Tonight’s WWE Friday Night Smackdown comes only five short days after an epic SummerSlam pay-per-view event. Del Rio looks for revenge in a match against Christian, and 3MB is being advertised against Mark Henry and Big Show. Let’s see if this week’s show delivers.
No fireworks to kick-off tonight’s show.
Opening Segment w/ Randy Orton
Vickie Guerrero welcomed the crowd. She immediately introduced our NEW WWE Champion, Randy Orton. Vickie shook hands with Orton as he made his way down to the ring. JBL used his classic, “if you build a sports entertainer from the ground up” line in reference to Randy Orton. Orton got on the mic and promised to give the fans what they wanted, and promised to be a “role model.” He claimed that he didn’t know Triple H was going to pedigree Daniel Bryan. On the other hand, he said that he didn’t need Triple H’s help, just like he didn’t need The Shield’s help on RAW. Orton then asked for the support of the crowd, who responded with a loud “No!” chant. Just as Orton was claiming to be the face of the WWE, Daniel Bryan’s music hit.
Bryan came down to the ring immediately thanked John Cena for the opportunity to wrestle him at SummerSlam. He then looked at Orton, and said it’s time for the new face of the WWE to change. Bryan said he doesn’t look like Orton. Randy Orton is chiseled, and oh so pretty. But Orton is also arrogant. Bryan argued that Randy Orton has been handed everything – that he has the “genetic golden ticket.” Daniel Bryan said that he himself had to scratch and claw for every opportunity. He might not be pretty, but he can wrestle. More importantly, he can beat Orton for the WWE Championship. Bryan said he wants his rematch tonight. Orton’s response: “Sorry short-stuff, you’re going to have to wait until Night of Champions.” Randy Orton held the belt high and both men stared each other down. Suddenly, Orton tried to sneak in an RKO, but Bryan blocked it, then pushed Orton into the ropes and drop-kicked him outside the ring. Randy Orton tucked tail and left up the ramp.
Rating: Good - Now that Orton’s allegiance has been established, I’m glad this segment kicked off the show. Orton and Bryan needed that “face-to-face” confrontation to sell the feud. Orton’s role here, the “I didn’t know Triple H would interfere, but obviously I’m going to take advantage,” line makes a lot of sense for Orton. Bryan also did a great job of selling the motion.
Backstage, Vickie Guerrero was on the phone with somebody, and said that Bryan had no reason to be out in the ring to ruin Orton’s moment. Barrett showed up and asked for a match with Bryan. He guaranteed that it would be the “last we would ever see of Daniel Bryan.” Vickie Guerrero made it a steel cage match. Awesome!
Curtis Axel vs. Cody Rhodes
Axel started things off by kicking Rhodes into the corner. He capitalized with a dropkick, but Rhodes countered with a dropkick of his own. Axel escaped the ring to catch his breath. When Rhodes attempted to capitalize, Axel grabbed his leg and tripped him to the outside. The show went to commercial…
Back from the break, Axel continued his domination. Rhodes finally fought back in. He attempted the disaster kick, but Axel escaped. Rhodes caught him with a sit-down pin from the top rope, but only scored a two-count. He followed it up with a clothesline. Just as Rhodes was going to the top rope, Paul Heyman distracted him, giving Axel the change to snag the ropes and cause Rhodes to fall. Curtis Axel hit Rhodes with his twisting neck-breaker, and scored the pin.
Winner: Curtis Axel
Heyman took the microphone and said that he’s in agony. Not in agony over his physical pain, but rather emotional distress. He described Punk as a “sad, pathetic, loser.” He said that Punk didn’t take his loss at SummerSlam like a man, and now he’s on a downward spiral. Heyman said he’s led Axel to victory, after victory, after victory. He handed the microphone over. Curtis Axel said Punk doesn’t even deserve an Intercontinental Championship match. He challenged Punk to a match LIVE on Monday Night Raw.
Rating: Bad - Two things: First, the match was a complete miss for me. It was too short to ever get in a grove. Furthermore, why bury Cody Rhodes after his recent wins over Sandow? I don’t understand the booking mentality. Does that mean Damien Sandow is just bottom of the pack? I’m also not a fan of the Curtis Axel challenge here. Punk vs. Axel does NOT equal money, at least not at this stage in Axel’s career. Hopefully WWE has something bigger in store.
