This week’s WWE Friday Night SmackDown opens up with Daniel Bryan coming to the ring, and he’s back to wearing the “Yes! Yes! Yes!” t-shirt. Monday night on RAW, something happened to him that has never happened before. In his 13 years in wrestling, he’s never had a match stopped due to injury. When the doctor asked if he could continue, what did he say? Yes! Unfortunately, the doctor and officials didn’t agree. The company line is that they were concerned for his health, so they stopped the match. Realistically, they stopped the match because they think he’s the weak link and not tough enough. That’s not the worst part, though; the worst perpetrator in this whole thing is Randy Orton. We see footage from Monday when Orton booted Bryan through the ropes, then hitting a back suplex across the barricade, which resulted in the match being stopped. Back to Bryan, he says that instead of fighting to keep the match going and instead of siding with Bryan, what did Orton do? Orton picked him up and patted him on his head like a little dog. Orton said, “Don’t worry, little Daniel. It’ll be okay.” Bryan saw nothing but pity in Orton’s eyes. Tonight, he doesn’t care what anyone thinks, especially Orton. He will prove he is not the weak link. Is he going to beat Randy Orton tonight? Yes! Yes! Yes!
Randy Orton comes out and says Bryan has it all wrong. The reason the match was stopped was because people were concerned for Bryan’s well-being, including Orton. Bryan wouldn’t stop coming, and Orton had no choice, but that made him respect Bryan even more. The match was stopped because Bryan couldn’t defend himself. When he helped Bryan up, it wasn’t because of pity; it was because of respect. Bryan tells Orton not to patronize him. He can look Orton in the eye and doesn’t see one ounce of respect. Orton called him the weak link on Monday, but tonight, he proves how tough he is. He beat The Shield last week, and now he’s going to take all of Orton’s “respect” and shove it down his throat. Orton calls Bryan way out of line, then agrees to the fight. Orton is going to hurt Bryan and when the officials stop their match, he won’t be walking out; he’ll be carried out. Respect that.
Tonight, Chris Jericho faces Albeto Del Rio, who has thankfully turned heel once again. He’s still overrated, but he’s better as a heel regardless. Also, Curtis Axel defends the IC title against Wade Barrett.
Rhodes fires off some kicks and punches, backing Sheamus into a corner. Sheamus comes back with a boot and a forearm before throwing Rhodes face-first into the corner. Sheamus hits some stiff shots to the back and lands a suplex for 2. Sheamus applies an arm wringer, and Rhodes fights out, stomping Sheamus down in the corner in the process. Sheamus counters a corner whip and catches Rhodes on his back. Rhodes fights out and climbs to the middle rope. Sheamus hits a snapmare off the buckles, and Rhodes rolls to the apron. Sheamus goes for the forearm shots, but Rhodes escapes and trips Sheamus on the apron. Outside, Rhodes slams Sheamus’ arm into the ring post, then throws him into the barricade. Sheamus eventually rolls back into the ring, where Rhodes stomps him and begins dropping knees across the bad arm. Rhodes applies a hammerlock through the ropes, then kicks the arm. Sheamus fights back from his knees until Rhodes hits an armbar takedown for 2. Rhodes whips the arm into the canvas before hitting a running knee to the head for 2. Rhodes applies an armbar and grinds his elbow into the side of Sheamus’ face. Sheamus punches his way out and sends Rhodes into the corner. Rhodes sidesteps the charge and sends Sheamus shoulder-first into the buckles for 2. Rhodes continues to stomp Sheamus until he rolls to the apron. Sheamus fights back from the apron and goes for the slingshot shoulderblock, but Rhodes counters into an a fujiwara. Sheamus gets back to his feet and forearms Rhodes in the face. Rhodes hits some kind of belly-to-belly suplex on the ropes (not sure what that was), and Sheamus shakes it off before hitting a pair of Irish Hammers. He shoulders Rhodes into the corner and goes for a running kneelift, but Rhodes sidesteps him. Sheamus grabs him on his shoulders and hits a rolling fireman’s carry slam. Sheamus goes outside, boots Sandow, then gets back in the ring. Rhodes charges in, so Sheamus sends him into Sandow, who jumped on the apron. Sheamus hits the running kneelift and follows up with White Noise, but Rhodes counters into a sunset flip. Sheamus rolls through and applies the Irish Clover Leaf for the submission win.
