Smackdown opens with a highlight of last weeks attack on Wade Barrett at the hands of Randy Orton. It’s announced that tonight’s main event will be a falls count anywhere match between the two. Hmm, I wonder how Daniel Bryan feels as World Champion when two other guys are the highlighted rivalry of the show(probably just like Punk feels having Cena on RAW). Don’t get me wrong; it’s a great feud for Orton and Barrett as they both bring out the best in one another. I just think it makes Daniel Bryan’s reign look less significant when Bryan has no set rivalry at the moment(kind of with Big Show but not really just yet) and when they focus more on other stars.
Final Smackdown of 2011 as told by Josh Matthews! Booker T comes down in the suit. Apparently no match for the Book right now. Booker talks about 2011 being an awesome year since his return at the Rumble. He talks about what he’s done this year and beating Cody Rhodes and thanks the fans for their support. Booker gets interrupted by Cody Rhodes. I should thank Cole for reminding me that Rhodes is the IC Champ because I honestly keep forgetting. Rhodes reviews his year and talks about beating Rey Mysterio(Mysterio’s idea to put over Rhodes from what I hear) at WrestleMania, and bringing “honor and prestige” back to the IC Title(Really? How many title defenses?). Looks to me like we are setting up for a rubber match between these guys. Booker and Cody argue and Cody offers a handshake to congratulate Booker on beating him and surprisingly, they shake hands. Booker goes to leave and Cody calls Booker’s return to the ring a fairy tale nostalgia act and says it’s over and his legacy will be destroyed if he continues to compete. Dustin Rhodes interrupts and comes out to Goldust music. I miss the Goldust character. Dustin puts over Booker T and talks about when he teamed with him. He says Cody shouldn’t be making a name for himself at Booker’s expense. Cody insults Dustin. Booker fires back in Dustin’s defense(love hearing Booker call Dustin “goldy”). Booker challenges Cody to one more match for the IC Title. Cody agrees to the match for next week. Booker goes to the announce table and Cody kicks Dustin in the gut and in the head before leaving. I’m very impressed with how WWE has kept this rivalry alive for this long. I enjoyed the two matches that these guys put on and I think we could see Booker winning the title in the third to set up a possible rematch for the Rumble. Bringing Dustin Rhodes into the scenario when he has history with both guys(Cody as his brother, Booker as his partner) was brilliant on creative’s part. Dustin has always been a very convincing character on the microphone.
Jinder Mahal and Ted Dibiase are facing off…again. The Mahal/Dibiase rivalry has a flashback shown from two weeks back when Mahal locked Dibiase in the camel clutch(now being emphasized as Mahal’s primary hold, I guess). The match ends after just a few minutes when Dibiase goes up top and lands on his feet after missing Mahal but apparently aggravates his leg. Mahal hits a reverse faceplant on Dibiase before locking in the camel clutch for the victory. Looks like you can expect more from these guys in the coming weeks. I understand both these guys being up and coming stars, but what about giving them some jobbers or FCW guys to squash(anybody but Heath Slater again) to put themselves over while they continue their feud? I feel like both of these guys have bright futures in midcard rivalries if they are utilized properly.
Backstage Teddy Long/Aksana segment where they talk about New Year’s Eve. Give me a break. Drew McIntyre interrupts and Long talks about McIntyre being signed back to Smackdown from Raw. He tells Drew that he needs to beat Ezekial Jackson tonight or he is going to have to think about letting him go. Drew tells him to watch the match tonight. Glad to see McIntyre back to getting a possible push. The guy is talented and fits the Vinny Mac/HHH mold for what they want in a star to carry the company.
Alicia Fox and Kaitlyn take on Natalya and Tamina(Jimmy Snuka’s daughter) in a divas tag match next. Alicia gets the pin on Natalya after a scissor kick to Natalya. Natalya ran into the corner to stun herself before the kick but really didn’t appear to hit all that hard. Lame. Outside of the botch and the fact that the match was two minutes long, Natalya and Alicia almost made divas wrestling look cool for all of fifteen seconds. Tamina gets pissed after the match and superkicks Natalya before hitting the superfly splash on Jim the Anvil’s offspring. I’ve concluded that a WWE Diva is always in one of four categories nowadays: irrelevant, happy and annoying, fierce face, or angry heel.
Daniel Bryan is shown with AJ. Show interrupts and asks to talk to Bryan alone. Show says giants don’t need to be rescued or saved. Bryan says that isn’t how he saw it but tonight they are partners against Henry and Otunga. Teddy Long comes into the picture to tell them that the match tonight won’t happen. He confirms that Show will face Otunga with Mark Henry in Otunga’s corner. Bryan says maybe giants do need saving after all and wishes him luck. It’s hard for me to see Big Show turning heel here. I would rather see Daniel Bryan get overconfident and cocky to become the heel in this feud. Underdog Daniel Bryan just seems to have run it’s course for me. It’s time for him to become a vicious fighting champion that can hold his own in any fight(at least that’s how I would book it).
Justin Gabriel takes on Hunico next. Hunico comes out on the back of a bicycle being rode by Camacho(new manager/bodyguard?). Cole talks about the history of the low rider bicycle during this match. Are you kidding me? Hunico dominates the majority of this match(outside of two moves) and basically squashes Justin Gabriel. Didn’t this just happen recently? Camacho(spell check on this) and Hunico double team Gabriel with an attack after the match. The promo shown before the match featured Hunico talking about these guys dominating WWE in 2012. I wonder if they will join up with Epico and Primo to form a stable. I don’t care what anybody says about the fake Sin Cara gimmick; Hunico is a very impressive athlete in the ring.
