Smack of the Week (25/03/2011): Rated Restraint

Edge intimidates Del Rio without touching him

Our first match this week was the ‘WrestleMania Rewind’ match between CM Punk and Rey Mysterio. This was a good match, as should be expected from their programme from last year. Lots of smooth progressions and unique reversals. However, like the rewind match on RAW, this was mostly for an angle, so the finish of the match and, in some ways, the match itself was immaterial. I thought Orton might make an appearance, but instead it was Cody Rhodes (as was preferable), which helped build his match with Mysterio at Mania. At first I was worried it would just be another beat-down, but Rhodes use of a symbolic knee-brace really added more visual stimulus to a build that has been dominated by aesthetics, be it to do with Rhodes’ ‘dashing’ looks or the differing masks of each competitor.

Next up was Edge against Drew McIntyre in a match where the World Champion wanted to show that he was 100%. Though Drew McIntyre held his own for a while, targeting Edge’s injured arm, the Rated R Superstar was certainly allowed to show his dominance, beating McIntyre with his version of the Sharpshooter (in order to preserve his Spearing arm). I thought this was, however, a bit too much of a burial of McIntyre, especially when Matthews said “McIntyre’s good, but not as good as Del Rio.” McIntyre is clearly going to be a main eventer some day, so why portray him as below that standard? I would have preferred this match to be given more time and really tried to pull off a stand-out match that Edge could have shown the guile to win, thus showing his quality in a less throwaway fashion and without burying McIntyre, even if that burial wont last long.

Just a quick note on the LayCool match. LayCool impressive as heels again with their characaturing of Snooki. My bigger point is that Rosa Mendes was something of a pleasant surprise in the ring. Don’t get me wrong, she wasn’t spectacular, but the moves she did were executed very well. Kudos. Given the lack of crossover, it looks like the Kelly-McIntyre story has finished which is a shame.

Next up was the match between Kofi Kingston and Wade Barrett for the Intercontinental Championship. This was a good match with a couple of great spots. Early on, as Barrett attempted a strong Irish Whip which was met with a cartwheel from Kofi to take the sting out. After some nice back and forth and progressions, Kofi got an upper hand, setting up for the Trouble in Paradise, only to be distracted by Heath Slater. This extra time was seemingly crucial as when Kofi attempted his finisher again. Barrett, in an amazing spot, managed to catch Kofi on his shoulders in position for Wasteland and the victory. Considering a rematch may be on the card for Mania, its almost a shame they didn’t save that spot for that match, but nonetheless, awesome it was. It’s also about time Barrett got some gold, and I think he could make an excellent IC Champ. Given how close he came to the WWE title, and his position in Corre, he’s definitely believable as a dominant champ, and that’s what i’d like to see him become, the next after a long drought of big-time, long-reigning champions that helped that belt gain the reputation it had (and is arguably beginning to lose), people like Ricky Steamboat, Mr. Perfect, and more recently, even Randy Orton. This championship used to be a goal in itself, and an indicator of top top stars, which, for some, was the highest accolade they ever achieved. If it were up to me, i’d have Barrett keep the title for a very long time, to Summerslam and beyond before pushing him to the world title. Back in the here and now, the added gold to Corre’s shoulders made them look like a very big deal. Hopefully they’ll continue to exercise their dominance in new and compelling ways.

Undertaker’s address to HHH was pretty good. ‘Taker’s never been dynamite on the mic, but he can hold his own, and this exchange of (well-earned) words is certainly compelling. Saying that HHH will become only another number, the number 19, was also pretty nice rhetoric.

Another squash for Swagger (showing how good his involvement in the Cole-Lawler feud will be for him) as he beat R-Truth with the ankle lock and allowed Cole to continue his douchiness post-match. It barely bears repeating, but Cole is an awesome heel right now, behind only Miz and Punk at his best.

The main event saw Christian take on Alberto Del Rio in a match i’m considering for my MOTY section. I wont be able to convey it all here, but there was lots of drama and well-worked near-falls which was really helped by a hot crowd. Though there were lots of good progressions and back and forth, the one point that really stood out with me was when Christian reversed an attempted rolling arm breaker in to a killswitch attempt before Del Rio set up for a belly-to-back suplex, only to be reversed again by Christian, who landed on his feet before Del Rio finally nailed his awesome Enzuigiri , only for Christian to lick out. All that happened in the space of a few seconds and really summed up the pace and quality of the match. Meanwhile, outside the ring there were lots of shenanigans as Edge, who had previously been told that if he and Del Rio even touched, they would both be banned from WrestleMania, adding tension to his presence there. Eventually, Edge took out Brodus Clay with a chair, distracting Del Rio enough for Christian to hit the Killswitch for the win. This was my only problem with this match: Christain benefits just from being there, but going in to a Mania main-event, I think it is to the detriment of Del Rio to go down two weeks in a row to Christian. I would liked to have seen it the other way-round, with Clay hitting Edge with a chair, distracting Christian for a Del Rio win. It could have allowed the same ending anyway, which was an impressive bit of storytelling. Edge staled in to the ring with a chair, as if he was going to attack Del Rio right then and there, even if it meant being banned from the big dance. As he swung back though, Christian grabbed the chair from his hands to save Edge’s WrestleMania spot, though with the chair in his hands and no ramifications, he took a swing at Del Rio himself. This was telling at the deep concern Christian has for his friend which is suggestive of what it is, a long friendship, while amping up to boiling point the hate between Edge and Del Rio. More nice build for their WrestleMania match.

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