3/26 Barnett's Smackdown Report Card: Top 3 Smackdown Feuds Analyzed and Graded
By Jake Barnett
The purpose of this editorial is to rundown the latest edition of WWE Smackdown by highlighting the three 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 March 25th edition of Smackdown.
Angle 1: World Heavyweight Chamption Edge vs Alberto Del Rio
This Week's Successes: Alberto Del Rio continues to shine both on the mic and in the ring. We saw him compete in another very solid main event match, and we also saw him show great intensity and fire in a backstage segment with Teddy Long, which a lot of other wrestlers just phone in. I'm not sure how many adjectives I've used to describe how much I enjoy Del Rio's character, but I'm afraid I'll run out soon. The guy has it, and I hope he continues to succeed.
Edge also had some good moments this week. It seemed to me the parts of Smackdown that these two were involved in was about establishing that Edge is still a threat, despite the numerous attacks that he suffered the past few weeks at the hands of Del Rio and Brodus Clay. Insofar as that is concerned, I think they succeeded.
This Week's Failures: It was established very early on in Del Rio's rise to the top of the card that he was a different kind of heel than we've seen recently on WWE television. He was more physical, and much more confident than most vulnerable WWE heels. The past few weeks, Christian has beaten him clean. Last week, he was able to immediately get his heat back by beating down both Edge and Christian.
This week, however, they hung him out to dry by having Christian pancake him a chair and have Edge standing over him to close the show. I think this was a mistake, as Edge really gained nothing from that moment, and it felt like it sucked a lot of wind out of Del Rio. With the stipulation in place keeping Edge and Del Rio from touching each other, I think you could have created a lot more drama by having Del Rio disqualify himself in his match and beat down Christian with a chair. You would have had a great moment where Edge felt powerless to stop him, and would have had a great opportunity to sell the drama, while Del Rio could have stayed white hot. So to that extent, I feel this week was a missed opportunity.
Final Grade: C+
Angle 2: The Undertaker vs Triple H
This Week's Successes: They showed the great video package that first aired on Monday's Raw. It included a very compelling combination of former and current Superstars talking about the mythos of both The Undertaker and Triple H's dominant careers. I hate to say it, but these video packages have made me feel much more excited about the match than the actual promos from Triple H and The Undertaker. WWE's Production team deserves a gold medal for everything they've done so far with this feud, and this latest package is no exception.
This Week's Failures I have to give the entire promo from the Undertaker this week a failing grade. The whole time he was out there it just felt like he was walking on a treadmill. We heard many of the same lines he used in previous promos and video packages, and even in previous feuds from past WrestleMania's. I understand that there are two legends involved here, and they both add a certain air to the proceedings, but it feels to me like WWE just felt this thing would sell itself.
They are putting these guys out there and going through the motions, but from the perspective of a fan I don't even think I've been told if these guys even dislike each other. Since the Undertaker and Triple H returned and set this up on 2/21, I felt like we've been watching the air slowly get let out of a balloon. Here's hoping next Monday's Raw is able to re-inflate it and deliver a great last minute boost to this feud.
Final Grade: C-
Angle 3: Cody Rhodes vs. Rey Mysterio
This Week's Successes: Rey Mysterio had a very solid match with CM Punk to open the show, that concluded with a great beatdown on Mysterio by Cody Rhodes. Cody Rhodes continues to wear a mask and no ring gear, but it worked this week because he was not part of an official match. Mysterio sold the entire beat down beautifully, and Cody showed great fire and intensity throughout. The shot with the knee brace that concluded the segment looked great on TV, and the heat that Cody received as he exited the arena might have been equal to what Alberto Del Rio received for his entrance.
This Week's Failures: This has nothing to do with either guy, so I won't really hold it against them, but Booker T did the best he could to ruin the beat down segment with his commentary. When Cody snuck up on Rey and pushed him into the ring post, Booker exclaimed "Rey Mysterio just took a pole to the face!" Obviously embarrassed by his use of innuendo on a PG broadcast, Booker backed off of the comment and stumbled through the rest of the segment. It was just a distraction from what was otherwise a great segment.
Final Grade: B
Overall Show Grade: C
Overall Show Comments: After a few very good episodes of Smackdown, I felt this week took a step back. We had a great segment involving Rey Mysterio and Cody Rhodes. We also had a very solid Intercontinental Title match with one of the best finishes we've seen on WWE TV in a long while. But we also had a lackluster finish to the main event, a very underwhelming Undertaker Promo, and our weekly reminder that LayCool heat is just about the same as X-Pac heat. The good and the bad were about equal this week, so the show just gets an average grade. I hope for better next week.
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