WWE ‘SmackDown’ Live Recap – [4/10/12]
As opposed to the normal pretape-on-Tuesday to air-on-Friday deal, this week’s ‘SmackDown’ ran live on Tuesday night, presumably as a way to clear the deck and rearrange everyone’s travel schedule for WWE’s impending European tour. Typically, shows before foreign tours, much like shows before big pay-per-views, are pretty light on action in order to give everyone a chance to rest up. This week’s show was no exception to that rule, and went one step further by adhering to a “Blast from the Past” theme, which basically meant that we got to watch a bunch of old men beat up a bunch of younger men.
But even though the show itself was largely forgettable, and nowhere near as fun as last year’s retro-themed ‘Raw,’ some important stuff still went down, and you don’t want to be the only guy who doesn’t know about the newest ‘Extreme Rules’ match, do you? To find out what you might have missed while ‘Glee’ or 'Real Housewives' or whatever your girlfriend insisted on watching was on, keep reading, and make sure to tell us your favorite moments of the show in the comments below. Then, share the story across every single last one of your social networks and follow me on Twitter, where I’m hopefully done complaining about old people for a while.
Not exactly opening strong
A major pet peeve I have with WWE is how they program their extra-long and special-time shows. Every time ‘Raw’ starts an hour earlier or ‘SmackDown’ airs on a special night, the promotion has a golden opportunity to convert some of those fans who might have tuned in expecting an episode of 'NCIS,' 'Eureka' or 'Mega-Thing vs. Ultra-Thing.' If someone were to ask me (they didn’t), I’d say that the way to do that is to open your show with a totally bitchin wrestling match. Of course, WWE tends to take a different approach, as evidenced by the opening of this week’s ‘SmackDown,’ which gave us a clip of Daniel Bryan breaking up with his girlfriend and Sheamus apologizing repeatedly.
It isn’t exciting television, and more importantly it’s not what wrestling does best. It’s not that I need every wrestling show to open with a 20 minute technical wrestling clinic (though that’d be nice) – this week’s ‘Raw’ didn’t open with a match, but I’m sure it grabbed the interest of anyone who happened to land on USA accidentally only to find a former UFC Heavyweight Champion beating up WWE’s top talent. By contrast, the most exciting thing to happen in ‘SmackDown’s’ opening segment was John Laurinaitis announcing that Sheamus must pay a $500,000 fine, which doesn’t really do much to make the company’s face World Heavyweight Champion a figure that my broke ass can relate to.
Shitterson Match of the Night
After a ‘Monday Night Raw’ that sadly had no match worth of the title of Shitterson Match of the Night, I’m pretty excited to give the coveted award out to Randy Orton and Mark Henry this week. While he’s not exactly the monster that he used to be, I’m glad that WWE has decided to start protecting Mark Henry again, booking him in matches against top guys two nights in a row (he faced CM Punk on Raw), and somewhat remarkably, keeping him looking strongish throughout. Sure, Orton had seemingly gotten the best of Henry when their match came to an end, but it was in no way decisive.
The two men had a great back and forth match that really highlighted the incredible strength and power of Henry. Again, he wasn’t the unstoppable force of destruction I’d like for him to be, but he certainly held his own against Orton, countering both an RKO and the wrestler’s signature Hangman’s DDT. I was a little worried going into this match that the World’s Strongest Man would just be fed to Orton, so I was relieved and delighted to see that he match ended in a no contest, protecting Henry for his WWE Title Match on Monday night.
An actual tag team wins an actual tag team match!
I like the Usos. Part of that is just my predisposition toward Samoan wrestlers and lingering Rikishi fandom, but I also think they’re talented guys with a gimmick that’s just heavy enough, and a fair amount of potential as a tag team. The trouble is, on weeks that WWE gives a turkey about the Tag Team Titles, the Usos are generally looked over in favor of makeshift tag teams consisting of two underutilized midcarders…like their opponents this week, Heath Slater and Tyson Kidd.
The match was kind of a mess, especially considering that Slater seems like a heel, Kidd acts like a face and their one-night-only manager, Jimmy Hart, appeared to be a face by virtue of the fact that he’s old. Still, I can’t complain too much as Jimmy and Jey Uso got some good offense in and picked up a win, selling the fact that they’re an actual tag team, and that it gives them a certain advantage over guys just randomly thrown together. Now, if only we could figure out what happened to Epico & Primo and those hideous tag team titles.
As soon as you think you have all the answers…Zzzzzzzzzz
“Rowdy” Roddy Piper was phenomenal in his day, and his Piper’s Pit talk show segment was not only incredibly influential, but also spawned some truly classic moments. These days, however, whenever the Hotrod appears on WWE television, I’m mostly left wishing he’d just go ahead and hang it up.
It’s true that he looks about 1,000% better than he did a few years ago, and I’m thrilled that he’s bounced back so well from his bout with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, but whether because he’s lost something over the years, or perhaps the product has just changed too much since his heyday, Piper’s Pit just no longer works for me. This week was a great example, as his overblown, melodramatic, halfway nonsensical mic-work just made him seem like a crazy homeless person next to Daniel Bryan’s more grounded intensity. And not the good kind of heel R-Truth crazy homeless person either.
Old guys punching young guys
After an awesome ‘WrestleMania XXVIII’ and follow-up ‘Raws’ that have ranged from great to serviceable, I was really hoping for WWE to do something fun with their “Blast from the Past” episode of ‘SmackDown.’ Instead, the vast majority of the two-hour show seemed to be dedicated to watching older men, their bodies battered from decades spent entertaining us, beating up younger guys. “Hacksaw” Jim Dugan and Sgt. Slaughter wailed on Hunico and Camacho, and they were joined by a full-on mob of oldsters to beat up on Ricardo Rodriguez and Michael Cole. I know that I’m supposed to be excited to see these guys in the ring again, but with their middle aged paunches, thinning hair and dad clothes, the whole thing just comes off as more than a little sad.
Making matters worse is the fact that aside from getting out the news that Daniel Bryan will challenge Sheamus for the World Heavyweight Title in a Two out of Three Falls Match at ‘Extreme Rules’ (which is going to be awesome obviously), the show didn’t really accomplish much of anything. No new story developments, no thickening of any plots, no real standout wrestling and no real changes to the ‘SmackDown’ status quo. All in all, it just felt like an odd “whatever-the-balls” approach to booking that involved calling in all the old guys you could find and just crossing your fingers.
That said, if WWE ever decides to do a sitcom about all the Rhodes men living together (with Goldust in gimmick, natch), I’m totally on board.
Aubrey Sitterson is a professional writer and editor specializing in comics and professional wrestling. For GuySpeed, he writes weekly reviews of ‘Monday Night Raw’ and previews of ‘Friday Night SmackDown.’ Find him on Twitter and at aubreysitterson.com.