Smack of the Week (04/11/2011): Money the Centre of the World

Randy Orton def. Cody Rhodes in a Street Fight
In a rare cold open to WWE programming, we were confronted with a match that could main event any wrestling show, Orton-Rhodes in a street fight. The main ingredients of a good street fight is that it doesn’t stay in the ring, and meets an expectation of brutality befitting of a match which stipulation suggests a raw, uninhibited, brawl. This match certainly managed to live up to these expectations. In the early goings the match took place in the ring, as you would expect, and with some nice work between the two, as you would expect. Soon though, the action spilled to ringside, and this was more than chasing each other through the crowd for five minutes and then returning to the ring, it was a proper brawl, incorporating the environment. This came to a head on the stage where we saw suplexes and other power moves, including a real moment of jeopardy where Rhodes was about to suplex Orton right off the stage, which Orton managed to reverse. This exchange was so brutal, indeed, that both Rhodes (the arm) and Orton (the skull) were busted open. Returning to the ring, they returned to some more traditional ring work, but stiffer than usual. Again, these two showed great chemistry together, but at this point, Rhodes’s mask became the central focus to the match, and it allowed Rhodes to really have Orton on the ropes. Indeed, he made the plastic mask seem like a real heavy-duty weapon, and came to the brink of hitting Cross Rhodes before Orton reversed out of it for the match to continue. They went back and forth and provided some good near falls before the end of the match. Unfortunately, for a match which was so good, the ending was a bit lazily abrupt for me. After another rouph spot with Orton hitting his elevated DDT from the barricade to the floor before throwing him in-ring for a swift RKO and the pin. It’s a shame that Rhodes had to lose, but at least he was made to look on Orton’s level, and largely cleanly. Also, this was made to sound like a blow-off match, so if both guys have something to move on to, I don’t have too big a problem with it, especially seen as it seems like these two will be linked together forever and will surely meet up again down the line. If they continue to feud however, I think Rhodes could have done with the win, and that it’s a little short-sighted to have him lose three times in a row, even if it started with Rhodes beating Rhodes.

Ted DiBiase def. Tyson Kidd
I think this was more than a squash, but not much more. Kidd, unfortunately, appears to have turned in to one of these guys who will perpetually be used to make others look good. And he certainly did here. DiBiase looked better than he has in a long time, and had come out to a nice pop, which he seemed to welcome enthusiastically and react well to. Kidd wasn’t just on the receiving end though, and looked good himself. After a great progression where DiBiase wouldn’t let go of the Million Dollar dream hold while they were rolling through, eventually hitting Dream Street for the win. Perhaps this is the start of another fresh start for Ted, and he deserves it. I just hope Kidd gets a shot too, perhaps by feuding with DiBiase, perhaps looking for vengeance after losing this week. It’d be good for him as he’s been feuding (and putting on great matches with) Yoshi Tatsu, seemingly forever.

Alicia Fox def. Natalya
Well now i’m really confused. Last week on RAW, A. Fox picked up a victory over Natalya making us all believe she would be next to take on Beth Phoenix, and then Eve Torres again became #1 contender, making me think they’d nixed those plans. And now she’s beaten Natalya, again. I don’t understand – if they’re not positioning her as #1 contender, they must just be trying to establish her as a babyface, but then, why against Natalya!? I’d rather they gave her a good match against a Bella. Nonetheless, it was a short but pretty sweet match in which Natalya at least dominated before being overcome by A.Fox and what looked like a senton leg drop (unless it was just a botched senton). Thankfully, because of her dominance, Nattie hasn’t lost any credibility at least.

