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WWE Smackdown Report
TAIT'S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT 3/18: Alt. perspective review of Friday's show, segment-by-segment Reax, weekly category Winners (and Losers)

Mar 20, 2011 - 10:02:03 AM

aWWE Smackdown alt. perspective report
March 18, 2011
Taped in Kansas City, Mo.
Report by James Tait, Torch int'l Smackdown correspondent

- Josh Mathews welcomed the audience to Smackdown 16 days out from WrestleMania 27. Booker T hyped Big Show and Kane vs. Heath Slater and Justin Gabriel for the WWE Tag Team Championships later tonight.

- The ring crew was shown setting up Michael Cole's 'Cole Mine' beside the announcer's desk, Cole was absent. Doesn't really make much sense seeing as Jerry Lawler isn't even on Smackdown, but it's a nice touch all the same.

- Tony Chimel welcomed 'the voice of WWE,' Michael Cole, who came out holding his Slammy Award to nothing but boos. Cole saluted the crowd who were full of hate and sat down in the Cole Mine. He said the pop icon had arrived. Booker asked what the hell this was. Cole said he was in the 'fortress of attitude.' Not even five minutes in and that may be the winner for Quote Of 1000 Facepalms. Cole asked Booker how it feels to be out there with all the little people.

- 'Metalingus' hit and out came World Heavyweight Champion Edge, no pyro though strangely. Alberto Del Rio's music hit next and out came Del Rio, Ricardo Rodriguez and Edge's opponent tonight, Brodus Clay. WWE must be seriously high on this guy and I can definitely see why, so much intensity.

1 -- World Heavyweight Champion EDGE vs. BRODUS CLAY (w/Alberto Del Rio & Ricardo Rodriguez) -- non-title match

Booker said that Brodus was not only mammoth but agile, he's mobile, he's versatile and most of the time he's seen him, he's very hostile. Way to put Big Brodus over Book. Brodus dominated using strength early, sending Edge into the corner. Edge tried for a double axe handle off the middle rope but was caught and suplexed by Brodus.

Brodus hammered on Edge and drove his knee into his back, prompting a rope break from the ref. Booker asked how much Brodus weighs, hilarious shades of Art Donovan there. Brodus drove his shoulder into Edge and held him in an armlock as the crowd chanted 'let's go Edge.' Del Rio and Ricardo watched on as Brodus continued to work Edge's shoulder. Edge eventually fought out and was sent into the corner by Brodus. Edge tried for a Tornado DDT but was thrown off and hit with a running shoulder block from Brodus.

Brodus taunted Edge with his strange 'Yeeeeeahhhhh' thing that he does. Brodus came off the ropes looking to hit a diving headbutt on Edge but the Ultimate Opportunist rolled away and Brodus hit the deck. Edge tried to knock Brodus off his feet with some flying forearms and eventually countered the big man with an awkward looking drop toehold face first into the middle turnbuckle.

Edge went to the top rope and hit a flying cross body that was also awkward looking. Edge went for the pin but was thrown off and out to the floor by Brodus. Edge climbed onto the apron and countered an inrushing Brodus with a shoulder to the abdomen. Edge slid through underneath Brodus' legs and tried to push him over into a pin cover but Brodus sat down straight on Edge's sternum, eliciting a big gasp from the crowd. Brodus only got a two count from it.

Cole said that he didn't know how Edge kicked out of that as Brodus set Edge up in a prone position in the corner. Brodus came flying in from the opposite corner looking to smash Edge's face with his rear end but the champ dodged it and hit a bulldog off the middle rope. Edge saw the opening for a spear and got that look in his eye. Ricardo jumped up on the apron and distracted the referee while Del Rio grabbed Edge's legs. Brodus took advantage and hit a huge running shoulder block. The crowd booed loudly as Brodus went for the cover but Edge kicked out at two.

Brodus sold frustration when all of a sudden Christian ran out to ringside and attacked Del Rio. Brodus lifted Christian up onto the apron and then headbutted him off. Brodus went for a running clothesline on Edge but the champ ducked it and hit Brodus with a spear on the rebound off the ropes. Edge got the three count and the win.

WINNER: Edge via pinfall in 5:00.

