“Yes sir, we promised you a great main event…” The WWE video leads us into the show.
A video plays hyping up the fact that John Laurinaitis, Executive Vice President of Talent Relations and Interim General Manager of Raw, will be the General Manager of Smackdown for one night only.
A steel cage is lowering over the ring. David Otunga is in the ring, and he introduces John Laurinaitis, who is in the ring with him. Laurinaitis says, “Hello Smackdown!” Laurinaitis thanks the Board of Directors for allowing him this opportunity. Laurinaitis says he is the man to run both Raw and Smackdown. Teddy Long has never given a cage match to start off Smackdown, much less a championship cage match. Laurinaitis is going to prove to the crowd and Teddy Long how it should be done.
WWE United States Championship – Steel Cage Match
Santino Marella (c) vs. Jack Swagger w/ Vickie Guerrero and Dolph Ziggler
They circle the ring, and Santino ducks Swagger’s lock up attempt. Swagger backs him into the corner, and he unloads with some punches and knees. Swagger whips him hard into the opposite corner, and he hits a waist lock takedown for a two count. Swagger elbows him a few times in the midsection. Swagger throws him into the cage, and he taunts the crowd. Swagger is working at a methodical pace. Swagger hits a short-arm clothesline, and he gives him a lazy cover for a two count. Santino ducks a trio of clotheslines, and he attempts to scale the cage. Swagger grabs him, but Santino kicks him away. Santino springboards off the top rope, but Swagger catches him. Swagger throws him into the cage face first.
Swagger talks some trash, and he ducks a groggy Santino’s punch. Santino eventually gets pumped up, splits under a clothesline, hits a hip toss, and drops a head-butt for a near fall. Santino brings the Cobra out, and he stings Dolph Ziggler who was trying to climb up. Swagger goes for a back suplex, but the Cobra strikes him in the throat. Both men are down. Outside the ring, the referee ejects Dolph Ziggler from ringside.
We come back from the break to see Swagger knee Santino in the midsection. Swagger is still working at a slow, methodical pace. Swagger takes the Cobra and throws it down on the mat. Santino counters a knee to the midsection with a roll-up for a two count. Santino counters another move into a roll-up for a two count. Swagger then quickly gives him a drop-toe-hold into the turnbuckle. Swagger hits a Swagger Bomb for a near fall. Swagger can’t believe it. Swagger attempts to climb out of the cage, but Santino crotches him on the top rope. Santino picks up a near fall for that.
Santino climbs the cage and nearly gets over, but Swagger drags him back into the ring. They punch it out on the top rope, and Santino falls down. Santino eventually punches him back and hits a tornado DDT. Santino crawls to the door, but Swagger drags him back into the ring. Santino kicks him away, but Swagger grabs his ankle at the last moment. Santino had almost his entire body out of the cage. Swagger applies the Ankle Lock. Vickie goes to slam the door into Santino’s face, but the referee holds her from doing it. When she finally does slam the door shut, she hits Swagger as Santino countered out of the Ankle Lock. Vickie screams wildly as Santino crawls out the door to retain his championship.
Winner and still WWE United States Champion: Santino Marella
Match Rating: * 3/4
Santino Marella celebrates wildly with the championship, and he hugs members of the crowd. Vickie screams in anger at the sight. Teddy Long then comes out to the stage, and he hugs Santino before raising his arm for the crowd.
Michael Cole will interview World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan and Sheamus in the ring tonight. We’ll also see Sheamus, Randy Orton, and Big Show take on Daniel Bryan, The Miz, and Cody Rhodes in the main event.
John Laurinaitis is pacing in his office. David Otunga tells him to calm down. Otunga says the Board of Directors is watching, and he gave the crowd a championship cage match to start the show. Teddy Long walks in, and he asks what Laurinaitis wants. Laurinaitis says he gave his word last week that he would make the match of Kane versus Long’s girlfriend, Aksana. Long says he can’t do that, and Laurinaitis says he can. Long suggests they put their differences aside. Laurinaitis says he pushed him on Raw and now he wants to be friends. Long says he’s asking him as a man to not put Aksana in harm’s way. Laurinaitis says he didn’t hear him say “please.” Long says please. Laurinaitis then says he didn’t get an apology, and Long apologizes. Laurinaitis says it isn’t good enough. He suggests they settle it in the ring tonight. Long says if he beats him then the match with Aksana and Kane is off. Laurinaitis says if Long wins then the match with Aksana and Kane is on.
