TV REPORTS 2/2 WWE Smackdown TV review: Fitzpatrick's detailed early report from Australia Fox 8
Feb 2, 2007 - 12:32:00 PM
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By Joe Fitzpatrick, Torch contributor
WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
Friday, February 2, 2007
Taped in Houston, Texas
Aired in Australia on FOX8
Yes. Not perfect. Still struggling under past mistakes. But great.
-"No Way Out" main event: Batista & Taker vs. Michaels & Cena
Benoit retains US Title, thanks to Boogeyman.
-London/Kendrick lose to Deuce ‘N' Dominio in a non-title match.
-Kennedy vs. Batista next week for the World Heavyweight Title.
-Miz and Kennedy establish (to some extent) a finisher. Only four matches on the show.
CONTEXT: The all-powerful Undertaker has won the Royal Rumble, but the official challenge to Batista is yet to be made. With two months to go until that ‘Mania matchup, we can expect a few distractions, stalling tactics and interpromotional squabbling in the interim. Everything else is as-you-were (of course), with the exception of Kennedy, who may end up in midcard hell or be given a few wins to keep him strong. Miz, too, is emerging as a star on the rise, as long Smackdown's bookers remember to treat him that way.
THE SHOW: We begin with a nomination for Video Package of the Year. A Royal Rumble recap package updates the casual fan, followed by Michaels' pledge on Raw to be the next WWE champion (and Undertaker's appearance). Then as Saliva's new single, "Ladies and Gentlemen" pumps in, we see Undertaker's appearance on ECW. Awesome package and, might I say, nice booking all round from WWE.
- Usual intro and exploding fist. Tonight "Batista wants and answer," and it gets its own graphic, too.
1 - - U.S. Championship match: CHRIS BENOIT vs. FINLAY
The commentators always seem to forget about the leprechaun until he actually appears. Separate ring intros after the entrances help to add a bit of a big match feel. We start slowly. Benoit slaps Finlay so hard he draws a spot of blood from Finlay's lip and they stare at each other. Welcome to Stiff Central, and the crowd is into it. Benoit works the leg early with a kneeling figure four (a figure two?). Finlay works the headlock (he does that a bit too much), and then runs Benoit into the steps, leaving him in agony on the floor.
[Commercial break. You can have mixed feelings about throwing out the US Title firstup, but it's being given a nice amount of time. Great start to the show.]
So, both men are working the leg. Back in the ring, Finlay has a single leg Boston crab and a variety of other leg related moves, and Benoit is struggling. Twelve minutes in, and Benoit is still on the receiving end of another single-leg crab (call a damn move, Cole). Benoit fights back eventually and hits a few knife edge chops. The knee gives out as he tries the side suplex. Great psychology. Enziguri gets him out of a potentially nasty situation. Benoit hits the triple Germans at 14 minutes. Flying headbutt time, but nobody's home and it's nearly over. Benoit's back on the mat in agony, and Finlay loosens the top turnbuckle.
At fifteen minutes, referee Nick Patrick heads over to fix the turnbuckle and Finlay jumps outside to summon the little bastard. But something's pulling him back under the ring, no matter how hard Finlay tries. Boogeyman? Booker? Sharmell? Finlay tries again and again – you gotta wonder if he needs him that badly. Finlay eventually gives up and gets back in the ring. Well, if they leave it at that it's a cute thing which could be built over months. Anyway, back to the match.
Ah, here's the Boogeyman's music. Smoke arises from around the ring. Bastard finally gets out from under the ropes but the Human Cappucino is right behind him. JBL: "He's gonna eat him!" Boogeyman hoists Little Bastard on his shoulders and carries him off. This is strangely compulsive viewing. Benoit picks up the cheap win with a schoolboy, but that's NOT THE POINT, DAMNIT, because the music is still playing, the smoke is still bellowing and Cole is yelling, "The Little Bastard's been abducted."
Boogeyman visibly celebrates the win and I have no idea what any of this means.
WINNER: CHRIS BENOIT - rollup pinfall; in 16:00
Postmatch, Boogeyman lets go of Little Bastard. Finlay tries to convince him to return to under the ring (does he live their full-time?), but the dwarf is having none of it. He runs to … stand on the announce table? Cole acts like he's a poisonous spider. He eventually decides to go home when he sees that the Boogeyman is still at the entranceway.
- Up next, Booker T gets the keys to the city where he was born.
[Commercial break. Well, if you're going to do bizarre, you might as well just go the whole way.]
- ZZ Top's Billy Gibbon – featured somewhere behind his beard - is in the house. The ‘Batista Wants to Know' graphic reappears. Back to the guys at ringside. The camera is placed in the exact location to make Coles' nostrils look really weird. Seriously. They throw to an interview earlier today between Kristal and her good friend Vickie Guerrero. Has it really been a year since her angle kicked off?
