Okay, before we get started we should go over a few things:
- If you’re only here to read my thoughts on the big feel good spoiler involving the World Championship just scroll down to the bottom and skip a whole lot of possibly friendship ruining arguments.
- I tried really really really REALLY hard to be positive about this whole Rock thing, but alas it ended up pretty much how you would expect. If you’re a staunch Rock supporter you might want to just skip it so we can still high five each other when we pass in the hall.
- Please leave comments/click like/ tweet to all your friends because why not.
- Bullet points will cease after this very special episode, and we'll go back to the easily skip able intro next week.
If you read all that and are still here, thanks for sticking around. In case this is your first time here, you should know that this isn’t like the traditional recap/review that you’ll see on this website. And by that I mean I don’t use star rankings because star rankings are silly. But, since most people need things spelled out for them, I went ahead and split the show up into two columns; Smacked Up (good) and Smacked Down (bad). And in case you’re the type that can’t function unless things are in order, here’s a helpful guide to aide you in the mind-bending world of non-linear writing.
Booker T, Big Show & Alberto Del Rio opening segment
Randy Orton defeated Antonio Cesaro by DQ
3MB backstage interview
CM Punk video package
Dolph Ziggler & AJ Lee defeated The Great Khali & Natalya
The Rock & Team Rhodes Scholars in-ring segment
Sheamus defeated 3MB
Team Hell No defeated The Prime Time Players
Alberto Del Rio defeated The Big Show for the World Heavyweight Championship
Got it? Okay, let's go over the stuff I didn't like so much first.
All images are courtesy of WWE.COM.
The Opening Segment
I know I usually dog on almost every segment that starts with “Can you dig it, sucka” but this time it wasn’t because it was necessarily bad. It wasn’t really good either, but that wasn’t the problem. It just felt off. I don’t know if it was the pumped in crowd reactions or the voice-over and music during the World title announcement, but I felt like I was watching American Idol. There are a lot of things you can say about how phony pro wrestling is, but it rarely feels intentionally disingenuous. This whole thing just felt fake, which is a weird thing to say about a show built around the act of mock fighting.
I love you, The Lady Who Doesn’t Understand What Definitive Articles Are. I love the you so much.
The Rock Rewind
My issue with this is twofold. The first being that we need to have any type of celebration for a guy that chooses to not be on the show except when it’s convenient for him is kind of pathetic. It’s like if you were seeing a guy that was embarrassed to be seen with you, so when he does take you out in public you get super appreciative and buy him gifts and let him do whatever he wants sexually. I’m sorry, but I think the WWE Universe (yes, even the terrible WWE Universe members that chanted “CM Gay” and the ones that typed Kharma was irresponsible for getting pregnant (seriously, you should all be ashamed of yourselves)) deserve better than to be the Rock’s moped.
My other issue is that of all the Rock on Smackdown clips you could’ve chosen from, you picked the first post-9/11 show that was super sad, really tense, and included Shawn Stasiak? Really? You could’ve shown scenes from a pretty cool tables match with the Dudley’s, but instead you chose Meat? You know, whatever. I don’t want to tell you how to do your jobs WWE production team, but Jesus Christ.
These Silly Bastards
Last week I mentioned that while I love 3MB, I’m not super into the “we’re in a band” shtick. I like that they’re a group, I don’t like that they are turning into a parody of themselves.
The whole thing reminds me of that episode of “King of the Hill” when Bill Dauterive dressed like Santa Claus at Christmas and it got people that normally wouldn’t pay any attention to him to become friendly and interested in him. It brought a shimmer of hope into his normally lonely and pathetic life. Naturally Christmas ended as it tends to, but instead of taking using the momentum the Santa costume gave him during the holidays to get a girlfriend or whatever he kept wearing the costume until like mid-March and he became the neighborhood weirdo.
What I’m saying is, that this whole gimmick was a great way to get three individuals that were just floating in non-existence to be a thing, but instead of using their momentum to push them forward as a real threatening force, they’re more interested in making guitar puns and trudging into West Texas Rednecks territory.
