This week’s Smackdown started out in the same way as the show after Christian’s title win, with the same cast, each of whom claiming a rightful shot at the World Heavyweight Championship, but this time, with Randy Orton being the victim of the attention of the Smackdown lockerroom. Teddy Long came out and said it was only fair that Orton be under the same championship pressure as Christian was when he became champion. This was some nice metaphorical echoing from Christian’s first night as champion, even if Orton still gets a week to prepare for his match that Christian didn’t. The audience picked Christian as you would expect, but the point that he lost at Over the Limit meant that he would have to re-earn his spot in a #1 contenders match with Sheamus and Mark Henry.
Our first match was a rematch from Over the Limit between Sin Cara and Chavo Guerrero. The two had another very nice match, with Chavo scouting some of Cara’s signature moves, like his handspring upside-down kick, and so looking even better against him. Cara nonetheless managed to get in lots of innovative offense, and interspersed it with more strong-style work using some pretty ‘educated feet’. This was mixed with Chavo going for lots of distinctively Mexican offense: Gory special’s latino uppercuts etc, which in itself was great because especially when it is considered with Cara’s lucha style, it fulfilled the story of the feud being around the ideas of a Mexican wrestling heritage. Cara evantually managed to win, either audibling his La Mistica in to a form of DDT, or simply having adopted that as a finisher in itself. Another good outing, the only problem being that now that Chavo has lost again, it’ll be hard to justify a further match. Perhaps that means that the angle has a new twist to come, which would be great. Maybe it will surround the extra characterisation of Cara that came this week, with him being described as growing up in a notorious Mexico City slum and wanting to represent the people, which is why he is called Sin Cara, or faceless/no face. This is obviously great for his folk hero story with Chavo, but it would be a great character for him to become anyway I think. Hopefully it will be played on more going forward.
Next up, Cody Rhodes made his way to the ring cutiing another great promo, screaming at the audience to shut up and cover their faces. I was interested but disappointed that Ted DiBiase didn’t accompany Rhodes. I hope they haven’t dropped the angle of DiBiase’s association with Rhodes because I thought that was becoming fascinating, but nonetheless, Rhodes alone is arguably the star of the whole company right now. Daniel Bryan swept in genuinely like a hero. The ensuing match was excellent. Bryan’s fantastic technical skills gelled well with Rhodes’ aggressive technical style, and their two move-sets seemed to gel very nicely. One specific example was a nice progression when Bryan was whipped in to the corner, only for him to avoid it with his back-flip reversal, only to walk in to a perfectly timed Beautiful Disaster after Rhodes had followed his tracks. There was some excellent, natural back-and-forth, and some really well-sold near-falls. The end came after another great progression where Rhodes set up for Cross-Rhodes, only to be reversed excellently in to the LaBelle Lock, to which Rhodes tapped even before it was fully locked in. This was a great and interesting finish, as the announcers sold it as Rhodes wanting to avoid any pain to his body. This was an interesting addition to Rhodes’ enigmatic relationship with his body and image. After the shock win for Bryan, a furious and embarrassed Rhodes attacked Bryan from behind and finally hit his Cross-Rhodes, before dragging him to the ropes, propping him up, and placing a paper bag over his head – another victim. This seems to me like the beginning of what could be one of the most enjoyable feuds of the year. Bryan was another victim, but he was more than that; he beat Rhodes, which will have to drive him crazy – plus, Bryan’s previous lack of a feud and his relatively high position in the companies suggests he will be more than just another victim.
Ezekiel Jackson had a match with Heath Slater. This was just another Corre-Jackson combination with the booking, and we didn’t learn anything new from this.
Next up was the ‘Monster’s Brawl’ match between Kane and The Great Khali – which didn’t mean anything. It would be good to come up with a new idea for an extreme type match and make it for a PPV. This match was obviously not good, but at least Kane can move well, and won with his flying clothesline. At this point, Jinder Mahal made another appearance, chastising Khali for his loss, and also blaming Ranjun Singh for Khali’s failures. Initially when Mahal put his hands on Singh, Khali protected his ‘brother’, but once he was behind him, he locked him in his Vice Grip, gaining Mahal’s respect again, and again leaving the ring with his mysterious associate. Khali may be arguably the worst wrestler ever, but I have to say, this story is one that i’m really enjoying, the wrestling aside.
Following this came a diva tag match between Alicia Fox & Tamina and Kaitlyn & my favourite diva from NXT season 3 (and possibly WWE as a whole), AJ. The match itself wasn’t great, but I liked the idea of Natalya taking Kaitlyn and AJ under her wing. Together, they make up a nice face contingent on Smackdown. Meanwhile, its nice to see Tamina get some ring time while Alicia Fox seems to be on the end of a push on the heel side after she picked up a victory against Kaitlyn which the announcers seemed to laud as a message to the lockerroom. I don’t know where this new Nattie-Kaitlyn-AJ angle will go, but i’m just glad AJ has made it to the main roster. I’m sure she’ll have no problem getting over, and will do great things.
The main event was the #1 contender’s match, and it was pretty nice example of a triple threat match. Each guy looked good, and at different times looked like they could win. The real pivotal aspect of the match, however, was the involvement of Randy Orton. He decided to appear half way through the match which brought it to a brief standstill. He was also involved in the finish of the match, reacting to a shove from Mark Henry by RKOing him. Unfortunately for Christian, this came while he was about to pin Sheamus. Unfortunately for Christian, Orton distracted the referee while attacking Henry so that he couldn’t count the pin. Confused, Christian confronted the referee, but forgot about Sheamus, and he turned around in to a Brogue Kick and a Sheamus victory. Sheamus’s title shot comes next week on Smackdown, so I have a feeling that Orton will nonetheless defend his title at Capitol Punishment against Christian. Because Smackdown is so heel-heavy, I don’t think Christian will turn heel – though there would be justification for that. I do think the finish of the match will be used in some way to justify another shot at the title for Christian at Capitol Punishment. Whatever happens, this was a nice way to continue the Christian-Orton-world title story, so kudos again to all involved.
Finally, I would like to say that Smackdown definitely has the edge on WWE TV currently. Nearly everything happening there seems fresh and interesting. That’s not saying RAW is bad, but Smackdown definitely has the edge.