After the match, the referee raised Edge's hand and a moment later Del Rio hit the Rated-R Superstar with a dropkick. Del Rio beat down on Edge but Christian made the save and the pair brawled out to ringside. The pair toppled over the announce table with Christian seeming to gain the upper hand. Teddy Long's music hit and the General Manager came out and told ya'll down there to break it up. Teddy said he's not just going to stand by and watch the four of them get in each other's faces. He said tonight the main event will be Alberto Del Rio vs. Christian and he does mean one on one. Long said to ensure that happens this match will take place...inside a steel cage.

Cole said that was a horrible decision as Christian and Del Rio talked smack at each other from across the floor. Hype was given to Kofi Kingston vs. Kofi Kingston in a champion vs. champion match tonight.

TAIT REAX: I thought this match was great. The crowd ate it up and it really put Brodus over as a dominating force. I like how Booker really talks him up and his intensity coupled with his larger-than-life presence in the ring are making him look like he's earned a spot up there on the roster. I thought that Brodus could have done with the win here off the back of some Del Rio interference but I understand that Edge the champ has to have a spotless record heading into Mania. Christian vs. Del Rio in a steel cage should be a good main event but I feel that this steel cage match is a little too soon after the Cena-Riley one from Raw a few weeks back. Overall, a good opening to Smackdown.

[Commercial Break]

- Sheamus's theme hit to bring Smackdown back from commercial and the new United States Champion came out to the ring. Cole said the curse of the King Of The Ring was over after Sheamus won the championship this Monday. Kofi Kingston came out next to a nice little pop and pyro. The Intercontinental champ gets pyro but the World Heavyweight champ doesn't?

2 -- United States champion SHEAMUS vs. Intercontinental champion KOFI KINGSTON

Sheamus took control early and went to work on Kofi's arm. Kofi rolled through and kicked Sheamus in the head from the floor before punching the Celtic Warrior into a corner. Kofi ran and leaped onto Sheamus' shoulders and tried to hit the classic ten punches but Sheamus pushed him off and the IC champ went face first into the turnbuckle.

Sheamus hit a clothesline on Kofi and scored a two count. Sheamus hit a neckbreaker and got another two count. Sheamus cinched a chinlock in on Kofi but Kingston fought out. Kofi rebounded off the ropes and was hit with a monster of a shoulder block from Sheamus, who taunted Kingston to boos from the crowd.

Cole said he likes the new fire coming out of Sheamus. Kofi countered and rolled Sheamus up but couldn't put him away. Sheamus ran Kofi into the corner and ran in after him but was hit by Kofi's Pele kick through the ropes. Kofi went to the top rope and hit a diving cross body but Sheamus rolled through and picked Kofi up. Sheamus put Kofi over his shoulder but Kofi wriggled free. Sheamus ran at Kofi in the corner but was hit by a pair of boots to the face.

Kofi went to work on Sheamus with punches and kicks before coming off the ropes, jumping over Sheamus and hitting a Russian leg sweep on the U.S. champ. Kofi hit a Superman punch on Sheamus when the Celtic Warrior rose and then fired up for the Boom Drop. Kofi hit it and set up for Trouble In Paradise. Cole implored Sheamus to get back in this. Sheamus rolled out to the apron and when Kofi came to get him he hung the IC champ over the top rope.

Sheamus went right back on the offense but was elbowed off by Kofi. Kofi went for a rope-assisted SOS and hit it, but it looked terrible. That move shouldn't be used on guys who can't take it properly. Kofi went for the pin but Sheamus grabbed the ropes at two. Sheamus rolled out of the ring and Kofi followed him, getting a run up before vaulting off the ring steps and hitting a flying clothesline on Sheamus. Kofi beat down on Sheamus outside the ring.

Sheamus rolled behind the stairs and when Kofi followed him Sheamus kicked the stairs into Kofi's knee. Sheamus rolled Kofi back in the ring and hit the Brogue Kick for the pin and the win.

WINNER: Sheamus via pinfall in 5:00.

After the match Cole said it deserved a round of applause as Sheamus celebrated in the ring. Sheamus was bleeding slightly from the mouth.

TAIT REAX: Smackdown is two for two in terms of match quality this week. That one could have gone another five minutes but it was good for the time it was given. Sheamus needed the win here to keep his momentum going and he did so via slightly nefarious means so Kofi doesn't come off looking too worse for wear. These unhyped champion vs. champion matches have got to stop, though. They should be treated like the hugest deal in the world but instead seem to happen once a month. It just takes away from the value of the titles.

