Smackdown opened this week trying to hype up the only recently announced traditional Survivor Series match between team Del Rio and team Mysterio. Del Rio himself came out to cut a promo about his outing on RAW against Sgt. Slaughter and his disrespct for the legends. When heels say things like ‘I already am a legend’, as Del Rio did, the very fact that it is (at that time) completely unconvincing only helps them get heat, so it was a good promo from him, which suggested that he, who has done little (at least in mainstream terms) has the inherent qualities of a legend, as opposed to the ones that earned that monicker. MVP, who has had a new lease of life this past month or so, came out to a huge reaction and cut a typically fluent and charismatic counter-promo about the importance of respecting those that ‘made the universe’ which is of course, exactly what they did. MVP wanted Del Rio, bu Del Rio was already booked, so MVP got another member of team Del Rio, Drew McIntyre. This is indeed a good match of skills, depite their differing physiques. There was believeable back-and-forth, and both guys played up to their respective roles well, as McIntyre use his trademark ring-apron attack on MVP, while the ‘Ballin’ Superstar’ gritted his way through the match, taking a lot of beating subsequently. Eventually, McIntyre made a mistake, rushing Montel in the corner only for MVP to move; the blow sent McIntyre to ground allowing MVP to hit a refined version of his ‘drive-by’ kick for the pinfall and a big win.
It turned out much of the entire show would be dedicated to the sole-surviving (for now) Survivor Series match on the PPV card, something I approve of as it requires and deserves the attention. With this in mind, the next match pitted two more people of opposing Survivor Series teams, Jack Swagger and Chris Masters. This was a very good match. The announcers made a very good point about Masters (having gotten smaller) being more agile and varied in the ring, and that is clearly true. He didn’t look a chump against th former World Heavyweight Champion, indeed, at a few points he had the upper hand. Most notably, Masters locked in his Masterlock, an it was believeable at tha point that he could possibly win, but in a great moment, Swagger escaped the hold by leaping over the ropes to the apron for the break. Showin frustration (always a sign that the opponent is doing well), Swagger reverted to smashing Masters’ ankle on the ring post; a move which eventually saw him win the match with the Ankle Lock.
Next up we saw Kaval already in the ring, i.e. in classic jobber position. When I hear Dolph Ziggler’s music hit, I didn’t think much for the World Warrior’s chances as Ziggler hs been on an extremely hot run. What I did expect though was a good match as both can be great in the ring. Of course, they delivered in that respect. Dolph, however, was probably a bit overconfident, and allowed the battling Kaval to break his losing streak with an innovative and almost infallable pin. I always knew this losing streak wasn’t going to last, and indeed, Kaval has shot to prominance, invoking his NXT-allowing title shot at Survivor Series for the Intercontinental Championship. Kaval’s career from now on could be very exciting.
When Kofi Kingston came out, I was left a little cold (as I have been by him for some time), but I must say, his match with Cody Rhodes was posibly the best of the night. Lots of good back-and-forth, while Kofi was at his high-leaping best. The end of the match really quickened in pace, and there were believable near-falls, and a very good end of the match where Kingston missed his Trouble in Paradise before Rhodes missed his Beautiful Disaster. After more chain-wrestling, Cody countered an attack by pulling Kofi’s trunks and hair towards him and in to Cross-Rhodes for the victory.
Next up LayCool teamed up to take on Divas Championship contender Natalya & Kelly Kelly. This match ended quickly as LayCool teamed up to hit a double big boot on Natalya for the quick victory. I believe there was a reason for this, so tune in to my Survivor Series preview for that!
The next match was also a bit of a squash. Big Show taking on Tyler Reks. The announce team kept insiting on Reks being the x-factor of Team Del Rio, and a dangerous un-known quantity. This however, is inaccurate. He is simply indistinguishable and unremarkable. That is why the announce team can’t find anything to say to him. Big Show won quickly with a Chokeslam to get him over, yet still, as a monster.
Throughout the night, the #1 contender Edge was playing mind-games with Paul Bearer, but more specifically, Kane. The scenes with Edge performing what amounts to mental torture and humiliation on Paul Bearer was legitimately disturbing. This made for compelling television, though i’m not sure whether I like the direction it hastaken Edge in. He has returned to his meniacal state, similar to that of his heel-run before his latest injury. That’s one thing, but mixed with the fact he was doing it to the much-beloved Paul Bearer means that his actions may not have gotten him over too well as a face. Nonetheless, the story did mke sense, as he got under Kane’s skin and made him appear and act more human, breaking him down so much thathe ended up crying! (and crucially not in a way that seemed unbelieveable). Altogether, it was a great way to amp up the personal tension and make for an excellent match at Survivor Series. As I say though, I hope Edge reverts to his ‘Rated R’ persona as opposed to his meniacal one.
The main event was slated to be the Survivor Series team captains Alberto Del Rio and Rey Myserio taking on each other. This lasted for a while until the heel team hit the ring to cause a DQ, followed by a ten-man battle royal to replace the spoiled main event. As I always say about these sorts of matches, there isn’t much to say, but it was definately a good way to set up for the Survivor Series match on Sunday. Mysterio and Big Show showed the team ethic that you would expect from faces going in to this match. It remains to be seen whether that will follow through on Sunday.