Smack of the Week (21/10/2011): The Mark Henry Steamroller KO’d?

Show celebrating after knocking out The World's Strongest Man

Alberto Del Rio Addresses His Audience
That may seem like an odd subtitle for a heel, but in Mexico City, Del Rio, understandably, had the audience in the palm of his hands, for the most part at least. Apart for some characteristic arrogance (calling himself ‘Mexico’s greatest hero’ for instance, which the fans actually seemed to take to nonetheless), everything he said was rather populist. I suppose his apparent attempt to get out of competing was heelish, but even then, it was in the semantics of the home-town hero, saying how much he wanted to compete for them. This was the first time i’ve ever seen what it might be like to have a babyface Alberto Del Rio. Luckily for storyline purposes, the mention of the Big Show also got a (surprisingly, to me) pop, when he was mentioned in conjunction to the main event.

Mark Henry def. John Morrison
John Morrison has had a lot of matches with the World Heavyweight Champion, hasn’t he? This could be because he’s actually not going to job for the rest of his (WWE) career, or because he’s just a good toy for Mark Henry. The answer would be more clear if he didn’t keep getting offense in on the man. More than once he’s hit Starship Pain on the champion, which has to be some sort of plus point. It’s tinged, however, with the negative of never nearly putting Henry down. Perhaps it could lead to JoMo standing up more to Henry? I doubt it, but you never know! This seemed like a combination of their two previous encounters; the first where he hit a Starship Pain before being crushed, and the second where he was pressed in to the air, caught, and hit with a World’s Strongest Slam. I don’t mind this because it makes Henry look unbeatable (if not impenetrable – who is?), and very dangerous at the same time. The only improvement is that, after Henry pressing Morrison in to the air, I would have liked him to catch him as he hits the World’s Strongest Slam. It’s a relatively minor point, but I think the press seems a little superfluous without it – the second time at least.

Wade Barrett def. Daniel Bryan
Barrett and Bryan had a very good match this week which mixed Barrett’s smashmouth style against Bryan’s technicality. Barret took the initiative early with a big boot to Bryan in the ropes, which was not only very powerful, but made Bryan fall rather awkwardly. Bryan by no means looked weak during the match, but I would say Barrett was in control for the most part. That was until Bryan rallied with some strong strikes and hard, fast, running attacks. Indeed, one clothesline was so fast-paced that they seemed to lose control and just clash. I don’t know whether this was a botch or intentionally realistically clumsy, but it allowed Bryan to capitalise and hit once of his best moves – his running dropkick to the turnbuckle for a good near fall.Trying to finish Barrett, he dived at him, but was caught on his shoulders in position for the Wasteland, which saw Barrett get the win. I’m happy for Barrett as he’s been a little lost in the shuffle lately, but as for Bryan, his unfortunate run continues. This doesn’t please me, but i’m not worried about him because the announcers are treating it like an angle. I said a while ago that I thought Bryan would either lose the briefcase to Barrett or turn heel, and while i’d rather he kept it as a babyface, if he’s going to keep losing, I’d rather whatever change happened sooner rather than later, preferably, Bryan turning heel.

Sheamus & Zack Ryder def. Dolph Ziggler & Christian
I don’t have too much to say about this match other than it was of pretty high quality and fun. What I did want to quickly mention were the afters. Last week, I worried that Sheamus surviving two Spears, almost without reprisals, was bad for Christian’s credibility. Well, after this week’s match, Christian snuck up on Sheamus as he was leaving with a Spear  on the stage, and this time, he stayed down. What was also good about this was the way it was shown. Instead of showing it after the match, it was shown in the next segment, as ‘what happened next’ clip that we were lucky to catch, which just made the whole thing seem a little more realistic.

Cody Rhodes and Randy Orton Confronted Each Other
I really enjoyed Rhodes’s promo on Randy Orton. He summed up very well his history with Orton all the way back to Legacy, explaining how Orton ‘used and abused’ him before punting him in the head, and more recently tore his head open with the ring bell. As a classic heel, he of course didn’t mention the ‘bad’ things he’s done, or at least framed them as righteous, and altogether, he really came over as a star. Apart from showing how his championship fortunes now trump Orton’s, what helped him get over as a star even more though was that Rhodes called The Viper out, and he was acknowledged; more than that, he had gotten to Orton. The Apex Predator went after Rhodes but in a pretty cool conceit, The Intercontinental Champion’s faceless baggers prevented Orton, sacrificing themselves  in an continuous stream until Rhodes could escape. The match-up itself is mouth-watering enough, but this segment set up why they are in a perfect storm to clash and also had a ‘let them fight’ feel to it. Great build.

