Smackdown kicked off this week with perhaps some surprising booking, with World Heavyweight Champion, Kane taking on one-time main event contender but rarely seen, Chris Masters. For what was a match to essentially put over the strength of Kane, I think Masters got a pretty good showing here. There was a time when I had no time for Masters, but I have come to respect him more recently. His main problem, I think, is that ‘the Masterpiece’ doesn’t correlate well with a babyface – though it doesn’t seem to be bringing him any heat to be fair. In this match, Masters got in a lot of offense against a guy who has been seemingly unbeatable of late, and while I never thought that Masters would win, some small bits of doubt crept in when he locked Kane in his Masterlock (a move i’ve always though terrible as a submission, being as it is, just a Full Nelson grip). Masters of course didn’t go over, but he helped tell the in-ring story of being worn down by Kane at the knee well and looked game. I’d like to see more of him in a serious role and give him another chance.
After another great promo from Kane (where he scared a kid in the audience), we had the re-match for the WWE Tag Team Championships. This match was, as you would expect, solid and good (the Harts are great in the ring, but still lack that important charisma). Again, Kidd was the one that looked really good, with his own version of ‘skinning the cat’ and other highly innovative moves. Eventually though, McIntyre and Rhodes retained when McIntyre exposed the steel turnbuckle, launched Kidd in to it and hit a slightly awkward Future Shock DDT for the 1-2-3. I don’t know what will become of the Harts now. Maybe they’ll be put in a programme with an up-and-coming tag team. The only other teams on RAW are Santino and Kozlov, which would be a waste, and the Usos, which they’ve already done, unsuccessfully. Maybe the Dudebusters (who i’ll talk more about momentarily) could get drafter to RAW to take them on?
Speaking of the Dudebusters (a team I have previously criticised as a poor replacement for Edge & Christian), they appear to have turned face as they had a few comic backstage segments with Hornswoggle, eventually ‘packing up’ Vickie Guerrero for Smackdown’s move to SyFy. I have to say, I liked them in the babyface role. They played the pranksters pretty well and didn’t keep harping on about modern teenage sensations like Playstation etc. For that reason alone, I think they deserve another run at the tag titles.
Just before that we saw Christian selling an attack backstage by Alberto Del Rio. As you may know already, this is a legit injury. Christian has torn his pectoral muscle and is expected to be out for some months. This is a terrible shame for Captain Charisma as – as i’ve said in the past – I thought his feud with the rising Del Rio could have rubbed him up to the main event with him. Hopefully that potential is still there, and depending on when Christian returns, he could have a pretty hot feud with Del Rio, who by that time, may already be at the main event. Lord only knows how he performed that later tussle with Del Rio with his injury, selling that Del Rio had, like with Rey Mysterio, broken his arm. Hats off to him! I also liked how Ricardo Rodriguez, Del Rio’s personal ring announcer got involved, holding Christian’s leg so he could be attacked. I thought that added a more valet/manager quality to that character. I wonder who’s next for Del Rio. Probably another upper-middle card babyface. Kofi Kingston would be a good shout, just having come out of his feud with Dolph Ziggler. Anyway, get well soon Christian!
Kaval then had his second match on Smackdown against Chavo Guerrero, who himself has had something of a re-birth in WWE as of late. After losing last week, I was keen to see Kaval go over, though as the commentators continued to talk about Kaval being new to Smackdown and lacking in WWE experience, it became clear that Chavo was winning this one. Both these guys are fantastc wrestlers, and they put on one of the better matches of the night. Chavo really has more to offer than at his current position, as he managed to stay with the quick and agile Kaval, and even match him in high-flying, ring-savvy assaults. Eventually, the wiley veteran managed to go over Kaval with a fantastic Frog Splash. Again, Kaval was not by any means squashed, but i’m not sure where WWE are going with this potential losing streak story. No doubt it will be some sort of hard-work story in which he struggles initially, but fights his was up through the competitors and gains the respect he deserves on Smackdown. That’s absolutely fine with me, as long as he continues to look dogged and relatively strong in his struggles.