WINNER: Sheamus. Sandow immediately attacks Sheamus after the match, unloading on him with kicks and punches. Another good match for Sheamus this week.
MATCH 2-Intercontinental Championship: Curtis Axel (w/Paul Heyman, Champion) vs. Wade Barrett
Love Axel’s theme music. We get formal introductions for this match, which is a nice touch, and it’s a heel vs. heel match, so I’m happy. That is, until I see The Miz on color commentary. Ugh. The two start with a lock-up, and Barrett gives a clean break in the corner. Another lock-up, and Axel applies a side headlock. Barrett backs him into the corner and stomps him down before hitting a snapmare and an elbow drop for 2. Barrett lands another elbow before running into a dropkick. Axel hits some elbows to the shoulder, then nails a series of rights to the face and gut. Axel mounts the middle rope and hits a Hart Elbow for 2 before punching Barrett in the side of the head repeatedly. Axel stomps Barrett down in the corner until he gets tripped into the buckles. Barrett hits a clothesline and follows up with some mounted punches. Barrett kicks Axel in the ribs, and Axel comes back with rights. Barrett hits a kneelift and hits a suplex for 2. Barrett knee-chokes Axel across the middle rope, ties him up between the ropes and hits a series of kneelifts before nailing a running boot that sends Axel to the floor. Barrett heads outside and rams Axel back-first into the apron before rolling him back in the ring. Barrett talks some trash to Miz before getting back in the ring, where Axel clubs him down. Axel blocks a back body drop and goes for the Perfect-Plex, but Barrett breaks free and hits a running boot for 2. Barrett goes to the middle rope for a flying elbow, but he misses. Axel hits a rolling neck snap and follows up with the Broken Axel for 3.
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: Curtis Axel. Pretty decent match. I just wish Barrett wasn’t being jobbed out, but at the same time, it’s nice to see Axel getting a solid push. Miz jumps in the ring after the match and gets in Axel’s face. He takes his jacket and tie off, ready to fight, but Heyman steps in the middle and holds Axel back.
MATCH 3-WWE Divas Champion AJ Lee (w/Big E. Langston) vs. Natalya (non-title)
Nattie shoves AJ down, then shoulders her. Nattie hits a snapmare and a seated dropkick to the back before going for the Sharphooter. AJ struggles, so Nattie turns her over into the Pin-Up Strong (at least that’s what she used to call it; think Miss Madness’ old Twin City Twister). AJ gets a rope-break, then suckers Nattie into the corner before applying a mounted sleeper. We see Kaitlyn and Layla watching from the back. In the ring, Nattie breaks the hold by backing AJ into the corner. AJ hits a dropkick to the back and gets 2 before going back to the sleeper. Commercials.
Back from the break, Nattie is in control with a snap suplex before hitting a discus clothesline off the ropes for 2. Nattie spins AJ over her shoulder until AJ escapes and applies the Black Widow for the submission win.
WINNER: AJ Lee. I wish AJ would go back to the Iron Octopus as a finisher. We see Kaitlyn and Layla talking in the back when Aksana approaches. She asks Kaitlyn if that’s the same move AJ beat Kaitlyn with before calling her trash. Kaitlyn attacks Aksana from behind and slams her into a wall before every diva on the roster splits them up.
