Opening Match – Randy Orton def. Damien Sandow: Michael Cole said that Randy Orton could cash in “whenever he wants.” What if John Cena isn’t at a Smackdown taping, though? Randy Orton worked Sandow over early, beating him in the corner and following up with a suplex. When Orton went for a running knee drop, he missed, giving Sandow the opportunity to capitalize. Orton regained control by tossing Sandow to the outside. He dropped Sandown spine-first onto the barricade. Both men fought back into the ring.
After the commercial, Sandow was in firm control. He wrapped up Orton in a painful-looking ground-based waist-lock. After a quick pin attempt, he hit the ‘Elbow of Disdain,’ but still only managed a 2-count. Orton made his way back to his feet. He hit his patented clothesline-clothesline-slam. Rhodes came out and stole the blue briefcase, distracting Sandow and letting Orton hit the RKO. Orton scored the pinfall for the win.
-Mr. Money in the Bank vs. Mr. Money in the Bank? I like it. I also appreciate that they attempted to kick off Smackdown by doing something different than just another Teddy Long segment. This match was good, but never rose much above that (too many breaks, I think). I liked Rhodes interference, and hope this leads to a match for the briefcase at SummerSlam.
CM Punk Promo: Punk came out to address the Smackdown crowd. He said he finally got what he wants, “The Best” vs. “The Beast.” He argued that Heyman supported Punk, not for the sake of CM Punk, for the sake of himself. “He always wanted two horses in the race.” He promised to kick Lesnar in the face over, and over, and over…. cue Fandango’s music.
Just as Fandango entered the ring, Punk got the jump on him. He kicked him in the face five times before sealing the deal with a GTS.
– Effective. Fandango’s interruption was a good surprise, but I’m glad he didn’t get any real air time – this put over Punk as serious and focused. I’m only disappointed by the further burial of Fandango.
Backstage Segment with Alberto Del Rio, Vickie Guerrero, and RVD: Alberto Del Rio confronted Vickie in her “office” and said he needs to know his opponent for SummerSlam. RVD popped in and said he should be the opponent – to which Del Rio argued that RVD hasn’t earned it yet after being away for 6 years. RVD implied that beating Del Rio on Smackdown should earn him the number one contendership. Short, but sweet.
Rob Van Dam vs. Alberto Del Rio: Rob Van Dam started things off strong before Del Rio escaped the ring to a chorus of “Boos.” Just as the referee got to a 7-count, Del Rio snuck back in and reset the count. He waited for RVD to turn his back before sneaking back in and attacking him from behind. Del Rio got cornered, and starting saying “No Mas! No Mas!” The ref pulled RVD off of Del Rio and asked him what he meant, but Del Rio capitalized with a strong kick to RVD’s head, which allowed him to score the pinfall.
-I like this. Del Rio’s sneaky tactics gave the fans a reason to hate him, and his cheap victory really cements RVD’s need for revenge. The only thing I didn’t like was the referee claiming not to understand Del Rio (“No Mas!” – Really?)
State of AJ’s Mind Address: AJ came out and complained about Ziggler breaking her heart. She pulled out some keys, saying they were to Dolph Ziggler’s home, and she was going to break in and burn everything down but… Ziggler came out and said not to worry, but he’s changed the locks a few times since then. AJ brought out Ziggler’s suitcase and started cutting his stuff up, while Ziggler made some decidedly inappropriate comment about other women he’s been with (in his words, “That’s not PG…”). Just as AJ went into full psycho/breakdown mode, Katilyn nailed her with a sphere. Then Ziggler came down and hit Big E Langston from behind with a fameasser.
-This whole thing was a little over-the-top, and part of it was downright illogical (like the fact that Ziggler’s “credit card” didn’t have a back on it), but everybody involved here did their best to get the segment over. I’m not convinced yet that Ziggler is going to have a long shelf-life as a babyface, but at least the dude is always entertaining.
The Wyatt Family def. Tons of Funk: Bray Wyatt watched from ringside in his signature rocking chair. After a pretty short brawl, with some heavy-hitting power moves, The Wyatt Family scores the victory. Bray Wyatt entered the ring after the match and laid-out Tensai with his finisher. He cut a promo on Kane, saying he’s right here waiting on him.
– While this whole affair was a little bit sloppy (and I don’t know if I should blame The Wyatt Family or Tons of Funk… probably the latter), both the big men looked dominant in defeat. Also, it’s good to see these guys get a little exposure on the “B” show.
Christian def. Jack Swagger: Coulter cut a promo on not having his car searched because he’s a “real American,” and called out Christian for being Canadian. Swagger took early control of the match before Smackdown went to commercial. When the show came back, Christian managed to get things under control. Swagger attempted a gut-wrench, but Christian flipped it into a Killswitch attempt, before Swagger escaped. After a series of reversals down the stretch, Swagger hit the Killswitch and scored the win.
-Coulter’s “real American” promos are starting to get pretty thin. He and Swagger need some kind of refresh before disappearing into obscurity. That being said, these two guys put together one heck of a match, even if it was rather short. They had a lot of in-ring chemistry, and their numerous reversals were exciting and looked fluid. I’m also digging Christian’s mid-card undefeated streak.
Damien Sandow looks for Cody Rhodes and his MiTB Briefcase: Sandow spent most of the night looking for his stolen Money in the Bank briefcase by interrogating anybody he could backstage about Cody Rhodes’ whereabouts. When Vickie Guerrero proved less-than-helpful, he went out to the ring at the end of the night to call Cody Rhodes out.
Cody Rhodes appeared on-screen outside the arena at the nearby Gulf of Mexico, briefcase in hand. He threatened to throw it into the water. Sandow ran out to stop him, and told Rhodes that Rhodes had always been the leader, and that he was smarter, more handsome, and had more facial hair. Rhodes threw the briefcase into the water anyway. Sandow screamed for help and claimed he couldn’t swim, before jumping in after it. After an unsuccessful rescue attempt, he climbed back out of the water, and Smackdown closed with Sandow crying in despair.
-The backstage segments throughout the night were both entertaining and effective. Most importantly, Sandow continues to put over his character like a champ. This is how wrestling can be purposeful, while still offering a few laughs.
I like how this story carried from the beginning of the show all the way to the end. While I’ve seen the “one guy threatens to throw something into the water” segment a dozen times in Pro Wrestling, these guys made it fun and fresh. Rhodes looked intelligent here, and his status was elevated as a result. Most importantly, this show left me wanting to know what’s going to happen next with the blue Money in the Bank contract. Well done, WWE.
Mark Henry and The Usos vs. Wade Barrett and The Prime-Time Players: Darren Young and Jay Usos started things out. A series of quick tags later, Titus O’Neil put Jimmy Uson in a sleeper hold, and tossed him over the top of his head when he tried to fight out. Jimmy got a hot tag to Mark Henry just as the match fell apart. Henry hit the World’s Strongest Slam, and pinned O’Neil for the win.
-Meh. This match was just starting to get going before it ended. I understand the whole purpose here was to put over Henry and The Usos, but it just never clicked with me. A mild miss.