With it quickly approaching the 5 month mark since I started writing for WNW, I wanted to look back at everything that had occurred since I started. We've had the new WWE Title unveiled, Swagger was arrested, tried, and convicted of DUI, Paul Bearer passed away, The Rock passed the torch to Cena, Punk proved why he is the best in the world even in defeat by taking the Undertaker to his limit, Dolph Ziggler finally cashed in his Money in the Bank on Alberto Del Rio, only to get concussed and lose the World Heavyweight Championship in his first PPV back, Ryback yet again was fed to the WWE champ and showed why he wasn't ready for the main event scene, Hell No dissolved and Bryan became obsessed that he had been the weak link of the team, which endeared the fans to him even more, we saw the debuts of Fandango and Bray Wyatt and the rebranding of Michael McGillicutty as Curtis Axel, The Shield became proven mega-stars, and we saw the return of RVD to the WWE fold. It has been a tumultuous 5 months, but change always brings a bit of chaos. I don't think I could have picked a better time to pick up the pen and am truly glad I have had this opportunity to write for you. I can't wait to see what the next 5 months have in store!
Break it Down!
In Ring Segment: 8.5
I was very dubious when I saw Teddy Long was opening Smackdown and he was talking about Vickie and Maddox, but it quickly turned around thanks to both the crowd reactions and the announcement that Mr. McMahon were going to be on the show. Booker is back! I have missed him! And considering his surgeries and the fact he became ill after one of them, he looks good! Mr. McMahon is a nice way to get the audience extremely hot early on in the broadcast! Maddox was a hot mess here, but in a good way! He plays a bumbling stooge better than almost anyone on the roster and will make a good fit for the McMahon power struggle storyline. But Vickie Guerrero being announced as the GM of Smackdown was a complete shock to me! I know it shouldn't have, as Mr. McMahon did tell her that he would take care of her, but I was expecting a bit of a transitional period for her before being in another position of power. My only question is what will Booker T do now? Will he take one last run with the company? As long as he isn't an announcer again, I'll be happy!
Jack Swagger vs. Dolph Ziggler: 6
It's about time we get a follow up on the fact that Swagger was the one that concussed Ziggler! But for 3 minutes worth of wrestling, there wasn't a lot of action. I understand why, as I wouldn't trust someone in the ring if they had injured me, but it felt very lackluster. It's a real shame, as they could have really told a great story in the ring here, but instead it was just a vehicle for what happened after the match.
Winner: Dolph Ziggler (Pin)
Post Match Promo and Backstage Segment: 8.5
Ziggler's cockiness is a nice change of pace for a face. Most of WWE's faces fall into a spectrum of the “Good Guy” formula, but Ziggler being the arrogant face shows that he has a multifaceted personality that most characters don't these days. And AJ's tantrum was fantastic! Big E seems to be falling for her, but still wants to be that big brother that is there to protect her. This could be a very interesting dynamic and AJ will only help fuel it more!
In Ring Segment: 7.5
After the match The Shield and the Usos had at MITB, I was disappointed that this devolved into a standard brawl. And while it did push forward the growing rivalry that they have with The Shield, I'd rather see the Usos wrestle! Henry, of course, had to come to the Usos aid since The Shield attacked him on Raw. My question is, will Henry be a heel allying with some faces to take out The Shield like Big Show did with Sheamus and Orton or will he turn fully face?
Wade Barrett vs. Daniel Bryan: 7.25
Wow, that was a quick match! When I saw the competitors, I had high hopes for this match. Bryan and Barrett were two of the biggest successes to come out of the first incarnation of NXT, if not the biggest ones, and they both can put on incredibly great matches. But I don't know any superstar who can make a 1:30 match seem like it was a 4 or 5 star match. That's not to say what was here wasn't good, it was just way too quick. But unlike the Ziggler/Swagger match earlier, at least there was some good action here.
Winner: Daniel Bryan (Sub)
Backstage Segment: 9
Ouch! I'll be surprised if Maddox can still taste after that slap! Vickie unleashed the combined powers of Stephanie McMahon and AJ Lee in one slap! And while she flubbed up her lines a little, the whole point of the segment was to fully establish her as the evil heel GM yet again, as she had become soft in her time as Raw's Managing Supervisor.
Miz TV: 7.75
Miz seemed absolutely bored to have Heyman on Miz TV yet again. This is the third time in the last month! After Monday night, Heyman felt routine yet again. He just didn't have that fire that I wanted to see after the intense promo on Raw. Boy, Miz hit the nail on the head with this one! Heyman has always been sleazy and an ugly person thanks to all of the lies that he has perpetrated over the years, but when he tells the truth it seems that he turns into an even worse person. There was a lot more emotion here from The Miz than he has shown in a while. I hope Miz keeps working against Axel, as it could help elevate Axel's status some more. And maybe I am looking too far down the line, but I could see a Team Punk vs. Team Heyman at Suvivor Series, especially after a segment like this. Punk could bring Miz, Jericho, RVD, and someone else onto his side while Heyman would have Lesnar, Axel, Big Show, and two others join him.
Intercontinental Championship Match
Curtis Axel (c) vs. Chris Jericho: 8
I'm having Kendra review this match because I lost my DVR feed for this match. Take it away Kendra!
I do not recall if they announced before taping that this would be Jericho's last match for a while, but the fans were hot for him when he came to the ring. Then again, the fans are always hot for Jericho. Listening to how quickly the fans quieted down, then the sounds of the cheers, I wondered how much of it was put in during post editing. And I don't know if it's because I'm watching this on a different TV, and through Hulu Plus and not from my DVR, but something about this match had a more old fashioned look to it. Axel seemed to be channeling his father, and Jericho looked as great as he did back in the day, if not better. They hit the normal moves they hit these days, but something about the feel of the match was more hard hitting and old school than many have – though the tides are changing. Axel's swinging neck breaker is sick!
