Complete Report Card and Predictions Following WWE SmackDown for August 2
Every week here on Bleacher Report, I will take an in-depth look at SmackDown, recapping all the action, offering analysis and grading the matches, segments and anything else that takes place on the show, as well as provide some predictions on the direction of storylines after the show.
This week finally featured the decision as to who would face Alberto Del Rio at SummerSlam for the World title. Most of the other major storylines were put on the back burner.
There was yet another Divas title match between AJ and Kaitlyn, and Damien Sandow attacked Cody Rhodes for stealing his Money in the Bank briefcase and disposing of it. Everything else was mostly filler.
Let's get to it with the opening segment featuring Alberto Del Rio selecting his SummerSlam opponent.
Alberto Del Rio Tries to Choose His Opponent for SummerSlam
The show opened with Alberto Del Rio coming out to announce who he had chosen as his opponent for SummerSlam.
He joked around for a bit with choices like Brock Lesnar and Booker T before he revealed his real choice, Ricardo Rodriguez. Rodriguez was not actually here for any of this, which just reminds us how much Del Rio needs Rodriguez to play off of in promos.
Vickie came out and told Del Rio that he had lost the option to choose since he didn't make a decision Vince McMahon would like. She decided to make a match to determine the No. 1 contender between Christian, Rob Van Dam and Randy Orton.
This segment was somewhat weak, but it did what it was supposed to do. Del Rio really needs Ricky there with him, but he did all right on his own until Vickie came out.
Del Rio's chances of holding the title past SummerSlam seem very slim right now.
Jack Swagger vs. Cody Rhodes
This match was shorter than I would have expected for the opening bout, but as JR would say, "They made the most of their minutes."
The surprise win with a Gutwrench turned into a sunset flip came out of nowhere, but it helps highlight just how versatile Rhodes is in the ring.
After the commercial break we got a backstage interview with Rhodes where he was attacked by Damien Sandow for having thrown his MITB briefcase in the Gulf of Mexico.
I would have liked these two to be given more time as they are both very accomplished amateur wrestlers who could have put on a great show with the right amount of time.
Winner: Cody Rhodes (Grade: C+)
Some notes from the match:
- Cody is playing the babyface pretty well. Slapping the mic out of Colter's hand before the match was a great babyface move.
- Alex Riley seemed pretty comfortable at the announce table, but he could be a little more outspoken and energetic.
- When Sandow hit Rhodes from behind you could clearly see Rhodes' head smash right into Josh Mathews' face. I felt bad laughing because I know it probably hurt Mathews. You could see him holding his face as he walked away from the fight. He may have even bled a little.
Sin Cara vs. Big E. Langston
This was a pretty typical squash match, although Sin Cara did get in a few offensive moves. Not having AJ by his side was a little surprising, but it's nice to see him stepping out on his own.
Langston has a pretty good variety in his move set, but I would like to see him in a longer match against someone with some real skill to see just how much he has improved since coming up from NXT.
Winner: Big E. Langston (Grade: C)
Some notes from the match:
- Langston using the claw on Sin Cara's side while he had him in an abdominal stretch shows that this guy is more than just a powerhouse. Little details like that are what make people stand out.
- Locking in the Camel Clutch around the bottom rope was pretty inventive as well.
- Were the yellow light above the ring some kind of contract stipulation Sin Cara had with WWE? They just make no sense at all.
There were two back-to-back segments before the next match. First we had an interview with Kaitlyn and Layla where Layla made it way too obvious that she would be turning on Kaitlyn.
But the thing I really want to talk about happened in Vickie's office. Del Rio came in to complain about not being able to pick his opponent for SummerSlam when Brad Maddox walked in.
Del Rio tried to act a little intimidating toward Maddox, but Maddox stood his ground and even had a little cockiness in the way he told Del Rio that he would be under his control on Raw.
Maddox has been too timid in the past, but adding some ego to his character will make him a lot better. The way he just stood there and blankly stared at a fuming Del Rio emphasized that he feels more confident after being given a taste of power, and that will make him a better authority figure.
Maddox is someone who has been able to be funny in the past, and hopefully adding some confidence to his character will allow him to connect with the audience a bit more.
Since there is no video of this segment yet, I have included the attack by Sandow on Rhodes.
Fandango vs. CM Punk
Fandango really hasn't had a good chance to show off his ability since facing Chris Jericho at WrestleMania, so it was nice to see him and Punk get two full segments for this match.
