The Smackdown Ramble: July 6th, 2007

-With Michael Cole and JBL, TAPED! from Dallas, Texas.

-MVP vs. Matt Hardy

MVP scores some cheap heel heat off the local crowd beforehand, by using the time tested device of berating their local sports team. This is non-title, by the way. Side headlock by MVP to start, followed by a shoulder block and a scoop slam, and taunting, which isn’t Cole’s cup of tea. Test of strength is won by MVP, but Matt counters and reverses the pressure onto MVP. They trade near falls, before MVP goes back to the side headlock. Matt counters and gets a side headlock takeover for a two count. Matt gets a bulldog out of the corner for a one count and then goes back to the side headlock. Geez, this is quite slow. Couple of elbows score a two count for Matt. MVP goes for the knee, but Matt fights back with punches as we go to a commercial. We return to MVP clotheslining Matt for a two count. MVP locks on an armbar, but Matt makes the comeback with a back body drop and a yodelling elbow for two. Nice belly to belly throw by MVP, and Matt gets clotheslined to the floor. Back in, MVP gets two. Matt tries to fight out of a grounded abdominal stretch, but gets headbutted. They trade punches, before MVP goes to a waistlock. Matt fights out of that and gets the Side Effect for two. Another Side Effect gets two. Hmmm, weird sequence. MVP runs into a boot in the corner, but Matt foolishly goes up and gets belly to belly suplexed off the top for two. That was nice. Leg is hooked for two. They trade forearms and it’s a double KO. Both are up at eight, and the Twist of Fate is reversed into a fireman’s carry and a press slam, and MVP kicks Matt in the head for for two. MVP hits the boot in the corner, and that gets two as well. MVP lifts Matt up in a fireman’s carry again, but Matt fights out of it and hits the Twist of Fate for the win at just over 19:00, including commercials. This started off really slow, but really got going after the commercial break with the nearfalls. That’s the kind of match they should try and work, because the slow, technical stuff doesn’t suit them at all. **3/4

-Later tonight, it’s Flair/Finlay.

-Michelle McCool is still loving life, and this week, shopping in particular. Is there an actual point to these vignettes?

-Backstage, Teddy and Krystal are discussing wedding plans, but Edge interrupts and he’s PISSED. Teddy tells Edge he’s going to have the Cutting Edge tonight, with the biggest superstar EVER as his guest. That’s quite the guarantee, Teddy.

-Chris Masters vs. Jimmy Wang Yang

Say goodbye to PPV title matches Jimmy, and say hello to becoming cannon fodder for roided up freaks. Speaking of which, Masters overpowers Yang to start and gets a press slam, as Cole talks about the slow, methodical pace. Masters knocks Yang down with a nasty clothesline. Yang tries to fight back and kicks Masters in the head, but he gets caught in mid-air as he comes off the top and swung into the Masterlock, which finishes at 2:51. The jobber a couple of weeks lasted nearly a minute longer. Wasn’t Masters jobbing to Santino Marella and roll ups three weeks ago? 1/2* for Yang’s effort.

-Afterwards, The Great Khali comes out and double hand chokeslams Yang. Khali’s annoyed because with ONLY (?) three weeks left until the Great American Bash, Khali still doesn’t have an opponent. Doesn’t he know how things work in this company? The World Champion doesn’t have an opponent yet for Christ’s sake. And the fact that there’s a three week gap until the next PPV is remarkable in itself, with the clutter we’ve had this summer. He issues an open challenge, anyway. Well, his interpreter does. Can I just say one thing that really annoys me about Khali? The way they always deliberately change the camera angle so he looks bigger. I mean, I know it makes sense and all, but it bugs me. Always the little things.

-Jesse and Festus are coming to Smackdown and are concerned about navigation or something.

-The Major Brothers vs. Jeremy Young and Mike Foxx

The Majors work over Foxx to start, as Cole talks about Long wanting to establish a great tag division on Smackdown. If there was irony there, it was lost on me. This is just a vehicle to promote the Majors, with Cole and JBL giving us some background on them. Double hiptoss by The Majors, but a cover is broken up by Young. Brian takes over on both Young and Foxx, and tags in Brett. Some sort of double team legsweep/Side Effect finishes off Young at 2:25. Not much I can say about this, really. 1/2*

-Rey Mysterio is back soon. Not soon enough, I say.

-Ric Flair vs. Finlay

This should be decent. Flair styles and profiles to start, and they lock up. Finlay knocks Flair down with a shoulder block. They trade arm locks, but Flair takes Finlay down and works on the right leg, but Finlay gets the upper hand with some right hands in the corner and a clothesline. That gets two. Nerve pinch by Finlay takes Flair to his knees, followed by an upper cut. Flair comes back with the thumb to the eyes though, and hits some chops in the corner. Finlay gets a backbody drop as Cole questions whether or not Flair should have been DQed for the thumb to the eyes. That’s not happened for nearly thirty years, so I don’t think they’re gonna start now. Finlay goes to a half-Boston crab, and then goes to the Celtic Knot. If I did a list of my favourite submissions, the Indian Deathlock would be well up there. Flair makes it to the ropes, but Finlay keeps working on the leg. Finlay gets backdropped to the floor and they fight out there, before Flair brings him back in and chops away. Flair works the leg and gets the Figure Four, but Finlay makes the ropes. Finlay gets a small package for two. Back suplex by Flair, but here’s Hornswoggle. Flair chops him down, which is HILARIOUS. Unfortunately for Flair, Finlay hits him with the shillaleigh to the leg as referee Charles Robinson is distracted with Hornswoggle, and the Celtic Knot makes Flair submit at 10:16. Really enjoyable match, not only for the fact that it’s the first time these two have ever met. **1/4

-Backstage, Victoria interrupts Torrie’s photo shoot and throws a beachball in her face. CATFIGHT! ensues.

