By Jake Barnett
WWE Smackdown Reflections: Episode Airing 9/9/2011
I think its easy to see what we learned on Smackdown this week. Mark Henry is the reason to watch this show. I have heard plenty of Mark Henry promos in my time as a WWE fan, but this one tonight went a long way to cement him in my mind as a guy who has completely transformed himself. Dot Net Contributor Chris Shore said in his Smackdown report that one day recently Mark Henry woke up awesome and just hasn't stopped since, and I really can't think of a better way to describe what we've been seeing from him lately.
A few months ago people openly mocked the guy for being a live action Kool-Aid Man, and now I'm happy to say that he has dissolved that reputation and is reborn as the monster he probably should have been all along. Kudos to the creative staff for really getting behind Mark in a way that has allowed him to become the best heel in WWE right now. And Kudos to Mark for delivering. I'm glad he has been able to prove his critics wrong.
Randy Orton continues to be a mixed bag in my opinion. Every time the guy gets in the ring something great happens. I can't remember the last time I saw a really bad Randy Orton match, and to his credit he has really been at the top of his game in the ring, but as of lately that is where the excellence ends. Randy just doesn't click on the mic as a babyface. I'm not entirely sure if it's his comfort level or what is being written for him, but he has fallen into the typical WWE babyface didact of cliché, cliché, catch phrase and then promo over.
I also wish he'd go a little more out of his way to give the fans a reason to doubt the outcome of his matches. I can't remember the last time I went into a Randy Orton match with the result being up in the air. I think WWE realizes he can't continue to squish people for an extended period of time and hope that the crowds continue to take his opponents seriously. Smackdown has a pretty shallow roster of heels on the show that could be sent into the Main Event, so they have to find a way to keep guys looking strong even if they don't want to take the title off of Orton anytime soon.
The rest of the show didn't really have much to really hang a hat on. We had some fairly entertaining matches, but the only storylines that moved forward on this show were away from the title scene. Normally that might not be an issue, but we're headed into the Night of Champions PPV one week from the day this blog will be posted, and we still haven't had any promotion or booking for matches with both the Intercontinental and United States Titles. The entire point of the PPV is to put a focus on all the Championship Belts and build feuds around them, and they have left the two belts normally used to groom young wrestlers for the Main Event are conspicuously absent thus far.
I assume they'll book matches last minute, but I can think of a few segments from the past few weeks I could have lived without that could have been used for Title Feuds. Cody Rhodes is a talented guy, and a guy I personally think is well equipped to rebuild some of the prestige around the Intercontinental Title. The same could be said about Dolph Zigger and the US Title. It's time WWE shaved some time off of the long promo segments and video packages and found a way to get those titles a more prominent role on both brands.
Sheamus and Christian appear to be headed for a feud. The more I've thought about this the less I understand it. I don't know why they put Christian, a very weak heel coming off a string of losses, against Sheamus, a rising babyface who can't afford to lose any steam. This seems like a feud to keep these guys busy while they come up with a real plan for them.
I keep trying to envision how both guys could gain something from this, but I don't really see it. I hope I'm proven wrong. I'm not sure this will end up on the Night of Champions PPV just yet, but hopefully it makes for some entertaining television. The way it was presented on this episode felt forced and the conclusion was obvious from the beginning. The fact that the run-in at the end of the match was such a forgone conclusion took a lot away from the other action for me. And poor Wade Barrett....so much wasted talent there.
The Divas wrestled a competent match tonight. I don't really have a lot to say about it other than it helped set up a revenge scenario for Natalya and Beth to work with into next week on Kelly. The match was competent and they both put a lot of effort into it. They avoided the normally predictable bad diva spots and delivered a clean match that entertained the crowd. I'm hopeful for the future of the Divas division. The Pin-up vs. Barbie Doll thing they have going right now is the most entertaining thing since Kharma, so I look forward to what feels like an inevitable Natalyla vs. Beth Phoenix feud.
The last feud that was developed a bit on this show was Sin Cara and Daniel Bryan, and perhaps The Original Sin Cara as well. After a very clean and well wrestled match between Hunico Sin Cara and Tyson Kidd, we had an interview segment with Sin Cara and Daniel Byran that resulted in a match between them getting booked for next week.
The peculiar part about the segment was the portion where Sin Cara said that the aggressive Sin Cara was the “real” Sin Cara and that he had been holding himself back for the sake of other Superstars. It that that was the setup for the Original Sin Cara to show up and reclaim his name, and hopefully we get more on it next week. I'm not a huge fan of them using Bryan to set this up, but I do look forward to seeing what Hunico and Mistico can do in a feud together in the ring. Hopefully they are able to deliver together.
Overall, this show didn't struggle to entertain me, but I'm not exactly confident in what it says about the future of the storylines on the show. Raw being a Supershow has definitely stolen some of the thunder from the stories on this show. I'm not sure if that has to do with the writing teams for both shows putting a ton of effort into Raw, or what, but it definitely feels like people outside of the Smackdown main event are failing to get much attention from the creative staff.
Many people might disagree with me, but I think a show like tonight is essentially a case in point. The World Title was the spotlight of the show, as it should be, but the rest of the show was made up almost entirely out of matches that we've seen before relatively recently. I hope they hit their stride and deliver a very good go home week for Night of Champions, otherwise they could have a hard time selling this PPV to people other than really dedicated fans.
Questions, comments, or concerns? Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter @barnettjake
Barnett's WWE Smackdown Reflections: Randy Orton, Mark Henry, Sheamus, Christian, and more discussed. Plus, did they build any stories this week?
Sep 11, 2011 - 06:00 PM
Sep 11, 2011 - 06:00 PM
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