Why does WWE do this to us? We’ve had two “B” Level Pay Per Views that have far exceeded their Big Four counterparts. Extreme Rules, whilst all gimmick matches, should have been WrestleMania. If you throw in End of an Era and Once in a Lifetime, Extreme Rules would definitely be setting the bar for Pay Per View of the Year. Much like Money in the Bank last year, we have one of the best offerings by WWE from a place that nobody really pays much attention to. WrestleMania is the event viewed by the most people, fan of wrestling or not, and that would have been the time to let each of these feuds do what they did at Extreme Rules. Does that make sense? It also feeds into the idea that feuds should be FINISHED at Mania and not just a bridge. Every match at Extreme Rules had been at its peak, things were boiling over, and proverbially, (bleep) was about to go down. At Mania, the first hour and a half just felt like curtain jerkers, when they were really heated feuds. I don’t even mind that Ryback and Brodus Clay snuck onto the Extreme Rules card. Alright, are we ready? Let’s get to SMACKDOWN!
My Name is
Finlay Sheamus and I love to fight
I was kind of confused by this opening promo, because I wasn’t really sure what it was supposed to accomplish. It wasn’t bad by any means, but it wasn’t really a big “VICTORY” promo or anything. I mean, Sheamus has defeated Bryan two times in a row, and Bryan is now moving on to CM Punk land, so having this PPV level match up for free to open the show made little sense to me. I’m going to grade this part as a segment and then the two match parts as a whole later on. When Ricardo and Alberto entered and interfered (and what a great, unexpected cross body by R-Double!), it all clicked. This is a decent transition from Bryan to del Rio, and if not for the fact that Bryan was challenging for the WWE Title, a triple threat between Bryan, del Rio, and Sheamus would not be out of the question. At any rate, the arm seems to be a popular target this week, as Lesnar, Johnny, del Rio, and Bryan all attacked arms. All in all, this was a great start to this show.
Segment Grade: A
Tiffany Eve in Charge
Well, as deadpan as she is, Eve is serving as a refreshing change of course from Laurinaitis and Long. I still think that there’s a HUGE arcing storyline dealing with Eve, Johnny, and Teddy, but for now, she’s in charge tonight after Johnny’s flipped out. I always like when overly heel GMs/figures of authority still do face things like tell other heels off.
Segment Grade: B-
R-Boom vs. The Barrio Brothers
If we can keep this kind of interest in the tag team division, I think it can be good for EVERYONE. Kofi Kingston is going to end up being one of the greatest Tag Team Wrestlers in WWE history, simply because he’s won the tag team titles with different people every time. This marks the first time we’ve seen Camacho as a competitor, and, well, he wasn’t terrible. He didn’t really get much of a chance to showcase anything other than bumping, feeding, and throwing that one awesome clothesline on the outside. But hey, if they keep Hunico and Camacho as a regular team, more power to it. I like A.W. bringing the former champs out to watch, as it heightens in the interest in the division. The match itself was good enough to showcase and build Kofi and Truth as a legitimate team, and again, that always seems to be the case when Kofi wins a tag belt. Here’s hoping for a good tag storyline.
Match Grade: B+
Brodus Clay vs. Jack Swagger
I didn’t mind Clay being a part of Extreme Rules because he got a legitimate match. In this case, a legitimate match means one that’s not lopsided. With Swagger standing opposite the Funkasaurus tonigh, I was hoping for more of the same. Instead, we get a slightly enhanced squash match that served more to highlight the continuing saga between Clay and Guerrero’s Guys. If we can get another actual match between Clay and either Ziggler or Swagger, something to really get behind, this will have been a fairly decently built feud. If Clay just keeps squashing the All American Show Offs, then it’ll get boring…next week. We need Ziggler and Swagger to both beat down Clay, if anything, just to get themselves some massive heat. I think they’ve kind of faded into the background.
Match Grade: C
Tiffany Eve in Charge
Well, as deadpan as she is, Eve is serving as a refreshing change of course from Laurinaitis and Long. I still think that there’s a HUGE arcing storyline dealing with Eve, Johnny, and Teddy, but for now, she’s in charge tonight after Johnny’s flipped out. I always like when overly heel GMs/figures of authority still do face things like tell other heels off. It’s pleasantly surprising that Sheamus/Daniel Bryan will happen again tonight.
Segment Grade: B+
Derrick Bateman vs…..Damien Sandow?
