Segment One.

  • “You mean I bought a ticket to this show and they didn’t even have the fucking card set-up?  What kinda shit is this??”
  • But seriously, these “GM sets up the show in the opening ten minutes” are great for  pops from the local crowd, but it just feels like cheap filler for anyone watching on TV.
  • That being said, I liked the return of Jack Swagger.  Having him come out and talk over all of those top guys was a great way to bring him back and make him look like a big deal right out of the gate.
  • THAT being said, all of the guys in competition for a spot in the Elimination Chamber have been wrestling matches all year long, but their fate now rests on having ONE GOOD MATCH on SmackDown?
  • It made sense to bring Rey Mysterio out to pop the local crowd but again, these are house show gimmicks which is no substitute for compelling storytelling.

Last Word:  MINUS –

Segment Two.  Rey Mysterio & Sin Cara vs. Team Hell No, Part One

  • Crowd fires up for Bryan.  No surprise.
  • First half of this match feels more like poorly choreographed ballet than a real match.

Last Word:  MINUS –

Segment Three.  Rey Mysterio & Sin Cara vs. Team Hell No, Part Two

  • Action picked up in the second half.
  • Tag champs lose…AGAIN.  Bryan eats the pin…AGAIN.
  • As in Segment One, this match would be fine for a house show.  But having the champs lose is counterproductive to building interest in the TV product.
  • ADR’s passion has been far more believable as a face than it was as a heel and it has really helped sell his championship run and his current feud with Big Show.

Last Word:  PLUS +

Segment Four.  The Punjabi (Ratings) Plunge.

  • I noticed Heath Slater finally adopted the old-school trick of wetting his hair to appeal more “heelish”.  Hope he gets a serious solo push someday.
  • Team Rhodes Scholars announcing they are dissolving may be worse news than Cena announcing he’s challenging for the WWE title at WrestleMania.  Yet another intriguing team broken up just when they were getting good.

Last Word:  MINUS –

Segment Five.  Performance Review Anxiety.

  • This entire segment was devoted to a replay of what took place on Raw between Paul Heyman and Vince McMahon.
  • If Heyman represents CM Punk and Brock Lesnar, how can Vince fire him?  Were fans supposed to consider this “performance evaluation” a SHOOT?
  • The return of Lesnar was very cool, but I think there were a number of different ways they could’ve done this.  The mystery behind The Shield’s AND Brad Maddox’s association with Punk were completely blown because WWE decided to resort to a weak plot device rather than give a modest effort and offer something more creative.

Last Word:  MINUS –

Segment Six.  Strength In Numbers…and Strong Booking.

  • I’m still loving Shield’s music.  It has an ECW feel to it that makes them just a little more bad ass than everyone else.
  • I’m also glad they continue to book this trio strong.  The signifigance of them getting the best of Cena, Sheamus, and Ryback on Raw cannot be overstated.  This was a situation where they could’ve been forced to “give back” to Sheamus but they didn’t.  If WWE is smart, they’ll keep this going as long as they can.  There are very few dangerous heels in the company right now.

Last Word:  PLUS +

Segment Seven.

  • What’s with these so-called champions?  What do these shiny belts really mean when the people wearing them lose all the time?  Simple, THEY DON’T MEAN ANYTHING!
  • Not sure why Wade had to take this loss as opposed to somebody else.  To make Randy Orton look impressive to justify a spot in the Elimination Chamber??  Any ten year-old watching WWE for the last year could tell you Randy Orton deserves a title shot.  You’re telling me the SmackDown GM doesn’t have at least that much sense?  Just a pointless burial of a phenomenal talent in Barrett.

Last Word:  MINUS –

Segment Eight.

  • Wade’s backstage assault on Bo Dallas earned him a little redemption.
  • Decent match between Swagger and Kofi Kingston, but Swagger wins because of a mistake by Kofi, not because he was the superior athlete.  What should’ve been a dominating performance turned into a guy taking advantage of a lucky break.  Not nearly the kind of impressive outing you want if you’re making your big return.  Swagger even botched the anklelock.
  • The ADR-Big Show parking lot fight was an incredibly dangerous segment and frankly, I’m surprised they agreed to it.  It certainly did the job though of adding a fantastic element of realism and intensity to their feud.

