Friday, February 3, 2012

WWE Friday Night SmackDown! 2/3/12

WWE Friday Night SmackDown!
February 3rd, 2012
CenturyLink Center, Omaha, Nebraska
Attendance: Unknown at this time

Welcome back everyone to another edition of 411's Friday Night SmackDown report! We're only five days removed from the annual Royal Rumble with Smackdown superstar Sheamus having won the big match and earned a title shot of his choosing at Wrestlemania. Daniel Bryan also retained the World Heavyweight title that night, so we're sure to hear from him as well. The Road to Wrestemania is officially upon us, let's do this thing!

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

We open the show with Smackdown GM Teddy Long already in the ring doing his usual awkward little jig to his theme music. Teddy cuts right to the point and announces the six participants for this year's Smackdown Elimination Chamber match for the WHC in three weeks time. They include the champion Daniel Bryan of course, defending against Wade Barrett, Big Show, IC Champion Cody Rhodes, Mark Henry, and Randy Orton. Teddy runs down the rules quickly and is promptly interrupted by Mark Henry.

Henry walks down to the ring and runs down the math on his odds for winning the title at the Chamber, feeling cheated. Teddy tells him he's lucky to even be in this match after losing in the cage match this past Sunday. Henry asks to be taken out of the Chamber and instead booked into a title match against Daniel Bryan here tonight. Teddy, apparently having grown a set of balls, takes Henry out of the Chamber and won't give him a title match later tonight either. Henry calls Teddy replaceable and pulls on his tie, so Teddy decides to suspend him indefinitely right then and there (to give Henry time off to heal his most recent legit injury). Henry gets in Teddy's face again when the 2012 Royal Rumble winner Sheamus makes his way down to the ring to make the save, nailing Henry with the Brogue Kick! Henry takes off and Teddy asks Sheamus if he's decided what title he wants to fight for at Wrestlemania, and Sheamus responds that he plans to wait until after the Elimination Chamber PPV to make his decision when suddenly Cody Rhodes comes out to interrupt.

Rhodes wants to warn Sheamus about letting success go to his head, telling him that no one will remember that he won the 2012 Rumble down the line, but they will remember the six people Cody eliminated during the match. Cody promises to win the World title and become the first man to hold both the World and IC titles simultaneously since the Ultimate Warrior did it at Wrestlemania 6. Cody throws in a cheap shot at the Warrior (well, maybe not cheap per se since it's true, Warrior is batshit crazy) and Teddy decides to book Cody into a match against Sheamus, and that match is happening next! Solid way to start the show off and set up the Chamber match in a few weeks, and I'm pleasantly surprised Sheamus came out to make the save instead of the Big Show.

Sheamus (21-12-1) vs. Cody Rhodes (20-17)
We return from commercial with the match already under way. Sheamus seems to be rocking some new red ring gear which looks a tad strange on him. Sheamus is all over Cody to start, hitting the old Finlay roll for a quick two count. Cody gets caught up in the ropes and Sheamus lays in some hammer fists before Cody escapes to the floor. Sheamus blocks a toss into the steel post but Cody hits him with a dropkick and then hits the Beautiful Disaster knee-strike off of the guard barrier! That was pretty sick. Sheamus basically no-sells it though, kicking out at a one count back in the ring so Cody hits a beautiful soaring moonsault on him off the top rope but again Sheamus kicks out. Rhodes hits a nice bulldog off the second rope but still can't keep the Great White down. Sheamus starts to mount a comeback though with big forearms and a powerslam followed by a diving shoulder-block off the top. Rhodes manages to escape the Celtic Cross attempt and try for another Beautiful Disaster knee-strike, but Sheamus ducks and goes for the Brogue Kick and Cody ducks THAT only to turn around and eat Finlay's old version of the Celtic Cross from Sheamus, which is enough to put the IC champ away at 5:11 (shown). Great (albeit short) opening match to start us off, these two worked very well together and fit in some creative spots alongside some great counter-work, I'd love to see these two get some more time to see what they could do. Sheamus adopting some of Finlay's old move-set was a nice touch as well. **1/2

Randy Orton vs. Wade Barrett in a No DQ match is announced for the main event later tonight.