Big Show vs Otunga is up next. Show squashes Otunga to start the match and Otunga gets yelled at by Henry when he rolls outside. Henry gives him encouragement to get in the ring. Show continues to destroy Otunga. This guy is such a joke; whether or not he fits the physical mold for Vince shouldn’t matter. David Otunga is boring and irrelevant. This essentially means he will be kept around much longer than any of us want to see him. Otunga is able to mount a large series of offense when Henry distracts Show. Show easily kicks out of the pin attempt by throwing Otunga out of the ring again. Mark Henry goes to enter the ring but is hit with the World Title by Daniel Bryan who comes out of nowhere. Henry follows Daniel Bryan to the back and Big Show pulls Otunga back into the ring. Show lands the big fist and picks up the victory. I know Big Show is going to probably face Daniel Bryan at the Royal Rumble, but I’m not sure how Mark Henry fits into this picture. Maybe he’ll be healed up in time to be included in the match and make it a triple threat. That would give Bryan an advantage of being able to pin one of the giants after they destroy each other(similar to TLC). I don’t think it does WWE any good to take the World Title off Bryan before WrestleMania. I feel the same way about CM Punk, but I still think it’s going to happen eventually.
Ezekial Jackson is taking on Drew McIntyre next. Speaking of guys that were supposed to be relevant but keep getting used wrong. This could be McIntyre’s time to move up. This match is a train wreck. These guys just don’t move well together in the ring whatsoever. McIntyre attempts to win by using his feet on the ropes during a roll up but gets caught by the ref. Ezekial then takes a page out of Drew’s book and scores the win by holding the tights during a school boy pin. I’m guessing this will lead to McIntyre pleading for multiple chances from Teddy Long over the next few weeks as he continues to lose. McIntyre is shown in Teddy’s office after the match making excuses for what happened. Long tells Drew he can’t stand losers that make excuses. McIntyre gets mad and walks off. I’m not sure what Drew’s future holds, but if Vince likes him as much as it’s been rumored, I’d say his future in 2012 looks fairly bright with the possibility of holding some championships once again.
Sheamus comes out to talk about the future. Sheamus talks about the Royal Rumble and the winner getting a championship match at WrestleMania. Sheamus says he is going to win the 2012 Royal Rumble. This brings out Hornswoggle. Nice job WWE. Way to continue proving my point that you don’t care enough about Sheamus to have him booked in a real rivalry. I’m not sure why Sheamus bothered improving his ability so much when it goes unappreciated with garbage like this. Hornswoggle says he is going to win the Royal Rumble. I will stop watching WWE if Hornswoggle wins the Royal Rumble. Sheamus tells Hornswoggle it’s not happening. Heath Slater interrupts? He name drops Bushwacker Luke and the Brooklyn Brawler(his idols, I suppose) for wanting to win the Rumble. He calls himself the number one redhead on Smackdown. If this is what I get for asking WWE to give Sheamus a legit rivalry, someone needs to check the FCW talent pool for some real competition. Sheamus sings Journey with Slater. He says he sees Slater as more of an RKelly type of guy and references “I believe I can fly” before tossing Slater over the top rope. Well, it had some humor here but it definitely isn’t the best thing WWE could be doing with the Great White’s character. After the commercial, Sheamus and Heath Slater are in a match with each other. The guys talk about Sheamus being one of the favorites to win the Rumble. I don’t see that happening. As boring as I find Slater, the guy is a hard worker that knows how to work a match. Sheamus hits the flying shoulder block from the top rope and the brogue kick for the win in this one. I wonder how many more times we will see these two go head to head before the Rumble now. Over/under anybody?
Daniel Bryan is shown in Teddy Long’s office and Big Show comes in. He refers to Bryan sarcastically as his little good luck charm. Bryan is looking for a thank you from Show. Teddy interrupts them and books them in a World Title match next week. Big Show laughs but Bryan counters by saying at least his reign lasted longer than Show’s 45 seconds. Again, Bryan would make a great heel champion cracking jokes at other’s expense.
Wade Barrett and Randy Orton face off in our main event in a falls count anywhere match. This match doesn’t have a whole lot of high flying fast paced action whatsoever. Orton looks stiff and tired in this match. Maybe this injury was legit before this match happened as reported. Orton pummels Barrett into the crowd. They go back and forth as they get backstage, really brutalizing each other. They get inside an elevator and are shown fighting on a security camera. As they get downstairs and are followed by a camera, Barrett is seen pushing Orton down a flight of stairs from a distance. The show ends with a camera on Orton who is down at the bottom of the stairs. I’m not sure if this is the best way to have your main event end the show, but I suppose if it’s used to fuel an Orton return at the Rumble to continue his rivalry with Barrett then it would make sense.
Well we had six matches and some good segments to fuel the storylines along. For some reason I’m really enjoying Smackdown a lot more than Raw recently. Teddy Long is just a fitting GM for the show in my eyes. The divas match wasn’t a total bust like we’ve seen in the past and it gave Tamina some relevance. Daniel Bryan now has a legitimate title defense next week that will probably get interrupted by Henry and postponed until the Rumble, but it’s a title defense nonetheless. Guys are now looking to make names for themselves as we have 30 days until the Royal Rumble. I would really like it if WWE would give us some uncertainty as to who is actually going to win the Rumble this year. That’s all for this one; not sure exactly when the next column will be outside of Monday’s Raw Analysis. Until next time, you’ve been ThunderStruck!
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