Since Smackdown isn’t aired over in Jolly Old England until Friday evening and since I don’t really want to be using the beginning moments of my weekend (or, more specifically, I think I’d cop a huge amount of grief from my wife for doing so) to jot this lot down, I hook the whole thing into Sky+ and watch it early Saturday morning and scribble my thoughts down into this here laptop shortly afterwards whilst all my American readers (and also my missus) slumber and dream of fame, fortune and Franz Ferdinand.
The Smackdown Ross Report is brought to you this week by the reader who threw the book at me for using Tom Waits as my comparison for a C grade.
The Weekly Awesomeness Meter, this week depicted in supporting characters of the Simpsons:
A = Duff Man
B = Sideshow Bob
C = Carl Carlson
D = Super Nintendo Chalmers
E = Gill, the businessman par excellence
A John Bradshaw Leyfield interview follows an admittedly excellent opening that recaps the two big moves of the draft, a video package that makes the Cena and Batista moves look truly monumental. JBL gasses on about how he’s been robbed this way, that way and even has the gall to compare his plight to that of a Mr. Bret Hart post Montreal. His freestyle (and rather predictable) rant is broken up by his very own music and arrival of his limo. From within appear the Blue World Order, represented by Blue Wheat (Stevie), Bash Me (Nova) and the Blue Meanie as John Blue Lamefield. To be honest, that was pretty weak. Anyhow, the upshot is that Stevie proves he’s not in JBLs class on the microphone, the crowd don’t react quite as well as you might hope, a match is set for later and then Meanie spraypaints “bWo” on the hood of the limo.
Match One: Chris Benoit vs Booker T
This match is to determine the number one contender to Orlando Jordan’s frankly pointless US Title. The match goes back and forth with some good close calls and Booker even busting out a couple of moves I didn’t know he knew, before a suplex attempt by Booker sees Benoit scoot over the back and take his rival down into the Crossface for the submission victory.
The Verdict: Good match – I enjoyed this one. Another best of seven series is unquestionably going to be performed at some point and this match would make me lean towards endorsing that idea. Booker seemed motivated, a lot moreso than in his series with Cena this time last year. Benoit is always motivated and the two looked on a similar level to each other and, more importantly, on a level far above where they were when their first best of seven series occurred. On the other hand, why are they wasting Benoit on the US title match at the Bash? Benoit is far too good for Jordan, and any result other than Benoit crushing him in 3 minutes will make Chris look weak. I don’t see why they didn’t just pull the trigger on the best of seven series now and give the winner a World Title shot at SummerSlam or later. The US Title shot could have been used to help elevate someone who could have made an impact – certainly, before Vince got trigger happy and sacked anyone who has more than 4 vowels in their name, there are people who could have benefited far more from a PPV slot and US Title run than Benoit or his predecessor, the truly awful Heidenreich – Charlie Haas being the obvious name that comes to mind.
Eddie Guerrero has been threatening to unveil some hideous secret that Rey Mysterio is keeping from us all. Although the video package and subsequent interview seems to indicate that Eddie is Dominik’s real father with all the subtlety of being hit in the face with a day-glo yellow painted brick by an incredibly large man wearing a sandwich board that says “look at me, I’m not subtle at all”, supported by a mile-long line of wandering minstrels singing the song “Subtlety is for losers”. So I don’t know why Rey just doesn’t admit that he got drunk one night and told his wife to go toss Eddie’s salad like a good girl. Either way, the upshot is that Eddie wants Rey to team with him against MNM for a go at the tag gold tonight.
Match Two – No DQ: JBL vs The Blue Meanie
JBL kicks the shit out of Meanie for a good five minutes, before Stevie cracks a chair over Leyfield’s head (and does a bloody good job of it too), Meanie hits a blubbery moonsault for a near fall that the crowd were buying before JBL hits his Clothesline from Hell. Batista then appears as if from nowhere and plants the number one contender with a spinebuster. Meanie capitalises with the cover to sneak the three count.
The Verdict: I don’t have any major problem with a proven main eventer kicking the shit out of a mid-card comedy act, I just hope that they cast the bWo a life-line next week and allow them some time to develop, because there is definitely potential there. This helped move along the Bradshaw/Batista feud nicely and didn’t do any damage to anyone in the meanwhile (unless JBL decided to insist on Richards being depushed for his errant chairshot), so I’ve got no major complaints about this one, even if it was a little drab.
