Friday, April 27, 2012

WWE Friday Night SmackDown! 4/27/12--- Claudio Castagnoli's in-ring debut!

WWE Friday Night SmackDown
April 27th, 2012
Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids, Michigan
Attendance: Unknown at this time

Welcome back everyone to another edition of 411's WWE SmackDown report. We're only 48 hours away from the big Extreme Rules PPV featuring the in-ring wrestling return of Brock Lesnar against John Cena, so this should be your standard go-home show, probably loaded with more of the same Lesnar/Cena video packages we've seen the last few weeks to try and give one last hard sell for the PPV. Onto the show!

Your hosts are Michael Cole and Booker T

We open the show with Sheamus vs. Mark Henry announced for later tonight before Cole and Booker inform us that Josh Matthews isn't here tonight because he's still recovering from the attack by Brock Lesnar on RAW this past week.

Daniel Bryan makes his way out next to formally kick off the show with a promo. He's practically gleeful because he's finally cut all ties to AJ and then proceeds to again blame the Wrestlemania loss on her, saying the loss should count on her record, not his. He talks about his role as special guest referee for the Sheamus/Mark Henry match on RAW this past week and he claims to have called it right down the middle as we see footage of his fast count on Sheamus in slow-motion so as to make it look legit. He gloats about putting Sheamus in the YES! Lock, claiming he made him tap before calling his whole title run a fluke. He promises to win the title at Extreme Rules when he's interrupted by the still utterly heatless Alberto Del Rio (not that it's his fault really considering how badly he was booked after winning the Rumble last year). Del Rio and Ricardo mock Bryan with their own SI! chant as Alberto promises to beat the winner of Bryan/Sheamus for the title. And now here comes Big Show to interrupt Del Rio. Have I mentioned how lazy these cookie cutter Smackdown opening segments are every week? Same exact formula every single time. Show leads the crowd in dueling "YES!" and "SI!" chants briefly before making a move on the heels, who take off immediately leaving Ricardo in the ring to eat a chokeslam. Well that segment basically guarantees us a Sheamus win on Sunday.

Big Show (22-6) vs. Alberto Del Rio (11-8)
When we return from the break we've joined our opening match in progress, a rematch from last week. Show overpowers Del Rio easily, sending him out to the floor early. Del Rio hangs Show over the top rope and then goes right to the armwork back in the ring. He tries for the cross-armbar but Show powers out easily and then hits the spear. He signals for the chokeslam, but Cody Rhodes hits the ring to give him a chop block, giving Show the DQ win for the second week in a row at 1:54. Cody and Del Rio beat down Show for a bit and then Cody tries to attack Show with a chair and a cane, but Show just yanks off Cody's belt and whips him senseless with it until he runs off. This wasn't half bad while it lasted but you knew where this was going as soon as the bell rung because you know neither of these guys are going to eat a clean pinfall here. *1/4

Backstage Big Johnny Ace is with Eve Torres, letting her know that if she sees any changes she'd like to make to come to him. She proposes that all staff wear name tags from now on. Teddy Long walks up and wants to know if Eve has taken his job then where does that leave him? Johnny tells him he has to answer to Eve now, and Eve laughs and tells him to go get himself a name tag. Well atleast they found something for Eve to do that doesn't involve making Zack Ryder constantly look like a schmuck.

Damien Sandow educates us on the nature of the Age of Enlightenment before ripping into his fellow WWE roster members. I'm all for a snobby heel giving lectures, so long as they let him do his thing in the ring.

Nikki Bella (1-2) vs. Alicia Fox (10-5)
And now we have our newly crowned Diva's champion, Nikki Bella, taking on Alicia Fox. She knocks Fox down with a kick early and then chokes her over the second rope before firing off a nice snapmare. Nikki applies a variation of the Octopus Hold briefly but Fox shoves her off and fires off a pair of dropkicks. Fox hits a nice back elbow from the second rope and then ducks a clothesline from Nikki only to get tossed to the mat viciously by her hair in a nice reversal. Nikki and Brie do the old twin switcheroo while the ref checks on Fox and Brie gives Fox the X-Factor for the win at 1:48. Hey now, this wasn't half bad! Both ladies (particularly Nikki) looked fired up for once and believe it or not I actually wouldn't have minded seeing more of this. *3/4

Backstage Titus O'Neill and Darren Young mock Yoshi Tatsu in a slightly racist tone, trying to discern who his tag team partner tonight will be. Ezekiel Jackson (with hair!) walks up to reveal himself as his partner and Young and Titus go into this weird song and dance about how "Big Zeke ain't got no cuts" or something like that. That was odd, but shit, atleast they're showing some personality.