Big Show had a pointless handicap match against the Gatecrashers in which he dominated. Lord only knows where he’s going next! As for the Gatecrashers, it was good to see another tag team on TV, but a shame they’re obviously still not deemed worthy of being in the title picture.
The Straight-Edge Society appears to definitely be finished as CM Punk was accosted in his locker room by former S.E.S. disciple, Luke Gallows, who violently informed him that they would be having a match. They had a pretty good match, but that was mainly due to the storyline. Gallows dominated the match, but the ‘cunning’ Punk managed to get the massive Gallows on his shoulders for the Go to Sleep and the victory. Despite the remarkable athleticism of Gallows, he’s never going to contribute to a fantastic match. I think there needs to be a feud here, almost just for posterity. It’ll be good for Gallows, who will get a rub from it, but if i’m honest, I can’t see him lasting long as a singles competitor. To be fair to him though, kudos for managing to break almost seamlessly from Festus in to a serious character. This feud (if it goes ahead) is no good for Punk, especially after that disappointing feud with Big Show, and should be higher up the card and putting on great matches. If he wants to stay heel, I suggest a programme with Kaval. That could be awesome!
Competing with Kaval and Chavo for match of the night was MVP against Intercontinental Champion, Dolph Ziggler. This would have been a great match had it not been for the Vickie-Kaitlyn story at ringside. Not that that made it in any way bad, in fact these two managed to maintain a very high standard and give us a very good match, but the angle distracted from the match somewhat, cutting in to it once or twice. The crowd were really behind MVP and he delivered as the babyface, really taking it to Ziggler with his unique kind of athleticism. Ziggler, to his credit also, played the heel brilliantly, physically decimating MVP whenever in control. Ringside, the story was again of jealousy from Vickie towards her NXT rookie, Kaitlyn. After a particularly brutal ‘drive by’ kick from MVP which sent Ziggler to the outside, Vickie admonished Kaitlyn for trying to help him up, to which Kaitlyn snapped (this presumably being tha back-breaking straw for her) and pushed Vickie over before heading backstage. A humiliated Vickie then followed stoically. This sufficiently distracted Dolph to force him to take his title and go look for his valets backstage, earning a count-out loss in doing so. I don’t know whether this will be sold as a way to have MVP face Ziggler for the championship at Hell in a Cell or later on, but I that title would be a good move for MVP, though it is a little early for Ziggler to drop it.
Throughout the night we had seen clips of a despondent Undertaker backstage, but the final one saw a door open, and a stunned Undertaker stand-up and go in to his trance-like state (y’know, eyes rolled in to the back of his head). Meanwhile, Kane was out cutting another promo, challenging his brother to a Hell in a Cell match. This must be dream booking for WWE; not only is ‘Taker heavily associated with this match anyway, but it is also where Kane debuted, attacking none other than … The Undertaker! All I can say is it’s a shame this (probably) wont be the rubber match as I can’t see how they could stop probably the biggest feud in WWE right now in nine days time. Personally, I would like to see, if not a HIAC match, a buried alive match (if they still feel they can have those under PG) or an inferno match to end this feud. Anyway, Kane had said that he had taken the last of ‘Taker’s ‘Dark Powers’, but this didn’t seem true when the coffin appeared on stage and was taken to ringside, independently of Kane. Kane seemingly expected the Deadman inside, but instead there was PAUL BEARER. I’ve come to love this feud, but if anything could be added to it to take it up another match, it was ‘the Father of Destruction’ himself, especially seen as this will almost certainly be the last time these two will have a storyline together. This was a real throwback to the dark storylines that made Kane but especially the Undertaker so legendary, with Bearer clutching the mysterious, powerful urn. Apparently siding with Undertaker, he and the urn renewed – at least to a degree – the Deadman’s powers as he beat on his little brother, forcing him to flee the ring before assuming his familiar pose of respect as Bearer held the urn aloft. A very powerful and (strangely, perhaps) heart-warming sight to close the last Smackdown on MyNetworkTV.