WWE Friday Night SmackDown
May 18th, 2012
Giant Center, Hershey, Pennsylvania
Attendance: Unknown at this time
May 18th, 2012
Giant Center, Hershey, Pennsylvania
Attendance: Unknown at this time
Welcome back everyone to 411's SmackDown report as we're on the last stop tonight before the Over the Limit PPV and it's main event of doom, Johnny Ace vs. John Cena. I can't believe I'm typing that in the year 2012. A non-title match between Sheamus and Randy Orton is scheduled for tonight though so it doesn't look to be a total filler show, so let's kick it off.
Your hosts are Michael Cole, Booker T, and Josh Matthews
We open with Johnny Ace coming out. I liked Ace's heel shtick at first, but the more RAW and Smackdown become the Johnny Ace show, the less I care. He rants a bit about how he's still as tough in the ring as he ever was when he's promptly interrupted by the WWE champion CM Punk. Brand split? What brand split? Punk asks Ace how it feels to be on the other end of the stick for once, looking at his upcoming match with Cena and his potential impending dismissal. Ace still has some power though and books Punk into a match tonight with Kane. Punk doesn't mind though, because Ace will be in the unemployment line soon enough. Not sure why Punk's on the show tonight, but I'm not complaining, it certainly spices things up a bit. Ace lets the fans know they can all go to hell if this is his last night on the job. That's nice.
John Cena loves children! Just not in that way.
Kofi Kingston/R-Truth vs. Titus O'Neill/Darren Young
I've got to admit, as much as I've hated Titus and Darren's entire body of work thus far in the company, they're actually somewhat entertaining as a duo. Non-title match here, as if that matters. Truth starts off with Young, booting him in the face before tagging Kofi in for a cross-body. Young gives Kofi a nice back suplex onto the ring apron then gets a two count back inside. Titus tags in for a bit of work on Kofi but before long Truth and Young are tagged back in as Truth gets a near fall off the corkscrew elbow. Kofi takes out Titus outside with a pescado as Truth hits Young with the Little Jimmy for the win at 3:00. Well I'm not sure what the point of squashing what little heat Titus and Young had here was, but it makes the champs look competent going into their title match at the PPV. What's up though, were the Usos busy? *1/4
Backstage Zack Ryder appears to be taping himself with his own camera-phone for an episode of his web show when Damien Sandow walks by. He is not amused by Ryder's zany antics.
Damien Sandow vs. Yoshi Tatsu is scheduled as our next match, but as has been the trend these last few weeks, Sandow refuses to fight Tatsu because he isn't worthy. Tatsu calls Sandow a chicken and apparently Damien is Marty McFly because that's all it takes for him to hit the ring to attack Tatsu. No match, he just hammers Tatsu a bit and gives him a variation of a neckbreaker to beat him down and send a message.
Backstage Matt Striker is with Sheamus and Randy Orton for a few words before their main event match tonight. They share some calm but heated words and Orton says that Sheamus is a nice guy, and you know where nice guy's finish---last.
Daniel Bryan (16-21-2) vs. Zack Ryder (8-1)
I would love to see this get ten minutes but methinks this will just be a squash for Bryan, and considering their respective places on the card that's fine. Bryan takes it right to Zack with some forearms and then kicks his knee out from under him. Running dropkick in the corner gets Bryan two. Bryan works the arm and channels his inner Destroyer by twisting on Ryder's fingers while he's in the hold, but Zack breaks it up and fires off a missile dropkick. He tries for the Broski Boot but misses and Bryan nails him with a kick to the temple before putting him into the YES! Lock for the win at 2:28. Just a quick squash for Bryan and though I wish Ryder wasn't the one doing the job, it's not like the loss will actually hurt him more than he's already been hurt. Good, dominant showing for Bryan before his title match this Sunday, simple and effective booking. *
CM Punk (2-2-1) vs. Kane (17-13)
Bryan sticks around after his match to do color commentary for our next match-up. Punk starts off cautious with the big man, firing off half-hearted kicks early on. Punk clotheslines Kane out of the ring and we take a break. When we return Punk gets a one count off a DDT. Punk applies the figure four on Kane just as Josh Matthews is putting over his submission skills on commentary in a nice moment, but Kane quickly breaks it up and sends him outside. Punk tries springboarding back in but gets met with a big right hand and boots in the corner. Backbreaker from Kane and the big man wraps his legs around Punk in a body scissors of all things. Kane tries for a chokeslam but Punk counters into a swinging neckbreaker. Muay Thai knee from Kane followed by a leaping bulldog from the second rope nets Punk another near fall. He hits a springboard clothesline but again Kane kicks out. Punk tries to get Kane up for the GTS but his ribs are too weak and Kane counters with a big boot. Punk knocks Kane off the top and then hits the Macho Man elbow, but again Kane gets the shoulder up. Punk tries transitioning into the Anaconda Vice but Kane counters with a sidewalk slam. Top rope clothesline from Kane and Bryan is loving it at ringside. Punk sends Kane out of the ring and then wipes him out with a big tope, but before he can capitalize on it Bryan gets up from the commentary table, grabs a chair, and teases hitting Punk with it. Instead he waffles Kane with the chair, giving Kane the win by DQ at 8:35 (shown). After the match Kane beats down Punk, giving him two chokeslams. Are they actually making the title challenger look like a threat for once going into a PPV? I thought they gave up on that crazy notion years ago. The match itself was damn good for a modern Kane match, it seems if you put him in there with a solid smaller guy like Punk or Orton more often than not he can hold his own and deliver a fun contest, and this was no exception. The finish hurt it a bit but it makes perfect sense booking wise and for once they're actually trying to make you think Bryan has a shot with Punk having weak ribs and getting another beatdown from Kane here while Bryan dominated Ryder earlier, a far cry from their usual strategy of "Let's just book both guys to lose going into the PPV!", which has never made sense to me. Solid match, would have been better with a legit finish. **3/4
