KELLER & POWELL FLAGSHIP (12/5)
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The following report was originally published ten years ago this week on PWTorch.com…
KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
MARCH 20, 2009
TAPED IN CORPUS CHRISTI, TEX.
AIRED ON THE CW
-The show opened with a preview of it being a special 500th episode with highlights of the biggest moments in the show’s history.
-A video package aired on Randy Orton’s promo on Raw earlier in the week explaining why he wasn’t pressing charges against Triple H, followed by highlights of Triple H beating up Cody Rhodes in the cage and ending with the clip of him getting in a car with his wife, Stephanie McMahon.
-Triple H walked out onto the stage for his full intro as Jim Ross introduced the show and said Vladimir Kozlov would face him later. Tazz said, “What a way to kick of the 500th episode of Smackdown.” He also hyped a Shawn Michaels vs. Kane match later. Ross hyped the Undertaker vs. JBL match. More big matches given away with little or no hype ahead of time (as in weeks, not minutes). There’s an epidemic of a lack of long-term planning right now in pro wrestling.
Triple H stood in the ring and said it was wrestling’s worst-kept secret that he and Stephanie were married. He said they tried to keep it quiet, but he’s sure the fans knew. Some fans cheered. Triple H said Orton knew, and he tried to let it slide when Orton went after grown men in his family. “But my wife… Randy, you sure as hell should have known better.” He turned and looked sternly into the camera. He said Orton played the card and then hid behind lawyers and doctors and a supposed mental illness called IED. He said he has a disease, but it’s not called IED, it’s called cowardice. He said it runs rampant in him and has his whole life. He said he’s run from every challenge in his life, but the running stops at WrestleMania. He said at WrestleMania there will be nobody to save him from the beating he plans to deliver. He said Orton better pray to God that he is as good as he thinks he is. He turned dramatically to look at the WrestleMania 25 banner. Triple H said he says he has a disease, “but I say you are the disease and I am the cure.” Kozlov’s ring entrance then took place.
1 — TRIPLE H vs. VLADIMIR KOZLOV
Triple H ducked a charging Kozlov, who flew over the top rope to the floor. Kozlov re-entered the ring and charged again with a clothesline attempt. Triple H ducked and then knocked Kozlov to the floor. They cut to a break a 1:00.
Triple H had Kozlov in a figure-four as they returned to the break. Kozlov reached the bottom rope to force a break at 4:00.
Kozlov gave Triple H a battering ram and a belly-to-belly suplex while working off a limp from the figure-four. He battered Triple H in the corner. Triple H quickly powered out of a bearhug and gave hi a face buster and two clotheslines in the corner. He then scored a two count after a neckbreaker. He followed with a spinebuster after a brief attempt at a comeback by Kozlov. He followed with a Pedigree for the win.
WINNER: Triple H in 7:00.
STAR RATING: 3/4* — Fine for what it was, but Kozlov is pretty much done as a potential top heel since this win wasn’t treated as a particularly big deal and it came relatively easily.
-A lengthy video package aired recapping the Big Show-Vickie Guerrero-Edge-John Cena storyline. The tone of the video package was verging on slapstick, which might be good for a chuckle, but it makes “lite” of what happened and can undercut anything being taken seriously headed into the match at WrestleMania. There’s nothing so far that stands out as any different in this episode than any other so far.
-A video package aired on the spectacle of WrestleMania 23 focused primarily on Donald Trump and Vince McMahon. This also had a virtual slapstick tone to it.
2 — SHELTON BENJAMIN vs. MVP — U.S. Title match
This title gets defined down as virtually meaningless when there’s a title match that appears – poof! – out of nowhere like this. If it’s not worthy hyping at least 15 minutes head of time, much less a week or two ahead of time, the average viewer is going to think it’s no big deal no matter how much the announcers hard-sell it once it starts. Pro wrestling bookers have lost their way more than ever regarding the art of building anticipation and milking it. They do it for PPVs, but when the same thing being offered on PPV is being given away with no hype on TV, in a generic sense the idea of a main eventer vs. main eventer match is watered down and diminished so that selling a PPV becomes an unnecessary steep uphill battle. Shelton took control early and settled into an abdominal stretch at 1:00.
MVP made a comeback and hit a powerslam. He scored a near fall after a boot to the face. The crowd chanted “MVP, MVP.” Shelton countered a suplex with a neckbreaker in a smooth move leading to a two count at 4:00. Tazz put over Shelton as a “quintessential blue chip athlete.” MVP scored a near fall with a backslide and then another near fall with a bridge. Shelton came back with a sudden poweslam for a near fall. MVP then hit his finisher for the win.
WINNER: MVP in 5:00 to win the U.S. Title.
STAR RATING: *1/2 — Good action, but really short for a U.S. Title match. Again, this would have meant so much more with a little hype last week and some promos to set it up. It’s just disheartening to see how short-term planning and an over-reliance on just tossing pushed wrestlers against one another indiscriminately has become a substitute for sound booking.