- A replay aired from two weeks ago of Kane attacking The Corre after his match with the Big Show as well as a replay from last week showing The Corre interrupting Kane's match with Wade Barrett with interference run by Big Show.

- Kane was shown face-to-face with Big Show backstage. Show said they should put their differences aside tonight and put a dent in The Corre and take their championships. Show asked if Kane remembered when they were Tag Team champions, how people used to quake and shake in their boots when they walked into a room. Show said they dominated, and asked Kane if they should do it again. Kane responded by slapping a goozle on Show, Show slapped his own on Kane. Show fought out of Kane's choke and Kane fought out of Show's. Kane laughed and told Big Show that he completes him. Show said Kane was one crazy man.

[Commercial Break]

- Trent Barreta was in the ring as Smackdown returned. Cody Rhodes came out to a new, deeper, slower, darker sounding version of his 'Smoke And Mirrors' theme, guess it fits the character more. Cody had a towel over his head and was wearing his facemask as well as a suit. Are they really going to have him wrestle in a suit from now on? And people were worried he wouldn't be taken seriously for not wearing kneepads.

Cole said he had breakfast with Cody this morning and it was terrible. He said Cody had to wait forever to be served and was shunned by the wait staff. Cole said he was embarrassed and humiliated and had lost all of his self-confidence.


Cody had his back turned in the corner but when the bell rang he threw the towel off his head and rushed Barreta, beating him down. Barreta fought back and pushed Rhodes in the corner, prompting a rope break from the referee. Booker said Rhodes used the mask as a weapon last week as, sure enough, Rhodes smacked his masked face into Barreta's. Rhodes looks absolutely ridiculous in this suit. Cole said the directors in WWE had cleared Cody's mask to be used in competition so it was perfectly legal. Rhodes headbutted Barreta again and got the three count for the win.

WINNER: Cody Rhodes via pinfall in 1:00

After the match, Rhodes covered his face as he celebrated. The arena was noticeably darker in fitting with his character. Cole said he couldn't help but feel sorry for Cody for having his Dashing taken away. Booker said he felt sorry for Cody because he's sick. Cody put the towel over his head again and walked to the back as replays of Rhodes's headbutts were shown.

TAIT REAX: Utterly ridiculous. Don't get me wrong, I like the character direction , but having Rhodes wrestle fully clothed in a suit? Having him win in a minute by headbutting his opponent with a plastic mask? It boggles the mind. It's fine if WWE wants Cody to wrestle in the mask, but is there really any need for the suit? No explanation was given for it, Cole just noted at one point in the match that Cody was wearing street clothes like it's perfectly normal for a professional wrestler to do that. I'm not really digging the new theme either. It sounds like something out of TNA and their themes are typically just awful. The Mysterio-Rhodes feud needs to be jumpstarted again with time running out until WrestleMania.

- Replays of Del Rio putting Christian out of commission last September were shown. Hype was given to their main event steel cage match later tonight.

[Commercial Break]

- External shots of Kansas City were shown as Smackdown returned. The announcers hyped the No Holds Barred match between The Undertaker and Triple H match at WrestleMania before replaying the third video package from Shawn Michaels from Raw this week where he hyped Taker.

-Lay-Cool's music hit and out came Layla and Michelle. Layla is ready for action tonight with McCool injured. Mathews noted it was against Kelly Kelly before Smackdown went to commercial.

[Commercial Break]

- Layla was in the ring and Cole was telling Michelle how much he wished she could be in the Cole Mine with him instead of out there with Booker and Josh as Smackdown returned. Cole reached his hand through a hole in the glass and shook Michelle's hand as Kelly Kelly came out looking smoking. McCool called Snooki a meatball when asked for her thoughts on the Jersey Shore star's interference on this week's Raw.

4 -- LAYLA (w/Michelle McCool) vs. KELLY KELLY

Kelly and Layla engaged in a shoving match as the bell rung. Kelly stomped a mudhole on Layla in the corner as Michelle called Trish Stratus 'Trash Stratus.' Layla ran Kelly into the corner but was hit with a kick to the gut from Kelly. Kelly locked a headscissors on Layla and did a handstand on the apron, wrenching Layla's head over the ropes. Kelly flipped over before the ref could get to five and in one motion swept Layla's legs out from underneath her. Slick little sequence there.