I guess what I’m saying is I love you 3MB, but take off your Santa suits and actually try to be something that won’t end in a CD clearance bin at Wal-Mart.
The Rock, Obviously
Before you head down to the comments section to tear me apart, you need to know that I tried.
I did. I really, really did.
I tried to go into this with an open mind. I tolerated the super unnecessary extended entrance, the delayed self-introduction, and the catchphrase that makes my eyes roll back and my hands do airwanks automatically, but then Rock brought up Flo Rida at ringside, a man I had never heard of before WrestleMania XXVIII. Was this Rock’s way of saying “Hey Andrew, the Rock knows you’re trying to come into this with an open mind, but f**k you, here’s that guy you hated from WrestleMania that took up 8 minutes that could’ve gone to a real Daniel Bryan wrestling match, but screw that because we’re in Miami and we need Tron themed concerts here”? Because it really feels like it.
Okay, maybe my mind wasn’t as open as I thought.
Here’s the thing about the Rock that I keep going back to, but I think is an accurate analogy. The other day I was having a Twitter discussion with reader Joe Vanella and he said, and I quote; “Rock is the Milk Duds of wrestling. U always think it's gonna be something great but really ur just getting a pile of dog shit.”
This was a pretty good assessment, because Milk Duds are garbage food and are only good for removing fillings and clogging your internal organs. But it got me thinking that Rock is actually more like the McRib sandwich. It gets hyped to high heaven by the corporation and you think it’s going to be a big deal because it’s so rare and special, so you buy into the hype but only realize after you bite into one of those things that it’s actually poison and you want to die.
This is essentially what the Rock is for me. He’s a BBQ covered slab of “meat” that I for some reason have fond memories of from over a decade ago, and the second I’m subjected to it again I can’t stop vomiting. I think the biggest reason I dislike him so much is that he reminds me of 13-year-old Andrew, and 29-year-old Andrew hates that kids guts. He was argumentative, rude, and made up shit just to make his jokes work. It’s like when you call someone gay for liking musicals. There’s no correlation between liking a form of entertainment and sexual preference, but you’re going to pretend that there is just so you can make them feel bad. That’s rotten teenager behavior, and it's bullshit.
This, coincidentally, is exactly what Rock did in this promo. At no point at all in CM Punk’s vignettes did he run down Miami, or “the U”. In fact, he made a point to say he wasn’t running those things down. Hell he wasn’t even running Rock down; he was just stating what he perceived as truth. Did he not watch those videos he was referencing? It would be like me writing an entire Smacking Of Smackdown without watching the episode. Could I get away with that? Can I just do that from now on and people will give me undeserved accolades regardless of how ridiculous I sound? Will you love me as much as you do a 13-year-old McRib sandwich?
Also, this is admittedly petty and minor, but did anyone else get kind of creeped out when Rock called Ray Lewis his friend and brother? I get that sports bonds people, but I think you could have named dropped someone a little better than a guy that was on once trial for being an accessory to murder. I know that he was acquitted and plays video games with Paul Rudd now, but still. Who’s your godfather Rock, OJ Simpson?
What An Unbelievable Waste Of Time
I hate to give the 3MB two Smacked Downs in one show, but come on guys you’re not even trying here. You deserve all the Sheamus kicks for this turd.
Big Show’s accurate if yet totally racist assessment of the Smackdown main event scene was uncomfortable, ignorant, and 100% effective. What better way to get instant super heat than to go down to ringside in Miami and criticize Latinos? That’s like walking into Green Bay and calling Aaron Rodgers a homo.
Here’s the thing, I’m not saying it’s okay for a heel to be bigoted, but it’s more acceptable because they’re supposed to be jerks. I do not think that real life big softy Paul Wight has a racist bone in his body, but uber-relevant monster heel Big Show is a bad, bad man that will say and do whatever the f**k he pleases. That’s the role he has to play, and if he’s offensive to stereotypes I can let it slide because he’s supposed to make me feel outraged.