Justin Gabriel and Hunico are out next for a match-up, but Cody Rhodes is still at ringside, pissed about his loss. He jumps Gabriel from behind before the match can even begin and Hunico and Comacho join in on the beat-down when The Great Khali (who returned at the Rumble this past Sunday) of all freaking people comes out to make the save. So I guess that Khali/Jinder Mahal angle has been dropped. I'll try not to shed a tear.

Backstage it's time for Drew McIntyre to make his weekly plea to Teddy Long for another shot. Teddy won't even give him a match tonight though, and instead tells him to find a new way to impress him and to be glad he even still has a job. Drew takes off and Santino comes in to introduce another new tag team partner---Hacksaw Jim Duggan! Their team name? Santin-hooooo! Duggan looks like his body is about to fall apart at any minute. Teddy books them in a match for later tonight and they take off. Aksana comes in next (cue them cheesy saxophones!) to make a few more lame sexual puns, this time about Duggan's trademark 2x4.

Up next we get another video package for Mike Tyson's induction into the celebrity wing of the WWE Hall of Fame this year. For once I'd say this celeb actually deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, it can't be stressed enough just how important Tyson was to the success of Wrestlemania 14.

Santino Marella/Hacksaw Jim Duggan vs. Primo/Epico

God bless Hacksaw, he can still get thousands of people to chant "USA!" on cue. This is a non-title match obviously. Santino starts off with Epico, working a wristlock before tagging Duggan in. Hacksaw lays in some punches and a few quick clotheslines, but Epico counters with some stomps in the corner before tagging Primo in. Primo lays in some more punches and slaps on a chinlock, but Hacksaw counters by slamming him face-first into the turnbuckle and tags Santino back in. Santino hits his hip-toss/diving headbutt combo for a near-fall but Epico breaks it up. Duggan and Epico brawl to the outside while Santino prepares for the Cobra, but Rosa manages to distract Santino long enough for Primo to hit him with the Backstabber and pick up the win at 2:23. After the match Duggan clears the ring with his 2x4. Short, harmless stuff. AKA your typical Santino match. Always fun to see Duggan again too. *

When we return from the commercial break Michael Cole is in the ring to introduce and interview the World Heavyweight champion, Daniel Bryan. Bryan is still heeling it up, jumping up and down and yelling "YES! YES! YES!" on his way to the ring. Cole says that he along with many fans have been critical of Bryan in the past, but he says that Bryan proved something this Sunday by winning the triple threat cage match. Cole admits that he was wrong about Daniel Bryan and offers a handshake, but Bryan takes the mic from him and doesn't shake his hand, saying this interview is not about Cole. Would have been better if he shook his hand and they became BFFs. Bryan says this is all about himself and then proceeds to gloat some more about retaining his title at the Rumble. He calls himself a role model and then tells the fans they should be like him and become vegans. Only in the world of pro wrestling is the health-conscious animal loving guy the heel. Bryan talks about the horrors of a slaughterhouse and then calls the citizens of Omaha some of the worst offenders. Bryan says he's healthier than anyone in the building and runs down some of the health risks of eating red meat. Big "You suck!" chant starts up. Hey, if you're going to pull out the vegan card for heel heat, the midwest is the perfect place for it. Bryan starts to run down the Big Show again, demanding that he be removed from the Chamber match. Of course Show comes out to interrupt though for a big pop. He says he would have come out to interrupt earlier, but he was finishing a big steak backstage first. Show dismisses Bryan's claim of being a role model and calls him a pompous, arrogant little ass. Bryan gets in his face again so Show attacks him, tossing him around like a rag-doll and ripping his shirt off with one motion. He choke slams Bryan when Daniel's girlfriend AJ Lee comes down to the ring in a neck brace to stop him from hitting the WMD punch. Bryan escapes the ring and he and AJ hug before walking to the back with Bryan promising her he won't let Show ever hurt her again. You know usually I'd think AJ should turn heel here but I'm liking that they're keeping her face and adding a bit of complexity to Bryan's character, shades of grey make for more compelling angles. Good segment with good heat.

Backstage Beth Phoenix and Natalya are warming up for their match when a few farts sneak out from Nattie. She runs off like a spastic and Santino comes walking by moments later to choke on the smell and head for a trash can to vomit. Okay, I don't know what Natalya did to piss off the creative team, but you know you're in the doghouse when you lose in 5 second matches every week to total rookies and then become a lame fart gag for comedic relief. That's 40 seconds of my life I'm never getting back.

