Smack of the Week (18/09/11): Cutting-Edge Chaos

Two sheer forces, Mark Henry and Randy Orton fight to get to each other before Night of Champions

I very much enjoyed the opening segment of this week’s Smackdown. Edge was fine, and him appearing in his home town is a nice bonus. There wasn’t much to him promo though, until Cody Rhodes came out for a rub that is. Eventhough Edge called Rhodes boring, Rhodes being able to interact with a man quickly becoming a legend of revisionism (and rightly so). Rhodes seems to be thriving more and more with each appearance, and the way he is constantly putting over the Intercontinental Championship makes him (and it, by association) make look great. His talk was all about Ted DiBiase and himself (presumably why Edge lost interest and left) before he went about passionately insulting and bagging the audience at ringside, until, that is, one of the bagged men attacked Rhodes. That man was Ted DiBiase, last seen with a bag over his head, with a bag over his head, but this time defiantly taking it off and completing a nice bit of circularity. He then preceded to beat on Rhodes and hit a Dream Street for good measure – a move I can’t remember seeing in a very long time, which is a good sign for Ted. The only problem was that this was followed by DiBiase’s horrible heel-a-riffic music. It actually jarred with DiBiase as a babyface, and it needs to change by Sunday when he will take on Rhodes for the Intercontinental Championship.

Bryan vs ‘Sin Cara’ was a refreshingly aggressive and nicely played-out affair. Bryan came out fighting, brutalising Cara for some time in the early going, not allowing Cara any offense and dominating. It was good to see this as Bryan has been a step behind Cara recently with the bad guy Cara consistently getting cheap shots in on AmDrag. Luckily for Bryan, being a babyface doesn’t necessitate being invincible, as long as you can wrestle well and generally win when it’s a fair fight, it’s fine; in fact, i’d describe that as a general characteristic if a babyface. When Cara did eventually get some offense in, he wouldn’t relent on the defenseless Bryan, getting himself DQ’d in the process. These actions are the actions, on the other hand, of a heel, and this might be what the original Sin Cara had a problem with. WWE are going ahead with the potentially very interesting Cara vs Cara feud as we saw the surreal sight of the two almost identical grapplers facing-off in the ring. I would love this to turn in to something with the original ‘good’ Sin Cara fighting not just for his reputation, but for his reputation as a faceless representative of the people, and it leading eventually to Hunico being repackaged as himself.

I’m a big fan of AJ, and she looked good for a jobber, though obviously being pretty quickly dispatched by Diva of Doom, Beth Phoenix. Simple and classic build for a strong heel going in to a championship challenge. Also nice to see her getting some (admittedly brief) mic time too.

Sheamus/Gabriel vs Barrett/Christian was fine, if a bit formulaic. Good for Gabriel (who by the way, has the worst music in the WWE today) getting to team with a former WWE Champion and one of the fastest rising babyfaces in the company, but his match consisted of being beaten up for 5-10 minutes, getting the hot tag to Sheamus, and earning the win with a 450 Splash. Didn’t seem to hurt the heels too much either. I like how Christian is getting the ‘better’, in a way, of Sheamus by consistently escaping his attacks, and I think they are still leading up to a feud between the two, which, given their respective heat at the moment, could be a show-stealer.

R-Truth and The Miz were something of a surprising inclusion on the Blue Brand this week, and their performance, which they treated as pre-meditated and rehearsed, was incredibly entertaining and dare I say, electrifying! Their self-consciousness of presentation makes them seem unique, and indeed, ‘must see’. Their appearances seem like an event in themselves, almost separate to the wrestling, and that is a very unique and desirable characteristic (just as CM Punk!) It puts me in mind of something Brandon Stroud wrote on his  http://withleather.uproxx.com/2011/09/the-best-and-worst-of-wwe-raw-913/3 blog, which I will now shamelessly quote:
“The Miz seems less like a wrestler and more like a guy pretending to be a wrestler (an observation that got me quoted by Grantland.com’s The Masked Man in a Fair to Flair podcast), and the Miz/Truth partnership takes that one step further — Miz has roped Truth into his “must see” segments, and now we get situations where they come to the ring doing Vaudeville wordplay or a backstage segment where they take the microphone away from Josh and walk to the ring, communicating and passing off the microphone without even having to look at each other. Truth wears a big jacket (for some reason, which is hilarious to me) and tries to work in a new catchphrase, “ninja please!”, complete with Miz doing a Blazing Saddles-quality “WHAT did you just say?” like any of us though he said nigga. They go to the ring and do each others’ catchphrases, and there’s just something wonderful about two guys who can’t find someone to listen finding best friends. Miz and Morrison never had that. Watch any old episode of the Dirt Sheet, Miz does his thing, Morrison say something weird about the Palace of Wisdom and Miz just rolls his eyes like Morrison is an idiot (he is) and moves on. Miz couldn’t break up with Morrison fast enough, he got crammed together with Daniel Bryan and Alex Riley, two guys he eventually drove away with hateful demands, but he seems comfortable with Truth, and the demands all seem like a group effort, and Truth could really be his Cowboy Bob Orton. Just a guy with a similar outlook on life who hangs out with him, and even when they screw up they never really come to blows, because who else are they gonna hang out with?” A very good explanation and one I can’t top.

