Opening w/Teddy Long, Booker T, Vince McMahon, and…: Teddy talked about Brad Maddox being hired as new GM for Monday Night Raw, and said that Mr. MACmahon would be on Smackdown tonight to give Teddy Long a job evaluation. Just as Teddy was asking the audience if he should be permanent GM, Booker T made his surprise return. He said he was back and ready to run Smackdown. “No Chance” hit, and Vince swaggered down to the ring. Vince told both men that only one of them could be in charge of Smackdown. He asked each of them what kind of match they’d make, to help decide. Afterwards, Brad Maddox interrupted Vince McMahon to make his own play as Smackdown GM. A drum roll started, and Vince Mcmahon announced… Vickie Guerrero as the new General Manager of Smackdown. She told the crowd she hated them, and announced that she’s back!
– Interesting way to start off Smackdown. While I would have liked to see the drama spread out a little more, or maybe have Vickie better establish her return to power, this got the point across in the quickest way possible.
Dolph Ziggler def. Jack Swagger: Both guys kicked things off high-octane. Swagger captured an early advantage, before taking a dropkick to the face, and then having to consult with his posse. Cesaro stole a cheap shot while the referee wasn’t looking. As a result, both Cesaro and Coulter were booted from ringside. A few quick reversals later, and Ziggler hit the Zig-Zag to score the win. Afterwards, Dolph Ziggler talked about dumping AJ, and said “I’m sorry… I’m sorry I didn’t do it a helluva lot sooner!” Backstage, AJ Lee acted crazy and started crying. Big E calmed her and *almost* kissed her.
– These two should’ve been given more time to work. A two minute match that made Swagger (and Cesaro, and Coulter) look weak just wasn’t enough. On the other hand, Ziggler was highlighted well here, and deserves ongoing praise for selling his face persona so well.
The Usos vs. Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns: Jimmy and Jay Uso tried to get the early jump on The Shield. However, Ambrose jumped in to help his teammates, and the match never started. Just as The Usos were getting beat down, Mark Henry ran out to assist The Usos. Finally, The Shield retreated.
– Nice next step. While I’m not crazy about seeing Mark Henry as “the rescue hero” here, his revenge on The Shield makes sense. I’m also starting to enjoy seeing The Usos handled more effectively.
Daniel Bryan vs. Wade Barrett: Seriously, I got up to refill my drink during the entrances, and by the time I sat back down, Daniel Bryan had Barrett in the “No Lock!” So no real opinion here. I’m glad to see Bryan being established as a dominant submissions expert, but hate that it’s at the expense of Barrett. This is more of a “neutral” than a “good”… but in stats, you round up.
Curtis Axel def. Chris Jericho to retain the Intercontinental Championship: Jericho and Axel exchanged in a series of back-and-forths to start the match. Jericho hit a flying cross-body from the top rope. He tried to follow that up with a codebreaker, but Axel reversed it and attempted a pin. After the commercial, Axel threw Jericho into the steel post. Down the stretch, Axel attempted a Perfect-Plex, but Jericho tossed him into the Walls of Jericho The fans finally got involved as Axel fought his way to the ropes to break-up the submission. Heyman provided the distraction, and Axel hit his finisher for the win.
After the match, Ryback’s music hit, and he made his way down to the ring to demolish Jericho. After a meat hook clothesline, Ryback hit the shell-shock and left Jericho laying. “See ya later, Chris.”
-Entertaining match, in which Jericho really gave it his all. I’d love to have Jericho go out on a bigger stage (his match this past Sunday would have been the perfect good-bye), but glad that creative was at least smart enough to use it to Ryback’s advantage.
Damien Sandow segmenet: He took to the microphone with a Ghandi quote. Sandow said that he did not screw Cody. He cut a promo about not lowering himself to the standards of the “unwashed masses.” He asked Cody to come out, so they could discuss this and move past it. Sandow looked Cody Rhodes straight in the eyes and said, “I forgive you.” He offered Cody Rhodes the ‘honor’ of being “protector of the case.” Cody Rhodes responded by hitting Sandow in the face with the Money in the Bank case.
– Great segmenet. Rhodes is starting to get over as a face, and Sandow does a great job of pushing the audiences’ buttons in his promos. I think this feud has a promising future.
Rob Van Dam vs Darren Young: RVD looked solid, as always.Unfortunately, most of the focus was on Titus O’Neil and his silly microphone. Rob Van Dam hit the Rolling Thunder, and 30 seconds later, sealed the deal with the Five Star Frog Splash. And that’s it.
Randy Orton def. Alberto Del Rio: Del Rio started things off very aggressively. He targeted the left arm of Orton (obviously), with a series of kicks and holds. Outside the ring, Orton attempted to regain control, but Del Rio reversed an Irish Whip into the steel stairs. Orton eventually hit his “vintage Orton” move, and the crowd erupted. He called for the RKO, but Del Rio countered it into a backstabber. Del Rio called for his finisher, but Randy rolled-through and stuck him with the RKO.
-Great match – mostly because it was the only one on the show given any time to breathe. I’m never a big fan of seeing a World Champion lose, but since Randy Orton holds Money in the Bank, it makes a certain amount of sense. I’d love to see Orton capture the WWE title, and match up with Del Rion in a champion vs. champion match down the road. A fan can dream!
MizTV with Paul Heyman: The Miz told Paul Heyman that he’s “beneath contempt.” Paul Heyman basically said he’s just an advocate. He told Punk to stay down, stay at home, lick his wounds, and that if he ever shows his face in WWE again, Brock Lesnar is going to deal with him. The Miz replied that he’s revolted by Paul Heyman, and walked out. As The Miz approached the top of the ramp, Curtis Axel came out.
– Meh. I was expecting something more from this segment, but it just felt like filler. We get it – The Miz is a good guy, Paul Heyman is a jerk, so they don’t get along. No new ground was covered here. Also, too many close-ups of Paul Heyman’s face…
Short Matches: Smackdown has done a pretty good job in recent weeks of striking a balance between quick, fast-paced matches, and longer, slow-build matches. Tonight, every matched seemed over before it even began. I’m not arguing that everything needs to be highlighted as though it’s a Pay-Per-View main-event, but tonight’s parade of short matches made the whole show feel rushed.