Before I get cracking here, it’s looking like the Top 50 that Iain Burnside and I compile and write each year is going to be released at the beginning of August, probably some time around the 10th. Iain isn’t about right now, he’s gone to Canada to presumably try and find where Edge misplaced his balls, but when he gets back, we’re going to get the article sorted and polished up and out. We’ve got the top 20 pretty much sorted and, I’ve got to say, it’s not been a good year for our Top 50, there has been not very much in the way of excellent performances for an extended time at the top of the card and very little in the way of titles for outstanding, well-rounded wrestlers.
So, on to Smackdown. With Kate out of the way for a while due to her late night vigil spent with the new Harry Potter book, I should have plenty of time to knock this on the head and still have room for a leisurely breakfast with extra bacon. You’ve gotta love extra bacon.
The Weekly Awesomeness Meter, this week depicted in supporting characters of the Harry Potter series:
A = Hagrid
B = Albus Dumbledore (points removed for Michael Gambon’s hippy portrayal)
C = Lucius Malfoy
D = Dobby
E = Ron “Twat” Weasley
Eddie Guerrero continues his recent string of creepy and, truth be told, crappy interviews. He bangs on about the Rey Mysterio “secret” for a substantial time and is just about to let the cat out of the bag in a scenario that surely can only end with the line “would you like to suck my lollipop?” when his wife and daughters appear at ringside looking like homeless people hoping for a bowl of soup. Eddie doesn’t comply with the soup request but does frog march them backstage, castigate his wife for not respecting his working for a living, coaxes them into a car and then gets in a shoving match with Hardcore Holly. Well, Bob has to be somewhere so hanging out with some unimportant people in the car park is as good a place as any. I reckon he was drug dealing.
The Verdict: I’m finding myself getting bored of the Eddie vs Rey feud. The in-ring action is always going to be adequate at the very least but I’m getting more and more uncomfortable with the way this is going – the writers seem intent on giving Smackdown more of an edge and I’m not certain I like it. What makes it worse is that I don’t feel the audience truly wants to boo Eddie. They don’t want to cheer him either at the moment, which is a shame because WWE seems to have a way of taking the heels that the fans love to hate and making them faces that robs them of what we like OR turning faces that we connect with (who happen to have heelish tendencies) into heels and demanding that we despise them. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again – I liked Eddie as a face and his current deal isn’t working for me, especially against Rey Mysterio who, let’s face it, is doing nothing much for this whole angle apart from standing around.
Match One: The Mexicools vs Paul London, Scotty Too Hotty and Funaki
London gets his groove on late in the match and cleans house but, when attempting to climb the ropes, Super Crazy kindly grabs his hair and propels him throat first across the top rope. He follows up with a slingshot moonsault, then Juvi f*cks up a 450 to the extent of his knees connecting with London’s head and chest. Seemed to work though, it got the pin.
The Verdict: I’m certain that these chaps can do a lot more than this and fail to understand why the WWE insist that their cruisers work a more traditional heavyweight style with a couple of high spots thrown in. Psicosis sure didn’t seem to do much, Funaki is about a bland as they come and Scotty looked totally out of his league in there, a great shame because I remember him having some great cruiser matches with Dean Malenko back in the early part of the decade. Still, since then, I’ve seen practically nothing of worth out of him, so you’ve got to draw a line under him at some point. Super Crazy, Juvi and Paul London looked decent here but nothing that made me sit up and say “wow”, which is precisely the reaction they NEED to be engendering to get over properly and make the office give them the ring time that they deserve. It’s a vicious circle where the bookers aren’t giving them the space to live up to their potential, but the wrestlers aren’t really doing much to give the bookers a reason for doing so.
Christian and Candice have a chinwag backstage which Booker T interrupt, complete with Sharmell mouthing off and doing the “mmm hmmm, dog” thing in the background. Christian was awesome on RAW, he’s been underwhelming thus far on Smackdown. Booker did the same old, same old. I didn’t even know who the Candice woman was but I have no idea at all why they kept AND traded her yet let Joy Giovanni go. I don’t really care, but all the same…
Batista delivers a calm, focussed interview backstage with everyone’s favourite little squit, Josh Matthews. He promises to do mean things to JBL. The crowd desperately want to get behind him and pop for his words but he gives them little to pop for.
Melina continues the non-wrestling action backstage by confronting the increasingly plain looking Torrie Wilson who, to my knowledge, hasn’t actually done anything on TV for about six months now. Bad acting ensues (although Melina is very clearly a long way ahead of Torrie in the talent stakes) and we end up with a match for the Great American Bash with Bra and Panties stipulation. I’m not interested, I think that once you’ve seen ’em naked and are aware of their preferred downstairs hair arrangements, there’s little allure to seeing them in bra and panties. Wouldn’t say no, of course, but it just seems a bit of a waste of time.
