One of the most interesting aspects of the TLC PPV from the Smackdown side will be the triple-threat ladder match for the Intercontinental Championship. This week, there was a superb tag team match between Dolph Ziggler & Jack Swagger and Kofi Kingston & future contender Kaval. Dolph Ziggler has really come in to his own as IC champ, and played his role as a heel excellently. In the early going, Kaval was being kept around the heel’s corner, seemingly senseless of where he was. This led to a great moment where Ziggler (the non-legal partner) shouted at Kaval ‘Oh, you wanna tag me, you wanna tag me don’t’cha!’ That’s the sort of heel taunting he has become a master of. As the match went on, the pace grew exponentially it seemed with back and forth and reversals and near falls and everything else you can mention. Eventually, Kofi went on to score his deserved pin on the IC champ to gain momentum going in to the PPV. Kofi, who I was growing bored of lately, really raised his game in this match, jumping high and really getting the match, and the fans, fired up.
It was nice to see JTG get what appears to be a weekly vignette. He was charismatic, topical (regarding the product) and crucially, very funny. There’s no reason why this guy can’t be a strong mid-carder right now, and hopefully, these vignettes will help to get him more over.
The Miz’s singles match with Rey Mysterio was another good match. Though some of it came with the help of Alex Riley, the match centered around a wily Miz keeping on top of Mysterio’s high-octane offense. Miz has become even more aggressive and even more calculating since his title win, and this showed in this match too where he would hit a high-impact move like his running clothesline to the corner, and stop to take it in and consider his next move, before moving on, while – as the announcers mentioned – Mysterio was shown to be struggling to string two or three moves together. Rey did seem eventually like he might get the best of Miz before Alberto Del Rio again provided a distraction which helped Miz turn the tide back in his favour for the win. This led to the announcing of the main event.
One thing stuck out in Natalya and Beth Phoenix’s confrontation of LayCool, and that was a seeming eye to taking the divas division up a notch and broadening it’s horizons. During the confrontation, LayCool (the heels, crucially) said that it was barbaric for a ‘diva’ to have a tables match as they are for men. The faces, however, disagreed. It is the faces which are always the mouthpiece for a company’s ostensible position/direction, and it seems them that the WWE may be allowing their divas to show their skills a little more in the future.
I mentioned last week that I liked the idea of Chavo cycling through partners, failing each time, until he eventually found a good partner. This seemed to continue this week, making me confident of a much deserved storyline for Chavo. I don’t know, however, who he could eventually be tagged with …
The main event was pretty good, but the main thing of note was Kane’s involvement; the most striking thing for me being the strange booking at the end. The match was fine. Miz and Del Rio had (perhaps surprising) chemistry while Mysterio and Edge did well as a face team (playing out all the almost obligatory Rey using his partner as apparatus for assault). It makes sense that Kane would return and try to clean house, and I liked how he made his way through backstage in a seemingly hugely destructive way before coming to the ring, but why would the entire locker-room come to split the two up? Perhaps they were trying to set up a ‘let them fight’ scenario, but doing it this way simply didn’t make sense to me. That isn’t to say it wasn’t the best build-up in weeks for this match – it’s a lot better than the Paul Bearer kidnapping!