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Orton/Bryan, Round 37
December 7, 2013

by PyroFalkon
Master of the PyroFalkon Multimedia Empire, Incorporated
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Of my many, many flaws, the one that apparently leads to the most long-term damage is my need for “retail therapy” when I have problems like a romantic breakup that leads to near insanity or, even worse, news of Mike Tomlin being a dumbass.

Generally I buy new video games, including some I'm not even interested in or have no plans to play for months. It's a bizarre feeling to be making a purchase at the store and keeping the receipt safe as I consider returning the item before I've even left the final point of sale. It's the kind of moment where you just stand around calling yourself all sorts of terrible names while simultaneously accepting your own stupidity.

I suppose my retail therapy was, technically, more practical this time around since I dropped about a hundred bucks on a new futon, which I really desperately need. But I didn't desperately need Batman Origins or Wind Waker HD, yet I bought them anyway at a combined price barely less than my new futon. My only benefit here is that my last paycheck was a “free” check in the sense that it was timed in such a way that I didn't need to use it for any bills. But rather than dropping entirely too much money into toys, I could have, you know, shoved it into my savings account.

I try to do good... it doesn't always work out that way. But I've reacted well to my stupidity, in a move that you guys don't understand the weight of but Rick certainly will: tonight, despite my growing anger and depression at myself, the first thing I did when I got home was empty every liquor bottle into my sink. It was a waste of some good Bailey's (not to mention half the ingredients to Rick's famed Orange Russians), but it was a necessary waste. Hopefully to make up for it, this recap will be good, and my last day of Santa (that commences tomorrow) will be even better. Let's roll...

Segment 1: Randy Orton hits the ring to talk... for five seconds, before kicking it to the Titantron for a replay of the main event promo from RAW. Orton blathers that he's hurting from going through a table, but he doesn't care; he's totally going to win at TLC, because he's the greatest champion ever. And he doesn't care about our reactions, because he doesn't care about us, or about anyone in the back, because screw everyone.

Well... maybe not everyone, because he's also here to apologize to “The Authority,” which I guess at this point is the official name of the stable containing Triple H, Stephanie McMahon, and Kane. He wants to apologize not because he feels he owes them anything, but that they gave him things he took for granted, and he, I guess, doesn't want to get attacked by The Shield or something. It's not overly clear, but in this case, it's intentional, not just line-mangling; Orton's character isn't the type to bend his knee to anyone, but he's also not stupid enough to make things more difficult by pissing into his coffee mug. So to speak. I hope.

So here comes Daniel Bryan, who doesn't buy it... he just wants Orton to apologize to the fans for “impersonating a champion,” since Orton has never cleanly beaten DB. And DB hasn't forgotten any of those times; he's not done with Orton, and DB wants a shot at the Champion of Champions title (or whatever name it will be) afterward.

But that's in a couple weeks. So how about, tonight, how about they have a match for the hell of it? Orton says no, DB leads the fans in a “Yes!” chant, and Orton just flips the mic. He futilely (and Broadly) gestures the crowd to stop it, then just leaves.

And... that's how the opener ends, with DB's music. Huh, shorter than I expected, or maybe not if you count the length of the video replay. Decent opening though, no complaints.

Pre-Segment 2: After the commercial, we hear that Vickie Guerrero indeed booked the DB/Orton match as our main event. Fair enough.

Segment 2 [Singles Match]: Big E. Langston defeats Fandango (w/ Summer Rae) by pin. Another one of what I call an “extended reverse-squash,” Langston got his ass kicked for two minutes before hitting a flurry that culminated with The Big Ending out of basically nowhere, and making the pin.

Damien Sandow was on commentary as he berated Langston the whole time, which included the phrase that Langston “had diarrhea of the mouth and constipation of the brain,” a sentence that I hope never becomes not funny to me.

