This week’s Smackdown started, surprisingly, with Johnny Ace in the ring surrounded by most of the Smackdown roster and, in essence, holding court. I thought this would play in to the setting-up of Laurinaitis as the red-herring figure as conspirator, but instead, it seemed to pull back from that a little, with Mr. Future Endeavors seemed to reassert an allegiance with HHH as COO. Perhaps then, his actions are not a red herring and WWE simply thought his role in the ‘conspiracy’ was too obvious. He welcomed Mark Henry to the ring, and in a rather impactful moment, the roster seperated to allow the new World Heavyweight Champion to enter the ring. I loved this because i’ve always been a big fan of the ring and the canvas being treated as sacred ground, and it really seemed so when the champion was ceremonially allowed to enter. This happened again when a deity (HHH) joined him. But before they could discuss whatever they wanted to discuss, Christian deliberately ruined this ceremony by entering the ring uninvited to ask for ‘one more match’. With Orton as Champion, that was a big and dangerous challenge in itself, but given that the unstoppable Mark Henry is now champion, Trips seemed only too happy to give Christian his match this week.
Good to see Wade Barrett defeat Justin Gabriel. Gabriel (the man with the worst theme music in WWE), has been getting a bit of a push as of late, While Barrett hasn’t been really living up to his once show-stealing billing. I don’t think that this victory will do much for Barrett’s career, but at least it helps build his credibility some.
The Divas of Doom getting another victory under their belt is a good thing, with Beth pinning AJ ‘with the greatest of ease.’ Bbut with all respect to AJ (who I love) and Kaitlyn, victories over them don’t make up for their recent losses to Kelly Kelly and Eve. I’m hoping that down the line, these bigger victories will come.
The first main event of the night saw Randy Orton take on Cody Rhodes. This match wasn’t as captivating as their other affairs, but to be fair, it wasn’t intended as such. Orton had to come out all guns blazing after losing his title, and he did. The good news for Rhodes though was that, for the most part, he remained toe-to-toe with the Viper, even if it meant again using his protective mask to do so. Unfortunately for Rhodes, this only infuriated Orton, who used the mask vigorously and without mercy against Rhodes. The amount of time the mask has spent off his face makes me believe, incidentally, that it will be coming off pretty soon, perhaps even in a Luchas de Apuestas type-match. Anyway, on TV, this culminated with a hangman DDT to Rhodes, but live, the assault continued on Rhodes, with the Intercontinental Champion suffering a huge gash from a ring bell shot, causing puddles of blood to be spilt. It’s a shame we couldn’t see this assault as losing some of it surely detracted somewhat from the intended effect of it, but nonetheless, I think these two have a wonderful chemistry together because of their extensive history. The same is true of Ted DiBiase who, regrettably, didn’t appear this week. Hopefully this doesn’t signal the end of his feud with Rhodes.
Sin Cara’s series with Daniel Bryan continued with a short but decently enjoyable match. The story was really all about the Cara vs Cara feud, which was continued when the original Cara was setting up for some sort of diving move from the turnbuckle when the new ‘bad’ Cara ran in, pushed the original down in a rough spot to replace him and hit a senton bomb to Bryan to hand him another loss. This was good and well booked, and furthers their feud well. But while i’m sure Bryan’s losing streak is leading to some sort of angle, it just seems like he’s being lost in the shuffle a little, to the point where a heel turn may even be desirable, despite the likeability of Bryan as a face. Either that, or hurry up and pull the trigger on his angle, because he’s going to have to get super over soon if he wants to headline WrestleMania.
AirBoom had a very intriguing match with The Usos, pitting face team against face team. The Usos gave a great account of themselves in this match with some good tag team spots, but AirBoom eventually overcame the challenge of the men descended from Samoa. AirBoom again looking strong as champions, which is right. It is a shame though that the Usos were brought in, seemingly just to be sweeped aside. That, however, is preferable to them turning heel because they are so naturally likeable. That was a problem here; as competition to the face champions, though they didn’t act as heels, they seemed like them. Nonetheless, I was glad to see them back in the picture.
Finally, we had Christian’s latest World Title shot against Mark Henry. This was a pretty good match, with Christian being booked as at least some challenge to the World’s Strongest Man. Often when taking on monster heels, simply getting them off their feet is seen as a huge achievement, and after an onslaught of attacks, Christian achieved this with a missile dropkick. This, however, posed the opposite problem to the previous match, as a heel vs heel match, one heel had to, almost inevitably, get over with the audience as their favourite, and it was Christian who took this place. That isn’t to say the fans supported him, but they did prefer him, and he did gain some cheers even when he knocked Henry down. Following this though, the sheer power of the new World Champion became too much for Christian, who succumbed, like so many others recently, to a World’s Strongest Slam after his new antagonist, Sheamus, acted as personal lumberjack to Christian, throwing him in to the waiting arms of Henry. In contrast to the earlier dynamic, Henry was drawn as the heroic relief to Christian’s heelish whining, extinguishing him for the win and his first title defense. Troublesome booking of heel vs heel there, but perhaps the fact that they swapped their roles somewhat during the match saved it from being critical to the heel characteristics of either man. In the aftermath of victory, down came Randy Orton to confront his Hell in a Cell opponent, managine, with some effort, to get Henry out of the ring with a dropkick. Of course this made Orton seem instantly the most credible of a bunch of not credible challengers to Henry’s dominance. Nothing ground-breaking, but decent build. Here begins the face-chase.