Taped from Baltimore, Maryland let's talk some Smackdown…
The show starts off with Undertaker in the ring talking about Kane. He said he wants their match at Night of Champions to be No Holds Barred. What, you mean it won't be a technical classic? Shocking. He was looking for an answer from Kane. Didn't get it. Instead we got CM Punk out there. They were going to have a match later, so this is was their way of setting it up. He mentioned making Undertaker submit last year (the Montreal finish that led to Punk being totally buried at the HIAC PPV a month later) and how he is the most dangerous man on Smackdown. Undertaker ended it by saying Punk would Rest In Peace. It was a decent exchange although nothing too heavy because it's only promoting a TV main event rather than a PPV match. I liked their feud a year ago for the most part and would like to see it again soon.
Jack Swagger d. MVP (*1/4)
They got about nine minutes. Swagger won in convincing fashion after a lovely dropkick to the stairs, which then went into MVP's legs while they were on the floor. Awesome spot. They went back in the ring and Swagger won with the ankle lock although to be honest he didn't apply it very convincingly. He needs to torque it more. That's a fun word: torque. Say it with me. Torque. There ya go. Whenever MVP wrestles I never believe he's going to win. He has been booked so poorly as a babyface both on Smackdown this year and Raw last year that he's basically a jobber at this point. I think he deserves better. A heel turn would be nice. I assume this feud is over now. I don't think it accomplished much for either guy. Fans already see Swagger as being above MVP while MVP is still stuck in midcard hell without any chance of moving up it seems.
Backstage, Kaval mentioned being on Smackdown now while Laycool were there pondering which one of them would face Melina at Night of Champions. Holy shit Laycool was annoying here. I know it's their gimmick, but I really hated it this time. Layla doing the Kaval voice was pretty funny.
There was a really good Undertaker/Kane history video. It covered the whole 13 years of it. There's no denying the greatness of WWE's video package team. They do some phenomenal work. I'm sure fans of the Undertaker/Kane feud loved this. Me? I enjoyed it even though for the most part I haven't loved the feud over the years.
Alberto Del Rio d. Matt Hardy (*1/2)
It was similar to the first match. You know the heel's going over because the babyface is in a spot where you know he's losing based on his position on the roster. That's fine in this case because I'm quickly becoming a huge ADR mark. The man has amazing facial expressions and is convincing in his ring work. Hardy did have his working boots on here, but they didn't have amazing chemistry. Alberto won in 11 minutes with the cross armbreaker for the tapout win. The move needs a name.
Post match, he went for it again and Christian made the save to keep that feud going. I think Christian's a good guy for ADR to feud with although it's obvious Alberto's going over there. The reason it's good is that Christian is one of the better workers in WWE and is great at making people look strong.
Hey, time to hype Legendary some more. They really promoted it a lot on this show. I hear it's decent. Maybe I'll watch it on DVD down the road. Maybe not.
Drew McIntyre d. Kaval (*)
It's heel night! So far at least. This one was booked shorter than the other two as they got less than five minutes. I don't like this booking. The guy wins NXT, has momentum and then he loses clean. Momentum gone. They're not behind Drew like they were before. He's not the Chosen One anymore. He can afford a loss here. Instead, they hurt the momentum of the "rookie" and now he's just another guy already. Book him to win matches. It would be nice. A welcome change. I'm sure he'll beat somebody next week because that's the WWE way.
Post match, Laycool came out to help Kaval. I assume in the near future he'll tell them to leave him alone or something. He's better off as a face while they are better as heels.
Grooming tips with Cody Rhodes…is a rerun! That's a disgrace. I was hoping that these would be the longest running episodic grooming tips in the history of the world, but we got a rerun already. For shame, WWE. I rely on these grooming tips to live my everyday life. And now you want to air the same facial mask one? Sickening. (I may be sarcastic here. Maybe.)
Before the next match, Vickie Guerrero and her NXT season three rookie Kaitlyn, who has some really thick legs, came out. Kaitlyn introduced Vickie, who then ripped her rookie for the lame introduction.
Kofi Kingston & Chris Masters d. Dolph Ziggler & Chavo Guerrero (*)
Oh man, Chris Masters won a match! Sound the alarms. Of course it had nothing to do with him. This is WWE's way of having Kofi pin Ziggler clean without doing a singles match. Masters & Guerrero were there to fill time. I liked the finish with the ref not seeing Chavo tag in, Ziggler stood up and stumbled right into a perfectly timed Trouble in Paradise by Kofi as the good guys were victorious. The match was about three minutes long.
Night of Champions PPV rundown:
Six pack challenge for the WWE Title - I'm thinking Sheamus retains. Either that or Orton wins it.
Kane vs. Undertaker for the World Title - I'm thinking Kane keeps it for another month.
Miz vs. Bryan for the US Title - Match of the night for me. Bryan will likely get the belt.