- Vickie says her neck feels fine, but that the working conditions are so unsafe, and have been made worse by Teddy Long. Regardless, she plans on returning to Smackdown very soon, with an opportunity that will bring her much success. The two friends hug. (This seriously is the neverending story – curiously that actually makes me care about how it ends. That's slow/no-paced booking for ya.) JBL has no choice but to wholeheartedly endorse Vickie's sentiments as the tag champs make their pacy entrance. The boys are wearing some kind of weird bondage industrial breathing mask, rather than their usual Greek stuff. JBL: "Maybe they stole some of Goldust's stuff."
- Backstage, Cherry is just done polishing the black Cadillac and is hoisted aboard by Deuce. Just a reminder that Domino is the brother and Deuce is the boyfriend – still getting used to that. They drive off as Deuce declares: "Biggest attraction in sports entertainment! Go!" The car is now black, so they're probably turning cool-heel.
[Commercial break. Interesting to see what they do with this next matchup. It's not an easy finish to book.]
- The greaseboys make their entrance. For future reference, I think this is a stupid gimmick, I won't mention that again, and I won't attack Undertaker again for the time being. I can't transcribe the lyrics for you today because Cole and JBL talked all over them. The chorus is "Oooooo … gonna take you to schooooooool," for what it's worth. Cole and JBL are making a fair few jokes at their newest tag teams expense as they enter.
2 - - KENDRICK & LONDON (w/ Ashley) vs. DEUCE ‘N' DOMINO (w/ Cherry)
This match is interesting from all perspectives, so let's get into some detail. Kendrick and Deuce (Jimmy Snuka's adopted son) to start out. Deuce throws him around, but it's Kendrick who has the ring-smarts, leading to some quick double-team work on the bigger man. London goes to work as it's insider-reference time as JBL suggests that JR "ripped off [my] character." Domino tags in to brutalise and trash-talk London, who is now (surprise, surprise) the face-in-peril. Deuce takes over at the fifth minute with clubbing blows to the back of his prone opponent. Pausing to pose fails, and London kicks away. Heel kick from Deuce puts him back in his place, and Domino is back in London evades a splash in the corner and tags in Kendrick at the sixth minute.
Kendrick runs all over the place maniacally until his opponent gets in position. Elbows to Domino! Dropkick to Domino! Clothesline to Domino! JBL uses the NASCAR analogy again! Sidesuplex attempt from Kendrick is prevented by Deuce but London appears to sidekick him out of the way (not the same formula again?). Right on queue, London gets thrown outside by Domino. Ashley runs to check he is okay.
Poor old Kendrick is in the familiar two-on-one situation. He tries Sliced Bread #2, even though it hasn't worked for months, and Dominio squirms out of it. Deuce grabs Kendrick from behind, throws him to the mat with, um, a throw, and it's Crack Him in the Mouth time (call a damn move, Cole) as the greaseboys hit their finisher for the champs' first squeaky clean loss in ages, if ever.
WINNERS: DEUCE ‘N' DOMINO – "Crack Him in the Mouth," pinfall; in 7:30. Beautifully booked, but you gotta feel sorry for Regal and Taylor.
- Invisible camerman has Teddy Long meeting his good friend Batista backstage. Batista needs an answer tonight. The graphic for Batista getting the keys to the city reappears.
[Commercial break. A killer show so far.]
-Wrestlemania 23 promo airs.
- Okay, so we know how these things go. There's red carpet in the ring, a throne for Booker, and a podium of sort for the "Honorable Order of Houstonians" (three guys). All relevant players are in the ring. Some people have wondered why McMahon seems intent on burying guys in their home town. Answer – to emphasise that wrestling is no longer regional. Anyway, they praise him and promise to induct him, and the only interest is who will interfere. Who's left? Miz? Nah … must be Kane. Let's see… It's huge damn key, that's for sure. It's place on his neck and Sharmell invites us to all hail. Booker grabs the mic. He thanks his loyal subjects, his dear queen, and to Houston (face pop) … "It's about damn time! What other Houstonian has achieved what King Booker has?" (mixed reaction). He goes on to point out how other notable Houstonians (excluding Patrick Swayze) have not achieved what he has. He turns to the three stooges/dignitaries and they all bow down and kiss his ring. Now that's just not cricket. The first does it reluctantly, the second refuses and is forced to by Booker, and the third does it readily (now they're booing). Sharmell squeals away on the mic again, but Booker isn't finished. He wants to give props to Billy Gibbons. Booker heads down to ringside and invites Billy to kiss his ring. He won't. Okay, how about the feet? Nope. Booker ain't happy, and heads back to the ring, bemoaning ungratefulness.
