While I’m sure there were some people out there thrilled at the prospect of seeing that contest I’d say the majority of WWE’s casual audience (by which I mean people who won’t necessarily watch every show religiously and are therefore the ones who can increase WWE’s ratings numbers) were indifferent to the news of that match.
As this week’s episode of SmackDown also featured a World Heavyweight championship match between Sheamus and Alberto Del Rio I don’t understand why WWE opted to advertise the Cara and Rhodes battle a week in advance. Surely a world title match featuring bigger stars would have stood a better chance of enticing people to tune in had it been announced in advance.
Perhaps the reason that WWE didn’t hype the title match is that it turned out to be more angle than match. Before the two combatants even locked up half a dozen indy wrestlers dressed as policemen approached the ring, prompting ‘The Essence of Excellence’ to take a microphone and begin yelling that he hadn’t pressed charges (a reference to Monday’s RAW when Sheamus “stole” Alberto’s car and drove around San Antonio in it).
Naturally this situation was revealed to have been “a setup all along” when the police stormed into the ring and starting bumping around for ‘The Celtic Warrior’. Eventually their greater numbers prevailed and the gang managed to pin the champ into the corner of the ring to be battered by ADR.
This would have been dissatisfying for anyone who had looked forward to the bout since the previous week but I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. Del Rio’s cowardice and unsportsmanlike conduct would have cost the fans the chance to see a match they had tuned in for. It would have got him the right kind of heel heat and created anticipation for the inevitable rematch
Part of the reason for cancelling the SummerSlam showdown may be so that WWE are free to add Randy Orton to the bout. ‘The Viper’ currently has nothing lined up for the show and I suspect that the original plan before his suspension was that the Del Rio v Sheamus programme would have finished by now and one of them would be feuding with Orton.
We’re going to have to wait until Tuesday’s SmackDown tapings to find out if ‘The Apex Predator’ gets put into the championship match. I think there’s a very strong chance he will be. As adding Orton to the match would mean a second triple threat match at SummerSlam it’s possible someone else will be added to the bout too.
Was this a GM-eroonie?
Overall I thought SmackDown was a pretty solid offering this week. The match quality was high, with Christian v Antonio Cesaro and Miz v Rey Mysterio being particularly enjoyable. The non-title victory for ‘The Biggest Little Man’ was presumably done in order to set up a rematch for SummerSlam. That would be a good opener for the pay-per-view. I thought Cesaro’s facial expressions were first rate during his brief time on the mic, and it was nice seeing him utilise Swiss Death (a one man flapjack into a European uppercut) in WWE.
The Highlight Reel proved useful for advancing the Jericho v Ziggler rivalry, although it should be noted that it’s now such a well-worn concept that it did a good job of illustrating ‘The Show Off’s’ point about ‘Y2J’ being past his best. Discussions about winning the big one seemed out of place too: Ziggler v Jericho could be a highlight of SummerSlam but it’s not a big match, especially for the former undisputed champ.
The segment involving Kane, Daniel Bryan and AJ could have been awful but was just saved by yet another excellent performance by the super over Bryan. The reaction AJ received should be concerning for WWE’s writing department though: she heard more than a smattering of boos. If she’s at ringside at SummerSlam I think WWE may have to be prepared for her to play heel.
Booker T promo, featuring Sheamus and Alberto Del Rio
Tweet 1: "The return of the entertaining Highlight Reel" - Michael Cole, doing a bad job of building up the Highlight ReelTweet 2: Shut up, Josh. Booker doesn't have an office.
Tweet 3: Booker T is in the ring wearing a tuxedo. He just did a spinneroonie. This feels VERY WCW.
Tweet 4: "Houston, we have a problem" - Booker T, with a gag that made even Michael Cole cringe
Tweet 5: Is it a tux or just a bow tie. I don't know what this is but I don't like it.