In short, villainous Big Show saying that Latino’s do not deserve a Latino hero = okay. Heroic Sheamus making fun of Hispanics and then appearing in “Be A Star” ads = not okay.
OMG I Love This Guy
He’s carrying an American flag now. The Swiss guy with the US title is now carrying the Old Glory to the ring and waving with all the sincerity of a dismissive wank. He deserves all of the golden stars.
Biased Antonio love aside, I loved almost everything about this match, and this is exactly the type of feud I want to happen. Cesaro seems to bring the best out of Orton, which isn’t easy considering it takes an nigh miracle to get Randy interested enough to put for the effort in anything these days. I don’t know if it’s being up against a top tier grenade launcher like Cesaro or if he just decided he was going to give a shit that day, but Orton seemed to be trying harder than usual. For a guy that has a tendency to coast unless it’s a PPV, Orton was convincing in this bout both on offense and defense. Maybe it’s impossible to sell the Swiss Death without looking like you’re going to die, but Orton took it beautifully.
Anyway, this match was just starting to get really good until the Shield showed up and decided to make me scream “NO” and salivate for more. This is actually a good thing, if you can believe it.
These Guys Really Don’t Like Randy Orton
I’m fine with the Shield coming down and ruining the party for two reasons:
1) By taking away the legit finish they have opened up the doors for a legit rematch, which I’m down for because I’m still holding out hope for an elaborate RKO/Swiss death reversal.
2) It progresses a story.
Randy Orton has been a target of interest for the Shield, and since they’re focusing on more top tier talent as of late instead of killing off dancing dinosaurs and mask aficionados, they’re a great obstacle for Orton to have until his Mania build. Orton is at his best character-wise when he’s portrayed as dangerous, and giving him multiple targets that he can Dexter his way through can re-validate him to the crowd before he takes on Sheamus at Mania. That, or Roman Reigns will drop him on his brittle shoulders and Sheamus will have to team with Kane and Daniel Bryan against Ambrose, Rollins, and Reigns at Mania in a TLC match.
Don’t get excited at the prospect of that though, because it’ll end 8 seconds later after Sheamus kicks and pins his own partner while everyone else looks on in confused disappointment.
CM Punk Is Handling This Exactly As He Should
I love CM Punk the most when he’s not resorting to name calling but instead hits you super hard with facts. Saying that the Rock isn’t really home, he’s just in a place where he lived for a while, but now the house is owned by someone younger and better was f**king brilliant and poetic. The reason we fell in love with Punk in the first place was because he said the things we wanted to say in a way that real people say them. Nobody spouts off catchphrases in an argument and points at their shirts and speaks in third person (well, nobody that is except wrestling fans). Walking around Sun Life while pointing out Rock’s flaws only nailed the point home; it’s not the Attitude Era anymore, and Rock isn’t playing from home field.
I loved this. The only thing that would have made it better is if he pulled a Curt Hennig and thrown himself a touchdown pass. But CM Punk would never do that, because that takes too much effort, and no matter what he says about being a college football aficionado, that mother f**ker has about as much interest in football as I do Rancid albums.
Strangely, I Didn’t Hate This
Khali takes the worst Rocker Dropper in history, but this whole silly matchup served its purpose. It gave Dolph and AJ a stage to continue to mold their relationship in front of the audience, it allowed us to see Natalya actually do something besides point and wave, and we got to watch Big E murder Hornswoggle with superior strength.
I don’t know if you’re keeping count, but that’s win, win, win.
Also, AJ got her shirt pulled up revealing some boobage and she didn't seem to mind. Add one more win in there.
Team Rhodes Scholars, Because Thank God
The second I heard the “Hallelujah” I stood up and screamed “DON’T GO DOWN THERE GUYS, IT’S A TRAP!” But, to be fair, this was not as bad as it could have been. I’m not a big fan of sacrificing the guys you’re trying to establish as one of the best tag team on the roster as lambs to Rock’s gay joke alter, but they made the most of it without coming out weaker than they could have.
