The show started with an amazing video package highlighting Vickie’s Hell In a Cell announcement from last week. The music and editing of this piece was terrific, and the guys who put it together should be really proud of their work. It was one of the best opening packages I’ve seen in a long time. This took us right into the show and things kicked off with Jeff Hardy sitting at ringside for our first bout of the evening, MVP vs Jimmy Wang Yang. This was a solid opening match, with MVP picking up the win after a nasty looking boot to the Asian redneck’s face. Not to divert attention away from the match, as it was good, but I love this feud that’s brewing between Hardy and MVP. The use of Jeff’s personal life and problems over the past few months is not only a great touch, but it makes complete sense for MVP’s character. He prides himself on being an all around perfect athlete, so attacking Hardy’s vulnerability is a perfect way for him to fuel this fire. I can’t wait to the match or series of matches these two will have. As for MVP’s match against Yang, it served mostly to put over the Hardy/MVP angle, and although it was fun, it lacked in time. Out of a possible 9 stars, I give Smackdown’s opening contest 5 stars.
Back from commercial break and the action continued with Mr. Kennedy vs Shelton Benjamin in a non-title singles match. This was a great contest. Both wrestlers are so evenly matched that the back and forth nature of the bout was inevitable. Shelton worked some impressive mat wrestling that was a nice contrast to his usual style. I am so glad that he’s getting this opportunity, however brief it may or may not be, because he is truly a joy to watch wrestle. Kennedy continues to impress me every time he steps into the ring as well, and I’ve come to the conclusion that he is one of the stiffest workers on the WWE roster. I love it. 7.5 stars.
We then cut backstage where Ryder and Hawkins were approached by Chavo asking them who Edge’s guest is on the Cutting Edge segment. One thing I really liked about the show overall was how creative built the suspense over Edge’s guest and the result was not a let down. Raw this past Monday Night did an excellent job of building the GM momentum until it was finally revealed to be Mike Adamle, which then killed everything the show built so well. If you’re going to tease us with something big throughout a 2 hour broadcast, you better deliver the goods in the end. Smackdown did, Raw did not.
Up next was a singles match pitting “The” Brian Kendrick against Stevie Richards. Although this was a short match, and technically a squash, both guys worked so well together that they were able to put together a fun, fast paced bout. Richards hit a couple nice power moves and both guys worked each other over with some impressively stiff kicks. Kendrick picked up the win with The Kendrick, which is what he’s now calling Sliced Bread #2. I’m so glad this kid’s getting the push he deserves. I like the new gimmick, although his attire is a little over-the-top, and his bodyguard Ezekiel is one badass looking guy. As long as creative continues to book these two consistently, I really think Kendrick has a shot at being a solid heel player. 5 Stars.
The hour one main event is up next with Jeff Hardy taking on The Great Khali. I don’t need to remind everyone how much I dislike Khali, but something about him working with Hardy last night actually worked. Was it a great match? No. Khali is not capable of great. But he came off as at least competent with Hardy battling against him. Jeff worked very hard here, and hit as much as he could against the behemoth until he was cut short by an interfering MVP. This was the best it could be, and I just dread having to watch Khali get another shot at the title, and at Summerslam no less. 6 Stars.
Following the match, another vignette aired hyping R-Truth’s imminent debut on Smackdown. I really liked this package. I haven’t seen the others, so I can’t comment on them collectively, but I think the “personal” approach they are taking with Killings is a great idea. Letting people get to know a wrestler as a real person is a great way to establish a bond between both parties. People relate better to actual personalities rather than fake one’s such as a “superhero” or a “repo man.” I’m not discrediting character gimmicks, because of course they can work, I just think in the long run people will be more likely to root for you if they feel like they know you as a real person.
Next up is the highly awaited (I don’t know by who) debut of Maria on Smackdown. I’m not sure what the Diva has been doing with her time off, but I can tell you what she hasn’t been doing: training. She looked worse than she ever has in her match against Victoria last night, and if this is as good as she can get then WWE should either limit her to Playboy appearances or get rid of her. I must admit that seeing her in High Definition for the first time (because I don’t get USA HD) was remarkable. She is truly one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen. But it ends there. She’s terrible in the ring. Get her out of there before she hurts herself or someone else. 3 Stars.
Next up was Big Show vs Domino in a squash match that not only felt unnecessary but was misplaced in the show’s line-up. Not that we really needed to see this at all, but if you’re going to have this segment take place, why not stick in the middle of the first or second hour instead of it acting as the mock main event? In my opinion, if a show is going to end with a non-wrestling main event, then the final match of the evening should be a solid bout, not a 20 second squash. I will say, however, that I am intrigued by a match up between Show and Umaga. 2 stars.
It’s now time for our “main event” of the evening, The Cutting Edge featuring special guest Mick Foley. What an awesome segment this was. Just perfectly well done. Edge began the segment with a great speech to Mick, and then Foley delivered one of the best in-ring monologues I’ve heard in a while. Mick Foley’s passion for what he does is so apparent a cadaver could feel it. He challenged Edge to ditch the coward routine and in the process created his own version of Frankenstein’s monster. A brutal looking ending spot saw Edge drive a chair into Foley’s head through a table off of a ladder. This was great stuff. Just great.
Overall, this was an episode of Smackdown that delivered. What it delivered, however, was not typical, and that’s what I liked. Creative is taking risks with Smackdown again, and it’s refreshing to see. Kendrick and Benjamin are getting pushed, Ron Killings is about to debut, fresh feuds are budding, and the wrestling is consistent. Out of a possible 9 stars, I give last night’s Smackdown broadcast 6.5 Stars.
-After listening to Tenay and West draw blood from my ears on Impact this week, it was refreshing to hear Foley and JR call a show. These two guys are the best team in the business right now.
-Alicia Fox is a fox. Absolutely beautiful woman.
-I hope Jimmy Wang Yang doesn’t get lost in Smackdown’s recent shuffle. He was squashed on this broadcast and was squashed on Saturday Night’s Main Event against Khali. His gimmick is old, people seem tired of it, and the redneck novelty has worn off. It’s time to overhaul this guy, because he’s too talented and charismatic to waste.
-Is Kendrick wearing a jacket stolen from one of the Golden Girls? His ring attire makes him look like he’s about to go pole dancing at a nursing home.
-Nice video package promoting the King of Kings, HHH. Great video work throughout the show tonight on the whole. I also like that King of King’s song by Motorhead, Trips should come out to that a little more often. Switch it up every now and then.
Thanks for reading, and as always, please send any and all feedback to VOWNick@gmail.com