THE SPECIALISTS Smackdown Storylines and Feuds - Complete summary and analysis of all the feuds as we get closer to SummerSlam
Aug 13, 2008 - 11:50:24 PM
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By Chris Newth, PWTorch contributor
WWE Friday Night Smackdown August 8, 2008 Upcoming PPV: SummerSlam (second-to-last episode before PPV)
SMACKDOWN STORYLINES AND FEUDS
Welcome to the forty-sixth edition of Smackdown Storylines and Feuds.
For those wondering about the Intrigue Level system that I employ, you can refer to the numbers as follows:
10 (excellent), 9 (great), 8-6 (very good, good, pretty good), 5 (decent; has its good and bad qualities), 4-3 (needs work, poor), 2 (bad), 1 (terrible)
WWE Champion TRIPLE H vs. THE GREAT KHALI (w/ Ranjin Singh) (3 weeks)
At about the halfway mark of the show, Triple H faced The Great Khali in a Broken Glass Arm Wrestling Contest. On either side of the normal arm wrestling stand lay sharp pieces of jagged shards that looked to be glued face-up. Before the contest got underway, Khali said something. His accent is extremely heavy, but he's at the point where you can, if you pay close attention, understand about 25% of what he's saying. Maybe it was simply because he was listing names, but I could have sworn I heard some English in there. Triple H admitted that he didn't understand a word, so Ranjin Singh translated, saying that Khali told the Game that he should get out now while he still can because Khali has destroyed many people in the past. He also said that Triple H has never faced the Punjabi Nightmare one-on-one before.
Triple H came back with a few jokes; he kept calling Ranjin names that rhyme with onion (including onion). He also suggested that Khali be shoved back into the genie's lamp he came out of to protect him from the Game. Triple H continued by explaining that he was going to take Khali's legs out, bring him to his size, and then destroy him. After that threat, they began to prepare for the arm wrestling contest. Triple H continued to hesitate each time they locked up, and Khali was getting agitated. As the contest commenced, Triple H struggled to keep Khali from winning, but his strength slowly faded as Khali managed to shift the momentum to his own court. It seemed to be a stalemate before Khali grabbed Triple H by the hair with his other hand and disqualified himself by delivering a head butt. After the contest, Khali tried to give Triple H his double-armed chokeslam, but the Game countered and attempted a Pedigree. Eventually, Khali locked in his Vise Grip on Triple H, getting the upper hand in their feud this week.
WWE's handling of this particular feud is a less engaging version of the giant vs. less-than-giant storyline. Using Khali as a huge, seemingly insurmountable wall against fighting underdog champions like Rey Mysterio is often effective because of the sheer size disadvantage the babyface has heading into the match. But a Khali-Triple H rivalry falls short and can never be an entertaining long-term storyline because many fans believe that Triple H is the best in the business. Viewers realize that others have beaten Khali in the past and that Triple H is probably the favorite as their PPV clash nears.
If WWE took a poll asking fans to vote for the person they thought would win that WWE Championship contest, I'd guess that the results would show an overwhelming majority place their faith in the Game. The result of such a conclusion is a less intense storyline with a threat level that's almost nonexistent. And once Khali loses to Triple H, his reputation against main-eventers will likely sink even lower until WWE rebuilds him again. On the bright side, Khali showed some kind of strength against his SummerSlam opponent with an average attempt at obtaining a perceptual advantage.
Intrigue Level (out of 10): 6 [up 0.5 since last week]
Triple H: King Booker, Umaga, Jeff Hardy, Orton & JBL, Randy Orton, John Cena
The Great Khali: Batista, Finlay, Hornswoggle, Big Show
EDGE vs. THE UNDERTAKER & Smackdown GM VICKIE GUERRERO (6 weeks)
In the back, Hawkins and Ryder discovered a crime scene, complete with metal barrels and a forklift. The victim? Bam Neely, who lay motionless as Chavo ran in to check on him. Next to Bam's prone body Chavo found a black rose. He handed it to Vickie, who inspected the curious clue suspiciously. Later in the show, Chavo and Vickie seemed confused about the rose. When Chavo suggested that it could be the Undertaker because the black rose symbolized death, Vickie became even more unsettled. Curt Hawkins then barged into the room and said that he couldn't find Zack. Chavo and Vickie said that he should check the parking lot if he already looked in the locker room and in the catering area.
As the show progressed, unconscious bodies continued to pop up. Eventually, Hawkins, Ryder, and Bam were all out, leaving Chavo and Vickie worried. Chavo suggested that they seek the help of Edge, but Vickie was reluctant to agree with the idea. When Chavo came back to her to tell her that Edge was willing to help, an unhappy Vickie hesitantly agreed to be nice to him. At the end of the show, Edge brought Chavo and Vickie to the ring, but he soon turned on them. He took Chavo out with a chair before threatening Vickie. He said that the Undertaker isn't the one that she (and the rest of La Familia) has to worry about.
Now the storyline has taken a dramatic shift from recent weeks. Of course, Edge and Vickie have been longtime lovers since Edge returned from injury months ago. After a brief month of turbulence between the two former lovebirds and the rocky reveal of Edge's extramarital affair—which was exposed the night the two officially got married—Edge and Vickie are now fully sided against one another. Edge proved that this week with his spate of threats.
Why he would turn on Chavo and the rest of La Familia is unclear because those faction members would easily have continued to pretend to side with both Edge and Vickie through their breakup; they have always been too indecisive to act on any sense of moral judgment. In any event, now the storyline about Edge's solo run back to the top of the roster commences in full. You would assume that Triple H is still on his mind after a revival feud with the Undertaker winds down.
