This really will have to be a short entry. After watching Smackdown, I went away for a couple of days, and while Smackdown was pretty good, it didn’t give us that much for me to remember in great detail. There was indeed, a lot of booking repetition or very simple tweaking to the booking, which simply exposes the lack of established talent on the brand. There are two answers to this: give people like Tyson Kidd, Trent Baretta, Yoshi Tatsu etc more of a role; or bring people from the more saturated RAW mid-card (McIntyre, Swagger, for instance) over to add more options to the top of the Smackdown card. Eventhough the booking was perhaps over-familiar, as I say, it was still a good broadcast.
I quite liked the opening seg with the MITB competitors, and how Barrett, Bryan and Rhodes got an opportunity to speak about their prospects in the ladder match. This was great because those three guys are good talkers – especially Rhodes and Barrett. The problem was that Kane, Slater, Gabriel, and Sin Cara never got to say anything before Sheamus came and cleared the ring. This did a great job of making Sheamus seem like a big threat, but, to me, it completely buried the other competitors – especially those who didn’t get to speak – the seven of them running away from one man. For instance, who really can imagine, say, Heath Slater winning the match now? It is worth noting that four of the 8 competitors in the Smackdown match are former NXT stars, It just goes to show the potential of that show and how it should be taken more seriously. This was followed by a decent promo from Sheamus about wanting to hurt Orton for punting him in the head, by injuring and taking his title at MITB, and Christian coming out to confront him. Christian was again great on the mic, but I didn’t like how he made fun of Sheamus by calling him Ronald McDonald’, simply because it’s a clear face move and got a pop, which isn’t what Christian should really be aiming for. He also explained that Sheamus ripping up his contract meant he could draw up another one, which said that if Orton is counted out or DQ’d, the championship will change hand. While I like this and the jeopardy it creates for Orton, it renders the whole contract tearing from last week pointless to me. It seems like a contrived way to get this stip, when it could have been included anyway when Christian first brought his ‘lawyers’ in.It does however make Christian even more of an irritant of a #1 contender, which can only draw more heat.
Our first match was Daniel Bryan & Ezekiel Jackson against Cody Rhodes & Ted DiBiase. I wont talk about the match too much because, while it was good, it was a little samey given how familiar this booking is. Last week, I wasn’t too happy that Rhodes went over Jackson because the new IC champ lost a match, and Cody was seemingly being pushed as his next opponent when that person is destined to lose. Funnily enough, DiBiase beating him too made me feel a little better about it in a way. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like Zeke being beaten, but something about Rhodes and DiBiase both doing it makes it seem like they have helped each other to do it, rather than simply seeming stronger than Zeke individually. After gaining the pin, DiBiase seemed to look for approval from Rhodes, but the Grotesque One seemed less than pleased, walking from the ring at pace away from Ted. It looked to me like the seeds of a split between the two already (and a DiBiase face turn), with DiBiase realising that Rhodes is manipulating/exploiting him etc. If that is the case, it’s patently ridiculous that it’s happening so quickly, given the heat behind Rhodes right now and their history together.
Even after announcing the reason for Khali siding with Mahal, Khali still doesn’t show any sign of having the least problem with the situation. It’s just stupid. Glad to see the uber-talented Trent Barreta on TV, and I can’t really argue with him being squashed in this situation. It really is time, however, for Jinder to get in to a proper feud.
Love AJ getting pushed as a diva. She has all the potential in the (divas) world. Get a story going and get her on the mic. I predict the audience will relate to her very well, especially if people like Tamina or Alicia Fox are victimising her.
Henry vs Kane was a very good example of a monster’s match. It had lots of sensible back and forth, storytelling, and good drama from near-falls, without being too sluggish. We have seen Kane and Henry together before, so again, there was nothing much new offered here other than a decent match, at least not really for the PPV.
Sin Cara vs Tyson Kidd is one of those Cruiserweight dream-matches that make you wish the Cruiserweight Championship was still around. This match was certainly not disappointing either. There were no specific PPV-style spots, but it was just great timing and chemistry. In the end, Cara went over, as he had to going in to MITB and after losing last week to Christian. Depending on what happens at MITB, I would like to see these guys work together properly in a feud; the only problem with that being that Kidd hasn’t got a name worthy of the aspirations for Sin Cara.
I’m absolutely loving the direction the Usos have gone in. The haka could otherwise come across as hacket, but it isn’t; it is gelled with their slick entrance music and projects an image of a modern Samoan youth. They have a great look; as brother’s they come across as a cool, traditional tag team, and the can work really well in the ring. They were taking on Gabriel and Slater in a match which saw some cool tag team wrestling which had a great finish. First off we saw that fantastic move which is essentially an alley oop in to a Samoan Drop, which is only even better as a double team move. The finish came when Gabriel looked for his 450 Splash and asked Slater to turn one around (which itself was great storytelling), only for one Uso to catch Gabriel on the top rope which set up a superplex followed by a top-rope splash from the other Uso, which could work as another great double-team, for the win. It’s a shame that Slater and Gabriel lost, being as they are in the MITB match. Again, these two just don’t look like they could possibly win that match. I’d have preferred to have seen all this, but then Gabriel and Slater cheat to win (using a ladder?) and when they (probably) don’t win the briefcase, they can return to something we need to see more of: tag team feuds.
Sheamus vs Orton was a pretty cool match, and the booking made sense seen as Sheamus is being pushed as another highlight for MITB and definite favourite for the match. With that in mind it is also true that neither man should lose, providing perfect motive for having Christian interfere by attacking and, for a short while, brutally assaulting Orton, before receiving a huge Brogue Kick from the Celtic Warrior, the time that took only allowing Orton to hit an RKO on Sheamus before standing over both heels to close the show. I can’t, in one breath, complain that champions haven’t been booked strong enough, and then that Orton looks dominant, but it was a bit of a cookie-cutter ending and not terribly interesting. I’m interested in the PPV (where these 3 will surely be the main focus of the MITB hunt, even is Sheamus doesn’t win the ladder match), but not next week’s Smackdown, and that’s a problem.
Well, that wasn’t too short now, was it!? Anyway, i’ll be live-tweeting RAW tonight. Follow it with me @RTVWOW