have their #1 Contender's match, when suddenly David Otunga's music hits and the Bow-Tie wonder himself walks down to the ring with a microphone. That crowd had no clue who was coming out based just on the music until Otunga was halfway to the ring. Otunga claims that Henry hasn't been medically cleared to compete tonight, so the match won't be happening. He wishes us all a happy holidays and is then promptly KNOCKED THE FUGGOUT by Show. That punch would have made Deebo himself proud.

We cut to backstage where The Miz confronts Teddy Long about being told to show up for tonight's show. Long claims he had nothing to do with it and Miz starts complaining about his work as GM, bragging about how many PPVs he main evented in 2011 in the process. Miz says he's going to go out to the ring and wait for an opponent anyways. ORLY?

After a commercial break we return with The Miz in the ring, waiting for his mystery opponent. Miz declares the entire Smackdown locker room as cowards and begins listing off all of his accolades again when suddenly Sheamus makes his out to apparently step up to the plate for Smackdown.

Sheamus vs. The Miz

Man, Sheamus has just gotten scary over as of late, eh? Both men initially lock up before Miz starts a foot chase around the ring, giving him the chance to get the jump on the powerful Sheamus knock him down with a big boot or two. Implant DDT from the Miz gets a two count. For some reason Miz decides the best strategy now is to stand in the opposite corner and give Sheamus all the time he needs to recover, and he does exactly that before attempting the Celtic Cross, which Miz counters. Miz tries for the Skull Crushing Finale, but Sheamus counters that and then just takes Miz out with the Brogue Kick for the win at 3:04. Wow, I know they want to keep Sheamus strong and I'm all for it but he basically just squashed The Miz clean in under four minutes, a guy who was just main evented their last two PPVs. Decent enough match, but it was too short and one-sided to amount to anything serious. *

Wade Barrett makes his way out to the ring next for some promo time. He immediately starts throwing out the "Barrett Barrage" phrase again before showing us some clips from the Barrett/Orton feud so far, including Barrett's initial victory over Orton, his pin on Randy during the Survivor Series elimination match, and Orton going through the table on RAW this past week. Barrett says he wants a title shot at Daniel Bryan (who he can't believe is even champion) and then wishes everyone a Happy Christmas before exiting the ring. Of course, Randall Orton's music hits when Wade is only halfway up the ramp and the Viper jumps him. He tosses Wade back into the ring and then goes for the RKO, but Barrett evades it and then takes off to the backstage area. Orton pauses briefly before giving chase, and we cut to the backstage area where both men begin brawling down a hallway. They make their way out to the parking garage next where Orton is able to slam Barrett into a steel fence a few times. Orton grabs a hose of all things and sprays Barrett down with it before tossing him over a concession table. Randy dumps some trash on him and then tosses him on top of a car, where he slams Wade's head into the roof. Finally Randy gives him an RKO on the roof of the car and then takes off to his own theme music. Well, he kind of made Barrett look like his total and complete bitch their, but that's okay really because Orton is miles above Barrett on the WWE food chain and Barrett has literally lost so many matches that it won't hurt him to get his ass kicked, even if it is as over-the-top as this was.

Kofi Kingston vs. Primo

Bourne is in Kofi's corner obviously and Primo has Epico and Rosa Mendes in his. Primo is all over Kofi to start with a nice Russian leg-sweep into a sort of variation on the Koji Clutch submission. Primo hits a nice combination of spin-kicks, taking Kofi out high and low, for the first near fall of the match. Kofi starts hitting forearms and a dropkick, then follows it with his typically awesome high cross-body from the top rope for another two count. Kofi goes tot he top, but Epico distracts him long enough for Primo to arm-drag him from the top rope for another close two count. Back on their feet Kofi hits the Trouble in Paradise pretty much out of nowhere for the win at 3:07. Well that ended rather abruptly before it even got a chance to get started. The tag team division reminds me of the old cruiserweight division with how little time these guys get on each show. *1/2

We get a lengthy highlight package of what went down at TLC this past Sunday before preparing for our main event of the evening.

