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WWE Friday Night Smackdown- November 25, 2011
-I don’t expect to be getting back to Smackdown reviews on a weekly basis, but I’m really intrigued by the Daniel Bryan developments this week.
-Video recap of the Big Show/Mark Henry match from Survivor Series. Big Show pulled out all the stops, including jumping off the top rope. Henry got himself intentionally disqualified to save his World Heavyweight title.
-From Wilkes-Barre, PA. Our hosts are Michael Cole, Booker T, and Josh Matthews.
-We kick things off with the World Heavyweight Champion, Mark Henry, limping down to the ring on crutches. Henry accuses the crowd of finding happiness in his pain. Henry feels he does not deserve this sort of treatment. Henry accuses Big Show of faking a low blow during their Survivor Series match, claiming he actually kicked the knee. He says he’s here to set an example for all the children, because champions fight through pain and injuries. Henry says he wanted to compete tonight but Teddy Long won’t let him due to his ankle injury. We’re joined by Big Show, who seems really pleased with himself. Show says Henry knows exactly what he did at Survivor Series and he did it because he knew the title was in danger. Show justifies the ankle attack, saying it was mere payback. Henry calls Show the “world’s largest loser” which would make a lesser man cry. Show knocks Henry down with a closed fist and heads for the back.
-Mark Henry is still out cold when Daniel Bryan runs in with a referee! He’s cashing in! Bryan rolls Henry onto his back and pins him to become the NEW WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION! Bryan poses with the championship as the crowd pops. Bryan takes the time to pose on the announce table, just to rub Michael Cole’s nose in it. Teddy Long shows up to ruin the celebration. Long says since Henry wasn’t cleared to compete, that was not an official match. Bryan is not the World Champion and has to relinquish the belt. Long tries to make it up by handing him back the Money in the Bank briefcase and puts him in a #1 Contenders Fatal 4-way match tonight with Cody Rhodes, Wade Barrett, and Randy Orton. The winner gets a shot against Mark Henry on next week’s live Smackdown. This was a well-executed segment, as Bryan’s faux title win was exciting and the reversal felt devastating. I don’t know if it was worth making a hypocrite out of Bryan, who back in July stated he wouldn’t sneak attack the champion.
Justin Gabriel vs. Hunico
They exchange some arm work in the early going. Hunico quickly turns to punching. Gabriel drops Hunico on the apron but Hunico reverses. Suplex over the ropes by Hunico gets 2. Tirt-a-whirl backbreaker by Hunico. Cue the chinlock! Gabriel powers out but eats a hard slam. More chinlock goodness. Hard Irish whip by Hunico and a slingshot drop-kick. Gabriel sends Hunico to ringside with a head scissors takedown and delivers a corkscrew dive. Gabriel nails a springboard moonsault for 2. Hunico blocks a superplex and nails the Swanton Bomb for the win at 4:23. Not a bad little midcard match here.
-We are treated to a video package highlighting WWE’s recent European tour. Looks like the superstars had a good time.
Beth Phoenix and Natalya vs. AJ and Kaitlyn
Alicia Fox is sitting on commentary. I guess she’s a face this week. Natalya starts off by cornering Kaitlyn. AJ makes a quick tag and Kaitlyn whips her into Natalya. AJ is trying really hard to be a high flier. Natalya makes AJ tap to the sharpshooter at 1:07. That’s about right.
Winners: Natalya and Beth Phoenix
-Kaitlyn is disgusted and storms off, leaving AJ to suffer in the sharpshooter while Beth screams in her face. Alicia Fox takes it upon herself to make the save.
-We get a creepy teaser video. It appears to be Kane setting his old mask on fire. I suppose this is leading to Kane making a big return, being unstoppable for a month or two, and then probably becoming a lovable baby face yet again.
-Aksana hits on Teddy Long, complete with porn music, but Mark Henry breaks it up. Henry is upset about having to defend the World title next week. Long says the doctors expect he’ll be ready to go. Long looks like he’s about to wet his pants, but informs Henry that next week’s title defense will be inside a cage.
-Sheamus and Zack Ryder are hanging out. Ryder sings Sheamus’ theme song but luckily Sheamus finds it amusing. What a good sport.
