Saturday 5 May 2012

SmackTalk 04.05.12

It's all too easy to have a feud end decisively one night before starting a brand new one the next. It’s a very convenient approach that may make the lives of the booking team slightly easier but it can be a little dull for viewers. It makes the product formulaic and predictable. I understand why it's the norm but it's nice when the pace is changed a little to allow the transition from one feud to another to occur more naturally.
This is an approach that has been taken with Sheamus over the last month. He's been embroiled in his rivalry with Daniel Bryan since February's Elimination Chamber and together they have taken in WrestleMania and Extreme Rules, with a handful of gripping confrontations on RAW and SmackDown thrown in for good measure along the way. Rather than simply end the feud with Bryan WWE reintroduced Alberto Del Rio as a secondary foil to the World Heavyweight champion a month ago, getting a new program for the champion started before one had finished.
That rivalry begun to take proper shape on this week's SmackDown with ADR sending his manservant Ricardo Rodriguez into the ring during the show-opening Sheamus v Bryan clash, causing a disqualification. That Del Rio had made his intentions clear regarding Sheamus several weeks ago meant that what could have been seen as a cheap DQ finish made sense from a booking standpoint as it enhanced a fresh feud. It wasn’t just done to start up a new feud, it had been building for a while.
It's a small point in the grand scheme of things but it's nice to see as it shows WWE are booking with long term plans in mind.
Bryan v Sheamus ended up happening twice (because of the shady goings on mentioned above). Their first bout was enjoyable enough but was kept short and sweet in order to set up the second match later on in the broadcast. That was a very impressive display. It was (predictably) a notch or two below their Extreme Rules encounter but it was still much better than the average WWE TV match.

That the two men can have such good matches despite their size difference and the awkward heel and face roles (it's normally easier for the bigger man to play heel when there's such a pronounced size difference) is a testament to the talent of both men. You will read in the tweets section below that I believe Bryan is the best opponent WWE has for Sheamus and I stand by that: his stiff style is a perfect match for 'Great White's'.

Bryan and Sheamus have great chemistry in the ring
The good work being done introducing and building new stars continued this week. The best example was Damien Sandow, who chose not to wrestle his debut match against Derrick Bateman (who could be considered a new star too, I suppose) and instead gave the crowd a lecture to demonstrate his intellectual superiority. ‘Self-Professed Intellectual Saviour of the Masses’ indeed.
Everything about the Sandow character’s first televised in-ring appearance was excellent. The music he entered to, his monk-like robe, the crisp delivery of his promo, his “You’re welcome” signoff and the simple fact that he chose not to wrestle: it was all tremendous. It helped set him apart from his peers, something most WWE newcomers over the last five years have struggled with. I predict he'll go far in the company.
A complete contrast to the eloquent Sandow was the snorting, snarling Ryback. He came out to squash Bateman after Sandow bowed out. He displayed his impressive power moves and grunting ability again. I think WWE are actually putting a little too much into his push: he shouldn't be pausing for a promo or hanging around in the ring after he's won, he should just stride down the ramp, batter his opponent and then leave. No posing. No pausing. Just make the guy all business.
As for the evening's tag outings: they were forgettable. R-Truth and Kofi Kingston are not a bad unit and made perfectly adequate tag team champions. I just find it hard to care about their partnership when there are no other units of any worth for them to tangle with. I did find it interesting that Abraham Washington seemed keen to unite Hunico and Camacho with Epico, Primo and Rosa Mendes though. I'm sure I've come across that idea somewhere before...
The Orton and Big Show v Kane and Cody Rhodes match was a little slow and was built around two feuds that have outstayed their welcome. Orton should be put to use feuding with a young star that needs a boost while Cody should become a centrepiece for a revived mid-card scene. I couldn't care less about Show and Kane in 2012.

The important thing about this week’s show was that it continued preparing new characters for the future of the company. That’s something WWE has neglected to do for far too long. To see them doing it on a weekly basis is reassuring and I’m keen to see how Ryback, Damien Sandow and Antonio Cesaro develop.

