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Big E to the Rescue!
October 19, 2013

by PyroFalkon
Master of the PyroFalkon Multimedia Empire, Incorporated
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Two weeks ago, Breaking Bad ended. Satisfying as it was, it was still bittersweet, and due to my preference for being surprised, Twitter and Facebook had become minefields. I didn't want spoilers, so I avoided social media like a plague for 48 hours while I waited for the episode to become available on iTunes. [Ed. Note: this is why tv-release.net exists. Ahem.]
But Breaking Bad wasn't the only show I was expectantly waiting for, as this was the final season of Burn Notice, one of my guilty pleasures that I probably took way more seriously than the average person. Unfortunately, I was watching it on Hulu rather than iTunes, and the USA Network has one of those god-awful policies that won't let their shows become streamed until thirty days after they air originally.

I never mentioned it around OO because, again, I was trying my damnedest to avoid spoilers; luckily, I figured the show wasn't deeply or often talked about (not to the level of Breaking Bad anyway), so I rolled the dice and didn't become a recluse.

It all paid off, as I avoided every spoiler for Burn Notice ever, and got through the whole season able to watch it blindly. And while the ending wasn't quite as satisfying as Breaking Bad, it was damn good and a fitting end to the series. Jeffrey Donovan is a freaking underrated genius, and his portrayal of Michael Westen became more and more emotional as this season went on. It became a stronger drama too, unlike its lighter, “flirting with being a comedy” early seasons. I never thought Burn Notice had a bad episode, only “slightly above-average” at worst, and I was happy to see that go on all the way to the end. The little fan service tidbits that were included in the finale made it all that much sweeter.

With Burn Notice and Breaking Bad in the can, there are no more television shows I'm interested in. Well, I still watch The Daily Show and The Colbert Report every day, but that's not exactly what I'm talking about. As far as actual dramas or comedies or whatever, my slate is clean. Not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing, but none of the recent shows have really hooked me, and there don't seem to be any good ones on the horizon. One of my coworkers has strongly pushed me to start watching Duck Dynasty, so maybe I'll give that a couple episodes before punching myself in the face so hard that my eyes become inverted. (Apparently, “That's a fact, Jack!” is a sentence that is absolutely hilarious to people because of that show.)

But then again, WWE SmackDown is a television show, isn't it? I've been watching it for so long that it's more like a member of my family. Here's hoping it's like my metaphorical hot Russian third cousin, rather than drunk Uncle Jim Bob as he vomits on the carpet on Thanksgiving.

Segment 1: We've got general managers out in the ring to open the show. They blather, mostly Vickie Guerrero screaming that we're totally going to have order and discipline on SmackDown tonight, instead of Big Show coming down to punch everyone. Apparently, Brad Maddox's sole job tonight is to coordinate a security effort to make sure Big Show doesn't breach the perimeter.

And then Daniel Bryan hits the ring for no apparent reason. He pimps his upcoming match (in nine days) at Hell in a Cell where he'll totally beat Randy Orton for the WWE Championship. Then he introduces Big Show, whose music plays but who doesn't appear. DB is all, “Heh, I was just screwing with you,” which gets a laugh out of the crowd, but leaves me with confusion. Once again I over-think things, and I'm all, “Why would the Sound Guy be a part of DB's prank?”

But no, DB actually wants to introduce the tag champs, who make their way down to the ring. They don't say anything, but Goldust's bite in her general direction is enough to piss her off. So she books a match with those three against The Shield, and then cackles like a loon. The faces look confused, though I'd argue they probably shouldn't... seems rather expected, really.

Weak opening, man. Totally zero-value-add, a waste of time.

Pre-Segment 2: Rick was right, the Wyatt Family's extended pre-match Titantron speech was a one-shot deal. And this week, we get the lantern light, “We're here,” lantern extinguish thing, then smash-cut to the ring where the Wyatts are already hanging out. In other words, super time-compressed intro, which works well enough. Their creepy walk should be used sparingly now to maximize its impact.

