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Chair Shots: Orton finishes off Barrett on WWE Smackdown

Randy Orton seemed to shut the door on his feud with Wade Barrett on Smackdown Friday, and possibly opened the door to a new one with World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan.

Orton and Barrett had a 15-plus minute No DQ match that felt like it could've been on PPV. Despite the fact both men will likely cross paths again in the Smackdown Elimination Chamber match (what, you didn't hear, Teddy Long made the huge announcement that Smackdown would be participating in the Elimination Chamber PPV, as if there was a question) this certainly seemed like the blow-off to their program.

These two did a really nice job using the "No DQ" stipulation in a PG-WWE environment. It was an excellent match with believable near falls, nice spots using weapons and their environment. The two didn't suffer from overbooking or the lack of blood. The only thing I really thought it was missing was Orton throwing Barrett down a flight of stairs, since Barrett doing that to him was the storyline that kept him out of action for several weeks.

If Orton is wrestling hurt coming back from a legitimate injury as some have speculated, you can not tell. He was excellent against Barrett and Ziggler earlier in the week.

Immediately following the main event match, Teddy Long told Daniel Bryan he'd be facing the Viper next week. Bryan said he's not afraid of snakes, and ran out to the ringside area to steal Orton's thunder while Randy was celebrating his victory, before going backstage again. Both of them are in the Smackdown Elimination Chamber match, as is Barrett.

Many were speculating Orton was going to win the Royal Rumble and challenge Bryan at WrestleMania for the World Championship. I still think that match will happen, just not with the title on the line. Expect a non-finish next week on Smackdown, similiar to what happened with Punk and Bryan on Raw this week. ...

Yes, that means I think Bryan is going to drop the title at the Elimination Chamber. To whom? Well, prior to him being written off television in the opening segment, I would've said Mark Henry. I long thought the original plan was to have Sheamus defeat Henry at WrestleMania XXVIII for the World Heavyweight Championship, but that got sidetracked when Henry got hurt and had to drop the title. Depending on how quickly he heals, I could still see that match happening at WrestleMania, with Henry winning the title the Smackdown after Elimination Chamber (which is going to be live by the way). In the meantime, my early pick to win the Chamber and face Sheamus is Wade Barrett. Yup, the same Wade Barrett who just lost to Randy Orton. It's the only other plausible scenario, in my opinion. ...

Henry, who has been working with an injured groin since around the TLC PPV and injured his knee at the Smackdown tapings prior to the Royal Rumble, will finally get some much needed time off. Henry had been playing more of a 'tweener role as of late, with some babyface tendencies to his character, but that seemed to go out the window Friday. Teddy Long suspended him for pretty much just flipping his tie around, which seemed excessive, but whatever.

I liked how Henry responded if he's going to get suspended, he's going to get his money's worth and threatened Long. I kind of joke about this in the heat of the moment when watching an NFL game and know that a 15-yard penalty for helmet-to-helmet hit or something like that is coming. If a guy knows he is going to get penalized and fined, why wouldn't he try to get his money's worth out of it and light up the guy, rather than getting the penalty/fine for a ticky-tack call?

Anyway, Sheamus made the save and delivered a Brogue Kick to send Henry backstage and off TV for a few weeks. And that's why I think he'll face Sheamus at WrestleMania. Early indications are that he'll be ready for 'Mania. He definitely deserves a spot on the card, given the great year he's had until his injuries. ...

By the way, am I the only one who feels like they are teasing Teddy Long losing his job on Smackdown or something? I felt like the whole Aksana storyline was a way to get him off TV at some point (apparently, it's just for sophomoric humor -- more on that later) and I was waiting for Henry to tear him apart. Then there were several references by heel wrestlers complaining about Long and saying, "just look what happened to John Laurinaitis on Raw." (Which I guess answers our question about whether he got fired, since Triple H never actually said those words.) I think by the time March roles around, Long will be off Smackdown and they'll have a heel personality or GM running the blue brand during the build-up to WrestleMania. ...

Long and Sheamus got chummy after the 2012 Royal Rumble winner ridded the ring of Henry, prompting Cody Rhodes to show up and talk about his Royal Rumble performance. Good way to highlight the showing Rhodes had. He ended up running his mouth too much and Long put him in a match with Sheamus.

Sheamus and Rhodes had a good albeit short back-and-forth match that saw Sheamus rip off another move from Finley to win. Some people seem really up-in-arms about him stealing Finley's moveset, and while it does seem kind of silly since they are both Irish, I liked the move itself. However, I'm hoping like he Texas Cloverleaf that Sheamus used on Raw sometime in the past year, it was a one-time thing designed to just established another move in his arsenal. The Brogue Kick is his best finisher because it comes from out of nowhere. But having the Celtic Cross (the move he used Friday) and the High Cross (Razor's Edge) in his disposal as established finishers will hopefully lead to some false finishes in his WrestleMania title match. ...

