The former part of this introduction was what mattered most, not the fact that Young, who has been quite successful as a wrestler under Vince McMahon’s watch, is gay. The fact he has now announced to the world about his sexual status should not change your perceptions of the character or the man, just should make you aware he is still the athlete we rooted for or hated just the other night.
What we should be saying is, Darren Young is a human being, an athlete and a wrestler. So much is made of professional athletes and their “social status” that we get caught up in the juicy gossip and details of the life, not the athlete. We lose sight of why we root for them in the first place, whether it is on a tennis court (Martina Navratilova), a basketball court (Jason Collins) a football field (Esera Tuaolo) or now in a wrestling ring.
Young is just a man like you and me.
We live in a society that is driven by status and driven by titles which are placed on everything. Wrestling is no different as we root for our favorite characters based on their appearance, their gimmick and their success. In this case with wrestling, the crazier the better. The louder the more response. The more drastic, the more desire we have to follow the program.
The WWE has been mindful of the growing changes in wrestling and society, to the point that some years back, a program with Billy Gunn and Chuck Palumbo was designed completely around their “relationship,” a spot that caught heat from the LGBT community on a national level.
Young isn’t looking for heat or acceptance or to even discuss his situation or his personal life. He just wants to go on with his life and make a living – in the ring.
What started out as a question and answer period at the Los Angeles airport taught us all a lesson about life and continuation.
And life moves on. In my opinion, this is really a non-issue. I don’t see the WWE jumping to put out press releases and other sports organizations jumping to give a statement about its thoughts on the topic. And for certain, there will not be a comment made by President Obama on this.
Life will simply move on. Jason Collins announced he was gay and in 15 minutes it as old news. Whether Darren Young is as popular as Collins is something I am not aware of, but you get the idea of how small a deal this is in today’s world and unfortunately, society and the media we follow will open this up like a flesh-eating wound. In my opinion, that is not fair to the gay community and to Young, in particular.
There have been other wrestlers in this business who have been openly gay – Pat Patterson and Orlando Jordan to name two. So was Chris Kanyon. I am sure there are others who hid in secrecy and others who will not reveal their sexual orientation today.
It doesn’t matter.
The name on the marquee is professional wrestling, and that is what we watch and the soap opera that occurs each week. The days of Kayfabe are long gone, so are the days of secrets and being singled out. And when you think of it, if Darren Young can be so matter of fact about his lifestyle and the fact it was second nature, then maybe we should all realize that the man in the ring is more important than what he does when he goes home or when he is out in public.
This week, WWE Friday Night SmackDown! stars will attempt to impress GM Booker T in order to gain entry into the Elimination Chamber. There are three spots left.
The show opens with The Big Show’s private bus pulling into the parking lot. He gets off and immediately heads into the building. After the opening theme song, Show is headed into the arena. Show has one more match with Alberto Del Rio for the World Championship at Elimination Chamber. Show tells the crowd that things around here are completely unacceptable. He’s tired of the way he’s being treated, and all of the double standards around here. He gets that no one likes him. Is it a crime to be unpopular? Because he’s not popular, it’s okay for him to be forced to put his title on the line a month ago in a Last Man Standing Match? He supposes that it’s okay that a Latin maniac like ADR can ambush him in his hotel room, too. You cheer the champion for acting like a criminal. He guesses that’s why people like ADR want to be on your good side, because when you’re popular, you can do what you want. Show doesn’t get the fans. He tries, and just doesn’t get it. When he fights like a man and decimates ADR and Ricardo Rodriguez, people call him a bully and a bad person. He tries to conduct himself like a businessman and refrains from confrontation with ADR, and people call him a coward. ADR can attack him, and people cheer the champ? Well, he’s got some news: before ADR attacked him, he signed a championship contract. That means at EC, the World title is coming back where it belongs. The double standards around here? Big deal. ADR gets suspended for the week. Woo-hoo. He gets a night off. One person is responsible for everything around here, and that’s Booker T. Book is jealous. He’s jealous of Show’s accomplishments, ability, wealth, but most of all, he’s jealous because Show is still an in-ring, dominant, competitive force, and Book is a sad man behind a desk, pushing a pencil.
As you would expect, Book makes his way out on this note. He asks Show what his problem is. Show has everything he asked for. ADR granted a rematch for the title at the Royal Rumble, and Show blew it. ADR doesn’t like bullies, and neither does Book. And Show continues to bully Ricardo. That isn’t going to get Show anywhere. Show wants to know who gave ADR his hotel information, accusing Book of doing it. It’s all about Book. The only way he stays relevant is by taking down one of the greatest stars in SD! history, and that’s Show. Book says he treats everyone equally, and that’s why the champion isn’t here tonight. He suspended ADR for the week. Show doesn’t care about that, and still wants to know who gave ADR the hotel info. Book points out how big Show is, meaning he stands out. Anyone could have given ADR that information as a result. Show shouldn’t be concerned with Book tonight; he needs to be concerned with his opponent. Show isn’t surprised. Book just dropped this on him without calling or emailing him. Book will take this under advisement, and just to make Show feel better, he knows his opponent. There’s good news and bad news tonight. Good news, his opponent lost on RAW. Bad news is, he’s in a bad mood and is looking to impress Book to get into the Chamber. That opponent is Kane. Book knows Show can dig that, sucka.
MATCH 1: Kofi Kingston vs. Cody Rhodes
We get a cut-away with Rhodes. He says he and his friend Damien Sandow have mutually decided to part ways. But, when one door closes, one opens, and behind that door is a vision everyone wants to see-Rhodes at the top of WWE. Kofi thinks he can stand in Rhodes’ way. Think again. Match starts with a Kofi waistlock. Rhodes fights out, and Kofi comes back with a monkey flip. He sends Rhodes to the floor, then hits a baseball slide. Back in, Kofi goes for a corner splash, but Rhodes moves out of the way. Rhodes covers Kofi, getting 2. He drops an elbow to the neck from the middle rope, then throws him to the corner. Kofi fights his way out, then hits a chop. Another chop, followed by a jumping clothesline. Boom Drop connects, and he calls for TIP, but Rhodes falls back into the buckle. Kofi charges in, so Rhodes moves out of the way. Kofi lands feet-first on the middle buckle, hops to the top and hits the cross-body for 2. Kofi goes for the SOS, but Rhodes shoves him off, ducks a TIP, and goes for the Cross Rhodes. Kofi slides out and goes for TIP once more, but hangs onto the ropes. Rhodes throws him outside, and as Kofi gets back on the apron, Rhodes hits the Beautiful Disaster. Back in, Cross Rhodes connects for 3.
WINNER: Cody Rhodes.
We see Kane in his locker room when Daniel Bryan walks in. He apologizes for what happened on RAW. Kane accepts and orders him to leave. Bryan says he didn’t intend to cost him his match against Sheamus, and he’s sure Kane didn’t mean to cost him against Damien Sandow. He forgives Kane, and he thinks he should come out with Kane to support him in against his match against Show. He once beat Show in 45 seconds, and it wouldn’t hurt Kane to be seen with someone who is already in the Chamber. Kane threatens to annihilate him before telling him to shut up. Not another word. Not “yes”. Not “no”. Nothing! The next word out of Bryan’s mouth will be “congratulations” after he chokeslams Big Show into oblivion later tonight.
We get a cool video for Bruno Sammartino’s induction into this year’s HOF class. While I am glad Bruno is finally in, I am tired of everyone saying things like, “It’s about time Vince inducted him!” Sorry, but that’s not the case. The reality is that Vince has been trying to get him to accept for several years now, and Bruno has refused to budge. He was the one who finally had to change his mind, not Vince. While Vince is wrong a lot, no question, the fact is he swallowed his pride on this one years ago, and was waiting for Bruno to do the same. Having said all of that, Bruno is the single most deserving guy to go into the Hall that hadn’t already been inducted, if for no other reason than his championship track record.
MATCH 2: The Great Khali (w/Hornswoggle and Natalya) vs. Titus O’Neil
Josh Mathews just called Khali a future Hall of Famer. I just died a little bit. Khali hits Titus with a forearm to the head. Open-hand chop to the chest in the corner. And another. Titus comes back with strikes, then hits a running boot to the head for 1. Front chancery is applied, then hits a couple more strikes before Khali connects with the brain chop for 3.
WINNER: The Great Khali. Mark Henry’s music hits, and the “World’s Strongest Man” is back in WWE. He throws Titus to the floor, then throws him into the barricade before telling him, “Sit down! Grown folks gotta talk!” He gets in the ring, where they trade punches. Henry hits an avalanche in the corner before getting caught by a brain chop. He calls for the Punjabi Plunge, but Henry breaks out, shoves him to the corner and hits another avalanche. World’s Strongest Slam connects. Actually glad to see him back, as his World title reign was enjoyable.
After the commercials, Henry is still in the ring, and he tells the crowd that the “Hall of Pain” is now open. He’s bent on destruction. Are there any questions? As you can see, Khali and Titus didn’t have any questions. Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara, last week on RAW, if they had any questions, Henry thinks he answered every last one of them. See for yourself. We see video from RAW, where Henry destroyed both of them. Henry says that’s what he does, and all of this tonight as well as all of that Monday night could have been avoided. This is all Booker T’s fault. Book assembled an elite group of champions to be in the Chamber, but he made one mistake: he didn’t call Henry. He left Henry out. How do you forget the strongest man that ever lived? That was a critical time to overlook him, because he’s not to be looked over. He needs an explanation, because he can’t wrap his brain around this. Booker T, you owe him an explanation. Walk out here and answer to him, because if you don’t, he’s coming back there, and he’s going to destroy the entire SD! roster. Get out here!
Book comes out, sans music. He tells Henry he can’t just attack people and impress the GM. This is Smackdown! Henry tells him there’s no room in the Chamber for him. If Book doesn’t make room, then he’ll make room for himself. You know what that means, right? It means that if Book doesn’t, Henry will injure enough people that he’ll be the only one in the Chamber. Book says Henry has been out nine months, dawg. He has to know if Henry can still go. So, if Henry can beat one of the guys that’s already in, he’ll grant Henry a spot. Tonight, Henry will face Randy Orton one-on-one.
Show is outside, yelling at his personal bus driver/butler. Show shakes his head and stomps back towards the arena. We see Alberto Del Rio emerge from the side of one of the buses as Show leaves the area.
MATCH 3: WWE Tag Team Co-Champion Kane vs. The Big Show
Kane starts with rights to the face. Show sends him to the corner for a hip bump. Kane comes back with a shot, sending Show to the floor. Outside, Show slams Kane into the steps. He throws Kane in, then wraps his leg around the post. Show gets back in the ring and begins working over Kane’s left leg, applying a modified ankle lock. Kane boots him off, but gets speared for his troubles. Commercials.
We’re back, and Show hits a Vader Bomb for 2. He goes up again, but misses the second one. They trade punches before they both go for the chokeslam. Show breaks it with a kick, but gets hit with a DDT off the ropes. Kane goes up top for the clothesline, which connects. Kane’s left knee is hurting. As he gets up, Show hits the WMD for 3.
WINNER: The Big Show. As Show is leaving, ADR pops up on the TitanTron, and he’s still around Show’s bus. He says that, when he attacked Show in the hotel, he wondered what he was going to do. Then it occurred he could make a new friend, meaning the butler. ADR decided to help the guy, as well as make some changes. Show storms up the ramp, and he’s obviously headed to the parking lot. Outside, we see that ADR has put the bus up on blocks. Show throws a fit, and we see a bucket of orange paint get dumped on him from on top of the bus. A tow truck pulls up, and ADR is in the back. He tells Show that if he needs new tires, he knows a guy before speeding off.
MATCH 4: Jack Swagger vs. Justin Gabriel
Cut-away promo for Swagger. He says that a real American doesn’t take handouts, or wait for something to happen. A real American takes what he wants, and tonight, he shows Booker T why the Chamber needs a real American, why it needs Jack Swagger. Swagger immediately backs Gabriel into the corner, then hits a walking belly-to-belly suplex. Gabriel ducks a clothesline and rolls Swagger up for 2. Swagger pops up and drops him with a clothesline. Swagger hits some forearms to the chest, then throws him across the ring. Swagger Bomb connects, but Gabriel counters a corner charge with a pair of boots. Springboard cross-body connects, and Swagger rolls to the floor. He tries to trip Gabriel up from the apron, but Gabriel jumps and boots him away. He goes for an Asai Moonsault, but Swagger yanks him to the floor. Back in, Swagger hits a running chop block. Falling Doctor Bomb connects, and he applies the ankle lock, which is now known as the Patriot Act. Gabriel taps.
WINNER: Jack Swagger.
We get a “From the Vault” moment featuring the Bushwhackers vs. the Bolsheviks. Not sure why we’re seeing this right now. Not only that, but rather than just a clip, we seem to be getting nearly the whole match.
We’re already up to three “Please don’t try this” videos, which makes me wonder if reports of kids doing this are appearing more regularly lately.
We get a video for Fandango, aka Johnny Curtis. I can’t believe they still haven’t given up on this guy. Not only that, but he’s got an uber-douchey new look, styling his hair after Tobey Maguire in Spider-Man 3.
MATCH 5: Drew McIntyre (w/Jinder Mahal and Heath Slater) vs. Tensai
Drew hits some forearms to the back, and follows up with a mafia kick for 1. He slaps Tensai, so Tensai beats him down before hitting an avalanche in the corner and continuing the beatdown. He hits the Derailer and goes for the pin, but the other two members of 3MB assault him.
WINNER VIA DISQUALIFICATION: Tensai. 3MB triple-team Tensai until Brodus Clay runs down. The two destroy 3MB, then stare each other down. Clay’s music hits, and he begins to dance. He and the Funkadactyls ask Tensai to join them, and he eventually obliges. Looks like we have a new tag team. Fine with me, as both guys have been pretty aimless for a while.
MATCH 6: Sin Cara vs. WWE United States Champion Antonio Cesaro (non-title)
Cesaro has some of the best ring jackets I’ve ever seen. The Swedish rap entrance theme isn’t too bad, either. Cesaro starts with a back heel trip, but Cara comes back with a bodyscissors into an armdrag. He stomps Cesaro’s hand and goes for the twisting springboard armdrag, but Cesaro drops him to the apron before hotshotting him, sending Cara to the apron. Back in, Cesaro hits the deadlift gutwrench suplex and the double stomp. Kneelift connects, as does a kick to the spine. Cara blocks a corner charge and hits an amazing-looking version of the sunset flip for 2. No, really. It was damn beautiful. Cara sends Cesaro to the floor with a hurricanrana, and follows up with a suicide dive. Back in, Cara hits a kick from the apron, but when he comes off the top, he’s hit with a Very European Uppercut. Neutralizer connects for 3.
WINNER: Antonio Cesaro.
Matt Striker is in the locker room with Randy Orton. He asks about Mark Henry’s return and their match later. Orton points out Henry’s injury, then he comes back and puts out a bunch of guys, thinking he can just get what he wants. It’s a good plan, but tonight, he’s hitting a roadblock, that being Orton. He knows Henry is the world’s strongest man, but he’ll have to be the world’s luckiest man if he thinks he can go through Orton tonight. If he’s not careful, Orton will put him right back on the shelf.
Striker is now elsewhere with The Miz. He asks Miz about what happened on RAW between him and Brock Lesnar. Miz says that, in his time in WWE, he’s been through a lot of intense situations and moments. He’s been against the baddest superstars out there, but looking into Lesnar’s eyes, he saw something completely different. Something lethal. He’s still here. He’s still on Smack…Antonio Cesaro interrupts him, saying he loves this country. Only here, a guy like Miz can stick his nose where it doesn’t belong, then whine and complain about it. How typically American. Miz says maybe Cesaro is right. Maybe he should stick his nose where it does belong. He punches Cesaro, and now they brawl on the floor until referees separate them.
MATCH 7: Randy Orton vs. Mark Henry
Lock-up to start, with Henry backing Orton into a corner. Orton fights out with punches, then hits a corner clothesline. Henry knocks Orton down, then kicks him before throwing him to the floor. Outside, Henry clubs Orton across the back. He goes to lawn dart Orton into the post, but Orton slides out and shoves Henry into it. Henry no-sells it and gets back in the ring. Orton fights him in the corner, then mounts the middle buckle to hit some forearms to the chest from behind. Henry turns around and knocks Orton to the floor with one right hand. Back outside, Henry rolls Orton back in the ring for 2. Orton rolls to the ropes, and Henry stands on his chest. Henry applies a trapezius claw, but Orton fights out. Henry headbutts him before missing an avalanche in the corner. Orton takes Henry down with a clothesline and another. Henry rolls to the apron, where Orton connects with the suspended DDT. He coils up for the RKO, but Henry shoves him off and hits an avalanche. World’s Strongest Slam connects for 3.
WINNER: Mark Henry. Henry now has a spot in the Elimination Chamber.