Kelly kicked Layla in the back and walked over her. Kelly hit a Thesz Press off the ropes and hit a pair of headslams on Layla before hitting the K2 facebuster on Layla for a two-count. Kelly Irish-whipped Layla into the corner and warmed the crowd up before going for a handspring elbow in the corner that Layla averted by kicking Kelly in the back.

Layla went on the offense but Kelly hit a drop toehold and repeatedly smashed Layla face first into the mat. Layla hoisted Kelly up so that she was sitting on her shoulders but Kelly punched her way out and kicked Layla in the back. Kelly went to the middle rope but McCool yelled at her and distracted her. Layla pulled Kelly's leg out from under her and Kelly hit the mat hard. Layla got the pin and the win.

WINNER: Layla via pinfall in 2:00

After the match, Lay-Cool celebrated with hugs as Kelly lay prone in the ring. Mathews said he was sure Snooki was watching.

TAIT REAX: Pointless and asinine. This is why no one is going to care about the Divas's part in the mixed six-person tag match at WrestleMania. Trish and Snooki aren't WWE regulars, so who have Lay-Cool feud with them leading up to it? It's not even for Snooki's involvement that I'm so against this match (I'm actually an unashamed fan of the train wreck of humanity that is Jersey Shore), it's just that the match makes no sense. If I had my druthers it would be a Divas tag match between Lay-Cool and Trish Stratus and either Kelly Kelly or Kaitlyn with Snooki in their corner. Stratus could help get one of the Divas over, WWE would still have Snooki's celebrity status rubbing off on the match, and Lay-Cool would have somebody to interact with and sell the feud leading up to WrestleMania.

- Heath Slater and Justin Gabriel were shown walking backstage ready for their match against The Big Show and Kane next.

[Commercial Break]

- Heath Slater and Justin Gabriel were out representing The Corre sans Ezekiel Jackson and Wade Barrett, as Smackdown returned. Mathews said this match was their biggest test yet. Big Show was out next all smiles and headbands. Show ran to the ring and The Corre scattered. Kane was out last and Mathews said he thought they would downright dominate.

5 -- WWE Tag Team champions JUSTIN GABRIEL & HEATH SLATER (The Corre) vs. BIG SHOW & KANE - WWE Tag Team Championship match

Kane and Gabriel started the match. Kane backed Gabriel into the corner and beat him down immediately. Kane flipped Gabriel into a sitting position and hit a running dropkick off the ropes for a one-count. Kane sent Gabriel into the ropes but Gabriel rolled off Kane's back on the rebound and made the quick tag to Slater.

The Big Red Machine clocked the Big Androgynous Redhead with an uppercut upon his entering the ring. Booker said the One Man Rock Band just got rocked as Kane worked him over in the corner. Kane hit a Sidewalk Slam for a one count before sending Slater into the corner again. Kane went for a big boot but Slater ducked and Kane's leg got wrapped over the ropes.

Slater took Kane down with a shoulder block to his other leg and went to work on it. Slater tagged in Gabriel, who continued to work the leg with stomps. Gabriel tagged Slater in again and Slater tried to keep working the leg but was kicked off by Kane. Slater made the tag and Gabriel cut Kane off as he was going for the tag. Gabriel dived off the second rope but was hit with a vicious-looking throat thrust from Kane.

Kane made the hot tag to Big Show, who took Slater out with a pair of clotheslines followed by a big back body drop off the ropes. Show sent Slater into the corner and ran into him rear end first before running into the ropes and hitting a dazed Slater with a shoulder block on the rebound. Show raised his arm and roared to the crowd before locking a goozle on Slater. Show hit the chokeslam and went for the pin but Gabriel dragged the referee out of the ring. The ref called for the bell and the match ended via DQ.

WINNERS: Kane & The Big Show via disqualification in 3:00

After the match, Kane attacked Gabriel and rolled him into the ring, where Big Show was waiting to deliver a chokeslam. Ezekiel Jackson interrupted and knocked Show with a big clothesline. Wade Barrett ran Kane back first into the barricade and the crowed rained down boos. All four members stomped Big Show in the ring before Barrett picked him up and hit Wasteland. That was impressive. Barrett and Jackson attacked Kane again, who showed some fight but was overwhelmed by Gabriel and Slater joining the fray.

