Friday, April 20, 2012

WWE Friday Night SmackDown! 4/20/12

WWE Friday Night SmackDown!
April 20th, 2012
O2 Arena, London, England
Attendance: Unknown at this time

Welcome back everyone to another edition of 411mania's Friday Night SmackDown coverage by yours truly. Tonight we've got a bit of a special show (and not just because it's 4/20 you stoners) as we're emanating from the O2 Arena in London, England which usually means the WWE tries to step up their game a little bit for their British fans. We'll see if that trend continues tonight, let's hop right into things.

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

We open the show with the announcement of a six man tag pitting Sheamus, Randy Orton, and the Great Khali against Daniel Bryan, Cody Rhodes, and Mark Henry for our main event tonight before Daniel Bryan's theme music hits and the WWE production crew go into overdrive mode trying to hush the obvious cheers and legions of people with "Yes!" signs.

Bryan grabs the microphone and recounts his 18 second title loss at Wrestlemania once again before cutting a promo on Sheamus and his match against him at Extreme Rules. Bryan notes that if Sheamus even touches a referee he'll be fired in that match, then he reminisces about winning the Money in the Bank briefcase in Chicago, the site of the Extreme Rules PPV this year. Bryan calls Sheamus a coward and then promises to out-wrestle Sheamus in the 2/3 Falls match before leading the crowd into another big "Yes!" chant. AJ comes storming down the rampway with a mic to interrupt though, getting into the ring despite Bryan telling her to take off. AJ wants to try and work things out again but Bryan wants nothing to do with that. She wants to wish him good luck in his match against Sheamus, but Bryan wishes that he had never even met AJ or said yes when she asked him out. He goes so far as to say he wishes she was never even born before cracking up into this evil diabolical smile that reminds me of the Simpsons episode "New Kid on the Block". Bryan tells her he'll never take her back and then storms off to big heat. Bryan's promos are just getting better and better every time he has a camera on him.

Natalya (8-14) vs. AJ (5-9)
When we return from the break we're led right into our opening match here. AJ is still totally distraught and Natalya actually attempts to console her but gets a bitch slap in the face for her troubles. AJ has a huge freak out and won't stop punching Natalya in the corner and pulling her hair, which is apparently enough for the ref to DQ her at 0:48 seconds. More of an angle than a match, but it was a perfectly executed angle and really got over the distressed state AJ is in now that she's realizing Bryan really wants nothing to do with her. Smart character development. 1/2*

We get another Damien Sandow vignette where he quotes Benjamin Franklin and talks down to us simpletons and cretins in the most smarmy of tones. With his in-ring skills and an interesting character like this, Sandow might actually make a splash as a heel.

Brodus Clay (3-4) vs. Hunico (7-3)
Hornswoggle comes out with Clay to join in on the big pre-match dance routine, complete with matching red Adidas tracksuit. Hunico shoves Hornswoggle after the bell rings so Clay lays him out with a huge back body drop. He hits the pumphandle t-bone suplex and then follows up with the big splash to pick up the easy win at 1:12. Just a squash match to get Brodus out in front of the London crowd and gauge their reaction to him, but I'm not sure Hunico needed to be the one to do the job unless they're already out of plans for him. Eventually they're going to have to do something with Brodus though. 1/4*

Backstage the eternal NXTers Titus O'Neill and Darren Young catch up to Teddy Long to ream him out for being Johnny Ace's lackey and get a bit of revenge for Teddy passing over signing them in the past. Johnny walks in and says he can't believe Teddy didn't sign them, as O'Neill and Young say the fans want new young talent now. Yeah, we do...just not you two. Johnny puts one of the Queen's guards hats on Teddy's head and apparently he's under a magic vow of silence now.

Elsewhere backstage Matt Striker is with Randy Orton and wants to know the condition of Randy's father after Kane's attack on him. Randy says he's okay but Kane won't be after their Falls Count Anywhere match at Extreme Rules. Basic quickie promo.

Titus O'Neill/Darren Young vs. Jimmy Uso/Jey Uso
Not much heat for O'Neill and Young outside of the "we don't like to watch you perform, please go away" boos. Darren starts off with Jimmy, who lays him out with a corkscrew elbow and then tags his brother Jey in. Jey lays in chops then tags back out to Jimmy for a double team elbow drop. Young gets a boot in finally and is able to tag out to O'Neill, who dominates the smaller Uso's with a big leg drop before letting Young back in to hit a DDT for a near fall. Jimmy tags back in and is all fired up, hitting a Samoan drop on Young and following it with the Samoan ass slam of doom int he corner. Jey gets tossed by Titus, which leaves Jimmy all alone and the heels take advantage and hit him with the old Hart Attack double team move for the win at 3:35. Nice introduction for these two, except for the fact that both guys have shown absolutely nothing in their years in NXT, but hey, maybe they'll kick it up a notch now that they're on one of the big shows. I love the use of the Hart Attack though. **

The RAW Rebound recounts the latest updates in the CM Punk/Chris Jericho rivalry, which continues to heat up. Great video package work here actually.

