Faithful readers I have some news. I have received actual employment, a six-month contract. It’s good news for me but it means I have a lot less free time. So, effective now, I will no longer be covering NXT or TNA. For those who missed NXT, Jacob Novak went home and I totally agree. I’ll still be covering RAW, possibly later than normal, and Smackdown. I hope you’ll stick around as I recap and comment on the two biggest shows in pro wrestling.

We’re opening with the title match? Kane challenges Edge in a Last Man Standing Match. What I like about the match is how much of the arena they range over. There’s really little reason to keep a Last Man Standing Match inside the ring. Another interesting twist is if both men are counted out the match will restart. So no ties here. It’s also the type of match that suits Kane. He can hit a few big moves without having to chain anything together or go at a fast pace. Kane even looks like he can win. He hits a Chokeslam, he puts Edge through the announce desk, but when he brings chairs into play it backfires on him. A solo Con-chair-to to the knee is enough to keep Kane from standing and Edge retains.

We have a commercial, we come back and the Intercontinental Title is about to be defended. Wow, what a packed show it is tonight. It feels like all the ongoing feuds are being blown off tonight as Kofi Kingston gets another shot at Ziggler’s title. This is another good match between these two but the surprise is Kofi wins with a Crossbody. Not much of an aerial move but a title change on free TV is always something to write home about. Ziggler beats down Kofi and we may have a Dusty finish as Vickie orders an immediate rematch. Ziggler looks to regain the title easily… until Kofi hits Trouble in Paradise out of nowhere and Kofi retains. We’re 45 minutes into this show and there have been three title matches. A tease of Vickie and Dolph breaking out ends in ridiculous histrionics from Guerrero.

We’re going to have a #1 Contender’s match too?! And it’s Big Show versus Cody Rhodes versus Drew McIntyre. That’s disappointing actually, as there is no good winner there. Why is Vickie out here again? To add Dolph Ziggler to the match. This guy is working hard tonight. The Big Show gets to dominate like mad in the early going. The other three have to gang up to drive Show through a barrier to even have a chance. When Show gets back into it he’s suddenly assaulted by Wade Barrett. Is Wade moving to Smackdown? It would make sense. But even after the assault Show kicks out of two more finishers. But Ziggler realizes taking Show down will be too hard so he proposes an alliance with Rhodes only to backstab him with a Zig Zag to win the match and become #1 contender. Totally predictable as soon as Ziggler was added to the match.

There’s more Kelly Kelly/Drew McIntyre interactions as Michelle McCool beats Kelly but Drew drives off Lay-Cool during the post-match beatdown. I’m not feeling this storyline is helping Drew beyond keeping him on camera. He’s not a bad actor but what is the potential payoff here?

Ricardo Rodriguez doesn’t look dizzy after suffering the longest Helicopter Spin I have ever seen courtesy of Daniel Bryan on NXT. Del Rio vows to win the Royal Rumble and I would be very happy to see that. Up ‘til now the prevailing opinion was that Randy Orton would win the Royal Rumble but now that he’s set to face The Miz the field is wide open. HHH is a possibility.

The match has barely begun when Del Rio traps Mysterio in the Cross Armbreaker and forces him to submit, winning the first fall. Some more good wrestling and Del Rio goes for the Armbreaker again, but Rey is able to counter. It’s not long before Mysterio scores a pinfall and evens things up. Considering I’ve only ever seen one 2/3 falls match end in two falls (Ric Flair vs. Mick Foley during their WWE feud) I’m not at all surprised. But I’m actually rooting for Del Rio to score the last fall.

I don’t remember seeing Mysterio hit a Flying Headbutt before, in fact I’ve never seen a Flying Headbutt to a standing opponent before. Rey is going hard here. He may not be what he once was yet he remains one of the best fliers in WWE simply because he has free reign to do the moves he please. Mysterio tries for another top turnbuckle move but Del Rio shakes the ropes and Rey ends up in a Tree of Woe where Del Rio promptly Dropkicks him. More great back and forth, Mysterio hits a 619 in the corner and takes out both Del Rio and Rodriguez with a Plancha. But when Rey rolls Del Rio into the ring Roderiguez grabs Mysterio’s leg while hidden by the apron and Rey gets counted out. I’m glad Del Rio got the win but it wasn’t decisive enough that I feel this feud should be over. Cole seems to think it is and Rey at least gets some revenge against Rodriguez. We’ll see.

This was an amazing episode. Almost entirely wrestling with little fluff in between. 3 title matches, a 2/3 falls match and a good Fatal Fourway make this an episode you should try to see if you have any chance at all. It feels like we’ve cleared some dead weight by ending old feuds and we set up some new ones as well. I hope thay save Ziggler/Edge for the Royal Rumble. I bet those two can put on a decent match and the Rumble has always been a good place to give rising stars a title shot. The Rumble is the main event and Miz/Orton and Cena/Punk will both outshadow the Smackdown title match. So, with the pressure off, let Dolph get his shot. Plus Vickie and Edge have history so we could see that play a part in the build. I’m excited for where Smackdown is headed and very pleased with this show.

See you next week!