This week’s show started out with Edge – Smackdown’s recent acquisition – coming out to meet his public, so to speak. Immediately, I saw a new fortitude in the Rated R Superstar, something which had been missing of late (this was down to the return of his trenchcoat and sunglasses, which made him look like the Edge when he burst on to the singles scene). Whether Edge was the right choice for Smackdown is debatable. No doubt this ‘trade’ was meant as a way to bring something big and fresh to the blue brand, so i’m not so sure that someone who was on Smackdown only a few months ago is that revitalising. Then you have the question, who else from RAW would it be genuinely fresh to see on Smackdown? I would answer that Sheamus would cause a splash and be a ratings winner, or if they wanted to keep him there, maybe Ted DiBiase would have been a nice call. Nonetheless, Edge needed a new start, and he is a big draw to Smackdown.
Edge faced off again against Jack Swagger, and had, in many ways, a very similar match to the one they had at Hell in a Cell. It started off slowly, and my initial instinct was that they had lost whatever chemistry they had had in previous outings. However, and again, like at Hell in a Cell, the end of the match was very good – starting around the time Edge countered a slam in to an Edge-o-matic. From then on there were a lot of good progressions of moves and reversals, and the close of the match saw a fluid progression ending in a Spear and an Edge victory. I understand these two are going into a programme, which could be good, but they’ll need a more divisive action to take place between the two first if anyone’s going to really care about it.
It was good to see Layla getting in to the ring for LayCool again. She had an ok match with Kelly Kelly (as far as you can with Kelly) and brought the aggression for sure. Layla’s neckbreaker (with which she won this match) is really very good; it seems a few divas use ‘normal’ moves as finishers sometimes, so to see Layla using a distinct move (actually, she has two really cool finishers) as a signature is good to see. Given as Michelle has defended the title at the last two PPVs, I think there is room for a subtle little angle where Layla has to fight when not defending the title, whereas Michelle only does it when the title is on the line. Given the fact that Layla was the original winner of the championship, there could be a nice angle where Layla eventually accuses Michelle of taking too much credit for their position and ‘hogging the limelight’ etc etc.
A really cool tag team bout came next pitting tag champs, Cody Rhodes and Drew McIntyre against Kaval and Kofi Kingston. I have to say, the Cody-Drew team is really starting to gain a legitimate image now, and I think they’ve worked a lot on chemistry to achieve that. As for Kaval and Kofi, there isn’t much uniting them, but it was good to have them on TV to complete a match with buckets of young talent. The match itself was, as you might therefore expect) a very good one. Kaval especially continued to grow. Out of anyone, at least in WWE and probably in TNA, he is becoming the most genuinely unpredictable in his offense, his springboard-handstand-kick being a particular highlight. Again, the champs were savvy in victory while being very impressive. As for Kaval, I don’t see why he had to be the one to be pinned after losing two weeks in a row. I can only conclude that it is being booked intentionally for some sort of angle. I certainly hope so.
Paul Bearer was next in the ring to introduce his son, the World Heavyweight Champion, Kane. This was Bearer at his best, with his high-pitched wails of fervour, and I thoroughly enjoyed his work. Kane then came down to the ring and cut another awesome promo. I have to say, I like the new(ish) move of projecting graphics on to the canvas during this sort of thing. The fire was brilliant and made it seem (if you suspend your disbelief) that the two were standing, happy, among the flames of hell. Speaking of flames, I know the probably Bragging Rights re-match is being slated as a Buried Alive match, but for two reasons I think it wont be: 1) A Buried Alive Match, by it’s very nature should be the last match of the programme, and the end of a programme wont be coming at Bragging Rights, but probably at Survivor Series. 2) Kane hinted at an Inferno match (telling ‘Taker that they’re only just ‘warming up’), plus the fact that the Inferno match is also associated with the two. Personally, i’d love to see another Inferno match.
We then had an Intercontinental Championship re-match from last week between MVP and Dolph Ziggler. This was a very good match which had a lot of natural back-and-forth, while continuing to tell the story about Dolph’s ‘love triangle’. Vickie left Dolph’s side and apparently washed her hands of him, before Kaitlyn – clearly enamoured with the IC champ – headed down to essentially do Vickie’s job, i.e. help Dolph win by using unfair tactics. MVP, in the middle of a surge of momentum, about to hit his Ballin’ Elbow was stopped by Kaitlyn and while MVP looked back at her, Dolph nailed him with a Zig Zag for the victory. These two have great chemistry and I hope this title retention doesn’t end their programme. I doubt they’ll be booked for Bragging Rights, but I would like to see it last to Survivor Series where MVP could take the title. As for Kaitlyn, she played her role pretty well. As a face, she is acting out of love and not ill intention when she helps Dolph win, and looked apologetic after distracting MVP. This is the opposite to Vickie, who is being labelled a ‘gold-digger’ and is certainly cold in her actions – and from there we have our tension (other than the love triangle aspect, of course!)
Our main event saw Alberto Del Rio face the man he has injured and disrespected for weeks, Rey Mysterio. Now, I like the idea behind this: that they represent competing ways of life; the grass-routes endeavour of Mysterio, who has worked hard to earn respect against an aristocratic arrogance of Del Rio who has had everything handed to him on a plate. This was very compelling to watch, with Rey showing a very unusual amount of brutality against Del Rio, usually lacking his usual finesse, which is of course understandable. However, I wouldn’t say this was that good a match, mostly due to some sloppy bits of storytelling. Think about it, Mysterio was out with a broken arm – to sell his being back to ring-shape, they could have played it down, but instead, we were reminded that the break (which happened only weeks ago) was very serious. So how the hell was Rey able to compete, and even more puzzling, why the hell did he at no point sell an injured arm? Secondly, Rey’s inital attack on Del Rio was so lengthy and brutal, that when Del Rio hit his (hugely impressive) enziguiri on Rey, seconds after being on the canvas, I found it completely unbelievable and unrealistic. What I did like was the ending, which saw Rey get rid of Ricardo Rodriguez as a threat before hitting the 619 on Del Rio for the win – made even more noteworthy as Del Rio was, up until then, undefeated. What I really liked was the way Rey came out of the pin and stared down at Del Rio (as is pictured above). There’s a mixture of fury, release and dare-I-say, pity in that image; Del Rio is an icon, but not in the way Rey is, i.e. being beloved around the world and a true Mexican icon. Del Rio is hugely talented but also hugely isolated as a character, not soliciting, nor receiving any adulation, and here, he has been undone by his arrogance.