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   December 18, 2014



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Smackdown: Inferno approaching
By DAVE HILLHOUSE -- SLAM! Wrestling


The WWE takes its annual trip down through the levels of hell this weekend, and all players on the Friday night team get to make their last attempt at either intimidation or whatever may be their mind game of choice. A new match for Hell in a Cell is announced, and suspended animosity between Randy Orton and Wade Barrett is rekindled.

Orton gets to open the show, and he’s very upset with Alberto Del Rio. He tells the crowd that Del Rio picked the wrong guy on whom to take out his frustrations stemming from not being able to beat Sheamus. Del Rio steps out alongside Ricardo Rodriguez, and he’s none-too-pleased with Orton, either, but he merely talks tough and heads to the back.

Shortly afterwards, Barrett attacks Orton from behind. After the break, Teddy Long approaches Del Rio and calls him out on the set-up. Barrett asks Del Rio if that’s what he wanted –- and Del Rio is so busted. Teddy Long passes along a Booker T idea, and he makes a match between Orton and Barrett for later tonight.

We’re just short of seven months removed from Wrestlemania’s Team Teddy vs. Team Johnny encounter, and since that time the gestation of that storyline has produced a gaping hole in the Raw GM spot and Teddy Long still making decisions on Smackdown.

Match #1 – Kane vs. Cody Rhodes

The respective partners for these combatants are on commentary, with Damien Sandow and Daniel Bryan watching their teammates’ backs and providing a really funny backdrop. In the ring, it’s an even affair until Rhodes tries Goldust’s sliding punch, at which point Kane grabs him by the throat and chokeslams him goodnight.

Winner via pinfall: Kane

Backstage, Big Show reminds us of who the actual GM is as he chats up Booker T. Booker wants him and Sheamus to stay away from each other and keep their match on Sunday intact. Big Show says no problem.

Match #2 – The Miz vs. Yoshi Tatsu

Tatsu gets to be the warm-up exercise for The Miz, and is rewarded with a baseball slide sending him to the outside and a body slam on the floor. Miz absorbs some kicks before crushing Tatsu’s skull for the finale.

Winner via pinfall: The Miz

Wait a minute ... now there’s a recap for both Raw and Main Event?

Backstage again, Booker T and Teddy Long have gathered the evidence and they’re ready to bust up Wig-gate. The usual suspects are present: Eve, Layla, Aksana, and Kaitlyn (neither Nancy Kerrigan nor Tonya Harding were available), and Long details how Aksana was forced by the Assistant GM to attack Kaitlyn at Night of Champions.

Eve still manages to talk her way out of irrefutable culpability, so Booker T does what any sensible man in charge would do, and what Judge John Sirica should have done back when the original “Gate” broke: force a settlement in the ring. At Hell in a Cell, Eve will defend the Divas Championship against Layla and Kaitlyn. Tonight, Aksana will also join in the mix with a tag match for all four.

Match #3 – Wade Barrett vs. Randy Orton

JBL says this is a big step for Wade Barrett, but it’s unclear how resuming a feud is anything but a lateral move. Orton delivers a knee-drop with an impressive lift, but after the break we see Barrett toying with the Viper.

Barrett is getting frustrated after a series of two-counts, and perhaps that eagerness allows Orton to duck under a Souvenir Elbow. Barrett is given a pink-rope DDT, but Del Rio and Rodriguez march to ringside to take Orton’s eyes off the prize. Barrett hits the Souvenir Elbow on his second try. The Barrett Barrage notches another big victory, with an assist to Del Rio.

Winner via pinfall: Wade Barrett

Del Rio gets in the ring and wraps his scarf around his hand before laying punches into Orton’s head; it might be considered a more vicious assault in Mexico to punch with a fabric-covered hand. Orton dodges an enzuigiri and Del Rio skips away from an RKO, leading to a Smackdown Staredown.

Match #4 – Layla & Kaitlyn vs. Eve & Aksana

Kaitlyn is having no trouble shoving Aksana around until she goes after Eve on the apron, allowing Aksana to clothesline Kaitlyn. Kaitlyn gets really mad and is clotheslining both of her opponents to the moon, but Layla screws up an attempt to help by hitting Kaitlyn with her Bombshell kick instead of Eve, letting the champ score the win.

Winners via pinfall: Eve & Aksana

Man, Booker T is earning his money tonight as now he has a meeting with Sheamus backstage, asking for the champ to keep his cool as well. Sheamus suggests that Big Show lied about his promise, and therefore he can’t make that promise himself.

Match #5 – Damien Sandow vs. Daniel Bryan

It’s time for the ol’ switcheroo, as Kane and Sandow take their turn on commentary (which will be kind of like having Roger Ebert and Phil Hartman’s Frankenstein reviewing a film together).

Gonna miss your pink tights, Sandow.

Bryan works Sandow’s fingers for a submission attempt, and starts going dropkick crazy after the commercial break. Kane, by the way, hasn’t uttered a word yet. The time for talk is over, anyway, as Bryan and Sandow fight their way to the announcer’s table and all four get involved. After all is said and done, Sandow has Bryan in the ring and drops him with his Terminus neckbreaker.

Winner via pinfall: Damien Sandow

Closing out the show are Sheamus and Big Show in the ring with a boatload of security flunkies separating them. This is the kind of moment that would have been more effective back when there was longer than three weeks’ build-up to a match.

Big Show makes a valid point that the Brogue Kick can probably only reach his chest. Sheamus admits he was rooting for Big Show to be his opponent for the challenge. They jibber-jabber at each other some more before Sheamus makes the first move. He and Big Show actually clear the ring of the guards, but Big Show ducks out, too. Ah well, at least Sheamus gets a Brogue Kick on one of the officials to help him sleep at night.

Dave Hillhouse is a screenwriter and teacher, and is dismayed at how the actual Hell in a Cell match is being used for wrestlers facing one another for the first time. Will their feuds culminate in an arm-wrestling match?