Saturday 21 April 2012

SmackTalk 20.04.12

I was surprised at how quiet the crowd was on last night’s SmackDown. It was taped on Tuesday, the day after the RAW tapings I attended. The Monday night show attracted a raucous crowd that loudly chanted “Yes!” all evening. The audience the following night barely chanted it at all (even Daniel Bryan didn’t attract it as much as I’d expected) and generally seemed quieter than Monday’s bunch. I feel this is worth pointing out as it may mark the beginning of the end for the “Yes!” chant, which is a great shame.

SmackDown didn’t seem as well rounded as RAW did this week (read my review of that show here). The evening’s lengthiest bout was the six man tag main event which the audience loved but I found hard to get into. There were moments of greatness, with the spirited exchange between Sheamus and Daniel Bryan being particularly good. Overall it seemed like a match thrown together just to get the big names onto the show. Still, at least we didn’t have to watch Khali wrestle.

Daniel Bryan deserves praise for his show-opening in-ring segment. That saw him utilise the “Yes!” catchphrase brilliantly (much as Steve Austin did when he realised the “What?” chants were catching on) and give storyline ex-girlfriend AJ a dressing down. He’s become SmackDown’s MVP over the last month. It’s now impossible to imagine the programme being as enjoyable without him on it.

The other thing that stood out on this week’s show was just how many new wrestlers are now on the blue brand. Damien Sandow appeared in another talking head vignette, complete with deliciously heelish “You’re welcome” signoff, and Ryback continued his run of squashing random nobodies while some wrestlers watched on a backstage monitor talking amongst themselves.

They were joined by Darren Young and Titus O’Neill, two former NXT talents. They’ve formed a heel tag team and talked about how they were going to become a top team in the company during a backstage segment. Michael Cole echoed their sentiments when they were in the ring. They will not get over as a unit. Both men are too bland and nondescript to make enough of an impact. That’s not to say they’re not a top team in the company though: merely by pairing up they have accomplished that task. Yes, the WWE tag division is that shallow.

I originally thought Titus O’Neill, if protected by the booking team and given the right opponents, could get over as a mid-level babyface. I no longer think that: he has made no progress during his lengthy stint on NXT and as such would be unlikely to improve during a sustained babyface push in which he was protected. WWE would be best off firing the pair of them.

The other new name on SmackDown was Antonio Cesaro, formerly the independent scene’s Claudio Castagnoli (and yes that is his real name!). Antonio appeared in a backstage segment with Aksana, Teddy Long and John Laurinaitis, in which he was presented as an acquaintance and possible boyfriend of Aksana. He teased Teddy Long before being invited into Laurinaitis’s office. That was the second time in as many days Laurinaitis had been behind closed doors with a female member of the roster and another guy. I will once again refrain from making a comment.

Get used to this guy. You're going to be seeing a lot of him

For those unfamiliar with Antonio Cesaro you’re in for a treat. He has the sort of physique that Vince McMahon loves but he can actually wrestle too (which is rare for guys with impressive builds). He is capable of working everything from a hard-hitting style to a comedy match so I have no doubt that he’ll excel at WWE’s preferred sports entertainment approach. He’s also fluent in several languages, which should guarantee him a decent spot whenever WWE puts a European tour together.

While RAW may have been the more entertaining show this week SmackDown did a better job of preparing WWE for the future. That’s something that should have been happening for a long time. Still, better late than never. It’s nice that WWE finally has the process underway.

Daniel Bryan promo, featuring AJ

Tweet 1: It’s SmackDown time!
Tweet 2: Mark Henry is now shown flexing on the SmackDown intro. He got blown up from that.
Tweet 3: Daniel Bryan! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!
Tweet 4: I'm pleased a mention of the eighteen second match drew boos.
Tweet 5: I predict Bryan will get cheered in Chicago.
Tweet 6: #Yesfest
Tweet 7: AJ gets booed. Good.
Tweet 8: "AJ. Stop. Turn around. And go away" - Daniel Bryan
Tweet 9: Bryan's giving a great heel promo. The crowd seems a little flat.
Tweet 10: I miss the days of Bryan telling Samoa Joe to eat raw fish and carry coconuts to the ring with him. That's REAL heel heat.

AJ Natalya

Tweet 11: AJ v Natalya. They're going to swerve us with a non-match here...
Tweet 12: What is that cape thing Natalya's wearing? Not very Hart-like.
Tweet 13: Don't pull AJ off of Natty, ref! She has till five!!
Tweet 14: So the storyline is that AJ is having a mental breakdown of some sort? Keeping it light...

Damien Sandow vignette

Tweet 15: Ah, Damien Sandow. This guy is a good promo.
Tweet 16: I don't know about you but I'd enjoy seeing Cena attempt one of Sandow's promos.

