10 Thoughts on Smackdown – 03.06.2009

Ten thoughts. Smackdown. You can figure it out, I’m sure.

1. The version of the show that I downloaded had a production card appear before the show began. It actually gave an episode title – Legacy on the Line. This makes me wonder if the WWE creative team actually come up with episode titles for each and every Raw, Smackdown and ECW broadcasts. I would have thought they would just identify each script by a production number instead of wasting time debating the merits of various titles the public will rarely, if ever, hear about, although the ability of people to find ever more inventively useless means of wasting time never fails to amaze me. Perhaps it just gets labelled with whatever alliterative phrase crosses Michael Hayes’ mind at the last minute. Anyway, good call with this title. It does a nice job of referring to both the opening and closing segments of the show, with The Undertaker’s WrestleMania legacy up for grabs and Randy Orton’s rapscallions interfering in the main event.

2. Speaking of Mr Taker, his promo had some uncomfortable connotations. With the lighting, the hat, the girly hair, the gloves and the mic held up in an uncharacteristic manner he reminded me, just for a split-second, of Michael Jackson. Then he spoke and all was right again. Thank goodness he is an MMA fan rather than a Jackson 5 aficionado. The world needs laughter but it can get by just fine without him Moonwalking his way out of a superkick at WrestleMania and then Thriller-dancing his heart out until the boy-sized Shawn Michaels quits and runs away in tears.

3. Jeff Hardy’s backstage ramble in the presence of Vickie Guerrero raised an interesting point… what if the Money in the Bank winner did decide to cash-in later on that night at the same WrestleMania? It’s highly unlikely that such a development will happen this year given the match’s weak line-up but, hey, just imagine if Jeff had made it into last year’s MITB, won it, cashed-in against Randy Orton and won the world title. Then again, isn’t it about time that a MITB winner wound up *losing* his cash-in match? Surely the title-winning streak of Mr MITBs cannot continue forever (and no, Kennedy doesn’t count… ever… in anything… ever) as it ultimately only undermines the drama that should result from the stipulation. Also, why do the winners of it not rub it in the champion’s faces more often? Say that, against all reason, Mark Henry wins it this time around. Why not have him appear at the end of random WWE and World title matches to ‘politely’ remind the champions that he could eat them and win their title right here and now if he so desired? A heel winner could keep that up for the better part of a year to *really* turn up the heat before eventually cashing in… and losing due to his own hubris. In other words, we need Jericho in that thing to win it this year.

4. So the booking technique to set-up the Divas Battle Royal at WrestleMania is basically “shove ‘em all out there and see what happens”? Well, fair enough, strangely fitting for a battle royal. It seems there are around half-a-dozen slots open for the Divas of yore to fill, so let the speculation begin. Sunny has already mentioned her supposed involvement. Mae Young will no doubt be readying her garters already. Gail Kim seems likely to make her re-debut at long last. Trish Stratus has been rumoured to be involved with this show for months anyway. Will Victoria make a premature, one-night-deal return? What of Lita, Torrie Wilson, Molly Holly, Ivory, Sable, Terri Runnels, Dawn Marie, Ivory, Jazz or the Miller Lite Girls? I’m not sure how this is meant to be a better plan than Trish facing Beth Phoenix or Michelle McCool in a singles match but, hey, at least it is still better than another pointless Playboy crossover.

5. For some reason Vickie Guerrero reminds me of the mum from Malcolm in the Middle. I guess in a way Edge reminds me of Francis from the same show, which raises all manner of disturbing (yet probably accurate) connotations for their relationship. And then out came the Big Show with his chubby surliness, fat-man clothes and white-man blues, just like Dan from Roseanne. Then we had dear ol’ Cena, who is of course Poochie. His wiggidy-wiggidy appearance in da house will, presumably, lead to him convincing Vickie to add him to the Mania title match because he somehow found out that it was Show who took the naked pictures of her. Nothing says ‘family-friendly babyface role model’ like blackmailing your boss, kids! Anyway, another great batch of performances from the usual suspects. The awkward body language and hesitant glances between Vickie, Edge and Show got the storyline over in a far more subtle manner than the histrionic Orton/Hunter feud. The timing of each entrance was done well too. WWE has always been great at knowing when to cue theme music for people. WCW’s complete and utter lack of such savvy was always a bone of contention with them for me back in the day. I mean, they didn’t even let one guy get into the ring for the match before they started playing his opponent’s song! Shower of bastards…

