Following WWE's annual roster draft on April 26, I was excited about the creative direction of the company for the first time in a long time. While I watch every episode of every wrestling show that I have access to, I have to admit, I haven't been overwrought with anticipation in a very long time.
Everything changed on draft day.
For the wrestling fans who don't follow the WWE, there are two primary shows with two very different booking styles, Monday Night RAW, which focuses on mainstream entertainment and is clearly the flagship show and Friday Night Smackdown, which is more of a pure wrestling show.
During the live three hours Special Draft Edition of RAW, Smackdown was purged of all of its full time main event talent and replenished with a lot of young talent full of potential.
Many were enraged that Smackdown was pilfered by the already talent laden RAW. Not me. I was thrilled to see the young talent with a stage all their own from which they can showcase their talents.
Finally, the last day of April and the first day on a new era of Smackdown had arrived and it delivered. No, Smackdown far exceeded my expectations and left me wanting more.
The show started out with Teddy Long claiming Smackdown came out on top following the draft and was followed up by an in ring angle involving Chris Jericho and Kofi Kingston. Jericho encouraged the crowd to get over his move to RAW. Kingston, having heard enough, grabbed the mic and told Jericho to shut up and even offered him a little help.
Chris Jericho vs. Kofi Kingston
Chris Jericho vs. Kofi Kingston(3 stars)
What a way to start off a new era! This was a great television match which went about 10 minutes. On several occasions, Jericho nearly put Kingston away but to his credit, Kofi hung in there.
While it has served him well in the past, Jericho's ego may have caused him this match. After a picture perfect code breaker, Kingston was sent flying outside the ring. I don't think there was any way Kofi could have beaten the count which would have given Jericho the win by count out. Apparently, the Ayatollah of Rock-N-Rollah was intent on teaching Mr. Kingston a lesson because after gathering his own bearings, Jericho himself, crawled out of the ring and threw the hardly cognizant Kofi back into the ring and covered him. Unfortunately for Jericho, Kofi was able to kick out at two.
Shortly after that he put Jericho away with a lightning quick Trouble in Paradise.
Things only got worse for Jericho as he was mizzed by the Big Show backstage.
Chavo Guerrero was in the ring telling people how grateful his is to be away from the guest hosts of RAW and reunited with his Aunt Vicky when Kane comes down and welcomes him to RAW with a choke slam.
John Morrison vs. Cody Rhodes
John Morrison vs. Cody Rhodes(3.5 stars)
Preserving the RAW vs. Smackdown theme, the second match pitted new comer Cody Rhodes against the recently departed John Morrison. This was easily the match of the night with Rhodes matching Morrison’s highlight reel arsenal move for move. Exceeding the ten minute mark Morrison and Rhodes treated us to a Pay Per View quality match on free TV.
The tempo of this match clearly favored Morrison’s acrobatic high risk style of offense but Morrison was beaten at his own game by Cody, who is usually a very fundamentally sound, low risk mat based wrestler.
Perhaps it was Cody’s way of separating himself from Orton and DiBiase, maybe he is non verbally saying Ted and Randy were holding him back or maybe its just a fresh start on Smackdown but Cody Rhodes made a statement with this match. If nothing else, Rhodes proved to the Shaman of Sexy that he is the new Friday night delight.
After a match full of high spots, Rhodes was able to put Morrison away with a thunderous Cross Rhodes and pinned him for the one, two and three.
Finishing up the first hour of the show was an angle featuring the Rated R Superstar, Edge and his former tag team partner, Captain Charisma himself, Christian.
Edge came out to bid adieu to the Smackdown fans and then it happened, Peep nation, marked out as the arena exploded when Christian’s theme music hit and the Charismatic One appeared.
Edge recounted all of E & C’s past glories but was cut off by Christian, who basically called Edge a fraud. Completing his much anticipated heel turn, Edge, much to the crowd’s surprise, agreed with Christian.
Smackdown teased an Edge vs. Christian match when Christian called Edge out on a challenge but Edge said no, opting to attack Christian from behind.
Edge was moving in for his spear when Christian countered with a quick kick to the face. CC gained a brief advantage in the brawl before Edge escaped the ring. Both wrestlers came away unscathed from the tussle.
