I hope you enjoy reading the latest Smackdown review here on The Real Mid Card. I made notes as usual last night. It was a more than decent episode. The general quality of the second show has been steadily improving for months now. Let’s get stuck in.
So things kicked off with Alberto Del Rio making his way to the ring to cut a promo. Alex Riley joined Michael Cole on commentary, and went on to be somewhat of an inspired addition to the team. Del Rio teased us all over who he might choose as his Summerslam opponent, having been given the right by Vickie Guerrero. He chose Ricardo Rodriguez. However, Vickie came out to put a stop to it. She booked a triple threat main event for the Number One Contender spot involving Randy Orton, Christian and Rob Van Dam. Nice! She seems to be toning down a lot and moving into more of a tweener position, instead of an all out heel. That worked for Michael Cole, so I’d go with it.
Cody Rhodes v Jack Swagger Colter massaged his epic moustache like a total legend prior to the match. He tried to give one of his trademark speeches, but Cody knocked the mic out of his hand and got this thing going with Swagger. He won this short match after reversing a gutwrench powerbomb into a pin. Riley did a good job in this match. Cody then cut a backstage interview as soon as he got through the curtain, and was attacked from behind by Sandow. Classic stuff. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I’m loving the way this feud carrying on.
Sin Cara v Big E. Langston I can’t believe they still bring out the special ring lighting for Sin Cara. You don’t see Heath Slater getting such treatment, and he is probably higher in the food chain right now. Big E kept him grounded throughout, while Riley continued to do an excellent job at the announce desk. He provided informative and interesting commentary, with a good flow and no sense of nerves. Not bad for someone with practically no experience. JBL is a real hard act to follow in that regard, but A-Ry did a good job. On the second attempt, Langston put Sin Cara away with the ‘Big Ending’
Kaitlyn cut a backstage interview about her upcoming match with AJ Lee, threatening her with the adage “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, you’re gonna get speared” – This was pretty funny, I have to admit. She then got the hometown cheap pop, and got a big hug from Layla. You can choose whether or not to believe me, but at this point, I knew Layla was going to screw her. I don’t know why. It just didn’t add up.
Fandango v CM Punk This whole thing was a nonsensical mismatch, and was purely for filler, but I still had no doubts that the athletes in the ring would pull off something memorable. I’m both pleased and surprised to report that Curtis Axel didn’t interfere in this match, allowing it to be free and good. Punk got the usual huge pop and endless chants, if the crowd were real.
The match started off with some good strikes from Punk, before Fandango responded and the two of them played out a cool leapfrog sequence. After Summer Rae distracted Punk on the outside, Fandango took control. He slammed him into the steel steps and gave him a vicious beating. Then he put the sleeper on him and they worked that for quite a while. This was almost like an old school wrestling match, with Punk clutching for a comeback. I expected a one minute squash win for Punk, but on the contrary, Fandango dominated for large spells, and the two of them did some great stuff. Punk tried to build some momentum but got caught with a high boot. Then Fandango missed his top rope leg drop, allowing Punk to build up some steam with clotheslines and a Russian leg sweep.
As the match drew to a close, Punk was on the top rope ready to hit the elbow drop. Fandango cleverly rolled under the bottom rope onto the apron, drew Punk in and hit him with a vicious kick to the head. Then he climbed back into the ring, and hit an amazing suplex. I have no idea the name. I wish I were more informative, sorry. Anyway, he got a seriously long two off that. I actually thought he was gonna get the rub. Crazy times! Moments later though, Punk managed to get him up on the top rope, and hit a superplex straight into the Anaconda Vice. Fandango tapped and the rest is history. This was a really good match. Definitely the best of the episode, alongside the main event. It just shows again how Punk can have a good match with anyone, and this should also do Fandango a lot of good in terms of his development.
Then we got a really funny backstage segment with the three contenders popping up to finish off each other’s catchphrases. Randy also made the point that he could go on to win both titles. Won’t happen, but the idea of another Undisputed Champion is really interesting.
Kaitlyn v AJ Lee AJ started early with her insane, frantic offence leading to an early black widow submission attempt. Kaitlyn needed her hometown fans to help her make a comeback, again playing on an old school technique. This is really nice to see! AJ continued to dominate until the two of them ended up outside. Kaitlyn went to strike her, but Layla bizarrely stepped in between the two of them, helping AJ to take advantage, and tap her out once back inside the ring. AJ got one over on Kaitlyn once again, and as if things couldn’t get worse for the Texan, her supposed friend Layla skipped to the back hand in hand with Ms. Lee. Could she replace Big E in his useless manager spot with AJ, thus allowing him to move onto pasturers greener?
I was very surprised to see them waste fifteen minutes of a perfectly good episode replaying John Cena v Ryback in it’s entirety on a Raw rebound. I mean, if they replay a huge PPV match of particularly high quality, it’s not so bad, but was this really necessary? Kind of killed the rhythm of the show for me.
Rob Van Dam v Christian v Randy Orton (Triple Threat Match for the Number One Contendership for the World Heavyweight Championship)
Cole preceded the match by showing us videos of Del Rio jobbing two straight weeks to Orton and Christian. Now that’s a strong Champion I can buy into. The man himself came to the stage before the bell was rung to threaten them all. I’m sure they were shaking. In the early going, Van Dam hit his trademark spin kick off the apron onto Orton’s back, while he was draped over the barricade. As he got up, he was speared right back down onto the outside mats by Christian. Then we got another great superplex from Orton to Christian.
Rob Van Dam came back into the ring and hit one of his classic flurries attacking both of them culminating in a senton bomb over the top rope taking them out on the outside. Shortly after, he hit an epic five star frog splash on Christian into the cover, but Orton came in and made the save. He then hit the RKO on RVD, turned to do the same to Christian but got caught off guard, rolled into a backslide and that was that.
Christian will go to Summerslam. It should be a decent enough match. I give him a 5% chance of winning, but still. Orton then offered his former bitter adversary the sportsmanship handshake, which he accepted. This was a cool moment. It’s a shame it was soured by Del Rio attacking him from behind moments later.
I’d give this match a nine, if it weren’t for an eighth of the show being wasted on Cena v Ryback. On the whole, it has to get a thumbs up. Two of the five matches were very, very good and the others were solid. The promos were good. Everything was in it’s right place. Alex Riley impressed me on commentary, and I’m hoping to get more of him next week. Again, you can’t expect insanely good episodes of Smackdown each week, especially with such a big gap before Summerslam, but this was a positive show. It gets a positive verdict from me.
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