Barnett's WWE Smackdown Hit List: Christian and Alberto Del Rio impress, as do Bryan, Orton and Barrett, but this show was far from flawless
By Jake Barnett
WWE Smackdown Hits
Christian vs. Alberto Del Rio: Another solid match from these two that was different enough from their SummerSlam encounter to suck you into the match. There weren't any illusions about who was going over, but it was a fun TV match that took up a good bit of time and had some fun moments. Del Rio has looked vicious in his heel role and Christian is a good foil for him despite feeling stale even after his long injury recovery time. Christian really needs some mic time and some new material. I hope a new feud can bring it out of him, because he's always been very capable on the microphone.
The Opening Segment: This was an amusing opening segment that got much better when Bryan and Orton were face to face. Orton's plodding heel promos can become reminiscent of Triple H's exhausting Evolution era bloviating, but they didn't allow it to go that long here. Bryan brought some much needed energy to the segment and his mocking of Orton for being the pretty boy company endorsed champion was well received by the crowd. I'm perplexed that they are just giving Bryan a rematch at Night of Champions without a billion strings attached, but perhaps we'll find out about them on Monday.
Darren Young vs. Antonio Cesaro: A minor hit due to how quickly the Prime Time Players have gotten over. I feared the worst about the WWE audience when Darren Young stepped out of the closet, but so far it's been very positive. In the end, this match was too short to really get any steam going, but I think Cesaro vs. Young could be a great singles feud at some point. They seem to work well together.
Daniel Bryan vs. Wade Barrett in a Cage Match: A well paced and wrestled main event. Barrett got in a lot of offense in defeat, and both guys came out of it looking very good. The running knee finisher is already over with the crowd, and it gives Bryan another weapon besides just being a submission guy to put people away. I think that was necessary for him to be a fixture as a main event player, because while submissions are great WWE definitely favors pinfalls for their main event matches.
WWE Smackdown Misses:
Mark Henry and Big Show blow off The Shield: WTF was that? I'm all for babyfaces showing confidence, but I don't know what is accomplished by having Big Show and Mark Henry laugh off The Shield after they gave a pretty intense promo that called out both men as aging dinosaurs. At least show a little indignation, or something. I like both Big Show and Henry, but this feud isn't going to work without The Shield picking up mega heat on both guys.
RVD and Ricardo Rodriquez: I'm just not a fan of this pairing. Ricardo seeking out his revenge on Del Rio is a fine way for him to involve himself in an RVD and Del Rio feud, but why does he need to be RVD's mascot? He's a great talker, but he feels way out of his element with RVD's hippy dippy Pro Wrestler character. If he starts carrying a whistle and tossing chairs into the ring, my eyes are going to roll into the back of my head.
Cody Rhodes vs. Curtis Axel: Hey, didn't Cody just go over the Smackdown Money in the Bank winner twice? Why have him job out to Axel, if the only point of the segment was to set up a match between him and CM Punk for Monday? Couldn't you have just had Axel and Heyman cut a long promo for the same effect? Axel certainly didn't gain anything from a distraction win over Rhodes with the help of Heyman.
Big E Langston vs. Dolph Ziggler: Two minutes? There was a time where a lot of people were talking about Big E Langston making an eventual face turn on Dolph Ziggler and AJ's heel act. Fast forward a couple of months later, and both guys are nearly lost as characters, with Big E attached to the diminishing AJ crazy act and Ziggler making a face turn that nobody seems all that interested in. It's a shame it didn't go the other way, because I think Big E is well rounded enough to be a solid babyface.
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