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First of all, I would like to apologize heartily for not thanking Guy Landau for covering for me two weeks ago. I had a family issue that required my attention for that weekend, and Guy more than adequately stepped up for the job of writing this blog – even though he did so at my expense. Thanks, Guy. Now…let’s talk about the Rumble a bit. The Rumble match itself was a bit of a sham, although it was a nice trip down Nostalgia Lane for the Attitude Era lovers. On that note, it also goes to show what worked in the WWE. I wonder if it will ever cross their minds that if they want those kinds of reactions for everyone, then instead of bringing in Superstars of the past, they need to recreate them in the present. I’m not saying get to the point where Eric Bischoff is subjecting us to the ever tasteless, completely non-sensical, (and for the red-blooded male in me, fairly hot) H.L.A., but there was a golden part of the Attitude Era. If we could combine the best parts of the Attitude Era with the talent that we have present today, things would be great. Alas, I feel that is doomed to never happen, and we must live with what we have. I honestly thought that the ending to the Steel Cage match was botched, and while the desired outcome may have taken place, I think a little bit more was supposed to happen. I am also not a fan of pinfalls or submissions in Steel Cage matches, as it practically makes the cage itself useless except as a weapon. I am with Guy in thinking that the door should be eliminated, and escape over the top should be the only way of winning. As it was, the match was nicely paced, and Daniel Bryan continues to play the part of the unexpected champion. The bonus matches of the night were completely ludicrous, Cena and Kane was rather anti climactic, and the WWE Championship match, while an absolute joy to watch, had a horrible ending. It looked as if Johnny boy forgot his cue, and to have him just count “-2-3″ looked amateur. Anyways, we now look forward to the Elimination Chamber – at least, I think we’re going to look forward to it…are we ready? Let’s get to SMACKDOWN!
The Chamber Revealed
Can I just say that it’s stupid to make a big deal of the fact that Smackdown is participating in the Elimination Chamber PPV? If there was ever a case for piped in crowd noise, this segment was it, as I’m sure the actual audience was having the same reaction I was – “Well…duh…” I’m not a fan of Cody being involved for two reasons – it means he’s not winning, and it means the Intercontinental Championship won’t be defended. Now, Cody’s saving face just a bit by making his run to be a dual champion into an angle, but it doesn’t change the predictability of his fate. And how about the amount of attention he’s paying to Warrior? Could Warrior be inducted into the HoF? Could we see an appearance at Wrestlemania? While I don’t think either of those scenarios is likely at all, I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if they do happen. I also don’t think we’ll see a dual champion…ever again. Moving on, the suspension angle of Mark Henry is definitely a way to get him off TV to rest up, but it was also done fairly poorly – how many times have other Superstars laid their hands on Teddy Long (Drew McIntyre comes to mind) and weren’t suspended? All I ask for is logic. Also, pay attention to what Henry and D-Bryan later say – it seems a common thread is being sewn in a lack of confidence in John Laurinaitis. Could this be a factor in the big angle over on Raw? Hmm. Anyways, we have a nice lead in to our first match.
Segment Grade: B-
Cody Rhodes vs.
Seriously, are we just giving this Irishman the previous Irishman’s moveset? Rolling Hills, (the original) Celtic Cross, angles with Hornswoggle? All of Sheamus’ moves are very obvious duplicates of previous Superstars’ maneuvers. Even the current Celtic Cross, right down to the trophy pose, is completely Scott Hall. I’m sorry, I just ask for some originality. I don’t like when technically minded wrestlers have to use the ankle lock, I don’t like when super muscle men have to use shoulder blocks in the corner. Aside from that, this match was quite decent. We had very good use of the surrounding areas, excellent psychology, and a few false finisher attempts. Anytime we get to see Cody break out the moonsault and a bulldog, I feel like we’ve got a good match. I agree with the Great White winning, but I wish it weren’t at the expense of Cody Rhodes. Don’t get me wrong, Cody didn’t look weak in this defeat at all, and really, there’s no other Superstar who could make it look like Sheamus was being challenged, but I feel like Cody’s been put on the back burner. I know he’s had an angle with Justin Gabriel (evidenced in a few minutes), but it’s matches like these that make me not believe in Cody as a true main eventer just yet.
Match Grade: B+
Oh Great, He’s Back
I thought it was very odd how they tried to explain Cody remaining at ringside. I thought it even weirder that Hunico just seemed like he was stalling until Cody attacked Gabriel. The entire segment seemed like it was leading up to the huge punchline of…The Great Khali. Why is Khali involved here? Why wasn’t Ted DiBiase brought into the mix? At least HE makes sense due to his history with Hunico. Now it looks like Khali’s going to be involved with Cody, and not even Rhodes is going to be able to save that program. On another note, I now devalue the gimmick of Hunico and Camacho even further since they came out at the Rumble on a GOLD PLATED bicycle.
Segment Grade: D+
Bear with me, because I’ll pop anytime Hacksaw Jim Duggan appears on my screen. Here’s a man who knows exactly what the worth of his character is, and he’s not afraid of it. He’s one of those old timers that I won’t mind seeing on my screen because he’s not trying to insert himself into a serious angle. He knows where he needs to be used, and he embraces it. I will proudly chant “USA” whenever he’s on TV. Now…we have an Italian, two Puerto Ricans, and a Lithuanian occupying the same space as Hacksaw. I feel like there should be a joke there. Also, the Aksana stuff is still old, and nothing she says is PG. From making a comment about a giant piece of wood, to wondering if Hacksaw just called her a HOOOOOOOOOOOOOO, her character is a waste of blue lighting.
