WWE Smackdown Report Card – For Episode that aired 9/16/2011
- Edge made a memorable return to Smackdown this week. He was humble, honest, and above all else seemed genuinely grateful for what the fans have given him over the years. I've always been an Edge fan, and I continue to be impressed by his post retirement appearances. I'm glad he was able to escape the business with his health relatively in tact, and I hope he can return on a more full time basis in the future to work in the announce booth or just play agent provocateur like he did on Smackdown. Edge brings an energy to the show that few can.
- Sheamus and Christian continue to be entertaining in the ring, but their characters leave a lot to be desired at this point. Christian seems to be settling back into his CLB character, which we know from experience doesn't seem to break on through to the other side so to speak. I don't think this character is going to win him any World Titles, and I hope they can find a way to alter it a bit so people feel comfortable taking him more seriously. Sheamus is much better at kicking ass than selling Cereal, and in my opinion they need to drop the lucky charms bit as soon as possible.
- Mark Henry continues to be the story of 2011 for me. On Smackdown this week, he cut the promo I've wanted him to cut since he started this run as a monster. He acknowledged all his personal failures and disappointments, and articulated why they are the motivation for his current path of destruction. I especially liked the few lines in the promo where he spoke about how a lot of what he was told to do backstage ran counter to what he knew was inside himself, and that now he was doing this solely for himself. Selfishness and internalizing personal failures have been the motivations of some of the greatest evil characters in the history of fiction, and there is no doubt watching Mark Henry that it has inspired him as well.
- I have to give credit where credit is due, and say that Randy Orton has his best week of television since the beginning of his feud with Christian a few months ago. He was cool and collected, and managed to be patronizing without completely dismantling Mark Henry's chances for Sunday. This was the most fire I think I've seen Orton show in a promo in quite a while, and it did a very good job of selling the match for Sunday. Orton also did a very good job of selling the post match beating he took from Henry.
Final Grade: B
- Daniel Byran and Sin Cara worked a very good, very stiff style tonight. The sad part is that wasn't even the focus of this segment tonight. We had a match that was just starting to clip along at a good pace, when Sin Cara gets himself DQ'd by refusing to break a 5 count in the corner. Then, we get the most painful segment of the night, where both Sin Cara's (Hunico and Mistico) had a stare down both across the ring and across the arena. Since neither man was speaking, we were subjected to a pose down sans facial expressions, and neither I or the crowd really reacted at all. They need to find a way to get as much information out about these two as possible to get the crowd engaged, and also get Bryan moving in another direction quickly to minimize the damage he has taken playing stand in for this feud.
- Cody Rhodes impressed me tonight on the microphone. He was able to deliver a very good opening promo with Edge to open the show. I was slightly disappointed how it ended, but Edge's health is paramount so it makes sense to have him be nowhere near any kind of physical altercation in the ring. What followed with Ted assaulting Cody was good, but Ted kind of oversold the intensity a bit. I'm not going to pretend that it was a major issue or anything, because it was nice to see Ted show some fire finally deliver on what felt like inevitable 2 months ago.
Final Grade: C
- Beth Phoenix had a short tune up match with AJ tonight. It didn't last long enough to say much about the match other than Beth looked very strong and AJ did a very good job of making her look that way. I'm impressed by what AJ has been able to do in the short time we've seen her, and I hope it leads to better things. Sunday has to be the start of the Beth Phoenix era over the divas title. If it isn't, I think the storyline between the Pin-ups and the Princesses will start to stall.
- Jinder Mahal and The Great Khali appear to be continuing their storyline, much to my chagrin. The match between Khali and Heath Slater wouldn't have looked out of place on the same card as a Raja Lion match, and the interference and post match didn't really improve upon that. This needs to go away as soon as possible, and probably Slater too. Changing over to a Southern Rock gimmick isn't going to help dispel the stereotype that he sounds like a yokel on the mic.
Final Grade: C-
Overall Show Grade: C+
Questions, comments or concerns? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter @barnettjake