‘Sup, Lords of Pain? Well what do you know, it’s Mazza here again with the second edition of the 4-4-2 Review. I am back once more to fill that gap in the SmackDown column market. Once again I have had a great week watching wrestling. Raw delivered as per right now and it is getting to the point where I could watch more than the 3 hours they are given, which is crazy considering it was not long ago I could get through an episode in about an hour thanks to the fast forward button. I have even begun watching nXt thanks to main page reviewer Oliver and I am quickly becoming a fan of much of the talent in developmental. Oliver joined me on the latest edition of The Right Side of the Pond, the podcast by the British contingent on Lords of Pain Radio. We talk about Adrian Neville, Leo Kruger, Enzo Amore, Bayley and, of course, Sami Zayn. I shall link the show at the end of the column if you are interested in tuning in, but for now it is time to get on with...
4-4-2 Review: SmackDown 6/9/13 (CPR Productions)
Sep 7, 2013 - 7:48:27 PM
So there is no doubt the WWE is on a roll right now and probably producing the best TV it has in years. There are of course lots of big questions regarding whether it can continue without the company totally blowing it. It could well be a very long time until we know for sure the answers but, for now, it is all about enjoying the ride. Today that ride takes us to Friday night, and it is about time to...
1’ KICK OFF: We get underway with the Trips promo of death, and today he is flanked by both GMs as the roster find themselves once more gathered on the stage. History has told us we could be here for a while so settle in and hope we have some flashpoints really soon.
5’ YELLOW CARD (PERSISTENT FOULS): It doesn’t take long for Hunter to get back into troll mode. He channels his inner father-in-law (that sounds wrong) by saying that “Cody Rhodes fired Cody Rhodes”. He puts his evilness over even more by saying he is Cody’s friend but he had to do what was right. Hunter then offers the chance for the superstars on the stage to air any grievances. Damien Sandow steps forward to thank Trips for making the right call vis-a-vis Cody, perhaps foreshadowing Sandow being part of the New Corp as World Heavyweight Champion. The Game cuts Sandow down to size quickly however by saying that he wants people to speak up, but not kiss his ass. Interesting that despite being a huge heel right now, he is not only trying to sell himself as a face, but also bringing heels down a peg or two.
10’ GREAT APPROACH PLAY: We have a few people step up to talk, Kofi to question the fear the lockerroom has for their jobs, Heath Slater questioning Big Show’s rage, Ryback doesn’t like being called a bully and then RVD. Once again we have the WWE tapping into IWC criticisms as Van Dam was one the faces “buried” during Hunter’s last dominant heel run. The Game even says that he has been waiting since 2000 for RVD to call him “dude” but assures him that nothing has changed since he was brought back. He then books some matches. Kofi gets Axel, Ryback gets Ziggler, RVD gets Orton whereas the absent Bryan gets a Shield member of his choosing. A clustered but good opening segment which got a couple of new people involved in the storyline and set up what should be a good show.
18’ CHANCE: The WWE Champ is out early. Make no mistake about it, Daniel Bryan is very much THE man right now, title or no title. In the build up to SummerSlam I really enjoyed the WHC number one contender’s match between Christian, RVD and Orton. It actually had me calling for a Randy vs Van Dam match at SummerSlam so this is definitely a big chance for WWE to add to their ever growing list of great TV matches in 2013.
28’ GOAL!!!: The match well and truly delivered and it has probably been awhile since we’ve seen such strong encounter in the middle of the first hour on SmackDown. I have never been a big RVD fan but he seems to have excellent chemistry with Orton and I think this is his best performance since his return. It was a well paced match, Orton’s position as champion was strengthened, whilst Van Dam looked good in defeat in the build up to challenging Alberto Del Rio. ADR was at the announce booth for the match and his attack of Roberto Rodriguez led to the distraction which helped Randy hit a DDT from the ropes to the floor and RKO for the win.