This week on WWE Friday Night SmackDown!, the show opens with Alberto Del Rio pacing in the parking lot, carrying a wooden stick. He’s apparently looking for The Big Show.
In the arena, GM Booker T is in the ring, surrounded by a bunch of wrestlers and Teddy Long. He welcomes us to the show before reminding us that John Cena won the Royal Rumble last Sunday. Cena has made it clear he’s challenging for the WWE title at Wrestlemania 29. The question now is, who will challenge for the World title that night? That’s why we’re here. Every wrestler around Book has been the World Champion at some point (The Great Khali, Randy Orton, Dolph Ziggler-w/AJ and Big E. Langston, Team Hell No! and Sheamus), and he’s giving them each the chance to be champion once more. The only thing they have to do is win the Elimination Chamber. There are only six spots available…
Jack Swagger’s music hits. Bet you forgot he still worked here, huh? Swagger comes out, and he’s got a slightly different look. Looks like Book forgot about someone. Looks like he left someone out of this gathering of former champions. Book asks where Swagger has been, dawg. Swagger says he’s been living the life of a real American, and his eyes are open. He’s been watching everything while gone, and he’s disappointed in the direction WWE is heading. What he wants Book to do about it is put him in the Elimination Chamber, and he’ll do the rest. Book tells him he has to earn that spot like everyone else. As he was saying, there are six available spots in the Chamber. Ziggler cuts him off. He’s already Mr. MITB and has a guaranteed title match, and Book is proposing he compete in one of the most brutal matches there is, or he could sit back and enjoy his guaranteed title match. Here’s what’s going to happen: he’s going to win the title. He can cash in his briefcase where he wants, including Wrestlemania. No, thanks. Book calls Ziggler a chicken, and that’s fine. However, he still has a match tonight, and it’s against ADR.
Back to the other six. They will all be in matches tonight. All they have to do is impress him, and he’ll decide what to do next. Now, to start the show off with a bang. The first match will be a tag team match. It will be Team Hell No! vs. Sin Cara and another former champion who wants into the Chamber, that being Rey Mysterio. Ugh. Here’s a face I didn’t need to see again. And since we’re in San Diego, it’s pretty much guaranteed he’s winning here.
MATCH 1: WWE Tag Team Champions Team Hell No! (Daniel Bryan and Kane) vs. Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara (non-title)
Cara has new gear, and Mysterio is dressed like Aquaman. Rey and Kane start the match, and Kane boots him in the corner. Rey counters a tilt-a-whirl into an Asai DDT for 2. Kane rolls to the floor, where Rey dropkicks him through the ropes. Back in, Rey dropkicks Kane in the knee before tagging in Cara, and they hit a pair of kicks to the chest and back. Cara goes for the pin, getting 1. Kane throws him to the corner and tags in Bryan, who hits some strikes. Cara comes back with a handspring back elbow and a hurricanrana off the ropes. Cara with a kick and a twisting armdrag from the top rope. Rey tags in, and the luchadores hit a double-team cannonball on Bryan. Rey goes for the pin, getting 2. Rey goes for a spinning headscissors, but Bryan counters into a modified lung blower. Kane tags in, hitting a corner clothesline for 1. Uppercut by Kane, and now Bryan is back in. Kane whips Bryan into Rey, and Bryan connects with a dropkick for 2. Rey hits the headscissors this time and looks for the 619, but Bryan slides to the floor. Commercials.
We’re back, and Bryan is working over Cara’s arm. Cara reverses a corner whip, but runs into a boot. Bryan mounts the middle buckle, and Cara hits him with a kick. Up top, Cara goes for a super hurricanrana. Bryan shoves him off, and he lands on his feet, where he is met with a seated dropkick from the middle rope by Bryan. Bryan goes for a surfboard stretch, then tags in Kane, who hits a low dropkick for 1. Sidewalk slam for 2. Kane sets him on the top rope, but Cara fights him off and goes for a cross-body. Kane catches him and goes for a powerslam, and Cara counters into a tornado DDT. Bryan and Rey tag in, and Rey gets the hot tag. He hits another cannonball and goes for a hurricanrana. Bryan rolls through into a sunset flip, and Rey continues to roll, hitting a seated dropkick for 2. Rey sets up for the 619, but Kane intercepts him. He boots Cara down and goes for the chokeslam, but Rey counters into a hurricanrana, sending Kane to the floor. Bryan grabs Rey and applies the No! Lock, but Cara dropkicks Bryan in the face to break the hold. Cara takes out Kane on the floor as Rey connects with the 619. Rey hits a falling splash off the top and gets the 3.
WINNERS: Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara. Bryan and Kane argue on the outside post-match.
Matt Striker approaches ADR in the parking lot. ADR says he’s just getting fresh air.
MATCH 2: The Great Khali (w/Hornswoggle and Natalya) vs. Jinder Mahal (w/Drew McIntyre and Heath Slater)
Khali forearms Mahal across the head, then hits an open-hand chop in the corner. Mahal dropkicks him in the knee, then applies a front chancery. Khali shoves him off and hits another chop to the chest. He hits a clothesline and a brain chop. He calls for the Punjabi Plunge, but Drew jumps on the apron for a distraction. He thrusts at Nattie, so Khali brain chops him. Slater chases Hornswoggle under the ring as Khali hits the Punjabi Plunge on Mahal for the 3.
WINNER: The Great Khali.
Book and Teddy Long are watching on the monitor. Long says tonight is going to be fun and unpredictable. Book says that Jack Swagger’s return was unpredictable. Long admits that Swagger’s return was his idea. The Rhodes Scholars walk in, and Rhodes says they are dissolving the team and returning to singles competition. Sandow says they will, however remain friends. As the French author Albert Camus once said, “Don’t walk behind me, I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me, I may not follow. Just walk beside me, and be my friend.” Rhodes and Sandow hug while telling each other things will work out. Book interrupts the hug and says he’s glad about this decision. That frees Sandow up to face the guy who put him through a table on RAW, that being Sheamus. Book tells him he’s welcome.
ADR is still pacing outside, waiting for Show.
MATCH 3: Sheamus vs. Damien Sandow
Sandow fires off some punches until Sheamus trips him and hits some of his own. Sandow rolls to the floor off an Irish whip, and Sheamus drops him on the outside. Back in, Sandow stomps Sheamus down, then hits some corner shoulder thrusts. Sandow hits a side-Russian legsweep, then drops a jumping knee. The Cobito Acqiuet connects for 1. They trade strikes, Sandow from a standing position and Sheamus from his knees. Sheamus eventually beats Sandow down in the corner, but Sandow comes back with more strikes of his own. Sheamus hits a shoulder in the corner, a running knee and a pair of Irish Hammers. He goes for White Noise, but Sandow slides out onto the apron. From there, Sheamus traps him in the ropes and hits the forearms to the chest. All of a sudden, The Shield’s music hits, and we see them make their way through the crowd. Sandow disappears.
WINNER: No contest. The Shield surrounds the ring, and Seth Rollins is the first in, who gets blasted with a Brogue Kick. Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns double-teams Sheamus, who is fighting back. He sends Reigns to the floor, but Ambrose trips Sheamus up. They continue the 2-on-1 attack until Rollins recovers. When he does, The Shield hit the triple powerbomb.
MATCH 4: Randy Orton vs. Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett (non-title)
Orton ducks a clothesline and fires off some rights. He hits a clothesline and a dropkick, sending Barrett to the floor. Back in, Barrett with some strikes, punching Orton in the corner. Orton fires back before Barrett drops him with a boot for 2. Neckbreaker by Barrett for another 2. Barrett traps Orton in the ropes, where he drops Orton to the apron with a running boot for 2. Rear chinlock is applied, but Orton throws him off and goes for the Four Moves of Boredom. Barrett drops to the floor to avoid the DDT. Orton heads out, and Barrett cuts him off, slamming him into the post. He calls for the Bull Hammer, but Orton ducks, and Barrett hits the post. Orton pulls him to the apron and hits the suspended DDT. RKO ends the match.
WINNER: Randy Orton. That RKO looked absolutely awful.
Matt Stryker is in the back with Wade Barrett after the commercials. Barrett starts to talk, but sees someone off-camera. It’s Bo Dallas, and Barrett attacks from behind. They start brawling and Barrett eventually gets the best of it, stomping Dallas down behind an equipment box.
MATCH 5: Kofi Kingston vs. Jack Swagger
Swagger skips the pre-match push-ups. Swagger immediately tackles Kofi, then hits a waistlock takedown. Belly-to-belly suplex by Swagger. Kofi hits some strikes before running into a shoulder. Crisscross ends in a Kofi back elbow. Swagger shakes it off and throws Kofi across the ring. Swagger Bomb connects for 2. Kofi tries to fight back, but no such luck. Another throw by Swagger. Kofi hits some punches and a springboard cross-body by Kofi gets 2. Swagger recovers and turns Kofi inside-out with a clothesline. Swagger applies an armbar now, and Kofi fights out before Swagger applies it again. Kofi fights out again, but Swagger backs him into the corner and hits some kneelifts. Kofi manages to knock Swagger back, hits some chops and a dropkick. Boom Drop connects as the crowd has begun to turn on Kofi. He calls for the TIP, but Swagger catches him and throws him to the corner, where Kofi hits the Pendulum. Up top, Kofi goes for a springboard clothesline. Swagger ducks, as Kofi lands on his feet. Kofi rebounds and sends Swagger to the floor with a seated dropkick. Swagger avoids a baseball slide and sends Kofi into the steps. Kofi hops over them and charges back at Swagger with a jumping clothesline. He goes for TIP outside, but Swagger moves, and Kofi’s foot hits the announce desk. Back in the ring, Swagger applies the ankle lock to the bad foot, and Kofi taps.
WINNER: Jack Swagger. Nice to see WWE booking Swagger as a legitimate threat and not a comedy act this time around.
ADR is approached by security, telling him to throw his weapon down and come inside. ADR starts to agree until he sees a bus enter the parking lot. I guess it’s a pipe and not a stick. My bad. Anyway, the bus does indeed belong to Show, who we see getting off of it. ADR charges at him with the pipe, narrowly missing. Show fights back until ADR swings at him. Show moves, and the pipe hits the window of a car. Show kicks him away from the roof, and ADR trips him on the roof with the pipe. Show climbs into another car, locks the door and speeds away.
After Dolph Ziggler enters the arena, we see ADR walking towards the ring. Ricardo Rodriguez approaches him, wearing a neck brace. ADR tells him to stay back, but Ricardo doesn’t want to since they are a team. ADR tells him no since he’s hurt, and to trust him.
MATCH 6: Dolph Ziggler (w/AJ and Big E. Langston) vs. World Champion Alberto Del Rio (non-title)
Lock-up to start, with Ziggler going into an armbar. ADR reverses and forces Ziggler to the mat. Ziggler fights back, but ADR quickly recovers, knocking Ziggler down. He misses a moonsault, lands on his feet, rolls through and pancakes Ziggler down before hitting a thrust kick to the face for 2. Ziggler avoids a corner charge and hits a jumping DDT for 2. Neckbreaker by Ziggler for 2. Show-Off Elbow for another 2. Rear chinlock is applied, and ADR eventually gets to his feet. He ducks a clothesline and hits a German suplex. ADR goes up for the moonsault again, but AJ distracts the referee, which allows Langston to trip ADR and knock him back to the mat. Ziggler goes for the cover, getting 2. ADR ducks a clothesline, dropkicks Langston through the ropes and hits a flapjack on Ziggler. Langston jumps on the apron, so the referee ejects him. Commercials.
We’re back, and ADR & Ziggler are trading strikes. Ziggler levels ADR with a dropkick for 2. Ziggler goes up top, but ADR crotches him. ADR goes up, hitting a middle rope superplex. They trade punches, and Ziggler gets the best of it. ADR avoids a corner charge, causing Ziggler to collide face-first with the top turnbuckle. ADR with a pair of clotheslines and a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. ADR connects with a thrust kick, getting 2. ADR signals for the rolling jujigatame and goes for it, but Ziggler escapes and hits a rocker dropper for 2. Both men recover, and ADR manages to get Ziggler hung up in the corner, where he hits him in the back with several forearm shots and a hanging backstabber for 2. ADR goes up top once more, and he’s met with a dropkick by Ziggler for 2. ADR manages to avoid the Zig Zag and quickly locks in the rolling jujigatame, forcing Ziggler to tap.
WINNER: Alberto Del Rio.
The Big Show pops up on the big screen and says he’s back in the building, and he’s not alone. He has a friend with him. The camera pans out to see Ricardo Rodriguez standing next to Show. He tells ADR to stay in the ring, because if he doesn’t, Show will snap Ricardo like a piece of straw. He tells ADR that if ADR attacks him like that ever again, he will make ADR sorry he ever woke up that day. Show will hurt anyone and everyone who gets in his way. Ricardo falls to his knees, begging for mercy. Show pulls him back to his feet and says he’ll let him go, but not before connecting with a WMD. ADR runs to the back. Back to Ricardo, a referee is checking on him already. A trainer and ADR both show up as well. ADR is screaming for a doctor.
Tonight’s episode of SmackDown! is the final episode before the 26th annual Royal Rumble event.
This week’s episode starts off with WWE Tag Team Champions Team Hell No! making their way to the ring. In addition to defending their titles against The Rhodes Scholars at RR, they will both be in the Rumble match itself. We see some footage from Monday night’s hug fest ordered by Dr. Shelby. Back to SD!, Kane says they’ve come out to address the rumors that they’ve somehow gone soft because they’ve learned to channel their angle. Bryan says that isn’t true. Kane says that, for those that don’t believe them, just watch the PPV this Sunday. After they retain their tag titles, Kane is going on to win the Rumble and move onto Wrestlemania 29. Bryan agrees with Kane up until this point. Kane has been in 13 Rumble matches. In one of those matches, he eliminated 11 superstars. Bryan points out Kane has still never won one, which is exactly what Bryan is going to do this Sunday. The two begin arguing over who is going to win the match until The Big Show’s music hits. Show steps into the ring and says that no one cares about the champs. They each have a 1 in 30 chance of winning the Rumble, while he has a 100% chance of reclaiming the World title from Alberto Del Rio. The only plans the champs should be making are retirement plans. Bryan reminds Show that he beat him for the title in 2011. Show cuts him off to begin complaining about ADR stealing his title. This Sunday, he’s going to squish ADR like a bug, and if Team Hell No! doesn’t get out of his ring right now, he’ll squish both of them. Kane says they’re not bugs, big man. They ARE the Tag Team Champions, and they are not going anywhere. Bryan begins a “No!” chant.
The Rhodes Scholars make their way onto the stage. Sandow tells Team Hell No! they are making a critical error, putting the cart before the horse. Or, in their case, before the goat. They should be more concerned with their Tag Team title match this Sunday with the Scholars. Just as Goliath underestimated David, they are underestimating Team Rhodes Scholars. He can assure them that this Sunday, their destruction of the champs will be of biblical proportions. Rhodes says Sandow is wasting his breath, based on who they are talking to. Let him put this in a language simpletons can understand: at RR, they’re taking the Tag Team Championships. Sandow turns to Show and proposes an alliance. Seeing how by this time next week, the three of them will all be champions, how about they set an example for the entire WWE by decimating Team Hell No! post-haste. ADR’s music hits, and he is accompanied by Ricardo Rodriguez. He gets in the ring and sides with Team Hell No!, talking trash to Show. Booker T enters the arena and says he appreciates their passion to fight, because that’s what we do here. Having said that, let’s make this fight official. Tonight’s main event will be The Rhodes Scholars and The Big Show vs. Team Hell No! and Alberto Del Rio in a 6-man tag team match, and it will be contested under elimination rules. The Scholars bail from the ring as Show tries a cheap shot on ADR, but ADR trips him into the turnbuckles, and Show eventually bails.
Tonight, CM Punk will call out The Shield. We will also get comments from The Rock in regards to The Shield’s attack.
Up next, Sheamus takes on Wade Barrett. Thank you, WWE.
MATCH 1: Sheamus vs. Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett (non-title)
Barrett starts off with some strikes to the back, but Sheamus comes back with body shots. Sheamus blocks a hip toss and hits a short-arm clothesline for 2. More body shots in the corner, and Barrett rakes the eyes before hitting a dropkick for 1. Barrett stomps Sheamus down, but Sheamus kicks him away and begins driving some knees to the back. Barrett dodges a Brogue Kick by sliding to the floor. Barrett drags him to the floor, but Sheamus blocks some punches and slams Barrett’s head into the apron. Back in the ring, Sheamus goes for the forearms from the apron and connects with 2 before Barrett mule kicks him and lands a running boot, sending Sheamus to the floor. Commercials.
