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SD Ends 2013 With a Bang, Not a Whimper
December 28, 2013

by PyroFalkon
Master of the PyroFalkon Multimedia Empire, Incorporated
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Normally on post-holiday recaps, I do the generic “I hope you had a good one!” spiel. Though those statements are genuine—I really do hope you had a good Festivus/whatever—I'm going to dispense with most of the pleasantries. I'm having an incredibly late start tonight, though it was partly due to having an awesome extended talk with a gorgeous girl, so I'm not even going to come close to apologizing for it. But it does cut into the amount of time I can blather around here if I want anything close to sleep tonight, so let's get to it.

Segment 1: John Cena out to start the show at Corpus Christi, which is always a raucous crowd. Cena feeds off the energy and gets silly and over-intense as he is wont to do, which actually works for a bit until he starts talking about his new year resolutions, which are allegedly funny but pretty much fall flat, except that he wants to “get an early start on his XFL Fantasy Draft,” which gets a perceptible amount of laughs. Cena's final new year's resolution is to gain 40 pounds next year, but decides that the best way to do that is to just beat Randy Orton tonight for his combined titles, stupidly called the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.

The gauntlet is thrown, but it's picked up by The Shield. They surround the ring and kick his ass, but the save is made by Mark Henry, the Corpus Christi native if memory serves. He's able to make headway, but numbers catch up, and Cena was never able to recover. But then it's Big E. Langston who hits the ring to even the odds and, after chucking Roman Reigns, the other two recover and clean house together. The faces celebrate in the ring as The Shield licks their wounds and retreats to the first row of the crowd.

Korporate Kane then pops out in his dapper suit and announces three matches tonight... Dean Ambrose vs. Langston, Reigns vs. Mark Henry, and Seth Rollins vs. Cena. No member of The Shield is upset, and the faces are of course raring to go. Kane then blows his corner pyros, which must feel a little odd in the suit jacket. Good to see he hasn't given up his magical fire powers just because he slapped on a tie and took out his contact.

Pre-Segment 2: Bullshit happens. We get the same disturbing bump from Monday of Big Show being the New Year Baby next week on RAW, followed by fade-cut to the ramp, where the Usos are doing their post-Siva Tau pyro. In other words, one of the Truck Monkeys or their bosses decided that we'd rather see Big Show prancing about in a diaper and drinking from a milk bottle (and also implying that he gave a facial to a stage hand, and yes, I mean that kind of facial) than the Siva Tau proper. God, I hate WWE sometimes.

Segment 2 [Tag Match]: The Wyatt Family (w/ Bray Wyatt) squash the Usos by pin. The match barely started before it was over. It's pretty easy to hide the heels' flaws in ringwork when the match is barely sixty seconds long.

After the match, Bray hit one of the Usos with the Sister Abigail.

Segment 3: Renee Young interviews Randy Orton, who says he's totally the greatest of everything ever, and he should induct himself into the Hall of Fame. Dolph Ziggler shows up and talks some shit, Renee runs away, Kane appears and makes the match. Dolph runs off, and Orton starts to, but Kane holds him up. Kane says, “Randy, the backstage must be a safe place... but out there in the ring...” Kane does a little shrug, then backs away. Randy's faulty intellectual equipment means he has to take the rest of the segment trying to figure out that was a hint for something, and he manages to almost smirk, kinda, as we fade out to the next entrances.

Segment 4 [Singles Match]: Antonio Cesaro (w/ The Real Americans) defeats Cody Rhodes (w/ Goldust) by pin. Decent match, nothing special. Almost entire technical, but too short to be noteworthy. The ending saw Jack Swagger hopping on the apron to run a distraction; Cody took care of him, but ate a quick and clean roll up pin.

Segment 5 [Tag Match]: The Prime Time Players defeat Curtis Axel & Ryback by pin, because I absolutely refuse to call the heel team “Ryaxel” like WWE wants me to. So, this happened. Too long to be considered a squash, too generic be considered good, and too boring for me to really pay attention beyond noting the winners. Blech.

Segment 6 [Singles Match]: Randy Orton defeats Dolph Ziggler by pin. Decent match I guess, nothing special. Pure Orton formula with Dolph being his usual solid self, but no one is going to remember this match. It ended after like 15 minutes with an eye poke and RKO out of nowhere, with the commentators insisting that the thumb-to-the-eye was super totally genius because Orton is a brilliant ring strategist. I'll just let that sentence stand on its own.

After the match, Orton continued beating the shit out of Dolph at ringside. Lilian Garcia oversold her fright, which makes me just want to comfort her, especially if she is wearing that little black dress when I do so. Her fright culminated when Dolph ate a Hangman's DDT off the barricade in the time keeper's area.

