WWE Smackdown Report Card – Episode airing 7/8/2011
1. Main Event
- Sheamus looked like a man among boys in the Money in the Bank group. None of the other guys in the ring during their part of the opening segment have the presence he does, and never was it more evident than when he made his entrance with the chair. He is much more comfortable in the Main Event, and the match at the end of the show verified that for everyone. A quality night for Sheamus in the ring and in his various talking segments.
- Christian continues to perplex me as a character. I'm not really all that pleased with the way he's been portrayed since his heel turn, as he's never been made to look strong in the ring and he continues to get browbeaten in promos by both Sheamus and Christian. I don't think making his losing streak to Orton a running joke is selling many PPV's, and I don't think weak heels against a very strong face champion is engaging enough to maintain interest for much longer unless there is a huge plot twist in the near future.
- Randy Orton continues to run with his tweener act by balancing his cocky promo style with his former heel tactics of punting people. So far it's working, as he is mega over with the crowds and has been very sharp in the ring. I hope they can move him into a more traditional face promo style, because I think it would fit much better with the landscape of heels that are on Smackdown, most of which are portrayed pretty vulnerably, with the exception of Sheamus.
Main Event Grade: B-
2. Mid Card
- The first half of the opening segment of the show was all the Money in the Bank competitors in the ring talking about the match, and besides Wade Barrett I didn't think any of them really seized the moment. I'm not sure if it was the fact that this was the second taping of the night, or what it might have been, but nobody really stepped up to the plate and delivered like I hoped they would in that moment. I hold out hope that next week will bring better things.
- The tag match that pitted Daniel Bryan and Ezekiel Jackson vs. Cody Rhodes and Ted Dibiase was a great example of why the Mid-Card is struggling on Smackdown right now. While the match had some good moments in the ring, the story elements are pretty bare and it doesn't feel like any of these characters are progressing week to week. All the physical tools are here, but the babyface characters (Jackson and Bryan) aren't defined well or over enough to get the crowd connected to them. As a result, the reaction for Rhodes and Dibiase suffers because their heel tactics don't inspire a visceral reaction. This whole thing needs some attention from the creative team.
- This is more of an upper mid card match, but Mark Henry and Kane delivered one my favorite big man matches in recent memory. We had some good near falls, everything looked like it hurt, and we got a clean finish that kept Mark Henry's train rolling forward. I'm a Kane fan, and his performance here was as about as good as it gets when he's in the ring with another big man, and the chokeslam spot with Henry got a great reaction from the live crowd. Henry looked good as well, but then again I've always enjoyed him in this role.
- Tyson Kidd and Sin Cara entertained me this week, but the same problems with communication and slip-ups continue for Sin Cara. I really hope he gets it together, because he's definitely over with the crowds. Hopefully he can pick up some english and work with more opponents to get the style down.
- The Usos defeated Slater and Gabriel in another very entertaining and highly athletic match. The Haka before the match got the crowd revved up, and the energy carried over into the match. There was a lot of work packed into 3 1/2 minutes, and I think we got the right finish. Slater and Gabriel need to move away from teaming, and the WWE needs to build its division around teams like The Usos.
Mid-Card Grade: B-
3. Lower Card
- Jinder Mahal and Khali squashed Trent Baretta again. I'm not sure why I'm supposed to care about this right now. They've established the story for Jinder, and now they need to move him into a feud. If they wait much longer I don't think the crowd will maintain interest. He got very little reaction for the second taping.
- We saw another AJ and Tamina match for some reason. This reminds me a lot of what they are doing with the men in the mid-card. Just throw them out there and hopefully something magical happens and the crowd gets into it. Judging by the reaction for this match, I don't think it's succeeding right now. We need an actual story here, just like in the mid card for the men. Without one these girls are just trying to keep their head above water.
Lower Card Grade: D+
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