WWE Smackdown Report Card for the Episode Aired 8/19/11
- Mark Henry continues to rock the boat in the main event scene on Smackdown. His victory in the Battle Royal that closed the show cemented him as the #1 Contender, but in the end it was his stare down at the end of the show with Orton that was worthy of comment. For the first time in months, we had a heel standing in front of Randy Orton that was able to intimidate him. WWE has a dearth of strong heels, and watching Henry bark that he smelled fear coming from Orton was the biggest storyline evolution coming out of this show.
- Randy Orton continues to disappoint me on the microphone. There is no doubt that the guy is an amazing worker, but I can tell he's not entirely comfortable with being a babyface. It's just unnatural for him. I hope this feud with Henry reinvigorates him, because tonight he got a warm welcome as champ, but I didn't sense much passion from him on the mic.
- The #1 Contenders Battle Royal was average Battle Royal fare, without much of consequence to talk about. It was a nice touch to have Henry on the outside working everybody that was eliminated from the match, because it kept him on the TV camera in a primary role without getting lost in the ring during the match. The finish was predictable with the roll that Henry has been on lately, and it will be interesting to see how this feud works out considering how Orton openly mocked Henry's ring work in a radio interview a few months back.
- Christian was not on this show. I suppose the obvious answer is that he was selling the match with Orton, but WWE rarely does that. Perhaps they really have no idea what to do with him now? That seems plausible considering the way his feud with Orton ended. I assume since Edge called him out at SummerSlam, he'll be back on the road to being rebuilt with some character tweaks upon return.
- Alberto Del Rio made an appearance on Smackdown to celebrate his 1 year anniversary with the company. He gave a pretty orthodox Del Rio promo, and spoke a bit about destiny and bagged on Rey Mysterio. The crowd booed him, so I guess you can't argue with it too much. He was challenged by Daniel Bryan to a match, which ended up being far and away the highlight of the show. Those two put on a clinic that was able to pack in multiple comebacks, limb isolation, good near falls, and a logical finish into a 15 minute TV match. Bravo to both guys.
Final Grade: C
- Cody Rhodes and Zeke Jackson put on a much better match than last week. It was a very similar match, but they were able to compact it into a shorter time frame and give a sense of urgency to all the offense that was just plain missing from the effort they put out last week. Rhodes was the clean winner, and I continue to think that is the right move for the future of the Intercontinental Title. Both he and the title need a legitimacy boost, so let's hope they can find him some suitable opponents to take him to the limit in the ring.
- Justin Gabriel continues to get vignettes on every episode of Smackdown. I see money in him as a babyface, as he is handsome guy with a clean look and what seems like a pretty genuine nice guy personality. His match with Tyson Kidd tonight, however, wasn't the launching pad I hoped it would be. These same to guy surprised the crap out of me by putting on a great match on NXT a few weeks ago, and this felt like they crammed a 15 minute high energy match into a 5 minute match with the afterburners on, and both guys made very regrettable mistakes in the ring. I'm hoping they get another shot at it next week, because I think Justin could be a great babyface to send after Cody Rhodes if they can get some credible wins under his belt.
Final Grade: C+
- Natalya continues to show her mean streak in her new role, and I have liked the change so far. The divas tag match that took place tonight was nothing special, but what little was done to advance the story of Nattie's frustration with her struggle to beat the “Pretty Divas” has been interesting to watch. This needs to start moving forward and gaining traction soon, however, otherwise it could find the same malaise that seems to afflict many WWE storylines.
- Jinder Mahal and Khali are busted. Just flat out busted. I don't think its necessarily a reflection of their talent, just that the story fell out of focus for so long that the attempt to start it back up again have fallen flat. I know both men are very popular among Indian fans, so I think there is a market for it, but they need to them involved with a babyface that can work with both guys and not look out of place. Big Zeke is the only one I can see on the Smackdown roster, but I'm not open to being wrong.
Final Grade: C-
Final Grade(Not an average): C
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