WWE Friday Night Smackdown
April 6th, 2012
Amway Center, Orlando, Florida
Attendance: Unknown at this time
April 6th, 2012
Amway Center, Orlando, Florida
Attendance: Unknown at this time
Well we're only a few days removed from another memorable Wrestlemania and the return of none other than one Brock Lesnar the following night on RAW, and now we've arrived to the first Smackdown in the new John Laurinatitis as GM era. We're just a stone's throw away from Miami in Orlando tonight, and we've got a big match already announced for tonight with a returning Alberto Del Rio taking on our newly crowned World Heavyweight champion Sheamus in a non title match in our main event, and if Del Rio wins he gets a title shot down the line. We've also got Kane and Randy Orton in a Wrestlemania rematch, with No DQ, and that should be solid. Enough preambling, let's jump into the show itself.
Your hosts are Michael Cole, Booker T, and Josh Matthews
We open the show tonight with the new GM John Laurinaitis being introduced by his assistant David Otunga, who's wearing what looks alarmingly like a cape. What was a man with a cape doing with my father?! Ace has cheesy new regal music that reminds me a bit of the music at the end of Star Wars when Luke, Han, and Chewie are all getting their medals. Laurinaitis says Smackdown will finally have the leadership it's lacked in the past now. He uses the "People Power" phrase again, and now I've got John Lennon stuck in my head. Laurinaitis wants to thank Teddy Long for his years of service to Smackdown, and the former GM obliges and makes his way out to the ring. Teddy says being jobless is okay for one thing, because it gives him the freedom to tell Laurinaitis to go to hell. Ace tries to give him a job as a lackey, but Long tells him to take his job and shove it. Ace brings out the "But how will you pay for your grand-children's college education?" line you see though because apparently the WWE Board of Directors enacted a college fund for Teddy's grand-children years ago, and now Otunga is in control of that fund. Well that's certainly convenient. So now they've found something else to hang over Teddy's head and apparently drag this GM feud out even further. Johnny wants Teddy to tell the fans that he's better than Teddy and his grandkid's education shall be safe. Teddy regretfully obliges and Laurinaitis decides to kick off the show by booking a handicap match pitting Mark Henry and David Otunga against R-Truth. Well that's certainly random.
2-on-1 Handicap Match
R-Truth (7-4) vs. Mark Henry (15-10)/David Otunga (3-3)
Not sure why Truth was chosen as our arbitrary babyface midcarder to punish here, but we'll roll with it. Otunga starts off with Truth and Truth manages to fire off some of his signature flashy kicks and corkscrew elbow on the lawyer-by-day before he tags out to Mark Henry. We see Abraham Washington watching on backstage as Henry catches Truth in mid-air and gives him the World's Strongest Slam. Otunga wants in now of course and he gets the pin at 2:04. Not entirely sure what the point of this was, but Otunga looked like quite the classic heel getting the pin after Henry did all the work there, it might be time to give him a singles feud of his own to try out. 1/4*
After the match Kane makes his way out to the ring as apparently we'll be having our Wrestlemania re-match right now.
No DQ Match
Randy Orton (27-10-1) vs. Kane (17-11)
This is probably the stipulation we should have seen at 'Mania. Straight up brawling to start us off and Kane quickly clotheslines Orton out to the floor. He follows him out but gets tossed into the barricade for his troubles. Kane responds by sending Orton into the announcer's table, but Orton turns around and gives him the same treatment. More brawling on the floor and Kane's wig looks ridiculous here, he almost looks like the late Chris Kanyon in his Mortis years. They brawl up to the stage area where both men jockey for position near the edge of the stage, trying to hit one big move. Orton looks for the RKO but Kane gives him a big DDT on the stage instead as we cut to commercial with both guys sprawled out. When we return they're back inside the ring with Kane in control, exposing a steel turnbuckle. Kane tries to toss Orton into it, but settles for tossing him into a different corner and hitting a dropkick. Kane goes to the top rope, but Orton crotches him and hits him with a pair of lariats, a dropkick, and his trademark powerslam. He tries for the second-rope DDT but Kane hangs him up throat-first on the top rope. Orton lariats Kane again out on the floor, sending him into the front row now. Kane is able to counter his follow up attempt though and boot Orton in the face before tossing a steel chair into the ring. But one chair's not enough, no Kane decides to bring out five chairs instead. This of course gives Orton enough time to recover, grab one of the chairs, and nail Kane with it though. He gives Kane the second-rope DDT onto a chair, but the Big Red Machine is able to kick out at a two count. Kane grabs a chair and waffles Orton with it a few times now, but that's only enough to keep Randy down for a two count. Orton avoids a chokeslam and hits the RKO on Kane however and that's enough to give him his win back on Kane at 10:21 (shown). Better than their Wrestlemania match, which in itself wasn't half bad in it's own right. This was more of just a heated brawl with a nice finish and some chairs thrown in and I would have liked to have seen the stipulation worked a bit more but what we got was pretty damn solid. ***
Ryback (0-0) vs. Barry Stevens (0-0)
We return with one "Barry Stevens", local jobber extraordinaire with a really bad lisp who gets on the mic but is quickly interrupted by a returning Skip Sheffield, under his new ring name "Ryback". The WWE superstars backstage seem to be chuckling it up at these guys. Nice over-the-shoulder powerslam from Ryback followed by a big sitout fisherman's buster gives Skip the easy pin at 1:10. Just a quick old school squash of a local jobber for a debuting gimmick, I'm all for simple introductions like these. 1/4*
Daniel Bryan is out next with his girlfriend AJ and yes, the yes chants do in fact continue. Speaking of YES!, join the revolution why don't you? (http://www.facebook.com/groups/205317189578631/207219492721734/) Bryan finally speaks but is unable to get a few sentences out before becoming quiet again. AJ grabs the mic to reassure him that he's a great wrestler and person, and the crowd seems to agree with their loud "YES!" chants. AJ says they're all here to support him, but Bryan thinks the "Yes!" chants are mocking him. Bryan says even if they aren't mocking and the chants are genuine from these "sheep", it doesn't make up for him losing the World Heavyweight title in 18 seconds. Bryan blames AJ's good luck kiss for his loss and then promptly breaks up with her on the spot so he can do his re-match with Sheamus down the line by himself, like he should have in the first place. She begs Bryan to talk backstage, but he tells her once again that they're through and then commands her to get out of "his" ring. No one's chanting "Yes!" anymore as AJ takes off devastated, wrapping the segment up. Great promo from Bryan here, and I hope they follow up with him and Sheamus instead of just tossing Del Rio into the mix.