Tweet 6: Booker T is going to make 'Great White' apologise for stealing ADR's car on RAW. This never would have happened to Austin.
Tweet 7: Sheamus apologises to Booker and the audience before Del Rio. He stole the guy's car!
Tweet 8: Legal ramifcations always get a world title feud over. ALWAYS.
Tweet 9: ADR v Sheamus for the title is the main event. Good for the fans but bad for the SummerSlam buy rate. I know which of those I'd prioritise.
Cody Rhodes v Sin Cara
Tweet 10: Has Sin Cara officially given up on the blue and gold?Tweet 11: "How astounding and breathtaking is the style of Sin Cara" - Josh Mathews as Sin Cara did a forward roll
Tweet 12: Cody's cutting a promo on Cara being ugly. Cara cannot understand. He doesn't speak English.
Tweet 13: If Cara is to get over then more money needs to be spent on his outfits and less needs to be spent on lighting effects.
Tweet 14: The blue lighting just makes everything look murky. It's like they're wrestling at the bottom of the ocean.
Tweet 15: Rhodes struggling to pull a cruiserweight to his feet there.
Tweet 16: Cara wins via rollup. He goes into the aisle, tugs at his mask and shakes his finger at Rhodes. This guy is AWFUL.
Daniel Bryan backstage
Tweet 17: Daniel Bryan can make walking through a tech area backstage shouting "No!" entertaining. That's talent.
Daniel Bryan promo, featuring AJ and Kane
Tweet 18: A Daniel Bryan match! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!
Tweet 19: "No!" "Yes!" "No!" "Yes!" "No!" "Yes!" "No!" "Yes!" "No!" "Yes!" ... What?
Tweet 20: Bryan v Kane at SummerSlam is a waste of a very over wrestler. Bryan should be wrestling Orton. Kane needs to go part time.
Tweet 21: Oh good. We not only get Kane but also AJ. And her massively annoying entrance music.
Tweet 22: AJ is coming across as a heel here. I have a feeling that she'll be at ringside at SummerSlam and hear boos.
Tweet 23: I don't care about this feud. I just want Bryan to scream "No!" and wrestle twenty minute matches with guys like Punk and Orton.
Tweet 24: AJ wants Kane and Bryan to shake hands. Didn't shaking Orton's hand make Kane turn heel last year?
Tweet 25: Kane disrespecting the Code of Honor there.
Tweet 26: AJ is just laughing at the top of the ramp. She's pretty much a full blown heel at this point.
I don't think AJ could look more like a heel if she tried
Booker T and Teddy Long conduct important GM business in an office
Tweet 27: MidCard Mafia want some doors opened by Booker. He likes their looks but they need to step it up. #nohomoTweet 28: Booker has mentioned that he's the new GM about three times in this segment alone.
Tweet 29: Booker and Teddy stand very close to one another when they talk. Is that a GM-senior advisor thing, or is there more to their relationship?
Jinder Mahal v two unnamed jobbers
Tweet 30: JINDER MAHAL'S PERSPEX BOX!!Tweet 31: Jinder Mahal is taking on two jobbers. This is WWE’s new approach to getting their guys over.
Tweet 32: He thinks Ryback's eyes are bigger than his stomach. They really need to sort the food analogies out.
Tweet 33: Jinder wins very quickly via the camel clutch. Josh made a point of referring to the jobbers as individuals and not "Superstars".
Tweet 34: And now here's Ryback. Jinder is running away. I noted that he does that when I posted this.
Tweet 35: Jinder put the camel clutch on both guys at the same time so Ryback did his finisher on both guys at the same time. Ryback had the tougher challenge there.
Tweet 36: Well this feud is efficiently killing Ryback's push.
The Highlight Reel, with Vickie Guerrero as guest
Tweet 37: No Dolph on the Highlight Reel? Yeah right!Tweet 38: Presumably he'll run in through the crowd...
Tweet 39: Why is Jericho wearing a leather jacket but no shirt?