Sheamus v Daniel Bryan

Tweet 1: Bang on the hour... It's SmackDown time!
Tweet 2: Why do they still have Cena saying "The champ is here!"? He's not used that phrase for years.
Tweet 3: They're opening the show by promising us recaps of RAW. Not the best way to keep viewers I'd think...
Tweet 4: Ah, here's Sheamus in his naff T-shirt.
Tweet 5: Sheamus is out there to "do what he loves: foit!" But what he's actually doing here is talking.
Tweet 6: "Yes!" chants. This will NEVER get old.
Tweet 7: Bryan's facial expression at Sheamus nicking his chant is priceless. He is the best character in WWE. #fact
Tweet 8: #signaturephrase
Tweet 9: Referee pulling Bryan off of Sheamus but... HE HAS TILL FIVE.
Tweet 10: Ricardo Rodriguez with a beautiful crossbody. Where did he come from? In a very real way it doesn't matter.
Tweet 11: Bryan and ADR exhuming the old "bickering heels" routine. I can't remember the last time WWE booked that.
Tweet 12: I'm looking at WWE's UK autumn tour dates. London gets one show? ONE? We're the captial!
Tweet 13: A three-way feud between a heel Del Rio, a face Sheamus and a tweener Bryan would be great. We're not getting it though.

Air Truth v Hunico and Camacho

Tweet 14: Kofi Kingston and R-Truth as tag champs: why not? It's not like the belts mean anything.
Tweet 15: I read the other day that Charlie Haas said the WWE tag belts look like pennies. It amused me.
Tweet 16: Hunico on a bike!!
Tweet 17: Josh just said "very formidable tag team." Not clear who he's talking about. That doesn't matter because it's clearly not true for either.
Tweet 18: AW, Rosa, Epico and Primo come out to watch Hunico and Camacho. My cheque's in the post I assume...
Tweet 19: Huncio slapping Little Jimmy was funny.
Tweet 20: Hunico can “do it all” according to Booker T.
Tweet 21: AW and company are sitting on stools on the entrance ramp. Why are the stools there?!
Tweet 22: Are we to assume a stagehand just happened to leave them there? WWE really ought to address things like this.
Tweet 23: Have Cole drop it into his scintillating commentary.
Tweet 24: It saddens me that Booker seems perfectly happy to put over this horrendous excuse for a doubles division considering he made his name in tags.
Tweet 25: Anyway... that was a decent match. Truth is not as good a fit as a partner for Kofi as Evan Bourne but they're okay together.

Brodus Clay v Jack Swagger

Tweet 26: Disco ball. That means The Undertaker's coming out, right?
Tweet 27: Cameron and Naomi. #Funkadactyls
Tweet 28: I'm not tired of the Funkasaurus gimmick yet. I don't think I ever will be. WWE have done a surprisingly good job of pacing the push.
Tweet 29: All Booker's done so far is laugh and make strange noises.
Tweet 30: Vickie Guerrero stole the "Excuse me!" phrase from Cyrus. I'll never get bored of pointing that out.
Tweet 31: ZIGGLER!!
Tweet 32: Jack Swagger with some wonderfully generic athletic-heel-slapping-himself-in-the-face taunting there.
Tweet 33: Nobody bumps like Dolph Ziggler. He makes a headbutt look lethal. A HEADBUTT!
Tweet 34: Cameron and Naomi are VERY keen on dancing.
Tweet 35: WHAT IS THIS? WHAT ACTUALLY IS THIS?! Kids have been pulled into the ring to dance and look petrified.
Tweet 36: What sort of example are the WWE employees setting here? Clay is massively overweight and the Funkadactyls are dressed like prostitutes.

RAW Recap and thoughts on Eve’s recent change in style

Tweet 37: "Your opponent, at the Over The Limit, is me!" - John Laurinaitis, not bothering to properly learn pay-per-view names
Tweet 38: It's not actually been made clear WHY Laurinaitis wants to face Cena in a match.
Tweet 39: Eve has an administrative job and so have taken to wearing glasses, It's the law.

