April 30, 2010
– Adam Russell
Careful What You Wish For
Last week I was pretty generous in my praise of Smackdown, likening it to the show’s hot run in 2009. That run was triggered by the WWE
draft, and this week’s show was the first since this year’s draft, meaning that the focus was on the introduction of the incoming wrestlers.
That was clear from the get-go, as Teddy Long came out and bragged that Smackdown had got the better of the draft- a baffling claim
given that they lost their two biggest headliners in Edge and Chris Jericho, without any obvious replacement. He then introduced one of
the new members of the Smackdown roster, Kofi Kingston.
Kofi Kingston Vs Chris Jericho
Jericho, on his last appearance on the show, had a few words for the Smackdown fans before this match. He claimed that he had been
the face of Smackdown, and taken the show to a different level, but now he was going to Raw to do the same. He continued that he knew
the fans were going to miss him, but it was time for them to move on with their lives and grow up. Kofi interjected at that point, telling
Jericho to shut, and offering to help him achieve that with a boom, boom, boom. I’m not terribly sure what a boom, boom, boom is, but
Jericho didn’t seem to like the suggestion.
The bell rang, and Jericho took an early advantage with kicks, before he ran into a boot. Kofi performed his jumping mount into the corner,
but Jericho countered with a powerbomb, as we went to break. 3’51 had passed in the match when we returned, and it was Jericho in
control, hitting a low dropkick to the ribs of Kingston, which sent him to the outside. As Matt Striker and Todd Grisham talked up Kofi on
commentary, it struck me how strange it is that he is always referred to as being from West Africa, rather than just Africa. Is it really that
important that people know where in Africa Ghana is situated? Anyway, back to the action, and Kofi made a comeback, hitting a
springboard cross body block and a jumping clothesline. He then went for the boom drop, but Jericho tried to counter into the Walls of
Jericho. Kofi, in turn, countered this into a small package for a two count, which was followed by Jericho missing an enziguri kick, and Kofi’
s attempt at Trouble in Paradise being countered into the Walls. Kingston fought to the ropes, and took advantage of Jericho arguing with
the referee by hitting a dropkick. He went for the boom drop again, but Jericho moved and hit a Codebreaker. The force of the move sent
Kofi to the outside, and when Jericho rolled him back in, he could only get a two count. He then began to taunt Kofi, but ended up running
straight into Trouble in Paradise, which gave Kofi the big win at 9’29. There was nothing special about the match, but at least the right
man won- Kofi needs it much more than Jericho.
We cut to Jack Swagger standing in the back, and he took us to the break by informing us that after winning the 2002 Rose Bowl he was
personally invited to the White House by the greatest ever president of the USA (his words), George W Bush. I knew heat could be cheap,
but I didn’t know it could be given away. More on this later.
Jericho was walking in the back, when he came across someone, hidden off-camera. He told that person that he could have used them
in his match tonight, and he could have used them on Raw too. He then asked this person if they were even listening to him, intimating
that they never did. At that point a big right hand appeared, knocking Jericho out, and the camera panned across to reveal, of course, the
Chavo Guerrero was in the ring with a mic, and he told the fans that he was back on Smackdown, and no longer under the thumb of the
Raw guest hosts. He then asked the fans to consider the possibility of two Guerreros’s (he and Vickie) working together on Smackdown,
and requested that they put their hands together to welcome him back. That’s when Kane’s music hit, and the Big Red Machine came
out, dropped Chavo with a chokeslam, and said ‘welcome back’.
Shad was backstage, and said that all these new faces think it’s their time, but they’re wrong, because it’s his time.
John Morrison Vs Cody Rhodes
This was another outgoing superstar versus incoming superstar match, as Morrison was drafted to Raw, and Rhodes, not seen since
WrestleMania, was drafted to Smackdown. The match began with Morrison knocking Rhodes down with a forearm, but Cody coming back
with a drop toehold. He grounded Morrison with kicks, but Morrison fought back with kicks of his own, topped off with a leg lariat and a
standing shooting star press for a two count. Rhodes rolled out of the ring, but Morrison went after him and sent him head-first into the
security wall. Rhodes came back by launching himself off the steel steps with a big kick, and we hit the break at 1’47. We came back to
find Rhodes in control, hitting a standing dropkick for a two count, and then a front suplex followed by a kneedrop for another two. He
picked up another nearfall with a moonsault, but then missed a kneedrop which began Morrison’s comeback. He hit a dropkick,
clothesline, and shoulderblock, and then earned a two count with the flying Chuck. Cody floated over a suplex attempt, but his attempt at
Cross Rhodes was countered into a flapjack. Morrison went for Starship Pain, but landed on his feet as Cody rolled aside. He tried to hit
a flying headscissors, but Cody countered into an Alabama Slam for a nearfall. Morrison again hit back, this time with a running knee, but
Rhodes broke the count by grabbing the bottom rope, and then hit Morrison with a jaw japper. Morrison then connected with an overhead
kick, but Rhodes avoided his charge and hit Cross Rhodes to pick up the win at 11’10. You can say pretty much the same about this
match as I said about the first, with the added caveat that I feel very positive about Cody’s possibilities on this show. I think he can be a
very effective and entertaining upper-midcard heel. Morrison, meanwhile, is in danger of being lost on Raw.
