This week’s WWE Friday Night SmackDown opens with the GM, Vickie Guerrero, in the ring. She says she has cleared the air with the McMahon since being fired from RAW, and now she introduces the new WWE Champion, Randy Orton.
Orton makes his way out, and it’s nice to hear the crowd dump all over him for the first time in years. Vickie stops him on the ramp to shake his hand, then heads to the back. Orton says that, as the new champion, he promises to give the crowd what they want and deserve as champion. He promises that we will aspire to be him, and he promises to be a role model. A role model tells the truth, and that’s what he did. He told everyone, including Daniel Bryan, when he successfully cashed in his MITB briefcase, no one would see it coming. That is, of course, except for all of us who have been watching wrestling forever. He says no one should be surprised at what happened, except himself. He didn’t know Triple H would Pedigree Bryan. But he’s not one to pass up an opportunity literally lying in front of him. However, he didn’t need Trips’ help, just like he didn’t need help from the Shield on RAW. Although he greatly appreciates the support from the McMahon family, he would now like to ask all of the fans for their support as well. After all, he’s not only the WWE Champion, he’s also the face of WWE.
We see Vickie Guerrero in the back, screaming on her phone that Daniel Bryan needs to be taught a lesson. She hangs up when she sees Wade Barrett. He says she, himself and the McMahons all hate Bryan. Bryan gets a rematch for the title, but Barrett wants to make sure that never happens. He asks to be put in a match with Bryan, and he’ll make sure that we’ll never see Bryan again. Vickie proposes a couple of match ideas before announcing it’ll be Barrett/Bryan in a Cage Match.
MATCH 1: Cody Rhodes vs. Intercontinental Champion Curtis Axel (w/Paul Heyman; non-title)
I know I’ve said it before, but I cannot stress how awesome Axel’s entrance theme is. Say what you will about him as a performer (he’s good in the ring, but is a charisma vacuum on the mic), but that music rules. Axel immediately boots Rhodes into the corner before stomping him down. Rhodes comes back with a back elbow and applies a waistlock. Axel counters into his own, but Rhodes trips him. Crisscross ends with an Axel dropkick. Rhodes gets backdropped to the outside, but lands on the apron. He shoulders Axel before hitting a springboard seated dropkick for 2. Axel goes to the floor, and Rhodes climbs the turnbuckles. Axel sees him coming and moves, so Rhodes jumps down to the apron for a kick. Axel blocks the kick and yanks Rhodes down, sending him into the apron. Axel then rams Rhodes back-first into the apron as we go to commercials.
We get another video of 3MB this week. Is this WWE’s attempt to somehow make them relevant, despite being a glorified job squad?
Back from the break, Axel is still in control, hitting a jumping elbow for 2. He picks Rhodes up for a snapmare and hits a rolling neck snap for 2. Axel applies a rear chinlock, but Rhodes fights out and goes for a whip. Axel puts the breaks on and hits a clothesline before missing a Hart Elbow from the middle rope. Rhodes hits a few punches and a Goldust uppercut before setting Axel across the top rope and kicking him in the midsection. Axel dodges the Disaster Kick and knocks Rhodes down. Rhodes blocks a corner whip and turns it into a sunset flip for 2 before flooring Axel with a clothesline. Rhodes goes up top for a moonsault, but Heyman distracts him, allowing Axel to shake the ropes and knock Rhodes back down. He connects with the Stone Cutter and gets the 3.
WINNER: Curtis Axel. After the match, Heyman says he stands before the crowd a man not just in pain, but a man in agony, and that agony is a direct result of the actions of CM Punk. He’s not out here complaining about the obvious physical pain; he’s in emotional distress. A man he once considered his best friend and an athlete he guided to the spot of best in the world has become nothing but a sad, pathetic loser. At Summerslam, Punk was pinned 1-2-3 by Brock Lesnar. Instead of accepting defeat like a man, Punk went off the rails. He is on a downward spiral. His actions on RAW were befitting a madman. Without Heyman in his corner, Punk never stood a chance against Lesnar. Without Heyman, Punk is lost. While with Heyman, Axel has found himself. His client is full of confidence and has notched victory after victory, which is why no one can defeat Axel for the IC title. Axel takes the mic and says the problem is Punk doesn’t deserve an IC title match. Punk is so jealous, he assaulted Axel with a chair on Monday night. Punk, he’s going to finish the job Lesnar “gave you” at Summerslam. He challenges Punk to a match live on RAW. His future is better than Punk’s, he’s more athletic, and he has someone in his corner named Paul Heyman.
