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Smackown - September 6, 2013

Date: September 6, 2013
Location: Target Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Commentators: John Bradshaw Layfield, Michael Cole

Reviewed by Tommy Hall

We're almost three weeks into the new Corporation and not a lot has really changed. Daniel Bryan is still getting destroyed every week, the roster still won't help him and it still makes all the good guys look like cowards who won't stand up for anyone. The other main story is Punk vs. Heyman which is set for a handicap tag at Night of Champions. After that I could see the two stories merging with Punk helping Bryan in his war with the Corporation. Let's get to it.

We open with a recap of Cody getting a match against Orton and losing his job as a result. No mention of Bryan and Big Show in the intros here.

Opening sequence.

HHH and the GM's are in the ring (with a red carpet) and the roster on the stage with Shield standing guard at ringside. HHH says as of Monday, Cody Rhodes is no longer a WWE Superstar. He talks about Cody being insubordinate to the COO of the WWE, making him disrespectful to the fans since HHH is the WWE. How long do you think he's wanted to say that line? He gave Cody a chance to fight for his job but Rhodes lost, meaning Cody Rhodes fired Cody Rhodes.

That was hard since HHH is friends with the Rhodes Family but as COO he has to make some hard decisions. However, tonight he's going to allow for an open forum for any superstar to air their grievances. No one says anything so HHH begs them to open up to him so he can work hard for everyone here. Damien Sandow supports the firing of Cody Rhodes because Cody embodied everything that was bad for business.

HHH says he appreciates that but doesn't want this to be all about kissing up to him. Kofi Kingston goes to the mic and says the entire locker room has been living in fear since Cody was fired and that's not good for business. HHH took Cody's livelihood away and that makes everyone else live in fear. HHH is about to respond but 3MB cuts him off to complain about Big Show just standing around watching everything. Oh and thank you HHH for having an awesome management style.

RVD comes to the mic and says HHH brought him back to WWE a few months ago. Rob expected things to be better now but the vibe isn't very cool around here. HHH: “I've been waiting since 2000 to have RVD call me dude.” HHH thinks Rob is still cool and asks to hear from someone else.

Ryback is tired of being called a bully and HHH agrees because it wasn't Ryback's fault Ziggler was hurt on Raw. Therefore tonight it's Ryback vs. Ziggler again. HHH stops for a minute to say that Daniel Bryan isn't here because Bryan thinks he's above everyone else on the stage. Tonight it's Bryan vs. a member of the Shield of Bryan's choice. HHH thanks the stars for their honesty and gives Kofi a non-title match against Curtis Axel. RVD gets a non-title match as well against Randy Orton. Orton gets his big introduction to end this segment.

Time for a sidebar. This segment shows a lot of what's wrong with this whole story: it's a HHH story and everyone else is just there. A few weeks ago after Bryan destroyed the Escalade, HHH said Orton was just holding the WWE Title for him. Tonight HHH said he was the WWE. The guys that all said stuff were treated to HHH's unfunny jokes as HHH tries to be a cool heel.

Much like the far too long feud with Lesnar, this is a HHH story which we don't need. Everyone else is just there in the background but it's HHH front and center every week. More people are going to be elevated throughout the story but so far it's only pushed HHH. It's still entertaining and has potential, but there's too much HHH dominance so far and it's hurting things.

Randy Orton vs. Rob Van Dam

Del Rio sits in on commentary. Rob starts with some shoulder into the ribs and a kick to the face for two. Another kick to the face gets two more and a slingshot legdrop has Randy writhing around on the mat. A top rope kick to the face gets two for Rob but Orton counters Rolling Thunder into a powerslam for two. Orton stomps Van Dam's head but Rob comes back with yet another kick for two. The fans chant for ECW as Randy pounds away at Rob's head for two.

Rob comes back with the fifth kick to the face of the match as Del Rio says Ricardo was stealing money from him, hence the split. We head to the floor with Orton being draped across the barricade, only to move from Rob's kick to the back. I don't think I've ever seen that move miss before. Back in and Orton goes after the leg with a Robinsdale Crunch before stopping to pose.

Randy throws him back to the floor and we take a break. Back with Rob fighting out of the chinlock and getting two off a superkick and a standing moonsault. A spinwheel kick in the corner staggers Orton but he avoids a monkey flip and kicks Rob's leg out for two. The Elevated DDT puts Rob down but the RKO is countered with, say it with me, a kick to the head. A rollup gets two for Rob and now Rolling Thunder connects.