Big Show (20-6) vs. Heath Slater (4-28)
Show has the IC belt with him but this isn't a title match. Show does another embarrassing Cody Rhodes video package before the match as the former champ joins the commentary team. Show of course totally dominates Slater here as this is little more than a squash match. Show hits a spear and then chokeslams Slater for the win at 1:15. After the match Cody teases confronting Show but decides to walk away instead. Just seemed like a reason to get Rhodes and Show on TV to ensure us that their feud will be continuing, and hopefully result in Rhodes being put over this time. 1/4*
Backstage Sheamus ensures John Laurinaitis that from now on he'll only give the Brogue Kick to people who really deserve it. He tells Ace another cute Irish story involving his cousin and an animals rectum, you know, the usual Sheamus promo, then takes off. Sheamus' family seems to have been a little too fond of their farm animals.
Nikki Bella (0-1) vs. Beth Phoenix (13-3)
Kelly Kelly makes her way out to watch this match from the rampway because we've got to fit all the diva's people marginally care about in one segment. The match itself is almost nonexistant as Beth just hits a few moves and then eats gets distracted by Kelly a minute in and eats a facebuster from Nikki which is apparently enough to beat the champ in all of 1:01. I know no one really cares about the woman's division and all, but I still don't get what's to be gained from booking your champions like this week after week. It seems the logic in this division is that getting a "push" means you get to lose in under a minute to a roll-up or something every week on TV while still being champion. I'll be all vitriolic and award them the dreaded DUD rating.
In a very cool move the WWE actually pays tribute to the recent passing of WWE Hall of Famer and legend Chief Jay Strongbow, one of the great MSG stars of an era past with a nice little video package highlighting his career.
Damien Sandow, one of the many regulars of the FCW developmental promotion, makes his Smackdown debut next with a taped promo. He's dressed elegantly in a robe and speaks about how much entertainment has changed in the modern era with people being preoccupied no longer by the works of Shakespeare but by Desperate Housewives and Jersey Shore. Sandow calls the masses mediocre and lazy and then promises to save us all from our own ignorance before thanking himself. Well that was weird, we'll see how far this "push" actually takes him.
Alberto Del Rio (10-7) vs. Sheamus (27-14-1)
This is Del Rio's in-ring return after several months off due to injury and it's a non-title match with the stipulation that if he wins, he gets a title shot at Sheamus down the line. Sheamus tries working some basic holds with the chin and wrist, but Del Rio counters with stiff kicks. Sheamus rolls through off a top rope attempt and then gives Del Rio the old Finlay Roll for a two count. Del Rio catches Sheamus with a ringer over the top rope and then goes right to work on the Celtic Warrior's arm. Del Rio looks to go for the cross armbar and Sheamus counters into an attempt at the Brogue Kick, but Del Rio avoids the boot and bails out of the ring for a breather with Ricardo as take our last commercial break. When we return Del Rio is being hit by a slingshot shoulder-block from Sheamus for a two count. Sheamus lays in ten big forearms on Del Rio in the top rope but Del Rio low-bridges him moments later and then follows up with a nice step-up enziguri to send the Irishman back outside to the floor. Del Rio continues the arm work on Sheamus, slamming him into the steel ring steps and then returning to a tight armbar back inside the ring. Sheamus manages to break the hold up and hit Del Rio with the Irish Curse backbreaker. Sheamus fires up with some stiff forearms and hits a running powerslam on Alberto before calling for the Brogue Kick. Ricardo hops in the ring now to run the distraction while Del Rio grabs a steel chair, but Sheamus takes Ricardo out. Unfortunately when the ref turns around he only sees Sheamus grabbing the steel chair from Del Rio, who channels the spirit of the late great Eddie Guerrero by pretending Sheamus has just hit him with the chair, and the ploy actually works as the ref DQs Sheamus at 7:38 (shown). So Del Rio gets a title shot because of that, and Sheamus gives the referee a Brogue Kick for being so inept. The match itself was pretty darn good for the time it got though and I honestly wouldn't mind seeing these two wrestle a title match down the line, though they should absolutely make sure not to forget Daniel Bryan in the fold. Haven't seen that finish in a while either, we'll see if they acknowledge that being Eddie's famous old trick or not next week. **1/2
We go off the air with Del Rio and Ricardo celebrating on the entrance ramp while Sheamus seethes in the ring.
Bottom Line: Good show this week, we got our traditional "Wrestlemania rematch" and it was actually better than the Wrestlemania match was, so you can't ask for much more there. We also got a solid main event and a great promo from Daniel Bryan, and while the rest of the show was basically squash matches, the whole thing just flew by in no time and leaves a lot of doors open for where they can go in the coming weeks leading up to the Extreme Rules PPV. Thumbs Up.