I don’t have anything particularly interesting to say in this section, I don’t think…OH! The booking of Alberto del Rio on Monday. A lot of people are saying that del Rio was booked to look weak on Raw against the Big Show, and well, I agree and disagree. On the agree side – you can’t really book anyone against someone like Big Show (or Mark Henry) to make them look strong. Even Rey Mysterio, as fabled as he is for being a Giant Killer, will always look weak or look like he has no chance against the big guys. With the momentum that Big Show has been on since his return, and the fact that the accomplice in Roberto Rodriguez was taken out of the equation earlier in the night really had the odds stacked against an already weakly booked del Rio. On the opposite side of the coin, during the match itself, the two did as much as they could to make del Rio look like a legitimate contender. It wasn’t a squash match by any means necessary, and the W.M.D. at the end looked more like a desperation blow than a revved up finishing maneuver. Big Show has the great ability to get his opponent over while still being able to ‘wrestle his size.’ What that means is that he doesn’t allow himself to be beat down so easily that it looks like the opponent is wrestling someone of his size. It takes a significant amount of effort for a 250 pound guy to take down a near 500 pounder, and I thought Show and del Rio did a good job of making that happen. Sure, del Rio lost, but like I said, it was more out of desperation than Big Show really having the continuous upper hand. Alright, are we ready? Let’s get to this not-so-formulaic-and-yes-I-threw-that-in-there-for-JBreed version of SMACKDOWN!
Street Fight: Randy Orton vs. Cody Rhodes
I remember having heard something about this earlier in the week, but had totally forgotten about it until Tony Chimel announced it tonight, so I was pretty pleasantly surprised that we were being treated to this. My big concern was with how they were going to make Cody Rhodes look, and all I have to say is WOW. John Cena needs to take lessons from Orton about how to make gimmick fights like this look believable. This was one of the most intense, explosive, roller-coaster street fights I’ve seen in a LONG time…and it was on TV! I really have zero complaints about this match except for the fact that because it was so damn good, the crowd had nothing left for the rest of the show, which plays a huge part in later matches. Really though, from the hardway color that was in the match, to the exit segments with Orton bagging Rhodes and showing the close-up of the cracked mask, this match was epic. So here’s my question to you guys: Where do we go from here? Do we continue this feud? Even the announcers addressed this as a blow-off match. Who does Orton tangle with next? Who is going to take the Intercontinental Championship off of the now-more-established-than-ever Rhodes? I would love to see a feud of this caliber actually FOR the Intercontinental Strap, but I’m trying to go through the list of contenders that could supply that, and the list is short. Zack Ryder, on top of already being occupied with the U.S. Title scene, is too comical to have this kind of a feud. John Morrison has dug himself into too many holes backstage. Sin Cara has his doppelganger issues. Ted DiBiase would be okay, if not for the fact that they’ve been there and done that. Sheamus is too established. Could Justin Gabriel pull it off? But for more pressing issues, what is going to happen at Survivor Series? It would be a mistake to leave either of these men off of the card – luckily we have a few weeks worth of build before the Fall Classic comes around.
Match Grade: A+
Ted DiBiase vs. Tyson Kidd
So, to my point earlier about the crowd being taken out of it, this match was actually nicely wrestled and very technically sound, but there was just no energy from the crowd. Ted DiBiase, bless his heart (Hart?), tried to get them riled up, but it just wasn’t working. If this match had a little more crowd backing and maybe have gone a few minutes longer, this could have been a real gem of a contest. DiBiase has done a great job using Social Networking to get himself over with the fans. The DiBiase Posse Party, although extremely cheesy by name, is doing the job for Ted. Whatever happened to him last year after the Legacy break may have sealed his fate as a permanent mid-card worker, but he’s definitely not slacking off in trying to get this fun-loving character going. Now we just need some direction for him. A feud with Tyson would go off nicely IF there was something at stake.
Match Grade: B-
Mark Henry is NOT being a S.T.A.R.
This was a bully segment if I ever saw one. Some people criticize the booking of bully angles in WWE now with their anti-bullying program going off, but hey, you’ve got to have something to stand up against, right? I do have a problem with the Bella Twins being involved in the campaign while being bullies on TV, but Mark Henry? He’s not fooling anyone. I love Daniel Bryan’s new shirt by the way.
Segment Grade: C
Alicia Fox vs. Natalya
Here’s another pairing that has potential. There’s some definite history between Fox and Natalya, going back to when the face/heel roles were reversed. Out of all the Divas that aren’t Beth or Natalya, Alicia Fox is one that I really don’t mind watching. She’s not a complete botch machine, not anywhere’s near the prowess that the Sisters of Salvation command, but you know what? She’s got FIRE. She’s intense, and she does her damned best to get herself over. People talk about how far Kelly Kelly has come along? Alicia Fox used to be the dance partner for D.J. freaking Gabriel. Anyone else remember that? On top of that, she used to be “That Girl” from the Edge/Vickie Wedding Planner drama. I liked the match, although it was expectedly too short for a legitimate Divas match, but the go-home sequence was pretty. I still stand by the fact that Natalya shouldn’t ever speak, and while it used to be on the mic, I can’t stand to hear her trash talk in the ring either. Perhaps we’ll see more from these two in the future. I’m pretty sure it’s a given that there will be a Divas traditional Survivor Series match, but everyone knows that’s just going to be a cluster(bleep).
Match Grade: C+
Mama Said Knock You Out!
I like the mini-angle going on here, with Show vowing to knock Henry out with every show he doesn’t get his rematch. Unfortunately, that plan gets shot to hell later on in the evening, but the premise of it was nice. They could have let that go on for at least another week. Christian and Big Show were…alright on the mic together. It seemed like a comedy duo that needed to work out their timing issues. It could have been really funny, but something was off between the two. I can’t be the only one that chuckled when Christian stated that he doesn’t ask for #OneMoreMatch just to annoy everyone. This was a good lead-in to the next match.