The Five Star misses and Rob rolls to the floor for a second, only to come back in for another kick to Randy's face. Alberto gets off commentary and sends Ricardo into the post, drawing Rob into a dive to the floor, taking Del Rio out. Randy sends RVD into the announce table and hits the Elevated DDT on the floor (the same move that wrote RVD out of the WWE six years ago, not mentioned here of course) before the RKO gets the pin at 10:18 shown of 13:18.

Rating: B-. Good match here with Orton continuing to turn his usual spots into heel moves quite well. I'm not wild on the booking idea of having both the champion and the challenger losing as we head into the PPV but such is life as the World Heavyweight Champion in the WWE anymore. At least Orton is still looking strong.

Post match Del Rio beats up Rob and puts him in the cross armbreaker.

Daniel Bryan says that he wasn't invited to the town hall meeting and the only attitude problem he has is that he wants to be WWE Champion. Shield can pick a member to face him because any of them are fine with him.

AJ runs into Layla, Aksana and Alicia Fox (who is at least six inches taller than all three of them) and says that she'd rather face any of them rather than the Total Divas because the three of them are actual wrestlers. AJ has a plan.

Dolph Ziggler vs. Ryback

This is a rematch from Monday where Ambrose jumped Ziggler before the match. Ziggler escapes a quick gorilla press and low bridges Ryback out to the floor. Back in and Ziggler hits a quick dropkick but misses a splash into the corner to give Ryback control. Dean Ambrose jumps in on commentary out of nowhere and goes into that creepy voice of his.

Ryback puts on a bearhug and gets a two count out of it before lifting Ziggler back into the air. A BIG DDT gets Dolph out of trouble and he pounds away on Ryback in the corner. Dolph gets two off a neckbreaker and the Fameasser gets the same. Ryback knocks Ziggy to the floor but misses a charge into the steps. Ziggler goes after Ambrose but walks into the Meat Hook to take his head off. Back in and the Shell Shock ends Ziggler at 4:32.

Rating: C. This was more angle advancement for Ziggler vs. Ambrose than anything else but it's good to see Ryback getting some wins in his new persona. Ziggler's fall from grace continues but I guess a US Title shot is better than nothing. The fans did seem more into Ziggler than usual so maybe the fighting against odds idea might work for him.

Curtis Axel vs. Kofi Kingston

Non-title. They fight over a top wristlock to start and the fans are entirely behind the hometown boy Axel here. Axel takes him to the mat as we open with some nice chain wrestling. Off to a headlock by Axel but Kofi fights out for the double leapfrog and jumping back elbow to the jaw. Curtis has a quick consultation with Heyman and walks right into a headscissors.

Kofi dropkicks him to the floor but Axel steps to the side before Kofi can launch the suicide dive. Instead Axel tries to send Kingston into the steps, only to have Kofi jump over the steps, turn around and use the steps as a springboard for a clothesline. A Heyman distraction lets Axel shoulder Kofi to the floor and we take a break. Back with Axel holding a chinlock but Kofi comes back with kicks to the ribs. Axel will have none of that though and hits a clothesline to the back of the head for a close two.

The fans want to see a PerfectPlex but instead they get Axel jumping into Kofi's boots to put both guys down. Kofi speeds things up but walks into a great looking dropkick for two more. The dueling chants begin but Kofi misses a charge into the corner and gets caught in a quick Tree of Woe. Not that it matters as Kofi escapes and hooks the SOS out of nowhere for the pin at 6:44 shown of 9:44.

Rating: C. This was nothing special and the ending came from way out of left field. I guess the idea they're going for is Axel could lose at any time to Punk and leave Heyman alone but it didn't do this match any favors. Also it's not like this does much for Kofi as he's perpetually in the midcard title hunt. Not a bad match but the sudden ending hurt it a bit.

We get the Bray Wyatt promo from Raw on Kane disappearing while talking about Icarus. The myth, not the indy guy.

Heyman is panicking over what might happen at the PPV when Renee asks him about that very thing. Paul calls tonight an error in judgment and takes the blame instead of putting it on Axel. Renee says that Punk has promised to give Heyman the beating of his life which freaks Paul out even worse.

Naomi vs. Brie Bella

Have we ever gotten an explanation of why she's Naomi in WWE and Trinity on Total Divas? Brie kicks her down and puts on a chinlock while shouting that she'll be Divas Champion. Trinity fights out and hits a flipping clothesline for two before they tumble to the floor where AJ, Alicia, Aksana and Layla run to the ring for the DQ at 1:39.

The Total Divas are beaten down and AJ declares herself Divas Champion. This is somewhat booed, which makes me chuckle as they're really going with the Total Divas as the good people here.

Los Matadores are coming.