We’re back, and Barrett has a rear chinlock applied. Sheamus fights out before getting clotheslined to the floor. Sheamus makes it up, and Barrett chokes him over the top rope before hitting some knee strikes to the face. Sheamus drops him with a slingshot Battering Ram as Barrett is arguing with the referee. Sheamus hits a pair of Irish Hammers and a running shoulder thrust in the corner. Barrett blocks the running knee lift, but Sheamus regroups and sends Barrett to the floor. Sheamus goes for the forearms on the apron once more, connecting with all 10. Sheamus picks Barrett up on his shoulders from the apron and hits the rolling fireman’s carry slam for 2. Barrett blocks the Irish Curse and hits a mule kick to the gut. Sheamus dodges one to the face and gets a schoolboy for 2. Irish Curse connects for 2. Sheamus goes for the fireman’s carry once more, but Barrett slides out and shoves Sheamus to the floor. Sheamus lands on his feet on the apron and goes up top, but Barrett whips him down to the mat. Barrett lands a mule kick to the face for 2. Barrett mounts the middle buckle and goes for the elbow, but Sheamus counters and goes for the Irish Clover Leaf. Barrett counters this into a small package for 2. Sheamus breaks free and goes for White Noise, which connects. Brogue Kick is signaled, and it hits for 3.
WINNER: Sheamus. Great way to start the show. I’ve seen better matches out of these two, but this was still a damn fine old school brawl.
MATCH 2: Natalya (w/The Great Khali and Hornswoggle) vs. Rosa Mendes (w/Epico and Primo)
The tag teams are joining in on commentary for this one. Nattie starts with a hip throw, and Rosa counters into a headscissors. Nattie kips out and goes for a kick. Rosa blocks it, so Nattie rolls through, knocking Rosa down in the process, then applies a variation of the Indian Deathlock. Rosa regroups and applies a side headlock, then whips Nattie down by the hair for 2. Rosa applies a variation of the straightjacket, driving her knees into Nattie’s back. Nattie armdrags out and hits a discus clothesline for 2. Rosa counters a spinebuster with a sunset flip, but Nattie rolls through and goes for the Sharpshooter. Rosa makes it to the ropes before it can be applied, then drops Nattie with a clothesline. Rosa gets distracted by Hornswoggle dancing on the announce desk, which allows Nattie to roll her up and apply the Sharpshooter for the tap-out.
WWE Champion CM Punk and Paul Heyman make their way down to the ring. Punk says he’s scared, so frightened that he can’t sleep at night. What he’s afraid of is his own potential. 432 days as champion, and everything you see around you is all a surface he’s just begun to scratch at, and that keeps him up at night. One thing jeopardizes 432 days of unparalleled brilliance. One thing can make those days go up in smoke. It’s not The Rock. He’s breakable, and Punk will break him. He’s talking about The Shield. Because of them and their independent actions, a stipulation has been put in place for Sunday. Heyman has a letter from Vince McMahon, basically stating that if The Shield interfere in the championship match on Sunday, Punk will be stripped of the title. Back to Punk, he says that, because of The Shield, McMahon wants to swoop in and take what belongs to him, that being the title. No, McMahon wants to steal the title from him. Looks like the champ has a problem, but it will be fixed. He’s going to do something no one else has had the stones to do since day one: he wants The Shield out here right now. He knows they’re here. They’re going to have words, and Punk isn’t leaving until they get out here.
We see all three members of The Shield making their way to the ring through the crowd. Punk has a chair as they surround the ring. Punk says he can only explain himself in the simplest of ways. He never asked them to attack Rock or Ryback. He’s never asked them for anything. Understand him when he says stay out of his way. You three stand for justice and fight injustice? There would be no greater injustice in history if his historic title reign ended because of their interference. He promises to beat The Rock on Sunday, but it’s not just day 434 of his title reign; no, it’s the biggest victory of his career, and he’s going to do it by himself. He never asked for The Shield’s help. He doesn’t want it, because he doesn’t need it. If justice is what they stand for, then they never have to cross paths with Punk again. On this note, all three members jump back down from the ring aprons and leave through the crowd. Punk says that is how the champ takes care of business. He doesn’t whine or cry like everyone else. He tackles problems head-on, because he’s the best in the world. In two days, Punk has The Rock. Rock is “The Great One”, and Punk is the best in the world. When it comes to Punk, Rock is like everyone else in that he is inferior in comparison. Rock’s inferiority meets true greatness on Sunday, and Punk will prove he’s not only the best in the world, but the greatest of all time.
The Rock appears and stomps down to the ring. Punk taunts Rock with the belt. Rock says he’s putting an end to this garbage right now. His gut says Punk is a liar, and he’s working with The Shield. His heart says that, despite that, he doesn’t give a damn. Rock’s boot says it’s getting shoved straight up Punk’s candy ass. The walls are closing in, because what’s going to happen on Sunday is Punk is going to panic and crack. When that happens, Rock is going to hook him for the Rock Bottom. He is going to launch Punk in the air, and when he’s up there, time will stand still. His only thought at that moment, Punk’s only thought will be, “It’s over”. And Rock promises he will become WWE Champion and beat Punk, 1-2-3. It’s over. If you smell what The Rock is cookin’.
MATCH 3: Drew McIntyre (w/Jinder Mahal and Heath Slater) vs. Randy Orton
Drew fires off some kicks and punches, beating Orton down in the corner. Orton comes back with a clothesline, which is the beginning of the Four Moves of Boredom. Drew avoids the DDT, but gets hit with the 3.0. Orton goes for the suspended DDT once more, but Jinder Mahal runs interference, causing the referee to immediately ring the bell.
WINNER VIA DISQUALIFICATION: Randy Orton. As Mahal comes in with a running knee, Orton sidesteps him and hits the RKO. Drew gets hit with the suspended DDT. Slater runs in for a clothesline, but Orton ducks and hits the RKO on the rebound. RKO for Drew.
MATCH 4: Darren Young (w/Titus O’Neil) vs. The Miz
Antonio Cesaro is on color commentary for this match. Young starts with quick kicks and punches, rolling up Miz for 2. Young applies a rear chinlock, then breaks it to fire off more rights. Miz fires back, then throws Young to the corner for a beatdown. Hanging clothesline connects, as does a double axe handle from the top. Young counters the SKF by throwing Miz to the corner. Miz kicks him in the knee and face, then applies figure-4 for the submission victory.
WINNER: The Miz.
MATCH 5-6-Man Elimination Tag Team Match: World Champion Alberto Del Rio and WWE Tag Team Champions Team Hell No! (Daniel Bryan and Kane) (w/Ricardo Rodriguez) vs. The Rhodes Scholars (Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow) and The Big Show
Rhodes and ADR start the match, with Rhodes applying an arm wringer. ADR flips out and applies an armbar. Rhodes breaks free with punches and sends ADR into the corner. ADR blocks the charge, jumps to the middle rope and catches Rhodes from behind with a headscissors. Flapjack by ADR gets 2. He goes back to the armbar before Rhodes is able to escape and tag in Sandow. Bryan tags in, and Sandow hits him with a kneelift. Bryan comes back with No! Kicks to the chest in the corner. Kane tags in as Bryan hits a snapmare, and Kane nails a low dropkick for 2. Sandow beats Kane down with punches, but runs right into a chokeslam for 3.
Damien Sandow is eliminated.
Show comes in, and Kane hits a couple corner clotheslines, followed by a DDT off the ropes for 2. Kane goes up top and hits a clothesline before clotheslining Show to the floor. Outside, Show nails Kane with the WMD and gets back in the ring. Kane can’t make the count.
Kane is eliminated.
Rhodes tags in, and Bryan comes in for his team. Commercials.
Back from the break, Bryan elbows out of a side headlock before getting hit with a kitchen sink off the ropes for 2. Rhodes applies a modified surfboard stretch. Bryan kicks his way out, and the two collide while simultaneously going for cross-bodies. Show tags in and goes for the chokeslam, but Bryan breaks it with No! Kicks. Show throws him to the corner and goes for a spear, but Bryan dropkicks him in the knee. Bryan comes off the top, getting caught with an open-hand chop to the chest. Show lands the WMD, knocking Bryan to the floor. Bryan also can’t make the count.
Daniel Bryan is eliminated.
ADR runs in and begins kicking and punching Show. He runs right into a chokeslam, which sends him to the floor. The ref goes for the 10-count again, but ADR makes it in by 9. Show boots him back to the floor, then follows outside. Show headbutts him and throws him back in the ring. ADR nails some kicks as Show is coming back in the ring, then sends him to the floor with the step-up enziguri. Show doesn’t make the count.
The Big Show is eliminated.
Rhodes tries for a quick roll-up, getting 2. He starts stomping ADR down, but ADR manages to duck the Beautiful Disaster. ADR hits a clothesline, then another, then a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Thrust kick to the side of the head by ADR, but Rhodes kicks out at 2. Rhodes crawls to the corner, where ADR connects with the step-up enziguri for 3.
WINNERS: Alberto Del Rio and Team Hell No!, with ADR being the sole survivor. After the match, Show comes back down to the ring and nails ADR with a spear. Show clears the announce desk area a bit, then drags ADR over to the desk, where he connects with the WMD. He dumps the announce desk over ADR, then counts ADR out himself before declaring himself the new World Heavyweight Champion. To pour salt in the wound, he counts ADR out in Spanish.
A mariachi band opens up this week’s episode of SmackDown!, as we are getting a celebration for Alberto Del Rio’s title win last week, which Ricardo Rodriguez calls “Fiesta Del Rio”. In case you were unaware, The Big Show’s contract is apparently up soon, and he may not be re-signing, which is why he dropped the belt to ADR. The two have a rematch at the Rumble, but I’m not expecting Show to win back the belt. Instead, ADR will move onto a feud with Dolph Ziggler, who I am picking to win the Royal Rumble. Anyway, ADR makes his way into the ring and welcomes us to the fiesta before telling San Antonio it’s time to party. They haven’t always seen eye-to-eye, but everyone has to agree to celebrate that the fat jackass is no longer World Champion.
Dolph Ziggler, Big E. Langston and AJ Lee head down the ramp. AJ says they love a good party, and their invitations must’ve been lost in the mail. ADR says this is a party for him, Ricardo and all of their friends. Ziggler says it’s funny he thinks these are his friends, and it’s funny he thinks he holds the World title. He doesn’t. What he has is a giant target on his head. Ziggler is Mr. MITB, and ADR knows better than anyone what the contract means. Whenever Ziggler sees fit to cash it in, ADR will say “adios” to the championship. Ziggler then formally introduces ADR to Langston. ADR tells them to leave the ring right now. Ziggler says they will, but maybe first, Langston drops ADR where he stands, Ziggler cashes in and walks out as the new champion. ADR dares him to do so, but before that can happen, The Big Show heads down to the ring. Ziggler points out that ADR is outnumbered. Sheamus comes out on this note and tells “Ziggles” that he thought he’d help out with the numbers situation. Don’t be so mad; everyone knows Sheamus can’t resist a “Fiesta Del Rio”, especially when so many of his great friends are here. He didn’t come out to crash the party. He knows he and ADR have had their differences, beating each other black and blue. Last time, he even tried to steal ADR’s car. Seriously though, he came out here to congratulate ADR on an epic victory last week. He has no doubt in his mind that ADR deserves to be champion and it would be an honor to shake his hand. They have a peaceful handshake before Sheamus offers his services as a bouncer for this party. ADR doesn’t want anyone fighting, since this is a party. Well, maybe just a little bit.
The two sides have a stand-off before Booker T comes down to the ring. He says it’s not going down like this. Tonight, this is a party. This is a fiesta. If Show puts his hands on Book again, Book will ruin his day, sucka. That being said, there will be a fight tonight, and it will be Show/Ziggler vs. Sheamus/ADR in the main event. He then tells Show, Ziggler, AJ and Langston to leave, as they are not invited to the party. The four leave and the party continues. ADR asks for a Spinaroonie, and Book obliges. Sheamus starts to leave, but ADR calls him back into the ring, telling him he needs to be a little bit Mexican today. Sheamus says no one wants to see him dance. ADR disagrees, so Sheamus does a Mexican hat dance with the female dancer in the ring.
Later tonight, Orton and Team Hell No! take on Barrett and the Rhodes Scholars.
MATCH 1: WWE United States Champion Antonio Cesaro vs. Kofi Kingston
Why is Cesaro getting the jobber non-entrance? Anyway, Cesaro making fun of Ric Flair on Monday night was awesome. Lock-up to start, and Cesaro backs Kofi into the corner for some strikes. Kofi comes back with boots to the gut. Cesaro applies a side headlock and shoulders Kofi off the ropes. Crisscross ends with Cesaro sending Kofi throat-first into the middle rope. Miz is shown watching on a monitor in the back as Cesaro hits the deadlift gutwrench suplex for 2. Double stomp to the chest by Cesaro for another 2. Cesaro applies a modified cobra clutch, but Kofi breaks free and hits a double chop to the chest. Kofi reverses a back body drop into a sunset flip for 2. Cesaro counters a roll-up into one of his own with a handful of tights for 2. Kofi counters a clothesline with the SOS for 2. Kofi goes for a hurricanrana from the top, but Cesaro catches him and turns it into the Neutralizer for 3.
WINNER: Antonio Cesaro. Awesome finish in this match.
Back to Miz, he is stopped by Primo, Epico and Rosa Mendes. They make a joke about him and Ric Flair. They call Flair a great wrestler, while Miz only has catchphrases. Miz challenges one of the two to a match, and leaves it up to Rosa to make a decision who will face him.
MATCH 2: Tensai vs. The Great Khali (w/Natalya)
Tensai also gets a jobber non-entrance. Unlike Cesaro, however, Tensai isn’t going over. To anyone who read my column a while ago where I thought Tensai would go onto bigger things this time around, I am truly sorry about that. Granted, I’m not the only one who said it, but I still must apologize. Khali backs Tensai into the corner and hits an open-hand chop. Another chop in the adjacent corner. Tensai comes back with an uppercut and a corner clothesline. He beats Khali down in the corner, kneeing him in the face. Khali comes back with a boot to the face and a brain chop for 3.
WINNER: The Great Khali. God, that was pathetic.
Daniel Bryan is in the back, telling Kane he doesn’t understand why the Rhodes Scholars were brought into their therapy session. Speaking of bad ideas, Kane wants to know what is with the thing on Cody’s face. Bryan agrees, saying some people don’t realize when their facial hair gets ridiculous. Kane looks at Bryan and says, “Tell me about it.” Bryan wants to know what he meant by that, and they start a “Yes! No!” argument. The argument stops when Orton walks in. He asks if they’re going to act like 2nd graders or dish out some pain to their opponents. Kane says both. Bryan says they’re working through anger issues, something Orton knows about. They used to be like him, but thanks to Dr. Shelby, they’re not only in a better place, but they’re champions. Does Orton want to be champion? He says he does, and after he wins the Rumble…Bryan cuts him off and tells him to focus on one thing at a time. After they win their tag match, it’s time for a group hug. Orton isn’t much of a hugger, but Bryan says he will be.
MATCH 3: Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett and the Rhodes Scholars (Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow) vs. Randy Orton and WWE Tag Team Champions Team Hell No! (Daniel Bryan and Kane)
Orton and Rhodes start, with Orton firing off some rights. Kane tags in, hits a snapmare and a low dropkick for 2. Bryan in now, who hits a double axe handle to the arm from the top rope. Bryan with some No! Kicks to the chest, but he misses a Buzzsaw. Sandow tags in and Bryan immediately goes for the No! Lock. Sandow rolls to the outside before it can be applied. Commercials.
We’re back, and Kane is now the legal man for his team, getting stomped by Sandow. Rhodes tags in and fires off some shots before Sandow comes back in. Sandow hits a side-Russian legsweep and lands the Cubito Auquet for 1. Barrett tags in and fires off some punches to the gut in his corner. Kane fights his way out before running into the Winds of Change for 2. Rhodes in for the Beautiful Disaster, but he gets hit with an uppercut. Sandow tags in and knocks Bryan off the apron before getting hit with a back body drop by Kane. Orton tags in for the Four Moves of Boredom. Sandow escapes the DDT by dropping to the floor as Orton ducks a clothesline from Barrett, knocking him to the floor with a punch. Bryan takes Barrett out with a running knee from the apron. Back in the ring, Rhodes counters the RKO with Cross Rhodes. Sandow comes in for the pin, but Kane breaks it up at 2. He pushes Rhodes to the floor by the throat before Sandow dumps Kane. Sandow turns around into the RKO for the 3.
WINNERS: Randy Orton and Team Hell No!. After the match, Bryan calls for them to hug it out, b*tch, and Kane stops Orton from leaving the ring, calling for a hug himself. Kane and Bryan force a group hug on him as Orton is looking disgusted.