Last Word:  PLUS +

Segment Nine.

  • More Raw replays.  This time of the CM Punk-Rock dueling microphones bit.  My biggest complaint regarding these replays is, anyone watching SmackDown has most likely already seen Raw and knows what happened.  How about we devote that time to something original and creative instead that will get more people wanting to watch THIS show?

Last Word:  MINUS –

Segment Ten.  Alberto Del Rio vs. Dolph Ziggler, Part One.

  • Decent action in the first half of this match.

Last Word:  PLUS +

Segment Eleven.  ADR vs. Dolph, Part Two.

  • I honestly thought that since it was a non-title match, Ziggler might somehow actually get a win.  A cheap win perhaps, due to a distraction from Big Show or something, but a win nonetheless.  After all, this wasn’t Super Cena he was facing.  Or Triple H’s buddy, Sheamus.  Or Ryberg Version 2.0.  This was Alberto Del Rio.  A guy of comparable size who was just involved in pretty intense parking lot brawl.
  • But I now realize that WWE truly intends for us to be convinced that the only thing Dolph Ziggler is capable of, is getting his ass kicked by everyone he steps in the ring with.  This man literally CANNOT beat anyone!
  • Despite the unfortunate outcome of the match, the show ending with another blow being struck in ADR’s feud with Big Show was smart.

Last Word:  PLUS +

FINAL SCORE:  5 PLUS,  6 MINUS

So where did SmackDown go wrong to end up with a show that was more bad than good?  Let’s find out by examining…

My Chief Complaints:

  1. Champs or Chumps?  We all know that wrestling is “fake”.  But was also know that the other TV shows we watch are “fake”.  Most of MacGuyver’s ad-libbed devices may be scientifically impossible but we don’t care.  We want to see them work.  That’s the appeal of the show.  With wrestling, we know the champions didn’t really earn their titles, but we want to pretend that they did and that they are the best.  When you have them lose, and lose cleanly no less, you piss all over the illusion and ruin the show.  I’m sorry, but WWE needs to be docked some major points for this.  There’s no reason for it.  Especially when there are ways to get people over other than beating the champions that are just as effective.
  2. Trim The Fat.  When you spend the first ten minutes on match set-up and devote two entire segments to replays from Raw, that tells me one of two things:  a) you’re just not working hard enough at being creative, or b) you’ve got way too much time to fill.  I personally feel the latter to be the bigger problem.  There’s too much WWE on TV right now and shows like SmackDown and especially Raw, are longer than they need to be.  The ideal running time for a wrestling show is an hour and a half.  They could’ve easily cut the  replays from Raw and the ridiculous Khali-Jinder Mahal match  (Khali should be cut from the roster entirely but that’s another subject).  Streamline the show and make it more palatable to viewers.  Less is more.

My Points of Praise:

  1. Feud For Thought.  Wrestling isn’t complicated.  Get two talented performers together.  Make them hate each other.  Sit back and enjoy.  The current feud between Alberto Del Rio and Big Show may be the best thing WWE is doing right now.
  2. I Believe In The Shield.  Their music.  Their mystique (despite their “cover” being blown in that horrible Paul Heyman-Vince McMahon segment on Raw).  Their muscle.  All of these things combine to keep the Shield strong and intriguing.

Really the best part about SmackDown, and what I believe gives it the edge over Raw, is the fact that it’s only two hours compared to Raw’s three.  It’s still too long but at least it feels closer to the length that a wrestling show should be.  Still, there’s room for improvement.  I’m just afraid that the changes WWE needs to make to their weekly programming slate won’t be happening anytime soon and so we’ll be forced to simply take the good with the bad.

That’s the last word for now, freaks.  Until next time…discuss!

-“Handsome” Dan Lopez

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