Big E Langston vs. Dolph Ziggler
(otherwise known as the match you wanted to see at SummerSlam)
Big E got things off to a powerful start by attacking Ziggler before the match even started. The ref intervened, and Ziggler finally got back up to his feet. The bell rang, and the match started. Big E immediately went back on offense to maintain control of Ziggler. He went for a quick pin attempt, but only scored a two. Big E set Ziggler up for a powerbomb, but Ziggler reversed it into an x-factor (is there another name for it?). This only gave Ziggler a two-count. Just when Ziggler was trying to regroup, AJ attacked Ziggler, and Big E capitalized. When Big E lifted Ziggler up, Ziggler slipped off his back. He hit his finisher, and scored the pinfall 1…2…3.
Winner: Dolph Ziggler
Rating: Good - Not much here to talk about. Ziggler had to fight back against the odds, but he still pulled out the victory. And I have to give Ziggler credit for selling everything like a champ. Good enough.
Alberto Del Rio vs. Christian
Both men started the match off in an elbow-collar tie up. Christian eventually got the advantage, and tossed Del Rio to the outside. This was too much for Del Rio, who decided he needed a quick breather, and the show cut to commercial.
Back from the break, Del Rio maintained control of Christian in the corner. Michael Cole alluded to something happening on the WWE app during the break, but I ignored it because that just seems silly. Del Rio shot a half nelson, but only got a two-count. He focused his efforts on Christian’s elbow. Christian fed on the energy of the crowd, but his offensive rally was halted by a tilt-a-whirl back breaker. Del Rio immediately went back to work on Christian’s elbow. Del Rio missed an attack on the ropes, which gave Christian the chance to regain control. He hit Del Rio with a series of slaps, and punched Del Rio in the corner to a seven count. Del Rio got back in with a dropkick square to Christian’s face. When he went for an enziguri, Christian dodged it, and went for a sit-down pin attempt. Unfortunately, Christian missed with his attack from the top rope. He reversed Del Rio’s cross arm-breaker attempt, then scored with a tornado ddt. He only got a two-count on the pin attempt. Christian motioned for the spear, but Del Rio rolled out of the ring. Back inside the ring, Del Rio assaulted Christian with a series of kicks. He pulled down his knee-pad, but Christian blocked the kick attempt. Del Rio then came back and reversed Christians kill-switch attempt. He hit Christian with a unique cross arm-breaker from the top rope, and although Christian almost fought out, he eventually had to tap.
Winner: Alberto Del Rio
Rating: Good - Another fantastic match between these two veterans. Seriously, what veteran is better than Christian? And thank goodness Del Rio can deliver when asked to step up. I hate seeing Christian lose (again!), but I understand the direction of the story here.
Del Rio took a microphone and talked about all the Latinos who looked up to him. He called everybody in the audience “peasants.” He said it’s okay though, because they can be something better if they just follow the great “Alberto Del Rio!”
Ricardo Rodriguez came out, and JBL quickly chided “There’s Judas.” Funny. RR said that people shouldn’t follow Del Rio, especially not this guy who exudes greatness every chance he gets… ROB VAN DAM. While Del Rio was distracted, Christian hit Del Rio with a missile drop-kick from the top rope. RVD got in the ring and scored with a rolling thunder.
Big Show and Mark Henry vs 3MB
Big Show and Heath Slater started things out. After a brief dominance of Slater, Show tagged in Henry. Mark Henry tossed Slater around like a rag doll. Slater was fortunate to avoid a splash, and rolled-out to tag in Drew McIntre. McIntyre got the upper hand on Mark Henry, and then tagged in Jinder Mahal, who continued the beat-down. Finally, Slater was tagged back in, and Henry made the tag to Big Show. Big Sow cleared the ring. He went for a pin attempt on McIntyre, but Slater broke it up. Henry came in and hit Slater with a World’s Strongest Slam. Big Show then hit Drew McIntyre with a WMD, and captured the three count.
