WARNING: Fans who have yet to read the spoilers for this week’s SmackDown and do not wish to be spoiled going into the show on Friday should NOT read this column until after SmackDown airs.
On Friday, WWE presents their final major television broadcast leading into this Sunday’s WWE Survivor Series pay-per-view event from Boston, Massachusetts. Obviously if you’re WWE, you would like to use this program to deliver as much hype and build as much anticipation for this Sunday’s show considering the fact that it’s one of the “big four” pay-per-views, and the final one of the year. WWE has the TLC pay-per-view in December, but for all intents and purposes, Sunday is the last major pay-per-view event of 2013.
Based on early online feedback to the scheduled lineup for the show, it looks as if WWE is going to continue to disappoint their pay-per-view buying audience by delivering another somewhat lackluster event. Personally, I feel Survivor Series could be a great event, but the majority of the feedback I have read thus far seems to indicate a lack of interest in the show. Obviously the quality of the show cannot be determined until you view it on Sunday, but many fans seem to feel that it’s not the strongest lineup going in.
Before fans skim through this and immediately come to the conclusion that it’s ridiculous to analyze a show that hasn’t aired yet, understand one thing: I am not analyzing the quality of the matches or trying to predict how things will play out on television this Friday. I’m simply looking at what WWE presented on their final “go-home” show and determining whether or not it is effective in any way in promoting their pay-per-view event in Boston this Sunday.
In the following space, we are going to take a look at each match and/or segment that will take place on this Friday’s edition of WWE SmackDown. After a quick summary, I will give each match or segment a grade of 1-10 on what I’m calling the “effective scale.” Basically, a “1” indicates that the match or segment did not do much at all to help promote or build anticipation for Sunday’s Survivor Series. A “10” indicates that the match or segment does a great job of building up the pay-per-view.
With all of that out of the way, it’s time to focus on the build to the show. What is WWE giving their fans on SmackDown this week to encourage them to open their wallets on Sunday evening? Let’s take a look …
WWE SmackDown (Survivor Series “go-home” edition of the show)
Air date: Friday, November 22, 2013
Full SmackDown spoiler report available here.
Goldust & Cody Rhodes vs. The Real Americans (with Zeb Colter)
According to the spoiler report for this week’s SmackDown, WWE opens the show this week with the WWE Tag-Team Championship match announced on Monday’s RAW featuring current champions Goldust and Cody Rhodes vs. The Real Americans. The report claims Goldust and Cody Rhodes win a basic tag-team match in what was considered by those who attended live to be an entertaining contest. Since both teams are involved in the traditional elimination match on the pay-per-view, having this match on SmackDown makes perfect sense and serves as a decent tease for the elimination match this Sunday.
Effective Scale (1-10): 8
Ryback Promo & Open Challenge
Ryback talks about why he enjoys being a bully and then issues an open challenge, which The Great Khali ends up accepting. First things first, wasn’t Ryback’s gimmick that he’s a bully who doesn’t admit to being one? I could swear during the build to his match with CM Punk, when he was somewhat of a “Paul Heyman guy,” only to later be revealed that he wasn’t….ahhh, never mind. Too confusing to sort out the “Heyman guy” status for Ryback over the last several weeks. Regardless, I recall hearing Ryback constantly refer to Punk as the bully, how he hates bullies, and how he’s going to give Punk what he’s got coming to him for bullying Heyman. Obviously he was a bully all along, but I guess now he’s finally admitting it. Anyways!
Effective Scale (1-10): 1
Ryback vs. The Great Khali
As many would expect, this was not exactly a “catch-as-catch-can” classic. However, much like on Monday’s RAW in the match between Ryback and Big Show, Ryback again hoisted up a giant guy and hit him with his “Shellshock” finishing move. Ryback went on to pin Khali and get the win in this one. Am I crazy, or shouldn’t Ryback “Shellshocking” a big guy be saved for a pay-per-view match? What does Ryback really have to offer in terms of in-ring performances? He isn’t known for having great matches. Basically, all he has to offer in the ring is a showcase of his impressive power and strength. Well, that and an opportunity for fans to jump all over his case with “Goldberg” chants. If Ryback has one of two cool things he can do in terms of showcasing his power, wouldn’t you want to save that for a pay-per-view? He’s officially “Shellshocked” the two biggest guys in the company in one week on free television. The next time he has a pay-per-view match, I guess we’ll see him lift up a regular 250-pound guy for the move. Not as impressive, in my opinion. But I digress!
Effective Scale (1-10): 1
The Funkadactyls vs. AJ Lee (with Tamina Snuka) [Handicap Match]
First of all, why a Handicap Match? Why not a straight tag-team match? At Survivor Series, The Funkadactyls will be on one side of the ring while both AJ Lee and Tamina Snuka will be on the other. I’m not sure what the point in making this a two-on-one match is, but maybe that’s somehow explained on Friday. In all of the spoiler reports I’ve read, it is not. Anyways, The Funkadactyls pick up the win in this one. No matter what WWE did with the Divas on SmackDown, I’m not sure they would be garnering any additional buys from fans for Sunday’s Survivor Series. With that said, this is about as good as you can do to hype up their traditional elimination match on Sunday, so it’s about as effective as you can get.
Effective Scale (1-10): 6
Rey Mysterio & The Usos vs. The Shield
On Monday we get the news from WWE that at Survivor Series there will be a traditional elimination match featuring The Usos, Goldust, Cody Rhodes and a mystery partner vs. The Shield and The Real Americans. By Monday night, the mystery-man is revealed to be Rey Mysterio. So all of the “mystery” was taken out of the equation within a matter of hours. We see Mysterio’s return on RAW and we see him get physical with the guys who will be his opponents this Sunday. The only thing we didn’t see yet, which would make Survivor Series special in terms of Mysterio’s participation, is his first official match back on television. Well, that’s ruined now as well. Mysterio competes on Friday in a six-man tag-team match with The Usos against all three members of The Shield. I’m sure it’s a great match, but there’s nothing special left about seeing Mysterio in the ring on Sunday because of it. Good job!