As far as the match goes, it was all right, but nothing overly special. Still, Fandango was in “house of fire” mode despite this not being a tag match, and he actually seemed credible in kicking Langston's ass. Granted, he wouldn't have been anywhere near credible if he had actually won, but that's beside the point; blind squirrels and nuts, and all that. Fandango being aggressive and resorting to roughneck punchy-kicky was a change for the better, even if it's just a one-off match. The guy can wrestle, as we saw in NXT, but he needs to have an actual worthwhile feud or forever be condemned to the lower midcard. I think he's capable of better, even if it's a while before we'll see it.

After the match, Sandow got in the ring to stare down Langston and gesture (Broadly) to the Intercontinental Title belt. Words were exchanged that we weren't privy to due to the absence of mics, and then Langston held the belt above his head. Sandow glared, then left.

Segment 3: To show how “realistic” the graphics are in WWE 2K14, we get a simulated YouTube video of the SmackDown signature montage featuring simulated movements of the polygons of the wrestlers. In case you're scoring at home, that's about four levels of non-realism for this “realistic” video, which at best enters the uncanny valley, and at worst makes me wonder if video game graphics technology has advanced by any discernible measure in the past few years. (Note: it hasn't.)

Idiots. I'd espouse at length the reason this generation of the WWE game isn't going to be remotely special and we'd have to wait, at best, two more years before we get anything resembling a clear leap forward, but you guys are here for “real” wrestling, not my analysis on video games, even though both my moonlighted projects are literally just that.

Segment 4 [Tag Match]: Curtis Axel & Ryback defeat Cody Rhodes & Goldust by pin. Heel beatdown pretty much immediately on Goldust as we start with pure formula. Goldust rallied after some rest holds from Axel. Hot tag to Cody, who went house of fire, but was punished after whiffing on a Disaster Kick. But he persevered and hit his standing moonsault, and only lost the pin thanks to Ryback breaking it up.

Goldust clotheslined Ryback over the top on the east side of the ring, and Cody decided to help out his brother by sliding out of the ring just to hit a Disaster Kick by bouncing off the announcers' table, which was a neat visual. But as Cody went back in the ring, Axel rolled him up for a flash pin.

Huh. The match lasted maybe four minutes at best, thus being heavily time-compressed. I'd argue this runs counter to Rick's prediction on Monday that when these teams faced each other, it would at least be a decent match since Goldust and Cody are turning almost everything into gold; so much for that theory. But in this case, it's more on the bookers than anyone involved in the match. I suppose that this helps the heels' momentum, but flash pins aren't really the best way to get over, and it just seems a little forced. I get the point, but I think the execution was pretty underwhelming.

Of course, I recognize this is only Round 1 of their feud essentially, and WWE isn't going to blow its load on a weekly show. But I didn't think the result of their first match would be so pedantic... give us some reason to believe these heel lower midcarders have some sort of a chance, rather than a one-off lucky strike that won't be repeated.

Segment 5: Wade Barrett is back for more “Bad News.” Or I guess, he's simply “Bad News” Barrett, since “Wade” is gone for this gimmick. Anyway, he essentially calls Oklahoma stupid, but takes entirely too many words to do it. Lame.

At this point, I'd eat half of Rick's bug supply if this is anything but intentionally bad. I don't know where WWE is going with it, and my faith in WWE has long since melted away, but even at my most cynical, I can't imagine the gimmick is simply flopping. It's got to be intentionally bad.

Pre-Segment 6: They cut the Kofi Kingston match from the Hulu broadcast of RAW. Has he been making his entrance with a stupid bandana he gives a fan for a while, or was tonight the first time? It went over well, so good for him, but it looks silly.

Segment 6: 'Twas supposed to be a singles match, but during Kofi's entrance, Alberto Del Rio beat the shit out of him, then locked in the Cross Arm Breaker. Two refs arrived to stop that nonsense, but the damage was done, and ADR's mental state has been established.

