I’m going to be honest and say from the start that I didn’t like the booking of this week’s show, almost without exception. That’s not to say that this episode was particularly poor, I just don’t think much was achieved.
The first match had Rey Mysterio take on Kane in a Summerslam rematch. Personally, I think i’ve seen enough of Kane against Rey over the past few weeks, and seen as they’ll be going their seperate ways now, this seemed a bit needless without offering anything new. I’d have rather have seen Rey take on Drew McIntyre or Cody Rhodes. They’re too good to not be on the TV, and would have embelished their growing dominant reputation by going over Rey like Kane did. There’s no reason why Alberto Del Rio couldn’t come out and attack Rey after a match with one of them. They did have a good match though, and it being no disqualification meant that there were some nice hardcore elements to it. Rey is definately one of the better sellers in the business.
Next up we had what must have been about the 4th Intercontinental Championship match between Dolph Ziggler and Kofi Kingston, this time with the stipulation that if Ziggler got disqualified, he would lose the IC title. Initially, I was upbeat that this would mean Ziggler going over clean and the end of the series of title matches. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case as Ziggler won by count-out, surely setting up a future match with no disqualifications and no count-outs. I understand what management are going for with this series – in which Ziggler will be forced to ‘earn’ his belt. For me, it’s dragged on too far. Instead, you could book him against Christian, even as similar competition to Kofi as a build-up to a Kofi-Ziggler rematch at Night of Champions. Nevertheless, they did have a pretty good match together. They do have good chemistry, which is why I was initially high on the coupling, but the overbooking of the storyline has slightly spoiled it for me. At least now I can’t see how they could extend this any further than a final match now – a match which should be very good.
Next up, JTG basically jobbed to CM Punk. It being a job, there’s not much analysis to go into the match. The main point was to continue the story of Punk as the disciplined leader of the Straight-Edge Society, which was successful after he made JTG tap to the Anaconda Vice (a move it was nice to see return).
What I think came next was ‘The Jack Swagger Sr Invitational’ segment. I like the idea of an MVP-Swagger feud, but this seemed a bit far removed from a hot feud, and now that Swagger won the competition, I don’t know how much it can hot up with Swagger hosting the VIP lounge, but we’ll wait and see. Nonetheless, I can still see it being helpful to both guys.
After this, Luke Gallows tried to live up to CM Punk’s high expectations of him in a match with the Big Show. This was ok, but not much better than that. I would have liked to have seen Gallows go over with the help of Mercury and Serena (for whom this was the last appearance). That could have set up a match for Joey Mercury next week where the onus was on him intensely, which if he lost, could lead him to being ostracised from the group. That would have added a bit more interest to this storyline, especially seen as Serena’s departure will probably catalyse the end of the group.
The final match of the night saw Alberto Del Rio take on a local competitor. This is the only match with which I didn’t really have a problem with the booking. If they’re setting up a feud with Mysterio, it doesn’t make much sense to book him against another big star. This keeps him looking strong without disturbing a burgeoning big feud with Rey Mysterio. This is the right way to use ‘local competitors’ and squash matches. A highlight of this match was Del Rio staring at his opponent with a condescending grin before pulling off his trademark wink and pusing him off the ropes, almost like a sociopath.
The main event segment didn’t progress much either, but was still fantastic. It was one of the best promo exchanges i’ve ever seen in fact. It was between Kane and the Undertaker, and told their story of brothers battling for dominance of the dark side, and for the favour of Satan, perfectly (hense the slightly awkward Paradise Lost reference). Undertaker came out, and brought with him the aura he demands. Indeed, eventhough he was selling being weak, he came across as on his way back to the top. Then, as in a tug of war, Kane came out and started to outshine his brother – looking hugely powerful in comparison to his passive brother. This went back and forth from Undertaker and finally back to Kane again. Like last week, he got the better of his brother. Again, it was good to see Undertaker not automatically getting the upper hand. Not much came from the segment, but it was nonetheless very compelling!