Does anyone remember when the Slammys meant something? Okay, so technically, they didn’t really mean anything, but damnit, Owen Hart sure made them seem like they meant something. Really, the last superstars to make a Slammy mean something was Chris Jericho when he was the Superstars of the Year (2008?). Since then, the Slammy Awards show has been a vehicle for ridiculous awards, extended promo segments, and past superstar cameos. The only award from Monday night that potentially could have carried any weight whatsoever was Superstar of the Year. Notice we didn’t even get a Diva of the Year award, obviously with good reason. Even the Superstar of the Year Slammy is going to be downplayed. It might be the only scenario I could think of where CM Punk’s shoot style of cutting promos could be a detriment. He knows how useless the statue is, and don’t think he’s not going to make a point of that at some point, especially since Johnny Ace claimed it for him. Triple H, the COO of the company (or whatever he is) didn’t even bother taking it. If they’re going to do the Slammys, make them mean something. Heck, I know that Twitter and ‘trending’ things is in right now, but that Fatal Four Way match could have been much better suited to determine a Breakout Star of the Year, and I would have agreed with any of the four participants. It was a great match, by the by. Kane’s return was cool, but I don’t know how hyped I am for Cena vs. Kane. Anywho, are we ready? Let’s get the SMACKDOWN!
Tell Me He Did Not Just Say That
Booker T has the fortunate genetics that allow him to not age a ton visually. Really, he looks pretty young for his 40-something age. That being said, I don’t think I’d have a full problem with him being back in the ring. Main Eventing? No, thank you. I’d rather see Booker be used in the role that Sheamus is being used in right now – the face that comes out to teach the misbehaving heels a lesson. I think Cody and Booker actually have good chemistry verbally with each other – we’ll wait until Sunday to see whether they have in-ring chemistry. Cody, though, is very mature in-ring and Booker is a definite vet. Again, I really, really hope they don’t strap Booker. We know WWE is notorious for doing things that make you slam your head against a table, but this would be outlandish even for them.
Segment Grade: A
Daniel Bryan vs. Cody Rhodes
I was kind of hoping this would be the Bryan/Ziggler of this year, but Rhodes is preoccupied with other things. Still, I can’t complain about three matches with these two. This is not going to be the only program between these two – I have got to believe that at some point when the Money in the Bank stuff has blown over, when the Intercontinental Championship has changed hands and ended back with Cody, we will see Daniel Bryan vs. Cody Rhodes again. The back and forth between these two was great, and kudos to Bryan for taking the top rope bump like a champ. It looked like Rhodes landed a little high, which happens, but Bryan brushed it off. I loved the go home sequence, and the way Cody got into the Cross Rhodes was unique. As much as I don’t like Bryan losing again, what else are you going to do? Clearly Rhodes is way higher up in the ladder than Bryan is, and he’s got a match this Sunday.
Match Grade: A
Alicia Fox vs. Natalya
I think I’ve said this before about Alicia Fox, but she’s one of my top favorite Divas in terms of in ring work. Not that she’s technically brilliant, mind you, but she definitely is one of the most intense and fiery Divas in the ring. She shows great passion. It does look like Alicia Fox is next in line for a Divas Championship match, which I’ll look forward to. Not only is Alicia intense in the ring, but she’s really a much better talker than most of the other girls. I will say, though, that that little after match somersault leg drop looked horribly nasty. In case nobody knew, you’re not supposed to hit a leg drop like that. Yeesh.
Match Grade: C+
The World’s Strongest Man…asks for help?
Again, I’m not a huge fan of this particular side of Mark Henry. He doesn’t need anybody to help him! He’s the World’s Strongest freaking Man! As it is, it also provided a nice little moment for Jack Swagger. I don’t think I was the only one that thought this, but how about a face Jack Swagger? They even teased it earlier this year with Michael Cole, but it looks even more possible now. Heck, that could be one of those things that does it for Swagger.
Segment Grade: B+
The Usos vs. Epico and Primo
All right! Tag team Wrestling! Does anyone think that the Mid-Card Mafia of Tyler Reks and Curt Hawkins will make its way onto Raw or Smackdown? We might be able to have a legitimate tag team division again! Who am I kidding? I shouldn’t get ahead of myself. As it is, we’re treated to some vastly underutilized talents on the Smackdown Roster. I become more and more impressed with Epico and Primo, and the last couple of weeks on Superstars, the Colons have proven that they can do the singles stuff as well. I am a little surprised at the rate at which they are building Epico and Primo, and Hunico to some extent, although he’s been absent for two weeks. However, in the absence of any other heel tag teams, you do what you have to do. I just think that it could do more than expected for their careers. Now, let’s get another heel tag team in the mix so that the Usos don’t have to constantly job. I like those two.