Segment Grade: C+
Santin-HOOOOOOOOOOOO vs. The Colon Cousins
I’m sure this match will have it’s detractors, but giving credit where credit is due – the correct booking decisions were made here. Hacksaw played the damsel, the Colons won, and Santino took the fall. The match was clearly not going to be a masterpiece, but the Colons still showed off some tag team prowess, and Santino was still able to get across the “looking for the perfect tag team partner” angle. I’ll also say this about Hacksaw – you never hear anyone chanting “You Still Got It” at him…he never really lost it. I’m sure some people will say he never had it to begin with, but his technique (especially for his character) is still working for him. I’ve never seen him look like he’s really blown up and out of breath; some of the other legends from his era can be in the ring and look in worse condition. One more thing about Hacksaw before we move on: You never realize just how small Superstars of today are (minus Show and Khali, etc.) until someone like Hacksaw steps in the ring. When he was at the Rumble, the man looked like a giant compared to who he was in there with.
Match Grade: C
the Straight Edge Savior the Vegan Vicar?
Again, giving credit where it’s due, Michael Cole has not completely switched hats when it comes to Daniel Bryan. He made an admission that he was wrong about the Champ, but he still maintains his dislike for the man himself. Bryan also did a very nice job of turning what could have been a face reaction (from shaming Cole) into a heel reaction by making it all about him. I get what they’re trying to do with Bryan’s Vegan schtick, but does anyone else think it’s just a tad corny? Unlike CM Punk’s Straight Edge following, I can’t really take Daniel Bryan seriously when he’s talking about Vegans being better than everyone. Maybe because I’m not a Vegan? I really like the chemistry that has developed between Big Show and Bryan over the last few months, and it’s nice to see that their feud will be extended slightly through the Elimination Chamber. Seeing A.J. again made my heart melt, but seeing her come to the aid of that little jerk, Daniel Bryan made me sick. Please note that that doesn’t mean I love A.J. any less, just that I think both Guy and myself will have to take Daniel Bryan out of the equation so she can see the light. In seriousness, I’m very intrigued by where this stuff with Bryan, Show, and A.J. is going.
Segment Grade: B+
ARE YOU SERIOUS BRO? They’re really going forward with this Natalya/Flatulence thing?
Segment Grade: F
Sisters of Salvation vs. Tamina/Aksana
The only very good thing about this is that Aksana got destroyed. Okay, that and the super kick from Tamina on Natalya after the match. As much as I was hoping that they wouldn’t break up Natalya and Beth, it’s not like they were doing all that much with them anyways. I would like to see Beth and Natalya have some struggles against Kharma before splitting up, but it looks like Beth is going solo before she encounters the Mother Beast.
Match Grade: D
Orton: Same old stuff
There’s no doubt, Orton can cut an intense and believable promo. But just like John Cena’s promos, they’re all the same. Cena is just now starting to turn the corner into better delivery, but given Orton’s current character, what else can he say/do? This promo was just repetitive and reminiscent of all of his promos since he’s turned face.
Segment Grade: C
No Disqualification: Wade Barrett vs. Randy Orton
Okay, I’m not totally dismissing Barrett’s new theme just yet, but it definitely doesn’t sound like something that an arrogant heel would come out to. I like the track, actually, but since I have to link the music with the man, it just doesn’t seem like it works. Maybe it will grow on me eventually. Anyways, this was an excellently contested No DQ match, and just like the opener, the surroundings were put to good use. I even popped when Orton went through the table because I wasn’t expecting him to take the fall. I still question the need to re-build Randy Orton because I don’t think the man needs anymore building. I would actually really like to have seen Barrett continue to win against Orton, but I can see the mindset in putting Orton over. This has actually developed into one of the better rivalries on Smackdown since Christian was around, and I wouldn’t mind seeing these two continue to Wrestlemania. The after match stuff with Bryan was…well…weird. I was expecting an attack, a promo, something other than him celebrating with Orton’s music playing. I did like the “WTF?” look from Orton, though, as the World Heavyweight Champion proceeded back up the ramp. I will definitely be looking forward to their match next week.
Match Grade: A
In-Ring Action: C- As great as the opener and main event were, I just can’t justify a four-match card, even with the need to start building towards another PPV. It wasn’t just that it was a four match card either – the middle two matches were complete throwaways, one for nostalgia and comedy, and the other one was a Divas match. I don’t doubt, though, that the Chamber participants will all meet in the ring at some point. Hopefully that will save the two Smackdowns before Elimination Chamber.
Out-of-Ring Action: B+ As stated, this episode was designed to begin the short build towards Elimination Chamber. The two main feuds (Bryan/Show, Barrett/Orton) though are just continuations. The newest feud to rise from this is unfortunately Cody Rhodes and The Great Khali. As long as that just lasts until the Chamber, I’ll stomach it.
Overall: C+ Eh. Not the greatest episode to follow up a PPV with, but the biggest news from that PPV was Sheamus winning, and he was showcased convincingly tonight. The rest of this episode, though, seemed far from amazing, and I’d like to see some different matchups as we head towards the Chambers. I’m excited to see Orton/Bryan, even though I know either Wade Barrett and/or Big Show are going to be involved in some way. Here’s hoping that next week’s episode will recover nicely.
Outside the Blog Zone
I’m gearing up for another MPX show next Saturday. My tag team partner, Regrub, is going one on one with a man I defeated two months ago, Danny Saint – will I get involved? Psh…I’m a heel. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions. I’m also renewing my focus on my health and physique, so good thoughts and well wishes as I try to condition myself to get to the gym and eat slightly better would be appreciated. I appreciate all of you who read my blog, and it means a lot to see comments under these paragraphs. So until next week, thank you for making me your CHOICE for Smackdown blogging!