First of all, thank you to Mr. Kyle Policastro for covering for me last week while I was out of town. Secondly, I apologize for not informing you all that I would be out of town (I did inform Richard, heh…he’s the one that matters…no offense), but I had a blast. Actually, I did have time to watch Smackdown in my hotel room, and truth be told, I probably would have had time to write the blog last week, but…oh well. ANYWAYS, I’m not gonna lie, I didn’t necessarily have a lot of faith in Alberto del Rio as champion. Whether it’s how they booked him (or didn’t book him?) or just the sneaking suspicion that his character is very one-dimensional, I just didn’t buy him. Don’t get me wrong, I love his character, and I love his ring announcer. I don’t think that it can go anywhere else though. As has been mentioned in the past, ADR is very JBL. JBL, however, made his gimmick work, not only because it was an extension of who he was, but because he had more of a background, and wasn’t JUST about being better than you. It was his career that was better than yours, it was his city that was better than yours, it was that he was a Wrestling God on top of being Rich Man JBL. I hope that makes sense. I think ADR can get there, but this was a passable first reign for him in terms of length. I do not agree at all with his lack of usage on Raw (even though I hear there were visa problems), but he really did seem to be pushed to the back burner. He didn’t step up his game once he was champion. Jack Swagger stepped up his game and went through a transformation of sorts when he won. I use Swagger because his change was instantaneous. At Wrestlemania, Swagger was all jumping, skipping, push ups, etc. The minute he won the belt from Jericho, gone was the smile, gone was the traditional Swagger; he had instead developed, well, a different Swagger. Anyways, my thoughts on Mark Henry follow, for now, let’s get to SMACKDOWN!
I can’t wait for the day that John Laurinaitis stops being a part of my TV broadcasts. The man is very Eric Bischoff in his egotistical need to be on TV. He had no business being out here for this segment, except to be the interim figure of authority so we could hear Triple H’s music. Again, Henry cut a great promo here, and I think he’s starting to develop that “Yes-he’s-a-heel-but-he’s-respected-for-being-a-veteran-so-let’s-cheer-him” aspect. The other person with that kind of crowd reaction is Kane. Sure, he can be a bad guy, but the dude’s been around forever, so the Universe appreciates that. What really helped that case was, of course, Christian. Christian has transcended just being Smackdown’s #1 heel. He has become what every heel aspires to be – the heel that not even other heels want to be near. In other words, even though we have a heel vs. heel main event, one heel is so much more despised that the other has to be the face. It’s great, because Christian got to that level in four months. ONE…MORE…MATCH.
Segment Grade: A
Sheamus vs. Heath Slater
Michael Cole had a few zingers tonight, I’m not gonna lie. The first one was using the fast food references and dubbing this match up McDonald’s vs. Wendy’s. For anyone that thought that Heath Slater was going to win this match, turn in your smark cards now. However, as another blogging friend of mine has put it, I’ve been so jaded by the product that I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. In his case, he was saying it about Edge’s retirement, and how his expectation of some run-in or some angle developing ruined his enjoyment of the speech. With this match, let’s face it – it wasn’t a bad match, and it showed that Slater can hang in the mid card…but I kept WAITING for something to happen. I was waiting for Christian, or Wade Barrett, or Mark Henry to come out and do something to Sheamus, so that lessened the impact of this match. It was, however, a good match.
Match Grade: B-
Christian Starts Looking for Help
Khali shows in his promos what he shows in the ring – he’s one dimensional. Smile, repeat the same line, smile again. It was funny, yes, and it got the Christian angle across, but watching/listening to Khali was like watching a car crash. Still: “You’re very small.”