Sin Cara (Azul) def. Sin Cara (Negro) in a Mask vs Mask Luchas de Apuestas Match
I wish I had more time to talk about this match (I’m really against time now to get my Vengeance preview out!). In many ways, this was a typical Cara vs Cara match – high quality and something different for WWE. Perhaps it’s too different though, because the fans really don’t seem to get behind these matches, which really is a shame. They go all out and there are some great progressions and spots that deserve more attention, and lack of fan interest does have negative repercussions – it just goes to show how fans can kill as well as make a match. I liked how Negro heeled it up by constantly ignoring the rules and traditions of this kind of match; firstly trying to remove Azul’s mask, and then refusing to remove his own after losing and making Azul take it with force. A nice story, but did it all happen too soon? I mean a mask vs mask match seems like a match which requires more build due solely to it’s magnitude. Saying that, I don’t know what else could have passed between them before the match. Going forward i’d like to see Negro return in his developmental identity, Hunico, and say that while he may have lost the Sin Cara mask, Hunico will take Azul’s at any cost.

Eve Help Her Own With The Divas of Doom
I was ecstatic to see Beth and Natalya out cutting a promo, and a meaningful one too. Besides decent ring-time, the main thing lacking from the divas division is meaningful, well though-out stories, and this is, for the most part, that very thing. The DoD’s talked pretty much their usual trash about being the ideal divas who could make you cry, literally, in the ring, whilst still being ‘prettier’ that the rest. This brought out a distinctly brave Eve Torres who warned the Sisters of Salvation that she is anything but just a barbie doll. Beth and Nattie continued to taunt Eve until she could take no more and pushed the Divas Champion over, embarrassing her – especially because of a (possibly coordinated, it seemed to me) near wardrobe malfunction for Beth. Some more good build here as Eve looked brave and credible by merely standing up to the divas, but without the necessity of making the heels look weak – after all, they weren’t expecting a shove.

Big Show def. Alberto Del Rio via DQ
I’m going to talk more about this in my Vengeance preview, but I really can’t get excited about anything that Big Show is involved in these days. I thought this was a decent enough match though. Show dominated for the most part, as he probably should have, incorporating one or two new moves against Del Rio – as he definitely should – like his modified Cobra Clutch and his running splash to the turnbuckle. For His part, Del Rio was doing his best to ‘survive’, with the trusty Ricardo Rodriguez always on hand to help and cool him down with his trademark white scarf – a touch which I really liked, no matter how much he did it for several reasons, mostly because it just adds to Del Rio’s holier than thou aura. The most memorable moment of the match was when Del Rio managed to get his cross arm-breaker (with all the beautiful trimmings) on Big Show. Now I don’t know whether this was a sheer size-related botch or not, but Show didn’t get on to his back, leaving his arm in a very awkward, painful looking position. Show’s escape from this was also pretty cool, picking the Mexican Aristocrat up and dumping him on his back. At this time, a concerned Rodriguez mounted Big Show to save his employer and end the match. Show then knocked Rodriguez out (fair enough), but then knocked out the WWE Champion too. I’m a bit more uneasy about that considering the champion shouldn’t be compromised so easily in such a throw-away moment. It was good for build though as it certainly shows Big Show as a credible main event challenger. However, this was followed with some OTT, less helpful build. As is familiar, Henry’s music hit, signifying that he wanted to pick up the scraps, but then he walked straight in to a knockout punch (I refuse to call it the WMD) and was left lying on his back. Admittedly, this all happened very quickly, and that makes it less telling as it was so unexpected. I just hate that Henry’s momentum is being affected so easily by Big Show. Even if he does win at Vengeance, will people be able to see a man who has been dominated by Big Show so easily in the past in the same way as the screen-filling, unstoppable monster, the World’s Strongest Champion? I’m not sure.

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