Smackdown arrives on SyFy with a brand new opening theme and sequence. It’s actually a big improvement. The big show kicks off with Dolph Ziggler defending his title against MVP. Not exactly big name superstars to open with. Let’s hope the match is solid… It’s not. It is all a set-up for Nexus, minus Wade Barrett, to attack. Ziggler takes the initial attack leaving MVP alone in the ring. They do the surround and attack move, then beat MVP down for Gabriel’s 450 Splash. Big Show finally shows up. I know he was slow, but he was no help to MVP. And even a giant falls to a four on one assault. You know what that means, it’s time for John Cena. Maybe if people stopped coming out one at a time they’d have a better chance. Nexus is busy beating down Cena when Big Show returns with a steel chair and drives them off. Barrett is on TitanTron. He’s just here to recap the stipulations of the match on Sunday. Apparently, he’s a friend of the network head so he gets to pick matches. Nexus vs. Big Show five-on-one and John Cena versus Kane. And here I thought they might be putting the early focus on actual wrestling.
Oh great, Michael Cole is here. We have an Undertaker/CM Punk match tonight. We get an 8-Diva tag match. There’s a few decent moves, but Hornswoggle shows up to mess with LayCool so it’s hard to take the match seriously. WWE is actually plugging Mick Foley’s new book despite Foley being with TNA now. We’re in Oklahoma so Jack Swagger gets to celebrate homecoming. He’s got a guy in an Eagle mascot costume with him. I wonder if that is an enemy in disguise. He’s upset he didn’t get a parade. So, he’s moved to Texas. Instead of the eagle betraying Swagger, Edge shows up. Edge is on a campaign against stupidity in wrestling. He’s Don Quixote now? Edge decks the eagle and Swagger runs off. That leaves Edge to Spear the eagle. Is he supposed to be a face here or what?
Sick of Nexus? Tough. They are lumberjacks for Cena’s match later tonight. Their match with Show is quick. Since four of them beat down Show earlier why would he have a chance against five? As is, once they get Show off his feet, each Nexus member locks a hold on one limb, except Barrett who puts a choke hold on Show’s neck. Show passes out quickly and gets two post match 450 splashes.
Undertaker is looking more Old School in costuming as Paul Bearer and the urn join him for his match with CM Punk. It’s the best match of the night so far, but that’s not saying much. Undertaker wins, of course, with a Tombstone Piledriver. Next up is Alberto Del Rio, still as awesome as ever. He promises Rey Mysterio and his personal ring announcer brings out a Chihuahua in a mask. Cute dog. It even has a brace on one paw. Then it’s time for the real Rey to return. Rey tries to 619 Del Rio, but the ring announcer gets involved again. That let’s Del Rio escape. Rey takes his frustrations out on poor Ricardo. That’s twice now that non-wrestlers have taken beatings. Remember, don’t try this at home.
Randy Orton is here tonight too. He faces his old pupil, Cody Rhodes. The match has barely started when Orton lands his RKO finisher, only to be attacked by Sheamus. The beating lasts longer than the match and we have yet to have one good match all night. Even the main event isn’t given much time and it also ends inconclusively when the lumberjacks attack and Undertaker appears to attack Kane. The final focus is on the brawl through the stands between the two “brothers”. Taker comes out on top, with the urn motivating him. Will that give him the title Sunday? I think so.
TNA again has a problem with split focus. Sure, they’re pushing Bound for Glory, but now they have a big live show three days before it and they’re trying to push that just as hard. So, at that show, we’re going to see Ric Flair versus Mick Foley in a Last Man Standing Match. It’s WCW all over again. Giving away money matches for free. Their promo is awesome, but it’s nothing new. These two already had their long running feud out in WWE. Just like ECW had a revival already in WWE. TNA always striving for new things to copy.
Tonight Kurt Angle faces Abyss in a Steel Cage. The Pope, Kevin Nash and Sting continue to complain about WCW. So, at Bound for Glory, Jeff Jarrett, Samoa Joe and Hulk Hogan will face Sting, Nash and Dinero. Hulk Hogan, who is recovering from back surgery, which they have admitted on camera, is supposed to step in the ring in ten days?! Do they really think anyone is going to pay to see that? Tommy Dreamer actually scores a pinfall as he and Rhino beat Beer Money. Jay Lethal and Amazing Red traded the X Division title back and forth at some house shows; but other than mentioning it and a few still shots neither one is actually on the show. Has the X title been reduced to Xplosion fodder?
Generation Me beat Ink Inc, but the Tag champs get Chris Sabin’s stolen title back from the #1 contenders. We tease more troubles in the top ranks, as an off-screen, unheard phone call from Hogan shows he’s behind Angle while Eric Bischoff likes Ken Anderson. Where the heck is Jeff Hardy tonight? Is he selling the Abyss beating? Kurt bleeds a bucket in the main event and carries Abyss to a decent match for a change. We carry on to Reaction yet again as Kurt teases a Moonsault off the top of the cage, but doesn’t deliver. That’s probably for the best. Abyss takes Angle out but the ref goes down in the process. Ken Anderson comes to Kurt’s rescue. Abyss takes him down too, rips the cage door clean off and goes for Janice. Kurt recovers and manages to take it (her?) from him. The ref never recovers, we don’t get a winner and we just go off the air with Kurt standing there holding Janice. Lousy ending people. You have to watch a lot of Reaction to see that Kurt refuses to shake Ken Anderson’s hand after the show.
Also on for next week is a Battle Royal including every man on the Bound For Glory card. That’s twenty-five men. And the prize? $100,000. Nice to see inflation hasn’t driven wrestling prizes up too high in the face of the global economic downturn. By now, next week’s show looks almost as interesting as the PPV and I don’t have to pay for it. So what inspires me to spend money on the second show when I’ve already had my weekly fill with the free one?
So what’s the verdict for the week? Nothing terrible happened, but I feel like nothing great happened either. TNA had the better wrestling while WWE did a better job building to their PPV. So a mixed bag of a week. Will Hell in a Cell be worth paying for? I haven’t decided yet.