Interestingly enough, none of the Muhammad Hassan segments aired over here in the wake of the London Terrorist attacks. Seriously, we didn’t see him one on the show. I can understand getting rid of the ending of the match that I heard about, where the “terrorists” lynched the Undertaker (which is a horrible and debauched angle to run in the first place) but I think it’s going a smidge too far to remove an Arab American from the broadcast. Showing ‘Taker beating the shit out of Daivari might have even been therapeutic…
Match Three: MNM vs Eddie Guerrero and Rey Mysterio
Eddie doesn’t seem too bothered about winning, so has a seat at ringside to see how his whipping boy gets on. Rey does rather well, basically beating the tag champs by himself until Eddie breaks up what would have been a title winning cover. He then lounges in the corner of the ring and watches whilst Nitro and Mercury polish Mysterio off with some lame offence and then the Snapshot.
The Verdict: Didn’t rate it highly because it a/ made the tag champs look weak, b/ didn’t flow very well, c/ the result was blatantly obvious and d/ I just can’t cope with Eddie as a heel. Rey’s so very bland and, if you think about it, his gimmick is purely that he’s small. Eddie was one of the WWE most complex faces ever, so his heel turn just seems a bit weak, given how much potential he had as a face. MNM didn’t help themselves here, looking rather overwhelmed, although Nitro fared better than Mercury. Hey, who’s next in line for a shot at the tag champs? The Dudleys are on the way out, so that’s a no-go, Charlie Haas can’t get a partner for a shot and run (and you’ve got to admit that he managed to squeeze a decent partnership out of Hardcore Holly, which is a bloody miracle) because he’s been sacked and there’s nobody else around really, especially since they traded one of the Bashams to RAW in an utterly nonsensical move. Come on Vince, just put the Tag Division on RAW and build a proper Cruiser division on Smackdown.
The Mexicools hover down to ringside on their Flymo and kick the stuffing out of Matt Morgan, who impressively illustrates how right the office were to sack him by not seeming to have a clue where anything or anyone was in the ring and having to be shepparded into place several times by the luchadores. Good job, Matt, enjoy the indie scene. Oh, of note also, just sticking the word “blockbuster” before announcing a trade does not help, in fact, it makes us suspicious of what’s coming. Renee Dupree being traded to RAW was about as much of a blockbuster as William Regal being traded to Smackdown – ie. Nowhere near a blockbuster. Very worrying too was the anaemic reaction that Regal got. Quite, quite sad. They should have saved the return for the next time they have an event over here and put Regal over as upper mid-card right away, at least for the purposes of skits.
Backstage, Christian rants and raves about how great he is and all of the top guys he’s fought in the last week, mentioning EVERY SINGLE GUY he was against EXCEPT Muhammad Hassan. DISCRIMINATION RULES!!! Christian also seems to have dropped the “that’s how I roll” catchphrase, which was class and should be kept at all costs
Match Four: Christian vs Batista
Christian did get a chance to throw in some nifty moves, with a good suspended DDT and a nifty looking missile dropkick, but the crowd struggled to see the Captain as a threat and it showed in their weak reaction when DAVE came back with a couple of powerslams, a spinebuster and the match winning DAVEbomb. Post match, Bradshaw and Orlando Jordan ran in for a beat-down that went wrong with the latter catching himself a spinebuster and DAVEbomb for good luck.
The Verdict: This was a decent match, mainly carried by Christian, which didn’t engage the audience – it’s very hard to believe that a chap as big and strong as DAVE wouldn’t just thwart any offence by Christian and squish him like a bug. Now, I’m all for having them build Christian up, but if he’s going to get any extended period of offence on the big guy, they’re going to have to have him cheat like crazy to do it. I do hope this doesn’t lead to Christian being stuffed back down in the mid-card with Benoit and Booker again, because we’ve seen that so very many times that it’s just boring now, no matter how good the combatants are. As for DAVE, he’s got his work cut out for him against JBL at the Bash but I’m confident that the two will be able to cook up something that is at least watchable, because JBL actually poses a threat to Batista’s reign and big DAVE selling the offence of Bradshaw will look a lot more realistic than his selling for Christian.
The Overall Verdict: Matching this week’s RAW in the adequate but nothing special stakes, the version of Smackdown I saw ran a total of about 95 minutes, given the cutting of anything Hassan related. Even at this paltry time allotment, I still felt it dragged, having peaked early with an entertaining Benoit vs Booker match and then featuring a bunch of filler that, despite the best efforts of Batista and Christian, didn’t do much for the live crowd, something that can and often does leave the viewing public feeling deflated.
Overall Grade: C
C – JBL
C – The Blue Meanie
C – Stevie Richards
B – Booker T
B – Chris Benoit
C+ – Eddie Guerrero
C+ – Rey Mysterio
C+ – Johnny Nitro
C – Joey Mercury
C – Mexicools
D – Matt Morgan
C+ – Christian
C – Batista