The show started off with a great video package recapping Edge’s destruction of the Hardcore Legend on last week’s broadcast. The video packages on Smackdown get better every week, and I have to say that the production team is doing some of the finest work I have ever seen in my years watching pro wrestling. This leads us into the show where Jim Ross introduces us to the man who will take Mick Foley’s place at the booth for the night, former Smackdown announcer and current speech abuser, Tazz.
Tazz says hello and both announcers take us to the ring for our first match of the evening, Maryse, Natalya and Victoria vs Michelle McCool, Maria and Cherry in an Olympic games something something match. I’m not quite sure what purpose the Olympic “theme” served for this match other than for the face Divas to look hot and the heel Divas to look ridiculous, but it served the purpose of being a decent, albeit meaningless, opening bout. A funny spot saw Victoria bounce off a trampoline into the middle rope, and Maria coming out dressed for the winter Olympic games got a rise out of me. Although Maria gets a rise out of me every week. The match was mostly flat, and it saw Natalya get the win over Maria with the Sharpshooter. I’m glad Natalya went over here because there’s no way I would believe that the awkward Maria could ever take out a pro like Natalya. Out of a possible 9 stars, I give this opening bout 4.5 stars.
We cut to the back where we see Bam Neely laying unconscious with a black rose laying beside him. Chavo shows the flower to Vickie who’s just as puzzled as everyone else, and we fade to our first commercial break.
Back from break and in tag team action we are introduced to Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder vs Jimmy Wang Yang and Shannon Moore. Now this match would have been a bit more suspenseful if I hadn’t reported just hours before that Shannon Moore had been released from WWE, but nevertheless it was a fun bout. Hawkins and Ryder remind me of a young Edge and Christian, and if these two can step up their in-ring game while developing some unique charisma, I think they have a shot at becoming a great tag team. The draw with them is that they actually look like a legit team as opposed to two singles wrestlers being thrown together. 6 Stars.
After the match we cut backstage where Eve Torres interviews Smackdown’s MVP, Montel Vontavious Porter. At this point, my money is buying two matches at Summerslam, Hell in a Cell and Hardy vs MVP. Officials better give these guys more than 7-8 minutes or I’m gonna be throwing black roses up and down the streets of NYC.
It’s now time for the hour one main event of the evening, Jeff Hardy vs Shelton Benjamin. Wow. This match was a 7 on a PPV, so to see this on free TV was a real treat. These two guys wrestled one hell of a match tonight and the crowd in Atlanta let them know. Great back and forth action that saw both guys exercise their entire offensive and defensive arsenal. Shelton Benjamin is the most consistently proficient wrestler in the company right now, and Jeff Hardy, when he’s not amidst a suspension, is not too far away from Benjamin. It was a shame to see this bout end in a DQ, especially since we’ve been seeing the same DQ finish to Hardy’s matches for weeks now, but all in all this has to be a candidate for TV match of the year. 8.5 Stars.
Next up was the Indian Broken Glass Contest between Triple H and The Great Khali. This segment was bizarre. First off, what’s Indian about broken glass? Secondly, if you’re going to promote a broken glass arm wrestling contest, which is a great idea since the structure looked brutal, why not use the glass in some way? The arm wrestling match itself looked great, with both guys appearing to be involved in a serious battle. But then it all had to go to waste when Khali hit a few really fake looking headbutts along with a really fake looking chop, followed by the infamously fake looking “vice” grip. For a guy that makes claims in India that wrestling is a shoot and not a work, Khali sure has a great way of disproving himself when he actually wrestles. His size looks real, but beyond that his sloppiness is unparalleled. Despite some good one-liners by HHH, which are always reliable, this was a throw away segment. Just hurry up and get this feud over with so we can await Khali’s next travesty.