Match Grade: B
The Big Show vs. Jack Swagger
I thought it was interesting that they showed a clip from a year and a half ago with Swagger and Show. It lends more credibility to my theory and expectation that Swagger could get a rebirth. It amazes me how Big Show can bring a small crowd feel to the biggest arenas. Really, if any of you have been to an independent wrestling show, sometimes the crowds can be apathetic and the faces really have to work to get the crowd cheering. Big Show doesn’t need to do that. People would cheer him regardless, but Show brings that kind of “indy show” energy that definitely endears him to me. Anyways, Swagger reminded us tonight that he can go. The desperation, the desire and passion to win this match could be sensed. In short, Swagger made this match believable. Obviously Show had to go over here, but I think with the intensity that Swagger showed tonight, it doesn’t hurt him. The little bit at the end with Henry hitting Swagger with the chair was intriguing, and could also provide a case for Swagger turning face sooner rather than later. Speaking of Henry, that little bit at the end, hitting the cameraman? That’s the Mark Henry I want to see. I want the guy that beats up on people that aren’t wrestlers. That’s who Mark Henry should be with this title run. You don’t need to make him into another Christian. Side note about Christian: that’s two Slammy shows in a row he’s had to present because of injury.
Match Grade: A-
A Nice Little Moment
Hey, remember when I said that I couldn’t believe that Orton and Ryder were headed out to lunch? That was a few months ago…yeah, this would have been why.
Segment Grade: B-
Ted DiBiase vs. Heath Slater
I don’t care what Heath Slater tries to do to redeem his “Spice-y” lifestyle, I can not for the life of me view him as any kind of legitimate contender. I’m not a fan of his in ring work, I’m not a fan of his “One Man Southern Rock Band” personality. I just don’t think he has the look of a champion. By the way, props to Josh Mathews for pointing out that Cole, in fact, did not vote for The Miz when the cameras zoomed in on his iPad. Haha. It looks like the feud between DiBiase and Mahal isn’t done yet, but why insert Sheamus into it?
Match Grade: C
Sheamus vs. Jinder Mahal
Mahal got in just enough offense that this doesn’t qualify as a squash. Sheamus, like I said, is being used as the utility face. He has no program, he’s just the cheap pop. That, to me, is a shame. Mahal is showing just a little bit of what he needs to be successful in WWE. I think his mic work is going to be fine as long as he can get people to understand him, and if he gets an opportunity to showcase his talents, he could go far. Sheamus just needs a program. He can’t possibly be okay with just floundering in this weird mid card role.
Match Grade: B-
Randy Orton and Zack Ryder vs. Wade Barrett and Dolph Ziggler
Yes, that’s right. Zack Ryder is in the main event of Smackdown. This was a great tag team match. Props to Orton for letting Ryder have his moments in this match and letting Long Island Iced Z get the first hot tag. I like the feud between Ziggler and Ryder because they have a fairly unique dynamic going on between them. You would fully expect Ziggler to play coward and try to avoid Ryder, but really, we haven’t seen much of that from Ziggler at all. In fact, during this whole crusade to get Ryder the title shot, Ziggler’s never really had a “No, I don’t want to” attitude. Ryder’s real “enemy” so to speak, has been Laurinaitis. In this match, Ziggler showed no hesitation about getting in the ring with Ryder, and I think that makes the match on Sunday that much more interesting. Neither man really has any huge advantage over the other. It really just ends up being two great talents meeting in the ring for the United States Championship. It’s kind of old school, really. I’m looking forward to a gimmick-less match between these two, with Ziggler going over here by hook or crook, and Ryder finally getting to win the belt at the Royal Rumble. The stuff that Orton and Barrett had going was good as well, albeit a little more “modern.” I’d love to see an eventual feud between Ziggler and Orton, but I like the stuff going on with Barrett too. I won’t say I’m necessarily looking forward to their match on Sunday, but I think it’ll be a good sleeper hit of the night.
Match Grade: A
In-Ring Action: B- Rhodes/Bryan and the main made this category gain a few points. We definitely had much more storytelling going on with these matches and each match had something at stake. Even the Divas match and Sheamus/Mahal meant something in the scheme of things. It was a good rebound from the last two painful episodes.
Out-of-Ring Action: A The little moment with Orton and Ryder wasn’t long enough for me to raise a stink about it, and the opening segment was definitely short enough while still being effective. Most of the other out of ring stuff happened at the conclusions of matches, and all of those were executed nicely. Again, this was a great episode to go home to TLC.
Overall: B+ I’m glad they were able to build up all of their pertinent matches for TLC and still have a little bit of time leftover for minor storybuilding. Each of the featured matches was touched upon tonight, and yes, I now am excited for TLC…at least, I’m excited for the Smackdown portions. What is going on over on Raw? Is the triple threat the only advertised match? I guess technically Ziggler/Ryder is a Raw match?
Outside the Blog Zone
Er…nothing much to post here…MPX’ next show is on January 7th, and you can bet that Team Kyle and myself will have some outlandish celebration planned for our Tag Team Championship win. I’m also involved in an independent theatre company’s production of several stage-adapted comic books. Check us out at NextWave Performing Arts. We’ll be doing stage adaptations of the origins of Superman, The Bat-Man, and a non-origin story with Spider-Man. The goal? To get people to understand that comic books are a form of literature. Alright, maybe I’ll see some of you cats in the chat rooms for TLC this Sunday. Until next week, thank you for making me your CHOICE for Smackdown blogging.