Flames, Kane's music. Both JBL and Cole trot out their prepared "Houston, we have a problem" lines. Kane chokeslams one member of the Ancient Houstonians and dispatches the rest. Booker bails. Didn't know Kane was such a ZZ Top fan ... maybe he likes the beards?
[Commercial break. Watch that segment in fast-forward. It might sound ridiculous and impossible, but a segment involving Booker and Kane wasn't worth watching this week.]
- Mr Kennedy is on his way out. Vito is waiting for him … kinda gives away the result when a wrestler is already in the ring.
3 - - VITO vs. MR KENNEDY
JBL is not happy that Kennedy has to slum it with Vito, and reminds us that Kennedy should have won at the Rumble. Vito dominates early, but it's all Kennedy thereafter, as we finally get the squash we should have seen six weeks ago. Suddenly Cole is upset that Kennedy has the dare to humiliate Vito. How? By ripping off his dress, which is a symbol of "independence and pride." My God, WWE just became instantly enlightened and open-minded and didn't tell anyone.
This is actually an important match for Kennedy. He's going to win, so it has to be really impressively, to establish what he can do. He slaps away at Vito disdainfully, followed by some pretty basic kick-punch offence. Now he has Vito up on his shoulders in a fireman's carry from the second rope. And he hits the JFK from the second rope! (see a recap from last month, and call a damn move, Cole).
WINNER: KENNEDY – "Just Finished by Kennedy" from the second rope, pinfall; in 3:00.
- Cole calls it a "vicious assault" which is just way too biased, given it's Kennedy's first clean win this year. He should have saved it for what happened afterwards, where Kennedy chokes Vito out with his dress.
[Commercial break. That match came at least three weeks too late, but no permanent harm has been done, and it's great he finally got a squash.]
- Bikini Diva Contest: KRISTAL vs JILLIAN vs SILICONE ASHLEY
Judged by JBL. Kristal did the bikini thing. Jillian wanted it to be a singing contest and Ashley stripped her down for punishment. At least it keeps the feud alive between those two alive.
- Australian TV receives a repeat of the package that aired to start the show.
- Teddy Long is arguing with Kennedy backstage. Kennedy claims he had Batista beat at the Royal Rumble (he even counts the pinfall to 12 for him). Long reminds him the referee was down and that he was powerless (yeah, right … I can only hope this is part of an eventual ‘Long plays favourites' storyline). Kennedy threatens to go above Long's head. Long feels it, playa, and books a title rematch for next week's Smackdown.
[Commercial break. This is a great show.]
4 - - MATT HARDY vs. THE MIZ
Wristlock stuff to start it off, controlled by Hardy. Side-headlock from Hardy, who is massively over. Hiptoss from Miz, but Hardy is still on top with another headlock. Nice droptoe hold (nice call Cole) from Miz, sends Hardy through the ropes and out. HUGE Hardy chant. Let's hope this match develops an angle. Hardy fights out of a half-nelson and hits a suplex. Miz looks okay, but not great. But still, okay is great given how he started. Hardy goes up top at the third minute for an elbow and a side effect. Only two. The commentators sell how he won't quit. Joey Mercury appears to knuckle-dust Hardy while the ref's back is turned. Cole breaks routine to call a new finisher for once as Miz hits the Mizard of Oz (swinging reverse DDT) to finish things.
Winner: MIZ – "Mizard of Oz," pinfall; in 4:00
[Commercial break. More perfect booking – the face didn't lose face, and the heel got a finisher established, with the inestimable help of having the move called]
- BATISTA. Reservoir Dogs gear. No girly spin. Crowd shots of happy people. He has the mic and demands to hear who Taker wants to face. He takes a while and says the expected things.
- CENA. Crowd goes nuts for a while as one of the other champions makes his way to the ring. He puts over Taker as well (but says nothing about himself, Batista or that other guy, Lashley), buy referring to him with this sound: "BONG." Make your own jokes. This is decent stuff, but it's really emphasising the horrible problem in WWE … there's no champion!!! It's like three (actually four guys) arguing over who the Undertaker thinks is the most important … is he that far above the product?
- BONG/GONG etc. Fastforward the next two minutes as we do the usual bit. There must have been kryptonite in the ring because he couldn't do his "lights out" thing this time. Anyway, he says nothing when challenged for an answer and …
- SHAWN MICHAELS! His music hits and he comes to the ring and confronts the Undertaker because he doesn't think they've resolved who the best man is.
- NO CHANCE IN HELL! You gotta love it. VINCE storms to the ring and announces that the main event for ‘No Way Out' (see start of article)
- We're done, with all four faces in the ring.
OVERALL: Great show. The candle burns bright at the end of the wick, but it sure is bright while it burns.
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