WWE Smackdown kicked off last night with a fantastic highlight reel from the 1,000th episode of Raw this past Monday. Seriously, does anyone know where I can get a copy of that video because I want to watch it over and over again. I’ve already watched the episode itself twice and that was after being there live in St. Louis for the show. Anyway, after such a high from Monday night, I had high hopes for Smackdown. I didn’t expect a show on par with Raw 1,0000 because it is still Smackdown (although I do expect a phenomenal Raw 1,001 in two days) but I did still expect the WWE to take advantage of the momentum (and historically high ratings) from Raw.
The show kicked off with the new Intercontinental Champion The Miz, so right away I was happy because the dirt sheets (who had reported that this title would be the focus of Raw and the United States Champion of Smackdown) were wrong yet again. Miz started off by thanking Christian’s fans for voting for the Intercontinental Championship to be on the line so that he could win it but was interrupted by Christian, who demanded his rematch right then and there. The announcers made it seem like Miz had no choice but to accept, but heel champions deny former champions the right to an immediate rematch all the time. Regardless, the match took place and it was a good way to kick off the show as neither of these guys can ever really put on a bad one. The Miz ended up winning and retaining his title after a thumb to the eye and a rollup while holding Christian’s tights, but only after both men took it to the limit and reversed each other’s finishers multiple times. I love The Miz as the IC Champion because it elevates both him and the title to a more prestigious and elite level. I just hope that WWE gives him and the title the chance to shine with numerous title defenses in prolonged storylines against multiple challengers.
Ryback continued his ascension up the ranks up WWE jobbers, going from defeating two independent wrestler jobbers at one time, to defeating Curt Hawkins and Tyler Reks in both one-on-one matches and then a handicap match and now last night facing Jindar Mahal. Ryback won by disqualification after Mahal left the ring and refused to return and Mahal should be happy with the fact that the WWE considers him to be a tougher opponent on his own than both Hawkins and Reks together. Plus, he got a nice rub on Monday night from being in the ring for the reunion of the Brothers of Destruction.
Cody Rhodes made his return to the WWE, having inexplicably been taking off TV after losing the IC Title to Christian and failing to reclaim after multiple opportunities (except for an unassuming appearance in the Money In The Bank match earlier this month). Unfortunately, his return match was against World Heavyweight Champion Sheamus and while Rhodes surprisingly dominated the match and got in more offense than any of Sheamus’ past title match opponents, Sheamus ultimately won. Hopefully this is a sign of good things to come for Rhodes, because my hope always was that after losing the IC Title he would move on to the main event and last night was a sign that he certainly deserves the opportunity. During the match, Dolph Ziggler came down to watch but after Sheamus won he decided not to cash in his MITB briefcase. But while Ziggler was walking away, Chris Jericho ran down the ramp and threw Ziggler into the ring where Sheamus hit him with a Brogue Kick followed by a Code Breaker from Jericho. Suffice to say, I am very excited for a Ziggler/Jericho feud.
Antonio Cesaro (with Aksana) faced off against United States Champion Santino Marella, and to no one’s surprise the title was not on the line. I have not hid the fact that I vehemently disagree with having a comedic character like Marella hold a title, but if he is, he should at least be defending it on a regular basis. Thanfully, at least Cesaro won the match fairly clean (Aksana distracted Marella but he still had a chance to use The Cobra but missed), which theoretically puts Cesaro in line for the title.
Sometimes it doesn’t matter what happens in the ring to you but who you are in the ring with. Such was the case this past Monday night when Damien Sandow came out to interrupt the Degeneration X reunion but ate a Super Kick and Pedigree from Shawn Michales and Triple H, respectively, for his troubles. But despite the outcome, just being in the ring with those legends and interrupting a huge segment like the first real DX reunion in years is huge for his character development. So I was very happy to see Sandow have a match on Smackdown last night, one in which he easily defeated Yoshi Tatsu. Like Cesaro in the preceding match, I think that Sandow is ready to take the next step in his career and start facing more worthy opponents (or at least ones that hold titles, as I don’t consider Santino Marella to be a worthy opponent despite the fact that he is a champion). After the match, Sandow got a microphone and said that he was a martyr for what happened to him on Monday.
The main event of the night featured Rey Mysterio, Kane, Daniel Bryan and Alberto Del Rio in a fatal four way match to determine the #1 contender for the World Heavyweight Championship. The match was very good and given lots of time and the finish was fast and furious – Byan had Del Rio in the Yes Lock but Kane grabbed Del Rio’s hand before he could tap out, Kane knocked Bryan out of the ring, Del Rio went for the Cross Arm Breaker but ate a chokeslam instead, Mysterio broke up the pin with a kick to Kane’s face that knocked Kane out of the ring, Bryan flew off the ring apron to knock Kane into the crowd, Bryan went for the Yes Lock on Mysterio but both he and Del Rio were set up for a successful 619, Mysterio went for the pin on Bryan but Ricardo Rodriguez pulled him out of the ring and Del Rio sneaked in and pinned Bryan for the win.
The one disappointing aspect to Smackdown last night was the lack of promotion or buildup for SummerSlam. Now that Raw 1,000 has come and gone, the focus has to be the SummerSlam pay-per-view (which is three weeks away), but other than highlights from the Triple H/Brock Lesnar confrontation on Monday, it wasn’t even mentioned. I assume that the Sheamus/Del Rio match for the world title will be on the PPV, but that was not confirmed last night and it could always take place before then and have a rematch or another match entirely in three weeks. Either way, each month the WWE continues to wait until the last week or two to start to build matches and storylines for their PPV shows and even then only announced 4-5 matches in advance. Come Monday night there will still be three weeks of wrestling before SummerSlam, so hopefully WWE takes the time and effort to properly promote what they consider to be their second or third biggest PPV of the year.