Segment 2 [Tag Match]: The Wyatt Family (w/ Bray Wyatt) defeat Kofi Kingston & The Miz. Decent match for an opener, nothing special. Standard formula to start, as Miz and Kofi had early offense, until Kofi made a mistake. Like, it was an actual legit mistake, probably: he went from the apron to the top rope for a springboard something-or-other, but slipped off the top rope and just sorta “fell” toward the canvas rather than jumped. But he “fell” upright, and into a big boot by Luke Harper. It worked out, is what I'm saying, though it could have been a botch.

Regardless, the heel beatdown sequence was initiated, complete with roughneck moves, since Eric Rowan did most of the work. Eventually Kofi got a break, and he went for the hot tag. Rowan (illegal) tried to attack, but he fell out of the ring when Kofi dodged... but he fell out of the ring on Miz's current side, and my spider senses were tingling. And I was right: as Kofi went for the diving hot tag, Rowan pulled Miz off the apron and shoved him into the barricade. Uh oh.

Kofi turned around as Harper charged. Kofi ducked a big boot with a somersault, then upped to his feet and went for a charge of his own. But Harper had it scouted, and hit a sick discus clothesline that Kofi slightly oversold in a way that I wondered if he did some legit neck damage in the fall. If that was a controlled fall, then holy crap is Kofi talented. Regardless, the pin was it.

Post-Segment 2: The Miz, understanding that he was worthless in that match, entered the ring to check on Kofi. The Wyatts hadn't completely left yet, so naturally they hopped back up on the apron at different sides (north and west). Even though Miz had two perfectly good sides of the ring to escape from, he moronically chose to stay there.

But then Bray surprisingly called off his brothers-in-arms, then said some crazy bullshit about Miz needing to “enjoy his world” since the Wyatts “will take it all away.” Follow the buzzards, baby.

Cut Scene: The Stone Temple Pilots are doing the official theme song for Hell in a Cell? Since when did the Stone Temple Pilots become relevant again? [Ed. Note: I think it was about 3 years ago. It started as a gimmicky reunion tour, but it went well, and they actually released a new album. They did have some downtime last year because their singer is an incorrigible drug addict, and the new album is their first one with a new guy. But yeah, they've pretty much been A Thing again since 2010.]

Segment 3 [Singles Match]: Brie Bella (w/ Nikki Bella) defeats AJ (w/ Tamina Snuka) by pin. Solid match given its overly short length. Brie proves she's ring-capable, and no one is more surprised by that than me.

AJ started off playing the chickenshit heel twice. But the second time, she didn't realize that Brie had followed her, so Brie puncher her in the face. Hard. AJ sold it like one of the guys taking Big Show's WMD, but it was outside the ring. Brie flung her back in the ring, failed a pin, then chased her as AJ ran again. But this time, AJ had a plan, and when Brie caught up, AJ snapped her arm (and the INJURED~! shoulder) on the bottom rope.

AJ took control with shoulder-targeted offense, but Brie rallied up after about a minute. Brie hit a sweet missile dropkick off the middle rope, which AJ also sold like a champ. Good lord.

Brie continued the offense with a couple running knees, which put the crowd mostly on board with her. Then Tamina charged Nikki outside the ring to distract Brie, but Brie called a warning for her sister in time, who dodged and sent Tamina flying into the ring steps. AJ tried a quick schoolgirl pin on Brie, but Brie had that scouted too, so she simply rolled through. Brie then grabbed AJ and nailed a facebuster, which I swear has a proper name for the Bellas but can't remember it, and made the pin. Done.

Tamina recovered enough to put AJ on her shoulder and carry her up the ramp. AJ looked more confused than hurt in the process, and probably wanted a second round against Brie. I would not have complained.

Segment 4: As Lilian Garcia starts to announce the next match, the cameraman in the ring suddenly pivots to the south side of the arena, where nothing ever happens, to show Big Show hitting the ring through the crowd. Everyone just lets him in because why not, and Lilian hands over the mic. Show displays that he's got an “autographed ticket from Daniel Bryan,” which I guess allows him to jump the barricade at a show. (Note to self: arrange for an autographed ticket for the next time Rosa Mendes is in town.)

