"April 11th. A day the Wrestling world won't forget..."
Was quite the shocking day wasn’t it? Hey folks, Andre Harrison back at it once again, and for the Smackdown side of the brand, it’s been a very odd year for the blue brand and the World Heavyweight Championship, and to me at least, it’s been one of the most shocking years in WWE history so far, and we’re only five months in.
Here, I’m going to take a look at Smackdown and its World Heavyweight Championship so far in 2011 and all the interesting moments for the blue brand so far this year. Let’s take a look, with Harrison’s Analysis!
So, before we start 2011, just as a reminder, Edge came into the year as World Heavyweight Champion (his 10th World Championship, and sixth as World Heavyweight Championship), winning the Championship at the Tables, Ladders and Chairs Pay-Per-View in December 2010, in a Fata-4-Way TLC Match against Kane, Alberto Del Rio and Rey Mysterio.
So we come into the year of 2011, with January and this was really the month of Vickie Guerrero pushing her authority as acting GM, with the “firing” of Kelly Kelly, and the imminent push of his “boyfriend” Dolph Ziggler.
Ziggler came into the year as Intercontinental Champion, but he lost the belt to Kofi Kingston on Smackdown, with Kingston pinning Ziggler twice. However, Vickie Guerrero inserted Ziggler into a Triple Threat between Drew McIntyre, The Big Show and Cody Rhodes, with Ziggler winning the now Fatal-4-Way to becoming No. 1 Contender for the World Heavyweight Championship for the Royal Rumble, after Kane lost his rematch to Edge in a Last Man Standing Match on Smackdown.
On the January 28th Smackdown, Vickie stacked the deck against Edge, inserting the stipulation that if Edge used the Spear, he’d lose the Championship.
Royal Rumble 2011: Edge vs Dolph Ziggler Review
I was pleasantly surprised by this match. Dolph Ziggler came out in style on the night and delivered one of his best WWE performances to date, on the same level as when he faced Daniel Bryan in their great three-match series.
And make no mistake, Edge had his working boots on, doing a good job as well. The match was well paced, as he was given a good 20-plus minutes, and it never really got boring, and built up nicely.
The crowd in Boston was great too, really getting into the match and buying the near falls down the stretch, some of which had me genuinely believing that Dolph Ziggler was going to win the title.
Now the finish was a little chaotic, with Kelly Kelly (and not Kaitlyn, oddly, but it still made sense), attacking Vickie Guerrero at ringside and with the ref down, Edge hit the Spear with no-one looking, and then gave Ziggler the Killswitch (Christian’s finishing move) to retain.
Good storytelling to go with a very well worked match. I have absolutely no complaints over this match, one of the best Edge has worked since his return from injury and one of Ziggler’s best. I think Ziggler could be a Main Event guy with a good mouthpiece like Vickie, because he has the in-ring ability to do it, for sure. (Four Stars)
So, we move onto February, and the big news coming in to the month was that Alberto Del Rio had won the Royal Rumble and was going to challenge for Edge’s World Heavyweight Championship.
Also, the Edge/Vickie/Ziggler feud continued, as Guerrero continued to try and make Ziggler WHC by keeping the Spear stipulation and putting Ziggler in numerous title matches. On the last episode of SD before the Elimination Chamber PPV, Guerrero stripped Edge of the title and gave it to Ziggler, only for Teddy Long to return as GM, and give Edge an immediate rematch, which he won, giving Edge his 11th World Championship, and Ziggler was officially Champion for just six minutes and was subsequently “fired” from Smackdown.
Still, to this day, I don’t see what that did for Ziggler. Poor guy. Edge then had to defend his WHC at the Elimination Chamber in a Chamber Match against five other men.
Elimination Chamber 2010: Smackdown Elimination Chamber for the World Heavyweight Championship: Edge vs Rey Mysterio vs The Big Show vs Wade Barrett vs Kane vs Drew McIntyre Review:
Looking at this lineup, I had a bad feeling that this would be a dragged out, boring affair, especially after The Big Show was revealed to be the mystery man…How WRONG was I?
This was an outstanding match. Mysterio always steps it up inside Chamber matches, and he did it again for the third year in a row here, with some fantastic spots, combining well with Edge and Kane.
The Big Show played the monster role very well, knocking out Barrett before getting hit by just about everything. Drew McInytre put in his best WWE performance to date, showing some real fire and charisma, shown after hurling Mysterio into the plexiglass in a spot of awesomeness.