MATCH 4: The Miz vs. Primo (w/Epico and Rosa Mendes)
Lock-up, and Primo turns it into a side headlock. Primo shoulders him off the ropes, and Miz comes back with a back elbow off the crisscross. Back body drop by Miz, followed by a running knee. Primo comes back with a kitchen sink, and an elbow to the gut gets 1. Double stomp to the face, and a seated dropkick gets 2. Primo applies a rear chinlock with a bodyscissors, but Miz elbows out and tackles Primo. Primo comes back with a clothesline for 2. Jumping legdrop for another 2. Snap suplex for another 2 before Primo goes back to the rear chinlock. Miz fights out, and the two trade shots. Miz fires off some forearms in the corner. Primo counters a charge with a back elbow, but runs right into a flapjack. Miz counters a sunset flip with a boot to the face. Hanging clothesline connects, and Miz comes off the top with a double axe handle. Epico causes a distraction as Miz calls for the SKF, and Primo clips him in the knee. Primo signals for a figure-4, and Miz boots him off into Epico, sending Epico to the floor. Miz rolls Primo up in a schoolboy, then turns it into a figure-4. Primo taps.
WINNER: The Miz. If Miz is going to use the figure-4 as his new finisher, he needs to practice applying it quite a bit.
Layla and Alicia Fox are in the back, celebrating with new WWE Divas Champion, Kaitlyn, who won the belt in her hometown of Houston. Layla is holding the belt, and she has to be reminded to give it back. Booker T and Teddy Long walk up to congratulate, with Long being happy she made Eve Torres quit.
MATCH 5: Aksana vs. WWE Divas Champion Kaitlyn
Aksana backs Kaitlyn onto the ropes with a lock-up, giving her a clean break. Another lock-up, and Kaitlyn turns it into a waistlock takedown. She turns it into a suplex into a float-over for 2. Aksana kicks Kaitlyn in the head, causing her to roll to the apron. Kaitlyn goes up top, but Aksana pushes her to the floor. Back in the ring, Aksana gets 1 before dropping some elbows to the shoulder. Aksana applies a cravat before whipping Kaitlyn down by the hair for 1. Aksana applies a trapezius claw before taking Kaitlyn down with an arm wringer. She jumps on top of Kaitlyn, and the two now scrap on the mat. Aksana pops back up with a clothesline, then hits some knees in the corner. As Aksana is arguing with the referee, Kaitlyn comes back with a spear for 3.
Mick Foley is officially the first inductee into the WWE Hall of Fame, Class of 2013. Foley definitely deserves it.
We get a video message from The Shield. Attention WWE Universe, Sheamus, Ryback and Randy Orton. They are The Shield. They crashed Foley’s HOF announcement on Monday night. They spoiled the celebration in the name of justice. Foley may ignore all of the names sacrificed in order to be hardcore. Either way, they hold him accountable. Everyone is accountable. Ryback will never get back what he wants. Orton has 206 bones. They broke one. They’re just getting started. Sheamus likes to fight for fun; they fight for justice. Believe in The Shield. Nice to see some continuity for the attempted Ambrose/Foley angle from last year.
We see Sheamus and Orton watching this video on a monitor. Sheamus points out they talk big when no one can find them. Orton doesn’t find them funny, and he wasn’t laughing on Wednesday. Sheamus says he’s sorry he wasn’t there on Wednesday, but Orton tells him he doesn’t need his help. Sheamus says he’s right; he did just fine on Monday when they were beating Orton up. Orton says that funny, but at the Rumble, he needs the win, and he’ll get it. Sheamus always wants an answer. On that night, there won’t be one for Orton.
MATCH 6: The Big Show and Dolph Ziggler (w/Big E. Langston and AJ Lee) vs. Sheamus and World Champion Alberto Del Rio (w/Ricardo Rodriguez)
ADR has switched to a red scarf. Red=face, apparently. ADR and Ziggler start the match with a lock-up. They trade arm wringers and ADR goes into an armbar. Ziggler fights out and beats ADR down in the corner. ADR comes back with a bodyslam and goes for a middle rope moonsault. He misses, but lands on his feet and rolls through, hitting Ziggler with a flapjack and some kicks. Sheamus tags in and he stomps Ziggler down in the corner. Shoulder off the ropes by Sheamus, and Ziggler rolls to the apron. Sheamus gets him back in the ring with a delayed vertical suplex for 2. Ziggler fights out of a fireman’s carry and tags in Show, who clubs Sheamus down. He beats Sheamus down in the corner, then chokes him over the middle rope before shoving him to the floor. Outside, Langston tries to shove Sheamus into the ringpost, but Sheamus blocks it and punches Langston. The referee heads outside and ejects Langston as AJ throws a fit on the other side of the ring. She gets in and screams at the referee, so he ejects her as well. Commercials.
Back from the break, Ziggler and ADR are legal, and Ziggler has ADR in a rear chinlock with a bodyscissors. ADR fights out, ducks a clothesline and hits a bridging German suplex for 2. Sheamus gets the hot tag, hits a corner clothesline and a short-arm clothesline. Sheamus goes up top, but Show shoves him to the floor. Sheamus crawls back into the ring, and Ziggler tags in Show. Show hits a big elbow, then begins working over the left leg before hitting a bodyslam. Show stands on Sheamus’ back, then goes back to the leg with a legbar. Sheamus breaks the hold with forearms to the chest, but Show elbows him across the back before he can tag out. Show with some knee strikes, landing one to Sheamus’ face. Sheamus fights back, but runs into a one-arm sidewalk slam for 2. Show goes to the corner for the Vader Bomb, which connects for 2. Show goes up once more, but Sheamus rolls out of the way. ADR and Ziggler tag in, and ADR hits a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Thrust kick to the face gets 2. ADR applies the rolling jujigatame, not noticing that Ziggler had tagged out. Show breaks the hold with a legdrop. Sheamus comes in and hits Show with White Noise. He rolls to the apron, where ADR hits the step-up enziguri, knocking him to the floor. ADR dumps a bucket of water on Show, and Show simply walks away.
WINNERS VIA COUNT-OUT: Alberto Del Rio and Sheamus.
This week on WWE Friday Night SmackDown!, The Rock returns in his hometown of Miami, FL. This will be his first appearance on the show in 10 years. Also, Alberto Del Rio faces The Big Show for the World Championship.
In the arena, Lilian Garcia welcomes Smackdown! GM Booker T to the audience. Book has a major announcement in regards to tonight’s big title match, according to Josh Mathews. He welcomes us to the show, and promises we’ll kick of 2013 with a bang. He calls this past week’s RAW epic, and anything RAW can do, SD! can do better. Book isn’t taking a backseat to anyone, so here’s what’s going down. RAW gave us Dolph Ziggler vs. John Cena. Tonight, he’s giving us Antonio Cesaro vs. Randy Orton. RAW delivered “The Great One”, and tonight, after 10 years, the most electrifying man in sports entertainment is here. He then announces ADR vs. Show in a Last Man Standing Match for tonight, so there’s your big announcement.
Before Book can continue, Show storms out to the ring, sans music. He calls Book’s idea horrible and wants to know what his problem is. They quarrel in the ring for a moment until Show finally gets a mic. He’s not going to be fooled by Book. This is a personal vendetta against him. Is Book angry because Show is the champion, and Book is now a paper pusher? What’s wrong with him as champion? Why does Book have a problem? Book wants the crowd to embrace ADR here tonight because of the large Latino population in Miami. Book is hoping that, by making Show compete against ADR, the crowd will get behind him. ADR is not in his class, and there are no Latino heroes. He is the World Champion. There is no Irish hero, there is no Latino hero, there is no viper hero that’s going to stop him. Show knows what this is about. He steps in the ring and says that Book wants to give these inferior people a hero. That’s a bad idea, and he’s advising Book very strongly to make a good decision right now. Book needs to change his mind…
ADR’s music hits, and he hits the ring, nailing Show with several kicks and knocking him out of the ring with the step-up enziguri. Book holds ADR back in the ring as Show screams at him to bring it on.
We get a video clip of Rock retaining the WCW World title against Shawn Stasiak. Weird clip to show, since probably no one remembers this match.
MATCH 1: Randy Orton vs. WWE United States Champion Antonio Cesaro (non-title)
Cesaro does a cut-away promo, saying he takes advantages of opportunities America gives him, and as a result, he will enter the Royal Rumble and win the match. He says, “thank you”, and that he will proudly wave the U.S. flag. He then does a sarcastic, “U-S-A” chant, which makes me smile. Cesaro starts the match with an armbar into a hammerlock. Orton reverses into a side headlock, then knocks Cesaro down with a shoulderblock. Cesaro boots him, then hits some European uppercuts. Orton recovers and throws him to the floor, then hits him with a clothesline outside. Commercials.
We’re back, and Cesaro is in control with a cobra clutch. Orton fights out, but Cesaro drops him with a clothesline for 2. Deadlift gutwrench suplex by Cesaro gets another 2. In the corner, Cesaro fires off some body blows, hits a snapmare and goes back to a modified cobra clutch. Orton breaks free and counters a corner charge with an Oklahoma Roll for 2. Cesaro ducks a clothesline and hits a Michinoku Driver #2 for another 2-count. Orton comes back with the Four Moves of Boredom, but before he can hit the DDT, Cesaro blasts him with a Very European Uppercut for 2. Orton ducks a clothesline and hits the 3.0. Cesaro rolls to the apron, and Orton plants him with the suspended DDT. RKO is signaled, but before he can connect, the Shield hit the ring and triple team him.
WINNER VIA DISQUALIFICATION: Randy Orton. The attack by the Shield continues, culminating in a triple powerbomb.
Matt Striker is in the back with 3MB. They have announced they are in the Royal Rumble. Each guy takes their turn talking about the Rumble, and between them, Heath Slater’s mom says they have a 10% chance of winning the match. Drew McIntyre says they have an Irish tenor to tend to first, and Slater says they’ll beat Sheamus like an Irish drum. Josh Mathews asks JBL if they have a chance to win, and JBL has the line of the night by simply saying, “No”.
We get a video of CM Punk and Paul Heyman from the Sunlife Stadium, home of Wrestlemania 28 and the Miami Hurricanes. Everyone thinks that, based on what happened on RAW, Punk is going to ruin Rock’s homecoming tonight. That’s not true. Punk is actually a huge fan of Rock’s, especially his college career. Punk puts on a “JOHNSON” Hurricanes jersey, then says he’s a college football aficionado, so he wanted to come to where Rock played college ball. Only he never played in Sunlife Stadium, and played in the Orange Bowl. But, they tore down the Orange Bowl. The place where Rock lived his college glory days is gone. Same with the place he became a wrestling star. This is Punk’s house now, and we live in the CM Punk era. Rock doesn’t have a future in WWE as long as Punk is his opponent. WWE is heralding Rock’s return to Miami tonight, and Rock will stand in the ring and say that he’s finally come back to Miami. While Rock can come back to Miami, he can never go home.
Before the next match, Striker interviews ADR about what happened earlier tonight. He tells him the title match will be Last Man Standing. ADR calls Show the most insecure person in the world, attacking Ricardo Rodriguez and running down the Latino people. Tonight, he’s going to make sure Show gets a perfect picture of what “La Familia” means, and tonight, the last man standing will be the new World Champion.
MATCH 2-Mixed Tag Team Match: AJ Lee and Dolph Ziggler (w/Big E. Langston) vs. The Great Khali and Natalya (w/Hornswoggle)
AJ is wearing tall socks and knee-high Chuck Taylors, so I’m already a happy guy. The guys start, and Ziggler hits some shots before Khali drops him with a clothesline. Open-hand chop in the corner by Khali, followed by one in the opposite corner. Another clothesline by Khali, and he signals for the Punjabi Plunge. Ziggler tags out before it can happen, so now the women are legal. AJ skips around Khali for a moment, and as he goes to tag Nattie, she jumps on his back with a sleeper. Nattie yanks her off by the hair, then rams her head into the mat. Discus clothesline by Nattie before she goes for the Sharpshooter. AJ bites Nattie’s hand before she can turn the move over, so Nattie attacks her in the corner. AJ then bites her in the ear and hits a Sliced Bread #2 for the 3.
WINNER: AJ Lee and Dolph Ziggler. Langston comes in and levels Khali with an avalanche, and Ziggler hits him with a rocker dropper. Hornswoggle comes into the ring, and Langston drops him with Sudden Impact. Okay, he earned some points with me for that. He still sucks, but anyone who beats up Hornswoggle must have some redeeming qualities somewhere.
Another video from Punk and Heyman. Punk says that, on Monday night, Rock told him, “Time’s up” in a reference to him being champion. Rock has convinced himself he can beat Punk, like he’s a superhero who is going to save the people. The people can rot in hell. THAT is what the people deserve. He’s the best in the world. He’s better than the people, and better than Rock. Heyman says Rock isn’t as talented as Punk, but that’s because Punk is the best in the world. The people’s vision is that Rock is the conquering hero, that he’ll beat up the bad guy and ride into ‘Mania as champion. Punk has made a career of stomping out dreams, and he doesn’t share the people’s vision. In the era of Punk, it doesn’t matter what Rock’s vision is. Punk takes off the jersey and throws it on the ground of the field.
Another video for The Rock. This time, it’s a montage of the Rock ‘n’ Sock Connection days. God, were they funny together.
The Rock makes his way out to the ring, and he actually looks a little choked up by the response from the crowd. After a couple a minutes, Rock does his “come back…home” bit. This is a special show, and a special night. Rock wants to introduce someone, and that is Miami’s own Flo Rida, who is sitting in the crowd. Not only is he back tonight, he’s back on a show that was named after him. He’s excited to come to his home city, and wants to continue what he did on Monday. You can imagine how disappointed he was that CM Punk decided not to show up as a result. Punk wants to run down his hometown, so he has to make something clear. He talks about being a part of the Hurricanes in college, listing off all his accolades there, saying everything he’s ever accomplished started here in Miami. Home is not just being here on Smackdown!; home is the Royal Rumble, where he kicks Punk’s “cookie-puss” ass and becomes WWE Champion. Since Punk didn’t want to come have fun, Rock is going to have fun on his own.
Before this goes further, the Rhodes Scholars head down to the ring. Damien Sandow asks to beg Rock’s indulgence for one moment. His name is Damien Sandow, and he is the intellectual savior of the unwashed masses. This is his tag team partner and best friend, the essence of mustachioed magnificence, Cody Rhodes. They are out here not only to help Rock, but to correct him. Rhodes tells Rock he is not to become champion; they are. They beat Team Hell No! on Monday and will become tag champs. All things considered, these two don’t think Rock deserves this time, and they do. He has a suggestion-get out of the ring before he doesn’t have a choice. Rock says these two have the nerve to get in the people’s ring, calls Rhodes’ mustache a dead caterpillar on his lip, dressed like this? That takes a lot of guts. Sweet tap-dancing Jesus, what is on Rhodes’ face? Rhodes says he’s an adult, and if he wants to grow a mustache, he’ll grow a mustache! Sandow offers a wager. Recently, Sandow has embarked on a futile quest to hire an apprentice. He has asked members of the audience to answer three questions correctly. Not surprisingly, he hasn’t found one who has been able to do so. Seeing as Rock is the “people’s champ”, let’s see if he can do what they couldn’t. You answer three questions correctly, and you get to stay. You don’t, you leave. Rock tells him to just bring it. Rhodes doesn’t think he can answer the questions, since he went to Miami. Question #1: Who was the 19th President of the United States? Rock answers with, “Rutherford B. Hayes, bitch!” He gets it right, and Rock says Sandow looks like Abe Lincoln got busy with a gremlin. Question #2: What film won the Academy Award for best picture in 1993? Rock correctly answers Schindler’s List, then calls Rhodes a Craigslist stalker. Question #3: …before Sandow can ask, Rock has a question for Sandow. Since he was so nice to interrupt Rock in his hometown, he has a question, and if he gets it right, he gets a nice prize from Rock and Miami. The question is, what happens when you combine a geological aggregate of minerals with its lowest form? Sandow answers “rock bottom”, and Rock says he’s correct before hitting him with a Rock Bottom. Rhodes charges at Rock, and runs into a spinebuster, followed by the People’s Elbow.
MATCH 3-3-on-1 Handicap Match: 3MB (Jinder Mahal, Drew McIntyre and Heath Slater) vs. Sheamus
Slater starts the match for 3MB, and immediately rolls to the floor. He runs back in and gets dropped with a Brogue Kick for 3.
WINNER: Sheamus. Yes, that’s literally all of the action that took place in this match.
MATCH 4: The Prime-Time Players (Titus O’Neil and Darren Young) vs. WWE Tag Team Champions Team Hell No! (Daniel Bryan and Kane) (non-title)
Young and Bryan start the match, and Young immediately attacks the bad knee before firing off some rights. Bryan hits an elbow and mounts the middle buckle, but Young whips him down by the leg. Titus in, and he stomps Bryan down before hitting his weird gutwrench throw. Bryan counters a 3-point stance with a pair of boots and tags in Kane as Titus tags in Young. Kane hits some rights on both heels, hits a corner clothesline on Young and a sidewalk slam for 2. Young hits a hotshot from the apron and goes up top, getting nailed with an uppercut in the process. He goes for a double chokeslam on PTP, but they boot him in the gut and send him into the corner. Kane puts on the brakes as Bryan comes off the top with a double knee strike. Kane hits the chokeslam on Young and gets the 3.
