This week’s WWE Friday Night SmackDown opens with footage from RAW in regards to Triple H stripping Daniel Bryan of the WWE Championship. I hate to break it to Triple H, but Scott Armstrong has not been with WWE for 20 years.
In the arena, Smackdown GM Vickie Guerrero is in the ring. She welcomes the crowd to the show. As your GM, she has the most thrilling, entertaining episode planned for tonight. First, she is here to introduce to us the laughing stock of WWE, and no, it’s not Hornswoggle. This man has gone from hero to zero. Bob Backlund held the WWE Championship for over 2,000 days. CM Punk held it for 434 days. This man won the WWE title at Summerslam and held it for 5:25. He did it a little better at NoC when he stole the championship for just under 22 hours. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome the man that got caught red-handed on RAW, Daniel Bryan!
Bryan comes out and says he’d much rather be champion for a day than be a shrill, corporate suck-up for his entire life. Vickie reminds him she’s the boss, and she’s giving him another opportunity to come clean tonight. Bryan says they both know he did nothing wrong. Vickie disagrees and says anyone with half a brain can see he was conspiring with Scott Armstrong against Randy Orton. Instead of looking so ridiculous like he already does, Bryan needs to come forward and tell the truth. Bryan says the truth is he kneed Orton in the face. He covered Orton and the ref counted to 3 very fast, but he could have counted to 20, as Orton was knocked out. He doesn’t know why Armstrong did what he did, but he knows he should still be the WWE Champion. Vickie calls him a liar and says she doesn’t agree with her boss Triple H. Trips may have promised a match at Battleground, but she would have fired Bryan. She hopes he never becomes the face of WWE. Bryan says everyone should then be grateful Vickie doesn’t have any real power. Vickie says that, on RAW, 10 wrestlers prevented Bryan from getting the beating he deserved from the Shield. Instead of Bryan being fired, she wants him eliminated. He and those 10 other wrestlers will be eliminated tonight, then lists those superstars off: Dolph Ziggler, the Usos, R-Truth, Justin Gabriel, Zack Ryder, the Prime-Time Players, Kofi Kingston and Rob Van Dam. All of them and Bryan will be eliminated, because tonight, we’re going to have an 11-on-3 Handicap Gauntlet Match. The Shield will be in the ring at all times. One man from the 11-man team will face those three until he is defeated. The “Hounds of Justice” will run each and every one of those 11. And Daniel, she’s saving you for last.
MATCH 1: Naomi (w/Cameron) vs. WWE Divas Champion AJ Lee (non-title)
Natalya is on commentary for this match. We get a cut-away promo from AJ, who says she’s going to single-handedly defeat every “Total Diva”, starting with Naomi. AJ boots Naomi in the stomach and throws her into the ropes. Naomi somersaults onto the apron and lands a kick. She goes for a springboard and AJ catches her with a roundhouse on the way down. AJ applies a cravat, and Naomi elbows out before running into a back elbow for 2. AJ knee-chokes Naomi over the middle rope, then goes back to the cravat. Naomi breaks it with a jawbreaker, then hits a bicycle kick to the head. She rolls AJ up in a schoolgirl for 2, then follows up with a Dropsh*t and a flipping hiptoss. She ducks a clothesline and hits an atomic drop before ramming her ass into AJ’s face for 2. She goes for a bodyslam, but AJ escapes and applies a scissored sleeper. Naomi rams AJ back-first into the turnbuckles to break it and goes for a sidewalk slam, but AJ spins through and applies the Black Widow for the submission win.
WINNER: AJ Lee. After the match, AJ taunts Nattie from the apron.
We get a video for the Bella Twins as I cock the hammer on the pistol pointed at my head.