Segment 7: The Shield does a to-camera bit of blathering, each man talking thirty seconds of shit against their respective opponents.

Segment 8 [Singles Match]: Daniel Bryan reverse-squashes Damien Sandow by pin. Sandow's offense for 98% of the match until DB hits a Frankensteiner followed by Yes Kicks and the Sagat Flying Tiger Knee. Solid finish to the match, no doubt—Frankensteiners are always sweet to watch, assuming the victim doesn't totally fuck up the timing—but the match itself was nothing to talk about.

After the match, the Wyatt Family appears on the Titantron. Bray compliments DB's persistence and fortitude since he's still standing despite the Family kicking his ass. But Bray reminds DB that, just as the fans have chosen DB as their guy, so too has the Family chosen Bryan. Except Bray's choice is more momentous, since Bray “is a god.” Blow out the lantern, go to commercial.

So, it may have taken 90 minutes, but finally something interesting happened, and it was a continuation of the Wyatt promos. Good stuff, no complaints, and anything to make Bray look more delusional and creepy simultaneously can only lead to good things.

...Which is then followed by a repeat of Big Show giving the stagehand a milk facial. Can we just fast-forward a month and be done with this?

Pre-Segment 9: So, the main events are starting. Since The Shield enters together, the faces make their entrances consecutively. All six men hit the ring more or less together, which makes it look like it's going to be a six-man tag match. But Referee John Cone is there to keep some semblance of order, and the non-participants of the first match are sent to ringside.

Segment 9 [Singles Match]: Big E. Langston defeats Dean Ambrose by pin. Pretty much a reverse-squash, Ambrose had the (mostly convincing) early offense, until Langston decided that he was tired of getting his ass kicked. Several power moves and The Big Ending later, Ambrose was sent packing.

Reigns slid in the ring ready for action against Mark Henry, and so Cone had to wrangle Langston out of the ring. Given that they always do a split so we can have a “dramatic” rubber match, fifty OO Dollars (redeemable for Pyro Back Rubs, a prize literally no one wants) says that Henry loses this one.

Oh good, ads first!

Segment 10 [Singles Match]: Roman Reigns defeats Mark Henry by pin. Reigns with the early offense, Henry with the middle offense, then a rest hold. It's weird seeing Reigns lock on a sleeper to Henry; there's about three things wrong with that scenario from the description alone. The other faces tried to rally Henry, who did indeed power out, but it wasn't enough. Reigns nailed Henry with a Superman Punch followed by a nice stiff Spear, and made the pin. And now, I don't owe anyone back rubs.

And more ads!

Segment 11 [Singles Match]: John Cena defeats Seth Rollins by pin. Oh, it's about damn time there's a match worthy of a proper recap. Only took you until the last 20 minutes, WWE.

Feeling-out to start with some minor chain wrestling. Cena gets the better of it after about a minute of action, so Rollins voluntarily bails and throws a temper tantrum. The other members of Shield give him a pep talk, so he reenters the ring with vigor renewed.

Punchy-kicky trades from both guys, but Cena whiffs a corner charge and oversells. From there, Rollins begins the heel offense, though it's a little less “beatdown” and more “slow-paced punchy-kicky,” probably internally referred to as the Orton Sequence, except actually performed in a way that doesn't induce lethargy.

Cena eventually fights out but doesn't get very far when Rollins slips out of an attempted bulldog and instead beheads Cena with a clothesline. Failed pin for the first one of the match, and they transition to an attempted submission with a sleeper. It's no rest hold; Cena stands to power out, but Rollins holds on and takes his back, scissoring his legs around Cena's torso. Then it wanders into rest hold territory as they slightly reposition into a modified camel clutch, but Cena fights out of it anyway.

Cena can't do anything though; despite powering out, Rollins kicks him in the face immediately. Then they just kind of hang out for thirty seconds before Rollins hits a neckbreaker. Failed pin, ads.

Back, and Rollins is in control with more punchy-kicky. He spends a couple seconds to talk shit to the other faces before resuming the offense, which Cena continues to slightly oversell. Rollins's mistake though is to talk shit mid-match to Cena, slowing things down a little too much, giving Cena time to recover and rally. Cena flings Rollins to the corner, who oversells as well. Cena then hits the first couple of his moves of doom, his flying shoulder blocks, but Rollins flips out of the side slam and counters with a reverse Russian Leg Sweep to smash Cena's face into the second turnbuckle. Ouch! Failed pin, but Rollins is back in control.