Real Americans vs. Usos

Antonio now has a We The People cape, making him even more amazing than he was before. Cesaro charges right at Jey with a dropkick at the bell to send him to the floor. Swagger gets the tag and runs Jey down with a clothesline on the floor before heading back inside. The Vader Bomb crushes Jey and a double stomp from Cesaro makes it even worse. Back to Swager for a double arm trap but Jey fights up and backdrops Jack to the floor.

The hot tag brings in Jimmy who throws Antonio to the floor and hits a big dive to take him down again. Back in and the running Umaga attack in the corner gets two as Swagger saves. Jey superkicks Cesaro down and loads up the Superfly Splash but Swagger shoves him right into the European uppercut for the pin by Cesaro at 3:37. Jey sold that perfectly by stopping cold on impact and looking like he ran into a building.

Rating: C. This started slowly but the ending helped a lot. I'm glad to see Cesaro winning again but he needs to get away from Swagger. Jack is such damaged goods at this point and it's dragging Cesaro down. Antonio could be a great choice for the corporate enforcer if treated as a serious threat, but instead he's having to drag Swagger along with him.

HHH comes up to see Big Show and gives him a handicap match against 3MB for what they said earlier. Big Show can use the like stress balls.

The Raw ReBound covers the Big Show/HHH/Bryan stuff that closed the show.

Big Show vs. 3MB

Slater is the first lamb to be slaughtered and Show takes out the knee. The other two are knocked to the floor and the carnage begins. Show unleashes the chops on Mahal's chest and spears Drew in half. Back in and a double chokeslam takes out Mahal and McIntyre but it's the WMD to pin Slater at 2:35. Exactly what you would expect here.

Shield comes out as Show leaves but HHH takes the giant to the back.

Seth Rollins vs. Daniel Bryan

Reigns steps forward to distract Bryan and give Seth a cheap shot to start. Bryan comes back with a knee to the ribs and fires off the kicks to a kneeling Rollins. A Cactus Clothesline sends both guys to the floor but Bryan heads inside with Shield closing in on him. Rollins knocks him back to the floor and kicks Bryan in the side of the head for two. Off to a chinlock for a bit before Bryan comes back with forearms and a release German suplex. Bryan hits the corner dropkick and its missile cousin for two.

Back up and Bryan fires off more kicks but the Rollins ducks the roundhouse kick and shoves Daniel to the apron. An enziguri puts Bryan on the floor and Reigns gets in a cheap shot to take Bryan down. Bryan is whipped into the steps but Rollins' top rope knee is countered into the YES Lock. A Reigns distraction breaks it up though and Bryan hits the FLYING GOAT to take out Roman. Not that it matters though as the running knee to the head pins Rollins at 6:06.

Rating: C+. This was the usual fast paced match these two are expected to have but the limited time they had kept it from being great. It's good to see Bryan get a clean pin over one of the guys that has tormented him for weeks now so at least he didn't get crushed again. Nice main event here but it needed a few more minutes.

Bryan bails to escape Shield and poses on the stage.....but Orton lays him out with the belt to end the show. This would be the seventh consecutive show to end with Daniel Bryan laid out since he won the WWE Championship.

Overall Rating: C. This was just ok. We didn't get much development tonight and the show ended with Bryan laid out yet again. They have to do something by Night of Champions but they kind of put the brakes on Big Show's story tonight. Instead of being all upset he was given a bone by HHH and was on screen for about five minutes all night. Nothing to see here but it was an acceptable use of two hours.

Randy Orton b. Rob Van Dam – RKO
Ryback b. Dolph Ziggler – Shell Shock
Kofi Kingston b. Curtis Axel – SOS
Naomi vs. Brie Bella went to a double DQ when Layla, Alicia Fox, Aksana and AJ Lee interfered
Real Americans b. Usos – European Uppercut to Jey Uso
Big Show b. 3MB – WMD to Slater
Daniel Bryan b. Seth Rollins – Running knee to the head

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  1. Yeah, this was an average show. I liked the opening segment and the RVD/Orton match. I dozed off during the Diva's stuff though. That division is helpless.

  2. Bryan essentially going over the entire shield?

  3. The main event segment worked because it was Orton doing the bad things to Bryan, and the wrestlers making his life hell, which ended with Bryan again standing tall until the cowardly heel champion struck. The booking of Orton/Bryan on SmackDown has been 1000% better than the similar Raw booking.

  4. I love how Bryan went from Little Mac to Glass Joe in less than a month.

  5. Man. Even dudes who review the show don't get how the only way to build real heel heat with the modern audience is to flat-out troll us.