Back to Swagger next, as he told us that he led the Oklahoma Sooners to three consecutive national championships in wrestling.
Edge came out next, and sincerely told us that he doesn’t want to leave Smackdown, as it has come to feel like his show, and the fans
like his family. He then said that he wanted to thank the fans for supporting him through his injuries, and to tell them that he loved them.
That brought out another new member of the Smackdown roster, Christian. Edge seemed happy to see his old team-mate, and told him
that before he wishes him luck on Raw, he wants to tell him he’s his best friend. Christian said he’s glad Edge brought up the best
friends thing, and began to talk of their history- how they met in 6th grade, were college roommates, and broke into the business together.
All very touching, but the problem with this is that Edge and Christian were supposed to be brothers. Now, I understand in this day and
age that it isn’t all that practical having kayfabe brothers, but would it have killed them to throw in a line like “we were so close that we
considered ourselves brothers”, rather than just brushing it entirely under the carpet. Christian continued that he knows Edge better than
anyone, and therefore knows that every word that just came out of his mouth is crap. He accused Edge of not respecting the WWE fans
the way that they respected him, to which Edge responded by accusing Christian of jealousy, because he’s never been a world
champion. Christian said that when he does win his first world championship, he’ll do it because he earned it, not by stepping on
everyone else’s neck. He then said that he isn’t going to let Edge change the subject, and he’s going to call him out right now by calling
him a liar. At this point, Edge ‘snapped’, telling Christian that he’s right, and that for the last several months he has been a puppeteer,
and the fans have been his puppets. He called himself a master psychologist, and said that he played everyone. There was no real heat
for this denouement, and really, can this kind of angle really work anymore? WWE plays so loose with reality, that I don’t think many fans
really feel invested enough in any wrestler to be able to play off any real sense of betrayal.
Christian said that ever since he returned to WWE, people have been asking him when Edge and Christian would reunite, but he doesn’t
want to see Edge and Christian anymore- he wants to see Edge Vs Christian, and he wants to see it right now. Edge turned down the
challenge, and started to leave, before doubling back and attacking Christian from behind, then hitting him with a big boot. He went for a
spear, but was met by a kick, and then the two brawled, before Edge fled the ring after avoiding a Killswitch. Christian then said that he
had a better chant than ‘spear’, and led the crowd in a rendition of ‘na na na na hey hey hey goodbye’. The crowd were pretty half-hearted
in their response, which really summed up a segment that should have been gold, but was actually at best lacklustre, and at worse pretty
insulting in how manipulative it tried to be. On the plus side, the Edge babyface experiment is officially over. I felt he was unfairly maligned
in this role, but there’s no denying that he is so much better value as a heel.
In the back, Josh asked Edge if we will ever see a match between he and Christian, to which Edge responded that he doesn’t think
Christian really wants that match to happen. Big Show then appeared, and said it’s too bad we won’t get that match, or a Edge/Show
match. He then knocked Edge out.
Layla and Michelle McCool (w/ Vickie Guerrero) Vs Beth Phoenix and Kelly Kelly
Kelly and Michelle started off, with Kelly hitting a flying headscissors takedown, a clothesline, and a hurricanrana for a two count. She then
went to the outside to take Layla down with a clothesline, but caught a shoulder tackle from Vickie. Michelle slammed her back into the
wall, but back in the ring, Kelly hit another hurricanrana. Michelle tagged out to Layla, who missed a legdrop, which allowed Kelly to tag in
the women’s champion, Phoenix. Beth hit a second rope clothesline, threw Layla into Michelle, and then executed a nice slingshot
suplex. She then tagged Kelly back in, who hit her step-up legdrop thing on Layla to pick up the pin after 3 minutes of pretty bad action.
Swagger told us that as a high school junior he turned down scholarships from some of the country’s top universities.
We were greeted back from the commercial break by Chris Masters doing a pec dance, before Dolph Ziggler made his way out. He said
that Raw was the proudest moment of his career, and showed the video of him putting Hornswoggle in a sleeper. He said that no-one
will see that troll on Smackdown again.
Josh Matthews was in the back with Matt Hardy, and asked him about the status of his health and career after Drew McIntyre stomped his
head into the steel steps last week. Matt said that he’s suffered a lot of injuries in his career, but nothing like last week. He then promised
to come back, before Drew attacked him from behind and gave him the Future Shock on the floor. This was all well and good, except that
what happened to Matt last week would have been a whole lot more effective if he’d have been off television for a few weeks. This
seemed a bit like over-egging the omelette.
JTG had a backstage promo next. He said that he wanted some gold around his waist.
