SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Chavo Guerrero: Chavo continued to do a good job of hyping his match against Rey Mysterio at SummerSlam without the presence of Mysterio himself. The use of Rey’s mask has been well done and Chavo’s repeated focus on his opponent’s knee has been as well. It was good to see him snap on Funaki and get disqualified because he just wanted to hurt him. He has well established what his motives are going into this match and has done a very good job of portraying himself as being totally obsessed with ending Mysterio’s career.
Noble vs. Yang: This was a good match while it lasted. Unfortunately, it was way too short at only 2 minutes 30 seconds (and even at that length, it was the second longest match of the night – more later). But those few minutes were very good. I would have preferred to see Jimmy Wang Yang get the win in order to drag out the Hornswoggle vs. Jamie Noble feud, especially if Hornswoggle cost him the match. But it had good back and forth action, and gave a glimpse of what they hopefully will be allowed to do down the line once Noble is Cruiserweight Champion defending the title against Yang.
MVP and Matt Hardy: The feud of the year on Smackdown might be MVP vs. Matt Hardy. They have had some good matches, and clearly will have more in the future. But their interaction has been very good so far. MVP was great this week in his attempts to get Teddy Long on his bandwagon. I was worried for a minute that they were emulating TNA in having MVP challenge Deuce & Domino to become the Tag Team Champion by himself. Luckily they went the rout of a surprise partner for him. It is a bit too coincidental that Matt Hardy would be the first person to come in to the room, but that is a minor complaint. Their argument after being partnered together was strong and their brief basketball match was fun. I am looking forward to seeing their match against Deuce & Domino next week.
End of the Show: The show had a strong ending as Batista snapped and actually damaged The Great Khali. Batista vs. Finlay was a decent Main Event with a cheesy DQ ending. But after that, things really picked up. WWE has done a good job so far of building up the Claw as a devastating finisher, and this week they did a good job of showing how Batista might be able to defend himself against it. It was great to see him getting Khali down on the mat and actually busting him open. I am not looking forward to seeing Batista vs. Khali at SummerSlam, because I know the talent level of the two men involved. But WWE has done a good job of building anticipation for the match. Unfortunately, the match itself will likely not live up to the build.
Opening Segment: Smackdown may have had a strong ending, but it certainly had a weak beginning. Kane’s interaction with Vince McMahon had some funny lines (like when Kane complained about Vince missing his Little League Games as a child, to which JBL asked, “Kane played Little League?!”). But for the most part it was a boring segment. Maybe I am being too picky as I know that WWE well established that Kane’s father was Paul Bearer (including a DNA test), so long time fans know that McMahon is not Kane’s father. So I was turned off from the beginning. The exchange between Chris Masters and Kane was good, but then Chuck Polumbo came out and the segment went way downhill. His presence was so random that it took away any meaning from the rest of the segment.
Bikini Contest: That was a waste of time. Yes, the Divas are sexy and fun to look at. But, the whole Mae Young appearance was silly and unnecessary (as usual). With so many short matches, I would have loved to see one of them given extra time and this segment would have been my top choice of one to get rid of to give a match more time.
Short Matches: Other than the Main Event, all of the other matches were very short. Not only were they all under 3 minutes, but they were all under 2 minutes 31 seconds. Every one of them. The Chuck Polumbo and Mark Henry matches were just squashes so the time was appropriate. The tag match was probably the right length as well. Chavo vs. Funaki was just an excuse to have Chavo express his rage so that length was o.k. The match that really could have and should have been given more time was the Cruiserweight #1 Contender Match as I mentioned above. I guess the real problem here is that the matches were short, but with one exception, I did not care to see more of any of those matches. That speaks volumes to the fact that WWE’s priority has been misplaced when it comes to having better quality in ring action on Smackdown lately. It wasn’t that long ago that there were usually two long pretty good matches a week on Smackdown. Now there is one, plus several short matches. I would like to see longer matches, but not if they involve Polumbo, Deuce & Domino, or even Mark Henry.
Hyping SummerSlam: The focus of the show seemed to be the feud between Matt Hardy and MVP as they were both in multiple segments, and their match for next week was fairly heavily hyped. The problem with that is that they are not facing at the PPV. There are only three matches from Smackdown at SummerSlam (plus the Smackdown Divas’ involvement in the Battle Royale), and other than the Khali vs. Batista match, the other two didn’t get much hype. The first Kane vs. Finlay, which was announced during the opening segment, but not followed up on. It would have been a good idea to have some interaction between Finlay and Kane at some point during the show. The match that I can only assume most Smackdown fans are looking forward to the most is the Mysterio vs. Guerrero match, which as I noted above, they did do a good job hyping. But, that hype came in the second segment of the show, and was hardly mentioned after that. That means, that two of the three matches were hyped in the first two segments, leaving the rest of the show to hype Khali vs. Batista and other non-PPV related issues (like Mark Henry and The Undertaker). The focus of the show should have been building up to SummerSlam, and they could have done a better job if they put more of that focus in the second half of Smackdown, instead of the very beginning.
Jon Mezzera is PWTorch.com’s Hitlist Specialist, providing his point of view in the Torch’s hitlist format for Raw, Smackdown, ECW, and TNA Impact each week. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.