Unfortunately, the promo goes to shit from there, as he thanks us for our support in hoping Show gets his job back, but he does it in a really lame way.

Speaking of lame, here comes Brad Maddox (and Vickie Guerrero in tow) to bitch at Show. Show responds by WMDing Maddox. And then Big Show leaves, to his music, because again the Sound Guy must be in on this felony trespassing. Or something.

God, I hate WWE sometimes. They need to just put an end to this BS storyline as quickly as possible so we can all move on with our lives.

Segment 5 [Singles Match]: CM Punk defeats Big E. Langston by pin. Solid enough match, pure formula, but absolutely zero noteworthy spots in a vacuum. Don't take that as me crapping on the match, because it was good... it's just nothing that you wouldn't expect. Both guys made each other look good, and it's worth checking out on YouTube.

The ending included Punk slipping out of the Big Ending, hitting a roundhouse kick, and delivering a GTS. That's not a simple feat given Langston's weight and bulk.

Post-Segment 5: Paul Heyman, Ryback, and Curtis Axel pop out of the back. Heyman talks shit, insincerely complimenting Punk on beating a “marginal rookie.” Punk talks shit back, far more effectively, especially as he makes threats against Heyman and Ryback... Punk's promo is a little winding, but it's good stuff.

Heyman quotes AC/DC, then leads his buddies to the ring. Punk is happy to greet them outside the ring, where he gets shit-kicked for his bravado. Ryback flings him in the ring, where he and Axel prepare to beat the shit out of him.

And then Langston stands up. And beheads Axel. Punk handles Ryback, and the heels are sent packing as Langston taunts them to try something. Ladies and gentlemen: a face turn!

Also, such a surprising face turn to me that, three paragraphs ago, I had to type “insincerely complimenting Punk on beating a 'marginal rookie'” to put the face turn into context, since I initially passed it off as an overall irrelevant statement. Heyman was very good at being subtle, as was Langston... that, or my spider sense only works once per week.

Segment 6: Josh Mathews interviews Alberto Del Rio in the ring in front of the audience for some reason. Oh, it's so we can toss it to the Titantron for a John Cena montage. Hooray.

Alberto then talks, and it's incredibly stupid and generic. It plays on our resentment of Mexico, which you may recognize as a thing that doesn't exist. Apparently, we're supposed to totally hate ADR from calling Cena “the ultimate gringo.” All this makes me want to do is fire up my 3DS and start playing Pokemon Y some more. I don't think I'll miss anything.

ADR downplays Cena's injury as “spraining his elbow and having to miss two months,” which is all sorts of stupid. It's not even cheap heat; it's just dumb. And then ADR says Cena is just a nobody. So powerful, that insult.

ADR caps it off by demonstrating what will happen to Cena's arm by slapping on the Cross Arm Breaker to Josh Mathews. I'm not sure that accomplishes anything more than his stupid bullshit, although Mathews never tapped. I'm undecided whether that's funny or sad.

Pre-Segment 7: Siva Tau fuck yeah! It's so awesome, the Usos are still intimidating despite their pink shirts.

Segment 7 [Singles Match]: The Usos defeat the Real Americans by pin. The match was decent enough, I guess, but not exactly entertaining. Zeb Colter was on commentary, and he was so over-the-top and insane that he became funny again. “Watch” the match by keeping your eyes closed for the first half... it'll be more interesting that way.

A very inventive spot occurred during the heel beatdown sequence; tell me if they've done it before and I simply never noticed. [Ed. Note: They've done it before, you simply never noticed. HEY, you asked!]  Swagger through Jimmy onto the mat near the heels' corner, then ran forward for a rebound splash. As he planted his hands to do it, Cesaro tagged himself in. Swagged hit the splash, then stood toward the center of the ring, and did the hand-over-heart salute. Meanwhile, Cesaro hit the north ropes and sprinted toward the posing Swagger. Cesaro then leapfrogged Swagger, who I must remind you was standing at full height, and Cesaro came down with a double stomp to Jimmy's chest. So... a theatrical leapfrogging double stomp? Whatever you want name it, it was freaking cool.

