Sunday 28 August 2011

Tuesday Night Live

“A live episode of SmackDown on a Tuesday? What witchcraft is this?!” you may be thinking. No witchcraft involved. SmackDown is always held on a Tuesday, taped to air later in the week. You probably already knew that, it’s one of the most open secrets in the wrestling business (so open that it can barely be considered a secret, really) but there may be someone reading who didn’t know, and it was the best way I could think of to start this blog.

I think this one-off move could work well for WWE. SmackDown’s ratings have been dismal since the move to Syfy, despite the fact that it’s currently the most consistent wrestling show on TV (that may change in a few weeks when ROH’s new show kicks off). The main problem the show has is its Friday night slot: there are fewer people at home to watch the show so there are fewer potential viewers. I always felt SmackDown worked best on Thursday nights, but I think a live Tuesday show every week could work out well for WWE too.

Will SuperSmackDown warrant those five extra letters? So far two matches have been confirmed for the program: WWE champion Alberto Del Rio will wrestle Sin Cara in a non-title match and World Heavyweight champion Randy Orton will defend his title against Christian in a cage match. Those matches alone should help to make the show “Super”.

Sin Cara v Alberto Del Rio is a match that would have been impossible until a few days ago. The original Sin Cara (Luis Ignascio Urive Alvirde, a.k.a. Mistico) and ADR have heat dating back to their time together in Mexican promotion CMLL. But thanks to Mistico’s haphazard performances and Wellness Policy violation he has reportedly been released from his contract, with developmental star Jorge Arias (a.k.a. Hunico) taking over in the role full time, having filled in during Mistico’s Wellness-related suspension.

It’s a good move by the company. Hunico is better suited to the role having spent time in FCW learning the WWE style, while Mistico was sloppy and couldn’t fit in with the rest of the locker room due to the language barrier created by his inability to speak English. If Hunico is given time to settle into the gimmick and work his way up the card naturally I think he can be successful.

This is a first time match between two men (well, one man and a character) WWE has spent a lot of time making stars of. Had the promotion held the match off until Sin Cara (whoever’s under the mask) is considered a bigger star they could have made some money from the match on pay-per-view, but it’s not a disastrous move and should help SuperSmackDown feel like something special.

This should be an enjoyable match and I personally think it would work well as an opener to get the crowd excited and lively early on. Just don’t expect Sin Cara to win: in the last two weeks ADR has beaten CM Punk, Rey Mysterio and Bryan Danielson. WWE are clearly putting him over their best workers to make him look as dominant as possible. It’s worked so far and I expect it to continue until Night of Champions at least.

The cage match is almost guaranteed to be the main event (WWE has been known to open with huge matches in the past and I wouldn’t put it past them here, hence the use of the word “almost”). I’ve wanted to see Christian and Orton’s feud take in a proper gimmick match for a while now and I think a cage match is the perfect fit for what is probably going to be a feud-ending battle. I’m looking forward to seeing what they do in there and expect it to be another solid entry into their feud.

That said I’m glad it’s over. They’ve been battling one another since the beginning of May and I don’t think WWE could have stretched things out past Night of Champions. It’s better for them to end it now than for fans to lose interest completely.

‘The Viper’ is heading into a feud with ‘The World’s Strongest Shark’ – sorry, I mean ‘Man’ – Mark Henry so don’t be surprised to see him lumber out to ringside during or after the bout. I’m hoping he comes out afterwards: this has been WWE’s best feud of the year and to see the final match marred by outside interference would be disappointing. But then it could be argued that that’s exactly why Henry should interfere: it makes him a bigger heel as he spoils the fans’ enjoyment.

‘Captain Charisma’s’ next feud is less clear right now, but I suspect it will be Sheamus. I think they’d have good matches and their characters would work well together during promos. Christian’s also very good at helping to establish newly turned babyfaces. Sheamus is working well as a face anyway, but Christian is the perfect man to cement him in the role.

The obvious thing to do would be to have Henry come out and rip off the cage door (establishing how big, strong, manly and shark-like he is) then attack Orton with Christian’s help, prompting Sheamus out for the save (establishing that he, like Finlay, loves to fight and is a stand-up dude too). That would gently move Christian into his new feud and get some heat on Henry for his upcoming battle with ‘WWE’s Apex Predator’ (which establishes that WWE is running out of meaningful monikers).

There’s also a rumour that John Cena and CM Punk are going to face one another on the show. If that’s a televised match then great, that will help SuperSmackDown’s ratings significantly (providing it’s announced on RAW the night before). I have a feeling it’s a dark match main event though (which basically means it’s an untelevised match, in case you don’t know). If you see that match “confirmed” anywhere but WWE’s official website then remain sceptical.

This is WWE’s chance to get itself some new viewers, start new feuds and finish an old one. Considering the general strength of SmackDown I don’t think they’ll disappoint. It does leave me with nothing to watch next Friday though.

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