Last week, Smackdown came out with a pretty mediocre effort, and I am alright with saying that. It was not bad, but it definitely catered to the status quo. Monday Night RAW was better this week, but everything came to a grinding halt when the Newlywed Game-Show spoof was even attempted. There is a lot to be excited about, but I am getting a bit tired of having to look forward to the PPVs for anything exciting to happen. Everything else tends to feel like unnecessary drama(the whole AJ Affair mess) or something that's treading water(Ziggler having a Money in the Bank but losing any of the matches that matter). The glimmer of hope still exists, and it is for this reason that we watch this week's episode of Smackdown.
When the show starts with Randy Orton and a microphone, things never look that good. Knowing Alberto Del Rio is looming around, ready to vent his frustrations, is not comforting, because these are probably the worst two you could pair up for a promo. My worries are confirmed once Orton starts speaking, but when Del Rio walks out, Orton shows some personality, and we end up with something that isn't snooze-worthy. ADR runs away, but Orton is immediately attacked by Wade Barrett. Don't get too excited, though. It turns out Barrett was doing dirty work for Alberto, so it's not quite clear if this is the beginning of the Barrett/Orton rivalry picking back up, but with a match set between the two for the night, it's not out of reach.
Cody Rhodes v Kane(C+): I do not believe Cody and Kane have squared off since the mask was put back on, so this feels fresh. On top of that, Sandow and Bryan bicker and banter on the commentary table with JBL making quips in between, and while it may be distracting, it is not for a bad reason. It was short, but the package was satisfying, and the finish, a play on one of Rhodes' usual spots, wrapped it up with a satisfyingly vibrant bow.
Big Show's ripping off CM Punk's hoodie fashion, but I will not condemn it, because it is much better than the beanie. Besides, Big Show has been nailing his character and making this feud with Sheamus something worth watching, like this brief segment with Booker where he promises not to attack Sheamus and claims him to be scared. Harmless and effective.
The Miz v Yoshi Tatsu(C-): Poor Miz has had his solid push stolen from him ever since he lost to Ryback. Poor Yoshi has been nearly non-existent for months now. Someone here has to look good, and I have a feeling the one they pick is not Japanese. It's a thorough squash that makes Miz look incredibly crisp, and Yoshi gets in maybe two blows, but while everyone else who benefited is deserving, this should not have been. Miz should still be champion and should have been fighting Ryback at Survivor Series. Yoshi should at least be kicking ass on NXT. Instead, we're watching a decent squash between two talented superstars that means diddly squat. You can't win 'em all.
Booker T is finally getting to the bottom of things between Eve, Kaitlyn, and Teddy because he's "sick of all this drama." I have to laugh at and strangely applaud Aksana still showing interest in Teddy Long, showing that she's more impulsive rather than someone who was using Teddy and never cared(which oddly enough, I like to think Aksana really did want Teddy Long to take her to the Bone Zone). To settle the dispute between the ladies, he sets up a Triple Threat Divas Title match for Kaitlyn and Layla to get their rematches. Everyone else might not agree, but I am excited to see what that match will hold in store.
Randy Orton v Wade Barrett(B): If there's one man who can make Randy Orton interesting to watch, it's either Christian, Sheamus, or Wade Barrett. Barrett's angle with Randy Orton(which likely would have led to a WrestleMania match) ended prematurely when Barrett was taken out for an injury. Fast-forward 7 months later, and they're having their first match since, and you have to wonder if this will again light the fire that boils this feud. This match itself is not their best, but that is far from an insult, because it is one of the best TV matches of the month(behind Dolph Ziggler vs. Daniel Bryan from this Monday, of course). These guys have an enormous amount of chemistry, and I can't wait to see them mix it up again.
Layla & Kaitlyn v Eve & Aksana(C+): After watching NXT earlier today, I am fired up for the Divas. Kaitlyn has become somewhat of a sleeper talent, and I feel if she has enough time on Sunday, she'll show everyone why she deserves to stick around when women like Paige and Sara Del Ray get brought up. Eve has transformed from an awkward back-up dancer for R-Truth to the best female personality in the WWE, and her ring game has grown into something that snatches your attention. Layla may be occasionally sloppy, but she has a solid move-set and can turn out a good match when she flips the right switch. Aksana is mostly just eye-candy...but none of that matters because Kaitlyn and Eve get most of the ring time, and they TEAR IT UP. Ok, that might be a bit of hyperbole, but they both know what they're doing better than either of their partners. Let this feud carry on, and give Kaitlyn that belt when the time is right...then get AJ back in the mix, and set the stage for the onset of "rookie" women.
Sheamus and Booker have a verbal exchange, and when Sheamus is serious, he pulls off a segment well. Nothing really transpires though, and it flows into a brief bit between Bryan and Kane, deciding this upcoming match will determine the weakest link in Hell No.
Daniel Bryan v Damien Sandow(B-): Before the bell, Sandow tears into the fans' infatuation with the word "Yes" exceptionally by showing three different ways one can say it. Afterward, Bryan shows Sandow how articulate he is, except his articulation is in grappling. I have said it many times again, and I will probably say it as many times as I have to review a match of his, but Damien Sandow is a master at selling, and he makes the offense feel more believable and intimidating than anyone not named Dolph Ziggler. It may have been short, but I was entertained the whole time, and the ending was nearly emotional as Bryan was cheated out of his victory, making him appear to be the weakest link of the team when he rightfully should have won. Excellent story-telling. I am watching WWE in the 2010's, right?
Just imagine this scene: 12 security guards filling a WWE ring, preparing themselves for any altercation to break out, as they form a line, turnbuckle-to-turnbuckle, separating The Big Show and The World Heavyweight Champion, Sheamus. Not since Sheamus and Bryan had their 2 out of 3 falls match at Extreme Rules as the World Heavyweight Championship felt like such a big deal. Even more important, it's been even longer since the main event of Smackdown felt this exciting, with two of the most unexpected people in the company.
Sheamus has obliterated everyone in his path, yet The Big Show comes along and is the first person to STOP the Brogue Kick. Not dodge...not survive...stop. I'm talking about a catch. Sheamus is ever confident, but there is no hiding that the doubt sinks in Sheamus with each week. Big Show pulls yet another segment and plays the "unstoppable colossus" card, and Sheamus puts Big Show, this feud, and this Sunday's match over in a HUGE way. Sheamus is mostly on point, and the passion behind his words is almost tangible. Both men eventually erupt and start picking off the guards attempting to subdue them, and once their paths are cleared...Big Show dodges a Brogue Kick and acts cool, saying he's "saving it for Sunday." I am pumped, ladies and gentlemen.
I can not tell you how excited I am for Hell In A Cell this Sunday, and nothing has sold me on that more than tonight's episode of Smackdown.