Segment 7: The Shield does a to-camera monologue with a decidedly high-quality camera. They talk shit about and to CM Punk, with Rollins essentially being Roman Reign's voice of reason. Reigns wants to rip Punk's skin off his bones, but Rollins points out that they want Punk to at least be able to walk into TLC... that way, all three of them can obliterate him.

Reigns reigns in his aggression. (See what I did there?) He promises that Punk, though he may be “best in the world,” hasn't yet dealt with Shield, so obviously Punk will need to take on their best member to be shown what happens when you don't believe in The Shield. And at that, to the “best member” comment, Dean Ambrose says that means it's so totally him, then gives Reigns a shoulder tap of manly comraderie before walking off-camera.

Well that seems stupid (in-character). Reigns isn't happy, but doesn't outwardly react. Methinks Punk will be able to take advantage of this dissension among the ranks during TLC.

Segment 8 [Singles Match]: CM Punk defeats Dean Ambrose by pin. Solid match, not necessarily YouTube-worthy, but very good all the same.

Feeling-out process to start as both guys get better of separate exchanges. Ambrose starts off the heel beatdown sequence after about 30 seconds of chain wrestling, and they fairly quickly transition to a rest hold. When Punk starts to get a rally, it involves back body dropping Ambrose over the south top rope. Ambrose turns his body to land clean on his feet, but he backs off a couple steps to catch his breath. Well, and allow WWE to transition to ads.

Back, and Punk is being dominated, as Ambrose is targetting the ribs. Cole says that we would have known what happened to those ribs if only we had had the WWE app on our smart phones, and for fucking once, they do not play the “App-exclusive” footage on TV, thus for once not shitting in their own bed. Good job, WWE broadcast team.

Strangely, after a false rally, Ambrose went for two submissions, neither of which had anything to do with the ribs. Punk resisted both, then countered the second (a sleeper hold) into the Anaconda Vise. Ambrose saved himself by getting a foot under the bottom rope, but lost control of the match. He wrested it back however with a sweet spot: Punk hit a scoop slam, then went to the top rope for a Macho Man Elbow Drop. But Ambrose recovered, got to the top rope, then hit a double underhook superplex, which is basically fifty times more awesome than whatever you're imagining in your head.

Still only a two count from that, so Ambrose slapped on the armbar again, which again seems like a weird place to target. Punk saved himself with the bottom rope, and Ambrose took the full four count. Ambrose bitched at the ref for no reason, so Punk kicked him in the head with a roundhouse. Only a two, but he signaled for the GTS.

Punk readied the GTS, Ambrose countered, Punk re-countered, Ambrose re-re-countered and won, shoving Punk shoulder-first into the ring post. Only a two from that.

Ambrose did a modified Orton ring hump before going for his finisher, but Punk hit the roundhouse again and quickly followed up with the GTS. Pin, three, done.

Segment 9: Renee Young interviews Rey Mysterio in the back. Renee asks what Rey, who's held both WWE Champion and World Heavyweight Champion, thinks of holding the upcoming Unified Title. Rey answers pointlessly (“it's a lot of pressure!”), and then Zeb Colter arrives to be racist. Zeb is sure that since Rey is totally Mexican, his title reigns should be stricken from the record books. (Zeb then says “Rey Mysterio... if that's even your real name!” Exactly zero percent of the Real Americans are going by their real name, which everyone knows, so shut the hell up, “Colter.”)

Anyway, blah blah blah, Rey has to find a partner to face the Real Americans. Whatever... wake me up when I start needing to care.

Segment 10 [Singles Match]: Natalya defeats Tamina by pin. Tamina starts off with roughneck offense, which Natalya properly oversells for excellent effect. Tamina even whips Nattie's back with her leather jacket, which somehow doesn't draw a DQ, before transitioning to rest holds.

One rest hold saw Tamina standing, and Natalya seated in front of her, with Tamina holding Natalya's arms behind her back. Natalya decided to flashily counter this by doing a forward flip while Tamina held her arms, a counter that drew groans of delight from the crowd, and made my eyes widen a bit. Very sweet counter!