-Backstage, The Great Khali is walking around. MENACINGLY. His translator (less menacing) picks a fight with a member of the stage crew. Khali then beats him up.

-Kenny Dykstra vs. Chuck Palumbo

Dykstra cuts ‘annoying self-deluded promo version 3421′ beforehand, but he’s interrupted by The Underta sorry, Chuck Palumbo. Gone are the days of gay weddings and hanging around with the Italian mafia, it seems. Palumbo starts with a shoulderblock. Kenny fights out of the corner with right hands, but gets thrown with a belly to belly suplex. Kenny gets a crossbody for one. Palumbo runs into a boot and Kenny ‘hits’ a dropkick for two. They slug it out for what seems like forever, before Kenny takes Palumbo down with an armbar for two. Funny note: everyone in the crowd has the same bored, uninterested expression on their face, with their arms crossed. Palumbo fights back with shoulderblocks and clotheslines, and the Full Throttle wins it for Palumbo at 4:39. I don’t see either of these two doing anything special in the near future, and this seemed like 44:39. *

-The Raw Rebound recaps the events of last Monday, when Regal made a Beat The Clock to determine the number one contender. Remember when Regal was commissioner in 2001? That was pretty awesome.

-Meanwhile, Mark Henry is big and threatening and stuff. He threatens one of the new draftees geez, I hope it’s not Flair. Or Eugene. Or any of them, actually. Henry would make a good bodyguard character for someone like MVP.

-Deuce vs. Eugene

Bit of a random match. Eugene is distracted by Cherry’s roller skates to start with, and Deuce punches him in the corner. Eugene hulks up, but gets knocked to the floor. The Great Khali comes out at the 1:00 mark and interrupts. So that was the point of this match, then. It’s an overhand chop for Deuce and a double handed chokeslam for Eugene. I’ve seen about all I can take of Khali for one MONTH, nevermind one show. At least he hasn’t wrestled tonight. No match really, so no point in rating it.

-Afterwards, Batista comes out and isn’t intimidated, as shown by that rather fetching grey suit. Why did they set up his pyro if he wasn’t wrestling? Batista gets in the ring and stares at Khali, and the sunglasses are off, showing he means business. Khali leaves the ring in a huff, however. I wouldn’t fight someone with a dress sense like that, to be fair. Batista vs. Khali at the Bash that’s not gonna be pretty. I’m just glad I don’t have to review it.

-The Cutting Edge (w/The Biggest Superstar In The History Of The Cutting Edge)

Everyone’s holding up ‘Edge sucks’ signs. Weird how they all have same handwriting, though. He promises the tough questions and not to shy away from the big issues. So now, it’s time to meet the special, most important, biggest ever guest in the history of the greatest and most controversial talk show in sports entertainment EVER, The Cutting Edge

Kane?

Okay then.

Gotta love them piped in cheers, by the way. Maybe Edge’ll ask him the tough questions, like how it felt to impregnate Lita, or bury his brother alive only for him to come back a few months later, or be implicated in the murder of Katie Vick, or you get the idea. Edge says it’ll be a decade of dominance in October for Kane. That’s fairly similar to the ‘decade of destruction’ they used with The Undertaker a few years ago. Edge mentions Kane’s countless title reigns well, he’s only held one heavyweight title, and even that only lasted ONE DAY. Edge compares their list of accomplishments, and Kane gets a tad annoyed. Edge wants to call time on the segment, but Kane stops him and tells Edge he doesn’t like him. How rude. To make matters worse, a beatdown ensues. Well, that’s no way to treat a host. Edge, quite rightfully, says he’ll never have him as a guest on The Cutting Edge again. Or in the ring, for that matter. GM Long interrupts though, and says that Edge will be defending the title at the Bash against Kane. Oh, great. Kane does his pyro to finish as Edge acts scared on the ramp.

The Inside Pulse
Last week, Troy and I both mentioned how we’d like to see more wrestling and less talking. Well, here’s how the numbers stack up: there was 50:44 last week and around 40:11 this week. Not that it really took away from the show tonight, just for argument’s sake, it’s interesting to see how much of the time was took up by actual wrestling.

This started off reasonably well, and then gradually went downhill, apart from the Flair/Finlay match. Hardy/MVP was a good opener and Flair/Finlay was a nice ten minute match, but there was nothing else of note here at all as far as the wrestling goes. They’re going through a stage of trying to build up new characters without devoting too much time to them. It’s a hard thing to do.

Now, as for the booking and creative side of things well, there’s a gap in logic here the size of Texas itself.

Kane’s character was in freefall, jobbing to Mark Henry and a bearhug on PPV just a month ago. Now all of a sudden, one victory over MVP and we’re supposed to consider him a viable contender to Edge’s title? I’ve read that the original plan was for Edge to face Mysterio at the Bash, so no idea what’s happened with that. It just really smacks of short term planning when Kane’s had literally no build up for months, and then all of a sudden he’s thrust into a title match and built up to be some sort of overpowering monster. Gotta feel sorry for Edge, too – first he was lumped with Batista, now Kane. In fact, I don’t think Edge and Kane have ever clicked when I’ve seen them in the ring together. Their Backlash 2004 match in particular was very disjointed.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Kane. I think he’s a useful guy to have on the roster and his in-ring work is acceptable, more so when you consider his size. I just don’t like stupid booking.

Until next week, take care boys and girls

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