Mike Tedesco’s Smackdown Thoughts
January 11, 2014
By: Mike Tedesco of Wrestleview.com
Well this was certainly a much more enjoyable episode of Smackdown than last week’s offering was. It wasn’t the total slam dunk that I thought it would be when comparing it to years past, but it was still a fun episode with some good stuff on it.
However, the opening segment is not considered one of them, in my opinion at least. The match between the Usos and the Wyatts (Harper and Rowan) was fine. There weren’t any issues there. It was the post-match happenings that I found to be a massive disappointment. I said last week that I wasn’t going to quickly decide how I feel about the Daniel Bryan thing, but after this week, I have no choice. The storyline, thus far, is terrible. I find everything about it has been botched. That was a hot angle that closed RAW out at the end of 2013. It should have been priority for the first RAW of 2014, but it was thrown in there at the 8:30 mark with very little fanfare… and to top it off, they lost with Bryan on the team. No buildup for the reveal. Just “HERE HE IS!” That was very mishandled.
They could have redeemed themselves with an interesting showing on Smackdown, but there were some serious production foul ups with that as well. I don’t know what in the world happened. Maybe the recording for the Daniel Bryan/Bray Wyatt attack on the Usos was corrupted or something, but something was definitely going on. Michael Cole’s commentary sounded like it was rerecorded, so whatever emotion he had in his voice from witnessing this attack live was lost. It sounded totally disingenuous. However, the worst of all was that they only used the hard camera, and they were switching between two angles where it was a wide shot and then a shot with maybe a fraction of a zoom. Bryan was doing goofy facials apparently, but you couldn’t see them. The worst part was the crowd was pretty much sitting on their hands, and there was no way for them to hide that. I’ve tried to think back and remember if I could remember anything on Smackdown being that messed up production-wise, but I cannot think of anything. It came at the worst possible time because the RAW reveal was so horrible. I just cannot wrap my brain around how bad this whole thing has been handled so far. They killed off the only guy the crowd was truly and completely into for this? It’s hard to insinuate that WWE has made a huge mistake when they’ve got the WWE Network being so damn right, but switching Bryan to heel allows me to do so. They now have a show where they have no true babyface that has any real type of momentum. Something needs to be done because John Cena and CM Punk aren’t cutting it in my view. They don’t have half the momentum that Daniel Bryan had in the last few months.
The Miz TV segment with the Big Show brought the show back on the tracks. Big Show was decent in talking about his disdain for Brock Lesnar, but it really picked up when Paul Heyman came out to accept the challenge on Lesnar’s behalf. Heyman teased a Lesnar appearance, which got the crowd completely fired up, and then he took the wind out from under their sails when he said it would happen at the Royal Rumble. We’ve seen the match before, but that was years ago. They’re different performers now, and I’m interested in seeing how they match up now. This was a good segment that got the crowd really fired up.
I was thinking about saying something about The Miz barely doing anything on this, but I think we all see what direction his career is going at this point. It’s a victory for him to even be featured on the show.
A big eight-man tag team match followed this with all the masked wrestlers on the roster taking on The Real Americans, Curtis Axel, and Ryback. It was a fine match, but it was just there on the show. It happened and then they moved right on.
The big match at the one-hour mark was Randy Orton taking on Big E Langston in a champion vs. champion match. I thought it was actually a really good showing for both men. Langston looked really dominant at certain points, and Orton did a good job of playing the cerebral, slightly cowardly heel. Orton would eventually win with a poke of the eyes and an RKO, but Langston certainly earned some points for hanging in there with him.
Langston’s big drawback is going to be his personality. Michael Cole was seriously making me cringe when he was saying on commentary, “Oh, Big E Langston is a fun-loving guy who is always goofing around and has a dry sense of humor.” I’m sure he is, but that doesn’t come through on the camera. He folds like a cheap tent every time he has to show any type of personality. He can skate by with limited means now because he’s a good performer in the ring, but it’s eventually going to catch up with him.
Xavier Woods beat Fandango in a quick match. Yeah, next.
I normally doing comment too much on backstage interviews, but the one with the Usos blew me away. Jey Uso didn’t say much, but Jimmy blew me away with the fire and passion he displayed in his promo. You should really go out of your way to find it. It’s probably not more than a minute or so, but it was really good. If the Usos can start talking, that could take the tag team division to the next level. It reminds me of when Edge and Christian started talking in 2000 and everyone’s reaction was, “Holy crap – they can talk?”
Speaking of tag teams talking, The Shield was out for the main event. Roman Reigns started off the promo by talking about how he is the new “Best in the World” after defeating CM Punk on RAW. Reigns was a little rough in his delivery, but he got the job done. There’s some work to be done there, but he has the ability to pull it together. Dean Ambrose was talking about having Damien put on him on RAW by Jake “The Snake,” and he mentioned how he would choke the snake out. It’s the mark in me, but I know I can’t be the only one hoping to see Jake Roberts enter the Royal Rumble and DDT Dean Ambrose. Finally, Seth Rollins, who has really been great in the last few weeks, finished it off with a strong promo about how they’re the future of the business. Rollins has really surprised me these last few weeks. I still cannot stop thinking about that great match he had against John Cena a few weeks ago on Smackdown. That’s required watching for any wrestling fan who hasn’t seen it yet.
The main event was a lot of fun with CM Punk and the New Age Outlaws taking on The Shield. Punk and the Outlaws looked like they were having a great time teaming together. I feel old because I can remember the last time the New Age Outlaws were on Smackdown in February 2000. I remember “Mr. Ass” Billy Gunn giving Bubba Ray Dudley a Famouser through a table in the ring before their match for the WWF Tag Team Titles at No Way Out. That was a great spot. That weekend, Billy Gunn tore his shoulder to shreds, and that was the end of the New Age Outlaws. It was really cool for me to recap a match with them. Like I said a few months ago when Rob Van Dam came in, I have a couple of guys on a short list that I would love to recap. I can now cross off the Road Dogg and Billy Gunn from that list as well.
The match itself was pretty darn good. Billy Gunn is permanently frozen in time. Has that guy aged at all in almost fourteen years? Road Dogg was no slouch either. My only wish is that he did his trademark New Age Outlaws intro on the show. This has to be the best week ever for The Shield. They got to be on Piper’s Pit, be in the ring with Jake “The Snake” Roberts, and then they get to compete against the New Age Outlaws. I know I’d be pinching myself if I were them. To top it all off, they performed well in each situation. And best of all, they did not tease a Shield breakup at all on this show. The show closed off with Cole talking about how dominant the team is. I can’t say that upsets me whatsoever. Why stop a good thing when you don’t really have to? Oh wait, Daniel Bryan…
Bump of the Night: Luke Harper giving Jimmy Uso a spinning clothesline at ringside!
Match of the Night: Orton vs. Langston, Punk and the Outlaws vs. The Shield **
Final Rating: ** 3/4
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Thanks for reading!
Mike Tedesco is the official recapper of WWE Smackdown for Wrestleview.com.