WINNERS: Team Hell No!
The main event is up next.
MATCH 5-Last Man Standing Match for the World Championship: The Big Show (Champion) vs. Alberto Del Rio (w/Ricardo Rodriguez)
ADR starts off with strikes, but Show shoves him down and hits a chop to the chest. ADR tries more strikes, but he’s clubbed across the back. Show hits a bodyslam, and the 10-count starts. ADR gets back up before the count and hits a mule kick to the gut. More strikes by ADR, but Show headbutts him down. He sets ADR against the ropes for another chop, hitting a series of them. Outside, Show pulls out a table and sets it up. He drags ADR to the floor, then bodyslams him through the table. 10-count starts again, and ADR is up at 7. Show headbutts him again, then grabs a chair. Back in the ring, ADR kicks Show, then nails him with the chair. More chair shots before ADR goes for the rolling jujigatame. Show blocks it and picks ADR up, dumping him to the floor. However, ADR keeps the hold on over the top rope until Show picks him up once more and drops him on the apron, sending ADR to the floor. Count starts again, and ADR makes it up at 8. Commercials.
Back from the break, ADR is kicking Show on the outside. He sends Show shoulder-first into the ring post, but Show comes back and rolls ADR back in the ring. Show pulls out another table from under the ring and slides it in. Show gets back in and begins to set the table up in the corner until ADR forearms him from the behind. ADR with some headbutts, and he manages to knock Show backwards through the table. Show is up at 7 ½, so ADR jumps on his back and attempts a sleeper. Show is trying to block it, but is starting to fade. ADR turns it into a chokehold, and Show manages to snap him off. ADR hits a thrust kick to the face, then hits several other strikes. Show blocks a clothesline and sends ADR to the corner, but ADR gets his boots up on the charge. ADR comes off the middle rope, but jumps right into a chokeslam. Referee counts, and ADR breaks it at 9. Show sends him to the floor with a headbutt, and Show follows him out, spearing him through the barricade. Another 10-count is started, and ADR breaks it at 9 once more. Show rolls him back in the ring and calls for the WMD, which connects. The ref counts once more, and ADR rolls to the floor onto his feet, breaking it at 9. Ricardo tries to wake him with some water as Show pulls the steps apart. He charges in, but ADR dropkicks him in the knee, sending the steps into the post and Show’s face simultaneously. ADR picks up the steps and hits Show in the shoulder, then does it again. Once more, and Show finally hits the ground, landing behind the announce desk. ADR turns the desk over on top of Show, pinning him down. The ref begins counting both, but ADR makes it back to his feet before 10. Show, however, doesn’t, and this match is over.
WINNER AND NEW WORLD CHAMPION: Alberto Del Rio. ADR and Ricardo celebrate in the crowd as the show goes off the air.
End of show.
So-so show tonight. The bulk of the show was one-sided matches that were very short, but the Rock/Scholars segment was fun, and the main event was enjoyable.
Welcome to the first WWE Friday Night SmackDown! of 2013. We’re in Richmond, VA, and the show is opening with the returning Randy Orton. I had forgotten he was even gone. Those were good times. Since tonight is the first SD! of ’13, and since it seems to be the “in” thing to do to declare your resolutions, he’s going to make this short and sweet: he wants to be World Heavyweight Champion. SD! was his show, but lately that doesn’t seem to be the case. He’s got a way to change that. Tonight, he officially announces his entry into the 2013 Royal Rumble. On this note, Sheamus’ music hits, and he joins Orton in the ring. He apologizes for interrupting, fella. He’s not here to steal any thunder; he’s here to do the same thing as Orton. He also wants to be champ, so he’s declaring that he will also enter the Royal Rumble. That’s not the only reason he’s out here. He thanks Orton for helping him out with The Shield on Monday. Orton didn’t do it for him; he did it for himself. At the Rumble, it will be about Orton, not Sheamus. Sheamus knows how the Rumble works, as he won it last year. Orton remembers, and that’s why it’ll be special when he eliminates Sheamus. Sheamus asks if he Brogue Kicks his head over the ropes and Orton’s body stays in the ring, does that count as an elimination?
Time for the World Champion to join the fray, as The Big Show makes his way out, only he stops on the stage. He’s been listening to these two yap about winning the Rumble and winning the title. They might get a chance at the belt by winning the Rumble, but if they somehow survive, all they’re getting a shot at is the WMD. Sheamus, your 2013 is going to end up like 2012, and end with him Show knocking him out. As for Orton, he’s happy to step on a snake and grind it into the ground. He’s the world’s largest athlete and the most dominant champion WWE’s ever seen. WWE United States Champion Antonio Cesaro comes out and says these guys are typical Americans, fighting about who will beat up who. Sheamus points out he’s from Ireland. Cesaro calls that worse. Where he comes from, Switzerland, they don’t just talk; they take action. For months, he’s been talking about obese, lazy Americans, something Show should realize when he looks in the mirror, but doesn’t. Orton threatens to RKO both Cesaro and Show.
Smackdown! GM Booker T now joins Cesaro and Show on the stage. It’s obvious to him that these four don’t like each other, but tonight, they’ll need to get along, because Show is teaming with Cesaro against Sheamus and Orton. Tonight, we’re going to kick the new year off with a bang. Now, can you dig that, sucka?
Later tonight, IC Champion defends his title against former champion Kofi Kingston.
MATCH 1: The Miz vs. Heath Slater (w/Drew McIntyre and Jinder Mahal)
JBL calls 3MB “The air guitar version of the Spirit Squad”. Great line. Lock-up to start, and Slater immediately goes into a waistlock. Miz breaks it with an arm wringer into a hammerlock. Slater elbows out before running into a dropkick. Miz takes Slater down with a hip throw into a side headlock. Slater breaks free, so Miz hits another one. Slater gets a corner break and fires off some rights. Miz comes back with lefts, hits a hip toss and another hip throw. Slater counters into a side headlock, so Miz yanks him down by the hair. Mahal causes a distraction, so the ref orders him to get down. Miz thumbs Slater in the eye behind the ref’s back, then hits another hip throw. Miz hits a shoulder off the ropes, and Slater goes for a hip toss off the crisscross, but Miz blocks it and hits his own. Miz drops Slater with a running knee, so McIntyre trips him up. Miz dropkicks him through the ropes, knocking him down. He also knocks Mahal off the apron with a left hand. Slater uses the distraction to land a forearm to Miz’s face. Meanwhile, the ref ejects both Mahal and McIntyre. Miz rolls Slater up in a schoolboy for 2. Slater rolls to the floor as we go to commercials.
Back from the break, Slater is in control with rights in the corner. He boots Miz down before Miz comes back with a double-leg takedown and mounted punches. Slater avoids a punch off the ropes and rolls to the floor. Miz goes out and shoves him into the post. He drops Slater across the barricade before the match returns to the ring. Slater kicks Miz in the leg, then sends him shoulder-first into the post. Slater begins dropping elbows on the left arm, then forces Miz into the mat with a hammerlock. Miz fights out, but Slater snaps him to the mat with an arm wringer for 2. Slater applies a keylock, but Miz escapes and rolls Slater up with a sunset flip for 2. Slater pops up and hits a nice jumping side kick for 2. Miz rolls to the apron, where Slater hotshots his arm across the middle rope. Miz slides under the legs and pulls Slater down into another sunset flip for 2, but Slater is up quickly and lands a clothesline for 2. Miz comes back with a kitchen sink and follows up with a low running boot for 2. Slater sends Miz back to the corner, shoulder-first, then knee-chokes him. Slater goes to the outside and wraps Miz’s arm against the ring post before going back to the keylock in the ring. Miz breaks the hold with a back suplex. They trade punches from the knees, but Miz gets the best of it. He lands a back elbow and a clothesline, followed by a back body drop. Slater counters the Reality Check and hits a neckbreaker out of the corner for 2. Miz sidesteps a charge and hits the hanging clothesline. Up top, double axe handle connects. Miz calls for the SKF, hits it, and gets the 3.
WINNER: The Miz. Considering the two in this match, it was actually pretty good.
Matt Striker is standing by with new IC Champion Wade Barrett. Barrett cuts Striker off and says it’s simple: Wade Barrett is the new IC Champion. That’s not good enough for media-types, because they need a scandal to tear him down, just like everyone else. If Striker wants a scandal, look at Main Event when Kofi attacked him from behind after he defeated 3 superstars. Tonight, he beats Kofi again, and after that, he’s out of chances. Do what you want, because after tonight, Barrett walks away IC Champion.
MATCH 2-6-Person Tag Team Match: The Great Khali, Hornswoggle and Natalya vs. Epico, Rosa Mendes and Primo
Sorry, Eric, but I’m standing by my refusal to recap Hornswoggle matches. Khali is starting to develop a nice spare tire, BTW. Khali pins Epico following a brain chop.
WINNERS: The Great Khali, Hornswoggle and Natalya.
Striker is in the back with Kofi Kingston. He reminds Kofi of his title loss and pinning Barrett in a gauntlet match on Main Event. He asks about Kofi’s momentum. Kofi says it has nothing to do with that. This might be his last shot at the IC title, but this isn’t anything new. He always comes up fighting, and tonight will be no different as he becomes champion once again. Barrett can say he’s running out of option, but Barrett will be running into Trouble in Paradise.
Kofi Kingston video package.
MATCH 3-Intercontinental Championship: Kofi Kingston vs. Wade Barrett (Champion)
Lock-up, and Kofi backs Barrett into the corner. Clean break is given, and Kofi goes into a waste lock. Barrett rolls him off, and Kofi counters into a headscissors. Back up, Barrett boots Kofi in the gut, then begin punching him. Kofi comes back with some kicks, then turns an armbar into a pin for 1. Kofi holds on, so Barrett shoves him off and shoulders him off the ropes. Crisscross ends in a Kofi spinning back elbow. Kofi sends Barrett to the floor, then follows out and attacks from behind, slamming Barrett into the steps. Back in, Kofi hits a springboard clothesline for 2. Kofi applies an inverted chinlock, then turns it into an armbar. Barrett fights him off before sending Kofi hard into the corner. Barrett hits some punches to the ribs, then drops Kofi with a short-arm clothesline for 1. Barrett applies a rear chinlock, but Kofi fights out and rolls Barrett up with a backslide for 2. Sunset flip by Kofi for 2, followed by an inside cradle for 2. Barrett boots him in the gut and goes for a clothesline to the floor, but Kofi low bridges him. Kofi levels him with a slingshot plancha. Barrett fires back and throws Kofi into the ring. Barrett starts to get back in the ring, but decides to take the count-out. Kofi interrupts the count and kicks Barrett in the gut. Kofi throws Barrett in at 9 while simultaneously rolling himself in. He ducks a clothesline and gets a nice roll-up on Barrett for 2. Commercials.
We’re back, and Barrett drops Kofi before applying a rear chinlock. Kofi fights out, but Barrett kitchen sinks him, then hits a middle rope elbow for 2. Barrett ties Kofi up in the ropes for some knee strikes, then drops him to the floor with a running boot. Kofi makes it back in at 9, and Barrett cuts him off with a boot and some punches. He drops Kofi across the top buckle, setting up for a superplex. Kofi blocks and knocks him down with a headbutt. Pumping cross-body by Kofi gets 2. Barrett is up first, and he fires off some punches. They trade blows until Barrett throws Kofi to the corner. Kofi hits the Pendulum, but misses a springboard clothesline. He blocks the mule kick and ducks a clothesline, hitting the SOS for 2. Kofi with a running boot, and the Boom Drop connects. Kofi calls for TIP, but Barrett ducks and goes for the Winds of Change. Kofi counters into a sunset flip, getting 2. Barrett immediately stacks Kofi up, getting 2 himself. He hits the Winds of Change on the second try, getting another 2. Kofi ducks a clothesline and hits TIP, but Barrett falls out to the floor before Kofi can make the pin. Kofi rolls him back in for the pin, but Barrett gets a rope break on 2. Kofi props him in the counter, where Barrett boots him off a charge. He calls for the Bull Hammer, but Kofi ducks and goes to the second rope. He dives off, right into the Bull Hammer for 3.
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: Wade Barrett. Awesome match. I love it when these two wrestle. And damn, did Barrett nail Kofi in the face. Doesn’t hurt that Kofi sold the living piss out of it, either. I like the Bull Hammer as a finisher more than I thought I would.
MATCH 4: Layla vs. Tamina Snuka
Glad to see Tamina finally getting somewhat of a push. Lock-up ends in a clean break on the ropes. Tamina stares Layla down before shoving her to the floor through the ropes. Outside, Tamina rams Layla into the barricade before throwing her back in the ring. Layla rolls her up for 2, but Tamina is back up and hits a clothesline for 2. Tamina applies a rear chinlock as Layla needlessly does the splits. Tamina hits some forearms to the chest for 2. Layla gets up and hits some kicks, and hits a horrible dropkick to the side. Roundhouse connects before Layla goes for the LOL (Lots of Layla. Yes, that is really the move, and yes, that’s what it really stands for. Ugh.), but Tamina catches her, throws her on her shoulders and hits a Samoan drop. Up top, Tamina connects with the Superfly Splash for 3.
WINNER: Tamina Snuka.
We find out that, on this past Wednesday night on Main Event, WWE Champion CM Punk was announced as being cleared to wrestle, which means he will defend his title this Monday night against Ryback in a TLC Match. Also on Monday night, The Rock makes his return to build to his match with Punk at the Royal Rumble. Yes, Punk will be retaining Monday night.
MATCH 5: World Champion The Big Show and WWE United States Champion Antonio Cesaro vs. Randy Orton and Sheamus
Funny that Show is the main champion of the show, but is the first one out. Cesaro and Sheamus start the match with a lock-up, with Cesaro turning it into a side headlock. Sheamus shoves him off, and Cesaro shoulders Sheamus down. Sheamus with a side headlock now, and he does the shoulder off the ropes this time. Orton tags in, and he hits a European uppercut and a slingshot suplex for 2. Orton punches Cesaro in the corner, but Cesaro turns things around and stomps Orton down. Orton comes back out of the opposite corner with a clothesline before tagging in Sheamus. Sheamus beats Cesaro down in the corner, but Cesaro elbows out off a corner charge, then hits a clothesline. Sheamus comes back with rights and a shoulderblock. Orton back in, and he hits some corner punches. European uppercut by Orton, and Sheamus tags back in. Cesaro blocks a suplex with some kneelifts before tagging in Show. Show headbutts Sheamus down, then fires off some body blows. He goes after Orton, but Orton jumps to the floor. Sheamus comes back with a boot to the gut and a kneelift, and the faces clothesline Show to the floor. Commercials.
We’re back, and Cesaro is now the legal man for his team. Sheamus back drops Cesaro to the floor out of the corner, but Cesaro lands on his feet on the apron. Sheamus forearms him before hitting the forearms across the chest. Suplex back in by Sheamus gets 2. Cesaro hits a jawbreaker, and Show makes the blind tag, hitting a spear on Sheamus. Show sends Sheamus hard into the corner, then stands on his chest. Show hits a bodyslam and a running elbow for 2 as Cesaro is barking orders from the apron. Back to the corner, Show fires off more body blows. Sheamus fires off some rights, backing Show into the opposite corner. Show reverses things and goes for a hip bump, but misses. Sheamus begins kicking him in the knee, but runs right into a chokeslam for 2. He calls for the WMD, but Sheamus ducks and lands the Brogue Kick. Cesaro and Orton tag in, and Orton hits the Four Moves of Boredom. Cesaro blocks #4, however, and back drops Orton to the floor. Orton lands on the apron, hot shots Cesaro, and as he’s coming back in, Sheamus tags himself back into the match. Sheamus hits two Irish Hammers, a shoulderblock in the corner and a running kneelift. White Noise connects as Orton is being pissy on the outside. Sheamus calls for the Brogue Kick, but Orton comes in and hits Cesaro with an RKO before rolling back to the floor. Sheamus gets the pin, but isn’t happy about it.
WINNERS: Randy Orton and Sheamus.
End of show.
Great IC title match tonight, nice continued push for Tamina, and it was good seeing Cesaro in the main event, who didn’t look out of place at all. Rumor has it WWE Creative is big on Cesaro and he will be a bona fide main eventer by the end of the year, so hopefully, this was a sign of things to come.
This week’s WWE SmackDown! is the final episode of the year, and something tells me it will be mostly a throw-away show, if it’s anything like the Christmas Eve episode of RAW this past Monday.
We kick things off with Sheamus making his way out. First off, Sheamus hopes everyone had a merry Christmas. He had a great time. It’s a special time of year for him. He drank gallons of eggnog-flavored ale. He got a bunch of ugly sweaters and ties, and of course, he got a year’s supply of sunscreen from his ma. The greatest present, though, was when he defeated The Big Show in the Lumberjack Frost Match on Monday. He’s going to make a new year’s resolution right now, and that is to become the new World Champion. The new year is too far away, though, and the old saying goes there’s no time like the present. Show, he’s calling you out, fella, for tonight, in a match for the World Champion. If you thought the beating on Monday was bad, fella, wait until you see what he does to you in the ring tonight. Show heads down to the ring and has a question for Sheamus: does he look like Santa Claus? “Yes!” chants from the crowd on this note. Sheamus agrees, but says Show is way fatter. Show calls that remark cute and tells Sheamus to go into stand-up, and his likelihood of being successful at that is about the same as getting another shot at the title. Sheamus must have a pathetic case of denial. Show has beaten him twice when it counted. As for RAW, Show was in Christmas Vacation mode. The title wasn’t on the line, so that victory didn’t count. Sheamus always comes up short when it counts, and he can’t tell Show when he’ll defend his title again, or against who. Sheamus calls him a coward, and even though the title wasn’t on the line on Monday, his pride was. Show says he’s not afraid of anything. Sheamus says he came here to fight for the title tonight, and if he can’t get the title, he’s still gonna get a fight.
General Manager Booker T comes out and tells Sheamus that Show is right. Show beat him at TLC, however, Sheamus also beat Show on Monday night. Show knows where this is going, and he’s not having any part of it. He’s done with Sheamus, and Sheamus isn’t worthy of another title match. There isn’t one single athlete on Smackdown! who is worthy of a title match. Whenever he walks through that locker room, it reeks of inferiority. Book is sorry Show feels that way, but he will be in action tonight. He’s been working on this match all week. Book is going to bring out every WWE superstar that’s here tonight, and he’s going to put everyone’s name in a tumbler, including Sheamus. Whoever’s name is chosen will face Show tonight for the World title. Teddy Long and Eve Torres lead all of the superstars out onto the stage. Show calls this whole thing ridiculous. It’s not a lottery to see who gets a shot at the title; it’s a lottery to see who gets knocked out. Book says we’re going to find out the winner right now. Teddy and Eve fight over who is going to draw the name, and Eve knocks the tumbler off the table. Book decides he’ll draw the name himself, and the winner is…Santino Marella. Show immediately starts laughing, while Santino celebrates his opportunity. Show walks up the ramp and gets in Santino’s face, then laughs some more before heading to the back.
MATCH 1: Primo (w/Epico and Rosa Mendes) vs. Brodus Clay (w/The Funkadactyls-Cameron and Naomi)
Primo immediately attacks the right leg of Clay. Clay comes back with strikes, then hits a front powerslam. He drops Primo with the headbutt, and hits Aw, Funk It for the 3.
WINNER: Brodus Clay. Rosa gets in Clay’s face after the match, so the Funkadactyls hit her with a double suplex and double suicide. Some kids from the audience join in on the dancing afterwards.
Sheamus and Santino are in the locker room, and Sheamus is trying to help Santino with tonight’s match. Santino calls Sheamus the master and tells him to paint a masterpiece on him. Sheamus talks about the Brogue Kick, and Santino wants to learn it. With the Cobra and the Brogue Kick, it’s guaranteed Sheamus will never be champion again. Sheamus shows him how to do it, and Santino ends up injuring his hamstring.
MATCH 2: Wade Barrett and The Rhodes Scholars (Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow) vs. Intercontinental Champion Kofi Kingston and WWE Tag Team Champions Team Hell No! (Daniel Bryan and Kane)
Bryan and Rhodes start the match. Bryan applies a hammerlock, and Rhodes breaks free. Bryan hits him with a kick to the chest, followed by a slingshot into Kane’s boot. Apparently Kane tagged in, and he gets 1. He misses a clothesline in the corner, and Rhodes tags in Sandow. Sandow with punches and kicks, but he gets sent into the corner and hit with a sidewalk slam for 2. Kofi tags in, and he hits a double axe handle to the arm from the top. Sandow drops Kofi before tagging Rhodes in, and he gets a shot in before tagging in Barrett. Kofi counters a bodyslam with a side headlock. Barrett shoves him off and hits a shoulderblock, and the crisscross ends with a spinning back elbow from Kofi. Kofi hits a dropkick for 2. He applies a front chancery, but Barrett shoves him off. Kofi ducks a clothesline and goes for TIP, but Barrett sees it coming and backs off. We get a stand-off between the two teams as we go to commercials.
Video package for Wade Barrett.
We’re back, and the Rhodes Scholars hit a wishbone on Bryan. Sandow is legal, and he hits a side-Russian legsweep, followed by the Cubito Auquet for 2. Barrett back in, and he traps Bryan in the ropes for some kneelifts. Barrett sends Bryan to the apron with a running boot, then pulls him back in for 2. Barrett applies a camel clutch, and Bryan fights out with elbows. Barrett rebounds and sends Bryan hard into the corner. Rhodes in, and he stomps Bryan down. Snapmare by Rhodes, and he turns it into a rear chinlock, combined with an armbar. Bryan punches out of the hold and manages to hot shot Rhodes into the turnbuckles. Barrett and Kofi tag in, and Kofi immediately hits a springboard clothesline. He ducks a boot and takes Barrett down with some punches. Barrett sends Kofi into the buckles, but Kofi dodges the charge and hits the Pendulum. Pumping cross-body from the top gets 2 until the Scholars break it up. Kane takes them both to the floor, where they rebound and ram Kane into the barricade. Bryan quickly joins the fight and takes Sandow down, but turns around into the Beautiful Disaster from the apron by Rhodes. In the ring, Kofi counters the Bullhammer with a roll-up, but breaks it when he sees Rhodes coming in. He blasts Rhodes with Trouble in Paradise, but immediately gets nailed with the Bullhammer for 3.
WINNERS: Wade Barrett and the Rhodes Scholars.
We are informed that Santino will not be able to compete tonight due to a pulled hamstring. This segues into Booker T and Big Show in Book’s office. Show thinks he has the night off now that Santino is injured, but Book isn’t having that. He promised a title match tonight, and there will be one. He says they’re going to spin the tumbler again, and select a new name for the title match. Teddy Long pushes the tumbler in, and Show & Book continue to argue. Moments later, Teddy brings Ricardo Rodriguez in, and Book says this is his new challenger. Show laughs at him, puts the belt on Ricardo’s shoulder and begins berating him. He asks Ricardo to announce himself as champion. Ricardo starts to do the announcement, but Show knocks him out with the WMD. Guess Ricardo’s out for the evening, too.
MATCH 3: Zack Ryder vs. WWE United States Champion Antonio Cesaro (non-title)
Lock-up to start the match, and Cesaro backs Ryder into the corner. Cesaro hits a suplex for 1 before applying a rear chinlock. Ryder fights out, but Cesaro drops him with a gut shot before stomping him down. Cesaro hits the deadlift gutwrench suplex for 2. He fires off some gut shots in the corner, but Ryder comes back with rights. Cesaro quickly drops him and hits a double stomp for 2. Cesaro applies a waistlock, trying to wear Ryder down. Ryder breaks free and hits a facebuster. Middle rope dropkick connects, and Ryder follows up with the forearm shot in the corner and the Broski Boot. He misses the boot, however, and Cesaro blasts him with a European uppercut to the back of the head. Neutralizer connects and gets the 3.
WINNER: Antonio Cesaro.
MATCH 4: The Miz vs. Dolph Ziggler (w/Big E. Langston and AJ Lee)
Miz starts with a side headlock and follows up with a hip throw. Miz shoulders Ziggler off the ropes, then hits another hip throw. Armdrag and another hip throw. Ziggler counters with a top wristlock before punching Miz down. Ziggler applies a side headlock, then shoulders Miz down off the ropes. Crisscross ends in a flapjack by Miz. Miz sends Ziggler over the top rope, but he’s caught by Langston. Back in the ring, Ziggler boots Miz in the gut, then hits a snapmare and jumping elbow for 2. Rear chinlock is applied, and he turns it into a modified abdominal stretch. Miz snaps Ziggler off, takes him down and fires off some punches. Up top, Miz goes for an axe handle, but Ziggler meets him with a dropkick. Commercials.
Back from the break, Ziggler gets 2. He goes back to the rear chinlock, and Miz elbows out. Ziggler cuts him off, but Miz quickly hits a back suplex. They trade shots until Miz drops Ziggler in mid-air off a lift. Reality Check connects, getting 2. Ziggler goes for the sleeper, but Miz fights him off and hits the snap DDT for 2. Ziggler ducks a running boot and rolls Miz up for 2. Miz sends Ziggler into the corner and connects with the hanging clothesline. Up top, Miz connects with a double axe handle. He blows a kiss at AJ and signals for the SKF, but AJ immediately sends Langston into the ring. Langston gets in Miz’s face from the steps, and Ziggler quickly hits the Zig Zag for the 3.
WINNER: Dolph Ziggler. After the match, Miz tells AJ that, no matter which superstar she’s with on New Year’s Eve, they all know that night will end with a bang. Happy new year, sweetheart. Ziggler charges back to the ring, where Miz pops up and nails him with a microphone. Miz manages to knock Ziggler down to the floor, and Langston hits the ring, drops Miz with a standing avalanche with what I guess is now called Sudden Impact. Better name than the Big Ending, but the move itself still sucks.
We see a doctor checking on Ricardo Rodriguez. The doctor says he’ll be okay, but can’t compete. Booker T is trying to get some answers until Brad Maddox enters the room. He asks for one more shot, but Book isn’t listening. Maddox still bothers him, so Book agrees to it, saying this is his last chance. His match is up next, so he needs to get out of here. Alberto Del Rio enters the room to check on Ricardo, then tells Book that the moment he sees Big Show, he’ll look like a giant piñata, and ADR will open him up. Book has a better idea: ADR vs. Show for the title tonight. ADR likes that idea, then tells Ricardo the match is for him.
Brad Maddox makes his way out and says his new year’s resolution is to become a certified WWE superstar. He has never broken a resolution. He also has a resolution for everyone: always remember the name Brad Maddox. Trust him, after tonight, that will be as easy as it gets. Happy new year.
MATCH 5: Brad Maddox vs. Sheamus Maddox goes to step outside the ring after the bell rings, but Sheamus talks him back in. Maddox applies a side headlock, so Sheamus shoves him off and drops him with a shoulderblock. He goes for a waistlock, so Sheamus easily throws him off. Maddox goes for an arm wringer, and Sheamus reverses before hitting a hip throw. Maddox gets a rope break and shoves Sheamus. Sheamus chases him out of the ring, and Maddox suckers him back in, stomping him down upon entry. Maddox fires off some rights, but can’t do a corner whip. Sheamus pulls him into the corner and beats him down. Maddox tries to climb out, and gets caught in the ropes by Sheamus, where he gets nailed with some forearms to the chest. Sheamus connects with White Noise, then runs through him with a Brogue Kick for the easy 3.
MATCH 6: The Usos (Jey and Jimmy) vs. The Prime-Time Players (Titus O’Neil and Darren Young)
Jimmy and Young start the match, and Young quickly takes Jimmy down with a single-leg. Jimmy boots him off, but Young shoulders him down. Crisscross sequence, and Jimmy nails an uppercut. Jey tags in, and they hit a double back elbow and double elbow drop for 2. Young pushes Jey off as Titus makes a blind tag, and he knees Jey in the back. Titus stomps Jey down, then hits a short-arm clothesline. Young back in, and he accidentally boots Titus off a whip. Jey misses a kick and Young hits the Forever Young for 2 as Jimmy breaks up the pin. Titus beats Jimmy down in the corner, and as the referee is pulling Titus back to his corner, the Usos switch places, and Jimmy rolls Young up in an inside cradle for 3.
WINNER: The Usos.
We get a video package for The Shield. They say that 2012 will go down in history for the scar they left, and their just getting started. They warned everyone. They didn’t just talk about injustice; no, they rectified it. For them, the mission remains the same. 2013 will be the year The Shield cleanses the disease of injustice from WWE. They have no friends or allies, they answer to no one. In 2013, justice lives. Believe in The Shield.
Matt Striker is with Big Show, wanting comments on ADR tonight. Show calls this match ridiculous. He’s had two opponents tonight. One got injured, and one got knocked out. He said everyone in WWE was either a loser, a reject, a wannabe or a nobody, and that includes ADR as well. If he wants to get knocked out tonight, fine. Show will consider it a trifecta.
MATCH 7-World Championship: The Big Show (champion) vs. Alberto Del Rio
ADR actually gets a pretty sizeable pop here. I wonder if they’re really going to go forward with a face turn for him, as the plan is rumored to be. ADR immediately goes on the attack with punches and kicks. Show responds with a headbutt and goes for a chop in the corner, but ADR turns things around and fires off more punches. Show blocks a kick and drops him with a chop. Forearm to the back by Show, followed by a hip throw. ADR counters with a headscissors, then gets back to his feet for more kicks and punches. Show clubs him down again, then chops him across the chest before knocking him to the floor. Show follows and sends ADR into the steps. Back in the ring, Show applies a shoulder claw. ADR fights out, but runs right into a shoulderblock. Show walks across ADR’s stomach, then hits a bodyslam. ADR dodges an elbow off the ropes, then hits a series of running boots. He hits a mule kick to the head for 2 before attacking Show’s left arm. He calls for the rolling jujigatame, but can’t turn Show over. Show shoves him off through the ropes and to the floor. Show slides to the floor and begins walking up the ramp, apparently wanting a count-out. Sheamus attacks Show from behind, causing the DQ.
WINNER VIA DISQUALIFICATION: The Big Show. He and Sheamus continue to brawl, and Show boots him down before trying to leave again. He is stopped by the rest of the locker room, and they all begin attacking him before rolling him into the ring where ADR hits him with a step-up enziguri in the corner, and Sheamus levels him with a Brogue Kick.
Tonight is a special live episode of SmackDown! and…it’s commercial-free. Wonderful.
We’re starting off the episode with another installment of MizTV. Miz might be the worst face in history. His guests shocked the world at TLC, doing more damage than Lindsay Lohan and a moving vehicle. They will explain their actions right now. Please welcome “Mr. MITB” Dolph Ziggler and AJ Lee. Ziggler and AJ head out, and they are accompanied by WWE’s newest signee, Big E. Langston. While Langston doesn’t impress me thus far, at least he’s in the role of a bodyguard, which doesn’t require much at this point. Also, I’m glad WWE made the right decision and kept the briefcase with Ziggler. Miz has one question: Why? AJ asks, “Really? Really?”
Instead of asking her why, why not ask John Cena why he toyed with her heart. If he has an answer to that, this would all make more sense. She lost her job as GM because she wanted to keep Cena’s good name cleaned. She thought it was all worth it when they made out a month ago on RAW. She thought it brought them closer together, and they would create something beautiful, but she was wrong. Cena was just playing with her emotions. She even made him some gifts. We see more footage from this storyline. Cut back to AJ, and she’s crying about the bows she made for him that he thought Vickie Guerrero planted.
Cena doesn’t care about anyone but himself, but she cared about him, and she wanted to support him, and he blew her off (more footage, this time from last week). Supposedly, Cena was concerned about her safety, but he really wanted to keep her hidden, like a dirty little secret. Cena was supposed to be different than other guys like Daniel Bryan and CM Punk. She loved both of them, and they used her before throwing her away like trash. Cena was supposed to be better than that. John Cena broke her heart, and so she helped Dolph Ziggler break John Cena. Miz calls her “America’s sweetheart” before reminding her Ziggler called her trash several weeks ago, and he’s now aboard the crazy train.
Langston steps in front of Ziggler, so Miz changes his question from “Why?” to “Who?”. AJ officially introduces Langston. He’s a friend of hers, and he doesn’t like it when people call her crazy. Ziggler steps in and mockingly calls Miz hilarious before calling him clueless. AJ isn’t crazy; she’s passionate, and he learned that last night when Langston came into the ring and crushed Cena. He also learned it earlier in the night when she gave him the hottest kiss in the near 20-year history of RAW. Cena can win the Slammy for “Superstar of the Year”; Ziggler doesn’t need Slammys. At TLC, not only did he keep the briefcase, when it comes to Cena, it’s just like Ziggler’s t-shirt says: he stole the show…and his girlfriend. Miz hopes Ziggler can satisfy all her personalities. They deserve each other, and man, can Ziggler pick women. AJ’s been with a monster, a goat face, a gimp, Marky Mark, and now she’s settled for the 6th member of One Direction. On this note, Langston drops Miz with a standing avalanche. He then picks up Miz and hits him with the Big Ending (yes, that’s the move’s actual name). AJ tells Miz, “Show…Off”, and the trio exit the ring.