MATCH 2: Jack Swagger (w/Antonio Cesaro and Zeb Colter) vs. Santino Marella
Swagger circles Marella a few times, and Marella goes for a single-leg. Swagger clubs him and rams him into the turnbuckles before bealing him across the ring. Swagger backs him into the opposite corner, hitting a short-arm clothesline. Swagger applies a double chicken-wing before ramming Marella face-first into the buckles. He assaults Marella with rights, then hits a series of kneelifts. Marella counters a hiptoss with a cartwheel, ducks a clothesline and goes for a hiptoss, but he can’t get Swagger over. Marella then turns it into a backslide and gets the 3.
WINNER: Santino Marella, who remains undefeated since returning. When was the last time you saw a match end with a backslide?
MATCH 3: Ryback (w/Curtis Axel and Paul Heyman) vs. Nick Nardone
Before the match, Paul Heyman introduces himself and he can tell that everyone already knows the big news that he is now the best in the world. Admittedly, he would like to give credit to his opponent. CM Punk gave him all he could handle at NoC. But when two men engage in combat in the ring, only one man can emerge victorious. On Sunday, that man was not your hero, CM Punk. No, no. The winner of that match was Paul Heyman. He’s gotta tell ya, he could not have done it without his hero, Ryback. Ryback takes the mic and calls Heyman an appreciative man who doesn’t deserve to be picked on by a bully like Punk. If there’s one thing he can’t stand, it’s a bully. Take this guy in the ring, for example. Heyman told him earlier today that this guy refused to sign an autograph for a little kid and later intimidated the kid in the parking lot. You want to intimidate little kids? Try to intimidate Ryback. What he’s going to do to this guy is exactly what he’ll do to Punk the next time he sees Punk.
Apparently, this Nardone guy is from OVW, which I find funny, since that company is TNA’s official developmental territory. Ryback trips Nardone, causing him to land on his face. Ryback apologizes and offers to help him up. Ryback grabs him by the face instead and shoves him into the corner. Nardone fights out before running into a Meat Hook. Ryback hits Shell Shocked and gets the 3.
Randy Orton makes his way out to put us to sleep. I mean, cut a promo. You know what? Either way. At NoC, Daniel Bryan and Scott Armstrong conspired to steal the WWE title from him, and they succeeded. After a lightning-fast count of 3, his reign as champion was over just like that. But, it was his fault. It was 100% his fault. He never should have been in that position in the first place, but in the last 2 years, he was suppressing who he really was down inside because he thought that’s what we all really wanted. He even went to anger management and locked away the sadistic side of old, the “Viper” who was void of morality because he thought that’s what everyone wanted. On RAW, Trips and Stephanie McMahon allowed him to be who he should. He ripped open the door he closed a few years ago and as a result, he made an example out of the Miz in front of his friends and family so everyone would know who Orton really and truly is. We see the footage from RAW, and I absolutely love how Miz’s dad doesn’t react at all. Orton says that is a warning to anyone who gets in his path. Now, there is no champion right now, and he can’t change that, but at Battleground, he will. He will cause destruction and pain, talking scorched Earth. He’s going to end the war between him and Bryan “once and for good”. Then, he swears to once again to be YOUR…no, he once again promises to be HIS WWE Champion.
The Shield’s music hits, and looks like their match is next. Before that happens, we get a video for them.
MATCH 4-11-on-3 Handicap Gauntlet Match: The Shield (WWE United States Champion Dean Ambrose, and WWE Tag Team Champions Roman Reigns & Seth Rollins) vs. The Prime-Time Players (Darren Young & Titus O’Neil), Dolph Ziggler, Kofi Kingston, Rob Van Dam, Justin Gabriel, R-Truth, Zack Ryder, the Usos (Jey & Jimmy) and Daniel Bryan
Vickie Guerrero is at ringside for this match. Darren Young is out first. The Shield immediately triple-team him in the corner before beating him down to the mat. Rollins rips his shirt off and whips him with it. He and Ambrose hold him up for a spear by Reigns, which is good for 3.
Darren Young is eliminated.
Titus O’Neil is out next. He manages to fight them off, backing Reigns into the corner and hitting everyone else with rights. Ambrose jumps on his back, Rollins holds his foot, and Reigns shoulders him. Rollins holds Titus in place for some clubbing blows by Ambrose. The Shield call for the triple powerbomb, which connects for 3.
