5/1 Barnett's WWE Smackdown Report Card: Alberto Del Rio and Christian, Cody Rhodes and Rey Mysterio, and Mark Henry highlight a much better episode of Smackdown

Posted in: Barnett Editorials, MUST-READ LISTING
May 1, 2011 - 12:51 PM

By Jake Barnett

The purpose of this editorial is to rundown the latest edition of WWE Smackdown by highlighting the top angles on the show, list where I think they succeeded and where they failed, and give it a final letter grade in the traditional grade school format. I will also give the overall show a letter grade. The following Report Card pertains to the April 29 edition of Smackdown.

Angle 1: Christian vs Alberto Del Rio for the Vacant World Title

This Week's Successes:

  • Alberto Del Rio and Christian were both great in the ring this week in their tag team main event.

  • The focus of this feud continues to be on the world title, and that's refreshing to see. Too often WWE Title or WHC feuds tend to focus on personalities rather than the drive to hold the belt, and I think these two have done a good job holding the title above their personal issues as the driving influence in the feud. The more that top level talent puts the titles over, the better it will be long term for WWE.

  • Christian's Promo this week was great, and was much better than anything that we've seen from him recently. Chris Shore and I mentioned it in our audio, and I think this promo will go a long way towards swaying people who are on the fence about Christian in the main event to get religion. He deserves to be there, and this is just another example why.

This Week's Failures:

  • The introduction of Randy Orton distracted from the feud, and I think he overshadowed both guys.

  • WWE continues to foreshadow the finish of every match involving these guys by putting Brodus Clay in it as the greenhorn that's just there to take a pin. It's not necessarily ADR or Christian's fault, but it definitely cuts a lot of the suspense out of these tag matches they keep booking them in.

Final Grade: B-

Angle 2: Rey Mysterio and Cody Rhodes:

This Week's Successes:

  • The match between Rey and Mark Henry that involved a Cody Rhodes run-in was a great TV match followed up with a great post match segment that got over all 3 men. It was the only segment on the show that put great heat on the heels involved and generated a lot of sympathy for the babyface. It's rare that a segment is able to accomplish putting over everyone involved, and WWE deserves kudos for pulling it off.

  • Cody Rhodes continues to show great intensity whenever he's on television. His mannerisms, psychological need to cover his face, and irrational anger really sell his new character.

  • Rey Mysterio continues to be great week in and week out in the ring. Very rarely do we see wrestlers that are able to put together several months of solid TV matches, but Mysterio has been consistently great in the ring for months now, and it deserves mention.

This Week's Failures:

  • Rey Mysterio's promo felt like a funeral procession for his career, when he was really only moving o Raw. It sucked a lot of energy out of the crowd unnecessarily. Luckily he and Mark Henry got them back quickly.

  • The Paper Bag thing with Cody Rhodes is rather dumb. If he hates Mysterio and what his mask represents, why isn't he trying to rip it off? The introduction of the paper bag was cute for a promo, but this week felt lame.

Final Grade: B-

Overall Show Grade: C+

Overall Show Comments: Well, the rest of this show contained a good TV match between Sin Cara and Jack Swagger, the booking of a loser leaves WWE match between Michelle McCool and Layla, a boring Tag Title Match, and a beatdown of Kofi Kingston by Sheamus. Overall, the show was better than last week. It felt like a higher energy show, and the new blood coming from Raw gave the show a freshness that just didn't exist before. After Edge was forced to retire, you felt almost immediately that the show was kind of thrown off it's orbit. He was the anchor on the show, and without him I think the Smackdown writers felt pretty directionless.

The Sin Cara and Jack Swagger match was not the best effort of both men. It still kind of feels like WWE has a governor installed on Sin Cara. Maybe it's the language barrier, maybe they are saving his more impressive spots for other opponents, but as someone who saw him tear it up in CMLL, I hope we get full throttle soon. Mark Henry was an immediate addition to the show. He had great energy as a heel, and it translated to television very well.

I finally got the impression that he was ready to be a badass again, and I hope it continues. The last time we saw beast mode Mark Henry was on WWECW, and I think its definitely the character that has the potential to add the most value to WWE broadcasts. Michelle McCool and Layla was a great brawl as far as Divas brawls are concerned, and I'm actually looking forward to where the Divas division goes after they wrap up the LayCool hegemony that had dominated the division for well over a year.

The beatdown on Kofi by Sheamus made sense, considering the 3 minute match they had on Monday, but if they were going to book a title match between them, I would have hoped they would have booked it for the PPV, since this PPV is short on matches that have the potential to steal the show. Hopefully we finally see Sheamus break out of his funk and surge back into the Main Event on Smackdown, as he is a great heel and he is needed now that the show has lost its top heel in ADR. The future of Smackdown looks pretty bright with all it's new additions. I hope we see some compelling stories get introduced next week that give everybody something meaningful to do.

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please e-mail me at or hit me up on twitter @barnettjake.

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