Courtesy of wwe.com

You’d think that after the lack of build-up between Raw and Smackdown before Fatal 4 Way, the WWE would try to figuratively hit the ground running with pushing Money In The Bank, the next PPV in about three weeks. Raw failed miserably. Smackdown? It passed with flying colors. We already know what the main event will be as well as some of the details regarding the Money In The Bank match itself. For a show on a lame duck network, Smackdown outshines Raw more often than not. Let’s take a look at last Friday’s Smackdown.

Theodore Long/Vickie Guerrero/Drew McIntyre opening promo

The show begins with a cold open featuring Theodore Long and Vickie Guerrero. Long recaps Fatal 4 Way and declares Rey Mysterio as the new World Heavyweight Champion. Right after that, he announces the concept behind MITB, where eight Smackdown Superstars will compete for a chance to win a guaranteed World Title match. I guess the Raw match will be the same except involving the WWE Championship. I heard reports that qualifying matches were going to start on Raw last week, but were ultimately scrapped. I would much rather have guys earn their spots instead of being handed them. I suppose qualifying will start tonight for Raw and next Friday for Smackdown. Five minutes into the show, Smackdown set up its MITB match.

Drew McIntyre interrupts and tells Long that he will face serious repercussions for his actions at Fatal 4 Way. Long tells McIntyre that since Mr. McMahon was incapacitated by Nexus on Raw, he has the authority to run Smackdown his own way. With that said, he reinstates Matt Hardy and the two will compete against each other tonight. Even Guerrero gets behind Long, which was weird, considering they’ve never seen eye to eye. This power rush of sorts for Long will be interesting to watch. I am not sure if it will only involve McIntyre or if it will carry over to other Superstars. Stay tuned. Either way, a great way to kick off the show.

The Big Show v. Jack Swagger

It gets better with the first match of the evening. Swagger walks out and rubs his stomach (Maybe he has a bellyache?) to highlight where his title used to be (Oh, nevermind).  Swagger cashes in his rematch (no pun intended) at Money In The Bank against Rey Mysterio. The show is not even 10 minutes old and we already have Smackdown’s main event as well. Swagger promises to right the wrongs along the way to MITB and he will start with the Big Show.

This match, while shorter than their title match at Over The Limit, was leaps and bounds better. Yes, it ended once again with Swagger losing by DQ, but it was the storytelling that made the match. At Over The Limit, Swagger used the World Title to get himself intentionally DQ’ed because he couldn’t find a way to win. This time, he put Show in an Ankle Lock and refused to let go. While the former was an instance of cowardice, the latter made sense considering Swagger’s comments before the match. Swagger has been fighting Kurt Angle comparisons for his entire career. Let the floodgates open! The entire sequence involving the Ankle Lock screamed Angle, but I loved it. A new side to Swagger’s character would help. He already transformed during his title reign, so let it continue.

Christian, MVP & WWE Intercontinental Champion Kofi Kingston v. Curt Hawkins, Vance Archer & Dolph Ziggler

Five of these six men have been involved with each other in some way over the past several weeks (Kingston is the odd man out, but I believe the WWE is setting up an IC program between Kingston and Ziggler, so it might make sense). Hawkins and Archer have grown on me a bit, but Hawkin’s pants have not. These two guys will never be champions (in Hawkin’s case, again), but will be the mid-card heel team that each show needs (Sorry, Dudebusters).  Ziggler is the rising star out of this group. We all love Christian, I know, but if he hasn’t received his main event push by now, I am starting to get a little “glass half-empty” about it. Yet, Christian gets the win over Ziggler with the Killswitch. I did love Christian’s stall before hitting it and his staredown afterwards. I love me some storytelling. That’s why I’m a journalist! And MVP? He needs to turn heel again. His best work has been behind him since he turned.

Matt Hardy v. Drew McIntyre

This angle has been beaten into the ground, but this might have been the best match either man has had in quite a while. and for McIntyre, it might have been the best match of his career. I know I’ve said this a few times already, but storytelling is what makes wrestling great. The bumps and spots are great for entertainment value, but knowing why things are happening and having acceptable explanations for those things is what really separates a good match from a great match. In that regard, this was a great match.

Everything from McIntyre’s facial expressions to Hardy’s tenacity really brought this rivalry to a head. Of course, there were some great bumps and spots, especially McIntyre’s Michinoku Driver off the top rope and Hardy’s counter of McIntyre’s head stomp on the steel steps. Hardy wins with a Twist of Fate. After all of the bad that this storyline has brought with it, if this is the end, what a way to go out. Great work.

After the match, Long appears on the Titantron and tells McIntyre that his visa has expired. I loved Hardy waving goodbye from the ramp. I wonder where this will go. Hopefully, he won’t be back in a week like after he was “fired.” (UPDATE 6/29: McIntyre’s work visa has expired, according to Wrestleview. He is “MIA” but might be able to stay in the U.S. since his new wife, WWE Diva Tiffany, is a U.S. citizen).

Cody Rhodes promo

Cody Rhodes is out with his NXT Rookie, Husky Harris, to talk about how good-looking he is. I don’t understand this whole “Dashing Cody Rhodes” thing. Those prefix nicknames are so TNA. I liked the “Uncommon son of a common man” thing he had going on. He did some funny lines though, particularly his line to an audience member that he was “hearing [him] get fatter.” Rhodes is a stud, don’t get me wrong, but this is a wrong turn. He is better as the silent type. His promo skills are adequate, but nothing special. Rhodes is a great mid-card heel, so I hope the WWE doesn’t screw him over.

Dolph Ziggler/Vickie Guerrero promo

Ziggler finds Guerrero in the back and tells her he wants an IC Title match or he’s done with her. I guess it will be Kingston/Ziggler after all. This could be good.

Rosa Mendes v. Kelly Kelly (with Tiffany)

This was a squash. Kelly wins with the K2 in about five seconds. LayCool is at ringside, so this match was just an excuse to further their feud before the inevitable Women’s Title match in the future.

Alberto Del Rio vignette

Alberto Del Rio, better known as Dos Caras, Jr., is debuting on Smackdown with some sort of “honest man” gimmick. I can’t tell where this will go, but hope it doesn’t fall the way of Kizarni or Eric Escobar. Only time will tell.

C.M. Punk v. Kane – No DQ Match

This wasn’t a match, but a fight. Kane is convinced that Punk is the culprit (WHICH I SAID A MONTH AGO. SHAMELESS PLUG) and he goes after him hard. The Straight Edge Society interferes, including the Masked Man in a new outfit. If that is Joey Mercury, damn he is ripped. Anyways, Kane disposes of them, eventually chokeslamming Luke Gallows through the announce table. Kane chases Punk into the crowd and out onto the concourse. Punk escapes and runs into the night in his ring gear, which makes me laugh. What would you think if you saw Punk running through the streets in his underwear? This wasn’t their best encounter, but a Kane/SES program possibly involving the Undertaker through the summer would be fun to watch.



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