Beth Phoenix/Natalya vs. Tamina/Aksana
Aksana starts off with Nattie and immediately eats a body-slam. Aksana tries a side headlock but gets tossed off easily. Beth gets a blind tag on Nattie, telling her to "get out of my ring" before hitting Aksana with the Glam Slam to pick up the win at 0:45. After the match Natalya goes to give Aksana the sharpshooter but Tamina breaks it up and gives her the Superfly Splash for the third week in a row. Beth does nothing to help, so I guess they'll be heading separate ways in the near future. Just your typical super short diva's match. 1/4*

Up next we get another video package telling us about what a swell and awesome guy John Cena is, trying desperately to have someone, anyone cheer for him come Wrestlemania. Cena could revive Owen Hart from the grave, end world hunger and cure cancer and he's still going to get booed to the high heavens come Wrestlemania time, sorry WWE.

Backstage Matt Striker catches up with Randy Orton to get his thoughts on his big No DQ match against Wade Barrett tonight. Randy doesn't approve of Wade talking about supposedly ending his career and then promises to defeat Barrett tonight and then win the title at the Elimination Chamber for his 10th World title. Sheesh, is he already in double digits? Remember when being a 3-time champ was like an automatic Hall of Fame guarantee?

No DQ Match
Randy Orton (25-9-1) vs. Wade Barrett (10-27-1)

Daniel Bryan watches on from backstage with AJ and Teddy Long. Both men exchange forearms and fists at the bell, with Orton winning the battle of the fisticuffs rather easily and following up with a snap suplex. Orton tosses Barrett to the floor and then tosses him into the steps and guard barrier. Orton sets Barrett's head up on the steps and then CURB STOMPS him in a nasty spot. Orton back-suplexes Wade onto the guard barrier and this has just been total and utter domination from Orton so far. Orton pulls out a table from underneath the ring as we take a commercial break. When we return the table has been set up in the ring and Orton is attempting to superplex Barrett through it, but Barrett just shoves him off the top and Orton goes flying through the table! Barrett goes to work on Orton's previously injured lower back, slamming it into the turnbuckle and then stretching Randy around the post in a version of the bow and arrow submission. Barrett lays in some vicious Muay Thai knees while Orton is tied up in the ropes and then big boots him to the outside floor. Both men hop over the guard barrier and begin brawling into the crowd briefly until Orton clotheslines Wade back to ringside. Randy leaps off the guard barrier with a big double axe-handle that Jimmy King himself would be proud of. Back in the ring Wade has a steel chair and just waffles it over Orton's back twice before slamming it into Randy's ribs. Barrett tries to give Orton the Waste Land onto the chair, but Orton counters and lays in a few chair-shots to Barrett this time for a bit of payback. Orton wedges the chair in the corner turnbuckle and then tosses Barrett face-first into it. The action spills out to the floor again where Orton tosses Barrett into the commentary team before bringing him back to the apron and nailing Wade with the second-rope DDT. Orton tries for the RKO, but Wade counters with the swinging side-walk slam for two. Wade grabs the chair again and slams it into Randy's spine. Barrett tries for a pumphandle slam onto the chair, but Orton counters and hits a sickening RKO! Orton isn't done though, and he gives Barrett another RKO, this time on the steel chair, and that's enough to give the Viper the win at 13:59 (shown). Definitely the best match these two have had together yet, this was just the kind of brutal fun you come to expect out of a No DQ match and easily the best main event I've seen on Smackdown in many weeks now. Great main event this week. ***1/4

Backstage after the match Teddy Long informs Daniel Bryan that he'll be facing Randy Orton on next week's show. Bryan tells AJ to wait there and to watch what happens next. Bryan comes skipping down the ramp, jumping up and down and celebrating like he just won another match. Bryan doesn't attack him or anything, no, he just continues jumping up and down and shouting "Yes! Yes! Yes!" in hilarious fashion as we close out the show.

Bottom Line: Huge improvement over the last few weeks worth of shows tonight, for once they actually gave the matches a good amount of ring time and what do ya know, this show actually winds up being worth watching. Now THIS is the Smackdown I remember. Fun little short opening match with Sheamus and Rhodes and a damn good main event alongside some very well done promo segments make this a very easy recommendation and Thumbs Up this week.

Score: 8.0/10


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