Barnett's WWE Smackdown Report Card: Did Friday's Smackdown make the Grade? Mark Henry, Randy Orton, Sin Cara, Beth Phoenix and Kelly Kelly discussed

Posted in: Barnett Editorials, MUST-READ LISTING
Oct 2, 2011 - 10:00 AM

By Jake Barnett

WWE Smackdown Report Card – For Episode Aired 9/30/2011

Main Event:

  • Mark Henry continues to really impress me on the mic. It's hard to imagine myself thinking a few months ago that he would be one of the few things the WWE would do right coming out of Money in the Bank, but honestly that's where we are and I'm honestly happy to say it. Mark has always had huge unrealized potential, and this storyline has done a good job of establishing his prior shortcomings while simultaneously building him into being the baddest man in the WWE right now. I like heel characters who take themselves seriously, and Mark Henry really appears to be committed to making sure that he dispels the image of his more comical characters.. His biggest hindrance in the past in my opinion has been the microphone, and whatever magic tonic he drank recently has completely shut up his critics, me included.

  • Randy Orton really let me down tonight. I understand the point of the story they tried to tell tonight on the show, which is that there is a glimmer of hope for Randy Orton on Sunday, but the way they went about it was all kinds of wrong. The opening promo from Henry showed unshakable confidence, which works for him, but we got a very similar tone from Orton and it didn't. Orton was far too overconfident for a guy who just two weeks ago took a clean title loss to a monster who plain overpowered him. Now he's excited and brash about the opporunity to climb into Hell in a Cell with him? REALLY? It makes no sense in the context of the story. He wasn't at all humbled? Is he not a babyface then? Because if he's trying for some type of Steve Austin type tweener he needs to turn on the charm to compensate for the overconfidence.

  • Sheamus and Christian have managed to keep this story between them afloat and entertaining, which is really an accomplishment considering the really quite uninspiring material they have been given to work with creatively. Sheamus's character is just some kind of saccharine sweet version of his brawler character. It works to some degree and he gets reactions, but I can't help feeling like it's step back from his heel character, which really felt like it had some drive and passion.. Christian has decided that he's going to beat this one more match moniker to death, and while it might get some heat, it's not going to get him any closer to holding the title again. Both of these men need fresh feuds to try and build some momentum, even if it means a step down the card for a moment.

Final Grade: B-


  • Sin Cara (m) vs. Sin Cara (h) does not really do much for me as of yet. I was happy to see them at least pay some attention to it and give it a story that actually does coincide with the history of their careers, but neither man is over enough or able to communicate well enough to make the feud work. The only thing that can save this feud at this point is some kind of ring chemistry miracle on Sunday, but barring that I expect this adventure to continue on in mediocrity. They'll work it through the WWE Tour of Mexico and make an abrupt stop afterward with one guy getting a push and the other guy taking off the mask and getting a second chance as Frito Bandito Jr. in FCW.

  • I was happy to see Cody Rhodes get a story this week, but I wasn't terribly happy to see him involved in this charisma vortex with John Laurinitis and David Otunga. Otunga deadpans everything, and despite the fact that he is a real Juris Doctor, is forced to read lines written by someone who is apparently just picking up lawyer words from TV procedural dramas. Laurinitis is worse, if that's even possible. Where does Cody Rhodes fit into this? Well, despite the fact that he was part of Legacy and their attacks on the McMahon family, he can't believe Randy Orton didn't face any consequences for hitting him with the ring bell. That's wrestling logic at warp factor 10.

  • Why did Jack Swagger and Dolph Ziggler have a match with the Tag Champs on Smackdown? All of them were Raw Superstars, and the Tag Champs are only on Smackdown because the championships are dual brand. Is every Smackdown a Supershow too? Or is the brand split just over? I don't care if that's the case, but at least stick a fork in it if it's done.

Final Grade: C

Lower Card:

  • Natalya took another brutal loss to Kelly Kelly this week. The post match attack was well done if not a little cornball. The worst part was Kelly doing her best Friday the 13th Crystal Lake cheerleader impression trying to sell a submission hold. If WWE was trying to sell me on the idea that Kelly was still the underdog, I don't know how you can make that statement credulously. This is getting to the point where if there isn't a change on Sunday this Divas of Doom or Pin Up Strong thing is going to be completely nuked out of orbit. It's difficult for me to understand why this entire feud has been Beth exerting her dominance outside of the context of matches, but Kelly winning everything else. It seems like they are telling two different stories, and they need to pull the trigger this Sunday one way or the other.

  • Zack Ryder and JTG really entertained me last night. It was placed in a odd spot on the show, and didn't really have any build involved, but I liked the flow of the match and Ryder is definitely over with the crowd. I think he's well on his way to busting through and grabbing a belt soon, and it's amazing considering where he was a year ago.

Final Grade: B-

Overall Show Grade: B-

Questions, Comments or Concerns? E-mail me at or on twitter @barnettjake

© Copyright 2011 by PROWRESTLING.NET