Usually, Smackdown isn’t a newsworthy show. It’s just a good wrestling show heavy on the matches and not as heavy on the angles. But come Mania time, Smackdown can be just as newsworthy and angle-worthy as Raw, in addition to having the strong wrestling. Last Friday’s show was really good in this way.
They were able to keep the intrigue alive of who Edge was going to challenge, as he teased spearing The Undertaker at the end of the show. He also went face to face with Chris Jericho, giving Chris Jericho the “how dare you?” for being happy that Edge was injured and unable to continue doing his childhood dream. Edge was in total babyface mode. CM Punk was also made strong as he danced with Jericho, Edge, and Taker in the main event segment.
The other intriguing angle from Smackdown was Dave Batista losing to Punk in the match to be the participant in the Smackdown Elimination Chamber. After showing footage of Batista attacking John Cena after Raw went off the air, Batista walked out of his match and was counted out, taking him out of the chamber match and adding more intrigue to the John Cena/Vince McMahon/Bret Hart storyline. Why did Batista opt out? Did Vince want him to opt out? We got a little bit of progression on Monday when Vince admitted that he paid Batista to attack Bret Hart, but it’s not yet transparent.
Now that both Elimination Chambers are set, here are the main events for the formerly known as No Way Out PPV.
WWE champion Sheamus vs. Triple H vs. Randy Orton vs. Ted DiBiase vs. John Cena vs. Kofi Kingston
World champion The Undertaker vs. Chris Jericho vs. CM Punk vs. John Morrison vs. R-Truth vs. Rey Mysterio
On Raw, there were three major angles that were the focus of the show, and two of them were well done. The third didn’t do all that much for me. Let’s start with that one. The Legacy break-up is something I’m looking forward to mostly because I love Cody Rhodes’ work and also because I really want to see if they think Ted DiBiase is the real deal. To me, Rhodes stands out more even though they usually book the son of The Million Dollar Man more strongly. But not on this night. Because Orton wanted to prove a couple of points, he booked himself with Cody and Ted Jr. with John Cena. Only one of those points was proven. Orton lost his match to Rhodes because he was transfixed on Sheamus’ whiteness in the lights and then Teddy was destroyed by Cena, which made no sense to me. Shouldn’t both of the former Team Priceless have looked good, and if they’re pushing DiBiase higher, shouldn’t he have at least looked best?
Shawn Michaels is only cementing his legend as one of the greatest WWE performers ever. He was tremendous in his role as the crazy guy whose obsession with beating The Undertaker is taking over his career. In pushing this storyline, they also put over The Miz and The Big Show at the same time, which meant that they could continue to get someone over (The Miz) while progressing one of the top storylines. Smart booking like that is rare it seems these days. It’s usually one or the other, and not both. I think I can get with ShowMiz for a while.
The only problem I had with the three-way match is that Punk and Luke Gallows were beaten seemingly easily, which showed that Raw is still better than Smackdown and ECW. Christian also lost to Sheamus in a good match that saw Sheamus get a nice victory. But there was definitely a pecking order involved here. Smackdown and ECW, welcome to Raw. Now leave after losing.
And lastly, how can you not like what they’re doing with Vince McMahon and Bret Hart. Though I still think this ends up as a tag team match, Vince vs. Bret seemed like a big deal. I was mesmerized with the end of Raw from Vince’s strut to his promo, to Cena’s slow starting and slow building promo which ended with a bang (which Jim Ross thought was money), to Bret Hart attacking Vince McMahon like I always thought he should’ve.
I think a tremendous segment on a future show would be Bret Hart telling Shawn Michaels that while he doesn’t need to prove to anyone how great he is, that if he wants that match with The Undertaker, he should do whatever he can to get it.
Will HBK get into the Smackdown chamber match somehow and cause Taker to lose his match? That seems like a logical way that we’re headed and it’s something I’d love to see.
Both Raw and Smackdown were money shows and this build to Mania is taking shape and looking great.