They show a video highlighting Shawn Michaels telling Triple H that he will be the guest referee in the Hell in a Cell match at WrestleMania.
Drew McIntyre makes his way to the ring. They highlight how Teddy Long fired McIntyre last week after losing a whole bunch of times. McIntyre says Teddy Long fired him last week, however he’s here. He’s here because of one man – Mr. Excitement John Laurinaitis. He had the wisdom and good business sense to realize that he is the future. McIntyre says he’ll get his job back if he defeats a mystery opponent of his choice.
The Great Khali’s music plays, and McIntyre looks like he’s going to cry in the ring. David Otunga comes out to the stage, and he tells Khali to have a seat at ringside. Khali seems confused, but eventually he leaves the ring. Otunga says he’s going to introduce McIntyre’s opponent, and it’s a reluctant Hornswoggle.
Drew McIntyre vs. Hornswoggle
McIntyre winks at him. McIntyre corners him, but Hornswoggle slides through his legs. McIntyre grabs him by the shirt and throws him down. McIntyre body slams him hard and covers him, but he lifts Hornswoggle’s shoulders at two and a half. McIntyre lifts him up for a few seconds before slamming him down hard a second time. McIntyre covers, but he again lifts Hornswoggle’s shoulders up. McIntyre hits a backbreaker and throws him away. The referee calls for the bell and ends the match.
Winner by Referee Stoppage: Drew McIntyre
Match Rating: N/A
Drew McIntyre is rehired, and he celebrates in the ring. McIntyre turns around, and The Great Khali brain chops him down. Khali checks on Hornswoggle, who is in pain.
Teddy Long is in the locker room putting on some sneakers. Aksana runs in, and she says she’s scared. Long says he has everything in control. Laurinaitis insulted his manhood and he needs to be taught a lesson. Long assures her that everything will be ok.
Later tonight we’ll see Sheamus, Randy Orton, and the Big Show take on Daniel Bryan, The Miz, and Cody Rhodes.
John Laurinaitis is warming up in his office. He’s in a black jumpsuit. David Otunga walks in, and Laurinaitis asks if he’s seen Kane. Otunga confirms that he has and mentions that he’s one angry monster.
Ezekiel Jackson vs. Mark Henry
They show photos of Mark Henry being inducted into the International Sports Hall of Fame. They go face to face in the ring, and Henry pushes him. They trade punches, and Jackson clotheslines him in the corner. Jackson goes for a Torture Rack, but Henry immediately fights out. Henry beats him down a bit and talks some trash. Henry body slams him, but Jackson is able to avoid an elbow drop. Jackson clotheslines him a few times in the corner, backs up, and Henry steamrolls him. Henry hits the World’s Strongest Slam for the win.
Winner by Pinfall: Mark Henry
Match Rating: N/A
John Laurinaitis is walking backstage with David Otunga. Teddy Long is seen walking elsewhere backstage with Aksana. They’ll meet in the ring next.
John Laurinaitis makes his way to the ring in a black jacket and spandex. David Otunga is at his side. Teddy Long makes his way to the ring wearing some athletic pants and a simple WWE shirt.
John Laurinaitis w/ David Otunga vs. Teddy Long w/ Aksana
If Teddy Long wins this match, Aksana must compete in a match against Kane. The bell rings, and Laurinaitis asks if Long really wants to do this. Laurinaitis says Kane is ready to come out. Laurinaitis asks if Long knows what Kane is going to do to Aksana in front of everyone. Laurinaitis tells him to “do the right thing” and lay down. Laurinaitis demands that he lay down. Long motions that he’s not going to lay down. Laurinaitis then motions for Kane to come out, and he makes his way to the ring. Aksana gets in the ring to hide behind Long. Kane gets on the apron, but all of a sudden Randy Orton pulls him to the floor. Orton gives Kane an RKO on the floor! Laurinaitis yells at Orton, and Long rolls him up for the win!
