Hey friends, and welcome to this week’s Smacking of Smackdown. This week we’re in England, which means the stage will have a car and phone booth setup, because these objects and tea are the only things WWE associates with England. Also it’s the episode where Jon Moxley cuts his teeth on WWE perennial The Undertaker, so if you’re here just to read my thoughts on that go ahead and skip to the bottom and save yourself the hassle.
Anyway if you read this article completely and enjoy it, please leave comments/click like/ tweet to all your friends for this article. It would be really nice of you to help me get more readers which will justify this whole “writing about wrestling for free entertainment and lack of appreciation” thing.
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.
Jack Swagger defeated Alberto Del Rio
Layla defeated Aksana
Fandango defeated Justin Gabriel
Big Show defeated Sheamus
Wade Barrett defeated William Regal
Mark Henry defeated Randy Orton by DQ
The Undertaker defeated Dean Ambrose
Anyway, let’s get the bad stuff out of the way first.
(Most) images courtesy of WWE.com
Aksana vs. Layla
I don’t know if it’s because I’ve been watching a lot of Saturyne matches and am becoming accustomed to good female wrestling or because I finally started paying attention to her matches, but Layla is sloppy as hell. She’s slow when she needs to be quick, she moves too sporadically when she needs to slow it down, and she relies too heavily on hitting people with her butt and making “Did I do that?” faces. Upon retrospect she’s dreadful, and I can’t believe I didn’t hate her sooner.
Of course on the other side of that is she’s really really really really REALLY pretty. Also I like the idea that her new finisher is just a modified pin, because let’s be honest, it’s really hard to screw up a pin unless your name is Titus O’Neil.
I’d like to say that “Total Divas” looks like the worst thing in the world and only a moron would invest their time in watching something so egocentric and asinine as reality television, but I watch pro-wrestling so what the hell do I know.
William Regal vs. Wade Barrett
Question: How do you get the English crowd to boo Manchester billed, Union Jack wearing Wade Barrett?
Answer: Remember William Regal exists, dust him off (as they tend to do during every trip to Jolly Old London Town) and put them in a match.
Question: How do you manage to piss off Andrew Johnson with a William Regal appearance? Answer: Have Barrett knock him out and pin him in under a goddamn minute.
I know this probably isn’t the case, but sometimes I feel like WWE is directly telling me to go f**k myself.
Randy Orton vs. Mark Henry
Randy Orton and Sheamus are the bad guys.
If that’s not clear to you by now the ending of this match should have sealed it. Earlier in the night Henry distracted Sheamus by knocking over ring steps which caused Sheamus to lose his concentration and drop his guard long enough for Big Show’s fist of doom (more on that later). This is at worst shenanigans. It’s not exactly breaking the super villain mold. It’s nothing more than creating an opportunity, and Show capitalized on it.
So when faced with a similar situation, what does Sheamus do for revenge? Does he go down to the ring to distract Henry by telling him he looks like he’s raising dough in his singlet? Or does he rush the ring without thinking, kick Henry in the mouth, and get his friend/sometimes tag team partner disqualified in the process?
Go ahead. Guess what he did.
And to top that all of instead of being pissed at Sheamus for costing him a W, Orton takes it out on Henry and then does poses with the guy that cost him his match. How does this make sense?
So either Sheamus is really the villain, or he’s just an impulsive jack ass. Either way, I don’t think he’s all that bright.
Jack Swagger vs. Alberto Del Rio
Last week I mentioned that I felt Swagger was the odd man out in the triple threat at Extreme Rules. This match went a long way in reestablishing his credibility in my eyes. It was smart to make this match no dq, because it helped highlight Swagger’s mean streak, and gave me a reason to think that he might pull it off when the belt is on the line. Over the past few weeks it’s become apparent that Del Rio is slightly over Swagger when it comes to submission technique and Ziggler is quick enough to capitalize on exposed opportunities, so where does that leave Swagger? He needs to be the guy that will be the f**k out of you without hesitation, and his ruthless aggression in this match kinda made me feel like he’s go the edge when it comes to ass kicking.