6. Interesting to see the WrestleMania 21 retro-video package. Remember when Sir DAVE of Batista was the coolest guy in wrestling? Actually, a part of me would not be at all surprised if he turned out to be the guy to kill Jericho at this year’s Mania. According to a recent interview he expects to be back in action within a month, plus Vince’s secrecy about the Mania pay-off to Jericho’s angle would make sense in this context given that he doesn’t want the surprise ruined or have to publicly change plans again if Batista can’t get clearance to return in time after all. Also, it was good to see Big Show wearing a nappy again. Check out Show’s less-than-stellar Mania record – he fails to become a referee in 1999, he proves to be an overcomplicating non-entity in 2000, he fails to eat Raven before Kane can in 2001, he succeeded only in being marginally better than Nathan Jones in 2003, he was an opening match jobber in 2004, he had the nappy in 2005, he had to get his tag partner to win the opening match in 2006 and then he got knocked out by a midget in 2008. C’mon, only Tito Santana has a worse WrestleMania record than this guy – how can he get a title shot in 2009?

7. I thought the WWE referees were supposed to be following the official mandate of not being brain-dead automatons? What happened to them being able to think for themselves? Surely nobody with a modicum of common sense could have thought Matt Hardy was trying to help Jeff Hardy beat Shelton Benjamin and qualify for Money in the Bank, so why disqualify Jeff?

8. 12 Rounds, huh? No, thank you. The only movie money I am willing to spend for the rest of the year involves geeking out like a geeky little geek watching Transformers 2 this July. Perhaps WWE could make a Transformers movie. The plot would involve Megatron kidnapping Optimus Prime’s girlfriend and forcing him to do all manner of shenanigans that involve leaping out of exploding buildings. Wow, what a concept!

9. You know what makes a 3-on-1 heel beatdown? That the babyface getting *beaten* actually stays *down*. There’s not that much more to it, really. And yet the Hs somehow found a way to stand up to three guys for a good five minutes, thus making Cuddles and Diddles look like chumps once again and not doing much for Orton either. Even by the end, after taking at least three solid kicks to the head, the Hs refused to just lie still, instead doing a drooling impression of a drunken Scotsman trying to hail a taxi at 3am on Saturday morning. Still, Orton at least put in another great performance as a veritable psycho. He and Jericho have been making a damn good account of themselves in their respective heel beatings of late, with Orton’s malevolent eyeballs of doom popping out of his skull as he yelled “I remember! We ain’t done with you yet!” really selling the scene. Oh, and good thing that Manu wasn’t still in Legacy at this point. Could have led to some awkward questions of logic given that Umaga was just in the ring.

10. Not to turn this into a bog-standard internet rant about the supposed evils of Triple H but… the man is *boring*. He is far from being a horrid worker, in fact at one point he was amongst the best in the business, but by this point he is nothing more than average at best, as his purely functional performance against Umaga reminded me this week. It’s all punches and knees and spinebusters and a complete lack of variation (which, if you agree with Bret Hart, means he has pretty much succeeded in emulating Ric Flair after all). It’s as though his failure to bring back the sleeper and the Indian deathlock in 2003 have put him off adding anything new to his repertoire, so now we are stuck with the same old, same old. This wouldn’t be much of a problem were it not for the fact that he has been a main-event fixture for a decade now, with no end in sight. It’s not as though he has a Hogan-esque personality of exceptional charisma to conceal such shortcomings either. Instead there is just an ego that feels he can get good matches out of the likes of Vladimir Kozlov. Tsk-tsk-tsk, H’s. Tsk-tsk-tsk.

So, another Friday night, another Smackdown, another week in which we shall be reviewing applicants to take over 10 Thoughts as a regular replacement for good ol’ Victor. If you’re interested, drop me a line. If not, well, at least touch yourself a little bit. Thanks.

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