Winner by Pinfall: Teddy Long
Match Rating: N/A
John Laurinaitis can’t believe it. Long quickly leaves the ring with Aksana, and they go to the back. Laurinaitis throws a tantrum in the ring.
Teddy Long and Aksana are power walking through the backstage area. It looks like they’re going to the garage. Long says they’ll have a nice dinner tonight. Out at ringside, Randy Orton stands over Kane, who is still down at ringside.
Tonight’s main event will see Sheamus, Randy Orton, and the Big Show take on Daniel Bryan, The Miz, and Cody Rhodes.
Kofi Kingston and R-Truth vs. Epico and Primo w/ Rosa Mendes
Kingston will start out against Epico. Epico quickly kicks him and punches away at him. Epico sends him into the ropes, but Kingston counters into a monkey flip. R-Truth is tagged in, and they hit Epico with a double hip toss. R-Truth does a split and a dancing leg drop for a two count. Kingston is tagged back in, and R-Truth hits Epico with a jumping heel kick. Kingston picks up a two count. Epico reverses a whip, Kingston ducks a clothesline, and he goes flying out of the ring as Primo held the ropes open. Primo is tagged in, and he throws Kingston back into the ring. Primo punches away at Kingston. Epico is tagged in, and he punches Kingston down. Kingston tries to fight back, but Epico takes him down with a double arm suplex for a two count. Epico applies an abdominal stretch, but Kingston soon fights out. Kingston makes a tag, but Primo had the referee distracted. The referee orders R-Truth to go back to the apron. They double-team Kingston during the distraction. Primo hits a dropkick for a near fall. Primo applies a chin lock, and he keeps Kingston grounded. Kingston fights out, but Primo keeps him from tagging. Kingston eventually dropkicks out.
R-Truth is tagged in, and he hits a pair of clotheslines. R-Truth does a little dance and takes him down with an uppercut. Primo reverses a whip, R-Truth ducks a clothesline, and he hits the Lie Detector. Epico breaks up the pin. Kingston comes in, and he back body drops Epico over the top rope. Rosa gets on the apron, and Kingston hits Primo with a pendulum kick. R-Truth hits the Little Jimmy for the win.
Winners by Pinfall: Kofi Kingston and R-Truth
Match Rating: * 1/2
Michael Cole will interview Sheamus and Daniel Bryan later tonight.
They play a video highlighting The Rock and John Cena confrontation from Monday Night Raw. This Monday, The Rock will hold a concert, and John Cena will have a rap.
Michael Cole is in the ring. Cole says the greatest General Manager in the history of WWE, John Laurinaitis, has granted him an exclusive interview with two superstars on a collision course at WrestleMania. His first guest is the winner of the 2012 Royal Rumble and the number one contender to the World Heavyweight Championship, Sheamus. Sheamus makes his way to the ring. This interview will happen next.
Michael Cole introduces World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan to the ring. Bryan makes his way to the ring with AJ at his side. Cole says they’ll start with the “champ.” Cole asks how much Bryan can attribute luck to his success in WWE. Bryan says he hasn’t been lucky at all. When you’re good, you don’t need luck. It wasn’t luck when he cashed in his Money in the Bank contract against the Big Show and won the World Heavyweight Championship. It wasn’t luck when he defeated Mark Henry in a Lumberjack Match. It wasn’t luck when he beat Mark Henry and the Big Show in a Steel Cage Match at the Royal Rumble. It also wasn’t luck when he defeated five of the top Smackdown superstars at the Elimination Chamber to defend his title. Bryan says it’s the pure knowledge and application of scientific wrestling. It’s been living a clean, vegan lifestyle that keeps him mentally and physically fit. Plus, it’s his charisma and undeniable sex appeal that contributes to his success.
