Following the shock announcement from Edge on RAW that he was being forced to retire due to injury, it was clear that this episode of Smackdown was going to be an emotional one, and indeed, one dominated by the emotion of the situation. The opening of the show was covered by a blanket of fragile atmosphere, which made the hitting of Alberto Del Rio’s music all the more charged. I was wondering whether they would use Edge’s retirement to draw heat, and I thought they should either do it and really go for it, or not go for it at all, and what we got was quite a conservative attempt at heat-drawing. I liked how he claimed to have been responsible for Edge’s retirement, and wanted Edge to come and surrender the title, but Del Rio seemed to be holding back a little out of deference in terms of tone. If he would have been absolutely vile about it, and held a celebration and all that sort of thing, it would have been awesome.
The fall of Corre seems to be continuing, much to my disappointment. Big Zeke’s match with Kingston was ok, but the manner of his win was a big step towards a split of some sort. On the way to beating Kingston, Jackson threw him in to the other three members of the Corre in quite a nice spot and a message to the other members. The way I see it going down at the minute is Zeke turning face against Corre and Corre adding another heel member in replacement. I think Zeke being the only one without a title will alienate him from the rest of the group, and the conflict will bring the three title-holders together.
Great to see Drew McIntyre have another match against a top star in Rey Mysterio. Mysterio is great, due to his size and weight, for giving his opponents more scope to do something innovative with, and for making his opponents look great, and vice-versa. That was the case with really great guys like Chris Jericho and CM Punk, and I think McIntyre embraced this opportunity equally. He was coming up with some cool reversals for Mysterio’s offense and just really clicking with him. McIntyre was very impressive in his aggressiveness and really carried himself well throughout the match. After lots of back-and-forth, Mysterio finally got the upper-hand and went over, but this wasn’t a burial by any stretch. In fact, the announcers made a point of putting McIntyre over as an improving talent. In fact, even in defeat, McIntyre seemed to be getting a little push, perhaps as a result of Edge’s retirement. At the minute, he’s between feuds, and will need something – maybe joining Corre?
The break-up of LayCool kept accelerating this week, perhaps to complete breaking point. Right from the start, McCool seemed distant, not participating in their ‘couples therapy’ or their choreographed entrance. Layla’s match with Kelly Kelly was ok, but it was all about LayCool, with McCool, ostensibly helping Layla back in to the ring, but doing so very aggressively, so much so that Layla lost nonetheless. I understand them wanting to make sure the very ‘marketable’ Kelly on TV, but her going over Layla made Layla seem very weak. Following that was the understandable post-match argument about the lack of success which culminated in McCool pushing Layla over before exiting the ring. Layla is way more popular, so making her babyface, which it seems they are doing, is the right choice, and i’m very happy about that, because I think she can rise to being one of the very top divas. On the way to the back, McCool said ‘lets see how you do without me’. I don’t know whether we were meant to hear that, but if we were, it’s quite exciting stuff. I’ve been looking forward to this split, though I think Extreme Rules is a bit of a small stage for this story, which involves the most exposed and carefully created divas in the company.
The main-event was the Battle Royale for, I suppose, the #2 contendership to the World Heavyweight Championship. There’s never much to say about a battle royale, but what I will say is that it did a good job of making me doubt my strong instinct that Christian would win. When it got down to the final four or so, and Swagger was still there after Cole had promised to redeem himself with Swagger, I started to think that Swagger could progress, and this is even given that Swagger was already booked in a match for Extreme Rules, and is a heel. I really liked the spot where Cole came out and shielded Swagger from a 619 to save him in the match and help him make it to the final 2. Eventually, Christian did manage to get the win and the right result, but in a match which is simply an exciting, chaotic way to highlight one guy, they did a good job of inserting some nice spots into there and making it less formulaic.
This is great for Christian. He at least deserves a World Championship match in his career, if not a reign. If it was me, eventhough it’s obvious, I would like to see him be the one to take Edge’s place, though even if he doesn’t at Extreme Rules, I think he will continue to feud over the title with Del Rio, getting his deserved main event status. Earlier in the night, Edge had shown incredible dignity when relinquishing the World Title, making it seem more prestigious, and following this, down came Edge again to congratulate his long time friend, along with Big Show, Rey and Chavo, all of whom are great friends, along with the rest of the lockerroom showing Edge huge respect by standing on the stage and applauding. There was even the very special moment of one last ‘5 second pose’ from E&C which was very touching apart from being just awesome. Even HHH came down, perhaps to show some official respect from WWE to the Rated R Superstar – though i’m sure it was genuine emotion for sure. There was another incredibly touching speech from Edge, which is better seen than described. The chants of ‘Hall of Fame’ from the crowd moved everybody and Edge especially, and I think he will definitely make it, and is certainly deserving, probably the next time WrestleMania is in Toronto.
Edge’s final farewell in two parts: