This show was bookended by Randy Orton and Christian showcasing their honour and their relationship of respect. First off, Christian took on Sheamus in a physical bout which saw Christian often in flight mode, but taking the role of classic resilient face character against the sheer brute power of the Celtic Warrior. That is not to say Sheamus is free of flair, and ha and Christian had some very nice technical back and forth before Captain Charisma finally managed to roll up his adversary for the three count (in a way which made him seem very game and spared Sheamus the ignominy of being dominated). Following the match, Mark Henry came out to attack Christian, and he and Sheamus did indeed start to savagely beat down the former world champion. In previous weeks, Orton has been very quick to come to Christian’s aid, but this time, he made a point of showing a delay in aiding his comrade/adversary. Finally, however, he did come to Christian’s aid and both managed to fend of the heels to keep alive a tenuous and temporary alliance.
Next up was Divas Champion Brie Bella against Natalya. I often say that the Bellas are underrated, and this may be an example of it. Brie and Nattie had a nice match which was given a nice amount of time (which in itself just goes to show the positive impact Kharma has already had on the divas division). Nattie was obviously the one leading predominantly, but there were some very nice sequences, like Nattie’s sitout takedown in to pinning combination. It seems that this was about boosting Brie’s momentum going in to Over the Limit where she will defend her title against Kelly Kelly. To this end, Brie was booked to be able to hang with Natalya, and eventually beat her clean with a powerful combination ending with her version of the X Factor and the pinfall. This was obviously good for Brie, but I think it was almost a step too far in terms of believability. This would work well as a further step of booking someone strongly. Nonetheless, it was a good match, and as I say, a good sign for the division. Kharma was a notable absence, but I think that was to create a sense that she may not have an impact at OTL, eventhough she obviously will.
Then, out came Ezekiel Jackson, to cut a babyface promo in the wake of his split from Corre. It was better than I expected from Big Zeke, as he came across as confident and determined, and didn’t seem like a big dope. This eventually led to Zeke teaming with Kane and Big Show, ostensibly because they were impressed by him showing the individualism and honour to finally turn on the bad guys. I don’t have heart enough to really discuss this match – not because it was bad, but because these six have been wrestling each other in some form for weeks, eventhough this was admittedly a new combination. Though there was a point to it in terms of creating a building and building intensity, Zeke’s sequence of multiple slams just went to show his lack of actual wrestling ability. Though he’s improving, he is still far too limited for any sort of major place in my mind. Anyway, the big faces got the win eventually to help build momentum for Zeke’s face chase of Wade Barrett’s Intercontinental Championship at OTL.
Following this, Chavo Guerrero got to cut his first promo in years as far as I can remember, and it was a nice one, claiming that he could beat Daniel Bryan quicker than Sin Cara did. At this point, I worried that Bryan was being buried – used as a toy for a feud. However, this was no burial, and Bryan again managed to have a great match with Chavo, as you would fully expect. They had instant chemistry, and eventhough it was only 5 minutes, it was a great 5 minutes. I would have liked to have seen a longer time-limit perhaps, but that would have detracted from the arrogance of the challenge. Although Chavo came very close, Bryan was booked as a resilient athlete and managed to kick out of Chavo’s most powerful moves. Following this, Chavo started to frustratedly beat down AmDrag, only to be interrupted by Sin Cara, setting the stage for their match at OTL.
Last week, Cody Rhodes defeated Ted DiBiase after DiBiase rejected Rhodes’s paper bag. This week their interaction was incredibly enigmatic. DiBiase came out with Rhodes and his bag-wielding employees in tow. DiBiase cut a promo personifying the town where Smackdown was being taped, Corpus Christi as a pathetic, ugly, ashamed juvenile. Rhodes then said he was helping the wilted flower of DiBiase’s career to flourish, something which I think may actually be close to the truth, before DiBiase called out his opponent, Trent Barreta. Though Barreta did okay in this match, it wasn’t that much more than a job for the furtherment of DiBiase’s career, which was completed with Dream Street followed by putting a bag over Barreta’s head. Really great stuff here. Going forward, i’d like to see Barreta being the face taking on these heels and give him the rub he needs to progress up the ladder.
This job was followed by another job – this time for Great Khali – noticeably sans Ranjin Singh – against the unfortunate Jey Uso. The story here was very nice as Uso started off well against Khali, until Jinder Mahal appeared, his mere presence enough to inspire Khali to turn up the brutality, manhandling Jey and chokeslamming him for a victory, and then assaulting his brother Jimmy, finally earning Mahal’s approval. Very nice stuff, and as i’ve herad that plans are for the two to form a tag team, it would be nice to see them work with the Usos to not only get them some deserved exposure, but help build a tag team division again.
The main event was the other side of the Christian-Orton booking: Randy Orton against Mark Henry. This was actually surprisingly ok given Henry’s inclusion, with Henry getting a bit of a rub from Orton, and Henry playing the monster heel well, even if it was Orton playing a big part in making him seem good. This match was almost an exact mirror image of the first match though, with Sheamus (less explicably) coming out to assault Orton. Duly, Christian came out and stood at the top of the ramp for some time while Orton got beat down before coming to his aid. In response to this, Orton seemed pretty peeved, shoving Christian a little before the heels regrouped, only to be put down again by the faces, after which the sense of mutual respect between the two seemed to return as the show closed with a stare-off. Nice build, especially with the delayed help to each other, if a little unexciting …
I was going to write my predictions tonight, but I felt I had to write a post about Randy Savage, and that took up time, so I’ll do that tomorrow. In the mean time, i’m gonna put my predictions (literally who I think will win without any commentary) on twitter immediately following this. Its this sort of insight that you get from following me on twitter, so do that! @RTVWOW