Booker T gets stopped in the back by Teddy Long. Long has a kid he wants Book to look at and possibly give an opportunity. Book asks who it is, and Brad Maddox walks up, introducing himself. Book pulls Teddy aside and says that’s the kid that screwed Ryback. Teddy says he saw what happened at the Slammys. Book calls him creepy, so Long brings up his YouTube show. Book doesn’t trust Maddox. Teddy thinks Maddox has talent and is hungry, looking for a contract. Book, of all people, should know that people deserves opportunities. Book says that, if Maddox wants a match tonight, he’s got it. Since he’s Teddy’s project, Maddox will find out his opponent when he’s in the ring tonight. Book leaves, so Teddy turns back to Maddox, and Maddox thanks him for the opportunity.
MATCH 1: Damien Sandow (w/Cody Rhodes) vs. Sin Cara (w/Rey Mysterio)
Mysterio gets his own music, but does not show up, leaving Cara and the announcers confused. Cara goes for a quick armbar, but Sandow shoves him off. Cara ducks a clothesline and hits some kicks. Cara misses a backflip, but lands on his feet as Sandow slides to the floor. Back in, Sandow boots Cara, but Cara comes back with some strikes. He hits a springboard dropkick and hits a corner kick out of a Flair Flip. He goes for a springboard, but Rhodes pulls him to the floor behind the ref’s back. Back in, Sandow gets 2. Sandow drops some elbows to the chest, and a suplex gets 2. Rear chinlock is applied, and he breaks it to hit the side-Russian legsweep. The Cubito Aequet misses, and Cara gets in a sunset flip for 2. Sandow pops up and knocks Cara back down, then drops some elbows. He drags Cara to the floor, where he drops an elbow across the apron. Back in the ring, Sandow drops another elbow for 2 before going back to the rear chinlock. Cara counters with a jawbreaker, breaking the hold. Sandow misses an avalanche, and Cara fires off some kicks, followed by a handspring back elbow. Running hurricanrana connects, and a springboard cross-body gets 2. Sandow rolls to the floor, where Rhodes meets him. Cara takes them both out with a suicide dive. Cara is in the ring celebrating when he spots all three members of The Shield heading down to the ring. Roman Reigns pulls a Rey Mysterio mask out of his pocket and tosses it in the ring and the three just stand there. Sandow quickly comes back in and hits the Terminus for the 3.
WINNER: Damien Sandow. After the match, The Shield hits the ring, and they triple team Cara. Reigns hits a big headbutt, and Seth Rollins comes off the top with a Bomb’s Away kneedrop across Cara’s right knee. As Cara is being attended to, The Shield leave back through the crowd.
MATCH 2: Santino Marella vs. Tensai
It’s amazing how truly disappointing Tensai has been since returning. Santino gets shouldered down quickly, and Tensai follows up with stomps. Santino starts power-walking across the ring off an Irish whip, then ducks a clothesline before going for a bodyslam. Tensai is too big, and he clubs Santino down. Tensai drops an elbow across the back, then throws him to the corner. Tensai hits some back chops to the side of the neck before screaming at Santino that he’s nothing. Santino comes back with a single-leg dropkick, but Tensai drops him with a throat thrust. Santino pops back up and hits some rights before doing the splits and going for the hip toss. Tensai blocks it, but Santino manages to duck a clothesline and hit a bodyslam. Saluting headbutt connects, and Santino calls for the Cobra. Tensai blocks it and applies a sleeper, but Santino keeps trying to hit the Cobra from this position. Tensai shoves him into the corner and goes for an avalanche, and Santino sidesteps him before nailing the Cobra. Tensai no-sells it and drops Santino with an uppercut. Tensai misses the running senton, and Santino covers him for the 3-count.
WINNER: Santino Marella.
We see Kofi Kingston and Team Hell No! watching a clip from last night. Kane tells Kofi to grow eyes in the back of his head tonight, because they all know The Shield is here, and what the group is capable of. Kofi says he feels what Kane is saying. He then tells Kane he wants payback on Wade Barrett in their match tonight. Bryan is looking angry, so Kofi asks him what’s wrong. Bryan is mad because he didn’t win a Slammy last night, unlike Kofi. Kane tells Bryan to let it go. He still got to hang out with Ric Flair. Bryan gets mad because Kofi says Flair has a better catchphrase than Bryan. Bryan begins screaming, “No!” at Kofi
MATCH 3: Wade Barrett and The Prime-Time Players (Titus O’Neil and Darren Young) vs. Intercontinental Champion Kofi Kingston and WWE Tag Team Champions Team Hell No! (Daniel Bryan and Kane)
Kofi and Titus start the match. Kofi ducks a clothesline and baseball slides to the floor in order to tackle Barrett who was standing near the announce desk. Titus pulls Kofi off by the hair and whips him to the floor. Back in, Young tags in, and Kofi hits a dropkick. Kofi makes the tag to Bryan, and Bryan fires off some No! Kicks. Bryan applies a surfboard stretch, and Kane tags in mid-hold. Kane clubs Young for 2. Kane stomps Young in the corner before tagging in Bryan. Kane sends Bryan into the corner with a running dropkick for 2. Bryan stomps Young down before firing off some more kicks. Young catches Bryan on a charge and hits him with a Stung Gun before tagging in Barrett, who stomps Bryan down. More strikes in the corner, and Barrett closes with a running boot for 2. Rear chinlock is applied, but Bryan fights out. Barrett clubs him and goes for a back suplex, but Bryan flips out and tags in Kofi. Kofi hits the springboard clothesline, followed by a chop, another chop and a dropkick. Kofi hits a jumping clothesline before connecting with the Boom Drop.
He calls for TIP, but Young causes a distraction, and Barrett takes the opportunity to clothesline Kofi to the floor. Titus whips Kofi into the barricade before throwing him back in the ring. Titus has apparently tagged in, and he goes for the cover, but is too close to the ropes. Titus applies a modified abdominal stretch, and the camera weirdly cuts away to the crowd, supposedly looking for The Shield. Young tags in and stomps Kofi in the midsection. Nice back suplex by Young gets 2. He applies a rear chinlock, but Kofi fights out. Young rebounds and whips him into the corner. Young applies a cravat, but Kofi breaks it. Young trips him before he can make a tag, and Barrett tags back in, hitting some hard rights. Short-arm clothesline by Barrett gets 2. Young back in and clubs Kofi down. Young props Kofi on the top, but Kofi punches him off and hits a leaping tornado DDT. Kane and Titus tag in, and Kane does the hot tag offense. Kane hits a corner clothesline and a sidewalk slam for 2. Up top for the flying clothesline, but Titus ducks and hits Clash of the Titus for 2. Bryan breaks up the pin, so Barrett launches him to the floor. Kofi springboards off the top, but Barrett ducks the clothesline and hits a mule kick before sending Kofi shoulder-first into the post. Kane drops Barrett with an uppercut, sending him to the floor. Titus floors Kane with a forearm and Young tags in. They go for a double shoulderblock, but Bryan manages to pull Titus to the floor. Young gets hit with the chokeslam by Kane, and this one’s over.
WINNERS: Kofi Kingston and Team Hell No!
Sheamus is in the back with John Cena, telling him a joke about priests. Cena doesn’t get the joke, but they need to focus on tonight. He calls Big E. Langston quite possibly the strongest guy in WWE. Sheamus likes that, because it’s his kind of fight. He asks Cena what’s going on with him and AJ. Cena whispers something to Sheamus, and Sheamus get a confused look on his face. Cena whispers some more, and Sheamus starts laughing. When Cena finishes the secret, he tells Sheamus he’s joking.
WWE Champion CM Punk and Paul Heyman head out to the ring. Punk is still on crutches from his surgery, and we are informed this is Punk’s 394th day as champion. Punk reminds us of this achievement, the longest WWE Championship reign in the modern era. While in 20 years, everyone will look fondly at CM Punk as the greatest superstar of all time, the idiots in the WWE Universe couldn’t vote him “Superstar of the Year”. They shamelessly turned the Slammys into a popularity contest by voting for John Cena. It’s clear to him that winning and losing don’t mean anything to the fans. These fans enroll their kids in the teeball that doesn’t keep score so the kids don’t realize they’re losers like their parents. The only thing the fans did with their vote last night is that both men and women shouldn’t be allowed to vote. He expects that sort of behavior from losers, and that’s the way of the world. There are winners like himself and Heyman, and losers like everyone else. Honestly, he expected it more from Cena. You can read his face like a book. He knows he’s not the superstar of the year and Punk is the better man, with the trophy belonging in the hand of the best in the world. What does he do? He doesn’t show respect, because he’s a hypocrite. He laid down and sucked up to a man who he looks at as a legend, and gave Punk’s Slammy to Ric Flair.
He wants the fan to respect the relics from the past who take the spotlight when they can from the wrong lions, from the ring generals, from the best in the world. He wants us to cheer these guys that come back to pay their alimony and child support. You know what’s more impressive than winning 16 world titles in a 95-year career? Winning a title once and not losing it in damn near 400 days. CM Punk is a winner, Ric Flair is a loser. Flair has lost more title fights than he’s won. Punk, when it comes to title fights, DOES NOT LOSE. Not to John Cena, not to the knuckle-draggin Ryback, who hurt him in the first place. Punk is a real man. He is the gold standard, and he’s set the bar so high he doesn’t think anyone else will reach. Anyone else, two weeks after having their knee torn apart by a Neanderthal, wouldn’t be here. They’d be at home, popping their pain pills and sucking their thumbs. No, he drug himself to this forgotten hellhole (Pittsburgh) to entertain us and do his job. No one else here can do it, since the women they call the Pittsburgh Penguins are on strike. CM Punk doesn’t go on strike. CM Punk doesn’t have an off-season. He has been carrying this company on his back. He is the man you tune into see every Monday and Tuesday, and he is the man people paid to see tonight. He’ll be back next year, and Heyman will still be holding the title over his head. No one will beat him for it. Not John Cena, not Ryback, not Ric Flair, not The Smoke, not “Ice Cold” Billy Austin (that’s just for you, Mr. Gargiulo).
Ryback’s music hits to interrupt Punk’s rant, and he marches to the ring. Heyman reminds Ryback that Punk isn’t medically cleared to compete. Ryback says that, according to doctors, he will be. Punk doesn’t know what Ryback is talking about. Ryback has his sights set on the first RAW of 2013, when he becomes WWE Champion. Catchphrase.
MATCH 4: Ryback vs. WWE United States Champion Antonio Cesaro (non-title)
Cesaro’s new ring jacket is sweet. I’m not joking. Cesaro starts with a headlock, but Ryback breaks free and shoulders him through the ropes, to the floor. Cesaro gets up on the apron, shoulders Ryback and goes for a slingshot sunset flip. He can’t pull Ryback over, however, and Ryback grabs him by the ears and repeatedly slams his head into the mat, calling him “stupid”. Cesaro kicks him in the knee, and hits a European uppercut. Ryback comes back with a Thesz Press and a jumping splash. He calls for the Meat Hook, but Cesaro rolls to the floor. Ryback follows him out and presses him, but Cesaro slides out and shoves Ryback into the steps. Ryback makes it back into the ring by 9, so Cesaro goes for the pin, getting 1. Cesaro locks in a cobra clutch variation, but Ryback throws him off. He misses a shoulderblock in the corner, and Cesaro hits a spinning European uppercut from the middle rope for 2. Cesaro goes for another cover for another 2. He locks in a cravat, but Ryback punches out. He no-sells a kick, so Cesaro unloads on him with punches and uppercuts. Ryback rebounds off a corner whip with a standing avalanche, then hits a high back body drop. He calls for the Meat Hook again, and it connects. Cesaro is hit with Shell Shocked, and Ryback gets the 3.
WINNER: Ryback. Both guys looked good here. Mark my words, Cesaro will be a major player in the next year.
We see Kaitlyn walking around in the back. AJ approaches her and wishes her good luck. Kaitlyn gives her a dirty look and keeps walking, so AJ stops her and asks her about the look. Kaitlyn says AJ does this over and over again, and it makes it hard to be her friend. AJ starts to laugh-cry, then immediately turns it off and stares angrily at Kaitlyn. Kaitlyn says she has a title match, and AJ needs help. AJ accuses her of choosing a title match over her friend. Kaitlyn says no, she’s choosing a title match over the lunatic standing next to her. AJ decks her and rams her head into a 7-Up machine. Kaitlyn slams her on a table, and a catfight ensues for a brief moment before officials break it up as AJ is screaming.
MATCH 5-WWE Divas Championship: Eve Torres (Champion) vs. Kaitlyn
Lilian Garcia mispronounced both “Denver” and “Colorado”. How do you do that? The words are sound exactly as their spellings would indicate. Eve clotheslines Kaitlyn and slams her head into the mat repeatedly. Eve does her stupid crane kick, then actually botches a basic clothesline for 2. Eve steps on her face, then botches the holy hell out of the flipping senton for 2. Eve boots Kaitlyn to the floor, then slams her face into the apron before rolling her back into the ring for 2. Eve applies a rear chinlock, then turns it into a cross-face chicken wing. Of course, it’s not applied very well. Kaitlyn punches her way out, but runs into a complete shot for 2. Eve goes back to the hold, but Kaitlyn manages to roll her off. Kaitlyn gets Eve in a small package for 2, and Eve whips her into the corner. Kaitlyn blocks a charge with a boot, and gets a sunset flip in from the middle rope for 2. Kaitlyn hits a bodyslam, then a shoulderblock off the ropes for 2. She hits an inverted DDT for another 2. Kaitlyn goes for the gutbuster, but Eve grabs the ropes and pulls herself to the apron. Kaitlyn dropkicks her feet from underneath her, sending Eve to the floor. Kaitlyn follows outside, hitting a Thesz Press from the apron. She slams Eve’s head into the announce desk and rolls her back in the ring. Kaitlyn goes up top, but Eve grabs the ref’s leg and trips him, resulting in a DQ.
WINNER VIA DISQUALIFICATION: Kaitlyn, meaning Eve keeps the title. Not sure why Eve retained here. Does anyone give a cat’s ass about her anymore?
AJ is in the back with Ziggler and Langston, upset about Kaitlyn. Ziggler says Kaitlyn is just jealous, because AJ is with a future World Champion. Big Show walks up and says his future will be in a body cast if he repeats tonight what he did last night. Ziggler tries to smooth things over by talking about their tag match later tonight, but Show tells him to cut the crap. He knows Ziggler doesn’t trust him, and he doesn’t trust Ziggler. But, trust Show-if he gets the slightest inkling Ziggler is trying to cash in tonight, Show will knock him so far into the future, by the time he wakes up, his championship contract will have expired.
Brad Maddox makes his way onto the stage, repeatedly chanting his own name. No one in this arena or watching at home will ever forget the name Brad Maddox after tonight, because he is going to win his match and claim his contract, becoming a WWE superstar in the process.
MATCH 6-If Brad Maddox wins, he gets a WWE contract: Brad Maddox vs. Brodus Clay (w/The Funkadactyls: Cameron and Naomi)
Much like Tensai, what has become of Clay’s career is truly disappointing. Maddox tries a cheapshot, so Clay just laughs and bodyslams him. He traps Maddox by the arms and begins headbutting him in the back, then hits a modified exploder suplex. Clay drops an elbow, and we see Booker T & Teddy Long watching from Book’s office. Maddox rolls to the apron, where he hotshots Clay across the middle rope. Back in, Maddox goes for a pin, getting 1. He applies a rear chinlock, then drops some elbows. Clay pops right back up and clotheslines him. Avalanche by Clay, followed by an exploder suplex. He hits a charging headbutt to the chest, and Ah, Funk It! is enough to get the 3.
WINNER: Brodus Clay. As Clay begins to celebrate, the members of The Shield attack him from behind. They beat him down before hitting him with the triple powerbomb. Reigns is a friggin’ beast.
MATCH 7: Dolph Ziggler and World Champion The Big Show (w/AJ Lee and Big E. Langston) vs. Sheamus and John Cena
We see footage from Langston’s debut this past Monday night, and man, does his finisher suck. Cena and Ziggler start the match, and Cena knocks Ziggler down with a punch. Ziggler immediately tags in Show, and Cena attacks him before he steps all the way into the ring. Show knocks him down with a shove, then props him in the corner for an open-hand chop. Cena ducks and hits a dropkick, sending Show into the corner. Show quickly rebounds, dropping Cena with a spear. Show hits a body blow before stepping across his stomach. Cena gets up, and Show drops him with a headbutt. Ziggler tags in and hits some elbow drops before landing the Show-Off Elbow for 2. Neckbreaker connects, and now Ziggler has a rear chinlock applied. Cena fights out and hits a back body drop off the ropes. Show tags in and drops an elbow on Cena before he can make the tag. Show whips Cena into the corner before hitting a hip bump, knocking him down. Ziggler back in, and he misses a corner dive. Sheamus tags in, and he rams Ziggler into the corner with a shoulder thrust before connecting with a knee lift, sending Ziggler to the apron, where Sheamus ties him up for the forearm shots. Sheamus connects with 10 shots before going for the rolling fireman’s carry. He drops Ziggler in order to forearm Show, who was beginning to enter the ring. He knocks Show to the floor, and turns back to Ziggler to apply the Irish Clover Leaf. Ziggler kicks him off, through the ropes and to the floor. Show clubs Sheamus from behind. Ziggler tags Show, who drops to the floor in order to roll Sheamus back in the ring. Show hits an open-hand chop to the chest, then fires off some body blows in the corner.