    I'll be back next week, I promise.

  6. ....I fully expect to rip myself off on this come Monday night.

  7. From the video games when I was a kid! I get it!

  8. It's not what they should be doing. They should be making their champion mean something. They should be making Bryan and Orton a match we want to see. They should give an indication that the WWE Title is won or lost by the wrestlers rather than the whims of a suit. When you make it clear that the title is an award given by people outside the ring instead of fought over by the main eventers, it becomes a prop, and you've just gone full Russo. NEVER GO FULL RUSSO.

  9. I think you're bang on. And I'll also be pissed if they mess it up. Every promo HHH is cutting is laced with the typical Internet vitriol thrown his way. It seems so self-aware that one would THINK they'll do the right thing with the angle. Bryan should come out not only victorious, but as someone who wrestled the WWE title from the control of somebody who thinks he IS THIS BUSINESS. And Bryan/HHH is the better feud than Bryan/Orton, if things ultimately go the way they should.

  10. Dean Ambrose is the best. That run from the announce table around and behind the stairs and Ryback, setting up the Ryback clothesline, was a thing of beauty. That was such great weasely heel shit. Also his commentary was great. If you like watching guys play heels you have to love Ambrose.

    Also am I crazy or has Micheal Cole not been nearly as annoying since his face turn? This is probably the least annoying he's been in years.

  11. The amount of canned heat in that Curtis Axel match was embarassing.

  12. He's now just really corny with his jokes. That's WAY better than what he was as a heel though when he took over every show.

  13. Cole is finally effective as a 'moral compass' announcer since he's been completely in Bryan's corner and pointing out the obvious wrongs. It's the simplest trick in the book (face announcer disagrees with the heels' actions) and yet WWE just decided to ignore it for a few years.

  14. Its clear that they are going nowhere with Axel. I really hope that Big E interferes somehow at NoC and becomes a Heyman guy. He is being wasted with AJ and Heyman can get him over.

  15. This is zero percent Russo. Making the title something the "corporation" (in quotes because it ironically winks at its own existence now, as compared to the 1999 iteration) wants to protect elevates the title, and Bryan's pursuit of it.

    This isn't the Attitude Era or any other era. It's the self-aware, Meta/Reality Era, and...I mean, I keep trying to tell you guys, but this concerned, pensive consternation is exactly what they're going for. Daniel Bryan, the small nerdy guy, and HHH, the hulking not-that-far-removed-from-his-prime-wrestler guy, totally aping Stone Cold and Vince would not come off well. They're doing it their way, and they're playing us perfectly.

    I have my own reservations that they'll get bored with their own long con and not play it off perfectly, but so far it's perfect.

  16. We're getting HHH/Bryan, Punk/Brock for the WWE title, and Cena/Taker at WMXXX, and we're going to like it.

  17. You know what they call a hero who gets beaten every time out? Captain Planet.

  18. "This segment shows a lot of what's wrong with this whole story: it's a HHH story and everyone else is just there."

    Not quite objective reviewing. Yeah, it's essentially a Triple H vs. Bryan story with Orton, Shield, Show and Cody being tools to give the story arc breadth, thus giving it a feel of high importance. If it was just Corporate H vs. Bryan it could very well go over just as well as Triple H vs. Brock which screamed "we need something for these two to do".

    This story, if done correctly, will be greater than the sum of its parts. What makes it unique is that Bryan was clearly pushed because of his unwavering popularity and wrestling geek fan base. Hence, Triple H is the perfect villain in this circumstance.

    Mears is absolutely correct because it's not a revamped version of Austin vs. McMahon even though it harkens back to the Corporation days. Bryan is not like Austin and is pushing a different agenda and Triple H honestly feels he is doing what's right for THIS BUSINESS, whereas Vince hated for everything Austin stood for.

    The notion that Triple H *has* to show ass is inaccurate, too. Vince did it because within the confines of the feud, there was almost no chance Vince would wind up respecting Steve or apologizing to him; Vince represented pure evil in a corporate form, ergo he would die before accepting reality. This feud, on the other hand, could wind up with Triple H shaking Bryan's hand in defeat, or it could come to a head and Bryan ends up brutalizing him in a Hell in a Cell.

    This will be the last thing to consider, too: Bryan will not get top billing at WrestleMania. Cena vs. Undertaker might not have the hype of Cena vs. Rock, but it's going to be the highest stakes match since forever. Bryan HAS to be in a long, drawn-out angle in order to compete with that. So, while it may seem that Bryan's on the losing end, it's only Act I.

  19. I should make a MSG to reference video games when I was a kid.

    P.S. I'm calling you old.