Hallelujah Chorus. That’s great. He took so long getting down to the ring, building the anticipation, cut one of his promos we’re so accustomed to…and TROLLED EVERYONE! See, I think this is a perfect build up for this guy. If we’re going to do an arrogant, “too good for you” type of character, this is how to do it. I’m not up to date on my NXT stuff, so is Bateman a heel or a face? Against Ryback, does it even matter? I love that Ryback is getting a pop and that he’s getting a slight Goldberg chant. I think given time, those chants could turn into “Ryback” chants. It crossed my mind that it would actually be a nice touch if two rookies who have been given build and hype went up against each other, i.e. Ryback and Sandow. For now, it was nice to see someone kick Ryback…before getting squashed.
Match Grade: SQUASH
Randy Orton and Big Show vs. Kane and Cody Rhodes
Remember when the main event of a B-Level PPV would be a random tag match, intertwining two feuds? That’s what this felt like to me. This was an amazing tag match, given plenty of time, and full of up and down action. Every time you thought Orton would get the tag to Show, he wouldn’t, and props to Orton for being the damsel for so long. Then, when he did make the tag, Show took his turn being damsel. Nobody looked weak in this match, and the go home was great; the biggest problem I had with this match was the fact that Rhodes did the job. He just won the Intercontinental Championship, and you had him lose to the guy he just beat? I was not a fan of that. Once again, I hope that this is just a next step for everyone to be done with these programs and move on. Even if we go with Show/Kane, that would be better than continuing the other feuds. This was match of the night until the main event happened.
Match Grade: A
I Will Fight
If ever there was an angry Irishman…
Segment Grade: A
Layla vs. Natalya
The first ten seconds of this match was better than most all Divas matches in the past year. Layla has really stepped up her game, and I think she’s really showing that she has the chops to be a legitimate Divas champion. Unfortunately, this had to come at the expense of the eternal tweener Natalya, but hey, those two could work a match. By the way, besides Nattie and Beth, who are your relevant heel Divas now? Yeahhh….
Match Grade: B-
Yikes, talk about humiliation. Teddy Long’s ticked off face is priceless…I just hope there’s a huge payoff for making Teddy go through all of this.
Segment Grade: B-
Like the previous angle, I just hope they’re taking this somewhere. I don’t know if an emotionally fragile Diva that you’re supposed to feel sorry for can be a heel, but if they’re willing to make it make sense, then I’m for it.
Segment Grade: B-
Sheamus vs. Bryan Part II
These are two guys that have such good chemistry with each other. The story they told in this match was different from their previous encounters, and I think that Bryan pulled off the “shark that smells blood in the water” part perfectly. I also like how in his matches, Daniel Bryan will pull out a move from his face repertoire every now and then. One time it was the backflip in the corner, tonight it was a missile dropkick that I haven’t seen him hit in a while. The finish to this match was booked very nicely, as it provides a definite change in focus to del Rio and the decisive victory over Bryan frees the “Yes-Man” to go take on Punk. Here’s hoping that Sheamus and del Rio can have as successful a program as Bryan did with the Celtic Warrior.
Match Grade: A
In-Ring Action: A- We had bookended Sheamus/Bryan matches, two stellar tag matches, a better than usual Divas match, and a non-abundance of squash matches. To Guy’s point, I think if they rotate the squashes out, keeping Sandow as a man above this and having Cesar in segments, we may not be overexposed to the squash. I think Ryback is pretty over now, to the point that he should be in a program at some point. I would love if every Smackdown had some variance of this formula and the total amount of wrestling time on every episode.
Out-of-Ring Action: B- The sagas of Teddy Long and AJ Lee continue, and it seems that each week leaves more questions than the week before. If they don’t leave you with questions, they make you want to know how they’ll be humiliated or how they’ll break down next week. With Laurinaitis seemingly pre-occupied over on the Red Brand, will Eve be left in control of Smackdown for the time being?
Overall: A- I thought this was a very good follow up episode after a very satisfactory Pay Per View. Hopefully Over the Limit will spawn some good matches on the Smackdown side – it looks like Bryan/Punk is going to be utilized on Raw. Sheamus/del Rio seems inevitable.
Outside the Blog Zone
Well, we lost the tag belts last week…I have a five inch bruise on my arm that says I definitely fought hard…next week our show will feature the fallout from our last big show, and then on May 26th, The Brian Kendrick invades MPX. It was really cool last week, as we showed a promo that he cut from his home. He webcammed a promo and sent it to us. It’s pretty sweet. He definitely heel’ed it up though, insulting Dallas and most of Texas. I wasn’t sure if he’d get a response since the sound was a little off, but people understood that he didn’t like Dallas and couldn’t wait to be done with us, so he got heat. I’m pretty stoked to hear what he has to say in his workshop too. Until next week, thank you for making me your CHOICE for Smackdown blogging!