Cody Rhodes (21-24) vs. Santino Marella (6-5)
This is billed as a meeting of the IC and US champs (though neither title is on the line), but it's not like holding either of those belts actually means a thing these days, not when these two are used as jobbers to the stars most of the time. Match starts off hot with Cody missing a beautiful moonsault out of the corner before Santino quickly teases the Cobra. Cody gives him a dropkick instead though. Santino ducks a clothesline with the splits and then hits the Cobra out of nowhere for the anemic win at 2:00. Wow, with an epic encounter like that I'm so glad they put over how prestigious each title used to be once upon a time. One of these days they're going to find something, anything for Cody to do besides constantly job to everyone, and I'll be a happy fan that day. Match was ho-hum. 3/4*
Next we see the ENTIRE re-airing of the Big Show's "firing" on RAW, 'cause that's big news that is. Every time they show the footage of Show bawling his eyes out, I laugh hysterically. Maybe it's because I've grown incredibly tired of him constantly squashing hot young talent while offering almost nothing in return, but I found his whole firing segment to be unintentionally hilarious. Bad acting, goofy delivery, and at the end of it I was just hoping this might lead to less Big Show on my TV.
Sheamus (32-16-1) vs. Randy Orton (31-10-1)
Non-title match here of course since the four-way is this Sunday. They start off with a lock up all technical like but it's not long before it breaks down into a round of fisticuffs. Orton clotheslines Sheamus out of the ring and they trade shots outside before Sheamus counters an Irish whip, sending Orton shoulder-first into the steel steps. Sheamus tries for the Brogue Kick but hits the steel post instead, and Orton slams Sheamus down against the steps before slamming his arm and shoulder several times back into the steel. We take a break and when we return Orton is still working over Sheamus, in the ring now. Shoulder-breaker from Orton as Randy continues to dissect the Irishman's shoulder, which if you'll remember was taped up and injured only a week ago and was a focus of his match with Bryan on that show. Sheamus manages to send Orton to the apron, where he knees him hard in the face and then begins laying in his signature hammer-fists in between the ropes before bumping Orton off the apron and into the barricade as we take our last commercial break. When we return Sheamus has taken the advantage with a chinlock. Orton tries breaking it off but eats a knee to the gut. Rolling senton from Sheamus and he sets up for the Celtic Cross, but Orton counters into his over-the-shoulder backbreaker. Powerslam from Orton and he follows it with a new trick, a belly-to-belly suplex to Sheamus. Nice to see Randy throwing more suplexes into his arsenal. Sheamus counters right back with the slingshot shoulder-block though and follows it with a high running knee and a bodyslam for a near fall. Orton manages to block the Irish Curse backbreaker once, but takes the move on the second attempt. Sheamus climbs to the top rope, but Orton just meets him up there and delivers a towering superplex! Back on their feet both men are brawling when Sheamus looks for (and misses) another Brogue Kick attempt, which leaves him wide open for the second-rope DDT from Orton. He looks for the RKO but Sheamus avoids it and tries for the Brogue Kick again, but Orton avoids that as well and Sheamus winds up rolling up Orton for the clean pin at 16:01 (shown). Excellent main event this week between two men who've become familiar with one another, this was so much better than their Royal Rumble 2010 match or even some of their matches last winter. They put Sheamus over big here with a clean pin on one of the golden boys in Orton and they gave the match enough time for both men to fit in some of their usual stuff along with some new bits so the whole thing just came together nicely in the end. I would absolutely LOVE to see more 15+ minute long matches shown on TV time like this. Only (minor) problem was that the two commercial breaks hurt the flow a bit. Still, great stuff. ***1/4
After the match both men shake hands seemingly in a sign of respect when Orton gives the champ the RKO out of nowhere! Decent amount of boos for that and we go off the air with Orton looking smug over a fallen Sheamus.
Bottom Line: Damn good show from Smackdown this week after a bit of a misstep last week. Solid Punk/Kane match in the middle of the show that actually left me wanting to see more of it with a clean finish, a great main event that got over 15 minutes of TV time (which almost never happens anymore) and ended cleanly between two of the top dogs on the show, and even the usual quickie match stuff was kept quick and inoffensive. Really I've got no complaints about this show apart from a few minor quibbles in personal taste with the current booking and use of a few talents, but that's not a big deal. Easy Thumbs Up tonight.