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By Revin Samuel on 1/21/2012 5:55 PM

Smackdown – 20/1/12
What the goals should be for this week’s Smackdown?
•The evolution of Daniel Bryan has been great so far, I’m waiting for the roof to cave in on this, but he’s met expectations and then some. In addition, this storyline with Big Show and Mark Henry has been very compelling and Show and Henry continue to be two of WWE’s best performers of 2011 and early 2012. The key for this week’s show is to keep that momentum going between the three and also announce a World Title match for the Royal Rumble!
•Royal Rumble hype. This will be a goal with every show for me and WWE generally does a poor to satisfactory job with pay per hype and this one has been no different. They partially turned it up on Raw this week and hopefully Smackdown continues the push of what should be the second biggest pay per view of the year
•Let make every segment mean something. One of the problems Smackdown has had lately is that it doesn’t appear alot of segments are going anywhere. Teddy and Aksana, Ted Dibiase’s push/no push, Jinder Mahal, Gabriel, Slater and Hornswoggle. It could be that the talent pool is just weak, but alot of Smackdown seems like filler lately.
Show Breakdown

  1. Great opening package to start the show and recap what happened last week, while setting the groundwork for this week. The WWE production team is one of the crucial elements in my book to WWE getting their pay per view buy rates up. Awesome video packages for matches are what set the stage, and WWE rarely does them now days on television when it matters, yet consistently delivers them on the pay per view.

  1. Great heel heat for Bryan! I thought the promo was a tad over scripted, but Bryan did well with the material and his delivery is fantastic.

  1. I like that Bryan is not being presented as a cowardly heel. He talks tough and looks tough. Who would have thought that to begin 2012, Bryan would be what Miz should have been.

  1. Very weird to hear Michael Cole on commentary siding with Big Show.

  1. Ah WWE and their campy backstage segments. Rant time. Remember in 1996 when WWE was producing outdated television and Vince McMahon was forced to change with the times because WCW was kicking his ass. Nobody is around to force Vince into it anymore, because I will tell you things like this, these awful backstage segments push fans away. They don’t bring in viewers, its cringe worth material and it’s only done so The Bubble can say to themselves, “We’re more than pro wrestling”. It was cute once upon a time, but now it’s just overkill. This also might apply to Brodus Clay, (I actually don’t mind the gimmick and I know this, because when I rewatched Raw this week to see the ending promos again, I stopped and watched the Brodus segment again as well, maybe it was because of the girls, who knows.) and the fat dancing man. It’s entertaining, but it’s overdone and the audience sees through it as hokey television. Vince might say “it’s entertainment” and I’m sure it is to the live audience, but I don’t think it’s what they need right now for their product.

  1. I like that they are still planting seeds for a Cody-Goldust match. I’m betting Goldust is a surprise in the Rumble and they do the match at the Chamber.

  1. I’d fast forward this segment, just because I refuse to watch the midget, but I like Cody so I’ll give it time and Cody is earning big bonus points by kicking Hornswoggle. BTW Hornswoggle is also in the dancing fat man, hokey backstage skits category of overdone and why people don’t watch the shows anymore. Their ideas of what they think is creative now are outdated for 2012.

  1. I think I hear a faint “Justin” chant from the kids/girls in the crowd. I could definitely see Justin Gabriel having that old school Hardy feel to him with a certain fan base.

  1. Nice match with Cody and Justin. I don’t know what it does for a babyface to come out as a hero, have the heels accept the challenge without blinking and then the heel wins clean. It’s not proper storytelling for this business and does Gabriel no favours.

  1. Mark Henry is just fantastic – “Who you talking to? You spin the wheel”, beautiful stuff, such a badass.

  1. Good touch for WWE to show the tag title switch again from the house show.

  1. I wonder what Rosa would be like in a Non PG environment?

  1. I like The Usos. I wish WWE would do some character development with these second generation performers, show clips of their background, their father and interview them talking about what it’s like growing up as the child of a Superstar.

  1. I guess it would make an interesting storyline if Carlito ever came back to tell Primo and Epico that they stole his finishing move. Quality match and a good week of television for the tag champs!

  1. Just saw the Santino, Royal Rumble commercial again. What a horrible effort on that one by WWE!

  1. I do like the promo package hyping up that it is the 25th anniversary of The Royal Rumble and of course the Royal Rumble flashback package.

  1. I hate Aksana!

  1. The Dance Off! I’m sure it will be entertaining, but this type of stuff has been done too much and nobody would ever bad dance like Vicky just did.

  1. Brodus getting booed, because Regal’s dancing was actually entertaining. I guess the dance off was an okay segment to help further develop The Funkasaurus character.

  1. Nice, hard hitting contest between Sheamus and Barrett. You would think if they were going to continue to push this Jinder Mahal-Sheamus feud that they wouldn’t have had Mahal job to Santino a couple weeks ago. However judging by how Sheamus just put Mahal through a table, it’s almost like they want to use Sheamus to put Barrett over and Sheamus gets his heat back by destroying Mahal. WWE is doing some very lopsided feuds these days, Sheamus-Mahal, Tamina-Natalya.

