In the first Smackdown since Summerslam, the show opened with Rey Mysterio talking about his World Heavyweight Championship match last Sunday. It was a nice promo, with Mysterio thanking the fans for keeping faith in him while he was being accused of attacking Undertaker. It was, however, more of a vehicle to intoduce the hotly anticipated new superstar, Alberto Del Rio. As a character, I think he has a lot of potential, but i’m still unsure as to how well Alberto Rodriguez (his real name) can pull the character off. It is early days for him to be fair, and he does come across as brilliantly and uniquely smug. I still didn’t really enjoy hearing him speak, though whether that’s because he’s a good heel or a flawed wrestler, I haven’t decided yet. I’ll speak more about him when discussing this week’s main event in which he took on Rey Mysterio.
The first match of the week saw Kofi Kingston get a rematch of his rematch for the Intercontinental Championship. In the past few weeks i’ve been complimentary of the matches and feud between Kofi and Dolph, so I didn’t really have a problem with the repetition, seen as the match at Summerslam was a no-contest. The match was ok, but as I remember, it was quite short, with Vickie again costing Kofi the opportunity at the championship, pushing him from the top rope and ending the match with a disqualification. It’s clear now that Kofi will take Dolph on at Night of Champions, and probably in a no-disqualification match, and possibly with Vickie banned from ringside. I do question whether that could be just be done with a promo segment. I like the IC title being defended regularly, in a sense at least, but there’s only so many rematches you can have. Nonetheless the match i’ve predicted to be booked will surely be a very good one if it goes ahead.
Next up, we had the continuing turmoil in the Straigh-Edge Society. Backstage, Luke Gallows and Joey Mercury were openly critical of CM Punk’s ‘tough love’ approach. The premise of the following match, which saw Luke Gallows and the (in-ring) debuting Serena take on the ‘odd couple’ of Big Show and Kelly Kelly. As I understand it it, Serena is meant to be halfway decent in the ring, but to be honest, that didn’t really show through here. Mix that in with the slightly higgledy-piggledy booking of Show and Kelly together, and it doesn’t really make for a great match. It was more about getting over this new chapter of the S.E.S., and indeed, an approving Punk showed up on on the ramp, with the S.E.S. more dpendednt than ever. A couple of other notes: the commentators insisted (seemingly purposefully) on referring to Show as ‘The Giant,’ his name in WCW. Now they could have just been hammering home his stature and a nickname, but it could also be that a name change is in the air. I highly doubt it, and I hope there isn’t, but it’s a possibility. Also, I liked how Serena’s finisher, a gutbuster, mirrored in many ways, the hold of Punk’s finisher. That’s nice storytelling.
It was at this point that Kane came out to explain why he attacked his brother. Eventhough I didn’t much appreciate the strategic ecchoes on the mic, this was probably the best promo of the whole storyline. Kane came across as a very fluent, but terrifying monster in a way that brought back the flavour of the dark side that is one of my favourite things about the characters. When I heard Kane was the attacker, and not Mysterio, I was initially disappointed, and I was worried that this latest Kane-Undertaker feud would be another wheeling out of basically the same storyline. Luckily, this seems different, at least in the sense that there is a genuine sense of finality to it. Kane’s promo was about their thirteen year old television relationship, and how, even when they were allies, Kane was just thinking about how he could surpass the brother who had always – with great pride – taken prominance over him. Despite the magnitude of this assertion, it came across as genuinely believeable, and for that, Kane deserves great kudos. This will be the end of their story, and that makes me think it will offer something special and gratifying – quite possibly a retirement.
In a rematch of a couple of weeks ago, Christian took on Drew McIntyre. This time, however, ‘Dashing’ Cody Rhodes came out to do commentary and support ‘The Sinister Scotsman.’ As I said last week, I don’t see why either man needs to be in a tag team, and would rather they pursued single paths. Perhaps as an informal alliance, however, there is potential. This match was another good one between those two which have had good chemistry in the past. Cody spoke – in a very smooth lothario-like voice – of him and Drew being emblematic of an up-and-coming generation that were pushing people like Christian aside, people that are slightly past their prime. I felt this was a bit unfair on Christian (though not on Matt Hardy, who interrupted the match, not selling his injured ankle which quite annoyed me), who could still have a main-event feud in my view. Nonetheless, those two are good stepping stones for Cody and Drew to reach the top. It was good to see them not get taken out by the interrupting Hardy, with the two young guns laying the veterans out. It made them look even more strong. This has high potential as a feud.
Before the main event, we saw Jack Swagger backstage, complaining about his loss of prominance as of late, before MVP interrupted him, calling him out on his whinging. This was a very good segment for the two, hyping up a match between them and giving them a prominant segment backstage. MVP especially came over well as a comic face. I’m not too bothered about the stipulation of the match (if Swagger wins, he hosts MVP’s VIP Lounge; if MVP wins, he hosts a block party at Swagger’s expense), but i’m very happy to see these two in a potential feud that would be great for both of them.
Our main event saw Rey Mysterio take on Alberto Del Rio. What really struck me about Alberto Del Rio when he was making his entrance were the similarities between him and recently retired JBL (i.e. a millionaire who approaches the ring in a luxury car with something around his neck). I especially liked him having his own ring announcer. That was a nice touch. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but over the next few things, Del Rio will have to prove himself as genuinely unique in order to really impress me. I said before that the IC title match didn’t need to take place, and if it hadn’t, I would have liked the extra time to go into this match, not because it was bad, but because I would have liked to have seen more of Del Rio in his debut match. The very first move of the match was a good sign, a brutal side kick of sorts. At one point, Del Rio tried to hit a diving senton from the top rope. I wasn’t that impressed with that as a finisher, so I was pleased to see what must be his real finisher: a swinging leg lariat in to an arm-bar. It was smooth, unique and brilliant! I suppose his prominant debut is fitting for a man who’s arrival has been so highly anticipated, and booking him in a main event with Mysterio is certainly a big show of confidence for him, not to mention making him – a top superhero babyface – tap cleanly. It’ll be interesting to see whether this leads to a feud with Mysterio. It would be a good move, as usually, Mysterio is no master on the mic, but his commentary with fellow Spanish-speaker, Del Rio adds a good dynamic to their segments. A mostly very successful debut from Del Rio, where he certainly made an impact as probably the most prominant man on the show. There are a few issues to address for him, but definately a ‘watch this space’ kinda guy.