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   July 22, 2014



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COMMENT





Smackdown: Showcasing that pesky second W in WWE
By DAVE HILLHOUSE -- SLAM! Wrestling


Clichés only become clichés by being true from the beginning. So, while it’s clichéd to say that Smackdown is the wrestling show compared to Raw being the venue for drama, nights like this prove it to be true. Only one true throwaway match is on the card, and two matches specifically provide what is needed for a memorable contest: time. One of them, by the way, is a championship match. Here’s to more of this in 2013.

So, welcome back, Randy Orton. Not saying exactly where he’s been, Orton acknowledges that Smackdown used to be his show, but it doesn’t quite feel that way anymore. He unveils a resolution to fix that by becoming World Heavyweight Champion in 2013. The first step towards achieving that is, as you might guess, entering and winning the Royal Rumble.

As you might also guess, Sheamus also has plans to do all of those things, and he comes out to tell Orton so. He also thanks the Viper for helping him against The Shield on Monday, but Orton says that had nothing to do with helping Sheamus and everything to do with revenge for his own beatdown at their hands. Tension mounts between them until Big Show steps out to mock both of their chances at winning the title even if they do win the Rumble.

Antonio Cesaro decides to mix things up with the big guys by putting in his two rappens. He’s tired of hearing people argue about who wants to fight whom -- and it turns out that Booker T is also. He makes a tag match amongst the four of them for later.

Match #1 – The Miz vs. Heath Slater (w/ Drew McIntyre & Jinder Mahal)

Miz is confidently in charge for the opening sequence, even taking advantage of Slater’s bandmates’ distracting of the ref to poke the original One Man Band in the eye, then displaying his air-guitar skills for his opponents’ partners. Ultimately, Mahal and McIntyre are completely ineffective as they are ejected from ringside without ever having caused real trouble for the Miz.

Slater does pick up some momentum all on his own, focusing a lengthy string of attacks on Miz’s left arm including two ring-post run-ins, but Miz was never really in danger and finishes things up with a Skull-Crushing Finale.

Winner via pinfall: The Miz

Matt Striker is backstage with Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett, and the champ is unfazed by the fact that Kofi Kingston has a rematch against him tonight.

Match #2 – Natalya, The Great Khali & Hornswoggle vs. Rosa Mendes, Primo & Epico

Natalya and Mendes rough things up to start, with Natalya taking the advantage, but an Epico tag forces Khali to tag in -- which prompts Epico to tag out and let Primo take the brunt of the Punjabi punishment. Hornswoggle finds his way in and is mercilessly beaten around until Khali gets in again and chops Epico down for the win.

Winners via pinfall: Natalya, The Great Khali & Hornswoggle

JBL sums it up perfectly: "That was something". Backstage, Striker hears from challenger Kofi Kingston, who urgently expresses that this might be his last shot at the championship. Kingston has apparently never, ever watched WWE programming before.

Match #3 – Kofi Kingston vs. Wade Barrett (champion) for the Intercontinental Championship

Lots of punches and kicks shared between both men to start, until Kingston picks up the pace along with the aerial assaults. Barrett eventually grounds him, even booting him from the apron to the floor. Kingston returns with a cross-body off the top rope followed by an S.O.S. for a two-count. A Boom Drop precedes Trouble in Paradise, but Barrett rolls out of the ring and by the time Kingston has got him inside again the champ is able to kick out of a pinning attempt. Kingston gets desperate and returns to the top rope, but this time Barrett waits for him with the Bull Hammer.

Winner via pinfall and STILL Intercontinental Champion: Wade Barrett

Match #4 – Tamina vs. Layla

Let’s be honest here, Layla simply gets beat up. Tamina looks to fill Beth Phoenix’s void with a dominating performance, culminating with a Samoan Drop and Superfly Splash.

Winner via pinfall: Tamina

Match #5 – Big Show & Antonio Cesaro vs. Sheamus & Randy Orton

Sheamus and Orton team up well against Cesaro, but Big Show gets a tag and takes out some of his giant aggression on Sheamus with a spear and a choke-slam. Sheamus ducks under a KO punch and manages to stun Big Show with a Brogue Kick, but he’s thinking tag and not pin. Both teams make the change and Orton unveils his greatest hits package on Cesaro, before Sheamus blind tags himself in ahead of the RKO. Orton watches, perturbed, as Sheamus hits White Noise on Cesaro, and sneaks in to deliver an RKO as Sheamus readies another Brogue. Sheamus grins as he makes the pin.

Winners via pinfall: Sheamus & Randy Orton

Sheamus mockingly applauds his partner as a collision course is set between the two of them ... and at some point the newest mega powers will explode!

Dave Hillhouse is a screenwriter and teacher, and is starting to hum "It’s the most wonderful time of the year" as the Royal Rumble approaches.