I’d just like to point out, for those unaware, that, unfortunately, this week’s Smackdown featured the final performances of Mickie James and Mike Knox in WWE (well, for now at least). I’d also like to suggest that Mickie has done enough to one day be considered a Hall of Famer. This depends on what way her career goes from here, but as long as she doesn’t end up at TNA, I think she has a chance.
The first match featured our All American-American World Heavyweight Champion taking on John Morrison. I was very critical of Morrison a while ago because he always botched (or at least awkwardly performed) his high-flying manouvers. Now however, he lands his peles, moonsaults and starship pain pretty consistently and is starting to show the skills of a top performer. He still, however, has shortcomings (mainly in the charisma department) that he needs to improve upon before he gets the shot that Swagger has had. Swagger looked confident on the mic, cutting probably his best promo to date, though it tailed off to the end. In what was probably the best match of the night, each superstar put on a great performance, showing a glimpse of the future main event scene, with drama, near-falls, back and forth and unpredictability. Indeed, I don’t think anyone would have predicted Morrison going over. You’ve got to think (and hope) that Swagger’s losing trend has got to be part of a work. I’m not sure exactly how that would work, but otherwise it makes no sense to make your champion, and up-and-coming main-eventer look weak this way …
Drew McIntyre and Matt Hardy’s feud continued in something I am really interested in. The story of Drew taking advantage of (probably concussed) Matt Hardy is an interesting one, and adds an extra wildcard dimension to the matches they have. Some of the best, most stimulating acts in wrestling are the ones that are difficult to watch: Jericho’s attack on Edges ankle last week was one, and Drew’s stomp on Matt’s head was another. I was starting to think this was leading to an IC match (I think Drew really needs another defence on his record (unless, of course, his not having to defend is part of his ‘chosen one’ angle …)), but it seems not. Maybe it’ll be added to the card during Extreme Rules itself, but if not, lets hope it continues to build to one.
Shad and JTG continued their hot feud going in to Extreme Rules. Striker made an interesting point regarding the symbolism of the strap match. These guys who have grown up together in each other’s pockets, even in seperation, will be bonded together. This week really highlighted their bond, creating more interest in tgheir match for sure. This is almost certainly going to be the biggest night of their careers. They’ve been at a PPV before, but not with the sole limelight. If it goes well, they could grow in the company, but they’ve got to be careful (and this is especially a worry with Shad) that their characters don’t get too reliant on their dislike of each other. This feud has a while to run, but afterwards, it’s going to be important for them to make a clean break from each other on to new, fresh feuds.
It was probably the right decision not to have Edge in a match this week, selling the fact that he will be ‘damaged goods’ at the PPV. The promo was good, and included the classic angle of taking place in the arena of the steel cage, which Jericho made good use of, and was later used quite symbolically with Jericho sacrificing his rookie Wade Barrett to Edge, who showed he will play through the pain to ‘spear’ Jericho with finality. It will be the right and fitting point to end this impressive feud.
Team LayCool continued to shock (in a good way) with their humiliation of Beth Phoenix this week. The match itself was good as well, showing the superiority of the Smackdown divas division (and regrettably, how much Mickie will be missed) with four very capable wrestlers giving us a good match with an ending which set up the PPV match well. The LayCool feuds continue to make a positive point about femininity (which though possibly undermined by some other aspects of the divas division, are still valid) as the heels continue to get commupance for their bullying and attempted vanquising of divas that don’t fit their ‘flawless’ mould. There were, however, a couple of problems with this segment. The first is that it wasn’t really explained what an Extreme Makeover match is! I get the feeling it’ll simply be an extreme rules divas match (called ‘extreme makeover’ because there is already an extreme rules match on the card), but their seems to be another aspect to it, i.e. it’ll will be a feminine themed extreme rules match. This makes me worry somewhat. I had no problem with the lipstick, as that fits well with the LayCool mould; the ironing-board however seems a little out of place and possibly a bit prescriptive about gender roles. We’ll just have to see hoe Extreme Rules plays out to see.
Finally, we had the Punk-Mysterio feud to end the show. This match was pretty good, and having the barber chair there with a threatening Rey Mysterio was a good closing image. I do hoever think that, folloing this PPV, the feud (which has been a long one to be fair) will have run its course. It is also my feeling that the unexpected events in Iceland affected the build up. With Mysterio cutting some of Punk’s hair on RAW, I think they were robbed of an even more powerful image on Smackdown and perhaps even a better leading image to Extreme Rules. I also think some of the in-ring build-up will have had to have been shared with RAW, also to this episodes detriment. Another query I have is about the clarity of the stipulation. I know Punk’s hair is on the line, but what about Mysterio? If he loses, does he still have to join the S.E.S.? It’s not explicit, but Punk has hinted at it. Again, we’ll just have to wait and see.