Rollins steals Cena's signature taunt, then punches Cena. He tries a second, but then Cena does hit his side slam, hits the Five Knuckle Shuffle, then goes for the FU. He delivers the throw, but Rollins lands on his feet. Rollins scrambles up to the second rope and hits a forward senton neckbreaker out of nowhere. Failed pin, but it got a few members of the crowd out of their seats.

Now the fans are rather solidly chanting for Cena, but Rollins puts him down with a body splash in the corner anyway. But again Rollins dicks around too much rather than pushing his advantage, so when he tries for a second body splash, Cena dodges and counters with a reverse suplex-to-neckbreaker. Solid move, tries the pin, and fails. It's so close that Cena actually argues with John Cone about it as the other heels talk shit.

Cena gets over it and goes to the top rope, but Rollins does a suicidal attack to knock Cena off the rope. As both guys get to their feet, Rollins grabs Cena's neck like he's going for an RKO (again apparently still in Orton Sequence mode), but does a backflip over Cena to essentially hit a high-angle reverse DDT. Sweet move, pops the crowd, but still only gets a two. Ambrose reacts like he got a lump of synthetic coal for Christmas.

Rollins is pissy though and is feeling it, so he goes back to basics and just goes punchy-punchy. Cena manages to get to his feet and counters a flying punch of Rollins into a powerbomb lift. Rollins tries to fight out and even goes for a huracanrana, but Cena holds on and delivers a sit-down powerbomb anyway... but still only gets a two which, if crowd reaction was any indication, was sure to be a game-ender. Instead, Rollins fights on.

Both men to their feet, so Cena goes for another FU, but Rollins hangs onto the top rope. Cena lets him go, but Rollins continues to hold onto the top rope anyway, leading to a ridiculously awesome athletic spot. Cena grabs Rollins's ankles in a standard “pull the dude so hard he lets go of the rope and faceplants” spot... except when he does, Rollins lands clean, meaning he had to twist his body and get his feet under him in the three nanoseconds before gravity makes it impossible. Then, because the concept of physics is jobbing to Rollins, the guy just does a jumping roundhouse enziguri that starts while he was facing away from Cena, and still hits it perfectly on target. Good lord... that spot popped the crowd louder than anything else yet. Pin attempt, but only two.

As Cena recovers from Rollins's Third Law (“for every reaction, there is an equal and greater kick to your face”), Rollins goes to the top rope and hits a flying knee to Cena's temple. Another two-count, so Rollins throws a tantrum and assaults the canvas.

Rollins decides to hit the ropes to do something, but Cena just slaps on an ankle lock from the ground and transitions to an STF. But Rollins reaches the ropes, so the break is on.

The Shield smells their own blood, so Ambrose decides to just enter the ring. But Langston slides in to end that happy-crappy and, after a few shenanigans involving all four non-participants, the heels are sent flying over the announce table, sending Michael Cole and JBL scrambling.

Meanwhile in the ring, Rollins flies off the top rope with a cross body which technically hits, but in the effort to transition it into a pin, Cena rolls through. Cena has a pinning position, but he doesn't want it; instead, he just finds his feet, dead-lifts Rollins up, hits the FU finally, and makes the pin. All three members of The Shield are down, all three faces are standing, and the last SmackDown of 2013 ends with a crowd-pleaser.

Final Thoughts: The main event—specifically the main part of the main event—was worth all of the YouTubes. Rollins is quickly proving he's by far the alpha of The Shield, in workrate if not in actual rank. The Shield as a unit is above-mediocre at worst; I've never seen Rollins even go that far down, squashes and such excluded. Is it too early, or too hopeful, to think that Rollins can be a credible WWE Champion (or whatever they'll call it) eventually?

Everything else was... ugh. On paper, there were a lot of matches. It makes sense that there were no story advancements during the holiday season since no one is really paying attention, and SmackDown was taped a while ago, but... well... Look, I know WWE doesn't exactly bring its A-game during this time of year, and I have no problem giving them a pass, but to me, boring is usually worse than annoying, and tonight's episode was pretty boring.

Watch the last 20 minutes, skip the rest, and have a damn good (and safe!) new year's day since I won't see you until 2014. Rick gets you one last time this year though, so come on back to OO before the festivities begin... assuming, of course, that the idea of Big Show as the new year's baby doesn't induce all your sphincters to simultaneously fail.

Episode Grade: A (main event), D (everything else)


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SMACKDOWN RECAP: Back with a Bang
RAW RECAP: Yes! Yes! Yes!
PPV RECAP: WWE WrestleMania 28




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