Rhodes stuck around and got his heat back by attack Justin Gabriel, with whom he's had a little TV feud recently. Hunico, Gabriel's scheduled opponent, and Camacho joined in, leading to the Great Khali emerging and clearing the ring. Rhodes escaped before Khali could get his hands on him, and it looks like they might start a program now. Anyone else see a six-man tag match in the future with Rhodes, Hunico and Camacho against Khali, Gabriel and either Sheamus or a returning Ted DiBiase? Both Rhodes and Khali are in the Elimination Chamber match, with Khali replacing the "suspended" Mark Henry, but neither is a legitimate threat to win. They may have an Intercontinental Championship feud afterward, which I'm OK with, as long as Rhodes goes over his much larger opponent and continues to build momentum. ...

One man who will matter in the Elimination Chamber is the Big Show. He interrupted a great heel promo by Daniel Bryan in the middle of the show in which Bryan continued to brag about he's a great person and role model because he's a vegan. (It's worth noting they were in Omaha, Nebraska, guaranteeing such a promo would generate huge heat.) I've got no problems with vegans (more meat for me!) but no one likes a person who pushes their personal believes on you the way Bryan's character did, which is why it really worked.

Big Show got some cheap heat by saying he would've come out earlier but he was finishing a steak, then ridiculed Bryan for being pompous. To his credit, Bryan stood his ground, which makes his heel character very unique in today's WWE. He got in Show's face and started poking him, then the beatdown ensued as Show threw him all over the ring. Eventually, AJ made her return to TV, neckbrace and all, and pleaded for Show to stop, even grabbing his hand as he set-up Bryan for the WMD. Bryan escaped and AJ gingerly left the ring while Show apologized to her.

Right before the main event, Bryan and AJ went into Teddy Long's office to discuss their problems with Big Show. After it was over and Long made the Bryan-Orton match for next week, Long assured the champion he wouldn't have to worry about Big Show anymore. I wonder what this means? Could Show be out of the chamber match now? Maybe it doesn't mean anything. Guess we'll have to watch next week. ...

Two tag team matches filled out the rest of Smackdown, along with some sophomoric humor in backstage segments. Santino Marella found a new partner, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, to challenge the Tag Team Champions Epico and Primo, but was once again unsuccessful. During a segment setting up the match, Hacksaw left his 2-by-4 at Long's feet, prompting Aksana to approach Teddy, look down and ask about a massive piece of wood. Hardy-har-har. Then Hacksaw came back to retrieve it, looked at Aksana and gave his signature catchphrase "Hoooooooo!" You sorta wonder if they brought Duggan back for this segment only. I'm not going to lie, I chuckled at both jokes. ...

Santino, I think, will find the right tag team partner eventually. I think it's going to be Mick Foley, and they'll call themselves Sockobra (Sock+Cobra). ...

Beth Phoenix and Natalya made short work of Aksana and Tamina. Well, Beth did. She did the hard tag getting herself in the ring after Natalya and Aksana grappled for a bit, then delivered the Glam Slam (simliar to what she did to Kelly Kelly at the Rumble). Natalya kept asking why as Beth left the ring, then decided to put Aksana in a Sharpshooter. Tamina countered and hit a Superfly splash for what seems like the 295th week in a row, and I assume Natalya passed gas because that's apparently her gimmick now. They did another backstage skit about it, or so I read. I fast-forwarded because I didn't care. I think it's a stupid idea, but I'm not going to lose sleep over it. Nattie, on her Twitter, seems to be responding that she's not upset about it, so whatever.

I like what they are doing with Beth being completely dominant. Clearly, they are building her for Kharma. Here's hoping Tamina wins some sort of No. 1 contender's battle royal on Raw or something this week to earn a title shot at Elimination Chamber. ...

A segment involving Brodus Clay squashing Heath Slater, then squashing Drew McIntyre after he ran out to attack Clay, was apparently edited from the show. No word on whether this was for time or if WWE changed their minds on the angle/segment and pulled it. McIntyre, despite being fired a few weeks ago, continues to show up for work and Teddy Long apparently isn't going to fire him. According to at least one online report, WWE Creative is trying to come up with something new for him, and he's definitely not in danger of losing his job. This apparently, is just an angle to nowhere. ...

Can WWE deliver another solid episode of Raw tonight? Triple H is advertised to appear, but Undertaker is not. I don't expect to see the Dead Man again until the Raw after Elimination Chamber, when he should then become a regular during the six-week build to WrestleMania. I'm curious to hear what the Game has to say about declining Undertaker's challenge, as well as the fate of John Laurinaitis, which wasn't resolved last week. There's also the budding issue between Chris Jericho and CM Punk that probably won't come to a head this week, but certainly expect CM Punk to ask for some explanation, even if Jericho doesn't provide any.

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