Damien Sandow appearance, leading to Ryback v Derrick Bateman

Tweet 40: Damien Sandow in action! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!
Tweet 41: 'The Intellectual Saviour of the Masses.' This gimmick is tremendous. The entrance music is perfect.
Tweet 42: He's set to face Derrick Bateman. Didn't he go heel...?
Tweet 43: "I cannot, and will not, engage this miscreant in the ring this evening" - Damien Sandow
Tweet 44: The Damien Sandow gimmick is a wonderful creation.
Tweet 45: Ryback doesn't need a pyro. Make him the opposite of Sandow. He should walk to the ring with no posing or special lighting, job someone out, and leave.
Tweet 46: Goldberg chants, you say?

Stop the pyro and the post-match shouting and make this guy all business

Cody Rhodes and Kane v Big Show and Randy Orton

Tweet 47: The obligatory Kane anti-pop.
Tweet 48: WWE's booking squad did Cody no favours when they took the belt off him for a month. Read this for more on that. 
Tweet 49: For a guy who's been treading water for months Orton is very over.
Tweet 50: Can this match be the final match in the Kane v Orton series? Please?
Tweet 51: Booker T and Michael Cole are telling us Orton is SmackDown's franchise player.
Tweet 52: How are they working that out? Sheamus is the champion and Bryan is incredibly over. Both are more relevant and higher up the card than Orton.
Tweet 53: Are Kane and Show no longer BFFs?
Tweet 54: I would much rather see Rhodes v Orton in a singles match than watch this tedious tag team affair.
Tweet 55: WWE's tag division is so shallow this is practically a number one contenders match.
Tweet 56: Kane and Cody Rhodes v Air Truth. I’d watch that.
Tweet 57: "That was about a fifteen foot drop for Cody Rhodes, right there!" - Booker T after the seven foot tall Big Show back body dropped Rhodes
Tweet 58: Show and Orton win. I find it hard to care.

Matt Striker interviews Sheamus

Tweet 60: Sheamus has confirmed he turned up at SmackDown to fight and so he'll have a match.
Tweet 61: Doctors' opinions weren't mentioned. Sheamus doesn't care if he's medically cleared. He only cares about FOIGHTING!!

Layla v Natalya

Tweet 62: Layla's from Miami? Since when?
Tweet 63: Booker does know he can be heard, right?
Tweet 64: Cole just referenced that Layla's from England. Miami, England?

An Antonio Ceasro photoshoot and a chat between AJ and Kaitlyn

Tweet 65: Claudio! Eyyyyy!!
Tweet 66: What's the point of all of this? Aksana and Antonio are getting a photoshoot done in the middle of a show? Not a priority, surely?
Tweet 67: Claudio's been called up to be part of the Teddy Long storyline then? Wasteful much?
Tweet 68: AJ and Kaitlyn segment. This will get the ratings up.
Tweet 69: That was a slap and a half. I want AJ to turn heel and squash everyone in the Divas division. Including Kharma.

Daniel Bryan v Sheamus with Alberto Del Rio on commentary

Tweet 70: Albertooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo Del Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiioooooooooooooooo!!
Tweet 71: So they're doing Daniel Bryan v Sheamus for the second time tonight? Fair enough. Bryan is probably the best opponent WWE has for Sheamus.
Tweet 72: Bryan's entrance was cut? Poor, WWE. Poor.
Tweet 73: He just told the ref he has till five! #markingout
Tweet 74: "From the shoulder to the elbow, bicep, all of it!" - Booker T helpfully telling us what an arm consists of
Tweet 75: Punch in the ropes spot. That'll get the crowd popping...
Tweet 76: Sheamus and Bryan just stiffing each other there. #notlikethat
Tweet 77: The Brogue Kick is a boring finisher. That they're going to such lengths to build up as a strong move is very irritating.
Tweet 78: That annoyance aside: great match. Sheamus and Bryan are a good fit as opponents.
Tweet 79: The show goes off the air with Sheamus shouting "FELLAAAA" into the camera. He hadn't said it all episode so I s'pose they had to get it in.

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