Opening Segment w/ Alberto Del Rio Picking His SummerSlam Opponent: Del Rio came out and said he wanted to thank the audience…for nothing. He told the fans they didn’t support him when he was champion, but there’s nothing they can do about it now. He tried to start a chant for Vickie Guerrero since she’s letting him pick his own opponent for SummerSlam. He thought about picking Brock Lesnar, but Lesnar apparently has different plans already. He considered Houston’s own Booker T, but everything out of Houston is a huge disappointment. He said his pick is fast, strong, athletic, and he’s going to give him his first shot at the World Heavyweight Championship… drum roll… RICARDO RODRIGUEZ!!!
“Excuse Me!” Vickie came out and told Del Rio it seemed like he’s trying to disrespect her. Del Rio said he isn’t, and offered to pick a different opponent… the Brooklyn Brawler! Vickie said Vince wouldn’t like that too well. Instead, he’ll face the winner of tonight’s triple-threat match between RVD, Christian, and Randy Orton!
-Great opening segment. Del Rio is funny, funny, funny in his current heel persona, and Vickie played a good foil here, towing the line between being a heel, but being forced to make logical booking decisions to appease her boss. Plus, this segment set up an entertaining main-event match with major implications.
Cody Rhodes def. Jack Swagger: Swagger took control early in the match, as Alex Riley on commentary put over Swagger’s strength and frame. An early Swagger-bomb and pin-attempt resulted in a two-count. Just as Swagger attempted the gut-wrench powerbomb, Cody Rhodes rolled through to get the win.
-Good for what it was. While I think these two could have put on a very effective match if given more time to work, the quick victory here made Rhodes look smart. Side-note: does anybody remember when Swagger was a World Champion?
Backstage Interview w/Cody Rhodes: Josh Matthews (stupidly) asked Rhodes why he tossed Sandow’s briefcase in the gulf. Cody Rhodes complained about people who look down on others, and said the best part about Rhodes-Scholars was the Rhodes. Just as Matthews was about to ask another dumb question, Sandow surprise-attacked Cody Rhodes.
Backstage Segment with Vickie, Alberto Del Rio, and Brad Maddox: Alberto Del Rio complained about Vickie’s triple-threat match, and said she went back on her word. Vickie basically told Del Rio that he was being ridiculous. Brad Maddox appeared to tell Vickie that he thought she made the right decision, and when Del Rio got mouthy, Maddox reminded Del Rio that he’d be under his juristiction on Raw this coming Monday.
-Seems like WWE is trying to mend the bridge between Maddox and Vickie? Could be an interesting dynamic to see two General Managers, both heels, work together on their separate show.
CM Punk def. Fandango: Punk started the match off by using his educated feet. He pummeled Fandango with a series of chops and punches as the announce team put over his historic WWE title-reign. Fandango finally fled the ring as Smackdown cut to a commercial.
After returning, Fandango was in full control of the match. CM Punk narrowly avoided a 10-count after being slammed into the ring stairs. Fandango eventually wrapped Punk up in a sleeper hold, but Punk created separation and fought out. Fandango kept up the pressure, though, kicking Punk back down to the mat and locking in a rear choke submission. Punk fought his way back to his feet. When Fandango missed with a flying knee from the top rope, CM Punk was able to finally get some momentum working his way. Punk caught Fandango on the top turnbuckle, nailed the superplex, and rolled it fluidly into an Anaconda Vice for the win.
-Good match, just not great. These guys never really got into a solid rhythm. That being said, Fandango was put over as a solid star here, and Punk is entertaining even on his worst days.
Backstage Interview w/ RVD, Christian, and Randy Orton: RVD argued that he was ready for a title shot after being gone for so long. Christian said he was ready for “one more match.” Randy Orton told everybody that just because he had the briefcase, he wasn’t going to rest on his laurels, to which RVD countered that he didn’t come back just for a “stroll down memory lane.”
-Great way to build towards the main event. I liked the reminder of Randy Orton being Money in the Bank winner, and how he could possibly be a dual champion. Furthermore, WWE was smart to position RVD as a serious contender here, rather than just an old-school dude who showed up to wrestle a few matches.
Christian def. Randy Orton and RVD in a Triple-Threat Match to become the #1 Contender: Christian tossed Orton outside the ring early on and engaged in a one-on-one battle with RVD. Van Dam regained control, and hit Orton with a spinning leg kick to Randy Orton on the guard rail. Christian hit a sphere just as the show went to commercial.
When Smackdown returned, Christian hit a tornado ddt on Rob Van Dam. Orton came in and attacked Christian from behind. After that, RVD nailed a spinning leg-kick on both Orton and Chrstian, and followed it up with a split-leg moonsault on Orton in the corner. Both Orton and Christian rolled outisde the ring. Just as the match went to its second commercial, Rob Van Dam vaulted over the top rope to hit Orton and Christian on the outside.
After the final break, Christian and Orton exchanged blows inside the ring. Christian attempted a sphere. However, Randy Orton leapt-frog the move and got the upper hand for a brief moment, before Van Dam came back in and took control. He knocked Christian down and hit the Frog Splash, but only got a two-count as Orton broke up the pin. Orton and RVD exchanged in a series of blows, and Orton impressive reversed Van Dam’s “rolling thunder” into a slam. When RVD got back up. Orton hit the RKO, but Christian grabbed Orton immediately afterwards and put him in a backslide for the pin.
After the match, Orton and Christian stared each other down, before shaking hands as a mutual sign of respect.
Josh Matthews attempted to interview Christian, but Del Rio snuck in for a surprise attack to close out the show.
-FANTASTIC MATCH. These three put together a fast-paced, fun, energetic triple-threat match. The endless counters were exciting, and the finish of the match was always in doubt. I’m also happy to see Christian finally get some of the respect he deserves (but I doubt he’ll make it out of LA with the championship.) Great way to end the show.
Big E Langston vs. Sin Cara: Just as the bell rang, the lights dimmed… because Sin Cara is still being treated like he’s special. Big E dominated the early part of the match with his power. Sin Cara got free when Big E tried to use the ropes for leverage and the ref caught him. However, when Sin Cara attempted a springboard moonsault, Langston caught him in mid-air, and sealed the victory with the Big Ending.
-Serviceable match. Nothing about it was particularly “Bad,” but it’s being dropped to the “Bad” column because nothing was particularly good about it, either. Short, purposeless, and boring.
AJ Lee def. Kaitlyn for the WWE Divas Championship: AJ took Kaitlyn down early with a sleeper hold. She maintained control with a few high-kicks before things sprawled over to te outside. Just as Kaitlyn was about to hit a sphere outside the ring, Layla jumped in the way and screamed “No!” AJ took Kaitlyn into the ring and locked in the black widow for the win. After the match, Layla and AJ skipped away together.
-That was seriously one of the worst (and unnecessary) heel turns I can remember. Is this why creative has had Layla hanging around for so long? Secondly, the match never got off the ground. Just a wasted segment.