Smack of the Week (30/09/2011): Henry Makes for Apex Prey

The show started in unorthodox fashion as Booker T regaled us with his presence in order that he could be the next to try to interview Mark Henry, and after all, Book is much more suited to the World’s Strongest Man, being one of the only three African-American men to become World Champion after a career of hard work. Even Booker  held no interest for Henry though, who refused any offer of praise or camaraderie, preferring instead to talk more about his ‘Hall of Pain’ and the atrocities he has committed.  Henry truly is the best monster heel of recent memory, because he’s genuinely terrifying even to watch, and this was was the case, for me, when Henry was describing having the heads of Kane, Big Show and Lawler mounted, and how he wanted to add to his bloody collection.

I was surprised to see Khali be so competitive against Henry, and though he is a former World Champion, Khali doesn’t really have the credibility WWE was affording  him; and so, it made Henry look weaker than the booking intended. At least he was allowed to win and re-perform his impressive World’s Strongest Slam spot on Khali. That didn’t satisfy me though, as it was a repeat from RAW, so I was glad when Henry took his attack one step further, officially inducting Khali in to the Hall of Pain with that sickening Vader-bomb spot of his. This reasserted his dominance again, and papered over the shortcomings of the bookings, making him again seem unstoppable.

Jack Swagger against Evan Bourne was a really nice match, and it isn’t surprising given their respective pedigrees. These two (and Ziggler and Kingston, who were supporting their respective partners) really do personify a big chunk of the future. The match was technically great, but also well booked to tell the story of Guerrero’s stable, with Ziggler replicating the help Swagger gave him on Monday before Vickie got more involved than she usually does by pushing Bourne off the turnbuckle before he could hit Airbourne, leaving him susceptible to Swagger’s ankle-lock for the submission. Nice match, and it’ll hopefully lead to a tag title match for Vickie’s team, possibly at Hell in a Cell.

Sin Cara squashed Heath ‘The Southern Brawler’ Slater, as indeed he should. Afterwards, a Sin Cara appeared on the tron, and peeled back the familiar blue and gold mask to reveal a new black mask (and his identity as the ‘bad’ Cara). This is the simplest of characterization, but perfect for their characters which are so strongly portrayed by their masks. More pragmatically, it’ll be very helpful for the upcoming PPV match between the two.

Backstage we saw another legal consult by David Otunga. This was specifically interesting because John Laurinaitis was involved in the discussion. This is seemingly formulating the conspiracy theorists side which will soon, inevitably, blow-up, and it seems it will happen soon. In fact, the group’s agreement to do something on Monday seems very foreboding, not only for Hell in the Cell, but for Survivor Series too.

With Beth going over on RAW, it makes sense that Kelly got a win going in to the PPV, but Nattie wasn’t done down. Her and Beth’s post-match beat down, and how it was done, was fantastic. Nattie’s PinUpStrong submission is fantastic, and Beth’s berating of her was fantastic, holding the mic to Kelly’s mouth, hushing the audience as Kelly screamed and even cried. Very powerful, and a nice way to provide a memorable moment for the build for the PPV.

Cody Rhodes fought Sheamus after another good promo. His match with Sheamus was very good, and he did well in matching Sheamus in terms of sheer brawling, which made him look great. In this, Rhodes continued to look equal to main-event calibre, really taking Sheamus to his limit. Sheamus finally got the upper hand and looked about to hit the Celtic Cross, only to be scuppered by Christian, who managed to hit a Killswitch on Sheamus to gain the upper hand going in to the PPV after The Great White Brogue Kicked Rhodes.

Zack Ryder had a nice match with JTG, who I was pleased to see on TV again. Ryder was again very charismatic, playing the gimmick to its hilt, and much to the delight of the crowd and myself. JTG though was trying equally as hard, and was really performing well, with the usual inventive moves and style he uses. Obviously Ryder had to go over, and he did with a nicely modified version of the Rough Ryfer, but I would like to think JTG will have gotten a bit of a rub from this (imagine, saying that about Ryder!) which could lead to more opportunities.

The main event was another Orton-Christian encounter, and it was worthy of their series. Starting out it was a little more lacklustre than we’re used to. Lots of back and forth, great chemistry, great booking based on their previous matches again with Christian dummying a sunset flip like he has before because of how he lost their first match, and some perfectly executed near-falls, like the one following Christian’s Spear. Orton got the upper hand following a hangman DDT, and before he could strike with a final RKO, Christian fled the ring. This led to a double count out, and what was seemingly going to be another ‘unstable’ beat-down. At this point, Cody Rhodes appeared to halt this attack, which made a lot of sense given the events of last week. This drew Sheamus out, who chased Christian off, but this only left the stage clear for the predatory World’s Strongest Champion to appear with violence on his mind. At this point, I wanted one of these two things to happen: Orton to hit an RKO, or Henry to do the chair spot on Orton. As it turned out, the former was the case, and it just goes to show how well this feud has been booked that Orton (who dishes out RKOs liberally) RKOing Henry was genuinely surprising. Some really good face-chase booking here, showing that maybe Orton has a chance against the seemingly unbeatable Henry, especially when Orton re-took symbolic possession of the ring.

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