The WWE received more bad news on the injury front this week as they learned that The Undertaker suffered a fractured orbital bone, broken nose, and a concussion in his match against Rey Mysterio on SmackDown last week.
Coming off of the “Over the Limit” PPV a few weeks ago where Randy Orton dislocated his shoulder and Ted Di Biase was concussed after being slapped by R-Truth, the last thing the company needed was another top star getting sent to the infirmary.
Instead of just making the announcement that Taker would be missing some time, WWE decided to turn it into a storyline.
SmackDown opens with General Manger Teddy Long telling us that over the Memorial Day weekend, Kane” found his brother ‘The Undertaker’ in a vegetative state.” No one is sure who’s responsible for the attack.
Two Druid-like figures then slowly bring a coffin down to ringside. Kane follows and enters the ring, where a podium has been set up, covered in his signature red light. The coffin is opened and revealed to be empty. The “Big Red Monster” delivers a pseudo-eulogy about his brother and says that Taker may be done. After vowing that “there will be vengeance,” Kane knocks over the podium and collapses in hysterics. He keeps saying to the empty coffin that “I should have been there for you.”
In 2010, it’s tough to pull off a storyline like this, especially when word has been out all week about how Taker suffered the injuries. When I heard that they would address things this way, I was skeptical. However, The Undertaker is no ordinary wrestler, and I was willing to suspend my disbelief. Kane was excellent in selling the grief that quickly turned to anger as he sought revenge. And that red spotlight is so damn creepy. I’m looking forward to see where Kane ends up since he hasn’t been a main-eventer in awhile.
The first match of the night featured World Heavyweight Champion Jack Swagger against MVP. Good, cheap heat as the champ came to the ring in an Oklahoma Sooners jersey, irking the Texas-faithful in Dallas.
It was a slow-paced match that was tough to get into. Ultimately, Swagger, who hasn’t looked strong in recent weeks got the clean win…imagine that concept!
As MVP gathered himself in the ring post-match, he was attacked by Curt Hawkins and Vance Archer who for the last few weeks have been trying to impress the WWE before their current contracts expire (They have about a week left…I’ll save you the trouble of looking it up).
Surprisingly, they received major heat from the crowd as they stood in the ring posing over the laid-out MVP.
Teddy Long and SmackDown advisor Vickie Guerrero were shown talking backstage about Undertaker’s spot at “Fatal 4 Way.” Teddy decides to fill the spot with a Battle Royal featuring the entire SmackDown roster.
This sounds great on paper, but realistically all suspense is removed. Am I supposed to believe that someone like Caylen Croft has a shot at winning this thing and getting into the “Fatal 4 Way” match for the World Heavyweight Championship?
Up next is Drew McIntyre vs. Kofi Kingston for the Intercontinental Title. Reaction for Drew is again virtually non-existent as he comes out to a smattering of boos.
After the match gets underway, the cameras cut to the crowd where we see that the suspended Matt Hardy is in the arena. He walks right up to the ringside barrier and he shows everyone that he has a ticket. The crowd breaks into a loud “Har-DEE!! Har-DEE!!” chant for the fan-favorite. Matt Striker is of course, incensed.
The action inevitably spills out to ringside and when McIntyre gets the upper hand on Kofi, he runs over and backhands Hardy. Matt tries to get over the barrier but is held back by security.
After the wrestlers get back in the ring, McIntyre is distracted by the Hardy-commotion at ringside, and Kofi hits the SOS to retain the championship.
Hardy then breaks free from security and gets into the ring to hit the “Twist of Fate” on McIntyre before running through the crowd and out of the arena.
This was a very entertaining segment. Hardy is still way-over with the crowd, and I could really get into a feud with him and McIntyre.
Kane and Mysterio are shown under the arena and Rey begins to say he is “sorry for your loss.” Kane cuts him off and says that Rey may or may not be responsible, but he will get revenge.
Following a commercial break, Jack Swagger is back; this time on the big screen and again in his Sooners jersey. He boasts of the Oklahoma football team’s victories over Texas and begins to sing “Boomer Sooner” to a huge chorus of boos. However, he’s interrupted by Kane who asks Swagger if he’s responsible. The visibly-disturbed champ meekly shakes his head, “no.”
The main event is next and it’s the Teddy Long-sanctioned Battle Royal to find someone for Undertaker’s spot at “Fatal 4 Way.”
Battle Royal matches are a pain-in-the-ass to follow on TV, so I won’t bore you with the order of eliminations. However, the last three wrestlers standing are Kane, Mysterio, and Luke Gallows. Kane and Mysterio eliminate Gallows and face-off against one another. They trade offense for a bit, but Mysterio ultimately prevails. He is in the “Fatal 4 Way” match for the World Heavyweight Championship against Jack Swagger, Big Show, and his current nemesis CM Punk.
Overall, I thought this was a very solid show. It’s tough to get into certain styles of storylines in the “digital age,” but I was willing to suspend my disbelief, and WWE delivered. After all, don’t we watch wrestling to be entertained? Haven’t we all bought into the Undertaker’s character for the last twenty-plus years?
Kane’s grief and rage were very believable. This could open the door for a meaningful feud for him, and Mysterio is now involved with CM Punk AND Kane, so it will be interesting to see how each of those storylines plays out.
Swagger was great on the mic again tonight, and a clean win has been a long time coming. He needs to look strong heading into the next PPV in two weeks and this was a step in the right direction.
Matt Hardy was great being the distraction for Drew McIntyre, and even though he helps Drew get over way more than Drew helps him, I want to see Hardy elevated again.
Though Battle Royals hardly ever deliver (save for some classic Royal Rumble matches), and we knew that there wouldn’t be any upstarts winning considering what was at stake, kudos to WWE-creative for not taking the lazy way out to explain-away the Undertaker injury.
Check out the “Busted Open” Radio show on Monday from 2-4 PM, Eastern…Sirius 126 and XM 243. My co-host Dave La Greca and I will further delve in to SmackDown and preview the three-hour, Viewer’s Choice” Monday Night Raw. We’ll also take your calls on anything going on in the world of Professional Wrestling at 866-522-2846.
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Written by Pete Copeland