Wade Barrett def. Sheamus
It’s important to note that Christian was actually ‘supposed’ to be facing Sheamus. When I saw that, I thought it was overkill with that match-up, so in that sense, I was glad it wasn’t repeated. Unfortunately, getting Christian out of the picture (but keeping his TV time) involved a mini-burial, courtesy of the Big Show and a chokeslam. Of course Christian was feigning injury, and his cowardice is one of his actual strong points, but whether or not it made him look weak or wily was a close-run thing. Show did a decent job of burying himself though, again, on the mic. After Christian interrupted him, he just kind of accepted it saying ‘yeah, I guess I was done’, only coming back when Christian sassed him some more. Indeed, the weakness wasn’t in his bravery, it was in his acceptance that he literally has nothing more interesting to say. With Christian panting by the announce booth, Wade Barrett came out to face the Great White, possibly the most convincing move of his new ‘barrage’ to date. These two had a good match together; two big heavyweight scolliding in a brutal match. They have good chemistry together for sure and provided a dramatic, unpredictable match. I was expecting Sheamus, with the run he’s on, to take another win, and so I was pleased to say Barrett go over. It was such a big win that it’s really made Barrett genuinely relevant again. Not that Sheamus was made to look bad; redeeming himself, Christian was a big part of costing Sheamus the match, before adding insult to injury with another sneaky Spear. Afterwards, Barrett and Christian were all touchy-feely and pally. It seems like the people involved here will be moving on to new things (Barrett to Sheamus, just like Rhodes and Orton parting ways). I think the vehicle for all this will be a traditional Survivor Series match, and a very good one at that (Orton, Sheamus, DiBiase, Sin Cara & Daniel Bryan vs Rhodes, Barrett, Christian, Hunico & Kidd maybe).

Sin Cara def. Epico via DQ
This match was ok and pretty exciting for what it was, but the focus of this match was really the angle to introduce Epico as an associate of Hunico. With Sin Cara in control, Hunico appeared to frustrate Sin Cara’s senton bomb finisher, before he and Epico started the beat down on Cara, making sure to use one or two double-teams to make clear that they are a team. I like this progression of the feud, but you would expect that Cara’s gonna need a homie to back him up. Usually, this would be Rey Mysterio and WWE would be printting money already, but without Rey around, i’m not sure who’ll have his back. Perhaps Cara will be getting a face push by having him take on two guys on his own. That would be quite fresh. Good stuff here though, especially given the potential of Epico and Hunico as a new tag team (especially given that they tagged in FCW) for the division.

Mark Henry def. Daniel Bryan w/ Big Show via DQ
First off, I should say how pleased I am that D. Bryan found himself in this spot. Only a couple of weeks ago, he was on the losing end of life in the WWE, and now he’s right back in relevance. Earlier, when confronted by Mark backstage, Bryan seemed perhaps a little too scared (though I also am pleased to see that people are still intimidated by the World’s Strongest Man), but that dissipated well when Bryan accepted the challenge. Bryan also held his nerve in the match, really taking it to Henry while absorbing all his punishment. This was a classic monster vs small guy match, but performed very well by both. Henry physically dominated AmDrag, who became something of a play-thing in the early going as Henry squeezed Bryan’s head up agaist the ring post.At this point, for the first time, Big Show interrupted Henry’s attack in a somewhat overly-paternalistic way. This break did allow Bryan to ressurect somewhat though, and on his own, he managed to overwhelm Henry physically, using his stiff kicks and dropkicks to get Henry down on the mat for a good near-fall. Bryan also managed to gain an advantage through sheer wrestling ability too, more than once trapping Henry in a Guillotine and exhausting and even nearly submitting The World’s Strongest Champion. Henry was just too big for Bryan though, and took to mercilessly splashing Bryan in the corner. But before Henry got DQ’d, Big Papa Show came in to stop Henry’s attack, blind-siding him with his W.M.D. to get Bryan DQ’d. Ignoring Bryan’s wished, Show dumped him in to the ring to cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase. Bryan was agog, and had the briefcase in his hands in the ring. Luckily, Mr. Money in the Bank was just compus mentus enough to remember his principles, and in a very nice bit of booking, looked at the briefcase before snatching it away from the referee and trying to hit the oncoming Henry with it. Unfortunately, Bryan ran right in to a World’s Strongest Slam. I was worried this would lead to another W.M.D., but instead Henry clocked Show with the briefcase, before remarkably lifting the giant up for another World’s Strongest Slam. I was very pleased to see Henry get the upper hand again, and I certainly don’t think Bryan was buried; he gave the most fearsome competitor in WWE a competitive match and made it back to the upper-tier of the roster, his unfortunate fate not really being his fault. Again, it was the clumsy figure of the Big Show who cast a silly shadow over the whole thing. I realise he had to be there to help build for Survivor Series, but though he didn’t ruin the match by any means, he didn’t help it in my opinion. Otherwise, a good, interesting match, and one which saw the resurgence of Daniel Bryan, and perhaps, the genesis of a WrestleMania feud between Henry and Bryan.

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