Titus O’Neil is eliminated.
Dolph Ziggler is the 3rd man out. He immediately attacks Ambrose, then goes after Rollins. He dodges a corner charge by Reigns and hits some mounted punches, but Ambrose and Rollins whip him back down to the mat. Ambrose stands on Ziggler’s head, then picks him up for a punch. Rollins now holds him up for a punch by Reigns. Ambrose picks him up for another punch by Rollins, then a headbutt by Reigns. Rollins holds him up, and Ambrose hits a shot to the gut. Rollins and Reigns now hold him up as Ambrose knocks him down with a right before screaming for Ziggler to beg for his life. Ziggler begins fighting off all three, knocking Ambrose down with a clothesline and low-bridging Reigns to the floor. He hits Ambrose with a dropkick and a rocker dropper on Rollins. Ambrose gets clotheslined to the floor, and Ziggler goes with him. Ziggler gets back on the apron and nails Rollins, but Ambrose grabs his foot, allowing Rollins to nail a dropkick. Reigns spears him on the floor, and Ziggler is counted out.
Dolph Ziggler is eliminated.
Kofi Kingston is number 4. Reigns tries to spear him on the ramp. Kofi leapfrogs him, jumps on the apron and hits a double hotshot on Ambrose and Rollins. He follows up with a double springboard cross-body, then hits both with strikes and dropkicks. Reigns is back in, and Kofi hits him with Trouble in Paradise for 2 as Ambrose breaks up the pin. Rollins and Ambrose beat Kofi down, then Ambrose holds him up for strikes by Rollins. Ambrose then hits the D-AK47 for 3.
Kofi Kingston is eliminated.
Rob Van Dam is number 5. He goes after Ambrose, avoids a double back body drop, causes Ambrose to kick Rollins, then nails Rollins with a thrust kick and hits a roundhouse on Ambrose. Spinning heel kick on Rollins in the corner, followed by a rolling monkey flip on Ambrose on the other side. Rollins tries to send him into the corner, but RVD blocks it and hits a high kick to the face. Reigns gets on the apron, and RVD hits him with a springboard thrust kick. Ambrose gets a spinning heel kick and Rolling Thunder. He calls for the Five-Star Frog Splash when Triple H’s music hits. The distraction is enough for Reigns to knock RVD to the floor. He then gets in Vickie Guerrero’s face and orders this match to be shut down before demanding she come to his office.
WINNERS: No contest.
We get a video for Rob Van Dam.
We are now in Vickie’s office, and Triple H is asking her what the hell she was thinking. Ten guys ran into help Daniel Bryan. After tonight, it’ll be more 10, then another. Before you know it, it’s a full-scale revolt. Vickie has no idea what’s best for business. What’s best is fair, honest competition for these guys. They need to be in a safe, competitive environment. Tonight, she’s going to make a 6-man, and it will be the Shield vs. the Usos and Daniel Bryan, and she needs to go announce it to the competitors now.
We see Triple H in his office and he’s approached by Zack Ryder and Justin Gabriel. He wants to apologize to them for being put in the Handicap Match earlier. It was unfair, and he’s sorry. Gabriel appreciates that, and Ryder says they’d still like some competition. Trips likes that and sends them to the ring for some good, fair competition.
MATCH 5: Justin Gabriel and Zack Ryder vs. Luke Harper and Eric Rowan (w/Bray Wyatt)
Harper and Ryder start the match, and Harper backs Ryder into the ropes. Ryder comes back with a facebuster and a dropkick, followed by a forearm in the corner. Harper runs into a back elbow and ducks a middle rope dropkick before hitting a running boot for 2. Gabriel breaks up the pin, then intercepts the incoming Rowan with a series of kicks. Rowan blocks the last one and throws Gabriel to the floor. In the ring. Ryder hits a pair of boots and goes for the Rough Ryder, but Harper catches him and powerbombs him into the buckles before hitting a discus clothesline for 3.