Daniel Bryan vs. Dolph Ziggler

Non-title match here obviously, but these two work very well together so this could be great. Great waistlock exchanges to start here before Bryan wins a test-of-strength and then ducks a forearm from Ziggler and rolls him into the old Mexican Surfboard, stretching Ziggler out in mid-air. Stiff European uppercut from Bryan, but Ziggler responds with some shots of his own. Ziggler tries to show off with some sit-ups, so Bryan gets right back into his face with the forearms. Ziggler trips Bryan into the turnbuckle though and then takes him inside-out with that awesome reverse overhead suplex of his for a two count. We take a quick commercial break and when we return Ziggler nails Bryan with a dropkick and then slaps a chinlock on him. Both men look for cross-bodies off the ropes and wind up colliding in mid-air nastily, wiping both men out. Jack Swagger walks down the ramp suddenly to join Vickie at ringside while Bryan back-drops Ziggler up and out of the ring completely on the opposite side. Never one to waste time, Bryan comes flying out after Ziggler with the tope suicida of course, wiping him out on the floor again. Bryan tosses Ziggler back inside and while the ref is checking on him, Swagger jumps Bryan from behind his back. The ref starts counting Bryan out while the Big Show makes his way down to ringside to apparently stand in Bryan's corner. Ziggler tries for the sleeper in the ring, but Bryan rolls him up briefly before continuing to roll-through and deliver a fantastic version of the Chaos Theory for an ever-so-close near fall! That was awesome and I haven't seen Bryan use that move in a long time. Bryan goes on the attack with stiff kicks and Ziggler tries to fight back with a Zig-Zag attempt, but Bryan just nails him in the face with another stiff kick for another near fall. Bryan delivers a top-rope frankensteiner on Ziggler next, but Dolph rolls through on the mat and turns it into a pinning attempt of his own for two. Ziggler hits the Fameasser but Bryan kicks out at two yet again. Ziggler decides to take Bryan up to the top and try for a frankensteiner of his own, but Bryan sees where this is going and racks him before delivering a huge top-rope back superplex! While both men are out, Swagger and Big Show start to tangle up inside the ring, so Teddy Long comes running out and decides to make this a tag team match now as we take our last commercial break, un-officially "ending" the singles portion of this match at about 10:15. If I were to just rate this singles portion of the match before Show and Swagger became involved, I'd go about ***1/4.

Daniel Bryan/Big Show vs. Dolph Ziggler/Jack Swagger

When we return from the break Show is in the middle of overpowering Swagger with a headlock as I guess this is all just going to be one long match as no bell ever signified an end to the previous match or the start of this one on-air. Ziggler tags in and is met with the same overpowering results until Show tags Bryan in. Bryan mounts a bit of offense before Ziggler tags out again to Swagger, who hits Bryan with a Swagger bomb for two. Got all of that? Bryan gets hung up in the tree of woe as Swagger stomps away at his mid-section while Ziggler attacks from behind the ref's back. Ziggler applies a nice half Boston crab for a bit and then applies the Sleeper briefly until Bryan sends Ziggler flying out of the ring in-between the ropes, hitting his arm on the steel post in the process. Back in the ring both men tag out to their partners, and Show takes out Swagger with a football tackle. He knocks Ziggler out of the ring with a kick and then tries the choke slam on Swagger, but Swagger evvades. Show tags Bryan in, who looks for a missile dropkick, but Swagger grabs him and applies the ankle lock. Never fear, Bryan just counters that into the LeBell lock and Swagger has no choice but to tap out at 6:55 (or 17:10 shown in total including the first singles portion of the match). Adding Show and Swagger didn't really do much for the match quality but it at least made sense from a storyline perspective and Bryan looked pretty darn great through-out both matches. If I were to grade this all as one big match. I'd still go about ***1/4

After the match Bryan celebrates with his title while Show looks at him with ominous eyes from the rampway. That does it for Smackdown tonight, happy holidays folks!

Bottom Line: This was a fairly good show considering how close we are to Christmas, which usually means throw-away shows to wrestling fans in the past. They could definitely be doing more with Bryan, but atleast they gave him and Ziggler a good 10+ minutes to do their thing and show off some absolutely brilliant wrestling in the process. Not a fantastic show or anything, but a solid one and worth checking out, if only for the main event. Thumbs Up.

Score: 7.0/10

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