MATCH 2: Big E. Langston (w/WWE Divas Champion AJ Lee) vs. Dolph Ziggler
Langston attacks Ziggler as he’s getting into the ring, then throws him across the ring into the turnbuckles. The bell hasn’t rang yet, and the referee is holding Langston back to check on Ziggler, making sure he can compete. Ziggler gives the okay, and the match starts. Ziggler avoids a charge and fires off a few rights before getting pancaked off the ropes. Langston hits a jumping splash for 2 before applying a rear chinlock. Ziggler counters with a jawbreaker, then avoids a corner charge, sending Langston shoulder-first into the ring post. He hits a jumping avalanche, followed by a neckbreaker and a dropkick. Langston counters a rocker dropper into a powerbomb, and Ziggler counters that into a sit-out facebuster for 2. As the ref is checking on Langston, AJ rakes Ziggler’s eyes behind his back. As Ziggler gets up, Langston hits a standing avalanche for 2. He calls for the Big Ending, but Ziggler escapes and snaps off the Zig-Zag for 3.
WINNER: Dolph Ziggler.
MATCH 3: Christian vs. World Champion Alberto Del Rio (non-title)
Is anyone else horribly sick of seeing these two wrestle? This is the fourth match between these two in three weeks. Christian is a fantastic performer, but I don’t know how much longer he can keep pulling semi-decent matches with ADR out of his ass. ADR is so formulaic and predictable, no matter who he wrestles. No wonder his matches with Orton a while back nearly put me to sleep. ADR grabs Christian by the head and backs him in the corner, where he fires off some kicks and punches. Christian comes back by countering a corner charge with a backdrop to the floor. He follows up with a baseball slide through the ropes before rolling ADR back in the ring. ADR immediately rolls back to the outside, so Christian mounts the top rope for a dive. ADR sees it coming and begins backtracking up the ramp. Commercials.
A video for the Usos is shown.
Back from the break, and shock of shocks, ADR is kicking Christian in the corner. Christian comes back with a pair of uppercuts, then goes for a tornado DDT. ADR blocks it by shoving Christian straight to the floor, which Christian landing awkward on the apron beforehand. ADR stomps him on the floor before rolling him back in, where he gets a 2-count. ADR applies a top wristlock, but Christian punches his way out. He blocks a back body drop before running into a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for 2. ADR forgets which arm to work over against the ropes, and even when he remembers, he can’t do it correctly. He goes for a cannonball across the back, but Christian sees it coming, sending ADR to the apron. Christian knocks him to the floor with an inverted hotshot. ADR gets back in, but Christian hits a couple of rights and a running forearm shot. Christian mounts the corner for some punches before hitting a back body drop. Up top, Christian misses a cross-body, and ADR capitalizes with a seated dropkick for 2. ADR headbutts Christian in the corner and goes for the step-up enziguri, but Christian ducks before hitting a springboard sunset flip for 2. Christian connects with a stiff right and goes for a seated dropkick from the middle rope, but ADR blocks it and goes for the rolling jujigatame. Christian escapes, mounts the middle buckle and hits a tornado DDT for 2. Christian calls for the spear, but ADR sees it coming and rolls the floor. Christian chases him back in, where he hits an uppercut from the floor. Up top, ADR blocks a dive with a step-up enziguri for 2. ADR pulls down his kneepad and goes for a thrust kick. How in the name of Davey Crockett’s sweat-stained buckskins is pulling a kneepad down going to make a kick more effective? I swear ADR is borderline retarded, but that would be insulting to those who are actually mentally challenged. Anyway, Christian blocks the kick and goes for the Killswitch. ADR escapes and hurls Christian shoulder-first into the ring post before hitting the rolling jujigatame from the turnbuckles. Christian tries to fight out, but eventually taps.