33’ FOUL: A period of choppy action sees ADR beat down on RVD and Bryan say it doesn’t matter which Shield member he fights because he can beat all of them... and Randy Orton too. It was not a particularly important backstage promo but I noticed a gleam in his eye as he had the crowd “Yessing” on cue. I had always thought that Bryan looked almost amazed at the magnitude of the reactions he was getting but I think something has turned recently and he is really ready to manipulate it as well as just taking it in. We then get to see Bryan’s ex recruit some WWE Divas to rage against the Total Divas and I am pretty sure she said “****adactyls”. Not very PG there, AJ, not very PC at all.
35’ CHANCE: Dolph Ziggler vs Ryback again. Poor old Dolph has been getting beaten down almost as much as Bryan these last few weeks. Is that a good thing or a bad thing though? Rumour has it that Dolph is being punished for something he said in an interview during SummerSlam week. I am not sure I buy it. Sure he has been losing matches, but that really isn’t different from any other point in the last three years. Although he has been losing quickly, he hasn’t been losing cleanly. He finds himself as the 2nd/3rd babyface in the huge New Corp storyline. On top of that, he will be taking on Dean Ambrose for the US title at Night of Champions. Sure, it is a step down from the World Heavyweight Championship but surely a notch up from a piss-break mixed tag. Let’s see if we deviate from the norm here.
42’ SHOT WIDE: Not at all. Pretty much as per for Ziggles at the moment. He gets to show off his bumping for a few minutes in the ring before getting screwed out of the victory. The match was going well until Dean Ambrose, who was at the announce desk, baited Dolph and lured him into a big clothesline from Ryback on the outside. I enjoyed the in-ring action but it was the US champ who really made things interesting here. I’ve not always been quite as high on Ambrose as a lot of the IWC but he proved he does have the talking chops, hyping the feud and masterfully setting up the finish. Still none the wiser on the Ziggler conundrum however. I guess we need to watch this space.
45’ HALF TIME: Well the WWE really did set their stall out early doors this week. The strong promo and opening match featuring the WWE champ and WHC #1 contender was a sign of intent. It was downhill from there but only slightly so a score of 1-0 at the midpoint is pointing to another strong night of WWE programming.
46’ SECOND HALF: We get underway again with Kofi Kingston and Curtis Axel. Not really sure what to expect here. Axel really seems to be improving in the ring and Kofi is one of the most consistent midcard hands or the last decade. When you add in the fact that there is a Paul Heyman at ringside, this could be fun.
58’ OFF THE BAR: And fun it was, not quite a goal scoring match, but pretty damn close. They took a couple of minutes to click but then they really seemed to run with it. High paced, plenty of athleticism, both guys managing to show off where they do it best, between the ropes. A win for Kofi in addition to speaking out against the regime could be the start of a new push for the guy. I think he is exactly the type of wrestler who fits the bill for the Resistance right now. As for Axel, he probably loses a touch of NOC momentum but in all honesty, that match will be all about Heyman anyway. Speaking of Paul E, he sold the fear brilliantly. I look forward to seeing what goes at the PPV but I get the feeling we might see the debut of a new Heyman Guy to save the day. Was nice to see Axel get some hometown love too.
64’ PENALTY CONCEDED: We get a Heyman backstage promo where he continues to sell the NOC superbly, but unfortunately it is followed by the realisation that we have arrived at what will most likely be the worst part of the show... Brie Bella vs Naomi with the Total Divas hanging around ringside.
67’ SAVE!: After a couple of minutes of poor action, AJ and the rest of the non-Total (Incomplete?) Divas come in a clear house. Thank **** for that. The weak part of the evening was kept brief with AJ easily owning the scene despite all the other divas around. I guess we will see just how hard WWE are going to push the E! show next week, but I really hope we don’t see Miss Lee drop that strap just yet. We follow the divas up with a spot of tag action as the Usos take on the Real Americans.
