I am purposely going to keep my expectations low for this episode of SmackDown. This way, I can’t possibly end up as disappointed as the last week or so of WWE programming has left me after a so-so Pay-Per-View on Sunday, and a pretty bad Monday Night Raw.
An announcement at the top of the show says that the Undertaker is returning to TV tonight…things are looking up already!
SmackDown GM Theodore Long opens the show. He comes to the ring to announce tonight’s lineup and begins to detail next month’s “Fatal 4 Way” PPV when he’s interrupted by Drew McIntyre who still elicits no reaction from the crowd.
Oh boy, Drew’s got another letter from Mr. McMahon. This one announces the suspension of Matt Hardy for the attack on Drew after his match at last Sunday’s “Over the Limit” PPV. By the way, how seriously are we supposed to take these letters from Mr. McMahon? If these were such important decisions, shouldn’t Vince be delivering them himself? Or sending the letters directly to Teddy Long since he’s one of Vince’s GM’s?
Hardy’s music hits but Teddy Long and some security guards meet him halfway down the ramp. Long begs him to leave or he will be fired. I could get into this feud because of Hardy’s involvement. The problem is, I still don’t care about McIntyre’s character (though I chalk some of that up to WWE-creative).
Up next is a tag team match between McIntyre and his partner, the World Heavyweight Champion Jack Swagger, who gets massive heat as he cuts a promo on his way to the ring. They are facing Intercontinental Champion Kofi Kingston and Big Show.
Decent match…Show and Kingston get the win when McIntyre receives a knockout punch from Show (I cheered a little after that one).
Backstage, CM Punk has a towel draped over his head and his back to the camera as Serena and Luke Gallows convince him that he has nothing to hide since he got his head shaved by Rey Mysterio last Sunday.
Vickie Guerrero is also backstage and she thanks Dolph Ziggler for stepping in when Christian insulted her during last week’s episode of “The Peep Show.” She tells Dolph that he has a tag match with his partner Chavo Guerrero against Christian and Hornswaggle. All I can say is…wow.
Punk and the Straight Edge Society make their way to the ring. Punk still has the towel draped over his head. He pauses for a minute and when he rips the towel off, he’s wearing a Mysterio-style mask featuring the letters “S.E.S.”…genius! Count me in for a “Mask-vs. Mask” match between Punk and Mysterio somewhere down the road.
Punk’s opponent is Kane, who was responsible for getting rid of the S.E.S. last week, thereby allowing Rey Mysterio to shave Punk’s head after their match at “Over the Limit.”
Kane’s not one of my favorite workers in the ring, but we get a solid effort from both men. Lots of back-and-forth and nearfalls and Punk was almost unmasked at one point, but he ultimately outlasts the “Big Red Monster” and gets the win which qualifies him for “Fatal 4 Way” in the World Heavyweight Championship match.
Up next is the match that could revive the Tag Team Division in WWE (not really). Christian and Hornswaggle prevail over Chavo and Dolph Ziggler. After the match, Ziggler attacks Christian and puts him in the sleeper. Not much crowd reaction for the result.
I’m still undecided on this feud. Ziggler is a solid worker, and I have no problems with him being elevated. However, I don’t see him as a main-eventer yet. My biggest fear is that Christian is used to get Ziggler over, and then ends up buried (yet) again.
Luke Gallows is back for his second appearance of the night, accompanied to the ring by Serena. The double-dose of the “Anti-Diva” helps keep me from picking up the remote, which is good, because…”tick-tick-tick,” here comes MVP.
The highlight of the match actually takes place before the in-ring action when MVP goes over to the announce table and does the baby powder toss a-la LeBron James (the show is in Cleveland this week).
Gallows gets the win after the mystery member of the S.E.S emerges and takes out MVP while the referee is distracted.
The Main Event is next and it pits Rey Mysterio against the Undertaker who gets the loudest pop of the night, by far. It’s another “Fatal 4 Way” qualifier for the final spot in the World Heavyweight Championship match.
I always enjoy watching these two work together, if for no other reason than seeing the size difference between them in the ring.
Fun match…big flurry of action at the end with Undertaker getting the win and a spot at “Fatal 4 Way.” Taker’s presence should translate into a few more PPV buys, and after reading and hearing some of the reaction from WWE fans after last week’s “Over the Limit” show, they’re going to need a solid card in order to drop 50 bucks on another PPV.
Overall, this was a middle-of-the-road show. The veterans were used a little more compared to last week, and the return of the Undertaker didn’t hurt. I know that SmackDown is the show where you get more in-ring action and less (bad) comedy than Monday Night Raw, but it still feels like the show is lacking a little in star power. Thankfully, they stayed away from the squash matches this week.
Nice job with having CM Punk in the mask instead of appearing with the shaved head. It leaves the feud with Mysterio open and I’m impressed that Punk’s character always finds new ways to keep from getting stale.
If the live crowd in Cleveland was any indication, then Jack Swagger didn’t lose as much heat as I thought he might after the weak finish in his match with Big Show at “Over the Limit.”
Random thought for the week…some of the callers to the “Busted Open” radio show last week, suggested that Randy Orton should have gutted it out and finished his match with Edge at “Over the Limit” after he suffered a shoulder injury. Only Orton knows what kind of pain he was in, but I’m going to take a stab here and say that if he could have continued, I think he would have. Orton doesn’t strike me as the kind of guy who wants to appear weak.
I’ll be back late on Monday with some thoughts on Raw. Enjoy the long weekend! You can also check out the “Busted Open” radio show on Sirius XM; Monday from 2-4PM, Eastern on Sirius 126/XM 243. My partner Dave La Greca and I will be talking to WWE Hall of Famer “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff and taking your calls at 866-522-2846 to talk about everything going on in the world of Professional Wrestling.
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Written by Pete Copeland