The Corre ran Kane into the steel ring steps. Booker said this was ridiculous. The Corre held the ring steps over Kane but Big Show interrupted, slapping Slater in the chest before Barrett knocked him back down with a big boot. Barrett picked up another set of steps and rammed them into the ones being held over Kane. Once again Booker said that someone needs to call the po-lice. Barrett hit Kane with the steps again before asking Big Show where his knockout was now and ripping his shirt.

Slater and Gabriel began deconstructing the announce desk and Jackson and Barrett picked up Big Show and awkwardly flapjacked him into it. Only Show's head and neck hit the table, which fell apart anyway. The Corre celebrated in the ring. Cole said doubt no more; these four men are vicious to the core. Cole said The Corre have arrived tonight.

TAIT REAX: I am solidly opposed to championship matches lasting only three minutes. The crowd was well into the match and it could have gone on longer to really drive home the importance of those belts. Unfortunately, this is WWE, where sense is often thrown out the window. The beat down afterwards was a different matter and The Corre looked downright dominating over two monster opponents. Barrett's Wasteland to Big Show was an amazing feat. It would have been perfect if the match had been more of a focal point but the outcome was serviceable in pushing this feud forward to its assumed culmination at WrestleMania.

- Todd Grisham was shown backstage and he introduced Alberto Del Rio. Grisham asked Del Rio what the ramifications would be with Del Rio going inside a steel cage for the first time in his career tonight. Del Rio said tonight Teddy Long is trying to interfere with his destiny, as is Christian. They are trying to lock him inside a cage like an animal. Del Rio asked Grisham if he thought it was funny, then yelled that he isn't an animal before storming off.

[Commercial Break]

- Jack Swagger made his entrance as Smackdown returned. Swagger definitely has his Swagger back, good to see him making his entrance with a bit of vigor again. Alas, no pushup pyro but baby steps are fine. Chris Masters was already in the ring for this match as Cole sold Swagger teaching him everything he knows to beat Jerry Lawler. A replay of Cole putting Good Ol' JR in an anklelock this past week on Raw was shown. That was the moment I felt Cole truly entered heel territory where people will pay to see him get his comeuppance come WrestleMania. His arrogance and smarminess is so well done.

6 -- CHRIS MASTERS vs. JACK SWAGGER (w/Michael Cole)

Cole went on a big rant about destroying JR and what he would do to King at Mania. When he was done, Booker said his classic line: 'Tell me you didn't just say that!' Moments like these are why his bafflingly insane commentary can be tolerated. Swagger took control early, beating down Masters before hitting him with a running clothesline. Cole said he was going to take Lawler out with the 'An-Cole Lock'... Good grief.

Swagger got a one count before going to work on Masters's arm. Cole said Stone Cold was going to have minimal impact on the match at WrestleMania and would be holding his hand up in victory by the end. Masters fought out and hit Swagger with a Samoan Drop. Swagger got up and went for another running clothesline but Masters counted and went to lock in the Masterlock.

Masters almost locked it in but Swagger ran him back first into the turnbuckle and struggled free. Swagger went straight for the ankle and tried to lock the ankle lock on but was kicked out to ringside by Masters. Swagger swept Masters's legs from under him on the apron and wrapped his leg around the ring post. Cole said he hoped Lawler was at home watching this as Swagger kicked Masters's leg into the ring post.

Swagger got back in the ring and locked the anklelock on. Masters tapped out to give Swagger the win.

WINNER: Jack Swagger via submission in 2:00.

After the match, Swagger kept the anklelock on and Cole got in the ring. Swagger held Masters's head down with his boot and Cole put his 'An-Cole Lock' on. Cole looks absolutely ludicrous doing this, only serving to make the audience hate him more. Cole was screaming 'come on Lawler!' as he held it on Masters. The crowd heaped abuse on Cole and he and Swagger hugged it out before celebrating in the ring. Cole mimicked Swagger running around the ring like a bird.

TAIT REAX: Another Smackdown squash match, served to make Swagger look dominating. The post-match 'An-Cole Lock' was grating, as Cole looks like a tool running around the ring and his intensity is just irritating, as are his red-faced rants on Jerry Lawler and JR. And that's the beauty of it; there is not a person in that arena that wasn't booing Cole. He's the most hated character in WWE right now and fans are going to be hot for Jerry Lawler and Stone Cold to put him in his place once and for all. A decent little segment to further this feud.

