The months after WrestleMania can be frustrating ones. It’s as though there is a break in the quality of storyline development with nothing to build towards until SummerSlam which is not at the same level as Mania. The draft taking place so soon after Mania has meant a lot of the feuds scheduled for the PPV after Mania meant little to nothing and the feuds taking part in Over the Limit the last PPV were either feuds in their initial stages or ones to be completed. For the state of both rosters it means that there is a lot of transition going on and nothing to sink the teeth into.
SmackDown is an example of where things are preparing to warm up with the exception of one particularly controversial decision at the main event level.
The World Heavyweight Championship Scene
Edge had beaten Alberto del Rio and then announced his retirement. This left the scene clear for Del Rio to take on Christian for the vacant World Heavyweight title. Then when ADR was drafted to Raw it looked all set for Christian to take the strap. So it was that in a decision that left many fans especially on the Internet very happy, Christian after so long in the shadow of his former tag partner Edge and having been overlooked for so long became the Champion. I was happy.
Then something incredibly short-sighted happened. Within days of winning it, Christian lost it in a very good match to the recently drafted Randy Orton. That move was not met with overwhelming joy. Orton remains over as a face and obviously has a decent backing with him. He’s a golden child for the promotion just below John Cena in their priorities, but now he’s away from Cena at the other brand, he can dominate it in a similar way. Even if that was the plan a very good argument goes that they could have at least waited until the next PPV to take it off the guy. To just give Christian the belt for a few days did not make sense on so many levels.
As a result some have stopped watching SmackDown and I understand that reaction. Yet to me, it’s not the worse thing the company have done, and to his credit Christian is taking it in is stride and taking part in strong promos and matches, playing up to his frustrated loser deal yet displaying a positive spin on things in the hope of getting the belt back.
Yet something has happened now to dilute that possibility with Sheamus recently winning a three-way match to be the number one contender for Orton’s title. Orton/Sheamus is hardly fresh, but both can put in the effort and tell a fairly good story. It’s also seen as reward for Sheamus enduring some crazy weeks and months after getting squashed by Triple H where he hardly won a match and then went through the King of the Ring deal and a feud with Morrison to pass the time. It begs the question though of what to do with Christian now. Concerns of him turning heel are valid as he’s hardly done enough as a face to get the turn. Still he’s one of the few wrestlers on the roster who can take the lemons that are thrown at him by the writers and turn it into lemonade, and I hope he gets a proper run as the top champion at some point.
Quick mention of Mark Henry. He has been around for a long time and has won nothing at all, but I’m loving his new heel role. On the mic he’s putting his oar in and doing well. Not sure if it’s enough to get him anywhere near the belt, but it is good to see his role refreshed.
Corre vs. Ezekiel Jackson
The only other major feud of note on the blue brand is the repercussions of the Corre split seeing Ezekiel Jackson go solo against the three remaining members of the faction. It’s not been a bad storyline, but what lets it down is the sense that it is ultimately meaningless for the two forces involved. Wade Barrett has the Intercontinental title and will hopefully keep it once the feud is over to actually build the title with others who are in a position to benefit form such a rub – Daniel Bryan and Cody Rhodes being two examples.
… And The Rest
What’s up with Sin Cara? You hype a guy and then you put him in a feud with Chavo Guerrero and all of a sudden he’s not so important anymore. For all his moves and flash sets, he doesn’t appear to wow and thrill as much as the hype lead us to believe. He’s obviously limited with the full face mask from the facial gestures that can help with storytelling. The more he wrestles the more he kist comes across as a cheap Mysterio rip off.
Cody Rhodes was someone I expected to get a decent push in the light of the draft results, but at the moment he’s still drifting around the mid-card level doing credible promos relating to the face injury, though that can only go for so long. It looks like he might have storted a program with Daniel Bryan which should be good for both men especially regarding in-ring storytelling action. I hope Cody can make the most of it and make actual progress up the card which could be helped by winning a title like the Intercontinental.
I am not a fan of The Great Khali, I think he’s a cumbersome big mug of a guy used for the marketing value he has in the large Indian market and because he’s a very big man. Other than that he’s virtually useless on the mic and it takes a wrestler of great skill to get a decent match from the guy. Yet the writers have managed to make his heel turn come across as at least an interesting mid-card storyline. It’s one thing to turn a guy heel, it’s another thing to make him interesting in that role and that will be where the deal will come into its own.
SmackDown was used to promote Kharma, but now apparently she’s off the screens because she’s pregnant – how does that happen?? (Not how do women get pregnant, obviously. My daughters remind me that my wife apparently would have an idea about that.) Beyond that with Layla being injured and Michelle McCool taking time off it leaves the ‘divas’ on the blue brand short of any quality to think of. They could push Natalya, but other than that, making a big deal of those who’ve come through NXT or whatever smacks of desperation.
Lastly a word on the announce table. If there were no announcers commentating on the matches and providing analysis and storyline development the wrestling product would not be as interesting at all. So your commentators are important. Booker T recently took over from Matt Striker as the colour commentator and I think so far he’s done a good job. I also think that with the end of the Lawler deal that Cole can return to an important role in commentary as he does a good job also. The odd one out to me, and this is not a slight against the man’s character, is Josh Matthews. He doesn’t hold my attention, add insight, provide excitement or anything that make commentators worthy of the post. He’s a good interviewer, but that’s about it. Could he improve? It’s not impossible, but for a main show that you’re plugging you’d rather have someone proven and interesting. I think Josh is better back on something like NXT or even Superstars which are the recognised B-list shows. I’d much prefer Todd Grisham in the role. Just to mention that though as it highlights the importance of the voice that takes you through the wrestling journey.
Capitol Punishment is the next scheduled PPV and I imagine the big deal will be around the World Heavyweight Championship as far as SmackDown is concerned and perhaps more on the Corre vs. Ezekiel Jackson deal. That’s not a lot to sell a PPV or a brand on. I’d like to think by the end of next month that things will be far improved in terms of key storylines. I hope so anyway, because it’s clear there’s enough talent to make it so.