  1. Funny, how Dibiase and Hunico landed on a flag match. What if it was two Americans? At least they didn’t just have the flags out on cue.

  1. Dibiase needed this win, but why is Hunico already just another guy jobbing away? It’s even-steven booking and that doesn’t get anyone, anywhere.

  1. I love how WWE is going back to using their old school production music as the dramatic themes for their video packages. They did it on Raw with Cena and Kane and now on Smackdown recapping the Punk-Laurinaitis storyline.

  1. Booker always hated being in blindfold matches? I don’t recall Booker being in any blindfold matches.

  1. Is Drew fired now? Weird losing streak storyline. I hope Drew isn’t getting the Rob Conway treatment where he is fired on television and then is actually released.

  1. Interesting to briefly mention in passing that Randy Orton returns next week.

  1. Now both Cole and Booker are harping on the no girlfriend stuff for the World Champion, that has to be coming straight from Vince!

  1. I almost question whether it’s time for Cole to be changing his tune on Daniel Bryan. Cole should be cheering for how brilliant Bryan is to be leaving the scene of the crime with the title in hand!

  1. I’m not sure whether Sheamus should be just another lumberjack out there with the rest of these scrubs and I hope most of these guys don’t get into The Royal Rumble!

  1. Finally they announce a World Title match for The Royal Rumble. They were able to get it in there before the Go Home Show.

What this show accomplished
The Good
• The evolution of the Daniel Bryan character continues. Bryan had another good night of television. His promos are exceeding expectations from where I sit and he found another way to sneak out a victory.
•Brodus Clay. I said it earlier that I’m not sure this type of character is what the company needs in terms of growing the audience in 2012, but his segments are good and the live audience will get into it. The girls play a big role in him being great. Also big ups to William Regal who was so good, Brodus got booed!
•Quality wrestling on the show. Outside of the McIntyre-Santino match, I thought all the matches had quality wrestling this week.
•Comedy kept minimal. There was some comedy on this show and one segment too many with Aksana, but WWE usually uses these theme shows to do alot of hokey backstage campiness and they were able to resist that for the most part on this show.
•Video packages. The WWE production team gets one more nod from me this week after the opening video package covering The AJ injury, along with The Royal Rumble package and the package recapping Punk and Laurinaitis on Raw.
The Bad
•The Commentary, surprise, surprise. I don’t think it helps Bryan’s heel turn to have everyone against him, because I think it will only be human nature for the audience to begin to feel sorry for him. I think  Michael Cole needs to change his tune, because I think the audience wants to do the opposite of what he says and that’s not going to help Bryan’s cause. He’s turning into a disgusting heel, but Michael Cole’s commentary needs to stay consistent with that even though logically it makes sense for him to continue to hate Bryan. This is something where logic probably shouldn’t apply and WWE should just use their creative license so Cole’s commentary is on board with Bryan.
•Mid Card continues to go nowhere. Justin Gabriel looks like a complete tool, they should have at least had Cody cheat to beat him. Hunico and Ted Dibiase is an even-steven booking feud that does nothing for nobody. Jinder Mahal is presented as a buffoon and it does nothing for Sheamus to have to deal with him week in and week out
•Promoting Randy Orton’s return. I’m not sure if I just wasn’t paying attention, but I only caught one mention of the announcers promoting Randy Orton’s return next week on the go home show.
•Character Development for the tag teams. I’ve said for a while that The Usos need to have some character development, but now more importantly the tag champs need some mic time and character development. It’s easy to put a girl with them and have her dance and scream, but the audience needs more than that to invest time and energy into caring about them. I won’t cross my fingers that, that will happen.
•Royal Rumble promotion. Shockingly I thought Raw did a better job of promoting The Royal Rumble than Smackdown. It’s always good to have the picture of everyone brawling in the ring, but not with those scrubs that were lumberjacks in the main event segment. I really hope WWE hits it hard next week and doesn’t rely on the Santino Marella, Royal Rumble commercial to sell this show. This is another issue with having sixteen writers putting together your show. Writers want to write especially ones who know nothing about wrestling, they don’t know anything about promoting and hyping a pay per view, which is the back bone of WWE whether The Bubble wants to acknowledge it or not.
What needs to be accomplished next week?
•All roads lead to The Royal Rumble. Promote the match, and for the love of god, let’s announce some participants! I realize that in 2012 that’s difficult for WWE, because they won’t finalize the list of participants till the day of the show, but man they really need to get themselves together on this front. I can already see The Bubble is being arrogant and assuming the Rumble match sells the show and you don’t need to list all the participants, but they also thought Survivor Series would draw based on Rock’s name and that was a fail as well. Don’t assume and don’t get arrogant
•Big Show’s return. Curious move to hold Show off this week, I’ll be interested to see how they handle his return next week and setup the triple threat match for The Rumble. For me, the key is once again making the audience want to see Bryan lose, and somehow have Big Show change his focus from hurting AJ to wanting to take the title from Bryan and that will be tricky, but this has been great storytelling so far and I almost want to say I have faith in WWE Creative to do it right, I guess will see.