WINNERS: Luke Harper and Eric Rowan. After the match, the two hold Ryder up for Wyatt, who looks for Sister Abigail. Gabriel mounts the top rope, Wyatt sees him coming and orders Rowan to take him out. Rowan knocks him to the floor with a big boot, and Wyatt lands Sister Abigail. He says that, when he makes a promise, he always keeps it. If they’re going to keep lining them up for the Wyatt Family, the Wyatts will keep knocking them down. All for you, Abigail. Follow the buzzards.
We now get a video for the Wyatt Family.
We see a trainer working on Rob Van Dam when Triple H walks in. He apologizes for the match earlier, and he also wants to let RVD know he gets a rematch for the World title at Battleground. Trips leaves and as the doctor continues to check on him, Alberto Del Rio nails him from behind, throws him into the wall, into a cupboard, then kicks him in the face before throwing a plastic tub across his back.
MATCH 6: R-Truth vs. World Champion Alberto Del Rio (non-title)
Truth assaults ADR in the corner at the opening bell. He whips ADR across the ring and hits a corner splash, followed by a suplex for 1. He looks for the axe kick, but ADR moves and hits the Backstabber for 2. ADR chokes Truth over the middle rope, then hits a back suplex for 1. ADR applies a rear chinlock with his knee in Truth’s back, then headbutts him down. ADR flexes his non-existent pecs before running into a jumping sidekick. Truth hits a clothesline, followed by the Hat Rack Crack for 2. ADR shoves him into the corner and hits the step-up enziguri for 2. He calls for the rolling jujigatame and applies it. Truth quickly escapes and hits the axe kick for 2. He goes for the Osaka street cutter, but ADR escapes, hits a kick to the back and another to the face before applying the jujigatame for the submission win.
WINNER: Alberto Del Rio.
MATCH 7: The Shield (WWE United States Champion Dean Ambrose, and WWE Tag Team Champions Roman Reigns & Seth Rollins) vs. The Usos (Jey & Jimmy) and Daniel Bryan
Bryan and Rollins start for their teams with a lock-up. Bryan backs Rollins to the corner and fires off some Yes! Kicks before hitting a kitchen sink off the ropes. He drops a knee for 1, then applies a side headock before shouldering Rollins off the ropes. Rollins tries for a leapfrog, but Bryan picks the leg mid-air and applies a surfboard. Jimmy tags in and hits a jumping clothesline for 2 before applying an arm wringer. Rollins nails him with rights and tags in Ambrose, and Ambrose beats Jimmy down in the corner before Jimmy comes back with a back body drop and an uppercut. Jimmy tags in Jey and Jey hits a flying forearm for 2. Jey applies a tight hammerlock, then throws Ambrose into his corner. Jimmy tags in, hits a forearm, a snapmare and a jumping headbutt for 2. Jey back in, and they hit a double back elbow, followed by a double elbow drop for 1. Jey applies a front chancery, and Ambrose rams him into the corner. Reigns tags in and stomps Jey down. Reigns nails him in the face with a right and goes for a back body drop, but Jey blocks it with a kick. Jey rolls him up in a schoolboy for 2 before backing him into the corner. Bryan tags in and hits some kicks to the back of the left leg before firing up the kicks to the chest. Reigns sends him into the ropes and drops him with a back elbow. Ambrose tags in and hits a power-drive elbow for 2. Rollins tags in and hits a few kicks and punches before foot-choking Bryan and applying a half-nelson/chinlock combo. Bryan counters into a back suplex and tags in Jimmy. They crisscross, and it ends with a dropkick by Rollins. Ambrose tags in and they wishbone Jimmy for 2. Commercials.
WINNERS: Daniel Bryan and the Usos.
End of show.
Really excellent main event tonight, and the Usos have stepped up their game big time since getting a more solid push. For anyone who thinks they don’t deserve the push they’re getting, watch this match and get back to me.
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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