- Rey Mysterio was shown walking backstage in preparation for a match next.

[Commercial Break]

- Rey Mysterio was out after the break set for action. His opponent, accompanied to the ring by Maryse, Ted DiBiase. Interestingly, the graphics showing DiBiase's name during his entrance were Smackdown themed and not those from Raw. Does this mean Ted is now a member of the Smackdown roster? No mention was given to the matter.

7 -- REY MYSTERIO vs. TED DIBIASE (w/Maryse)

The two went back and forth to start the match with some quick counters from Mysterio. DiBiase eventually got the upper hand and beat down on Mysterio in the corner. DiBiase ran at Mysterio in the corner, who countered with a head scissor to send DiBiase into the ropes. Mysterio climbed to the top rope and went for a diving cross body but was hit in mid air by a sick DiBiase dropkick. Nicely done.

DiBiase got a nearfall from it and proceeded to stomp Mysterio. DiBiase sent Mysterio into the ropes but the Master Of The 619 kicked the Fortunate Son in the face on the rebound. Mysterio flipped up onto DiBiase's shoulders and DiBiase looked to hit a powerbomb but Mysterio flipped off and ran into the ropes, only to be hit by a vicious DiBiase clothesline on the rebound. DiBiase scored another two-count and cinched a headlock on Mysterio.

Mysterio fought out but was hit with a full nelson backbreaker from DiBiase, who hit a running knee to Mysterio's back to send Rey out on the apron. Rey shouldered DiBiase and then hopped up over his shoulder, spinning around and hitting a Tornado DDT. Maryse looked concerned at ringside. Mysterio bounced off the ropes and hit a Huracanrana on DiBiase. Mysterio looked to hit another one but DiBiase grabbed his legs and hit him with an enormous sit-out facebuster.

DiBiase got another two count. DiBiase did his woeful Randy Orton rip-off where he stalks his opponent and bounces his shoulders up and down like it's an intense thing to do. DiBiase went for Dream Street but Mysterio kicked off the turnbuckle. The move was botched, though, with DiBiase tripping up and both men rolling awkwardly. DiBiase ran at Mysterio, who kicked his knee out and sent him crashing into the ropes ready for a 619.

Mysterio hit the 619 then went to the top rope. Rey pointed to the WrestleMania sign before hitting a diving splash off the top for the pin and the win. After the match Maryse stormed off. Rey looked nonchalant about winning.

WINNER: Rey Mysterio via pinfall in 3:00.

TAIT REAX: What is with the short matches on Smackdown this week? Lately, they've been at least running one or two that get around ten minutes or more. Mysterio vs. DiBiase was a decent match despite a few awkward spots. Is DiBiase a Smackdown star now? For his career's sake, I hope so, because he was going nowhere on the Raw roster. Although, if this was his debut - being squashed by Rey Mysterio - he's not likely to go anywhere on Smackdown either. Neither Rhodes or Mysterio interacted with each other this week; tell me what that does for their feud? It does nothing. No, WWE doesn't have to have them interfere in each other's matches every week, but a promo from one of them? Some sort of acknowledgement (pointing to the WrestleMania sign doesn't count) that they have an opponent for WrestleMania? Sticking Cody in a suit and Rey squashing DiBiase is not the way to sell viewers on that match.

- A replay from Elimination Chamber was shown with Del Rio attacking Edge after the match and Christian making the save. More hype was given to the steel cage match main event later tonight.

[Commercial Break]

- A replay from Monday's Raw showing Snooki's contributions was shown along with some mainstream media coverage of the event. Fresh Til' Death.

- The announcers hyped the John Morrison/Trish Stratus/Snooki vs. Dolph Ziggler/Lay-Cool match at WrestleMania. Mathews said it was going to be GTL in the ATL before Cole hyped John Cena vs. Miz, Randy Orton vs. C.M. Punk, Undertaker vs. Triple H once more, Edge vs. Alberto Del Rio, and, finally, The Rock guest hosting the event.

- The ominous music hit signaling the lowering of the steel cage. Mathews hyped the main event next.