Backstage Teddy Long, wearing what looks like a combination of a smock and a maid's uniform with a gigantic goofy nametag plastered across the front is cleaning when Aksana walks in. He thanks her for standing by his side during this tough time (she has?) and then Johnny interrupts of course. Ace tells Aksana "that favor she asked for" is going to happen tonight, and that favor is a tryout match for Antonio Cesaro (Claudio Castagnoli) with Aksana as the guest ring announcer, and if Cesaro wins he'll have a roster spot on Smackdown. Eve then tells Teddy that he's going to have his own ringside commentary table (The Teddy Table!) to fill in for the absent Josh Matthews. Johnny tells him he'll be in his ear the entire time and he won't be able to say anything unless Ace informs him to (hey that sounds awfully familiar, doesn't it Mick Foley?).

Titus O'Neill/Darren Young vs. Yoshi Tatsu/Ezekiel Jackson
Teddy sounds like a programmed robot on commentary. Cole takes a cheap shot at JR's stint as talent scout (are you kidding me? He's one of the greatest scouts in the history of this business) and then berates Long some more as they do everything but call the match in the ring. Speaking of which, Darren Young and Titus O'Neill trade quick tags to start, isolating Yoshi Tatsu in their corner. They totally dominate Yoshi and then finish him off with a sloppy Doomsday Device of sorts at 1:49. Zeke never even tagged in here, as this was just a squash of Yoshi by Titus and Darren Young with all three men on commentary putting them over as the second coming of tag wrestling. Not if they're going to nearly kill people in the ring with sloppy work they won't. 3/4*

Michael Cole is in the ring next for an interview with Randy Orton next. Usual nice pop for Orton. Cole informs Orton about Johnny Ace's edict that if any wrestler touches an announcer they'll be immediately suspended, and Orton reminds him that he's not always the most rational man. Cole shows a video package on the Titan Tron recapping the Kane/Orton feud thus far. Orton puts over how personal this feud is with Kane when JINDER FUCKING MAHAL of all people interrupts him. He says he believes that Orton and Kane will take each other out and that their time on the top is over. Mahal says he's richer, younger, and better than Orton and will be waiting for him "on the other side". Randy asks him if he's an announcer. Jinder says no, so he gets an RKO. The utter randomness of Jinder Mahal showing up in this segment was pretty amusing, I wonder if they're going to push the kid now? I honestly hope not, he hasn't impressed me at all.

Antonio Cesaro (0-0) vs. Tyson Kidd
And now let us indy geeks commence in our mutual fangasm as the former Claudio Castagnoli (one of the top indy wrestlers of the last 5 years for the uneducated) makes his in-ring debut against Tyson Kidd. Aksana introduces him and Cole puts him over as a former rugby player who was expelled from the league for "excessive aggression" and Aksana's possible new love interest. Antonio takes it right to Kidd with a combination of boots, elbows, and forearms before airing him out with a nice gut-wrench suplex. Kidd tries to escape Antonio but he gives him the pop-up European uppercut! The crowd loves that move and they should as it's one of Antonio's signature moves that he's known for. Cesaro lifts Kidd up in a cradle piledriver position but instead of driving him straight down he slams him to the mat (similar to the Styles Clash position) and that sick reverse piledriver is enough for Cesaro to pick up the win at 1:09. Total destruction of Kidd by Claudio/Antonio here (going to take awhile to get used to his new name) and he got to show off a few of his fancy moves in front of a WWE audience, who loved it. We all said Claudio was bound to be in the WWE one day and here he is, getting his shit over immediately in his first match in fine fashion. *

After the match Teddy has to go into the ring to raise Antonio's hand, and after he does Aksana and Antonio start making out right in front of him. Teddy, heartbroken, actually begins to cry and then takes off. The complete and total castration of Teddy Long continues.

Brock Lesnar video package time again, hyping his match against John Cena at Extreme Rules.

