Smack of the Week (18/03/2011): Del Rio Uncaged

Del Rio's plentiful assets helped him make a violent statement against Edge

This will be, by necessity of my tiredness and busyness, another brief post, but there are some specific things to be said about the latest episode of Smackdown. It was a shame in some ways not to see Drew McIntyre on the show. He’s had a lot of momentum the past few weeks and it’s a shame to interrupt that. Saying that, it’s clear that in the chaotic, condensed setting of the Road to Wrestlemania, there is only a certain amount of talent that can appear on any given show, something that may need to be addressed here in a later post. There’s a lot of talking, angles, and message-sending jobbing this time of year, and McIntyre is obviously above that, while his lack of a meaningful feud with someone who isn’t Edge and is now entirely engaged with his own Wrestlemania opponent means that his appearance is more expendable. It shouldn’t be though. I just hope he’ll get a chance to feature prominently at Wrestlemania.

When I saw that Sheamus was taking on Kofi Kingston in a champion vs champion match, I immediately thought about the possibility of the unification of the titles at Wrestlemania. This would of course mean giving Bryan the short shrift, which is a shame for him, but if they want to do it, this is their chance. The match was sold by the announcers as a big deal, which of course, it is, and was given the time to accommodate the billing. We saw a Sheamus regaining his confidence against a Kofi Kingston that still struggles to show that ruthless streak that, among other things, separates the astonishingly athletic (see Shelton Benjamin), from the top stars in the business. This was again the case as Kingston showed extraordinary high-flying ability to get Sheamus on the ropes, only to be met with a low-down kick of the stairs in to Kingston’s knees, weakening him enough so that he couldn’t defend from the match-winning Brogue Kick. If they do face each other to combine the titles, it will be the Celtic Warrior going over.

Nice to see Trent Barretta in the ring, even if it was only to job. He’s popular and a very talented wrestler. Given half a chance, he could do well. That aside, i’m really liking how Cody Rhodes wrestles in his suit at the minute. He might ham it up at times, but he does a good job of showing he can’t stand being looked at, only showing himself while he takes out his hurt on someone in the ring before the house lights immediately go down. The clear mask suitably distorts a face which, of course, is perfectly normal, and provides him with heel weaponry.

After escaping Kane and Show with the tag titles, Corre began the most impressive beat-down since their formation. This was partly because of who they did it to given that Kane and Big Show are two of the strongest booked wrestlers ever. The spot with the steel steps being smashed in to another set of steps on Kane employed the best of kinetic wrestle-logic while genuinely looking horrible and sounding just as bad. Show was put down with repeated shots to the head before being flapjacked (kinda) through the announce table. The resultant chaotic scene looked like the proverbial tornado-swept disaster, and certainly made a strong statement of intent that the Corre has more shocking moments planned. If that is all built in to their ‘winds of change’ motif and ties in to the story regarding their relationship to Kane, it could be great stuff. As for Big Show and Kane: no doubt they’ll take on Corre at Wrestlemania in some capacity, but hopefully they’ll continue on after that together. The tag team division needs more teams and I can’t see either doing much interesting alone for a while.

I was pleasantly surprised to see Jack Swagger booked so strongly against Chris Masters. Could we be seeing the resurgence of the All American American? I hope so. Cole waltzing out of his ‘Cole mine’ to get involved again was money, though he needs to work on his ankle lock. Excellent stuff.

I was very pleased to see Ted DiBiase booked against Rey Mysterio for several reasons. Firstly, because DiBiase being used on Smackdown shows that he’s still regarded as a drawing name, and secondly because having any competitive match with Rey Mysterio is a sign of confidence. Not only that though, but considering that Mysterio is feuding with Cody Rhodes, I thought it would be billed as DiBiase taking the side of his former Legacy partner. That in mind, I was quite annoyed that the announcers never mentioned it. I can only think they were told specifically to avoid it, but I can’t think why. It was a nice match nontheless. Not too long, but packed, and with some real points of dominance for DiBiase, not least the perfect ans spectacular dropkick to Mysterio as he jumped from the top rope. Beautiful. It’s unsurprising that Mysterio went over as he had to match Cody Rhodes, but DiBiase by no means looked bad.

Now I admit to struggling to remember that many specific spots from the main event, a cage match between Christian and Alberto Del Rio, but I do remember feeling that it was an excellent, excellent match. Despite Del Rio being the rising star and Christian being (apparantly) a victim of a glass ceiling, Christian looked very strong against the Mexican aristocrat. There was lots of hearty back-and forth in the cage match, especially given the history between the two. The equal match of the two was almost manifest in the finish as they seemed to fight while they were trying to escape the cage, both ending up atop the cage, with Christian marginally coming out on top, ostensibly because Del Rio’s arm was caught. A big win for Christian without harming Del Rio’s rep too much. After the match, however, the bitter Del Rio attacked Christian with that abrupt dropkick to the head and a brutal ringside assault. At this point, Edge interrupted the attack by blowing the horn of Del Rio’s car and threatening to damage it. I was convinced that would be what we’d see as a was to amp up the rivalry in a visually appealing way, but before Edge could do anything, one of Del Rio’s assets, Brodus Clay, attacked Edge from behind, and this led to another beat-down which culminated in the iconic con-chair-to (an E&C move originally, but something the announcers described as an Edge move specifically). I’m still convinced this is leading to much demanded Edge and Christian feud. I think it is genuinely Del Rio’s destiny to win the world title at Wrestlemania, which obviously means Edge will have to lose. Christian wants to prove that he was always under-appreciated etc. That, along with Ricardo Rodriguez and Brodus Clay in the vicinity, spells danger for Edge’s reign. Up until Mania though, I think Edge and Christian will become more and more close, having to stick together to survive Del Rio and his confidants. If it was up to me, the ‘go home’ Smackdown would feature Edge and Christian tag together again, but this time with their old entrance to provide that timeless moment, for the benefit of those with flash-photography.

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