- Cody telling Rock that he’s an adult and if he wants to grow a mustache he will. Mature rebuttals to the Rock are like his kryptonite, and I’m glad Sandow stopped him before he could stutter on a taped show and make an ass out of himself as he checked the notes on his wrist.
- Cody asking Rock which movie won best picture in 1993 and Rock keeping it together and giving the correct answer (Schindler’s List) when you know he probably wanted to say ”Pain Or Gain, which opens April 26th” or something, because he’s exactly the kind of asshole that would think that’s funny.
- Sandow’s face when he became aware that his answer of “Rock Bottom” was going to end with pain.
Look, real talk: If you’re at all surprised that my favorite Rock on Smackdown segments all involved Team Rhodes Scholars, than you clearly don’t know me at all.
This Was Fine I Guess
I have nothing against Team Hell No vs The Prime Time Players, but I’ll be honest at this point in the show, I just wanted to get to the main event. I read the spoilers and was eager just to get through this so the match with the big moment could get started.
So I love you Daniel Bryan, but come on bro, you’re kind of in my way right now.
Last Man Standing
Before we get into the really awesome feel good moment, let’s discuss the match itself, because holy God was this match awesome.
Last Man Standing matches when done right are my favorite gimmick matches in wrestling, because they allow wrestlers to show their ferocity without having to rely on gimmicks like ladders and steel cages. They can use them if they choose, but the real weapons are their bodies and the only way to win is to exert so much damage to your opponent that they can literally no longer stand. Which was perfect in this match, because Big Show was a great giant hoss that was impossible to take down, and Del Rio played up his strengths of being clever and inventive very well.
I loved this match. Everything about it seemed to click. These guys beat the crap out of each other, and pulled off creative tricks that I didn’t even think about. When Del Rio got punched in the jaw and used the technicality of rolling out the ring so that he could be on his feet was ingenious. They played to their strengths well, even Ricardo. That guy was wonderful as the cheerleader for his best friend, and while he didn’t get so involved that it tarnished the win, he did enough for it to make sense for him to be down there.
The finish was probably my favorite part. I’ve seen the “bury him in rubble so he can’t answer the 10 count” finish before, but never with such emotional build-up. Del Rio looked like he was rolling Sisyphus’ boulder up a hill. It looked like a desperate last attempt at victory, and oh my God did it deliver.
Alberto Del Rio: World Heavyweight Champion
I know that it’s only January, but this was the feel good moment of 2013, and I’ll tell you why. Alberto Del Rio, former Luchador of legend, came to the United States and said that he was going to fulfill his destiny and win the World Heavyweight Championship 2 years ago, and he finally did it. I know he’s got 2 WWE titles under his belt already, but that’s John Cena’s gaudy jewelry and this is the belt Ric Flair wore. This belt is the belt guys like Del Rio want in their trophy case. The fact that it took 2 years to get to this point alone is enough to make the moment more special.
This is a feel good moment because Del Rio got to stand in his adopted home town, and hold up a title he proclaimed as his destiny. He got to do it in front of his crowd with his best friend and family looking on.
This is a feel good moment because this super talented dude that has spent the better part of his WWE career getting jerked around and misused and undervalued by management just became THE GUY. Not just the World Heavyweight Champion, but THE GUY they are going to market and get behind because they’re just now seeing what he can bring to the table when he’s allowed to fire on all cylinders.
This is a feel good moment because Ricardo Rodriguez didn’t just look happy because his on-screen boss won a belt, he looked happy because his legit IRL best friend just fulfilled his destiny, and he was beaming with pride.
This is a feel good moment because Lucha Libre legend Alberto Del Rio is now your World Heavyweight Champion, and you’re allowed, nay, encouraged, to cheer for him. That’s pretty great.
But, you already knew that.
So what did you think of Smackdown? What did you think of this review? What do you think of your new World Heavyweight Champion? Let us know in the comments. If you made it this far, a winner is you. Thanks, and I’ll see you all next week.
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