It feels like WWE has been having a lot of Pay Per Views lately. Smackdown is the last stop before Bragging Rights so let’s see what they can do to push one of their less popular shows. We open with the 7 members of both teams (minus R-Truth who still can’t get into Canada) in the ring and Teddy Long letting them book their own matches. Miz put himself, Jackson and Sheamus on one side which Show counters with himself Kofi and Rey. Edge challenges CM Punk, Morrison wants Alberto Del Rio and Jack Swagger goes after Santino. Tyler Recks keeps his mouth shut. Oh and Kane takes on Randy Orton as we already heard.
The six-man tag starts right away. Matt Stryker shows he is, or at least was, a comic book fan by referring to this as Secret Wars. Despite putting more powerhouses on the RAW side it’s Smackdown who picks up the win when Mysterio hits a Splash off Big Show’s shoulders. So Smackdown looks strong again, pointing to RAW winning on Sunday. Swagger takes on Santino but, for some reason, Hornswoggle takes issue with Swagger’s Soaring Eagle. Most of this is a joke and Swagger picks up yet another win for Smackdown. Stryker: “Santino is going to need Cobra and Destroy to get out of this one.”
Now that Cody Rhodes is one half of the tag team champions maybe he should stop having solo vignettes. Del Rio and Morrison put on an okay match, but Del Rio wins for Smackdown, again. We’re also only at the halfway point when the Edge/Punk match gets underway. It is a bit odd to have two guys who were just traded for each other defending their new brands. Did Cole just say Evan Bourne is injured and out for four months? My cable goes out just as Miz and Alex Reilly attack Edge, causing a DQ, one-by-one the rest of the team come out to hit a move or two then get taken out and wait for the next guy. The cycle ends with Punk coming back to GTS Mysterio then eat a Spear from Edge. I know Smackdown is on a new network but do we have to push them this hard?
We get more annoying Diva crap as LayCool dresses as The Hart Foundation. They face Natalya and Kelly Kelly in a tag match. We learn that Layla will be the one to wrestle on Sunday which is annoying when Natalya makes Layla submit because it pretty much ensures that LayCool is retaining Sunday.
Kane and Rady Orton put on a better match than I was expecting out of them. Both look strong but Kane loses the match when the lights go out and Taker’s music plays. The show ends with the return of a classic bit as Undertaker comes up through the ring and drags a screaming Kane down and out of sight.
Over on TNA the heels are running the show. No Hogan and no more Dixie Carter means Bischoff is running the show. He puts Ken Anderson, who has one arm in a sling, against Kazarian in an Ultimate X match. If he can survive he’s the number one contender. Bischoff plants seeds of doubt in RVD’s mind that more of his friends will turn on him before putting him in a tag match with Sabu against Beer Money.
The Pope is a face now and he gets AJ Styles in Street Fight. Bischoff plays fair and bans Fortune from ringside. It’s a title match and a fine, roughhouse match; until Abyss, not technically a member of Fortune, runs in and destroys The Pope. Did this elevate The Pope? Maybe a little, but not much. Later, Pope is mad Samoa Joe didn’t come to his aid. Still later, Jeff Jarrett and the two “security guards who are actually rookie wrestlers” take Joe out.
In diva crap, Miss Tessbacher needs to become a wrestler now and WWE’s Katie Lea Burchill is here, but they’re calling her Winter and I get a weird “mad Ophelia from Hamlet” vibe off her. Mickie James beats Sarital then Tara attacks her post-match. Oh and that Jersey Shore rip off I want to see gone gets to beat Amazing Red. Team 3D wants one last title match, after which they will retire. I hope they manage to put on a good final match. I hope they put over the Guns then I hope they stay retired.
The RDV/Sabu v. Beer Money match doesn’t last long before Sabu brings a chair in the ring and accidentally throws it in RVD’s face. 1) He hit RVD 2) Had he hit his target they would have been disqualified anyway. RVD goes after Sabu and EV 2.0 has to pull them apart. Anderson gets a Fortune beat down before the match. They drag him to the ring, not technically interfering because the match has not started yet. Kazarian almost wins before Anderson recovers. Anderson wrestles the match one-handed and still manages to keep it entertaining. Then they make a big mistake. Anderson brings out a ladder. Now I watched the very first Ultimate X match, which Kazarian won 7 years ago, and there was one rule: No ladders. Now they forget all about that? There is no point whatsoever in an Ultimate X match if ladders can be used. Real fans care about the details. Now, perhaps he would have been disqualified had he succeeded, we’ll never know. Fortune runs in and destroys Anderson before he can get the X and Matt Morgan just puts Kazarian on his shoulders and he claims the win that way. Anderson gets a steel pipe and chases off Fortune, only to be ambushed by Jeff Hardy with a steel chair. If you like a little blood in your wrestling then TNA trumps WWE hands down.
The finish is Flair and Bischoff heading off to go clubbing together, but Kurt Angle, pipe in one hand, the other in a sling, trashes their limo. This was actually a pretty good show. Yes, there was a lot of crap I’d prefer not to see, but unlike last week it seemed to all come together. Could the common denominator in TNA booking good shows be leaving Hogan off camera?
Bragging Rights is sponsored by Smackdown vs RAW 2011. Would it be cynical to think this is the only reason they have this particular event? I happen to think WWE simply has too many Pay Per Views, with 3 in a six week span build up is going to suffer. Did we need Hell in the Cell? Wouldn’t it have been better to have two more weeks to build to Bragging Rights? I won’t be seeing the show so I don’t know how much it matters to me. I’m not agonizing over the fact that I’ll miss it.