Before seeing Smackdown this week, I knew about the 2 out of 3 falls match and the last man standing match, but I had no idea about all the other PPV worthy matches that would feature on the card: an Intercontinental Championship match and a #1 contenders match.
First up, in a parallel to RAW, the show started out with a World Heavyweight Championship match pitting new champion, Edge against Kane in a last man standing match. In many ways this was a good last man standing match. Along with falls count anywhere matches, these matches are good when they expand, and in that vein, this match sprawled throughout the arena. It was mainly just brawling though, not much to write hope about. The best action came when they returned to the ring area and started to ‘go home.’ Lots of back and forth here as one would hit the other with a big move for a decent count. The heat was turned up when a frustrated Kane introduced chairs to the mix, something which Edge turned on him by throwing one at his head. Following this, Kane managed to shift the momentum, eventually hitting a Chokeslam on Edge that Edge managed to survive. Following this, Kane hit another Chokeslam on Edge, this time through an announce table, which he again managed to survive climbing on Striker to get up again. I would have preferred it to be the other way round: Edge reversing it and putting Kane through the table and surviving, and also looking strong. Saying that, Kane did eventually survive a Spear. The only way Edge could keep ‘the Big Red Machine’ down was by multiple chair shots to the knee. Both men looked strong, perhaps to the point of getting unbelievable. Nonetheless, as a match to end this feud it was suitably determined and brutal.
Our second match was an Intercontinental title match between Dolph Ziggler and Kofi Kingston. I don’t really get why Swagger wasn’t included, but nonetheless, it was a pretty good title match. The ending of the match was particularly good, simply because the pinfall came at a surprising time, after one of Kingston’s huge flying cross body’s. You would usually only expect him to win after a Trouble in Paradise or an SOS, so when he actually won, it was pretty shocking, especially as I was expecting Dolph to keep that championship for the forseeable future. I actually think he could use that as a finisher/signature. I know it’s only a cross body, but when he does it, he gets so high up that a three count is believable. Then, in another ‘shock’, Vickie Guerrero used her power to grant Dolph a timely rematch after Dolph had beaten Kofi down post-match. However, despite the odds, Kofi managed to beat Dolph anyway with the delayed Trouble in Paradise. I don’t know whether I think that was a good idea. It was good drama, but it made Ziggler look a little weak. Anyway, as soon as Dolph dropped the title, I became sure he would be just moving to the main event. I don’t really care for Kingston picking up the title again, but it gives him some meaning for his next feud.
And lo and behold, the next match was for the #1 contendership, pitting The Big Show against Cody Rhodes, Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler. Before Ziggler was added, I thought McIntyre would probably get the nod following another segment with Kelly Kelly. However, when Ziggler was added, it was clear that the guy was making the jump to the main event. It was an odd match, in which Big Show was booked ridiculously strongly. This first manifested itself after Wade Barrett made a shock appearance in the match, beating down Big Show mercilessly. (Barrett’s move to Smackdown was inspired, as it’s the only place for him to flourish now). Big Show then survived, individually, a Beautiful Disaster from Cody Rhodes, a Zig Zag from Dolph Ziggler and a Future Shock DDT from Drew McIntyre. That, to me, seemed ridiculous. Anyway, at least Show didn’t win. In a good ending, Ziggler outsmarted Rhodes by sending him to take on Big Show, as if they would team up, before hitting him with a Zig Zag for the win. Edge wont be losing the title, and it’s another good test for Ziggler, the biggest of his career, and if he can pull off a good build-up and match, that’ll be enough to solidify him as a main event potential.
The divas match between Michelle McCool and Kelly Kelly wasn’t up to too much, but the ending was of interest as LayCool started to beat on Kelly. That is, until Drew McIntyre made the save. Expect that to be a catalyst in their ‘relationship.’ It’ll be interesting to see whether McIntyre ever turns nice genuinely – Smackdown could do with another top face, but it might be difficult for him to make the turn at this stage in his career after being so strongly a heel.
The main event was the culmination of the epic feud between Alberto Del Rio and Rey Mysterio as they came together in a 2 out of 3 falls match. This had a familiar story for a first fall: Del Rio had Mysterio in his patented armbar, and Mysterio trying to preserve himself for the following two falls, tapped out. Subsequently, their was some nice high-flying wrestling, including a 619 to Del Rio towards the ring post. After some nice more technical wrestling, Rey managed to pin Del Rio with a small package to make it 1-1. The final fall saw some good and urgent action as neither man wanted to give up the final fall … After the action spilled outside, however, Del Rio gained the upper hand with the help of personal ring announcer, Ricardo Rodriguez, who grabbed Mysterio’s leg out of site, stopping him from beating the count out. In many ways, it was the right way to end this: Del Rio, who’s on a push, coming out on top, but in a way to keep the face, Rey Mysterio, looking strong. This was the right time for this to finish, and i’m very interested in who either man will move on to in the following weeks.
Swap this match with the first one, and you have a pretty clear PPV-style card. Was it as good as a PPV? Probably not quite, but it was a good and loaded episode, and a good way to start the new year!