-A video feature aired on “12 Rounds.”
-Ross and Tazz hyped Michaels vs. Kane. A clip aired of Michaels kicking Taker on the stage on Raw on Monday.
-WWE Fact: Smackdown, by airing every week, is the fastest prime time episodic show to reach 500 episodes ever. By the same token, my clock ticks one second every second, and therefore has become the fastest clock to reach 500 seconds in history!
-Edge yelled at Vickie and said he had to spear that “home wrecking bastard.” They bleeped “bastard.” Good thing Steve Austin wasn’t on Smackdown back in the day or he’d have been bleeped constantly. Edge said tonight he wanted it to be made clear that Big Show is done and gone. Edge stormed off as Vickie seemed distraught and conflicted.
-Shawn Michaels’s ring intro took place.
3 — SHAWN MICHAELS vs. KANE
Kane overpowered Michaels early. Tazz said it appeared they might have to stop the match after a Kane punch may have “busted Shawn’s jaw.” Kane overpowered Michaels for the opening minutes. Michaels did the flip bump into the corner on a whip and then tumbled to the floor at 2:00. They cut to another break.
Kane remained in control after the break. This is one of those matches where two big names are matched up, and the one doing the job gets the benefit of 90 percent of the offense to “make up for having to do the job.” Vince McMahon hates pronouns, and Ross took it to an extreme by saying Michaels was trying to “get Kane off of Kane’s feet.” Michaels kicked out of a near fall after a basement dropkick by Kane at 7:00. Michaels made a comeback at 9:00 with some punches and a neckbreaker. After a collision, Michaels leaped up and gave Kane an inverted atomic drop and a clothesline. When he went for a top rope elbow, Kane turned sideways and Michaels landed on his knee. Kane climbed to the top rope and leaped off with a clothesline. Kane waited for Michaels to get up and moved in for a chokeslam, but Michaels surprised him with a superkick for the win. Ross sold the Michaels win as an indication that Undertaker’s streak “is dog-gone sure in jeopardy.”
WINNER: Michaels in 11:00.
STAR RATING: **1/4 — Pretty one-sided most of the way and Kane is always a bit lumbering, but a solid match with a well executed transition into Michaels’s comeback and victory.
-Vickie Guerrero begged The Big Show backstage “don’t do this.” Show said his “so-called pathetic excuse of a husband has given me no choice.” He said he came out on Raw because he knew Edge couldn’t handle John Cena. He said he went out there for him. He said after Edge speared him, he can’t walk away from something like that. Vickie said if he cares about her, he’ll let it go. Show said it’s too late and Edge deserves everything he’s going to get.
-Another commercial aired on “12 Rounds.”
-The showed the exterior of the arena in Corpus Christi. Then they hyped the WrestleMania line-up. Ross said it was just in that Jeff Hardy vs. Matt Hardy will be an “Extreme Rules” match. So far there has been absolutely nothing to distinguish this show as a special 500th show celebration. If they think having some Raw wrestlers appear on Smackdown counts, they’ve forgotten how little the brand split means anymore with the indiscriminate and random cross-brand appearances every week on various shows.
4 — JEFF HARDY vs. BRIAN KENDRICK (w/Ezekiel Jackson)
Hardy knocked Jackson out of the ring at the start of the match and then dove over the top rope onto Kendrick a ringside in the opening minute. Jackson grabbed Hardy from behind and threw him into the security wall. When Jackson checked on Kendrick, Hardy bashed him from behind with a chair repeatedly. He chased Kendrick into the ring with a chair, but Kendrick kicked the chair out of his hands and knocked him to the mat. He mounted him and punched away at his head. Hardy came back and aggressively rammed Kendrick’s head into a standing chair several times at 2:00. He DDT’d Kendrick on a chair and finished him with a Swanton Bomb.
WINNER: Hardy in 3:00.
STAR RATING: 3/4* — The goal was to get across the excitement and energy and high-impact nature of an extreme rules match. So in that respect it worked. It was pretty much a squash of Kendrick and had too many chairshots as six to the back of Jackson was excessive and diminished the perceived impact of one.
-A video aired hyping the Randy Orton vs. Triple H match at WM25.
-They showed Ross and Tazz at ringside as the AC/DC theme song played. Ros hyped the Class of 2009 inductees and then they announced the induction of the Von Erich family. Great quote from Kevin Von Erich back in the day regarding his family’s feud with the Freebirds: “This isn’t about Texas versus Georgia, it’s about decency versus filth.” Great babyface line, and it’s lines like that where the good guys are actually acting honorably and bad guys are portrayed as “filth” from a character and conduct standpoint that are often in short supply in today’s needlessly overthought booking schemes (see Vickie-Edge-Show-Cena). Ross said they’re just a week away from Cena’s “12 Rounds” release in theaters. Tazz offered to take Ross to the movie and pay for tickets and treats. They went to another preview of the movie looking at the plot.