However, Edge and Mysterio’s tremendous chemistry came to fruition once again down the stretch as they were the last two standing, and the near falls toward the end were great, with both guys kicking out of each other’s finishers, only for a mid-air Spear from Edge to finish to job, and become the first man in five years to successfully defend his World Championship inside the Chamber.
Post-match, Del Rio tried to get one over, but a returning Christian made the save, hit the KIllswitch and Edge hit a Spear for good measure.
Overall, that will take some topping to beat as the best WWE Match of 2011 so far. A match with tremendous stuff from all six men and a genuine surprise. (4.5 Stars)
Into March and April, and the Main Event scene on Smackdown was Edge as World Champion, with Christian supporting him at his side, with Alberto Del Rio’s title shot looming, with his back up from Ricardo Rodriguez (His Ring announcer) and Brodus Clay, his NXT Season 4 rookie (Who was runner up, whatever happened to Johnny Curtis anyway?).
They had a big tag-team match in the build up to Wrestlemania XXVII. Speaking of which, here’s my review of that Wrestlemania XXVII WHC Match, which for some reason, was the opening match.
Wrestlemania 27: Edge (w/Christian) vs Alberto Del Rio (w/Brodus Clay), World Heavyweight Championship Match Review
An interesting choice to have the World Title match again open the show, for the second time in three months. Now, I was looking forward to this due to the possibilities and the third parties involved.
However, the WWE seemed to play it safe. And while the action was fairly solid, it never really kicked out of third gear. And Edge’s no selling of the arm didn’t help, especially considering how dangerous Alberto’s Cross Armbreaker has been in the past.
It was still fine, but it could have been much, MUCH more considering how good these two could be and how safe the eventual booking ended up being.
Also, Alberto Del Rio really should have gone over. Instead, he’s crying while a Bentley’s being destroyed. Ergh. Me no gusta. (Three Stars)
As we move into April, the game was changed completely when, on the April 11th edition on Raw, Edge had to announce his immediate retirement, due to him being diagnosed with Spinal Stenosis.
On the April 15th Smackdown, he retired his World Heavyweight Championship, with Alberto Del Rio being a guaranteed No. 1 Contender, and he’d be going up against the Battle Royale winner from the following week, surprise surprise, Christian, in a Ladder Match for the World Heavyweight Championship at the Extreme Rules Pay-Per-View.
Edge still made appearances, including infamously at Del Rio’s retirement party for him.
Extreme Rules 2011: Ladder Match for the World Heavyweight Championship, Christian vs Alberto Del Rio Review
This was another crazy WWE Ladder Match. It really stepped up half way through when Christian crashed and burned with a dive on a ladder, only for Del Rio to nail him with the dive.
Trust me, Del Rio bumps with the best of them, an impressive feat for a man of his size. I mean, a huge Gullotine leg drop off the top of a ladder?
Insane spots as usual in these kind of matches. Brodus Clay’s involvement was well done and good storytelling, especially as well to see Edge take him out and allow Christian to retrieve the Championship in a genuine feel-good moment.
Christian absolutely deserves this moment, as he’s been of the most consistently top guys in the WWE for years and to be at the top of the pile was great to see. The storytelling of the match boosted it above the standard Ladder Match, and we have another WWE Match of the Year contender. (4.25 Stars)
Did you approve of the Orton title switch?
So what do I think of all this?
Well, firstly, I think Christian was lucky and gifted to be in the right place at the right time when Edge had retired. He was right up there with Edge in Smackdown’s Main Event scene when he retired nearly a month ago.
He’s still a fan favourite for sure, and I think that giving him the Championship was a daring, but good move, especially as Del Rio has now lost two World Title Matches in a row.
Edge’s retirement definitely caused the WWE to panic book to some degree, pushing the draft up a couple of moments from June to April and moving Randy Orton to Smackdown I thought was great, but to me at least, it became clear that he would be the top babyface on the brand, and the replacement to Edge’s consistent spot there for the time being.
Would Christian have ever been World Champion if it wasn’t for Edge’s retirement? I honestly don’t think so. I think Del Rio would have won at Extreme Rules and held the belt for a good period of time.
As for the sudden two-day title change to Orton, while I wasn’t surprised, I think it’s a bit of a bummer for Christian’s first reign to end so abruptly. But would you rather not have him win it at all? It’s debatable for sure.
What about Del Rio? Would the Internet have backlashed so much if he was in Christian’s situation? Will there be a full blown feud between the two now? Possible heel turn for either guy? We’ll have to wait and see, but I don’t think Smackdown needs any more heels.
So folks, what do you think of the situation? Comment below and let me know what you all think. I’ve been Andre Harrison, thanks for reading and Sayonara!