Winners: Big Show and Mark Henry
After the match, Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins appeared on the TitanTron. They acted unimpressed by the duo’s victory over 3MB. Reigns said they would never respect Henry. Rollins put the team over as imposing, but said they wouldn’t give Henry and Show a shot at the titles because they are simply better.
Rating: Good - I get it, Henry and Show need to be established as a legit tag team before they actually challenge for the titles. I’m glad 3MB got a minimal amount of offense since this was a handicap match. Otherwise, a squash match with a specific purpose. I’ll take it.
Darren Young vs. Antonio Cesaro
Cesaro got the quick start against Young. He flipped Young over in a sideways suplex, and continued the beat down with a European uppercut. When Cesaro went to bounce off the ropes, Darren Young caught him with a clothesline. He picked up a little bit of momentum. When Young picked Cesaro up for the gut-check, Jack Swagger caused the distraction. O’Neil knocked Swagger off, and Young went for his finisher again. He hit the gut check, and scored the pinfall, 1, 2, 3…
Winner: Darren Young
Rating: Good - Short match, but it continued the build of Young and O’Neil. Although, in all honesty, I wish the company would have given O’Neil the chance to wrestle tonight. Whatever.
Backstage, a fan asked Ryback to autograph a poster for his son Billy (HAS THIS GUY NOT BEEN WATCHING WWE RECENTLY? DON’T DO IT!!!) Ryback said, sure, a “favor from the big guy.” The guy asked Ryback what his name was (Oh, okay, that explains it). The fan said he doesn’t watch WWE, but his son never misses it. Ryback ripped up the poster and called the guy a scrawny fool.
Daniel Bryan vs. Wade Barrett in a Steel Cage Match
Cole recapped the feud between Bryan and Barrett as both men made their way down to the ring.
Once the bell rang, Bryan took the early advantage. Barrett hit Bryan with a big boot and started hammering away with a series of fists. Bryan fought back with punches and kicks, but Barrett reversed an Irish Whip attempt and scored with the winds of change. Michael Cole reminded us of the three different ways to win as Smackdown went to commercial.
When Smackdown continued, Barrett was still in control. He went for a pin attempt but only gained a two-count. Barrett attempted to pull Bryan through the ropes and against the cage, but Bryan escaped, and tossed Barret against the cage with a sequence of drop kicks. When Barret crawled out, Bryan kicked him flat across the chest. However, Barrett reversed the last one, and tossed Bryan directly into the steel cage. Bryan kicked out of the pin attempt. Daniel Bryan finally fought his way over Barrett and attempted to climb out of the cage, but Barrett grabbed him and landed with the electric chair. He attempted to climb out himself; however, Bryan quickly got to his feet and prevented Barrett from escaping. Barrett used his head to create separation. Just as he got to the top of the cage, Bryan jumped back up and grabbed him again. Bryan smashed Barrett’s face into the steel cage. He then hit Barrett with a series of kicks, and power bombed him from the top rope in an epic way. The crowd chanted “Yes!” Bryan chanted “Yes!” Bryan gained momentum across the ring and nailed Barrett with a running knee.
Winner by Pinfall: Daniel Bryan
After the match, Bryan celebrated around ringside. When Bryan made it to the front of the ring, Randy Orton slipped out and nailed Bryan with an RKO. Orton stood over Bryan’s body with the championship to close the show.
Rating: Good - This was an awesome match. Both Bryan and Barrett share a great deal of chemistry, and they intelligently used the steel cage to enhance their brawl. I also like how Barrett was booked to lose, but he wasn’t booked to look weak in the process. The Orton attack after the match was expected. That being said, I’m digging the way it was delivered, and should be a great next step in his ongoing heel turn. Great stuff here.
Final Thoughts: Solid edition of Friday Night Smackdown. I love seeing the main-event story carry over to Friday’s show. I’m also a big fan of the gimmick match whenever it’s used sparingly and effectively (like it was tonight). While a couple of the matches were mediocre, Del Rio vs. Christian and Bryan vs. Barrett were both fantastic enough that this was definitely a must-see episode of Smackdown. An enjoyable two hours of WWE entertainment.
Did you catch tonight’s WWE Smackdown? Give us your thoughts on the steel-cage main event, or tell us what you think about the Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan feud, in the comments below!