WINNER: Alberto Del Rio. I’m going to safely assume this feud is done now and ADR now has to move on a ridiculous number of matches in a row with Rob Van Dam. After the match, ADR says all of the Hispanic people look up to him, and he knows they all want to be the next ADR. There’s one ADR. You can’t be like him because you’re peasants. That doesn’t mean just because you are the son or daughter of a peasant, that you have to be a peasant. You can be better. Follow your leader, the great Alberto Del Rio.
Ricardo Rodriguez comes out and tells ADR to stop. He has a little bit of a problem. He doesn’t want to follow ADR to greatness, nor does anyone in the audience. Another guy who doesn’t want to follow ADR to greatness is someone who already exemplifies greatness. This guy doesn’t look down on people; he stands up for them, and that is Rob Van Dam.RVD makes his way down to the ring, and as ADR is distracted, Christian hits a missile dropkick on him . RVD enters the ring and hits Rolling Thunder, causing ADR to bail.
MATCH 4-2-on-3 Handicap Match: The Big Show and Mark Henry vs. 3MB (Jinder Mahal, Drew McIntyre and Heath Slater)
Show and Slater start, and Show immediately chops Slater in the chest before throwing him into two turnbuckles. Henry tags in as Slater tries to fight back. He comes off the ropes and runs right into a standing avalanche. Henry throws Slater to the corner before hitting a big boot. He misses a seated splash, which allows Drew to tag in. He pounds on Henry for a moment before Mahal tags in. Mahal stomps Henry down before tagging in Slater, who kicks Henry in the ribs. He continues the stomping, then fires off some rights. Slater comes off the ropes, and Henry hits a big Pounce. Show tags in, as does Drew. Drew gets thrown to the corner before Show hits a back body drop. He then boots Mahal off the apron before shouldering Drew to the mat. He calls for the chokeslam, which connects for 2 as Slater breaks up the pin. Show goozles him before throwing him to Henry for the World’s Strongest Slam. Mahal gets shoved over the top rope by Show, and Drew turns around into the WMD for 3.
WINNER: The Big Show and Mark Henry. Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins appear on the TitanTron. Reigns says they should’ve stepped up, and instead just beat 3MB. Rollins says Show didn’t get the message on RAW. He’s shocked Show is back on his feet, but that’s fine, because they’ll have fun knocking him back down. Show’s time is running out here. Reigns says Henry has been in WWE for over a decade, and he wants respect? They’ll never respect him. Rollins says two former champions are now a team, and they want a shot at the WWE Tag Team titles? There’s only one problem: they are just better than Show and Henry. A new era has dawned, and the two of them have to go. Believe in that.
MATCH 5: Antonio Cesaro (w/Zeb Colter and Jack Swagger) vs. Darren Young (w/Titus O’Neil)
Okay, before I recap this match, let me ask a question: why did Young coming out of the closet automatically make him a face? Don’t get me wrong; I think it’s great he was finally comfortable enough to be himself, and I am a longtime advocate for the LGBT community. However, after he came out, WWE just made PTP faces with no explanation whatsoever. They have been getting routinely booed since day one as a team, and now we’re just supposed to cheer them for whatever reason? It’s not like WWE is even mentioning Young’s recent outing, so there is literally no reasoning behind their turn. Okay, I’m done ranting. Onto the match. Cesaro immediately nails Young with a dropkick and follows up with some mounted punches. He hits a series of rights and a headbutt in the corner, followed by a deadlift gutwrench suplex. Young headbutts Cesaro in the corner before Cesaro comes back with a knee to the gut. Young blocks a corner charge before running into a sleeper. Cesaro breaks the hold and hits a short-arm clothesline for 2. He slaps Young across the face, and Young comes back with a running clothesline. He hits a series of jabs, sends Cesaro to the corner and hits an overhead belly-to-belly suplex. A northern lights suplex gets 2, and Young goes for Forever Young. Swagger distracts him, and Titus pulls Swagger back down. Cesaro rolls Young up for 2, and Young comes back with a hotshot. Forever Young connects this time, and he gets the 3 as I learn the name of his finisher has now been changed to the Gut Check.