Sheamus tries to fight back, but Show clubs him across the back, dropping him. He tries to fight back from his knees, so Show knees him in the head and walks across his stomach. Show applies a trapezius claw, but Sheamus gets up and fires off some rights. Show takes him down quickly, and Ziggler tags in for a 1-count. Ziggler hits some strikes in the corner, and now they trade rights until Ziggler kicks him in the knee and hits the rocker dropper for 2. Show tags back in, connecting with another body blow. Nightmare on Helms Street for 2. Show goes for the chokeslam, and Sheamus counters into a DDT. Ziggler and Cena both tag in, and Cena begins hitting the Five Moves of Doom. He connects with four, but the AA is interrupted by a body blow from Show. Sheamus comes in and clotheslines Show to the floor, and they begin brawling up the ramp. Cena goes for the AA again, and Ziggler counters with the Zig-Zag (resembling the original version of the move this time) for 2. Ziggler complains to the referee, and turns around into the Attitude Adjustment. Before Cena can make the pin, Langston runs through Cena, causing the DQ.
WINNERS VIA DISQUALIFICATION: John Cena and Sheamus. Langston picks Cena up after the bell rings, hitting the Big Ending for the second time tonight. God, that move sucks. And such a horrible name, too. Langston stands over Cena as AJ and Ziggler make out over Cena’s head. AJ then skips around the ring.
On tonight’s SmackDown!, Big Show will face Randy Orton. Wait. Big Show still works here?
Speaking of Show, he’s making his way out right now. The most destructive force in WWE history is back, and he wants the World Championship. His last title reign lasted 45 seconds. Do you know what that does to the psyche of a man like him? Do you know how embarrassed he was? He then had to watch the guy who took the belt from him and lose it to Sheamus in 18 seconds at Wrestlemania. That was a turning point in his career. He wasn’t in the main event at WrestleMania, he wasn’t the champion, and he was in a match where he was the subject of jokes. No one is making fun of him anymore, and no one will when he becomes champion again. He understands he’s the one man on this roster who can defeat the current champion, Sheamus. As for how he’s going to do that…
Randy Orton’s music cuts him off. Orton steps into the ring, and he appears to be growing the “Legacy/Legend Killer” hairdo back. Orton says he finds it funny that Show is out here, talking about taking out Sheamus when, in reality, he hasn’t gone through the most sadistic and dominant man on this show, that being himself. Their match tonight is for the #1 contendership (not a real word), with the winner moving onto Hell in a Cell. Orton is a 9-time champion, and if Show thinks he’s standing in the way of #10, he’s not going to be standing much longer. Show says either someone will get bit by an RKO, or hit with a KO. Because this is already off to a great start, Alberto Del Rio and Ricardo Rodriguez make their way onto the stage. You can’t just ignore ADR like that. He was cheated by Booker T when the Brogue Kick was reinstated at NoC. He says he’s better than Orton and Show combined. The both of them are going to the back of the line. As ADR steps into the ring, Orton hits him with an RKO. Orton leaves and taunts Show from the stage.
Later tonight, MizTV debuts, and Miz’s first guest will be Sheamus.
Up Next, Santino challenges Antonio Cesaro for the US title.
MATCH 1-WWE United States Championship: Champion Antonio Cesaro vs. Santino Marella
Cesaro better not lose here. Nothing against Marella, but Cesaro needs a good, long title reign. Tie-up to start, and Cesaro breaks it with a boot to the gut. A forearm to the face knocks Santino down. Santino counters the corner whip and goes for a hip toss, but Cesaro blocks it and nails a clothesline. Cesaro throws Santino to the corner and nails him with some punches and kicks. Suplex into a float-over gets 1. Double stomp to the stomach before Cesaro locks in a cravat. Santino punches out and counters with a nice Saito Suplex. Some punches and a bodyslam by Santino, and now he pulls out the Cobra. Before it can strike, Cesaro cuts him off and goes for the lifting gutwrench. Santino counters into a sunset flip for 2. During that exchange, the Cobra went flying off Santino’s arm. He goes looking for it and walks right into a European uppercut. Lifting gutwrench connects for 2. As Cesaro is talking trash, Santino surprises him with a superkick for 2. Cesaro rolls to the apron, where he lands a shoulder thrust on an incoming Santino. He goes up now, and Santino cuts him off. Both are up top now, where they trade punches. Cesaro nails a headbutt and goes for a top rope Neutralizer, but Santino back drops him to the mat. Santino goes up top and tries for his old finisher, the top rope saluting headbutt, but Cesaro rolls out of the way. Neutralizer connects, and this one’s over.
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: Antonio Cesaro. Fun match here, and proof that Santino is a much better competitor than most give him credit for.
MATCH 2: Natalya vs. Beth Phoenix
I am really sad to see Beth go, and in all honesty, I think she is as well. You can see it in her face right at the beginning of this match. They shake hands after the bell rings, and a tie-up turns into an armbar by Beth. Nattie rolls out of it and counters with a fireman’s carry into an armbar of her own. Beth counters with a headscissors, and Nattie kips out. Drop toe hold into a front chancery by Beth, and Nattie counters into a hammerlock. Beth counters into another armbar. Nattie counters with a hammerlock, and Beth backs her into the corner. Clean break before Beth hits a hip throw into a side headlock. Nattie tries to counter with a headscissors, but Beth pushes her legs off and continues applying the hold. Nattie fights out and goes for a Thesz Press, but Beth catches her. She turns the move into a powerslam, but Nattie slides out and shoves Beth off. Nattie slaps Beth, so Beth takes her down and fires off some mounted punches. We’re in Beth’s hometown of Buffalo, NY, BTW, so she’s getting face cheers. Nattie gets to the ropes, but runs right into a side-Russian leg sweep once she gets up, causing Beth’s headband to fly off in the process. Beth mounts the middle rope, looking for a dropkick, but Nattie counters into the Sharpshooter. Beth tries to power out to the ropes, so Nattie drags her further into the ring. Beth does eventually crawl to the ropes, though, forcing Nattie to break the hold. Beth tries for a roll-up, and keeps rolling into the Glam Slam. Nattie escapes and goes for a body scissors, which Beth counters into a Glam Slam that hits, but only gets 2. Beth goes for a victory roll out of the corner, but Nattie drops down on her for 2. Beth counters into victory roll position, and gets the 3.
WINNER: Beth Phoenix. Wow. A good, semi-long Divas match on Smackdown!? I am shocked. Beth begins to cry after the match, but Eve Torres cuts off the celebration. She wants to apologize to Beth for acting in the heat of the moment. Until they know who attacked Kaitlyn at NoC, they need to act rationally. All they know right now is the assailant is blonde. Therefore, until the investigation is over, Beth Phoenix is indefinitely suspended. That’s…a really stupid way to get Beth off of TV, especially when the other blonde in the company is right there, and is receiving no storyline punishment as well.
Zack Ryder video.
We’re in Booker T’s office now, and he’s with Teddy Long. Long tells him the tag team division is looking good. Book says they need to determine number-one contender to the titles. Book proposes an 8-team elimination tournament with the winner facing Daniel Bryan and Kane at HIAC. WWE having a viable tag team division and putting emphasis on it? The hell, you say. Teddy says that’s a great concept. Beth Phoenix storms in and asks about her suspension. Book doesn’t know what she’s talking about. He says Eve doesn’t have the authority to do that, and he’s reversing that decision. Eve then apologizes to Beth, and was doing what she thought Book wanted her to do. She says Teddy told her to do that, and he says he never said anything like that. She accuses Teddy of trying to get the job of GM back. Book says he doesn’t know what to believe, and to just give him a minute to think everything over.
MATCH 3: Zack Ryder vs. Wade Barrett
Barrett starts off with a pair of knee lifts and a shoulder off the ropes. Crisscross ends in a nasty mule kick to the gut. Pumphandle slam gets 2. Barrett fires off some punches in the corner before hitting the slingshot backbreaker for 2. Modified surfboard is applied. Ryder gets to his feet, but gets another kneelift. Barrett telegraphs a back body drop, and Ryder answers with a facebuster. Missile dropkick from the middle rope connects, and Ryder continues the attack with a running forearm in the corner, which leads to the Broski Boot. However, Barrett rolls to the floor before it can connect, so Ryder connects with it through the ropes. Ryder throws Barrett back in and bounces off the ropes, but Barrett pops back up and clotheslines him over the top and to the floor. He throws Ryder back in the ring and knocks Ryder the hell out with the Souvenir for the 3.
WINNER: Wade Barrett. I’m kind of digging this new finisher.
Back from break, and it’s time for the Smackdown! debut MizTV. Miz calls the show extraordinary and revolutionary, but before he can continue, Sheamus makes his way out without an introduction. Sheamus grabs his chair and just throws it to the floor, then does the same with Miz’s. Miz starts to ask him something, but Sheamus grabs the mic out of his hand, reminding him that Ryback kicked his arse on RAW. He has to give it Miz, fella-what a great start to MizTV. Last week, Miz really raised the bar. This week, how’s he going to top it? He’ll tell him, and that’s by having the World Champion on his show. Be honest, how does it feel to have him on? He’ll tell you. Miz is lucky to have a show at all. He’s bloody awful in the ring, and all he can hope for at this point is a C-list talk show. He should wait until the end of that show to come out, though, so the people don’t have to listen to him talk about himself for 90 minutes. Miz says last time he checked, he’s still the IC Champion, and if these people and Sheamus want to see him excel at his finest, they’ll have to pay. They’ll have to pay to see his movies, to read his books, to listen to his radio show. You can pay to see him excel in this ring as well. At NoC, he beat 3 others blindfolded to retain the IC titles. And tonight, these “fine” people have paid to see him on MizTV. Sheamus says no one wants to pay to see him. Miz finds it amazing Sheamus isn’t serious, because the #1 contendership is up for grabs tonight. Why isn’t Sheamus worried about facing either Orton or Show? He’s either going to get slaughtered by an RKO or his face rearranged by a WMD. Sheamus didn’t win the title at Wrestlemania to sit back and have a few pints. Listen, you frog-faced Hollywood wannabe, no one takes this championship more seriously than him. He knows that one small mistake will make it all disappear. He likes to have fun and joke around, but don’t tell him he’s not taking it seriously. The title is a privilege and an honor, and the greatest achievement of his life. He counts it as a blessing. If Orton wins, it will be an honor to face him. If Show wins, he gets to face someone he’s never faced before. But, if Miz thinks he’s going to stand here and let him question Sheamus’ integrity, fella, he knows what these fine people paid to see tonight, and he’s more than happy to give it to them.
Miz starts to back off, knowing what is coming, when Vickie Guerrero’s shrill voice interrupts things. She’s followed shortly by Dolph Ziggler, and they make their way down the ramp. Vickie says she doesn’t understand why Sheamus is so concerned with Orton and Show when the man he needs to worry about at HIAC…Ziggler cuts her off and says he can speak for himself. It doesn’t matter who he faces at the PPV. When it’s all over with, Sheamus will be broken, and that’s when Ziggler’s briefcase is all that matters. Tonight’s main event, much like Sheamus’ reign, is completely irrelevant. And when the PPV comes to a close, he guarantees he will be World Champion. Sheamus says he won’t know what shape he’ll be in after his match that night, but if he does win and Ziggler does cash in, he may get lucky. Miz is sitting in his chair, egging Sheamus on, so Sheamus shoves him down before tackling Ziggler. Miz jumps on Sheamus’ back, so Sheamus hurls him over a couch. Ziggler gets back up and tackles Sheamus over the other couch. Sheamus throws Miz out and back drops Ziggler over the top onto Miz before celebrating.
We get the brackets for the tag team tournament, which are as follows: in the first round, The Usos (Jey & Jimmy) vs. The Rhodes Scholars (Cody Rhodes & Damien Sandow), Santino Marella & Zack Ryder vs. International Airstrike (Justin Gabriel & Tyson Kidd), Kofi Kingston & R-Truth vs. The Prime-Time Players (Titus O’Neil & Darren Young), and Epico & Primo vs. Rey Mysterio & Sin Cara.
The Usos vs. The Rhodes Scholars is up next.
MATCH 2-Quarterfinal match in the tag team tournament: The Usos (Jey and Jimmy) vs. The Rhodes Scholars (Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow)
I would love to see Rhodes and Sandow sweep this tournament. Sandow and an Uso start off, with Uso getting a schoolboy for 1. Uso gets back up and fires off some shots. Sandow blocks a corner charge with a boot, and an elbow drop gets 1. I find out this is Jimmy in the ring, and he ducks a clothesline before hitting Sandow with a Samoan Drop. Jey and Rhodes tag in, and Jey hits a pair of forearms, a mule kick, an uppercut, and a version of the Lie Detector. A running hip bump gets 2, but Sandow breaks up the pin. Sandow dodges a superkick, but a second one connects on Rhodes. Jimmy tags in for the Samoan Splash, but Jey gets dragged to the floor by Sandow. Jimmy goes ahead with the move, and eats a pair of knees by Rhodes. Rhodes hits Cross Rhodes, and this one’s over.
WINNERS: The Rhodes Scholars. I know they’ll get beat by Cara and Mysterio in the finals, but I’d still love to see these two take the whole thing.
MATCH 3: Tensai vs. Ryback
Looks Ryback is back to his original theme, but with lyrics added. Ryback backs Tensai into the corner with a tie-up, but Tensai counters with a smack. Headbutts and punches by Tensai, followed by an avalanche. More punches by Tensai, but Ryback eventually blocks one, nails a trapped headbutt and a belly-to-belly suplex. Ryback looks for the running lariat, but Tensai blocks and hits the Derailer for 2. Another pin only gets 1. Forearms and a slap by Tensai, but Ryback nails the lariat off the ropes. Ryback, in an impressive feat, nails Shell Shocked for the 3.
WINNER: Ryback. Nice, old-school feel to this match.
Orton/Show is up next. We see Orton in the back, heading towards the ring when he’s assault by ADR. ADR slams Orton shoulder-first into a guardrail and a wall, then rams him in the ribs with an equipment cart.
After Show comes out, Orton’s music hits, but ADR comes out instead. He says it looks like Orton won’t be able to compete tonight, but everyone will be happy to know that taking his place is ADR himself. Orton attacks from behind as ADR says this, throwing him into the big WWE logo on the stage. Orton heads towards the ring, holding his ribs, and it looks like we’ll get our original match.
MATCH 4-Winner becomes the new #1 contender for the World Championship: The Big Show vs. Randy Orton
Orton hits a bunch of punches after a feeling-out process, but Show takes him down with one headbutt. Orton blocks an open-hand chop attempt with more punches, but is once again taken down with a headbutt. Show grinds his fingers into Orton’s ribs. Orton gets to his feet in the corner, where Show nails him with a body shot. Show steps on the ribs, holding the ropes for leverage. Show goes back to the version of the stomach claw. Haven’t seen that move in years. Show with another headbutt, and Nightmare on Helms Street gets 2. Orton rolls to the floor, and Show follows. Orton tries to fight back, so Show hits another body shot before dropping Orton ribs-first across the barricade. Commercials.
Back from the break, the match is back in the ring, with Show still in control. Orton counters a corner charge with a boot and fires off some punches. Show catches him by the throat off the ropes and goes for the chokeslam, but Orton counters with a DDT. Orton goes for the pin, but only gets 2. Orton with the Garvin Stomp and a knee drop. The offense is short-lived, though, as Show goes right back to the body shots before applying the claw once again. Show walks across the ribs, and another body shot sends Orton to the floor. Show goes out and looks to lawn dart Orton into the ring post, but Orton slides out and shoves Show into it instead. Orton gets back in the ring to break his count, and Show makes it onto the apron at 8. Orton kicks him while trying to get back in the ring, allowing him to go for the suspended DDT. He can’t drag Show over the rope, though, and Show hotshots him, damaging the ribs once more. Show goes for the chokeslam, but Orton hits a surprise RKO. Show kicks out at 2. Orton sets up for the punt, but Show sees it coming and hits the chokeslam for 2. Show picks him up for another one and gets the 3.
WINNER AND NEW #1 CONTENDER: The Big Show. After the match, Show gets back in the ring and knocks Orton out with the WMD. Show gets a mic and tells Sheamus he’ll be seeing Sheamus at HIAC.
End of show.
Before I go, I’d like to give a plug to a graphic design company run by my friend, independent wrestler Travis Marcum. Travis has done a huge, HUGE favor for myself and my family, and the least I can do is give his company a shout-out here. His company is called The Intermission, and you can find it on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/theintermissiondesign?ref=ts&fref=ts. He specializes in wrestling-related stuff, but also does comic book work, video editing, web design, etc. If you have any needs that fall into those categories, he charges very reasonable rates and will take good care of you.