Smackdown opened with the kind of disguide prank that Punk has made his own. Like when he impersonated Jeff Hardy, he got fans hopes up of an Undertaker return, only to dash them by revealing it was, in fact, an imposter: this time, Luke Gallows. What it turned out to be was a very provocative promo to draw Kane to the ring and be ambushed. This was simply par for the course when Swagger joined Punk and Gallows to assault the Big Red Machine, but when Rey Mysterio and Big Show turned on him, the plot thickened. This was ostensibly as retribution for Kane violently accusing them of attacking his brother, but their expressions said something different. Myserio’s expression especially suggested a sense of guilt, of protesting too much. Last week, the idea that the Fatal Four Way main event competitors were somehow the main suspects seemed to have little reasoning behind it, but now, with this strange behaviour from the faces, their candidacy seems more believeable, and therefore, makes the drama (the ‘whodunnit’) more compelling.
I’m not sure what plans are for Vance Archer and Curt Hawkins. I really hope this ‘shocking’ gimmick doesn’t las much longer, simply because their actions are not shocking. Attacking people from behind, or after matches, is not new or impactful, it is just basic heel behaviour. While Christian and MVP performed well the roles of disrespected stars, it seems a bit of a waste of them. They should both be heading for main event level in my view, and them being thrown together to tag will not help them. Instead, i’d like to see Archer and Hawkins inserted in to the tag team division as a competitive team with a strong identity, something they are capable of.
Later on came the most compelling section of the show, with Drew McIntyre re-asserting himself as the ruthless ‘chosen one.’ For a while, his character had perhaps gone off the boil, and to tell the truth, when I saw him booked with Teddy Long, I didn’t see it getting much better. However, throughout the night, highlight packages of his most memorable indiscretions dre huge heat for McIntyre, and by the time it came to his showdown with the GM, he had become public enemy number one. Teddy Long is perhaps the best at an overt performance of fear and humiliation, and he he exercised that to the hilt during this very uncomfortable ‘match’ with McIntyre. The best segments in wrestling are the ones that genuinely affect you emotionally, eventhough you know that it’s scripted, and this is what this one did, especially when we saw Teddy crawling to the centre of the ring to lie down for Drew. Invoking the recession and Teddy Long having to support his family was very credible and stimulating too, and seeing the relatively elderly man of Teddy Long crying just put the icing on the cake, so to speak. McIntyre had done a brilliant job before Kofi and Hardy came out, but McIntyre’s statement was only made stronger by his decimation of both of his current rivals. This was the best segment since Punk’s altercation with Rey Mysterio’s family.
A quick note on the divas match from this week’s episode. While it was ok, and Kelly Kelly is certainly improving, there is no way in hell she is ready to be Women’s Champion. I hope her victory this week does not signal that this is on the cards in the forseeable future.
Dolph Zigger and Chris Masters, while being a little out of the blue, seems like quite a good match-up. Thei match wasn’t very look, but they had good chemistry and a decent story in the Masterlock coming up against Ziggler’s Sleeper hold. I’d like to see more of this. Ziggler looks good, but he’ll need a decent feud to really get over. I think, on another note, it was during this match that Matt Striker dropped another commentating clanger. Talking about Chave Guerrero, he said something like “jealousy is a female trait. Men don’t get jealous.’ Now, I realise that he is a heel commentator, but this isn’t the first time he’s said something showing some sort of prejudice, and in my view, that sort of statement isn’t acceptable, especially when you know there are many impressionable young viewers tuning in.
The main event was watchable enough, but it was more of a ‘go home’ conclusion to the show, heading in to Fatal Four Way. Following the match, Kane came down to the ring seeking vengence for the earlier attack from all four competitors, this time, in a show of strength befitting Kane, destroying all those in his path. He went on to promise ‘a fatal night’ for the guilty party on Sunday. This was reminiscent of the end of an episode of Poirot, with all the suspects gathered together, and the investigator suggesting that he knows who the suspect is. As I said earlier, this week’s show did a much better job than last week at getting that atmosphere over. Whether we’ll actually find closure at Fatal Four Way remains to be seen, but the storyline is certainly starting to increase in tension. Of course, the culprit may be none of the four main eventers; it may be the NXT rebels, it may be Kane himself, it could be someone like Drew McIntyre. Whoever it is, they’ll draw massive heat for it and probably go in to a serious feud with the Undertaker and Kane (unless it is Kane). It promises to be a very hot feud whoever it is, simply because the build up invokes such beloved figures as Undertaker and Kane, and the mix of that with the cowardice that seems to have punctuated the attack draws upon all the most basic conventions of being a heel.