Thoughts on Smackdown 8/19/2011
You may notice that this writeup is a bit shorter than the ones I have recently done. Smackdown is a much more streamline and wrestling (in-ring) oriented show. Also, to be honest, there’s a lot less to complain about (which includes answering critiques others have made). Plus, I’m getting to know a lot of these guys for the first time. Anyway, here we go!
1. Legacy Reunited!
The show starts off with Smackdown GM Teddy Long doing a funny little jig in the ring. It made me chuckle. This guy has done it all when you think about it. Started off in NWA/WCW as a referee; then after becoming an heel ref, he moved to being a manager (of the likes of the badass tag team named Doom); eventually found his way to the WWF(E) as a referee; he then would become, you guessed it, a manager before finally landing on his feet as the GM character we all know him for now. Not bad for a guy they used to call “Peanut.” Don’t ask; it was the South. Well done, Teddy, well done.
He brings out your new World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton for a little talking time. Orton explains that it’s time to move on past Christian and that things will be different this time around. Long tells us all that the new #1 contender will be crowned in tonight’s main event: a 20 man battle royale! The crowd seems to like that idea. Hold up, playa, the segment isn’t done as here comes Orton’s former Legacy stablemates Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase (Jr.). Rhodes has this really weird speaking voice, but it somehow works. I can’t explain it, but I like it. He talks trash and eventually says that he’s going to win the battle royale. He hands the mic to DiBiase, but before he can get much out, the Viper strikes with a RKO!
Isn’t it weird how Rhodes seemed to be the other guy in Legacy? DiBiase seemed to be the one that would breakout. Now look at them. Granted, these two will break up ala Miz/Riley is the near future, but still. Back the show as Rhodes is pissed! He’s the Intercontinental Champion! He demands that Long do something about this injustice that has happened to his friend/lackey. Long makes fun of Rhodes first then tells him that since DiBiase is in no condition to compete, Rhodes will take his place…and the match is next!
2. Intercontinental Championship: Cody Rhodes (c) d. Ezekiel Jackson
First off, stop it with the Ahmed Johnson comparisons when it comes to Jackson. Yes, they’re both of African decent. Yes, they’re both muscular. Yes, they both wear red. Ahmed was pretty fluid in the ring, whereas Jackson is not. Conversely, Jackson doesn’t hurt people in the ring like Ahmed did. Jackson just isn’t there yet, but I think he could be at some point. He hasn’t been doing this for very long, after all. A repackaging could do wonders for him. They definitely need to get rid of his triple powerslams of doom. It simply doesn’t play well. Anyway, the match is pretty good and quick. Jackson uses his strength early, but this was really all Rhodes and it needed to be. It’s always nice when they legitimatize a new champion, especially with back to back wins over the former champ. At the end, Rhodes gets a flying knee and the Cross Rhodes for the pinfall win.
3. Zack Ryder Gets It Done/Hot European Chick Is Hot
Long Island Iced-Z has some great news for Teddy Long! He got WWE Champion Alberto Del Rio to show up tonight on Smackdown! Long isn’t overly impressed as he was hoping that it would be John Cena or CM Punk rather than Del Rio. Hey, man, what did Del Rio do to you? Ryder then says he’s going to win the battle royale. Woo woo woo, you know it! He turns to leave, but cue the cliche music: Aksana enters the room (who Ryder naturally checks out before giving Teddy an “atta boy” pat on the back and leaving). She comes on strong with Teddy, who fumbles his worlds and blushes like a school boy before leaving. I wouldn’t mess with that black widow, either. Oh, who the hell am I kidding?
4. Justin Gabriel d. Tyson Kidd
First we get that pretty cool video package of Gabriel on WWE’s recent tour of South Africa (where Gabriel is from) that they’ve been playing for a few weeks now. This was a good match as these guys can go. Sadly, they didn’t really get a lot of time, but they did very well with what they had. It’s definitely nice to see WWE give Gabriel and Kidd some much needed TV time (and apparently a push for the South African highflyer). Gabriel wins it with the 450 Splash. Kidd was closer to mid-ring than he was to the turnbuckle when Gabriel hit the move, too.
5. More Stuff Happens Backstage
Matt Striker is in the back for an interview with Jinder Mahal and The Great Khali about the battle royale later that night. Mahal reminds Khali that it is him, not Khali, who will be winning the match. Khali agrees. Someone enlighten me: is Mahal any good? He definitely has the look WWE likes, but I have yet to see him wrestle. That’s kinda important. Later on, as I might as well add it here, Mark Henry says that he is going to win the battle royale. You know something, I actually believe him.
6. The Champ Is Here!
Alberto Del Rio introduces himself as only he can. This is sort of a repeat of RAW, but this time he reminds everyone that he debuted almost exactly a year ago on Smackdown, now he returns as the WWE Champion. They show a replay of his match with Rey on RAW and he issues a challenge to anyone in the back. Well, look, it’s Daniel Bryan who answers the call! Del Rio scoffs at Bryan, but Bryan calls Del Rio’s recent actions “pathetic” and then, as they say, it is on like Donkey Kong.