Segment Grade: B
Wade Barrett vs. Justin Gabriel
I’m big on entrances, and I love Barrett’s music, stride, and the fact that he brought back THE COAT. I think he needs to wear it the whole way down though, and throw it off in the ring. Just a small tangent there. The way Justin Gabriel flies just astounds me. I’ve mentioned it before, but he makes it look so flawlessly easy. Some people are very, shall we say, herky-jerky when they take to the air, but Gabriel just floats. This match, like the one before, suffered from “Clean Win Syndrome.” At least this had a story going IN to the match, but I expected some more beatings from Barrett leading to something else. This was another decent match, but where are they going with it? Was this and the Sheamus match like a flashback to WWF Superstars or WCW Saturday Night where the matches just…happened?
Match Grade: B-
Orton Prepares to Ride to Hell
“Do you care to comment?” “No.” Now that is classic. I think there was a little too much on the “I’m ready for Hell” stuff, but the promo was effective.
Segment Grade: A
Christian Needs Some Dominating Help
I kind of wish they had referenced their ECW past, but that would have been too good to be true. I like that Christian did all of the talking.
Segment Grade: A
Divas of Doom vs. The Chickbusters
Why can we sanction “Divas of Doom” as the official name of this tandem? They have spikes on their shoulder pads for crying out loud. While we’re at it, let’s get Chickbusters going as well. Then, let’s team them with Trent Baretta and old surfer-dude Tyler Reks. Just kidding on that last one. I’m willing to have someone back check me on this, but am I right in saying that the only victories that Beth and Natalya have had as a team are against The Chickbusters? …or did they win against Alicia Fox and Kelly Kelly one time? At any rate, my point is that these victories, like the commentators said, are meaningless. I love Kaitlyn and A.J….boy do I love A.J….but this does nothing for the D.O.D. They NEED to run roughshod over the division…however, I know I’m not the only one begging for this.
Match Grade: C-
Cody Rhodes vs. Randy Orton
Oh man, I want this feud to happen at the main event level. I think this match truly allowed Cody Rhodes to explode onto the main event scene in a different way. He has paid his dues, shown he can play at a higher level, and hang with the big boys. He really has used the Intercontinental Championship to elevate himself. Cody Rhodes is an example of a Superstar built right. The disqualification ending to this match was the best scenario for both of these guys. Orton has to show that he’s losing it, and Rhodes can’t be buried. Once Mark Henry loses the title back to Orton (which I truly hope doesn’t happen at Hell in a Cell), we have to start thinking about who Rhodes is going to lose the IC Title to. If Ted DiBiase and his “DiBiase Posse” idea starts taking off, then he’s a possibility. I don’t see Zeke getting this belt back without another level to his character. I know everyone’s thinking it, but I REALLY wish they hadn’t edited out the post-match beatdown.
Match Grade: A
Sheamus Gets Potatoed.
No, I’m not referencing the kayfabe term when someone hits someone relatively hard, but their was an actual potato in this segment. Everything was fine up until Sheamus ate the potato. Now it looks like Sheamus’ later actions against Christian are because he got a freaking Idaho potato. On that note, how is Sheamus NOT getting more heel heat for being so anti-American?
Segment Grade: A-
The Great Khali vs. Jinder Mahal
Ah, good. The fun music for Khali is back. I do enjoy Khali more as a face, because he isn’t forced to be dominating. Is this the end of Jinder Mahal? I certainly think so. He got pinned with one foot. If that doesn’t say “End of a character build,” I don’t know what does.
Match Grade: C
Good Sin Cara vs. Daniel Bryan
We know that this is the original, Mystico, Sin Cara because of the arm-drag-or-whatever-you-wanted-to-call-that-move botch. I am more intrigued in how Daniel Bryan, as Mr. Money-in-the-Bank, is going to fit into this angle. Obviously, Sin Cara vs. Sin Cara writes itself, but throwing a major player in Daniel Bryan into the mix changes things up. Will he side with either one? How does the briefcase figure? This match was decent, but it was all for leading up to the Sin-ton Bomb…which I hope is what they call it.
Match Grade: B+
Christian Goes to The Viper…and Decides Against It
I’m really glad that Christian backed out of asking Orton for help. It speaks a lot to the mental capacity of his character. I think it’s a little weird that Zack Ryder and Orton are friends enough to grab lunch, but ah well.