Dolph vs. Kofi for the IC Title - Dolph won it from Kofi originally. Keep it on Dolph going forward. It elevates him to have it.
Melina vs. Michelle or Layla - I'd assume Michelle's in the match and I'll go with Melina winning.
Punk vs. Big Show - Some are bitching about this one saying it's not a title match. The PPV states that all titles are on the line. They probably will be (assuming they add the tag titles) and it never says they're unable to have a non title match on the show. Plus, Punk's arguably the best performer in the company. It's his hometown of Chicago. Kudos to WWE for finding a way to get him on the card. He deserves it. I'd have Punk go over here too.
I will have a full preview up next week.
Backstage, Josh Mathews was supposed to interview Big Show. Instead it was Show interviewing himself in his regular voice and in Josh's voice. He was okay in terms of being funny. Then Kelly showed up, called him a nerd and showed about zero acting range while doing it. At least she's pretty. Right? That's all that matters. Talent is optional. Anyway, the "comedy" continued with Show hiding the microphone under his arm before giving it back to Josh. Somebody (whoever wrote this) thought this was hilarious. I did not.
The Undertaker d. CM Punk (***1/4)
Yes! Thank you. A 15 minute TV main event where both guys are busting their ass to put on a good match. This is why I still love professional wrestling after all these years. The story they told was a simple one. The Undertaker's still hurting from the vegetative state angle. He was selling it throughout the match by doing little things like moving around slow, coughing at random times (even after he got the win) and showing frustration by not being able to put Punk away like he normally would. The little things like that are what make me like The Undertaker. He's a pro. Knows exactly what he is doing. I wish a guy like John Cena did the little things better than he does because it would make me enjoy his work more. Instead, he no-sells things at the direction of Vince McMahon most likely. Still, it leads to boredom. Fans want their babyfaces to show vulnerability. The Undertaker, despite being the strongest booked babyface in the history of the company, looked weak here even in victory. That's perfect. As for the match, Punk got in a lot of offense and they really put over how smart his strategy was to stay on top of Undertaker the whole time. There were even some great counters to regular Undertaker spots like the snake eyes, but Punk was able to counter the big boot. I love that. That's how you show the weakness within the context of the match. The finish was clever with Undertaker hitting the chokeslam, but being unable to cover right away, so Punk kicked out. That showed vulnerability in Undertaker. Punk hit him with the GTS. He sold the beating, then crawled over and Undertaker caught him in Hell's Gate for the tapout. LOVE THAT FINISH! I loved it so much I put it in all caps.
You know why it worked? Because even with the loss Punk looked strong. He took it to the Undertaker. He gave it all he had. Yeah he lost, but he went down fighting.
Post match, Undertaker sold the win by coughing and was about to do his usual pose in the ring when Kane's pyro went off. We never saw him. We did hear him, though. Laughing. Oh yes, laughing. Laughing as hard as he could. What a maniacal laugh it is too. I guess it means he has the Undertaker's powers now. The show ended with Undertaker looking confused. Well, he is a newlywed after all. Women change after marriage. So I'm told. Real talk!
Three Stars of the Show
1. CM Punk - The usual great work on the microphone plus a good main event.
2. The Undertaker - Still has good matches in him. Just not on a weekly basis.
3. Alberto Del Rio - I really like this guy. I feel like smiling like him.
7.5 out of 10
Big thumbs up for Smackdown this week. We saw three midcard heels go over babyfaces in the first half largely because heels are smart, babyfaces are idiots and this company does a poor job of booking babyfaces for the most part. Even if you look at the finishes the heels all came up with ways to win. Swagger targeted the shoulder and won with the ankle lock. Del Rio went after the arm and won with an armbar. McIntyre won because Kaval missed a high risk move. He got rolled back into the ring, took the Future Shock DDT and was done. At least Kofi outsmarted Dolph, although not when the title was on the line of course, and Undertaker was booked strong like usual.
There's no question that Smackdown is a heel dominated show. Other than Undertaker the babyfaces are a dime a dozen, really. That's a shame. It's also a problem. You can see how much the company is behind the likes of Kane, Punk (as they should be), Del Rio, Ziggler, McIntyre (sometimes), Swagger (hopefully they will be again) and Rhodes right now. On the babyface side it's really just Undertaker, Mysterio and Big Show, all of whom are long established names that are very over with the fans. Kofi was in a better spot eight or nine months ago while others like Christian and Hardy are both underused. The poor development of babyfaces is one of the things that frustrates me on Smackdown. I hope that problem is corrected soon.
My sole disappointment in the show stems from the fact that they have something in Kaval. The guy can work. The guy is over. Use him to your advantage. Booking him to lose in his Smackdown debut isn't using his skills in the best way. I know there's plenty of time. Still, there's only one Smackdown debut and he's already a loser even after winning NXT.
The main event was strong. Great booking and excellent work by both guys. This was a well booked show.
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