Saturday, April 24, 2010
TV Review: Weak and strong booking decisions bookend Smackdown
While I praised the hectic nature of Smackdown with my entry last week, I should note that there is a fine line between being surprised and devaluing your product with cluster-eff booking. One reason why I've traditionally preferred the WWE over the WCW and, in present day, the TNA, is that their booking makes a bit more sense. Yeah, it can be boring and predictable at times, but the in-ring action normally makes up for it, and you don't have to worry about constant stipulation matches and screw job finishes in every other match.
Case in point: It sure would be nice if the WWE let its newest champion, Jack Swagger, actually win some matches. Fine, the Undertaker beat him on Monday Night Raw this week; that's a perfectly understandable win against one of the biggest stars of the past 20 years. He managed to pin Edge the other week, but it was only after Jericho hit a Codebreaker against him.
However, while I really enjoy the ring work of John Morrison and think he will be a future champion, it seems silly to let him pin Swagger two nights before a pay per view. It isn't one of the big four, but it still damages Swagger's credibility before the match. If he beats Randy Orton, then it devalues Orton, since Swagger has lost most of his recent matches. If he loses against Orton, it's going to be hard for him to re-establish himself as a threat in the championship chase.
I think the only way the WWE can salvage something from this is if they use it to launch a program between Morrison and Swagger. With Shawn Michaels being forced to retire, Morrison is the closest thing to a "new" HBK, so it might make sense to push him up the card a bit quick. Let me put on my Imaginary Booker hat for a second - I would have Swagger retain against Orton, and Morrison would challenge him to a match on the next Smackdown. Have Swagger cheap shot him and leave, but the match is made anyway by GM Teddy Long. And sometime between that show and the title shot, have Morrison beat the Undertaker in a long match, as a sort of "pass the torch" moment.
Do I think this will actually happen? No. But, it should!
Anyway, outside of the Swagger booking, the worst part of Friday's show was the inexplicable pairing of Kane and Rey Mysterio vs. the Straight Edge Society, consisting of CM Punk and Luke Gallows. Punk was at his cult leader best for the majority of the show, which is why I used his image to lead off this entry.
However, there was absolutely no mention on the show why Kane felt capable of teaming with Mysterio. I mean, it was only about 18 months ago that Kane, in storyline, tried to kill Mysterio. But hey, maybe he bought Rey a Fresco or something while they hung out backstage, and patched things up all nice-nice.
There were some good moments on the show though, some of them surprisingly so. It's not surprising that Jericho and Edge had another great verbal exchange, but who knew that Layla could slowly get over as the tag team partner of Michelle McCool in their blatant rip-off of TNA's Beautiful People? While neither McCool or Layla is as attractive as any of the Beautiful People, they play the characters a bit better to me, and the presence of Vickie Guerrero as their valet of sorts makes them more solidly heel-ish.
With some better booking, this could have been a much stronger episode. However, as is, this week's Smackdown was still light years ahead of a thrown together Raw with MacGruber guest hosting.
The picture of Kane holding Rey's mask is from this site.