The Straight-Edge Society made their way out into the arena, and Punk bragged about beating Rey Mysterio at Extreme Rules, and
keeping his hair. He was interrupted by MVP, drafted back to Smackdown after a torrid time on Raw. Punk said that he was talking, and
MVP shot back that that is the problem, and then apologised to the Smackdown fans for having to listen to Punk every week. He said that
he remembers when Smackdown was cool, but then Punk came along with his no drinking and no having fun. He went on that he can’t
promise much in life, but he can promise that Friday nights are about to get hot again. He then punched Punk and took down Gallows,
before the numbers game caught up with him. Rey Mysterio came out to make the save, and we went to commercial with Striker pretty
much giving away that this supposedly unplanned interaction would lead to a tag match.
I have to say that MVP getting moved back to Smackdown was probably my favourite move of the draft. Already, just in that short promo, he
seemed so much more fired up than he has done for months on Raw, and gave a glimpse of his incredible charisma.
Rey Mysterio and MVP Vs CM Punk and Luke Gallows (w/ Serena)
MVP started out with Gallows, and MVP gained control with a jumping forearm before tagging in Rey. MVP then wheelbarrow slammed
Rey onto Luke, before Luke made a comeback with a big boot. Punk tagged in and hit a back suplex and a trio of legdrops on Rey, before
tagging Luke back in. Gallows hit a splash on Rey for a two count, and then Punk returned to the action. He spinebustered Rey as
Mysterio tried to make a tag, but then Rey countered a slam attempt into a DDT. Luke and MVP were tagged in, and MVP got the
advantage with an overhead throw, a clothesline, facebuster and the Ballin’ Elbow. Punk broke up the pinfall attempt, and Rey hit him with
a seated senton. That allowed Rey to hit a 619 on Gallows, and for MVP to finish him off with Pay Dirt (well, I guess Shelton Benjamin won’
t be needing it anymore), which was referred to on commentary as the 305. The match lasted a shade over 5 minutes, and was probably
the best of the night. As MVP celebrated the win (and probably the fact that he isn’t on Raw anymore), the mystery hooded man, who has
been assisting Punk over the last week, emerged from under the ring and hit a swinging neckbreaker on Mysterio.
It was time for World Heavyweight Champion, Jack Swagger, to finally make his way into the arena after a night of backstage promos, and
he was greeted by vociferous boos. He told a story of being sat down by his father at the age of two for a man-to-man talk, and being told
that he would one day be a world champion. He said that when he was 5 he was 6 inches taller than his classmates, at the age of 12 he
won the NFL’s punt, pass and kick competition, and was made an eagle scout. He went on that he graduated top of his class from the
University of Oklahoma, and was the premier collegiate athlete in the country. He added that his favourite achievement was winning the
world championship, and that he sat down again with his father, and his dad said I told you so. He asserted that he was going to be
World Heavyweight Champion until he retires, which brought out Teddy Long to introduce his new number one contender, the Big Show.
Show said that Swagger may be many things, but he’s not the world’s largest athlete, and then knocked him out.
Prior to Swagger winning the world championship, I more than once wrote that I’d like to see him portrayed in a more serious manner.
Well, I guess the saying ‘be careful what you wish for’ applies here, as since then Swagger has been as serious as a heart attack, and
about as much fun. This was taken to another level tonight, as Swagger seriously came off as the most boring man in the company. I
liked the idea of the little facts being introduced throughout the night, to get over his real-life accomplishments, but think they would have
been better served having them displayed as on-screen graphics, like the ‘did you know?’ sections. You could argue that they were
successful, as the heat during Swagger’s final promo was impressive. This got me thinking about what it takes to garner genuine heat in
today’s climate, and how you almost have to be self-consciously bad. Few get more heat than Vickie Guerrero and, though some may
disagree, I certainly wouldn’t consider her a good performer. Chris Jericho really took everything that had made him so popular out of his
act in order to get over as a heel, though he managed to do it while still being entertaining. The Miz mimicked that style, with success, and
now it seems Swagger is going the same route. You might call it ‘Vickie Guerrero heat’- a bad performer being booed for being bad, to
the point that they become good at being bad. If it works for him, more power to him, but it isn’t working for me.
This was a really strange show in many ways. It was packed with content- maybe a little too packed, as they tried to introduce each of the
new arrivals, while also showcasing a couple of the guys who were leaving and, of course, mainstays like Punk and Mysterio. I really liked
the backstage promos, and that’s something that I really think they could use more, and there was also a bit of nice wrestling. There were
also plenty of misses, and things that I really think they could have done better. I expect next week to be a better show, now that the new
guys have been introduced, and am fairly positive that with the new additions to the roster, Smackdown can continue to be a strong
MVP of the night- call me a fan boy, but I loved MVP’s energy, so I’m giving him the nod. I hope they don’t drop the ball with him again.
Line of the night- despite me criticising his overall effort, Swagger talking about having a man-to-man talk with his dad at the age of two
was pretty awesome.