United States Champion Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger (with Vickie Guerrero) vs. Sheamus and Zack Ryder
Before the match, Ziggler tries to earn some crowd approval for “winning twice” at Survivor Series. Sheamus and Ziggler kick things off. Ziggler is overly proud of himself for nailing a drop-kick. Sheamus responds with a side headlock. Overhead power slam by Sheamus. Swagger tags and immediately scores with a waist lock takedown. Sheamus delivers some head butts and pummels Swagger in the ropes. Sheamus tosses Swagger and Ziggler to ringside and Ryder dives onto them to send us to commercial. After the break, Ryder is going toe to toe with Swagger. Sheamus reenters with a flying shoulder block. Swagger tackles the leg and tags in Ziggler to swing the momentum. Sheamus is in trouble as Swagger and Ziggler cut the ring in half. Sheamus blocks a Swagger Bomb and tags in Ryder. Running boot to the face by Ryder, but he’s distracted by Vickie and Ziggler. Swagger nails a clothesline at ringside to take back control. Ryder takes a prolonged beating before countering with a tornado DDT on Swagger. Sheamus gets the hot tag and cleans house. Swagger saves Ziggler from the Celtic Cross. Ryder tags himself in. Sheamus blocks the Zig Zag and Ryder puts Ziggler away with the Rough Ryder at 13:23 (shown). Ryder looked really good here, connecting with the crowd and playing a great sympathetic baby face while taking a beating. This match did a lot of little things right, ***¼.
Winners: Zack Ryder and Sheamus
-Daniel Bryan vents to AJ about what happened earlier with his botched cash-in. AJ believes in Bryan, awww. Wade Barrett shows up and says Bryan doesn’t stand a chance in the fatal 4-way. Bryan retorts that Barrett has won exactly the same number of World titles as he has: zero. AJ wishes Bryan good luck with a kiss. Things are looking up for Daniel Bryan.
Ted Dibiase vs. Heath Slater
The bell rings and we’re immediately interrupted by Jinder Mahal on the titantron. Mahal is disgusted that the wealthy Dibiase has been spending time hanging out with commoners. The distraction allows Slater to gain an early advantage. Dibiase shakes it off and delivers a power slam. Slater drives Dibiase into the turnbuckles and nails a single arm DDT. Slater continues to punish the arm. Dibiase mounts a comeback and delivers Dream Street for the win at 4:52. This was perfectly acceptable wrestling. Dibiase works better as a face than I expected.
Winner: Ted Dibiase
-We get a recap of Cody Rhodes tossing water in Booker T’s face on Raw. Hey, nobody likes Booker T’s commentary, but that was just uncalled for. Matt Striker interviews Rhodes about the incident. Rhodes feels free without his mask and he can do anything he wants.
#1 Contenders Fatal 4-Way match:
Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton vs. Intercontinental Champion Cody Rhodes vs. Wade Barrett
Orton and Barrett square off while Bryan and Rhodes duke it out at ringside. Orton gains the advantage and looks to dismantle Barrett bit by bit. Orton fights off Rhodes and Bryan returns and helps clear the ring. Orton and Bryan get ready to face off as we head to commercial. Post-break, Cody is wearing down Daniel Bryan while Barrett sends Orton crashing into the ring steps. Barrett and Rhodes team up to put a hurting on Bryan. Orton returns and stomps Rhodes into the corner. Barrett breaks it up, and it’s Orton’s turn to suffer a beat down. Bryan nails a missile drop kick on Barrett and a running kick on Rhodes. Bryan finds himself of the receiving end of an electric chair. Rhodes turns on Barrett and is in charge heading into another commercial. After the break, Orton is clawing his way back into control, but Barrett cuts him off. Bryan tries to sneak in but Barrett slams him for a near fall. Cody dumps Barrett, but Bryan drops him over the ropes. Suicide dive by Bryan! Orton slams Barrett and gets rid of Rhodes. Bryan returns and kicks Orton in the head. Rhodes finds himself the only man standing and looks to pick up the pieces. Orton delivers a superplex on Rhodes! Barrett tries to steal the cover but Bryan delivers a diving head butt. Orton clears the ring and sets up Bryan for the spike DDT! Barrett pulls Orton to ringside and they wipe each other out on the floor. Bryan reverses Cody into the Labell Lock for the submission win at 11:52 (shown)! Bryan earns another shot! I can’t ask for much more from a television main event, this match was fast and exciting, ***½.
Winner: Daniel Bryan
-Daniel Bryan doesn’t get much of a chance to celebrate as he’s jumped by Cody Rhodes. Orton makes the save, delivering an RKO to Rhodes.
Final Thoughts: You know exactly what to expect from Smackdown. The wrestling is generally good, the storylines generally don’t matter. The adventures of Daniel Bryan elevated this episode to a place where it’ll stand out in my mind more than a usual filler Smackdown. Two ***+ matches means this is an easy thumbs up.
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