Alberto Del Rio (11-8) vs. Big Show (21-6)

This is a non-title match apparently, though I have no clue why other than to protect Show.  Del Rio tries to take his kicks to Show at the bell, but the giant just mauls him like a child and slaps him with a big open palm chop. Elbow drop from Show gets him a two count and then Del Rio cuts him off with a big chop block, taking Show down to the mat and laying in some kicks and punches. Del Rio tries working a headlock for a bit and then takes the giant down with an armbreaker. Show counters the cross-armbreaker attempt though and slams Del Rio down to the mat in a feat of strength reminiscent of some of the antics of one Bob Backlund in his old MSG title defenses. Show hits him with a forearm and then takes Del Rio down with the spear. He goes for the chokeslam, but Ricardo Rodriguez distracts the ref long enough for Cody Rhodes to run down to the ring and give Show the Beautiful Disaster kick, which is enough to get Del Rio the cheap win at 5:17. Decently worked match considering the size differential between both men, Del Rio picks up a cheap win, Cody gets some revenge on Show, and everyone hates the heels. Perfectly booked match and segment. **

Danny Lerman, a local wrestler from Leicester, England, is introduced by Lillian Garcia next and he dedicates his following match to his mother while Drew McIntyre and Heath Slater watch on and laugh from backstage as Ryback is introduced. Not sure what kind of angle they're building to here, but it looks bad.

Ryback (2-0) vs. Danny Lerman (0-0)

Josh Matthews tries to compare Ryback to Mike Tyson and Patrick Willis in the same sentence, giving us all a nice chuckle. Ryback of course totally dominates the smaller Lerman with a big fallaway slam followed by a clothesline and a big Fisherman's Buster for the win at 1:13. Squash city. 1/4*

Up next they re-air the interview segment they did with Brock Lesnar that aired on RAW this past Monday. Very well put together package to show you how dominant of an athlete Brock has been, these UFC-like interviews work much better for Lesnar as he was never much of a promo guy, and this package did a great job of making it seem like Lesnar is the biggest thing to hit the WWE since...well, since he left.

Backstage the dead-eyed gaze of Teddy Long is greeted by one William Regal, who's in a chipper mood and gets a nice pop. Aksana walks in with Antonio Cesaro (AKA Claudio Castagnoli) on her arm and introduces him to Teddy as a rugby player trying to make it as a wrestler on Smackdown. She blows Teddy off to go into Johnny Ace's office with Antonio while Teddy just sits there during all of this looking like a zombie. I'm ecstatic that Claudio just made his TV debut to be honest, and the potential match-ups he could have with some of the WWE's better mid-carders have me drooling already.

We've got the big six man tag team main event up next and my lovely DVR tells me we've got 20 minutes remaining in this show, so watch out because this one might actually get some decent time. Before the match even starts Cody takes out Khali's leg from under him and apparently injures Khali to the point where has to be carried out. Never fear though, because here comes the Big Show to replace him.

Randy Orton/Sheamus/Big Show vs. Daniel Bryan/Cody Rhodes/Mark Henry
We return from the commercial break with this match already joined-in-progress. Randy is working over Daniel Bryan's wrist when he tags Sheamus in, sending Bryan off to make the tag to Cody Rhodes instead. Sheamus gives Rhodes the big Finlay roll for a two count. Sheamus counters a swinging neckbreaker attempt and winds up shooting Cody into the ropes for the big forearm smashes. Cody dropkicks him out of the ring though and then hits him with a baseball slide. Bryan follows up with a running dropkick on Sheamus on the floor behind the ref's back as well before Bryan officially tags in and tosses Sheamus into the ring, weakened. Bryan stomps away at Sheamus in the corner and then tags Mark Henry in. Henry works Sheamus over in the corner a bit before tagging Cody back in, who hops on Sheamus' back with a chinlock. Sheamus is our babyface in peril as he fights off the Disaster Kick from Rhodes with a big forearm and gets the hot tag to Randy Orton. Orton cleans house on former Legacy stablemate Rhodes and then gives him the delayed second rope DDT. Bryan hops in the ring and Orton gives him a big powerslam, but Henry hops into the ring and clobbers Orton behind the ref's back to give the heel's the advantage again as we take our last commercial break. When we return Henry has tagged Bryan back in to pick apart Orton. He hits a beautiful running dropkick on Orton in the corner and follows up with a scoop slam. He tries to top it off with the diving headbutt from the top rope, but Orton moves to avoid the move and is able to tag out to Big Show while Bryan tags out to Henry. The two giants square off with Show taking advantage until Rhodes kicks Show in the back, allowing Henry to clobber him and tag back out to Cody. Rhodes pinpoints the giant's knee and applies the figure four leglock, leaving Show to wriggle and writhe in pain on the mat. Henry tags in and then hits a big splash on Show while he's still in the figure four, but that won't put him away, so they tag Bryan in for an implant DDT but that won't do it either. Show gets the hot tag to Sheamus and the World champion goes to town on Daniel Bryan with huge forearms and a tilt-a-whirl powerslam, gaining a measure of revenge for his earlier beatdown. Show knocks out Cody outside the ring with the WMD fist while Sheamus fights off the YES! Lock attempt from Bryan in the ring. Henry tags back in, but Sheamus nails him with the Brogue Kick and then tags in Randy Orton. Show gives Henry the WMD punch while he's reeling in the ropes and then Orton finishes him off with the RKO for the triumvirate of finishers and the win at 13:13 (shown). Really hot six man tag here that delivered in a big way to send the London crowd home happy, there was so much going on in this match that it's hard to really properly regale it. The heels used perfect psychology and tactics as you'd expect while the babyfaces all took their beatings like men and showed great fire on the comebacks. There was just so much strategy and psychology going on in this one, along with the hot crowd and solid action it made for a great main event. ***1/4

We go off the air with the faces all celebrating in the ring. That does it for tonight folks, have a safe and happy 4/20 everyone.

Bottom Line: Solid show this week to make up for the disaster that was the live Tuesday "Old School" special last week, the London shows always make for good fun because the crowds are always so hot and the WWE generally tries to give the fans a few solid matches in an overall attempt to step their game up. Excellent main event chock full of more psychology and strategy then you could shake a stick at, throw in the great Bryan/AJ promo and everything in-between and this was a pretty easy Thumbs Up even if the first hour was pretty darn light on the action.

Score: 7.5/10


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