Fandango is a solid hand in the ring, but dancing midmatch has to go at some point in order for him to be taken seriously. He still has some time to play it up to enhance his heel gimmick before it gets too old, but it's not a lot of time.
Despite the dancing, Fandango held his own against The Best in the World in a pretty good match. He sold very well for Punk, and he was able to get in some nice offense since Punk gave him a lot of time to control the match to show off some of his move set.
Fandango also seems to have a great sense of when to use heelish moves like stepping on someone's face and spinning your boot. It gives him that little extra heat with the crowd that a heel needs.
The top rope superplex into an Anaconda Vise was a great ending to give CM Punk the victory. Using the submission was also a great way to showcase how Punk is able to make someone tap just as well as Lesnar can with the Kimura Lock.
Winner: CM Punk (Grade: B+)
Some notes from the match:
- One thing is for sure, Summer Rae never turns off her character for a second. If you watch her throughout the match you will see her doing little poses and making faces whenever she is reacting to something in the ring.
- CM Punk switched it up a bit and used blue X's on his wrist tape. (Why did I even notice that?)
- Punk made Fandango look very good in this match, even if he did lose.
AJ vs. Kaitlyn (Divas Title Match)
As always, these two had a pretty physical match that showcased both of their strengths very well. Having AJ use submission holds throughout her matches is a really great way of making her seem dangerous since she is so much smaller than Kaitlyn.
Layla's heel turn has been coming for a long time, but whether or not she will have any kind of affiliation with AJ going forward is up in the air. This might have just been her way of turning on Kaitlyn and not her way of joining AJ.
Since this match happened with only a couple of weeks left until SummerSlam, it will be interesting to see if a Divas title match happens at all, and if it will be Kaitlyn challenging for the title yet again.
AJ picked up the win with her Black Widow submission, and she and Layla skipped away at the end of the match together.
Winner: AJ Lee (Grade: B-)
Some notes from the match:
- AJ's application of the Black Widow to win the match was awesome. Her still growing skill in the ring always amazes me.
- Michael Cole mentioned how there was a ruling that AJ could not have Big E. Langston with her at ringside anymore since he was too intimidating. This better not be the last of their interactions, or it will be one of the laziest ways to break up a pairing I have ever seen.
RVD vs. Christian vs. Randy Orton
These three men managed to keep a decent pace while allowing everyone to hit plenty of signature moves. It must have been really hard to tell who would win seeing this live since everyone was getting in so much offense.
This was a very enjoyable, fast-paced match that used three of WWE's best veterans in a great way.
RVD might have edged out the other two men in terms of exciting spots, but Christian took home the victory and the title shot against Del Rio at SummerSlam, but not before RVD would sell an RKO like a champ.
Winner: Christian (Grade: A-)
Some notes from the match:
- Randy Orton not having his briefcase with him was surprising. The MITB winners almost always have it with them.
- This might seem like a random thing to point out, but these three men represent the three typical ring attires; long tights, trunks and singlets.
- The "Counter of the Night" award goes to Randy Orton for turning Rolling Thunder into a powerslam.
- It is very possible that Christian will win the title and then Sandow will cash in on him right away.
- I am still unsure if he has to have the physical briefcase to cash in his title shot.
- Orton looked like he might RKO Christian after the match, but he just shook his hand.
- Remember when Orton almost killed RVD with an RKO? If you don't, then watch the video in the next slide.
Final Thoughts and Predictions
SmackDown only featured five matches this week. Usually they are good for six to eight matches, so it was a little light on the action.
The matches we did see were a pretty standard mix, from a squash to a great main event. Punk and Fandango had a good encounter, but it was RVD, Orton and Christian who had the match of the night.
The show as a whole was average. This is the second week in a row that I have said that, and that is not a pattern I want to have. I usually like SmakDown better than Raw, but lately it has been about even.
Nothing really stood out as atrocious, but there was a lot that could have been better. Not having anything from the tag team division or either midcard champion seemed like an odd booking choice.
I will leave you with the video of the previously mentioned RKO that RVD miraculously survived.
Predictions following SmackDown:
- Christian will win the World title, then Sandow will cash in on him.
- Langston and AJ will be parting ways for good soon.
- SummerSlam will feature at least three title changes.
I will be in attendance for next Tuesday's live SmackDown taping in Rockford, Ill. I will be tweeting out live match spoilers and notes during the show, so follow me on Twitter @BR_Doctor for live updates from the show.