Tweet 40: Why are they using the show footage to recap RAW? Spice it up with Jericho's Tout footage!
Tweet 41: Presumably the Tout was so poorly filmed that they couldn't bring themselves to air it.
Tweet 42: 'Y2J' wants to prove that he can still win the big one. Pinning Ziggler won't do that. It will be a standard mid-card bout.
Tweet 43: Failed run-in by Ziggler. Why is he constantly outsmarted by faces?
Tweet 44: Doesn't matter, he made a miraculous comeback and gave Jericho a Zig Zag.
Tweet 45: "Who's your mother now?" - Vickie Guerrero
Tweet 46: That performance from Jericho felt a little flat in places. Other than that it was a good segment. Ziggler deserved a lot more heat.
Prime Time Players v Epico and Primo
Tweet 47: Will you crown a new champion on SmackDown, Josh? No.Tweet 48: "Many people are talking about the state of the WWE tag team division" - Josh Mathews, who isn’t wrong
Tweet 49: R-Truth is great on commentary. AW is not. He seems incapable of making the most of his microphone gimmick.
Tweet 50: How many times do we have to sit through the Prime Time Players v Epico and Primo? It feels like we see it every week.
Tweet 51: PTPs win by DQ. This is why nobody cares about your tag division, WWE.
Antonio Cesaro v Christian
Tweet 52: Antonio Cesaro. Heeey!!Tweet 53: The five languages gimmick is solid.
Tweet 54: Cesaro's facial expressions were GREAT there.
Tweet 55: A question for Josh Mathews: what is a marquee victory?
Tweet 56: How long can Antonio Cesaro go without knee pads? I reckon he'll be wearing them by Christmas.
Tweet 57: Josh and Cole really need somebody else with them (see here).
Tweet 58: That bridging fallaway slam from Cesaro was impressive.
Tweet 59: SWISS DEATH!! #markingout
Tweet 60: That was an enjoyable match. I wish Cesaro had won. Christian is so over that he doesn't need to win much.
Booker T and Teddy Long conduct yet more important GM business in an office
Tweet 61: Kaitlyn and Eve both want a job with Booker T. Popular guy.Tweet 62: Kaitlyn v Eve, winner becomes Booker's assistant. That'll get the ratings up.
Rey Mysterio v The Miz
Tweet 63: Does Rey's entrance song have a line that says "That's my burro"? #ReyownsadonkeyTweet 64: I don't like the white IC belt. Bring back the previous version.
Tweet 65: Miz comes from The Reality World. Is that near Planet Stasiak?
Tweet 66: Why does nobody ever counter the 619 with a punch to Rey's knees?
Tweet 67: Mysterio beats Miz. SummerSlam rematch? Almost certainly. I'd rather see Miz v Ryder and Bryan v Rey (read this for more).
Sheamus v Alberto Del Rio for the World Heavyweight championship
Tweet 68: World title match time. Eight minutes left of the show and the guys aren't even in the ring. I'm guessing this will be a DQ.Tweet 69: No way they'll have a worthwhile match with this amount of time left.
Tweet 70: FELLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH!!
Tweet 71: Sheamus walks to the ring. #swayinghipaction
Tweet 72: Albertooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo Deeeeeeeeeeeeeeelllll Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!
Tweet 73: Surprisingly little heat for ADR. Only a decent pop for Sheamus. I demand Houston be demoted to a house show town.
Tweet 74: Why would Sheamus attacks these "cops" before finding out whether or not they're the genuine article?
Something tells me these guys aren't real policemen
Tweet 75: SmackDown's lead babyface is an idiot. That's what we've learnt from this show.
Tweet 76: Sheamus is beaten up by half a dozen men then put in a cross arm breaker and he's barely selling any of it.
Tweet 77: That was another decent angle that deserved a lot more heat than it got. Disappointing crowd for an above average SmackDown.