[Commercial Break]

- Tony Chimel introduced Ricardo Rodriguez upon Smackdown's return. Del Rio's music hit and the number one contender hit the ring in a 2011 Bentley Flying Spur worth $250,000. Cole once again expressed disapproval at Theodore Long putting Del Rio in this match just 16 days from WrestleMania. Mathews said the GM's hands were tied. Del Rio punched the door on his way in to the ring. Christian's music hit and Captain Charisma strode to the ring with purpose. Cole said this was selfish of Christian and that he should settle his issue after WrestleMania.

8 -- ALBERTO DEL RIO (w/Ricardo Rodriguez) vs. CHRISTIAN -- Steel Cage match

Del Rio ran at Christian to start the match, Christian countered him into the corner and hit a flurry of punches. Del Rio countered with a Snapmare and a kick to Christian's back. Del Rio then beat down on Christian. Del Rio went to slam Christian headfirst into the cage wall but Christian countered, sending Del Rio into the ropes and hitting a back body drop on the number one contender.

Christian went to slam Del Rio's face into the cage but Alberto countered. Christian went for the Killswitch early but was pushed off into the corner by Del Rio. Del Rio hit a clothesline on Christian in the corner. Del Rio went to Irish whip Christian into the opposite corner but Christian countered into an Irish whip of his own. Del Rio hit the corner and jumped up and started to climb the cage.

Christian followed him up to the top and pulled him back down. Both men were standing on the top rope with Del Rio going for a German suplex. Christian held onto the steel for dear life before fighting out and climbing higher. Del Rio then hit a huge Samoan drop on Christian off the cage wall and both men were down as Smackdown went to commercial.

[Commercial Break]

Del Rio was in control as Smackdown returned. Del Rio sent Christian into the ropes, then kicked Alberto in the face on the rebound. Christian ran at Del Rio but Alberto dodged, sending Christian face first into the cage. Del Rio hit a nasty looking running dropkick to the back of Christian's head and pushed his face into the cage.

Cole said it was impressive that Del Rio has never been in a cage match before but was already adapting to use it as a weapon. Del Rio continued the beat down before hitting a side slam and getting two. Del Rio cinched in a headlock on a seated Christian and the crowd got behind Captain Charisma.

Christian fought out but was slammed headfirst into the mat by Del Rio, who went to climb the cage again. Del Rio got to the top but was caught around the ankle by Christian and yanked off into the ropes. Del Rio kicked Christian in the thigh and slapped him around the head before attempting to run Christian like a javelin into the cage wall. Christian grabbed the wall and hit an inverted DDT for a two-count.

Frustration set in for Christian, who held his arm in pain. Christian unloaded on Del Rio with punches before running the Essence of Excellence face first into the cage wall and scoring another two. Christian went for the door but Del Rio grabbed him around the ankle. Christian stomped Del Rio and was freed. Christian went back up top but Del Rio ran up the turnbuckle and punched Christian in the face before hitting a nice running enzuigiri on the middle rope.

Del Rio got a two count and called for the ref to open the cage door but was grabbed by the ankle by Christian. Del Rio struggled free and was on his belly halfway out the door before being pulled back into the middle of the ring by Christian. Del Rio went for the cross armbreaker but Christian countered and hit the Killswitch...but Del Rio kicked out at two.

Christian started to scale the cage again but was grabbed by Del Rio and pushed back first into the cage wall. Christian was slumped over the ropes and Del Rio stood on his back and started to climb the cage. Del Rio hoisted himself over the top before being grabbed by Christian. Both men were straddling the top of the cage and Del Rio slammed Christian's face into it.

Del Rio stared at the WrestleMania sign before starting to climb down. Christian recovered and climbed down as well, actually climbing down Del Rio, who had his arm caught on the top of the cage. Christian was hanging by his fingertips off the top before finally falling off and getting the win!

WINNER: Christian via escape in 12:00.

After the match, Del Rio went nuts at the loss and attacked Christian from behind. Del Rio tossed Christian into the timekeeper's area before getting on the mic and telling Christian he would destroy him now like he would destroy Edge at WrestleMania, before picking up a chair.

The horn on Del Rio's car sounded to reveal Edge behind the wheel. Edge said this was a really nice car and noted its price. Del Rio asked Edge what he was doing with his car. Edge said he was just admiring it. Edge said it would be a shame if something happened to the car like him slipping and kicking the headlight out or scratching the paint job. Or climbing on the roof and stomping it in. Edge tried to continue but couldn't over Del Rio's stammering, so he told him to shut up.