We cut backstage before heading to break where we see Curt Hawkins unconscious, following in the footsteps of Bam Neely. When we return from the commercial break, we see Chavo and Vickie discussing the culprit behind Bam and Curt’s attacks. What I didn’t like about this segment was that Chavo brought up the possibility of the attacker being Edge. On the one hand I like that Chavo’s thinking made him look smart rather than like an ignorant heel, but it gave away an ending that could have swerved the audience more than it did. If Chavo would have insisted that the attacks were the result of The Undertaker’s presence, and that Edge was needed to help keep the rest of La Familia safe, then we would have been doubly surprised when Edge finally revealed himself to be the attacker.
We now head to the ring for our next match up, Vladimir Kozlov vs Jesse. This whole segment made little to no sense. Kozlov hit the ring and immediately read my mind by demanding better competition. This guy has been squashing nobodys on TV for the entire amount of time that Kofi Kingston has been on the main roster. Do you think it’s time to move on? This guy has been impressive since day one, but continuously putting him the ring with the 7 guys that were released this afternoon week in and week out does not create a star. It creates immense boredom. I better not see this guy added to the list of released superstars when I wake up tomorrow morning, because if I do then WWE has no one to blame but themselves. As for the match tonight, if you missed it, watch his first match, it was the same thing. 3.5 Stars.
Our final match of the evening saw The Brian Kendrick vs Super Crazy. This was a very good contest. It was, however, a little too grounded for my tastes, and could have utilized more speed as opposed to mat wrestling. I have a strange feeling that Super Crazy will be released soon, as WWE likes to put soon-to-be-fired wrestlers on TV right before their termination. Braden Walker wrestled James Curtis on ECW and both were fired. Shannon Moore wrestled on Smackdown and was let go earlier today, and Domino was squashed by Big Show last week and was released alongside Moore and Curtis. Here’s to hoping I don’t have a future in fortune telling, because I love Super Crazy. 6 Stars.
For the second week in a row, Smackdown ended with a non-wrestling main event segment. I don’t mind this happening if the segment is strong, and although tonight didn’t match up to what we saw last week, it was still very well done. Edge indirectly plead guilty to the attacks throughout the evening by smacking Chavo in the back with a steel chair, and then made his point very clear with a con-chair-to shot to Chavo’s head. Following the attack, he morphed into Jack Nicholson from “The Shining” and proverbially went ape-shit on Vickie. He verbally tormented her and it looked creepy and great. I see what WWE is doing here and it’s working. Edge has been a chickenshit heel for so long that putting him in a cell against The Undertaker foreshadows a Dead Man victory within 2 minutes. Creative HAS to establish Edge as a capable opponent, and more so they have to make the viewers think there is a possibility that Edge could actually win this thing. Turning him into the psychotic that he was on TV tonight just might have done the trick. Next step, have Edge legitimately beat Taker at Summerslam and you have just made the best heel in the business a bankable megastar until Wrestlemania 3,000.
Overall this was an entertaining edition of Smackdown with occasional pitfalls that I no longer tolerate from a show that has risen to this level. Smackdown, in my opinion, is the new “A” show, so I am going to be tough on it when I see something that’s out of place, and there was too much in the way of nonsense that kept tonight from being an “A” show. I want to make it clear I am being nit-picky here, because Smackdown is a pleasure to watch every Friday night, this one just had some rough spots that needed to be smoothed over. Out of a possible 9 stars, I give tonight’s edition of Friday Night Smackdown 6.5 Stars.
-Why didn’t Kozlov wrestle Festus? If he wants the competition so badly then what sense does it make wrestling Jesse?
-By the way I liked it better when Kozlov had no entrance music.
-Maryse is smokin’ hot. I hear she’s dating The Miz. Really? She couldn’t do better than that? Funaki hasn’t been fired yet, even he would be a better choice than The Miz.
-Triple H is funny. That’s all.
-I wonder if Vickie would work as a face? Interesting.
-Ezekiel is great and all, but I think it would be OK for him to actually move the muscles in his face from time to time. That “menacing” look is getting a little redundant.
Thanks for reading, and as always please send any and all feedback to VOWNick@gmail.com