Effective Scale (1-10): 3
Big Show Cuts A Promo, Randy Orton Interrupts
According to the spoiler report, Big Show comes out to cut a promo and the WWE Champion Randy Orton interrupts him, again complaining about how he’s not going to have any help to beat Big Show this Sunday. On Monday, he flat out said he doesn’t think he can win by himself. Is this really the best way to promote your main event? The champion is publicly stating that he doesn’t feel he can win. Listen, I’m well aware that all of this is setting up a swerve at the pay-per-view. Orton will probably come out victorious in the match. As I wrote in my Survivor Series analysis editorial this week, I fully expect Kane to get involved in the finish, leading to Orton retaining and setting up Big Show vs. Kane for TLC in December so that Big Show vs. Triple H can take place on a bigger stage such as the Royal Rumble in January. Either way, they can do the same finish without Orton whining about being afraid of defending his title against Big Show without outside help. You could book the same match and play out the same aforementioned finish with Kane, and as a result, Orton can brag about beating Big Show on RAW on Monday. Everyone will know he didn’t do it by himself, and thus, your heel champion gets heat from the fans. Isn’t that what a heel champion is supposed to do? In this scenario, Orton complains the entire time going into the match about not having help, gets it anyways, wins because of it, and then what’s he going to say afterwards? Thank god I had help, or I wouldn’t have got the job done? Fans can’t really hate him for that, he’s being honest and admitted he needed assistance to pick up the win.
Effective Scale (1-10): 3
Big E. Langston & Dolph Ziggler vs. Curtis Axel & Damien Sandow
The spoiler report claims that this match didn’t last long and that Langston and Ziggler picked up the win. For those who missed it, Langston defeated Axel for the Intercontinental Championship on RAW and then WWE added an Intercontinental Championship match to Survivor Series between Langston and Axel, so this actually does a decent job of promoting another match on the card. Had they booked an immediate rematch between Langston and Axel on SmackDown and then run a third match between the two on the pay-per-view, that would have been pretty pointless. The only gripe I have is that since this was a tag-team match, Axel should have scored the pin over Langston, so both guys are even heading into the pay-per-view, and Langston as the babyface would have something to fight for at Survivor Series. Regardless, I’ll give some extra points due to the fact that this was at least a tag-team match with both guys involved instead of another one-on-one between the two.
Effective Scale (1-10): 6
The Prime Time Players vs. 3MB
According to the spoilers, 3MB come out portraying the Fabulous Freebirds in this match. Neither team is involved in any way, shape, or form at Survivor Series, however, not everything can be promoting Sunday’s show. SmackDown is a two-hour long program, so some stuff has to be done just for the sake of entertainment. This seems like it could be pretty entertaining, we’ll have to wait for Friday’s show to find out. Heath Slater plays the part of Michael “P.S.” Hayes, Jinder Mahal plays the part of Jimmy “Jam” Garvin and Drew McIntyre portrays Terry Gordy. I guess Buddy Roberts got lost in the shuffle. Oh well.
Effective Scale (1-10): 1
Luke Harper vs. Daniel Bryan
The SmackDown main event this week features a one-on-one match between Luke Harper of The Wyatt Family and Daniel Bryan. This Sunday, Harper and Erick Rowan will take on the duo of Bryan and CM Punk. So right off the bat, this at least promotes a featured match on the show. The spoiler report claims Punk comes out during the match, but that Bryan ultimately loses to Harper via roll-up for the 1-2-3. After the match, The Wyatt Family beats down Bryan and Punk to close out the show. So that’s actually pretty perfectly done. The heels beat up the babyfaces as the show wraps up on Friday, leaving fans eager to see Bryan and Punk give them what they have coming on pay-per-view this Sunday. On an unrelated side note, I still hope Bray Wyatt, who isn’t scheduled for a match at Survivor Series, interferes in the match this Sunday to set up an individual singles program between himself and Punk. I want those Bray Wyatt vs. CM Punk back-and-forth promos!
Effective Scale (1-10): 10
Okay, before I tally up the effective scale scores, I have to point out one thing: if the SmackDown spoiler report is correct, WWE did absolutely nothing to promote their World Heavyweight Championship match between John Cena and Alberto Del Rio on their final major television show heading into the pay-per-view. Both guys were there, as Cena vs. Del Rio did serve as the post-show dark match main event. So for the 10,000 or so fans in the building, they got a little something in terms of final hype for the Cena vs. Del Rio match this Sunday. The millions watching at home on television get nothing. Whatever!
With a total of nine matches and segments on this week’s SmackDown, at a scale of 1-10 with one being the lowest possible score and ten being the highest possible score, the best total score on my effective scale would be a 90. The worst possible score would be a 9. Above, you can see how I scored each individual match and segment. The numbers add up to 39. That’s right, out of a total possible score of 90, WWE delivered a 39 for their final major television program heading into their final “big four” pay-per-view of 2013. Using the same scoring system, how would you guys score this week’s SmackDown? Do you feel WWE did a considerable amount better than I did? Worse? Leave your scores and general feedback below in the “Comments” section.
Effective Scale (9-90) For The Entire Show: 39
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NOTE: The above item is an eWrestlingNews.com opinionated editorial, and should not be confused as a factual news item. Readers can contact the author of the above editorial, Matt Boone, via Twitter @MBoone420 or by posting your immediate feedback in the “Comments” section below.