Edge continued that he could grab his good friend Mr. Chair in the passenger seat and take this chair - Edge didn't get any further, as Brodus Clay assaulted him from behind. Brodus picked up the chair and hit Edge across the back with it. Del Rio stood over Edge and taunted him, before hitting a painful looking Con-Chair-To on Edge's arm. Ricardo, Alberto, and Brodus stood over Edge before referees and agents broke it up. Smackdown ended with Edge in agony on the floor and the crowd (for baffling reasons) chanting for Cena.

FINAL THOUGHTS: A rollercoaster Smackdown with ups and downs. Aside from the main event, the length of matches was a major negative in this week's show. So many matches worth a lot more only given a couple of minutes.

The main event wasn't a classic but it was good nonetheless. Christian getting the win was a definite surprise and I'm starting to get the feeling that WWE are entertaining the idea of putting him into the World Title match at WrestleMania. I don't think there's enough time, though. I feel if WWE is going to put him in that type of match, they have to sell him as the underdog a la Chris Benoit at WrestleMania XX - the guy who's always fallen just short of the big time and who nobody expects to win. I think Edge retaining the title in a one-on-one match with Del Rio and Christian celebrating in the ring with him before turning on him would be far more impactful. The post-match beat down was brutal, and it was a sick-looking Con-Chair-To on Edge's arm. I'm really enjoying Brodus Clay's presence on Smackdown; he's definitely an asset and looks better every week...but you already knew that.

The feud between Big Show/Kane and The Corre was also uplifted this week. I like the pre-match promo with Kane and Big Show choking each other and then laughing it off. It really put them across as a team and I feel like other tag teams (wait, what other tag teams?) should be given the opportunity to do the same. Wade Barrett's Wasteland on Big Show was nothing short of awesome.

Sheamus vs. Kofi deserved better, as did Mysterio vs. DiBiase. Again, match length hurt these two in what were otherwise decent matches. Cody Rhodes wrestling in a suit is utterly ridiculous and I didn't like the Mysterio-Rhodes feud being stuck on the backburner after being white hot the last couple of weeks.

Overall, a decent Smackdown that was ultimately a let down because of the lack of time given to matches. It will be interesting to see if things kick into the next gear next week.

Smackdown Break Down

Match Of The Night: Alberto Del Rio vs. Christian in a steel cage

Match To Forget: Trent Barreta vs. Cody Rhodes

Star Of The Show: Alberto Del Rio

Please Go Away: Michael Cole

Quote Of The Night: Kane - "You complete me"

Quote Of 1000 Facepalms: Michael Cole (tie) - "I'm in the Fortress of Attitude right now!" and "I'm going to finish Jerry Lawler with the 'An-Cole Lock' in the main event at WrestleMania!"

Most Entertaining Move: Wade Barrett's Wasteland to The Big Show

On The Next Episode Of Botchamania: Rey Mysterio's counter to Dream Street.

Best Moment: Alberto Del Rio hits a Con-Chair-To on Edge's arm.

Worst Moment: Cody Rhodes wrestles in a suit, wins match by headbutting Trent Barreta with a plastic mask.

Overall Grade: B-

[Torch art credit Grant Gould (c)]

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PWTorch editor Wade Keller has covered pro wrestling full time since 1987 starting with the Pro Wrestling Torch print newsletter. launched in 1999 and the PWTorch Apps launched in 2008.

He has conducted "Torch Talk" insider interviews with Hulk Hogan, The Rock, Steve Austin, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Eric Bischoff, Jesse Ventura, Lou Thesz, Jerry Lawler, Mick Foley, Jim Ross, Paul Heyman, Bruno Sammartino, Goldberg, more.

He has interviewed big-name players in person incluiding Vince McMahon (at WWE Headquarters), Dana White (in Las Vegas), Eric Bischoff (at the first Nitro at Mall of America), Brock Lesnar (after his first UFC win).

He hosted the weekly Pro Wrestling Focus radio show on KFAN in the early 1990s and hosted the Ultimate Insiders DVD series distributed in retail stories internationally in the mid-2000s including interviews filmed in Los Angeles with Vince Russo & Ed Ferrara and Matt & Jeff Hardy. He currently hosts the most listened to pro wrestling audio show in the world, (the PWTorch Livecast, top ranked in iTunes)


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