Intrigue Level (out of 10): 10 [up 0.5 since last week]
Edge: Kane, Batista
Vickie Guerrero: Undertaker, Batista
Undertaker: Mark Henry, Batista, Big Daddy V, Edge
WWE Tag Team Champions CURT HAWKINS & ZACK RYDER vs. JESSE & FESTUS (6 weeks w/ 1 week hiatus)
This week, Hawkins and Ryder faced Jimmy Wang Yang and Shannon Moore in a normal tag team matchup. The contest ended when Hawkins and Ryder hit their double-team lifting DDT finisher on Shannon Moore for the three count.
Not sure if this will lead anywhere, but all indications point in the negative direction. If Yang and Moore were getting a new run for the titles, something other than a crystal-clear win by Hawkins and Ryder would have transpired. As for Jesse and Festus, only time will tell whether they will continue this midcard tag team storyline with the champions. I assume that this feud was put on temporary hold as Hawkins and Ryder participated in the main event storyline of Smackdown—the Edge-Vickie-Undertaker saga.
Intrigue Level (out of 10): 5 [down 1 since last week]
Backstage, Eve interviewed MVP about his SummerSlam opponent, Jeff Hardy. She talked about how Porter has made his rivalry with Hardy personal when he began bringing personal issues into the conversation on TV a few weeks ago. She then ran footage of Porter kicking Hardy right in the head at Saturday Night's Main Event. After seeing the video, MVP labeled it a convenient case of media bias because she didn't bother to air the footage of Hardy's actions against MVP the night before SNME on Smackdown. He said that he would beat Hardy at SummerSlam because Hardy will be his own worst enemy.
Later in the show, Jeff Hardy met Shelton Benjamin in one-on-one competition. The match saw Jeff Hardy manage to land the Swanton Bomb on a frustrated Shelton Benjamin. Before Hardy could even attempt a cover, he was blindsided by MVP, who charged at him with a huge kick to the head. As Hardy lay unconscious in the ring, Porter held his "MVP" necklace over his head.
This is beginning to become the feud to watch on Smackdown. These guys have great talent and they are currently being supported by an intriguing narrative angle—the introduction of Hardy's personal life and how it affects his in-ring performance in one way or another. Unfortunately, MVP's argument about Hardy being his own worst enemy and the insinuation that Hardy should not be considered a threat is off-base.
Porter is neglecting to address the relevant concern he should be feeling right now. As cocky as the guy is, he can't overlook Hardy's past success. That's one storyline plot hole (in a sense): MVP is attempting to paint a picture that Jeff Hardy's high-flying style, like his past personal life, is reckless and dangerous. But he is not exactly touching on how Jeff's in-ring style sometimes gives him great advantage. Sure there is risk involved, but it's a risk Jeff feels is worth it because of the potential positive consequences. Jim Ross does a good job emphasizing the risk/reward factor during Hardy's matches, but MVP wrongly assumes that his high-risk wrestling style is solely a detriment.
Intrigue Level (out of 10): 7.5 [up 1 since last week]
Jeff Hardy: Umaga, Mr. Kennedy, Triple H, Randy Orton, Chris Jericho
MVP: Rey Mysterio, Ric Flair, Batista, Matt Hardy
MR. KENNEDY vs. UMAGA (5 weeks)
No sign of either man on the show, and with Kennedy's newest injury, this one's probably over.
Intrigue Level (out of 10): n/a
Mr. Kennedy: Jeff Hardy, Shawn Michaels, William Regal, Paul Burchill
Umaga: Jeff Hardy, Triple H, Batista
This week featured a six-woman tag team match using the Olympics as its main theme. On the heel side, Maryse dressed as a tennis player, Victoria as a gymnast, and Natalya as an equestrian. As for the babyfaces, Michelle McCool sported volleyball attire, Cherry boxing gear, and Maria donned skiing clothes. The match ended with an array of various finishing maneuvers from Cherry, Victoria, and Maria, but the bout ended when Natalya knocked Maria to the ground before applying her Sharpshooter. The submission move forced Maria to tap out, allowing the heel team to pick up the victory.
Another win by Natalya and McCool as the Divas' Champion heavily suggest that their very lengthy feud will continue to SummerSlam. WWE has decided in recent weeks to cut it down a little bit by introducing McCool to some new talent (like Maryse two weeks ago). And this week, she participated with a plethora of divas from the Smackdown roster. It would be nice to see a more streamlined storyline between McCool and her current rival, who is by all accounts presumably Natalya. The current state of the feud isn't very strong simply because it feels watered down and unfocused; and that's a shame because they have an extensive background now as the feud nears its 20-week mark.
Intrigue Level (out of 10): 4.5 [down 0.5 since last week]
(1) Mr. Kennedy vs. Umaga
(2) Mr. Kennedy vs. Umaga
(1) Vladimir Kozlov vs. Jesse & Festus
(2) Jeff Hardy vs. Shelton Benjamin
(3) Edge vs. La Familia
(4) Brian Kendrick vs. ?
Thanks for reading, everyone. If you have any questions, suggestions, or comments, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I greatly appreciate all the feedback that I receive, and I will respond to every email. Please insert a word in the subject line that deals with a wrestling topic or write something such as "WWE," "feud," or "Funaki" so that I know it's not junk mail.
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