Cody Rhodes (21-22) vs. The Great Khali
What's up with Cody always being fed to the giants? Cody tries for a lockup with Khali but the size difference is so huge that he winds up just hugging Khali's leg. That's adorable. Khali throws a few chops and then Cody takes him down by the leg. He hits a big missile dropkick on Khali (and Khali actually bumps!) and then goes back to working over Khali's leg. Khali tosses him off though and clotheslines him a few times. Cody tries for the Disaster Kick but Khali catches him with the Punjabi Plunge at 2:01. It's announced that Cody and Big Show's match on Sunday will be a "Spin the Wheel, Make the Deal" kind of gig. What was the point of squashing Rhodes in two minutes here again? How does that make someone want to see Rhodes wrestle Big Show? Shitty booking, but hey, Khali took a back bump like a man for the first time in eons. 1/2*

Backstage Abraham Washington tries to convince Epico, Primo, and Rosa Mendes to hire him as their manager. He gives them until Monday to make a decision. Ryback (the former Skip Sheffield) walks in and AW trails after him. Elsewhere backstage the Uso brothers watch on as a local jobber is introduced in the ring.

Ryback (3-0) vs. Jacob Kaye
Kaye gets on the mic before the match and actually cuts a decent heel promo on the hometown crowd, claiming he's trying to get himself out of Grand Rapids. Ryback comes out and eats his face. No, not really, but that's basically what's about to happen. Ryback boots Kaye and then gives him a press slam powerslam before taking his head off with a nasty lariat. He finishes Kaye off with the running Samoan drop at 1:08. A bit more interesting than the usual Ryback squashes because Kaye actually cut a decent promo before the match to get a bit of heat for the thing. Nice exhibition for Ryback. 1/2*

Backstage Matt Striker is with AJ and wants to know what's up with her and Bryan. She says nothing and he keeps pestering her, asking for a prediction of a winner this Sunday when Kaitlyn interrupts to tell Striker to take off because AJ doesn't need this right now. AJ tries to walk away but Kaitlyn stops her and tells her that her breaking up with Bryan is a good thing because of how badly he treated her. She says Bryan never did anything for her and AJ slaps her right in the face and then immediately steps back in horror at her actions. Nice segment to put over where AJ's mindset is at with Daniel Bryan going into this Sunday, this entire relationship has been one of the better booked ones in awhile. That entire sentence shames me.

Sheamus (29-15-1) vs. Mark Henry
And now for our main event. Henry overpowers Sheamus to start but misses a clothesline and Sheamus takes advantage by giving the big man a DDT. Henry tosses Sheamus out to the floor with one hand when he tries for a wristlock and then tosses the Irishman back in. Sheamus manages to hit the slingshot shoulder-block on Henry for a near fall as we take our last commercial break. When we return Henry is still in control with a big bodyslam. Sheamus manages to start his clubbing forearms spot in the ropes with Henry but he cuts him off halfway through the ten count and just flings Sheamus across the floor like a ragdoll. He slams Sheamus into the barricade nastily as well. Back inside Henry takes Sheamus out with another clothesline, squashing every comeback attempt the Celtic Warrior tries for. Finally Sheamus is able to fire off a flying forearm to get Henry down long enough for him to deliver a nice DDT for a near fall. Sheamus starts chest-beating (THIS. IS. MICHIGAN!) but Henry just mows him down with another clothesline. Sheamus gets a boot up on Henry and then leaps off the top rope, over Mark, and to the mat. By the time Mark turns around, Sheamus blasts him with the Brogue Kick for the win at 7:23 (shown). Sheamus is just the right kind of powerhouse worker that can have good matches with big guys like Henry here. It was rough in a few spots but overall, a solid main event to close out the show but not one you'll remember in, say, two weeks time. **3/4

After the match Daniel Bryan comes out to give Sheamus the old golf clap. Sheamus says Daniel got off easy at Wrestlemania and then steals his YES! line to close out the show.

Bottom Line: Bit of an odd go-home show here, on one hand I loved seeing the influx of new talent like Antonio Cesaro on the show but that first hour was just one segment after another with only a few 2 minute matches thrown in to break up the monotony. Luckily all of the segments tonight basically worked, some were even great, and the main event delivered a fun and hard hitting little match with a great ending and hard sell for the PPV, but there was just a LOT of talking tonight. I won't go thumbs down because I enjoyed most of the show and segments, but it's a very mild Thumbs Up tonight.

Score: 5.5/10

1 comment:

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