-Undertaker’s ring entrance took place.
-Taker stood center ring and began: “Shawn Michaels, make no mistake about it, you are the prey and I am the hunter. When you least expect it, you will feel the wrath of the Undertaker.” Good, succinct promo. Ross said he has no idea what he means, but it’s something for Michaels to contemplate.
5 — THE UNDERTAKER vs. JBL
Ross said that Monday on Raw, Rey Mysterio challenged JBL for the IC Title at WrestleMania, and JBL has accepted the challenge. Taker jump-started the match with an early flurry of offense. Ross said Taker’s streak is like winning 16 Super Bowls in a row, a feat that he says will never be repeated. At 2:00 they cut to a break.
Taker missed a kick at ringside and JBL took over. JBL worked over Taker’s leg in the ring. Taker powered out of a figure-four leglock, but JBL managed to retain control of the match at 10:00. At 11:00 Taker made a comeback with snake eyes, a big boot, and a legdrop for a near fall. JBL came back seconds later with a Clothesline from Hell out of nowhere for a near fall. Tazz said it’s rare anyone kicks out of that move. Taker then surprised JBL with his Devil’s Gate submission. After about 10-15 seconds, JBL tapped out.
WINNER: Undertaker in 12:00.
STAR RATING: **1/2 — Good match. Best of the show so far.
-Ross plugged that Edge, Show, and Cena were all present. They showed a split screen of Edge and Show heading toward the entrance tunnel.
-Big Show walked out and called Edge to the ring. Edge came out. They immediately argued and talked over each other. Edge told Show to stop spitting on him. Vickie pleaded for them to stop. Edge snapped back at Vickie. Show told him not to talk to Vickie that way. Edge said he could because he’s her husband. Show said he can defend her because he’s her lover. Vickie said she wanted a truce because at WrestleMania, the winner of the Triple Threat match will not just win the WWE Title, but also win her heart. Show said he’d shake Edge’s hand as long as he realizes he doesn’t like him. Edge reached out and they shook hands. Cena’s music played and he walked out onto the stage.
Cena said he is the third competitor who plans to win. “And when I do win, I certainly want nothing to do with Vickie Guerrero’s heart, or head, or handles.” (Shouldn’t babyfaces be admirable human beings and not make fun of a woman for being curvy?) He said from his perspective, the truce they have is the most ridiculous thing he’s heard. Cena waved and wished them a Happy 500. “This is awesome TV. Everyone is going to be talking about this forever.” He asked Edge what he is thinking. He said Vickie and Show have been doing gross things to each other, and somehow he’s forgiving them. He asked him if he’s scared. He said on the 25th Annniversary of WrestleMania (did I mention the 25th anniversary is technically next year?), those two goofs are going to be competing to see “who shares Vickie’s infection.” He added, “Wait, wait, I meant affection. No, I was right the first time, I’m going with infection.” Edge said Vickie’s love is worth fighting for. Show said he knows her well, too. Edge said when she’s asleep and all snuggled up and passes gas, it’s little things like that he knows about. “It’s cute, trust me, okay?” Show said, “You know what’s cute? How she giggles when I kiss her on the back of her neck.” Edge said he didn’t want to hear anything more from his big fat mouth. Show told Vickie while looking at Edge that if he doesn’t watch his mouth, he may not make it to WrestleMania. He shoved Edge a couple times. Vickie told them to stop fighting. Edge shoved back. “There’s your truce! What do you think, Big Man?” Show grabbed Edge by his throat. When Vickie tried to get Show to stop, Show shoved her and she fell. Show released his grip and checked on her. Edge went to spear Show, but Show moved and Edge speared Vickie. Edge tended to Vickie as Show looked on from behind. Edge was about to pick her up and carry her to away when Show moved in and threw Edge to the side. Show then picked up Vickie. Edge moved in and grabbed her. Show took her back. Edge clipped Show from behind and Show dropped Vickie hard to the mat. Show and Edge both looked over her limp body. Edge asked Show what he just did. Show chokeslammed Edge.
FINAL THOUGHTS (6.0): What a letdown that show was. They hype for weeks the 500th show celebration and it’s nothing more than a usual show with no clips or anything to distinguish it. There were a number of marquee matches, but that hardly makes a show feel special anymore since that happens so often. A couple of the matches were above average, but otherwise they were short and forgettable. There was a U.S. Title change that meant nothing because after it happened, it wasn’t spoken of again. No celebration by MVP or post-loss interview with Shelton. The main angle with Cena, Vickie, Show, and Edge was par for the course and fine, I suppose, but it hardly feels like a WrestleMania 25 worthy main event with this soap opera lite-comedy flavor. It wasn’t a boring show and there was some good action and relevant promos and angles, but nothing really jumped out as must-see and certainly there was nothing about it that earned it a special event that it had been hyped to be since it’s the 500th show.