Smackdown – April 4, 2014: That One Weird Show Every Year

Date: April 4, 2014
Location: Verizon Center, Washington D.C.
Commentators: Michael Cole, John Bradshaw Layfield

This is one of those weird shows where everything is about hyping up Wrestlemania. There will be a lot of hype videos and stuff from Axxess plus a few matches taking place in the arena. This is going to be a shorter review than normal as it’s all about setting up Sunday rather than anything tonight. Let’s get to it.

Opening sequence.

Dolph Ziggler vs. Titus O’Neil

Titus throws Ziggler around to start and drops a big leg for two. The announcers run down most of the people in the battle royal as Titus hooks a chinlock. Back up and Titus runs into a pair of boots to the face followed by a cross body and some right hands from Dolph. Ziggler hammers away in the corner even more and drops Titus with a neckbreaker. Titus avoids the Fameasser and gets two of his own off a big boot. He loads up some backbreakers but Ziggler escapes and nails the Zig Zag for the pin at 4:00.

Rating: D+. Not much to see here but that’s the point for a show like this. It sets up more of the battle royal and keeps Ziggler on a winning streak for the first time in far too long. I’m not saying the guy should be World Champion, but having him lose far more often than he wins is ridiculous for a former champ. I’m not wild on Titus losing but I can live with it being to a name of this magnitude.

Andre the Giant video.

Video on HHH dominating everyone he’s faced over the last eleven years. I think this is slightly different from the video on Monday.

Speaking of Monday, we also get clips from HHH and Stephanie’s promo on Raw, followed by the ending of the show.

We get a sitdown interview with Batista conducted by Booker T. Big Dave talks about coming back to the company and being shocked at everything he’s seen. Booker agrees that things have changed and we get clips of Batista ranting about the real men being gone. Daniel Bryan is clearly just the flavor of the month and Batista is going to squash him like a bug at Wrestlemania. The fans are living vicariously through Bryan but Daniel just isn’t the real deal. Orton is a big corporate sellout and Batista can’t wait to kick his face in. You can guarantee that Batista walks out with the title and he’ll be enjoying the boos.

Los Matadores vs. Real Americans

Fernando starts with Swagger as the fans chant WE THE PEOPLE. The masked man tries a headscissors out of the corner but gets sent to the apron. He comes right back with an armdrag and it’s quickly off to Cesaro to try his luck. Cesaro gets armdragged as well and a headscissors puts him down again. Diego comes in with a slingshot headscissors of his own and the Real Americans want to caucus. Zeb slaps Cesaro to get his attention and not-Antonio isn’t happy.

The slap works as Cesaro comes in with a running dropkick of all things followed by some running European uppercuts in the corner. A release gutwrench suplex sends Diego flying and we take a break. Back with Diego fighting out of a chinlock and taking both Real Americans down with a double DDT. He still can’t make a hot tag though as Cesaro slams him down and drops a big elbow for two. Back to Swagger who throws Cesaro onto Diego in the corner, followed by a big running clothesline for two.

Diego avoids a charge in the corner and backdrops Cesaro to the floor. The Patriot Lock doesn’t work but Cesaro makes a save, allowing Swagger to hit a belly to belly for two. The Vader Bomb into the double stomp gets the same but Diego sends both Americans to the floor. He FINALLY makes the hot tag to Fernando as things speed up. A running elbow gets two on Cesaro and a top rope cannonball gets the same. Diego sends Swagger to the floor as well but Cesaro kicks him in the face. Fernando dives into the Swing and the Neutralizer is good for the pin at 12:19.

Rating: C. I’m not big on the Matadores but this was an entertaining match. It’s cool to see teams like them get some extra TV time around this part of the year because everyone else is busy. The Real Americans could win the titles on Sunday and it’s nice to see them getting a win here.

Video on AJ Lee which transitions into a video on the Vickie Invitational.

Video on Cena vs. Bray, including their segment from Raw.

Package on Shield vs. Kane/Outlaws, including a big chunk of Kane vs. Reigns from Raw.

We get a sitdown interview with Orton, again conducted by Booker T. He talks about winning the title back in December and how it means he’s the top man in the industry. As for the triple threat, Orton knows HHH a lot better than he knows Bryan, but he also knows HHH is brutal. When they step into the ring together, HHH is just another guy.

Orton took what HHH said about holding his hand as a compliment because HHH called him a technically gifted wrestler. This came off as him not wanting to yell at his boss. We get a quick clip of Occupy Raw and Orton calls him a fad. There’s no guarantee that Bryan will make it into the match though so Orton isn’t worried.

As for Batista, he’s missed four long years and is stuck in the past. Back in the day he would have been an opponent but now he’s just a guy. Orton promises to keep the title on Sunday. I liked this more than I thought I would have as it felt like it was more from Orton the person rather than Orton the character.

Video on Brock vs. Undertaker.

Here’s Hogan in the arena to close the show. He’s glad to be back here in Washington and is pumped up to be the host. Hulk talks about his own great Wrestlemania memories like the main event of Wrestlemania I, Wrestlemania XVIII against The Rock and of course Wrestlemania III against Andre. That match makes the battle royal so important to him and we see the trophy on the screen. Hulk calls it beautiful and asks what we’re going to do when it runs wild on YOU and that’s the show.

Overall Rating: C+. This was all you could expect from a Wrestlemania weekend Smackdown. The wrestling obviously wasn’t the point here and it would be ridiculous to treat this like a regular show. All the videos worked well and every match was covered so what more can you ask for? Wrestlemania looks good and I’m excited to be going so it’s a good episode this week, despite it being different than every other show all year.


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