Segment Grade: B-
Wade Barrett vs. Sheamus
I think a lot of people want to see this feud go down for real. It was teased a few months ago before they went with the Christian route, but I’m ready for Wade and Sheamus to mix it up now. I think these two complement each other in the ring very well, and if there was a psychology to be had in a brawler vs. brawler match, these two could have it down. They can mix it up a bit with some wrestling holds, but this feud would be more akin to Finlay and JBL, just with two younger, more sound Superstars. Barrett seems to be on the rise again, and the way the match was booked made neither man look weak and still brought Christian to that level. I’ll admit, towards the end of this match, I was starting to wonder where Christian went, and then he got involved. In terms of the little things, Christian made himself invisible until the last possible second. Great job.
Match Grade: B+
Backstage Survivor Series Build?
I put this in its own segment instead of grouping it with the post-match festivities because it sets the stage for a traditional Survivor Series match. With the next match-up, the sides could be clearly drawn if they decide to do one Survivor Series match for each brand. On the Smackdown side, I could see Sheamus, Sin Cara, Justin Gabriel, Kofi Kingston, and Ted DiBiase taking on Wade Barrett, Christian, Hunico, Epico, and Tyson Kidd. I’m sure you can book it yourselves with order of elimination, but at least they’ve got some groundwork now and enough time to build this kind of match up. Orton and Rhodes could also be inserted into this match if they don’t get booked elsewhere on the card.
Segment Grade: B+
Show’s Got Your Back
Really the only thing I find interesting here (and then in the post match stuff after the main event) is that the Money in the Bank briefcase is being brought into play. Is it time to start the long, uphill build for a Wrestlemania-ready Daniel Bryan?
Segment Grade: B
Sin Cara versus…um…who?
Epico? Where the hell did this guy come from? I thought it was Primo (with good reason, since that’s his brother), but no…we get a jobber entrance for a guy who…wasn’t doing the job tonight? I was very confused with how this was being booked, especially since Epico showed he can get the crowd going (IF the crowd had been more responsive…again, lack of energy translates to lack of response). One match does not a sensation make, but I think Epico shows a lot more potential than some of the other call-ups that got TV time. I swear though, when Hunico hit the ring, I seriously thought Konnan was back. Isn’t that just about the same stuff Konnan wore to the ring? At any rate, it looks like Hunico has back up, and interest in this feud, for me anyways, just went up. I like that they gave Hunico someone to pair up with, and you can’t name a wrestler who got more heat in his unhyped debut. Johnny Curtis (where the hell?), who had months and months of build, got zilch when he had his match. Pairing these two against the popular Sin Cara is a good way to get everyone over.
Match/Segment Grade: B
Mark Henry vs. Daniel Bryan
Case in point to my opening segment remarks, Daniel Bryan looked like he was a fly headed towards a speeding windshield here. It wasn’t terrible, and to back up Richard on Bryan making his contests look believable, the guy scrambled when he got Henry off of his feet. You could feel the sense of urgency in Bryan’s movements, and if you’re a casual fan imploring the little guy to take his chance now that Henry was on the ground, you got it. I was expecting a pinfall finish here, but I like that they didn’t make Bryan take the fall.
Match Grade: B-
Big Show Tries to Get Bryan His Chance?
I really liked this post match stuff. From Show giving Bryan the opportunity to be champion to the limited, but meaningful presence of Teddy Long, this outro segment worked. With the briefcase being brought into play more, you have to wonder if Bryan is going to just be teased with opportunity to cash it in all the way up to Wrestlemania. For a second, a scenario flashed in my head of Big Show giving Bryan the opportunity to cash it in, and once Bryan won the belt, Big Show heel turns. But that wasn’t the case here, and again, Bryan made it believable that he was shocked and amazed that he had the chance to be champion.
Segment Grade: A
In-Ring Action: B+ Solid stuff on a wrestling dominated episode tonight. The opening contest between Orton and Rhodes easily wins match of the night, and like last week, we have a Television Match of the Year candidate. I was impressed with the work of Epico, although true judgment will have to wait until we see more of him. If the second and third matches get a few more minutes, we’ve got an A in this category. Alas, you have to cut somewhere, and on this packed episode, the right cuts were made.
Out-of-Ring Action: B You’ll notice I don’t cover the video packages anymore. I have the fortunate ability to fast forward through all of the video segments, and I do so willingly because there’s so many of them! I mean, it’s a tough line to straddle, having to catch people up on the stuff from Monday night, but I wouldn’t mind having that CM Punk on Nickelodeon thing as a WWE.com highlight. Really, this section deserves a higher grade because of what actually happened out of the ring on the show, but the video packages took some valuable time away from some good matches and potential good build up.
Overall: B+ It seems weird giving this episode of Smackdown a lower grade than last week’s because honestly, there was more build on more angles here. I think the excessive video packages did the thing for me…or I could just be in a harsher mood. I’ll probably look at this review later and ask why I didn’t give it an A, but for right now, I’m sticking to my guns. I do think it’s funny though that all of the comments from last week seemed to be touched on by the producers this week. We had a non-formulaic show, we had a better build to the World Heavyweight Championship match (although I would have liked to see Big Show go on a Henry-punching rampage), and the continuation of some decent angles. It makes my blogging week when I see that there are 25 comments on my blog, so thank you to all!
Outside the Blog Zone
It’s time once again for Metroplex Wrestling to light up Bedford, TX! Tonight, we bring you Consequences, and the card is going to be stacked…plus, “The Choice” Matt Andrews just may have some surprises for you. Until next week, thank you for making me your CHOICE for Smackdown blogging.