Smack of the Week (29/11/2011): No World Championship Under Bryan’s Tree

Henry hits the World's Strongest Slam from the turnbuckle to end Bryan's championship aspirations, for now

Note from RTV, your fearless leader: Like with RAW earlier this week, I could only watch Smackdown a day later, thereby also delaying this review. With that in mind, I will keep the more abridged approach to review in this post, only talking about the main things I liked and didn’t while avoiding most of the technical wrestling detail. I’m also less motivated because the Christmas gimmick of the show really brought the quality down.

Mick Foley Welcomed Us to The Smackdown Christmas Special, Cody Rhodes Confronts Booker T
There’s no getting around the fact that Josh Matthews as Elf, Michael Cole as Rudolph (with ‘investigative journalist’ tie), and Booker T as Santa (with his white-haired dreads) looked HILARIOUS. By the time Booker was Spinarooni-ying, it had dragged though, and the deux ex machina of Cody Rhodes was a welcome and fantastic dose of (a strange version of) pro-wrestling reality. Dressed in perfect white to not only match his belt, but also the glaring Christmas setting behind him), he told Booker T, who claimed he ‘aint got no beef wit you, son’, to ‘shhhhh’ before telling him ‘you lie, announcer.’ This led to ‘Saint Mick’ making a match between Rhodes and Booker, which Booker sold brilliantly as something he was actually quite worried about to get Rhodes over. The match wouldn’t happen though. After a more confident Booker T had a backstage promo, he was attacked from behind by Rhodes, and in yet another beautiful tick from Rhodes, he offered his hand to the stricken former King of the Ring mocking him with a pretend handshake/attempt to help him up while grinning as wide as possible before darting off-screen.

Brie Bella Won a Mistletoe On a Pole Match to Win a Kiss With Any WWE Superstar
Wut. I think the best review of this match is simply reading the subtitle above in the most deadpan, sarcastic tone possible. I like a fun, holiday edition of Smackdown, with Christmassy tints to existing stipulations, but this was (almost) literally meaningless. It also made a mockery of the ‘Smart’ part of the ‘Smart, Sexy, and Powerful’ tagline by making them fight for a kiss like they’re characters in a particularly regressive nursery rhyme. #IWantWrestling

Justin Gabriel def. Jinder Mahal
As I said a week or two ago, i’m glad Mahal is being given another chance. He had a nice match against Gabriel, and showed some nice technical moves (if a little clinically for a good story – he would do a suplex, and then do a different suplex, and so on), at least showing that he can work. Hald-way through the match, DiBiase’s (still heel!) music hit. Presumably he just couldn’t wait another second for another Posse Party because he came out skipping dressed as yet another Santa giving out presents. Naturally, this all distracted Mahal, who had gotten the advantage over the (now) hopeless Justin Gabriel, only to turn around in to the weakest STO of all time and a 45o Splash for the win. A fair enough bit of progression in their storyline, with DiBiase being a man of the people (it was a nice touch to discuss him donating money to charity and being a philanthropist, in that vein), but hang on! Isn’t this all a bit unfair on Jinder? All Jinder has done is berate Ted (admittedly not nice, but you’d expect a baybface to RISE ABOVE the HATE), and Ted retaliated by completely interrupting him, mid-match. Still, it didn’t come across as that damaging, so no harm, no foul.

GOLDUST IN CHRISTMAS JUMPER, HAS SEGMENT WITH DUSTY

Kofi Kingston def. Tyson Kidd
These two were great together, and had a nice match. Now Evan Bourne is due back, Kingston had to start looking strong again, explaining this result. It’s just a shame Tyson is a jobber as of now. The guy has tore it up when given the chance, and I think could do some good stuff on TV. During this match I thought i’d like to see WWE give a proper storyline to two fresh up and comers against each other and see if it works. A big, proper Kidd-Baretta feud on Smackdown would be very refreshing!

Randy Orton def. David Otunga in a Miracle On 34th Street Fight
With Otunga now largely a backstage character, it would be easy to forget his in-ring work (indeed, I hadn’t heard his Disney film entrance music for some time now). I like Otunga (see my NXT posts when I still cared (I will when Seth Rollins, Antonio Cesaro, Xavier Woods etc are on it)), he’s charismatic and can play a character well. He’s not as cookie-cutter as most developmental guys. I enjoyed his gentrified entrance here which makes sense given his Harvard Law School background. However, his lack of ring-time means he didn’t really have much to lose from this match, while Orton has been putting people over a lot recently, so he could do with a bit of a showing. This is exactly what he got, throwing Otunga around for the most part (though Otunga had his moments, and looked to have improved an awful lot in the ring at the same time), throwing him through Christmas trees and hanging wreaths on him and stuff before RKOing him for the win in quite a nice, playful, though slightly ridiculous, match. Wade Barrett tried to disrupt the Viper’s feeding, but he didn’t try hard enough, basically, leaving after a ringpost shot and ONE BIG BOOT. At least it gives Orton a bit of momentum against Barrett despite Barrett not looking weaker.

Hornswoggle Won the ‘All I Want for Christmas’ Battle Royale and Won the Ability to Talk
This was fun, and even funny, but it must have taken at least fifteen minutes, Sheamus was overpowered by Hornswoggle, and nothing was achieved. Do this fun stuff, sure, but make it meaningful. If you want Hornswoggle to talk, have Roddy Piper hit him on the head with a Lego coconut or something, and let Zack Ryder win the Battle Royal to make the Internet Title a legitimate title! #IWantWrestling

Mark Henry def. Daniel Bryan in a Steel Cage Match to Retain the World Heavyweight Championship
In a week were both top titles were defended on their respective shows, Daniel Bryan received his first ever one-on-one World Championship match, showing just how far he’s come. I wont go too much in to the details of the match, but it had a very simple, powerful story of Bryan fighting the odds while locked in a cage with an actual monster; one who talks in brilliant southern barbs throughout, and this time, even shouted ‘Merry Christmas’ during one kick to the gut, before ‘and a Happy New Year’ after another. Henry dominated in terms of brutality, including a nice spot where he literally slingshotted Bryan in to the steel cage. Bryan fought resiliently though, scratching and clawing to stop Henry’s escape, and even beating Henry’s down by his weak leg to get him in to a LaBelle Lock and then an Ankle Lock, really showing his wrestling and submission prowess, and making submission a strong characteristic for him again, and making him seem close to or on Henry’s level. The finish of the match was also really good. With Henry trying to climb the cage, ‘DAT BOY D. BRYAN’ climbed over Henry, and came within a limb of of winning the match. Pulled back down, Bryan tried for a hurricanrana in what would have been THE MOST REMARKABLE WRESTLING SPECTACLE OF ALL TIME, but obviously little Daniel Bryan couldn’t get the massive champion over, and was held for a super World’s Strongest Slam from the turnbuckle for the pinfall victory to Henry. Very good match, and I just hope it showed WWE officials what it showed everyone else – that Bryan can hang as a legitimate main event guy. I think he could, and hopefully will, carry that championship with pride one day! As for Henry, he beat AmDrag on a hurt leg, and did so with an authoritative move. Its good that he was allowed to look dominant again. Big Show has rather damaged him of late. I’m glad Big Show didn’t come down, dressed as Santa, to ruin it all with a giftwrapped WMD or the like!

Apart from the World title match, there was nothing really of note here. It’s a worrying sign for Smackdown in a way; it’s strength has always been that it is less overwritten than RAW and focuses more on in-ring work, if it goes live on Tuesdays, this might change…

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