WINNER: Darren Young.
We see Ryback get approached by a fan, looking for an autograph for his son, Billy. Ryback calls Billy a stupid name, then says he’s kidding and signs the picture. He personalizes the autograph and hands it back. The fan asks what the autograph says, then asks which guy on the poster Ryback is. He also asks Ryback’s name and says it’s been a while since he’s watched WWE, but his son watches all the time. He means no disrespect, but his son will be thrilled. Ryback rips up the picture and calls the fan a scrawny, pencil-neck fool.
MATCH 6-Cage Match: Daniel Bryan vs. Wade Barrett
While I complained about all of the ADR/Christian matches earlier, I won’t complain about all of the Bryan/Barrett matches in the same way? Why? Because unlike the other feud, both guys in this one have loads of talent and try to make each match different than the last. Barrett backs Bryan into the corner, where he unloads on him with rights. Bryan reverses things and nails several kicks. Barrett recovers and tries to send Bryan into the cage, but Bryan blocks it and throws Barrett to the corner for some Yes! Kicks to the gut. He mounts the buckles for some punches until Barrett throws him off. Bryan charges in, but is met with a boot to the face. Barrett follows up with another boot, then hits a few rights to the head. He then lawn-darts Bryan into the cage for 2. Barrett goes for a back suplex, but Bryan escapes and low-bridges Barrett right into the cage wall. He throws Barrett to the corner once more for a series of kicks and punches. Barrett reverses a whip and Bryan backflips out of it before getting hit with the Winds of Change for 2. Commercials.
Back from the break, Barrett has Bryan sandwiched between the cage and the ropes, and he drops Bryan with a running boot for 2. Barrett goes to the apron, pulling Bryan with him. Bryan breaks free and begins slamming the back of Barrett’s head into the cage before hitting a pair of running dropkicks that knock Barrett down. Bryan follows up with a baseball slide against the cage. Bryan goes to the corner to try and escapes the cage, but Barrett recovers and stops him. Bryan kicks him away and hits a seated missile dropkick for 2. Bryan fires off the Yes! Kicks to the chest and goes for the Buzzsaw, but Barrett ducks and throws Bryan face-first into the cage before turning him inside-out with a clothesline for 2. Barrett goes for Wasteland, but Bryan escapes by grabbing the cage. He kicks Barrett away and goes to climb out of the cage, but Barrett gets underneath and electric chairs him for 2. Barrett looks to escape the cage now, and begins climbing from the corner. Bryan manages to pull him back down onto the top turnbuckle, where he looks for a German superplex. Barrett avoids it by holding onto the cage, eventually knocking Bryan down with a series of elbows. Barrett gets across the top of the cage, but Bryan recovers once more and begins hitting him in the back. He pulls Barrett back in and hits the Yes! Kicks while balancing on the top rope before slamming Barrett-face first into the cage and hitting a sunset-flip powerbomb from the top. Bryan gets back to this feet and knocks Barrett out with a running knee for the 3.
WINNER: Daniel Bryan. Great main event tonight. I love Bryan using a variation of Regal’s knee trembler for a finisher.
As Bryan is outside celebrating his victory, Orton comes from out of nowhere and hits an RKO on the floor. He stands over Bryan’s body, holding the WWE title in the air.
End of show.
Seriously, WWE: give me Bryan/Barrett as many times as you want. I don’t care who wins the match; just give me more.
Dustin Nichols is a freelance writer, and you can keep track of all of his work on his Facebook page, which can be found at www.facebook.com/DustinNicholsWriter. Oh, and if you like bodybuilding, check out his mom’s official site by clicking the banner below:
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