Yet more non-wrestling action as MNM jump Heidenreich on his way to the ring, deliver a shitty beatdown and Melina sticks the verbal boot in with the “you’ve got no friends” line. Road Warrior Animal makes a very surprising save and chases away the heels with his nice round belly. He gets on the microphone, plugs the Road Warrior DVD and makes some intimation towards a match at GAB with MNM. Mercury retorts by challenging the Road Warriors to a match. Nitro very correctly, although somewhat callously, points out that they can’t do that, what with Hawk having snuffed it and all. Animal doesn’t go ballistic, but Heidenreich holds him back anyway with a nice big hug. Upshot of it all – Heidenreich and Animal vs Nitro and Mercury at GAB.
The Verdict: The emergence of Animal was exciting and got a hefty pop, so I’ve got no major problems there. Hopefully he will help the Heidenreich project along, get the chap to stick some face paint on and we can have LOD2005. Get Sunny on the blower, tell her to get that cocaine out of her face and get her on the treadmill and slim-fast NOW! I’m very surprised the internet wasn’t up in arms against this segment immediately because of the “his partner’s dead” line and ensuing guffaws that followed Nitro’s less than witty quip, but if Animal doesn’t have a problem with it, I don’t have a problem with it. I felt bad for laughing though.
Match Two: Eddie Guerrero vs Hardcore Holly
Eddie grows bored of Holly trying to wrestle, so wallops him in the kneecap with a pipe when the ref is not paying attention and then slaps on a Texas Cloverleaf for the tap out victory.
The Verdict: The psychology in the last five minutes of the match was pretty good, Holly worked his usual basic style and looked strong in his role, Eddie carried the match along quite well but it all was just a little too middle of the road for my to truly get into and the longer it went, the more I wanted it to finish since the result was so obvious anyway. Still, I liked Eddie pulling a submission finish out of mothballs, it works with his character now.
The Muhammad Hassan segment – loosely described as such because it didn’t actually involve Hassan – didn’t air over here. I can only assume that it was deemed that, due to the terrorist attacks last week, we weren’t ready to cope with the image of a lawyer onscreen. Easy come, easy go.
Match Three: Christian vs Booker T
Following on from the earlier MNM sneak attack, as Booker is making his way to the ring, Christian mugs him from behind, administers a beatdown and then, once the match officially starts, hits Booker with the Unprettier for a quick win.
The Verdict: Not a match at all, really, more of an angle to progress their pay per view bout. I understand that the regular shows are basically there to market the product and ensure the PPV buys come flooding in, but I’d prefer a healthier mix of action and shill on these shows. A Christian squash match with him running Booker down on the microphone afterwards would have worked just as well and been miles more entertaining.
Match Four: DAVE Batista vs Orlando Jordan
Prior to the match, Bradshaw delivers a promo where he talks about his shame at losing to the Blue Meanie. You can tell he means it too…
To wind up the match, JBL sticks his beak into things with a chairshot whilst the ref is down, but Orlando only gets two off it. Shortly after, Batista catches JBL with a clothesline and polishes OJ off with the DAVEbomb. A Stockbreaker clothesline from JBL afterwards puts Big Dave in la-la land and JBL does the obligatory heel pose standing over the champ with his belt in hand.
The Verdict: Good pop for Dave on his way out to the ring. I found myself getting slightly into this match despite myself. Even though Jordan is clearly nowhere near Batista’s league, having JBL around just bypasses the trouble of Orlando being there at all and it becomes all about JBL vs Batista without giving the actual match away. The crowd heat was good enough to make this seem like a main event, which is pretty good news considering OJs involvement. I’m still never happy when the IC champ has to job clean, but being beaten by the World Champ isn’t the worst thing that could happen. Dave did a good job selling the leg beatdown for a few minutes but, sadly, shook it off and forgot to keep selling once he made his big comeback. The GAB match is going to need smoke and mirrors to keep it interesting, I fear… although it’s GOT to be better than the Cena vs Bradshaw WM match. Surely?
The Overall Verdict: I didn’t really think much of this show, it was tiresome to sit through and the performers all seemed to just be going through the motions without much enthusiasm. What killed it for me was the continual non-wrestling – I’m a realist and understand that I’m not going to get several 10 minute matches but I still stand up and say “why not?” In a two hour slot, giving three matches around 10 minutes apiece still leaves 90 minutes for ga-ga. I’d have liked to see London et al given 5 more minutes, a Christian squash match and possibly one other match but the talent pool doesn’t seem deep enough at present to comply. Put it this way – I stuck 120 minutes of my time into this show and didn’t come away feeling enriched, entertained or any happier because of it, I just felt a bit bored and sort of like I’d wasted my time watching, which ain’t good. I don’t expect PPV quality action and I didn’t *hate* it, I feel it could have been more memorable and exciting – which would have moved it upwards from the middle road average C grade.
Overall Grade: D+
C – Eddie Guerrero
C – Juventud
C – Super Crazy
C – Psicosis
C – Paul London
C – Scotty Too Hotty
C – Funaki
C – Booker T
C – Christian
D – Candice
C – Bob Holly
C – MNM
C+ – Melina
D – Torrie Wilson
C – Heidenreich
C – Road Warrior Animal
C – JBL
C – Orlando Jordan
C+ – Batista