Well the show opened up with what Michael Cole went on to incessantly describe throughout the show as a “Town Hall Meeting” – It may sound lame but it was actually rather fun. Triple H was yet again flawless in his interaction with the crowd and with the superstars. He seems to have gathered all of his best heeldom, thrown in a little Mr. McMahon and brought it right to the here and now. RVD, Kofi, Ryback, Sandow and 3MB (sorry if I forgot anybody) got on the mic to vent their grievances to the COO, on his command. Some were legitimate, some were kiss-ass-y, some were just plain hilarious. On the whole, I thought it was a thoroughly entertaining way to start the show.
Randy Orton continued to put in good work despite being the hand picked champion. He won a great opening match against Van Dam, with the RKO, after delivering his vicious trademark DDT on the outside using the apron. This was just one of a few really cool spots in the match.
Dolph and Ryback clashed again, with “the big guy” purely being a victor of circumstance. Ziggler’s real foe Dean Ambrose joined the boys on commentary, which far from put Cole at ease. He was a pleasure to have under the headphones, a thoroughly believable and at times hilarious guy. Ryback got the win with the shellshocked after Dean had goaded Dolph into a game of cat and mouse on the outside. This match was very well done, and I look forward to the match that matters at Night of Champions. I’m pretty sure Ambrose and Ziggler can have a classic, if they are given enough time.
Kofi was back in action against Curtis Axel. There were very noteworthy chants for Axel from the loud smarks in the crowd. This was hardly surprising though given that the show was emanating from Curt Henning country (Minneapolis, Minnesota) This was a very strong match from these two, and the crowd were surprisingly into it. Kofi got the “surprise” win by getting the best of the IC champ in this very good mid-card match. The crowd were very vocal with “Per-fect-plex” and “Lets go Kofi/Lets go Axel” chants. They loved it, I loved it.
Naomi and Brie had a match. The only reason I started taking notes on this is because I wanted to make a point of how fine Naomi is, and just how insane her behind is. I’m sorry, it had to be done. She is also uber athletic when she is given the chance. She showed off with some impressive dropkicks and even a somersault coming off the ropes from an Irish whip. AJ’s new clique came down to spoil the fun and decimated everyone. She had previously been stirring up trouble with the other heels (Alicia Fox, Layla and the beautiful, incredible Aksana) earlier in the show.
The Usos took on The Real Americans. I say this every single week, but how unbelievably over is “We the people”? Are they going to turn these guys babyface soon and make them patriots? Because they need to do something to hide the fact that the American populace (on a fairly large scale every week) enjoy cheering for racist heels. Nonetheless, this Minnesota crowd were freakin’ awesome! Best crowd for a Smackdown I’ve heard in a long time. Cole actually made a point of selling the emerging tag-team division during this match. That’s odd and could be a good sign. Real Americans got the win. This match was too short though. If they are going to try and build something, and showcase the great teams they have (because they do), they are going to need to give the guys more time.
Hunter’s new phony good cop character that he was trying out reached new heights of incredibility when he identified that Big Show must be mad because 3MB called him out during the opening segment. He booked the handicap match, if you can call it that. Big Show expectedly squashed these guys and needlessly hooked Slater’s leg to make it official. A simple foot across the chest would have sufficed and told the story of this “match” a bit better. This went on fairly long though. A lot of wasted time that could have been spent on the tag team match or divas, but maybe I’m just being overly critical here.
The Shield were straight out as Show made his way up the ramp. He turned to see them come through the crowd, but before he could get any ideas, the amazing Triple H came and ushered him to the back. The guy is at the very top of his game here as the authority figure we all love to hate, or in my cause love to adore. Bryan then came out to another Austin like reception. He had been given the opportunity earlier in the night by the COO to choose a member of The Shield to face in the main event. He left the choice up to them. As he got into the ring, they chose Rollins and things got started.
I thought it was almost guaranteed it would be these two locking up. Another chance to revisit their incredible feud. It was a very solid match, but I’ve seen better from them on multiple occasions. This was another match that could have done with a little more time, but it is only Smackdown I guess. Bryan actually managed to take out the other two guys on the outside, hit Rollins with the high knee on the inside, and pick up the win this time. You know something is being done too much when your top contender winning a match against one half of the tag champions is a shocking moment. Myself and the crowd were delighted. I was just about to write in my notepad ‘9/10’ when (and I should have known) Randy Orton hit him with the title belt from behind on the stage, and the show went off the air.
Thoughts: On the one hand, the ending got Orton more heat than ever before from this hot crowd. On the other, WWE are treading a very fine line with what they are doing. If Bryan doesn’t start to get some small victories here and there, I (and probably a lot of other people) won’t be able to sustain long term interest in the storyline. The regime thing is cool. It gives him a big mountain to climb. I get it! But if he just gets beat down every week, I’m going to get bored. It’s overkill. I’ve seen the guy lying on the ground, staring up at the rafters now at the end of every episode of WWE programming for what feels like six months (probably closer to three weeks) – A bit more balance with this would be nice.
Overall, it was a very solid and dependable show. WWE and the New Corporation angle continue to build good momentum. The matches were all good enough. Some could have had some more time, but things have vastly improved over the last year, and especially since Wrestlemania. Nobody really got buried, everything made sense, and the storylines were thought provoking, humorous and entertaining. Keep it up!