The show opened with Vickie being wheeled out by Edge to make an announcement concerning the World Heavyweight Championship match at One Night Stand. I know I criticized Vickie Guerrero last week for being a terrible performer, and although I do believe that, I have to say I haven’t heard someone draw consistent heat like her in a long time. Regal came close during his brief “King” stint, but it seems like Vickie has the market cornered on deafening heat. And I have to admit, if she’s getting the crowd that riled up, who am I to say that she should stop? I don’t like her performance abilities and I don’t like the storyline she’s working with Edge, but the crowd is responding big-time so I guess it wouldn’t make sense to pull her off GM duty. Now I’m sure I will get tons of emails saying that she’s drawing “X-Pac” heat so it’s cheap, but she’s been around as GM for awhile now and only now is she starting to really get to the crowd. So maybe she is doing something right after all.
Back to the show where Vickie makes her announcement, and as we all know it will pit Edge against Undertaker in a TLC match at One Night Stand, with the stipulation being that should Taker lose, he will be banished from WWE entirely. I really don’t like the banishment angle here. It makes the result of the match totally predictable, especially when you’re dealing with someone like The Undertaker, who unless is facing suspension, has no present chance of being written off TV. And considering there are no count outs or DQ’s in a TLC match, there’s no way Edge can win unless WWE plans some kind of storyline where the “board” overturns Vickie’s decision to fire Taker or something else equally as ridiculous that no one wants to see. So while I anticipate this match as I’m sure it will be fantastic, I don’t like the added stipulation.
Back from break and we are underway with our first match, a six-man mixed tag match featuring Jessie, Festus and Cherry vs Deuce, Domino and Maryse. Although this was a decent opener, I just can’t get into either of these teams. I predicted that the Festus gimmick would become stale after a month and in my opinion it has, and Deuce and Domino do nothing for me. The problem at work here is that both teams have one-layered characters. Festus is Pavlovian while Jessie is basically just a redneck, and Deuce and Domino wear leather and are from the “other side of the tracks.” Their gimmick is a throw back to 50’s greasers, and yet they don’t behave or act like greasers at all. So while this match was ok from an in-ring standpoint, I have no interest in seeing either of these teams, let alone a match between both at the same time. Out of a possible 9 stars, I give this match 4.5 stars.
Next up we see Chavo explaining to Vickie that he didn’t mean any harm in walking out of the main event from last week. Vickie “understands” and tells Chavito that he will compete in the main event of the night against The Undertaker. I’m not sure why WWE is going in this direction with Chavo, other than maybe to show Vickie is so in love with Edge that she will turn her back on her own family, but either way it’s just sort of keeping Chavo hanging around.
MVP’s music hits next and it’s time for the VIP lounge with guest Teddy Long. The segment sees MVP basically condemning Long for treating him so poorly while he was GM until Batista makes his way out and comes to Long’s aid. After a funny bit between Batista and MVP, a match between the two is setup for later in the night.
Back from break and it’s time for Finlay vs Chuck Palumbo. I got a lot of criticism last week for praising Palumbo, but I have to say I really do like him a lot more than I did in the past. Again, I’m not implying he’s the best in the biz, but he is fun to watch. And this match against Finlay was no exception. Although there was some gimmicky, unnecessary “interference” by Hornswoggle, these two had a long, hard fought contest. These guys work well together as they both have a power and speed approach to their game which compliment each other nicely. As much as I could do without Horny breaking up the pace of Finlay’s matches, it’s a hell of a lot better than seeing him take up an hour and a half of a Raw broadcast. 6.5 Stars
After a commercial break we’re back with Batista vs MVP. This was another long, hard hitting bout. Batista is the kind of guy that needs not only a good opponent to work with, but a fire lit to kick up the energy of his matches. When he comes out ready to go and has someone to work with who works hard, I really think The Animal is a competent wrestler. The match tonight started out slow, but really picked up as MVP started working the shoulder and arm of the big man. The finish saw Batista hit a one-arm spinebuster followed by a big time Batista Bomb for the 1,2,3. 7 Stars.
The hour one main event is followed by a replay of Santino, Cousin Sal and Piper from Kimmel and from Raw last week. Honestly, I could watch these segments all day. They’re comedy gold and both Santino and Piper are classic talents.
The Vladimir Kozlov squash of the week is up next, with his latest victim being Nunzio. I said it last week, this guy is impressive. He works a unique looking MMA style with some nice power moves and a beautiful looking inverted DDT finisher. It’s time to start putting this guy into some competitive matches, however, as the squash thing is getting old pretty fast. 4 Stars.
Back from break and we’re introduced to a tag match with Matt Hardy and Kofi Kingston taking on Elijah Burke and Shelton Benjamin. This was a fast paced, back and forth match that saw Kofi score the pinfall over Benjamin after hitting the Trouble in Paradise. I didn’t particularly like the finish in this contest, as it put Kofi right back over Shelton after his historic loss on ECW this past Tuesday night. WWE made the decision to have Benjamin go over Kofi, so why not let him ride that wave? For anyone to accept Shelton as the Gold Standard, WWE has to make him a believable threat. If he picks up the occasional win here and there, he will come off looking like a glorified jobber. Shifting focus over to Kingston, I want to point out how truly excited he looks every time he comes out to the ring. This is what the fans are ultimately reacting to in my opinion. Of course his wrestling skills draw him much deserved attention, but his charisma and genuine enthusiasm is a breath of fresh air to watch. I see big things for the Jamaican in the future. 7 Stars.
The all-action based hour two is now concluded with our main event, Chavo Guerrero vs The Undertaker. Guerrero is accompanied to the ring by Bam, Hawkins, Ryder and Edge, although Edge and his “heads” are quickly tossed from ringside by Charles Robinson as the match gets underway. This match is basically an indirect way of saying that the former ECW Champion, Chavo, could not possibly beat Taker without the help of the entire Smackdown roster and maybe even the entire TNA roster. Although I can understand why a match like this is booked this way, I just can’t help but think that the ECW title must mean very little if one of it’s former holder’s can’t hang with The Dead Man on his own without being obliterated. And once Bam Neely was neutralized, Chavo pretty much had no chance. The finish saw Taker reverse a flying cross-body block into the Tombstone for the win. 5 Stars.
Overall, this was a typical edition of Smackdown. Some solid in-ring wrestling mixed with some below average, uneventful storytelling. Out of a possible 9 stars, I give this broadcast 6 Stars.
-Vickie’s decision to keep the title vacant was one of the most controversial in recent memory? Really Cole?
-Ninja Batista was funny, I gotta admit.
-If Festus’ doorbell rings, does he go nuts and powerslam it?
-Maryse is going to hurt someone. She should be taught how to wrestle. Just an idea.
-Edge is the most disgusting kisser I have ever seen. Pair that with Vickie’s face, and it’s something I never want to see again. Ever.
-I liked when Kozlov used to say “Double Double E.” I like his all-business gimmick that he’s working now, but he should spice it up from time to time with that classic phrase.
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