The opening segment of this week’s show was unusually understated (not even any pyro!). Rey Mysterio came out to the ring meekly to cut a promo on Alberto Del Rio costing him his shot at King of the Ring, and though it was intentionally methodical, it seemed to drag. Eventually Del Rio came to respond and liven things up, being put through a table for his trouble. It seems they have a match at TLC, but the message wasn’t conveyed that well. This is one of a few feuds that has gotten somewhat stale on the blue brand.
The next match saw MVP’s final performance in a WWE ring (for now at least) tagging with Kaval against Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler. This was a good match, and right to the end (presumably MVP knew this would probably be his last match), MVP wrestled just as well as he always does and had the crowd on his side. He will be sorely missed. Drew McIntyre played off his own aggression well and he and Ziggler came out the victors after some good heel-work gave Ziggler the chance to hit his Zig Zag on Kaval for the win.
In a re-match from last week’s epic encounter, Kofi Kingston took on Jack Swagger, this time for the #1 contendership to the Intercontinental championship. That made it fairly obvious that Kofi (a face to oppose heel Ziggler) would win, but that didn’t detract from the quality of the match. These two seem to gel really well, and again they were given a long time to do so. Like last week, it started slow, but picked up in the second half (as should happen). Counter after counter; innovative reversals to each other’s moves, lots of back and forth and near-falls. The drama was high, but again Trouble in Paradise came out of nowhere to down Swagger for the three. Really good match, but bad for Swagger. I think he should feud with Kaval now. Arrogant former World Champion against tough upstart; massive collegiate wrestler against smaller warrior. It writes itself and it would be excellent for both too if it got good time.
We saw Rosa Mendes actually wrestle for the first time in forever. Against Layla (with Michelle McCool), it was always going to be a tough prospect, but the limited time she was in the ring she fought well and showed she could hold a match. Layla bested her eventually however with her Layout and LayCool preceded to assault her. At this point I expected to see brand new diva Kaitlyn come to her aid (after appearing earlier backstage), but I had forgotten about Beth Phoenix. Now as good as Beth is, i’m not surprised I forget her, she’s been doing the same thing every week (y’know, saving someone from LayCool). Book a damn tag match already!
Our main event was Kane against Edge, the winner getting to choose the stipulation for their match at TLC. Now all through the night, Kane had been chasing Edge all through the arena, luring him every time with Paul Bearer, only to pretend to force him in to an accident and for Kane to buy it every time. It’s getting ridiculous, and ridiculously repetitive, and I wont dignify it anymore until there’s a shift. The match was good – there was a lot of good storytelling. Edge out-pacing a distracted Kane in the ring with Kane sometimes using brute force to swing the momentum. The ending was good, with Edge getting a rest as Kane decided whether or not to do the obvious thing and look for Paul Bearer while Edge was distracted by the match, or to do the compelling thing and go to win the match and improve your chances at TLC. Unfortunately for Kane, his indecisiveness got him the worst of both worlds; after some deliberation, he returned to the ring and received a quick Spear. Edge selected, unsurprisingly, a TLC match – not that that’s a bad thing, it’s just the build up that’s difficult to stay interested in now.
Overall, a show that showed a repetitiveness in Smackdown which needs to be addressed. The Kane-Edge and Mysterio-Del Rio storylines both have to finish by the Royal Rumble at the latest. I also thought how great it would have been with Drew McIntyre as King of the Ring – it really would have freshened things up! As for MVP, I think if he were in Edge’s spot now, the brand would be, conversely, fresh and vibrant. I didn’t ask that he won the World Title immediately, just that he was placed in the picture; and if he had of been, maybe he’d have stayed.