73’ GOOD TACKLE: A decent short match. I like the Usos and the Real Americans are growing well as a team. Cesaro is just a beast in that squared circle and Jack, for the want of a better phrase, seems to be getting his swagger back a little. I suspect it will be the Prime Time Players that nab the straps from Reigns and Rollins down the line but I expect the Real Americans to wear those belts a little while afterwards.
78’ CHANCE: We get a backstage segment where Trips gets to show off his masterful manipulative skills once more. He encourages The Big Show to take out his frustrations in the right direction and books him in a match with 3MB. He makes quick work of the trio in the match, winning things with a knockout punch to Heath Slater. The Shield come down for their match as Show walks to the back. Show wants to stick around but Trips comes out to escort him away from ringside. Just like on Raw, Hunter encouraged Show to use the WMD. I expect that to become a running theme until he finally builds up the courage to land it on The Cerebral Assassin.
80’ TEKKERS: Bryan comes out, yet again, to a massive reaction. The Shield tease that he will take on Reigns, but Rollins attacks from behind and it is the emo of the group who gets the match. This could well be a storming finish.
89’ GOAL LINE CLEARANCE: The match was good, but not quite match of the night worthy for me. Still, when Bryan builds up that head of steam at the moment, it is quite the sight to behold. He gets a biggish win here too, pinning Rollins and taking out The Shield in the process. It almost looked like he was going to be standing tall to end the show for a brief moment before Orton catches him from behind on the stage.
90’ FULL TIME: The show ends with the WWE Champion standing tall over a prone Daniel Byran once more. It’s another strong week of SmackDown. Only the one goal this week for the RVD vs Orton match but with the Total Divas crap running very short indeed, there was no chance of anything being bad enough to warrant a goal against. In fact almost everything on the night was at least good. Axel vs Kingston and Bryan vs Rollins were both very strong matches and we had some decent promo work as well. I am once again looking forward to Raw and to the PPV next week. Pretty much exactly what you want from an episode of the B-show.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Randy Orton was the standout performer for me this week. Sure he got to stand tall as it ended but it was all about his match with Rob Van Dam. For the last two years, I have thought he has been brilliant with his in ring work, but has done nothing character wise. So while his matches have been generally performed to a very high standard, they haven’t really counted for much in the broader scheme of things. Another school of thought however is that he has just been phoning it in and lacking motivation. Well, one thing's for sure, he now seems extremely motivated and has added some brilliant character work to his solid in-ring work. In fact I would go as far as saying that, since SummerSlam, Randy Orton has become the best in the business. He has had lots of ups and downs in his career but he really is the total package in the ring. He has the look, is extremely athletic and big enough to mix it up with the heavier guys too. Popularity has never really been a big problem for him, but he comes across as boring on the mic and doesn’t have a great deal of charisma. He does have great psychology however but that only seems to come out when he is playing the sadistic heel. Luckily he has fallen right back into his comfort zone post-SummerSlam and is embracing it for everything he’s worth. He has brought back those little facial expressions and mannerisms that go such a long way but without bringing back that slow pace that bored me to death in 2009. This is more like Legend Killer Randy, the best version of Orton, and at this rate he will definitely improve on that. The danger in that is that there is plenty of history of crowds turning a top-of-his-game heel Orton face. No danger of that with DB in the mix but something to be mindful of if Randy is going to need other challengers.
So there we have it. Two editions down, who knows how many to go, but if the WWE keep delivering strong Friday night action, I shall keep watching, and reviewing it. That said, with a busy week and a half coming up, I may have to pass (or be late next week). Still, plenty of other stuff to check out. As I said, I talk nXt on the latest edition of the Right Side of the Pond with Oliver. Joey also presents another Room 101 whilst Plan and Maverick talk Davey Boy vs Bret. The link to the show is below, along with my social media links. I shall leave you today with a question. Who would you like to see as a new Paul Heyman guy, should one reveal himself in the next couple of weeks? You can use the social medial links to let me know your answers or use the comments section below. I shall see you all again soon. Peace!
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