Segment Grade: B+
Air Boom vs. The Usos
I think the thing I have against “Air Boom” is that I’m so used to hearing the word “The” in front of tag names. THE Usos, THE Rockers, THE New Age Outlaws, THE Bushwhackers, etc. This just sounds awkward. WWE has a tendency to turn mid- and under-card workers face or heel when they don’t need to be. I’m worried that they’ll do that with The Usos. I loved this match up. They weren’t given a whole lot of time, but they did show that Tag Team Wrestling mechanics aren’t dead. The Usos played heel psychology wise, but the crowd was behind both of them. Obviously, Air Boom couldn’t lose here, but I would love to see more encounters between these two – and please, as face vs. face. I’m begging for a good face vs. face feud, and Cena vs. Punk doesn’t count. OH – and Michael Cole and Josh Mathews stealing all of Booker T’s catch phrases was commentating GOLD.
Match Grade: A-
World Heavyweight Championship Lumberjack Match: Christian vs. Mark Henry (c)
I’ll start this out by saying I’m not a huge fan of Lumberjack Matches, as it just seems to be a way for other feuds to distract from the match in the ring, but the premise of this one, with everyone and their brother hating on Christian made the match the central focus. I liked the idea of Christian being beaten up by everyone he attempted to befriend backstage (except for Khali, who no-sold the Trent-Toss like only he can…confused). And, like I mentioned before, because Christian is so hated, Mark Henry got the cheers for beating on Christian and everyone got cheers for attacking him outside of the ring. It looks like Christian is going on to feud with Sheamus next, as evidenced by the events of the last two weeks, along with the potato gag (can’t believe that ended up in my blog) tonight. Mark Henry is being booked to be more than just dominant; Mark Henry is an unstoppable juggernaut. After beating up on Orton for practically four weeks in a row, I can’t imagine anyone on the current roster stopping Henry right now. And you know what? I’m perfectly fine with that.
Match Grade: A
In-Ring Action: B- Again, these are the musings of just one man, and I may be the ONLY person that feels this way, but the immense amount of dirty finishes in the wrestling world as of late has ruined clean finishes for me. That being said, we had several good matches with clean finishes that should be applauded for that, but instead, I can’t help but feel cheated. Again, the matches and in-ring work was good! I enjoy wrestling on my wrestling shows, and we got that.
Out-of-Ring Action: A A lot of the promo work centered around Christian, and that’s never a bad thing. Like psychology in a match, Christian did a great job of building up his begging, leading up to the punch lines in the Lumberjack match.
Overall: B+ I can’t quite justify giving this an A, but it was a decent episode. Obviously, our selling point for Hell in a Cell is going to be Mark Henry vs. Randy Orton. Unfortunately, we have only one week to establish whatever else we’re going to establish. It would be magical to see a Divas Hell in a Cell, but who am I kidding? I don’t think DiBiase and Rhodes has escalated enough to need Satan’s Playground to solve their issues. What other mid- and under-card feuds do we have to put on the card? Sheamus and Christian is the only other logical option. This Pay Per View is going to feel rushed. I’m kind of worried.
So, before last week, I had my rematch with Gregory James for the MPX Championship…and speaking of dirty finishes, I got kicked in the head by the former “Jiggle-o” now “Just” James Johnson (who had won a number one contender’s match the month before…then I returned and messed him up…oops.) and pinned. Next month, the Saturday after Hell in a Cell, I’ll go for the belt again…but in a Fatal Four Way Elimination Style Match. Also, another little tidbit, if you guys haven’t gone to the official page for WWE ’12 the video game, go check it out. Go to the roster page and click on each Superstar available. On top of their Entrance Videos and Finishers, there is a video clip of each person’s Defining Moment. CM Punk’s is fantastic, and a few others are just comical. Go check it out. Until next week, thank you for making me your CHOICE for Smackdown blogging.