From there, Natalya had her hope rally, hitting several strong kicks and slams, but couldn't close the deal. When Nattie went for the Sharpshooter, Tamina countered out and hit a Samoan drop. Tamina whiffed on a Samoan Splash, then got covered by Natalya... and lost? What the hell? There wasn't even a follow up move!

AJ was on commentary, by the way, and did a damn fine job. She again did the non-heelish thing of trying to convince us that she's a role model for doing hard work and earning her spot, thus showing she's not being forced off that particular line of promo. Too bad WWE doesn't spotlight it more and rather insists the feud is somehow centralized on a shitty reality show, but so it goes. Oddly enough, she didn't seem to react after her girl lost. Weird.

Also: I wouldn't be me if I didn't point out that during Natalya's suffering in the double-armed submission hold, I'm about 70% sure we saw some Natalya underboob. [Ed. Note: QUICK~! To the DVRs!] I've spent worst Saturday nights.

Segment 11: The Funkadactyls want to sell us some crap.

Segment 12: Rey Mysterio & Big Show defeat The Real Americans (w/ Zeb Colter) by pin. Proving the heels aren't entirely intimidated by Rey's mystery partner, they quickly go to work with the heel beatdown sequence on Rey. It doesn't take long before Rey hot tags out, and Show cleans house by himself. After exchanges, Swagger eats a 619, Cesaro eats a chokeslam, Cesaro further eats a “dropping the dime” off Big Show's shoulders, and we're done.

Segment 13: RAW recap of the whole Unified Title thing. This leads to Cole's sit-down interview with Triple H, where Cole asked whether this will be the biggest match ever. Trips doesn't immediately reply “No, you dumbass,” which doesn't go over well with me. Instead, Trips says that it might be, and it's at least “up there,” but then reiterates that he'll so totally crown a single champion after TLC.

Segment 14: From there, we smash-cut to ringside, where Bad New Barrett does more stupid shtick... except his “bad news” this time is that whoever is the Unified Champion will be subject to the envy (and attacks) of everyone in the locker room.

Uh... duh. Again, I hope to a tap-dancing Russian bear that this is intentionally bad, and I would bet my next paycheck that it is.

Segment 15 [Singles Match]: Randy Orton defeats Daniel Bryan by pin. Decent match, nothing special, and certainly a little lame for a main event. Watchable, sure, but nothing you're going to remember after five mintues. [Ed. Note: more than anything, I had a sense of Viewer Fatigue. We've seen this match headline a half dozen shows, including 3 PPVs, since August. As good as Goldust and Cody have been at finding new ways to skin a cat, it felt like Bryan and Orton ran out tonight. Plenty good, but even more "been there, done that."]

Jockeying for position to start, with Orton getting the advantage. Headbutts and punchy-kicky, but DB countered with punches of his own. DB targeted Orton's shoulder, but during an attempted armbreaker over his shoulder, Orton countered by quickly hooking DB's neck and hitting his special backbreaker that I keep forgetting the name of. DB dodged the follow-up however, then planted a few kicks, concluding in a dropkick that sent Orton out of the ring. DB wanted a suicide dive through the ropes, and Orton bailed to the loving arms of Lilian Garcia. Good time for ads.

Back, and Orton is in control with knee drops and neck-targeted rest holds. Oh, and WWE showed
“WWE app-exclusive” footage, but it lasted for like two seconds, so they shit in the bed anyway, except it was more like one of Owen Hart's nuggets rather than a foray to Taco Bell. I'm starting to hate myself for my own similes.

DB managed to rally with high “Yes! Kicks” in the corner, and hit a frankensteiner that was only somewhat shitty thanks to Orton mistiming the fall. Soon after, Orton finally took the suicide dive in the south part of ringside, soon followed by missile front dropkick. Yes! Kicks, but DB's rally was cut short by a low power slam off the counter to the “big” Yes Kick. Pin, but only two.