Soon after that, Los Matadores made their full entrance. Zeb Colter left the table to confront them. But of course, during their full entrance, it involves El Torito to pop out. He charged his bull horns into Zeb's testicles, then his ass as he turned around.

This was enough of a retarded distraction that the Usos put down Cesaro (illegal at the time) outside the ring, then hit a Superfly Splash on Swagger to make the pin.

Other bullshit happened after the match, and then all five faces celebrated in the ring.

Segment 8: Save the ta-tas. Seeing Lilian Garcia and Layla talk about their moms' battle with breast cancer was... uh... well, I'm pretty sure it was just dust in my eye. Yeah, it was totally dust. Totally.

Segment 9: Daniel Bryan hits the ring for the main event. Before the other faces hit the ring, Randy Orton hits the stage just to talk shit. It's boring.

And then ads.

Segment 10 [Six-Man Tag Match]: Daniel Bryan, Goldust, & Cody Rhodes defeat The Shield by pin. Excellent match, definitely worth YouTubing. If, uh, “YouTubing” is a word. I suppose it is now.

Inventive spot near the end as we entered the end game and saw a Pier Six Brawl (which, itself, came after what I call the “clusterfuck sequence”). Outside the ring, after some back-and-forth stuff, Cody Rhodes found himself on the east apron facing the ropes. Rollins was in the ring, punched Cody, then did a sunset flip over Cody all the way to the outside, holding on for a powerbomb. Goldust tried to break it up, but Rollins kicked him off; still, Cody hung on to the top rope so he wouldn't eat the powerbomb. However, Ambrose arrived to punch Cody in the face, breaking his grip on the rope. Rollins positioned himself accordingly, then powerbombed Cody into Goldust, sending them both over the announcers table.

With DB's illegal partners down, you'd think he'd be in trouble... but only if you haven't been paying attention to DB since before Money in the Bank. He tried a Yes Lock on Ambrose (legal) to get the win by submission, but once Rollins tried to break it up, DB switched tactics by clotheslining him over the top rope, then back body dropping Ambrose over the top rope as well. DB hit the opposite ropes, did a suicide dive through the ropes into both of them, popped up like it ain't no thing, then threw Ambrose back in the ring. DB hit the Sagat Flying Tiger Knee, and with Reigns down after whiffing on a Spear to Goldust (and thus slamming himself head- and shoulder-first into the steel steps), no one was able to help him. Three-count, and we're out to the faces magically recovering to celebrate.

Final Thoughts: Solid main event, but once again the night overall didn't really accomplish much. Langston turning face was the only newsworthy event of the night, for better or worse. I mean, it's for “better” in the sense that Rick has been saying that a babyface Langston will go over gangbusters, and by turning for Punk (and especially against Heyman, arguably the #2 or #3 heel right now), it gives him that much more momentum. But it's for “worse” if that is the main takeaway from tonight instead of, you know, something that has to do with the main event.

Alberto Del Rio especially has been disappointing lately. He was absolutely amazing as a face, and I totally get that he turned basically by accident, just like I totally get that he's turned back due to a face-heavy roster (one devoid of Mark Henry, who I thought was 100%, unless they're trying to keep him off TV to make us boo him again after his accidental face turn coming off his award-winning acting job months ago). But regardless, ADR's “wealthy, obnoxious, arrogant Mexican patriot” gimmick just isn't that interesting. The dude cuts a good promo in general and is a very good wrestler, but... man alive, does his current character suck. And yet, getting the title off him to Cena doesn't seem like a great idea either. No matter how you slice it, I don't really have much optimism for their match at Hell in a Cell.

Meanwhile, DB's momentum continues to roll, as well as the Rhodeses'. Orton himself is zero-value-add, at least for tonight, but the feud is pretty entertaining. I was surprised Trips and Steph didn't make appearances tonight, but I suppose it doesn't matter. They'll be sure to be on RAW; I'd bet my computer on it.

Things may heat up more next week, since it'll be the lead-in to Hell in a Cell. Here's hoping for the best! Either way, I'll see you next week for another recap.

Episode Grade: B-


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