MATCH 4: Chris Jericho vs. World Champion Alberto Del Rio (w/Ricardo Rodriguez; non-title)
Lock-up, and ADR turns it into a side headlock before shouldering him off the ropes. Jericho pops up with a dropkick and hits a clothesline before stomping ADR and chopping him in the chest. Jericho stomps ADR down in the corner, then chokes him over the middle rope and hitting a knee to the back of the head for 1. Jericho hits another chop to the chest, then sends ADR into the corner. ADR blocks the charge and hits a running kick to the shoulder before stomping Jericho down. ADR goes for a suplex, but Jericho chops his way out and sends ADR into the ropes. ADR kicks him into the ropes and looks for a running dropkick, but Jericho moves and ADR goes through the ropes and to the floor. Jericho hits an inside-out dropkick from the middle rope, then dropkicks him through the ropes. Outside, Jericho slams ADR into the barricade before rolling him back in the ring. Ricardo distracts Jericho as he’s trying to climb in, and ADR hits him with a thrust kick to the face. Commercials.
Back from the break, Jericho chops ADR in the chest once more before missing a charge in the corner. The impact sends Jericho to the floor, and ADR capitalizes by throwing Jericho into the barricade and kicking him in the ribs. Back in the ring, ADR goes for the pin, getting 2. ADR corners Jericho and charges in, but Jericho moves and ADR goes shoulder-first into the ring post. Jericho hits a shoulderblock, then another, then gets sent to the outside. He lands on his feet on the apron and goes up top, coming off with a double axe handle. Jericho looks for the Walls, but ADR rolls through and hits a thrust kick to the head for 2. ADR hits a series of headbutts and looks for the step-up enziguri, but Jericho moves. Up top, Jericho hits a cross-body for 2. Running facebuster connects, as does the Lionsault. ADR gets back up and hits a thrust kick to the gut before calling for the rolling jujigatame. Jericho shoves him into the ropes, and ADR goes for a sunset flip. Jericho rolls through and goes for the Walls, but ADR counters into the jujigatame. Jericho counters back into the Walls of Jericho and locks it in this time. Ricardo jumps on the apron, so Jericho hiptosses him into the ring and applies the Walls (Michael Cole correctly calls it “Liontamer-style”, which makes me smile a little bit). As Ricardo is tapping, Dolph Ziggler runs into the ring and attacks ADR, leading to the DQ.
WINNER VIA DISQUALIFICATION: Alberto Del Rio. ADR flees from the ring and through the crowd as he is announced the DQ winner. In the ring, Jericho has words with Ziggler before giving him a Codebreaker. After Jericho leaves, ADR and Ricardo come back to the ring. The referees come into the ring and try to separate the two as Ricardo is holding Ziggler up. ADR lands a thrust kick to the face anyway. Okay, is that all his arsenal consists of now? He did that damn move at least three times in his match with Jericho already.
MATCH 5: Drew McIntyre (w/Jinder Mahal and Heath Slater) vs. Christian
Glad to see Christian back. The guy’s had a rough couple of years, so I hope he’s able to stay healthy. Christian applies a waistlock, and Drew elbows out. He tries to throw Christian to the floor, but Christian reverses and hits a baseball slide through the ropes. Christian rolls Drew back in the ring and attacks with rights before tripping Drew into the ropes and hitting an uppercut from the outside. Christian goes for a cross-body from the middle rope, but Drew catches him and hits a sidewinder for 2. He sets Christian in the corner and charges, but Christian blocks with his feet and hits a spinning European uppercut from the middle rope. Slater tries a distraction, but Christian slides under his legs on the apron and trips him, sending him face-first into the apron. Mahal jumps on the other side of the ring, and it’s enough distraction for Drew to attack from behind. He goes for a back suplex, but Christian flips out and counters with a Killswitch for 3.
WINNER: Christian. Christian grabs a mic and says that, after ten long months, it feels damn good to be back here on Smackdown, and even better to be out here in front of his peeps. Everyone knows why he came back, and that’s for one more match…The Shield’s music hits, and they run down the ramp. The three circle Christian from the aprons. Christian tries to start the attack by nailing Seth Rollins, but the numbers are too much. They beat Christian down and hit the triple powerbomb.