Cole says it takes a certain amount of luck to win the Royal Rumble match. Cole calls it the luck of the Irish. Sheamus says everyone needs a little bit of luck. He’s been lucky all his life. He’s proud he came from Ireland, but he’s lucky to be here in the United States, WWE, and in front of everyone tonight. Sheamus says he believes you make your own luck. Night after night he fought his way back to the top. Sure he had some luck, but at least he didn’t have to hide behind a 99-pound little girl. AJ goes to say something, but Bryan tells her to shut up. Bryan says AJ has had nothing to do with his success. If anything, she’s gotten in the way, and he means that literally. Sheamus says Bryan is the one who should be wearing a skirt. Sheamus says he gets the impression that he’s a whining, self-delusional little wimp. At WrestleMania, his luck will run out, and he’ll beat him for the World Heavyweight Championship.
Cody Rhodes’ music hits, and he makes his way to the ring. It’s time for the main event.
Daniel Bryan, Cody Rhodes, and The Miz w/ AJ vs. Sheamus, Big Show, and Randy Orton
Sheamus will start the match out against Cody Rhodes. Rhodes gets a waist lock applied, but Sheamus back elbows him and hits a shoulder block. Orton is tagged in, and he kicks Rhodes in the midsection. Orton punches away at him in the corner. Rhodes reverses a whip into the corner, but Orton explodes with a clothesline for a one count. Rhodes quickly takes Orton down, and Daniel Bryan is tagged in. Bryan punches Orton down for a one count. Bryan punches away at him in the corner and whips him to the opposite corner. Bryan hits a running dropkick for a near fall. Orton quickly pops up and hits a dropkick. Big Show is tagged in, and he hits a big head-butt. Big Show punches him in the corner, and he whips him hard into the other corner. Big Show hits a body slam and stands over him. Bryan quickly tags in The Miz who is reluctant to get into the ring.
Big Show brings his fist back, and The Miz quickly falls down to avoid him. Big Show blocks a kick and throws him down. Big Show chops him in the corner, and he tags in Cody Rhodes. Big Show claps facetiously at Rhodes. Rhodes gets into the ring, and he quickly tags The Miz back in. Big Show brings Miz into the ring the hard way.
We come back from the break to see Sheamus viciously clubbing The Miz down. Sheamus hits a short-arm clothesline for a two count. Sheamus wrenches the arm, but Miz quickly comes back with some big punches. The referee backs him up, and Sheamus hits him with a pair of hammer throws. Sheamus hits a rolling fireman’s carry for a near fall. Sheamus sends him to the ropes, but he lowers his head and eats a kick. Rhodes attacks Sheamus from behind. Sheamus quickly clotheslines Miz down, and he viciously clubs at Rhodes’ chest. Sheamus knocks Bryan off the apron, and Miz dropkicks him out of the ring. Bryan quickly takes Sheamus down with a flying knee to the face. Miz tags Daniel Bryan in.
Bryan dropkicks Sheamus as he gets into the ring. Bryan kicks away at him. Sheamus tries to fight back, but Bryan kicks him down. Sheamus eventually gets to his feet and beats him down. Bryan quickly drives him into the ropes, and he drops some knees on Sheamus. The Miz is tagged back in, and he kicks away at Sheamus. Miz kicks him for a two count. Rhodes is tagged in, and he stomps away at Sheamus. Bryan is tagged in, and he kicks away at Sheamus’ chest. The Miz is tagged in, and he kicks away at Sheamus. Miz applies a chin lock. Sheamus punches out, but Miz quickly stops his momentum with a DDT for a near fall. Rhodes is tagged in, and he applies a full nelson. Sheamus quickly powers out, and Rhodes just as quickly takes him down with a knee to the midsection. Sheamus tries to hit a Celtic Cross, but Rhodes counters into a leg sweep for a near fall. Rhodes applies a chin lock, but Sheamus fights up again. Rhodes uppercuts him, but Sheamus quickly hits him with the Irish Curse.