Brodus Clay v Hunico

Tweet 17: Hunico... and he's facing Brodus Clay! This should be spectacular...
Tweet 18: "Cameron on the left, Naomi on the right" - Josh Mathews on Brodus Clay's dancers. I wish he'd followed up with "like it matters..."
Tweet 19: I could do without the Hornswoggle appearance.
Tweet 20: Good to know Cole's been doing his "dinosaur research." How about calling a match, idiot?!
Tweet 21: Hunico officially lasted longer against Brodus Clay than Dolph Ziggler did. I'm not sure how to feel about that.
Tweet 22: They need to keep pushing Brodus in EXACTLY this fashion, alongside Hornswoggle, for three years. Then have him turn on Hornswoggle.
Tweet 23: Only with a three year build with this be worthwhile.
Tweet 24: Look, I'm a fan of Brodus Clay but how much airtime needs to go to his post-match dance routine? It's not a Joel Gertner segment...

Darren Young, Titus O’Neill and John Laurinaitis taunt Teddy Long in a corridor and Matt Striker interviews Randy Orton

Tweet 25: Nothing gets heels over like backstage taunting of Teddy Long.
Tweet 26: Titus O'Neill and Darren Young will never be over.
Tweet 27: Furthermore Young calling himself 'Mr No Days Off' is laughable: he served a drug suspension a few months ago.
Tweet 28: All Matt Striker ever seems to do on SmackDown is interview Randy Orton. Is that his gimmick? Orton's personal interviewer?
Tweet 29: Kane v Orton in a falls count anywhere match. They should've done a Boiler Room Brawl.

The Usos v Darren Young and Titus O’Neill

Tweet 30: The Usos are on SmackDown. That means WWE's making its annual attempt to make the tag division matter again.
Tweet 31: "These two are going to become prime time players here on Friday Night SmackDown, mark my words" - Cole on Young and O'Neill
Tweet 32: Mark MY words: Cole is wrong.
Tweet 33: Young and O'Neill are on SmackDown while the Kings of Wrestling are being used as singles acts. #thingsthatarewrongwithwrestling
Tweet 34: The guys from NXT get a win. Why Cole's acting as though this is impressive I can't say.

From the Vault

Tweet 35: The streak of great From the Vault matches continues with Shawn Michaels v Rey Mysterio.
Tweet 36: The down side is that we have Grisham and Striker on commentary.
Tweet 37: This is a really good match though I'm concerned it will end on an interference DQ.
Tweet 38: "That is usually the precursor to the sounds of silence: Sweet Chin Music!" Shut up, Striker.
Tweet 39: Rey springboards into Sweet Chin Music. I genuinely think Shelton Benjamin did that spot better.
Tweet 40: Batista causes a disqualification. I'd be annoyed if it hadn't been so predictable.
Tweet 41: Random Undertaker appearance to close the segment. Thankfully they cut away before Striker's gibberish became too much.

Alberto Del Rio v Big Show

Tweet 42: Albertooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo Deeel Riiiioooooooooooooooooo!!
Tweet 43: I read earlier that Del Rio has been moved back to the SmackDown roster. That's a good move. He was always used better there.
Tweet 44: Remember when ADR and Big Show had a three-way feud with a car last summer? I wish I didn't...
Tweet 45: "Del Rio is just grinding on this boy" - Booker T with a typically peculiar comment
Tweet 46: I can't wait until Cody gets a new feud. He's wasted on Big Show.

Ryback v Danny Lerman

Tweet 47: Danny Lerman looks about twelve.
Tweet 48: RYBACK!!
Tweet 49: Ryback could very easily sodomise this boy...
Tweet 50: There have been surprisingly few "Yes!" chants so far.
Tweet 51: Ryback wins and then starts up a bizarre one man chant of "Feed... Me... More!"

Teddy Long witnesses the SmackDown debut of Antonio Cesaro

Tweet 52: Another "hilarious" Teddy Long backstage segment. Oh dear...
Tweet 53: Antonio Cesaro!! #veryEuropean #Heeeey

Daniel Bryan, Mark Henry and Cody Rhodes v Sheamus, Randy Orton and Big Show

Tweet 54: Daniel Bryan! Yes! Yes! Yes!
Tweet 55: For the second time this week Mark Henry doesn't get a televised entrance. Poor.
Tweet 56: Sheamus and Randy Orton are introduced before Great Khali. Odd.
Tweet 57: Khali can't even walk convincingly!!
Tweet 58: Cody jumps Khali and the heels pose in the ring. Handicap match? I hope so.
Tweet 59: Khali's torso looks like a burlap sack filled with walnuts.
Tweet 60: The commentary team are currently bickering about whose job it is to call what. As a result nobody is doing their job.
Tweet 61: FINALLY Mark Henry gets into the match.
Tweet 62: I'm looking forward to Orton getting a proper feud again. His current rivalry with Kane is a waste of everyone's time.
Tweet 63: Big Show and Mark Henry clash in a WWE ring AGAIN. I'm so tired of that sight.
Tweet 64: How much time is Mark Henry getting in this match? Too much, perhaps?
Tweet 65: If they're allowed to I think Bryan and Sheamus could have a GREAT match at Extreme Rules.
Tweet 66: Henry was finisher fodder tonight. He was an unstoppable monster eight months ago...
Tweet 67: Sheamus, Show and Orton pose for what seems like half an hour to take us off the air. That's what I tune in for, WWE!

How do you end a wrestling show on a high note? Having all your babyfaces pose in the ring rarely fails

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