Of course that doesn’t mean Del Rio is a putz. When he seated Swagger on the ropes and went all Kunta Kinte on him with the kendo stick I winced. In fact, as far as pre-taped PG WWE goes this match was pretty nasty. They were able to make the Wal-Mart brand weaponry look painful, which is really the whole point of “extreme rules.” People think that every hardcore match has to have blood involved, but honestly the little bit of crimson on Swagger’s mouth did more for me than I think a gusher on his brow would.
Fandango vs. Justin Gabriel
I don’t know if Fandango reads this blog (he doesn’t) but it seems like he read my criticism and decided to embrace the fanfare instead of being all “you are doing this to spite me” kind of Daniel Bryan shtick it looked like he was heading toward. He even “Fandango’d” with the crowd as his taunt before dropping his sick leg drop and it was wonderful. As far as wrestling characters go I’m pretty hard to please when it comes to the ridiculous, so I knew even before his debut that Johnny Curtis was going to have to win me over with actions instead of gimmick.
I don’t care if you have the dumbest character known to man; if you’re talented enough you can turn that dumb character into something memorable and worth watching. Curtis isn’t there yet, because he could still easily fall back into the easy trope of hating the people that cheer you and telling the fans to go fandango themselves, which makes zero f**king sense. But going up against Justin Gabriel – a guy that I think is way underrated and is good enough to trade high spots with a guy who’s whole gimmick surrounds around grace—is a good way to establish both in-ring ability (because Gabriel is good) and give you chance to play with the crowd without actually going full babyface (because Gabriel isn’t important enough to piss off the crowd when you taunt him).
Big Show vs. Sheamus
Three things I loved about this match:
1) HOSS FIGHT—Sheamus is absolutely unbearable when it comes to his character, but when the dude gets a chance to throw bombs against a big guy that can take it he’s a lot of fun to watch, and Big Show is a great opponent for Sheamus. Big Show has a way of making the match seem dull, but really what he’s doing is building up your frustration so that when something awesome does happen—like a top rope WMD—you’re way more jacked up than if you would have been for a fast-paced back and forth. It’s actually quit affective, because if you notice the crowd was getting all “Ugh I hate my life” and distracting themselves with other wrestler’s taunts until Sheamus was on the top rope getting his jaw realigned. It was a fun way to enjoy his pain.
2) The further establishment of Mark Henry and Big Show’s hossy friendship, even though Show didn’t reciprocate Henry’s olive branch when he was getting trounced by the idiot twins.
3) The crowd continuing to show their indifference for Sheamus by fandangoing him while he tried to make a comeback. I don’t agree with it at all, but I like it when a crowd shakes off WWE’s conditioning long enough to see the world for what it is, and Sheamus is not someone that deserves their pity or their adulation. Also if they keep it up maybe WWE will realize that the only thing we want to see less than an Orton and Sheamus feud is Orton and Sheamus doing anything.
Undertaker vs. Dean Ambrose
So I guess this is what you’re here for.
Look, it wasn’t all that good of a wrestling match. In all honesty it was kind of a bore, and that’s not really anybody’s fault. The problem with Undertaker is that when he’s given time and the right opponent he can actually have good matches. Ambrose however isn’t the right opponent for Taker, because to the majority of WWE fans he doesn’t have an identity beyond 1/3 of The Shield. Which is fine, because that’s what he’s supposed to be right now, but Taker’s matches rely heavily on story and ambiance, and this match just didn’t ever click.
The post-match however, was righteous. I know this was just an opportunity to write Taker off of TV and at the same time give The Shield a huge rub, but it was effective and really did seem to elevate them. The good thing about The Shield is that they aren’t interested in individual accomplishments. Their main goal is to establish the team. Ambrose winning a 1-on-1 match with a guy as renowned as The Undertaker wouldn’t have done a lot for Rollins and Reigns, but it would have been huge for Ambrose, and it would have made him “the guy” in The Shield, which would make what they are doing counter-productive. It’s not about the needs of the one; it’s about the needs of the unit.
This is honestly how the Nexus should have worked. Every time one of them lost an individual match they should have rallied and said “F**k the battle, let’s win the war” and then create carnage on their target until they can’t walk anymore (that powerbomb on the table was SICK) instead of always debating on who was worthy and member shuffling that it became tiresome. The Shield is doing it the right way by actually living the “We Are One” motto.
Anyway, thanks for reading. Let us know what you think in the comments. See you cool kids next week for bad Smackdown, since these good episodes seem to be bi-weekly now.
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