The Miz and Randy Orton are tagged in. Orton hits a pair of clotheslines and a powerslam. Orton also takes Rhodes down with a powerslam. Big Show grabs Rhodes by the throat and throws him over the top rope. Rhodes runs away and Big Show chases after him. Orton hits a hanging DDT and sets up for the RKO. Orton ducks a roundhouse from Bryan, and he goes for a hanging DDT on him. Bryan counters by snapping him off the top rope. Sheamus quickly knocks Bryan off the apron. Sheamus reverses a whip into the barricade, and he clotheslines Bryan over it. The Miz sets up for the Skull Crushing Finale, but Orton counters out. Orton hits a quick RKO for the win!
Winners by Pinfall: Sheamus, Big Show, and Randy Orton
Match Rating: **
Randy Orton quickly kicks Kane off the apron, but Kane drags him outside. They fight around ringside. Kane bounces him off the table, and Orton reciprocates. The continue slugging it out. Kane throws him into the ring post, and Orton does so as well. The fight it out, and Kane uppercuts him over the barricade. They fight into the crowd and up the stairs as Smackdown ends.
Quick Match Results
Santino Marella def. Jack Swagger to retain the US Title in a Steel Cage
Drew McIntyre def. Hornswoggle via Referee Stoppage
Mark Henry def. Ezekiel Jackson
Teddy Long def. John Laurinaitis
Kofi Kingston and R-Truth def. Epico and Primo (non-title)
Sheamus, Big Show, and Randy Orton def. Daniel Bryan, Cody Rhodes and The Miz
Bump of the Night: Drew McIntyre’s beat down of Hornswoggle
Match of the Night: The six-man tag team match **
They kicked the show off tonight with a fun little cage match between Santino Marella and Jack Swagger. Santino is, simply put, fun to watch. He’s someone who always flew under the radar in recent years, but lately he’s been getting the recognition he deserves. The guy works hard, and it’s great to see him get rewarded. The match was good, and the ringside stuff with Vickie Guerrero was great as well.
I figured we’d see Drew McIntyre get his job back on this episode. Maybe he’ll be fired again next week and John Laurinaitis will find a way to get him rehired again. The beat down on Hornswoggle drew some legitimate heat from the crowd. Even I was getting a little upset. There’s just something about that little guy that I love.
Mark Henry slaughtered Ezekiel Jackson pretty handily. This was just to put over Mark Henry being inducted into the International Sports Hall of Fame. Congrats go out to him for that honor. It was cool to see Mark Henry sitting by Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The Teddy Long/John Laurinaitis match, short as it was, got some good heat from the crowd. Long had to lose the match for Aksana to not enter a match with Kane. Randy Orton attacked Kane before the match ended and Long picked up the win. I’m actually surprised at the amount of heat this feud is still commanding. I didn’t think it’d be this hot, but the writing hasn’t been bad for it. Johnny Ace in that spandex with his little skinny ankles was killing me. That was absolutely hilarious. This guy is a great character. I’d like to see him break out the Ace Crusher for WrestleMania.
It was good to have Epico and Primo back on the show. Those two are a very good tag team. They just go out there and make you care about what they’re doing. Kingston and R-Truth, as random a pairing as they are, were pretty good tonight as well. Kingston sure loves to team with the Wellness Policy guys.
The “Michael Cole exclusive” with Daniel Bryan and Sheamus wasn’t that good. The two of them are in the ring together, and there was no drama whatsoever. It was just a boring debate about who is lucky and who isn’t. The most drama was when Bryan told AJ to shut up. There’s no story being told other than the paint-by-numbers egotistical wimpy heel versus the fan favorite. I’d think for WrestleMania they’d inject a little drama in somewhere. Perhaps an angle where Bryan attacks Sheamus backstage? It’s simple, but at least it’s something. Why should anyone care about this match if it seems like WWE doesn’t care? There’s not much time left to make people start caring. At this point it’s gotten off to such a bizarre and flaccid start that it may be impossible.
The six-man tag was a good match to close the show with. It killed three WrestleMania builds in one match. The only thing is it’s just a match. There’s a little story being told in the action, but not enough. The Smackdown writing team is pretty good with building up characters, but it seems like every year they fall short of making you care about things when it actually matters around WrestleMania time.
Final Rating: ** 1/2
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