Orton hit the Hangman's DDT from there, followed by ring humping. DB countered the RKO attempt into a backslide, only got two, but kick Orton in the face anyway to put him down. DB went to the top rope to signal for... something, only for the lights to go out.

Luke Harper and Eric Rowan then appeared at the bottom of the ring. DB hopped off the top rope to yell at them, giving Orton a chance to RKO DB into next week. Pin, three, done.

Post-Segment 15: Orton bailed with the title, and DB stayed on his knees watching the Wyatt Family members, who did nothing. Lights out again, and then Bray Wyatt appeared on the Titantron to be creepy. He talked some crazy shit, offered Bryan to join them, then... single frame of goat mask, end broadcast.

Final Thoughts: I really hope they don't overplay the Wyatts' signature to end shows, because it's very effective so far when used, but can quickly become repetitive if they keep doing it. For now, it works, and I'm happy.

I'm not exactly happy with SmackDown, though nothing was really bad. The main event was just boring, though it makes all the sense in the world why it was the main event, rather than Punk/Ambrose, which was clearly match of the night. Sometimes boring is worse than bad; this wasn't the case tonight, since the main event was decent and watchable. But I'll be hard pressed to remember more than two spots from it tomorrow.

The rest of SD was basically just as forgettable, and I've said everything I've already wanted to say in the body of the recap. I have to get up early to be Santa tomorrow, so I'm going to call it a night. Have a good weekend, all, and tune in to USA (or Online Onslaught) on Monday for the Slammy edition of RAW, which is at least usually not worthless!

Episode Grade: B+ (Punk/Ambrose match), D+ (everything else)


SMACKDOWN RECAP: Bonding Exercises
RAW RECAP: The New Guy Blows It
PPV RECAP: WWE Night of Champions 2012
RAW RECAP: The Show Must Go On
SMACKDOWN RECAP: The Boot Gets the Boot
RAW RECAP: Heyman Lands an Expansion Franchise
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Losing is the new Winning
RAW RECAP: Say My Name
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Deja Vu All Over Again
RAW RECAP: Dignity Before Gold?
PPV RECAP: SummerSlam 2012
RAW RECAP: Bigger IS Better
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Hitting with Two Strikes
RAW RECAP: Heel, or Tweener?
RAW RECAP: CM Punk is Not a Fan of Dwayne
SMACKDOWN RECAP: The Returnening
RAW RECAP: Countdown to 1000
PPV RECAP: WWE Money in the Bank 2012
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Friday Night ZackDown
RAW RECAP: Closure's a Bitch
RAW RECAP: Crazy Gets What Crazy Wants
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Five Surprising MitB Deposits
RAW RECAP: Weeeellll, It's a Big MitB
RAW RECAP: Johnny B. Gone
PPV RECAP: WWE No Way Out 2012
RAW RECAP: Crazy Go Nuts
RAW RECAP: Be a Star, My Ass
RAW RECAP: You Can't See Him
RAW RECAP: Big Johnny Still in Charge
PPV RECAP: WWE Over the Limit 2012
SMACKDOWN RECAP: One Gullible Fella
RAW RECAP: Anvil, or Red Herring?
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Everybody Hates Berto
RAW RECAP: Look Who's Back
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Care to go Best of Five?
RAW RECAP: An Ace Up His Sleeve
PPV RECAP: WWE Extreme Rules 2012
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Sh-Sh-Sheamus and the nOObs
RAW RECAP: Edge, the Motivational Speaker?
SMACKDOWN RECAP: AJ is Angry, Jilted
RAW RECAP: Maybe Cena DOES Suck?
RAW RECAP: Brock's a Jerk
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Back with a Bang
RAW RECAP: Yes! Yes! Yes!
PPV RECAP: WWE WrestleMania 28




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