Renee Young is in the back with Paul Heyman. She asks why Brock Lesnar attacked CM Punk, and to what extent was Heyman involved. Heyman says women are gossiping about Punk and Heyman. Heyman then asks how her relationship is with her father, and if she’s talked to him in the past two years. Or maybe she’d like to say why her uncle had to rip her prom date out of a limousine. It’s public record, isn’t it? Or why did she and her fiancé break up two months ago in Las Vegas? It’s not fun to talk about your personal life on TV. Punk made it clear he’s not Heyman’s client and is just his best friend. He’s not going to air their dirty laundry on television. Maybe next time she talks to him, she can ask about Curtis Axel defending the IC title for the first time earlier tonight, or did she not pay attention to that?
MATCH 6: Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan
Bryan starts the match with a running knee to the face that sends Orton into the corner. Bryan assaults Orton with rights until Orton counters with his own. Bryan counters with a series of kicks and a headbutt. Orton boots him and slams him face-first into two turnbuckles before hitting some mounted corner punches and a European uppercut. Orton starts the Garvin Stomp, but then switches to grinding his boot into Bryan’s face. Bryan comes back with rights, then hits some mounted corner punches of his own before going for a suplex. Orton blocks and hits his own. Orton stomps Bryan in the face and goes for the jumping kneedrop, but Bryan moves and hits some Yes! Kicks before applying a spinning legbar. Orton counters into a side headlock (big surprise), and Orton breaks that with a legbreaker before looking for the No! Lock. Orton tries to fight out, so Bryan tries for the No! Lock using the other arm. Orton counters into a sidewalk slam, then drops Bryan gut-first across the top rope. Orton goes to the apron and looks for a suplex to the floor, but Bryan blocks it and hits some rights until Orton hotshots his arm and hits the suplex to the floor. Commercials.
Back from the break, Bryan is hitting some punches in the ring until Orton hits a dropkick for 2. Orton picks him up and sets him on the top rope, looking for the Ace Superplex. Bryan blocks the move, hits some shots to the gut, then headbutts Orton off the ropes. Bryan mounts the top rope and hits a seated missile dropkick. Bryan gets back to his feet and hits a running corner dropkick, a series of Yes! Kicks and a low running corner dropkick for 2. Bryan fires off more punches and kicks until Orton counters a corner whip. Bryan flips out and ducks a clothesline before running into a powerslam for 2. You know, when Orton tries to look like he’s enjoying dishing out punishment, I think he’s trying to look psychotic, but he ends up looking like “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan instead. Anyway, Orton begins hitting a series of European uppercuts until Bryan ducks one and counters into a backslide for 2. Bryan hits the Yes! Kicks once more and blasts Orton with the Buzzsaw for 2. Bryan goes up top for the Flying Goat, but Orton gets back to his feet and crotches Bryan. As usual, Orton appears to have a busted lip or bit his tongue. Orton fires a straight right at Bryan, then mounts the ropes, hitting the Ace Superplex for 2. Orton throws Bryan to the apron for the suspended DDT, then calls for the RKO. Bryan sees it coming and rolls to the floor, and Orton follows outside, where he hits the back suplex across the apron. He rolls Bryan to the apron for a suspended DDT on the outside, but Bryan gets his feet free and rams Orton into the barricade. Bryan climbs to the apron and hits a running knee to the face. Bryan rolls back into the ring and hits a suicide dive. The referee is counting, and Bryan makes it back in the ring by 8, while Orton doesn’t make it back in time.
End of show.
Pretty solid episode from top-to-bottom, with every match being enjoyable. However, despite the fact that I’m glad ADR went heel again, I’m already sick of his new gimmick that his kicks are extra dangerous. The guy slaps the inside of his thigh long before the kick even connects, not to mention the fact that he now seems to do nothing but kicks in his matches (well, more so than usual). Not much different than James Storm’s entire gimmick being centered around a superkick.
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