7. Non-Title: Alberto Del Rio (c) d. Daniel Bryan
Remember the match these two had a week ago? Pretty good, right? This one is even better. Everything here was crisp and transitioned smoothly. A very good match with plenty of close calls and the crowd was pretty into it, too. Amazing what happens when you give people an actual wrestling match, isn’t it? Del Rio gets the win via submission from the armbar (which he quickly moved to from a snap suplex). Another good thing about Del Rio: a lot of his moves are based around weakening the arm for later on. Not to many guys do this anymore. Post-match, Del Rio won’t let go of the armbar, trying to replicate what happened to Rey last Monday, and it’s Sin Cara II (Hunico) with the save!
Some people are questioning why Bryan didn’t get the win here. He’s lost a couple of times and, according to them, he needs to look stronger since he’s the Smackdown Money in the Bank winner. Okay, look, I like Bryan just as much as everyone else, but what sense does it make to give the MITB winner the victory here over your newly crowned WWE Champion? You want to build up Bryan, but make the WWE Champion look weak in the process? Talk about not being able to see the forest for the trees. Besides, Bryan did look strong here: he hung with the WWE Champion move for move in a lengthy match!
8. Kelly Kelly (c)/AJ d. Natalya/Alicia Fox
It must be said again, anytime I hear “Holla…holla…holla” echoing, I cringe. It has nothing to do with Kelly Kelly, especially nowadays; it’s just an awful entrance theme. AJ is an adorable little thing, isn’t she? Anyway, the match here is good (certainly better than the “not so bad” Diva tag match on RAW) with AJ playing the role of Ricky Morton. She does so well and it makes sense as she’s like “five foot nothin’, 100 and nothin’, and barely a speck of athletic ability.” Okay, that last part isn’t true, but you get the point. Eventually, Kelly gets to play Robert Gibson (without any previous teases, sadly) and she’s the proverbial house of fire! Eventually, it comes down to Alicia and Kelly with Kelly getting the pin after her Rocker Dropper finisher.
More post-match antics as the heels argue and eventually Natalya attacks Alicia on the outside! She puts her in the Sharpshooter before leaving. You know, the Divas of Doom are losing a bit much for my liking. Shouldn’t they start winning at some point soon to, you know, back up everything they’re saying? And no, I don’t necessarily mean to pin Kelly as she is the champion. In a tag match like this, AJ could have taken the fall in her place; just something to keep in mind. However, I do think the point of this was to add to the separation the DoD (and it’s not like it was Beth and Natalya teaming up here) has with the rest of the Divas, so it did it’s job and it was enjoyable, too.
9. #1 Contender 20 Man Battle Royale: Mark Henry d. 19 Other Guys
Orton is ringside watching ringside. Well, he does have a vested interest, doesn’t he? Some of his reactions throughout are pretty funny, too. Hard to talk about battle royales as there is so much happening at the same time. It’s always good to see William Regal out there, by the way. At some point, Henry ends up outside (not over the top) and, much like Chuck Norris, he waits. As people get eliminated, he adds insult to injury and does more damage to them on the outside. And no, he didn’t worry about the referees telling him to get back in the ring. He’ll do it when he’s good and ready! Sin Cara II has a very nice showing in this match, also. Hunico is obviously a very good wrestler. He’s much less dynamic than Mistico (Sin Cara I), but that’s not necessarily a bad thing; it’s just a difference. The kids love him, regardless of who’s playing him (as evidence to the multiple “Sin Cara” chants throughout the match).
Your final four competitors are: Mark Henry, Sheamus, Wade Barrett, and Sin Cara II. They all attack Henry at first; Sheamus in particular stomps a mudhole into Henry that would make Steve Austin proud. The Celtic Warrior then eliminates Barrett with the Brogue Kick before Henry eliminates him with the World’s Strongest Slam (basically). Now we’re just down to Sin Cara II and Henry. The luchador tries some kicks (after an apparent botch, but they improvised well), but Henry eventually gorilla presses the International Sensation II out of the ring for the win and to become the #1 contender! You could almost hear all the little kids become heartbroken. I told you all that I believed him!
Post-match, again, Henry gets in Orton’s face. Orton doesn’t back down, but he doesn’t look overly confident, either. Henry sniffs Orton and says, “Yeah, I smell that! That’s fear! That’s fear I smell!” I love some of the lines Henry has been spouting lately.
10. Final Thoughts
I’m sure editing has something to do with this, but Smackdown is a very focused show. Whereas RAW can be quite hit or miss, Smackdown is much more consistent and is almost always solid at the very least (RAW is more likely to hit homeruns, though). More importantly, however, it’s a wrestling show. I’ve found that there are plenty of good matches to be found here every week. The talking tends to be kept at a minimum and the announcing is better (since you don’t have the Cole/Lawler duo together). So, yes, I recommend checking out Smackdown whenever you can. WWE does post it on youtube, by the way.
All pictures and videos courtesy of WWE, WWE.com, WWEFanNation (youtube) or otherwise stated on individual media items; it is much appreciated.