And while i’m mentioning him, he made this hilarious observation about Alex Riley:
“The Miz seems less like a wrestler and more like a guy pretending to be a wrestler (an observation that got me quoted by Grantland.com’s The Masked Man in a Fair to Flair podcast), and the Miz/Truth partnership takes that one step further — Miz has roped Truth into his “must see” segments, and now we get situations where they come to the ring doing Vaudeville wordplay or a backstage segment where they take the microphone away from Josh and walk to the ring, communicating and passing off the microphone without even having to look at each other. Truth wears a big jacket (for some reason, which is hilarious to me) and tries to work in a new catchphrase, “ninja please!”, complete with Miz doing a Blazing Saddles-quality “WHAT did you just say?” like any of us though he said nigga. They go to the ring and do each others’ catchphrases, and there’s just something wonderful about two guys who can’t find someone to listen finding best friends. Miz and Morrison never had that. Watch any old episode of the Dirt Sheet, Miz does his thing, Morrison say something weird about the Palace of Wisdom and Miz just rolls his eyes like Morrison is an idiot (he is) and moves on. Miz couldn’t break up with Morrison fast enough, he got crammed together with Daniel Bryan and Alex Riley, two guys he eventually drove away with hateful demands, but he seems comfortable with Truth, and the demands all seem like a group effort, and Truth could really be his Cowboy Bob Orton. Just a guy with a similar outlook on life who hangs out with him, and even when they screw up they never really come to blows, because who else are they gonna hang out with? … Riley comes into the ring and does or tries to do the following moves:
1. A running attack you can’t block
2. Spinebuster
3. STO
4. Implant DDT
5. TKO And when he’s not doing moves, he’s effortlessly stopping double-team attacks and reversing everybody’s finisher. Not a headlock or an International in the bunch. All he needed to do was a goddamn Fisherman Buster and he’d be the first draft of every e-fed character I’ve ever seen. And the TKO? Seriously? “I want to do a move that’s just like the Stunner or the RKO, except I have to struggle and hold the guy up on my shoulders and spin in place first. Also, the only person who has ever been cheered for doing this ever is Sable, and that was just the once.”” You can follow Brandon @MrBrandonStroud. Anyway, to get on with my assessment! Bourne looked good in this match, including a sort of head-smashing hurricanrana (that is, if it was intended (even if it wasn’t, it’s a great move and he should use it!)), but the build required Truth to go over to complete the 2-0 over AirBoom. The champions in jeopardy, the challengers looking strong – it’s classic though unadventurous booking, but that’s what is needed to bring a sick tag division back to health.

Usually, talk show segments are nowhere near as ‘cutting’ or ‘controversial’ as the hype suggests, but this was actually an exception. When Edge said he was going to ‘ask the tough questions’, he wasn’t lying, telling Randy Orton, to his face, that he wasn’t sure he would be able to beat Mark Henry. That was such a great moment which seemed to sincerely challenge Orton. By this point, it would usually have broken down already, but here, the words continued for now at least. Orton responded with a powerful response about how Henry has always gotten to him when he’s down. Edge then turned to Henry in similarly direct fashion telling him about his wasted years in the business and got a similarly direct answer. I loved the calm response given that the only reason he didn’t attack Edge was because he was right, and that he was told to go out there and ‘smile and show his personality’. This was getting close to Punk-style Reality Era content, and I liked his sincerity a lot, especially because he wasn’t drawn as a simple psychopath, which is always less interesting artistically and in terms character. As tensions were at fever pitch, Edge seemed to take delight in goading them on before leaving them to the ring themselves. Unsurprisingly, this was followed by a physical skirmish between the two, and Teddy Long, wanting to protect his main-event, got the whole Smackdown roster out to try and seperate them – something they had only moderate success in doing, with either man breaking free to get in pot-shots at the other, including Orton spectacularly leaping over a group of guys to get to Henry. Finally, after Orton got free, he ran straight in to a World’s Strongest Slam, followed by another, and a few splashes, and a sight which has become familiar; Henry standing over Orton with the championship belt in hand. This is the view we were given going in to Night of Champions, and it is one which obviously shows Henry as the dominant favourite. At least this time, Orton was given the chance to – audibly and physically – not back down from Henry, suggesting that he might be one of few people that could give him a challenge. Nonetheless, Henry is being built as almost unstoppable and, even if he doesn’t win on Sunday, he may well be on the route to the title.

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