Being that it was an IC Title Match, I knew that Jericho could not win this match. It was just not possible for the WWE to strap him in his last match on this run. Axel is bringing some prestige to the IC Title, as the few before him have also done, so having Jericho run off with it wouldn't have made much sense. Beyond that, I thought this was a nice solid match for Jericho to go out on, and it made Axel look solid going forward. Heyman, as always, made the match that much more than it actually was, but that's Heyman for you!
Winner: Curtis Axel (Pin)
Ryback Attack: 5.25
We all knew it was coming, but this was a poor way to write Jericho off TV. If they wanted to do it via Ryback, they should have done it at MITB. It just didn't have an impact for Ryback to attack Jericho after not only beating him at MITB, but Jericho's loss tonight. They wasted a good opportunity.
The Illustrious Sir Currency of the Treasury's In Ring Pontifications: 8.75
Sandow more than proved why he was given the Briefcase with this promo. He may be the single best talker in WWE right now and his ring work is at a very high level. Cody is also showing why he should have been elevated to main event status a long time ago! Between his character and his ring work, he has the tools he needs for a deep run into the main event scene. His mic work can be a bit shaky, but I think that is more due to the fact that WWE has focused on establishing Sandow lately. I'm sure a feud like this will let him fall back into the comfort zone he had with the masked gimmick. But I do want to point out that this year's MITB briefcase seems to be made of weaker materials than in the past, as Cody's throw up the ramp cracked open the outer edge!
Rob Van Dam vs. Darren Young: 6
Wow, that was a bit of a step down for RVD! From Jericho on Raw to Darren Young on Smackdown. I understand that they want to put all of the big matches on Raw, but I hate it when they give Smackdown a match like this with a returning or a new talent. It always seems to be if they have a big match on Raw, they get a jobber on Smackdown. The opening of this match was a bit off, as RVD and Darren Young looked to be on somewhat different pages with RVD's moves. And while it did get better as the match went on, towards the end we started to see it crop up again. It is a shame, but I want to blame it more on Darren Young's inexperience working with someone like RVD than on RVD still being just slightly off kilter like he was in TNA. Time will tell where the issue really is.
Winner: Rob Van Dam (Pin)
Raw Rebound: 8
The Wyatt Family has to be one of the best debuts WWE has created in a while. The darkness, insanity, and mystery surrounding them has just about every fan on edge and I can't wait to see where they go from here. And I really hope that Monday night was an indication that the Husky Harris chants were a one time occurrence. Bray Wyatt doesn't need a previous gimmick dragging this character into the ground.
Backstage Segment: 8.75
Vickie's McMahon tendencies are already hitting a high level! This will be a fun ride and while I am disappointed she won't be a manager for the foreseeable future, I think she will be much better as the evil GM again!
Randy Orton vs. Alberto Del Rio: 8.5
I was really hoping when this match was announced that we wouldn't end up with a snooze fest, as has been the case in previous encounters between these two men. But they both pulled out a lot of nicely executed moves and worked harder than I would normally expect them to. Right from the get-go, ADR used the Cross Armbreaker in the ropes ala the Tarantula to get an upper hand and start doing something I have to praise him for: building up to using his submission finisher. I have griped for months that he doesn't do enough to damage his opponent's arm to justify the tap, but over the last few weeks he has greatly improved. Another point I want to bring up is that Orton used the float-over roll up very well tonight, unlike he did with Christian a couple of weeks ago. While I still don't think it should be a regular part of his repertoire, it does work well on occasion. The dropkick when ADR came off the top rope, however, was a poorly done spot. Even with the camera angle positioned behind Orton, it didn't look like he got anywhere close to hitting ADR with it. Luckily, they quickly rebounded and pulled out a pair of great spots to end the match. The first was ADR going for the RKO. We knew he wouldn't hit it, but the arrogance he showed in attempting it and the lead up to the attempt was great ring psychology. The second was the RKO to end the match. We fans gripe that the “RKO out of nowhere” has become the standard. And while that is true, this is one time that I felt it worked out perfectly. Randy was off camera and then BOOM! He hit the RKO and there is the ending. After this match, I wouldn't be opposed to Orton challenging for the WHC. It would serve as a distraction to his MITB, so when he cashes it in it is a huge surprise. And just maybe he could win the WHC and cash in the MITB in the same night, leading him to being a double champion...
Winner: Randy Orton (Pin)
Overall Wrestling Grade: 7.25
Overall Segment Grade: 8
Overall Show Grade: 7.5
After this past week's Raw, this episode of Smackdown was quite a let down. It was very segment heavy with little consistent flow, 3 of the 5 matches were short and poorly done, and they yet again front and back loaded the show. I've noticed a phenomenon with WWE that I like to call the PPV Effect. If a PPV occurred the week prior, they load Raw with the best segments and leave Smackdown with very little in terms of creative possiblities. The further away from the PPV you go, the more entertaining Smackdown becomes typically. However, I want that to change. Smackdown may be considered the “B” show, but why not use it to develop these rising stars such as Damien Sandow, Cody Rhodes, Fandango, and others? We get more than enough of the big name guys like Orton and Sheamus shoved down our throats on Raw, let the littler guys have some storylines too! That's the only way you are going to get fans to care about them. If they only see them week in and out losing to the bigger names, then no one will take them seriously when they challenge for a title. Just look at Ryback if you want an example of that.
Jesse Sherwood and Kendra Bunyon