  20. Yeah. Triple H is playing the boogey man of the IWC. This is Adam Westing of the highest caliber.

  21. Except we have on-screen reasons why Orton won (Triple H helped him). Russo would have Bryan lay down for Orton after Orton says something about how Bryan has to do this or he'll get fired.

    Triple H has given kayfabe reasons (that also have real world implications) for all of his actions. And Orton sucks, so making him the center of the chase against Bryan would also suck.

  22. I have no problem with WWE working "Total Divas" storylines into its wrestling shows, but they need to at least think it through. In one segment they have Naomi/Trinity getting jumped by AJ's gang of bad girls, and their segue out of that is to show her real-life boyfriend (Jimmy Uso) skipping to the ring for his match like nothing's wrong.
    It would have been easier and more sensible to have Jimmy and Jey run out to save Jimmy's girl, causing AJ's crew to scatter, and the Usos could just stay in the ring during the commercial break to set up the match with the Real Americans.

  23. Punk is not getting involved in the Bryan/HHH/Orton feud, at least not anytime soon. Right now Punk is working in an alternate universe where he's solely focused on Heyman. The Bryan storyline doesn't exist to him. Same goes for Axel and Heyman, same goes for the Wyatts and Kane; that's why none of them show up for the segments where HHH has everybody on stage.

  24. I would be genuinely stunned if Bryan comes out on top of HHH to end this story. My main concern is that he'll be beaten down so much leading up to the eventual payoff, whatever that is, that he'll be diminished in the fans eyes. HHH never put Punk over two years ago and somehow left him out of the story all together.

    In short, I have zero faith in HHH to put Bryan over without putting himself over even bigger. It happened with Punk and it happened with Lesnar, and now it's a guy with less potential on top than both of those guys. It is still early in the story and Bryan has a lot of time left to turn it around, but I don't see this ending well for him.

  25. People are seriously complaining about Bryan getting laid out by MULTIPLE wrestlers every show? They're stacking the odds against him to a ridiculous extent.

    Bottom line: He's the most universally OVER babyface we've seen in years. Just look at the crowd reaction over his win last night. Enough said. It's working, fellas. And if you don't think this eventually culminates in him beating Orton clean for the title, then maybe that's a good thing, because it'll be even more sweet when Bryan does win.

  26. You can't complain about 50/50 booking AND also complain when heels (with the odds stacked in their favor) are built up as serious threats. It worked with The Shield, and it's working here.

  27. Does that make Antonio Cesaro Don Flamenco? Because I could totally buy a Von Kaiser-Dutch Mantell reference, and Swagger could easily pass as Glass Joe.

  28. Last night it was just Orton.

    I highly doubt he goes over Orton clean for the title. He might get the belt back, but I doubt it's going to be clean.

  29. "Have we ever gotten an explanation of why she's Naomi in WWE and Trinity on Total Divas?"
    Same reason it's 'Daniel' in WWE and 'Bryan' on Total Divas.

  30. It's totally unfair to compare this scenario to the Punk and Lesnar feuds. In Punk's case they had a shaky direction for the angle considering they were booking it on the fly and didn't know how or where it was ending up, and on top of that they had three separate competitors aside from Triple H that Punk was involved with: Cena, ADR and Nash. They completely botched the potential for a great six month stretch of angles, but at least Punk turned out fine. In Lesnar's case, technically Lesnar won the feud by winning the rubber match, but the whole schmozz was a zero sum deal from the beginning.

    The idea is this: Bryan is involved with so much stacked against him precisely because the company has that much faith in him. There would be no probable cause to have say, The Miz be in Bryan's position against the New Corporation because his popularity wouldn't justify it. I'm not saying WWE isn't inept to the point of fucking it up royally because quite clearly they can, but the idea is great and so far it's good.

  31. Don't get me wrong: I certainly don't hate it and I'm interested to see where it goes. I just have zero faith in an angle involving HHH to put over anyone as strong as it puts over HHH.

  32. Probably something to do with parallel universes separated only by a millisecond of time and a nanometre of space, without ever having contact

  33. Really? He beat John Cena clean as a whistle. Orton is not higher on the pecking order.

  34. No, but a lot has changed since then and Orton isn't a face.

  35. Why would that make it less likely Bryan will win? You're making no sense.

    In any case, I don't expect this to end with Bryan holding the title. The endgame is him beating HHH at WM30.

  36. Orton is a heel with a ton of people to help him interfere. Odds are someone helps Orton out, he wins. Either that or Bryan wins via DQ or something like that.

    I'd be shocked if that actually happens at WM 30.


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