The second hour of the show began with Big Show mizzing another former Smackdown superstar backstage. This time it was Edge’s jaw that was introduced to the World’s Largest Right.
Lay Cool vs. Kelly Kelly and Beth Phoenix
Lay Cool vs. Kelly Kelly and Beth Phoenix(1.5 stars)
This match featured four of Smackdown’s divas and for a change, wasn’t terrible. This is rare for the WWE to let the women go out there and be more than eye candy and I almost enjoyed this match.
I don’t know if it was because she was making her debut but Double K got one of the biggest pops of the evening. I never really thought much about her, other than she was just another pretty face but Special K showed much improvement in this match.
In fact, after Women’s Champion Beth Phoenix laid waste to both Michelle McCool and Layla, she made the tag to the diva so nice you have to say her name twice and Kelly Kelly finished off Layla with a poorly executed Kelly Killer but it was enough to get the three and send Vicky Guerrero and Lay Cool away mad.
In the worst segment of the night, Dolph Ziggler was explaining to the crowd how he did the WWE Universe a favor by taking out Hornswaggle following his embarrassing loss last Monday night. Ziggler was very uncomfortable on the mic and seemed to lack the confidence that helped him earn victories over Khali and Kane.
Josh Matthews and Matt Hardy were discussing Hardy’s future plans following the brutal beating that was given to him by Drew McIntyre including a sick head stomp onto the steel steps. As Matt was promising a comeback, Big Mac drilled him from out of nowhere. After a Future Shock DDT, referees and backstage staff were able to separate McIntyre from Hardy before he could inflict even more damage.
As the Straight Edge Society made their way to the ring in a throng of boos and jeers from the crowd, the leader, CM Punk smiled and laughed at the crowd while he and Serena twisted his greasy locks around their fingers.
CM Punk grabbed a mic after entering the ring and taunted the crowd, reminding them how much better he is because of his straight edge lifestyle. After bragging for a while about being better than they are and still having his greasy mullet intact new MVP came out to save the audience from Punk’s ramblings.
MVP wasted no time hitting the ring but was out numbered and quickly subdued by the much larger Luke Gallows and the very dangerous CM Punk. Just when I thought MVP was going to get the beating of a lifetime for interrupting the SES, Rey Mysterio raced down to the ring to help MVP out. It didn’t take long for Mysterio and MVP to regain the upper hand in the battle.
Rey Mysterio and MVP vs. The Straight Edge Society
Rey Mysterio and MVP vs. The Straight Edge Society(1.5 stars)
This match was a little disappointing considering it was the main event of the show and maybe because the previous matches were so great and my expectations were too high, however, it was only about five minutes long so points are deducted for being too short. 1.5 stars is perfectly acceptable wrestling for free television matches
Rey Mysterio took some nice bumps and CM Punk really tells a great story in the ring. MVP and Mysterio had a decent chemistry in the ring for their first match together and Luke Gallows continues to impress me with his ever improving in ring abilities.
In the end, Luke Gallows was beaten coast to coast literally, first by a 619 from Mysterio and then a 305 from MVP. Since Rey had previously taken out CM Punk with a West Coast Pop, MVP was able to score the pinfall victory over Gallows.
While the celebration was on, a masked man, apparently wearing a SES hoodie ran in and drilled Rey Rey with a nasty modified neck breaker.
Throughout the show short vignettes were showing World Heavyweight Champion, Jack Swagger touting his many great accomplishments throughout his life. At the end of the show, the All American American came out to address the audience in person. Apparently, those vignettes put him over because they were booing louder than I have ever heard Swagger get booed.
After unsuccessfully trying to repose the crowd, Swagger tried to talk over them but before he could get through his story, Smackdown GM Teddy Long came out and introduced the new number one contender to the young champion.
Swaggers lips were quivering when the Big Show was revealed as the challenger for Swagger’s title but he managed to pull himself together before Show got to the ring.
After giving Swagger a golf clap for his achievements, Big Show mizzed the Champ just like he had done to Edge and Chris Jericho earlier.