SmackDown Report – August 10, 2007 from Youngstown, Ohio (taped August 7)
SmackDown opens with a bang from Youngstown. That means no backstage plots, plans or doings, we go right to the ring with Batista opening the show. Looking up!
Batista vs Domino
Domino is accompanied by his tag team partner, Deuce, and Deuce’s girlfriend, Cherry. Batista eyes them all, looking concerned, but his opening moves show he has little to worry about. A spear to the corner, his famous shoulder blocks to the midsection, an avalanche in the opposite corner, a knee to the gut following a whip and a short-arm clothesline leave Domino checking his dental work. Two more short-arm clotheslines and you wonder how Domino is still in this. Keep wondering because Batista delivers yet another. Domino tries to fight back with a couple of ineffectual gut shots but Batista is still in control and a suplex deposits Domino on the canvas. A two count and Domino kicks out. After a whip to the ropes, Domino kicks Batista in the gut and jumps up with a knee to the head, but he’s stopped in his tracks as Batista packages him up and delivers a sidewalk slam. Batista sets him up for the Batista Bomb but Domino bails for the ropes and into the comforting arms of his sidekicks. When he gets back in, Domino looks pretty aggressive but it isn’t enough for Batista. Cherry tries some ringside distraction and Domino exits the ring with Batista in pursuit. Outside, things don’t go as Domino probably planned and his partner Deuce, as well as himself, are taken down by Batista’s clotheslines. Batista deposits Domino back in the ring and takes him down with a spear. The Batista Bomb is finally launched and the three count is pounded out.
After the bell, Deuce tries to attack Batista with the belt and receives a spinebuster and a Batista Bomb as a reward. Crowd loves it all and Batista stalks the ring, littered with the remains of Deuce and Domino while Cherry wonders how she’s going to clean up the mess.
From backstage Khali and his translator remind Batista what Khali can do – and a clip of him destroying Flair on last week’s show follows. Khali, through his translator, says he’ll do the same to Batista at Summerslam.
Promo for Chuck Palumbo. Doesn’t appear on the show, but he gets a promo. Hmmmmm.
Rey Mysterio is introduced and the crowd goes over the top. You sort of wonder why Mysterio would be making his return in Youngstown, Ohio and it turns out to be Chavo in a bad Rey Mysterio disguise. Many of the fans are fooled however, but only for a moment. They catch on when Chavo tries to imitate Mysterio’s voice. The crowd clearly hates this, pretty much dead during Chavo/Mysterio’s endless speech, invoking the “I Quit’ match again to put Chavo over. Eugene appears, unsure of exactly who is in the ring, and the next match gets underway with Chavo still in disguise.
Chavo Guerrero vs Eugene
Pretty standard stuff here and it doesn’t really get a spark until Eugene is deposited on the ropes, in the fashion of Mysterio victims who are being set up for the 619 move. Guerrero goes for it but pratfalls through the ropes as he attempts it. It isn’t the most creative idea in the world but it works – as most pratfalls do. Chavo hits the floor and the crowd cracks up. The thing is, the 619 move can’t be that hard to do, but it’s oversold with the fans and everyone believes it’s a huge acrobatic, powerful feat. Chavo is upset and unmasks himself but it appears that Eugene is equally upset at being “fooled” and he works Chavo over with a series of Chavo’s own moves, including the “Three Amigos.” Eugene attempts another Guerrero move, the frogsplash, but misses. Chavo delivers his own frogsplash and it’s over.
Winner: Chavo Guerrero
Backstage we get the inimitable Victoria, being made up for her match and making out with Kenny Dykstra at the same time, until they’re interrupted by Michelle McCool. McCool mouths off at them and Victoria says “at least I’ve got a man.” McCool, who “loves life” as you remember, says “why have one man when you can have them all?” As backstage segments go, they are always a treat when Victoria is involved.
Fantastic promo for John Cena vs Randy Orton at Summerslam.
An interminably long “Raw Rebound” of Vince McMahon’s return appearance on Raw last Monday. No wonder ratings are down.
Mark Henry vs Sterling Keenan
Squash via bearhug in minutes. Not much else to say week after week with these matches.
Winner: Mark Henry
“This is getting redundant,” says Henry himself post-match. Uh…yeah. A brief appearance by a druid-like character leaves Henry and the crowd somewhat silent as the segment ends.
Promo for Jesse and Festus. Moving on.
Victoria vs Torrie Wilson
Torrie, looking magnificent, comes to the ring with her sidekick, Jimmy Wang Yang. Victoria has Kenny Dykstra in tow. Some fine wrestling by these two ladies, who are always entertaining – in the ring or out of it. Torrie appears to be getting the best of Victoria until she’s ejected and Dykstra stalks her, getting taken down himself by Wang Yang. Victoria objects to it all and Torrie tries to roll her up, unsuccessfully. Victoria gets her in the Widow’s Peak, drills it out and gets the three count.
A post-match beatdown on Torrie by Victoria is interrupted by McCool, who makes the save and tosses Victoria from the ring, assisting Torrie out and letting Victoria know neither she nor Torrie should be messed with. Don’t they know Victoria “ain’t the lady to mess with?” Victoria spices up any match or sketch she’s in so bring her on every week, please.
MVP makes a backstage explanation regarding the “illness” that has kept him out of the ring. He’ll be back and he’ll challenge Matt Hardy to a competition. “Because, Matt Hardy, I am better than you.”
Matt Hardy vs Finlay
A lot of stare downs and overly long mat moves make this match very unexciting. Hardy is usually more of an active performer but here he seems to be taking a back seat to the more plodding, slow moves that Finlay controls. Several headlocks and you even hear the crowd catcalling when Hardy is in control at one point. Hardy tries some forearms and headslams into the corner followed by another clothesline and there’s finally some action. Finlay takes over and receives a punch and a whip and walks right into an elbow – the kind of move that you know is real. Even the sound of it was painful. Finlay has to recover and the ref holds Hardy off. The crowd starts getting agitated as Finlay insists on more recovery time. Whether Finlay was faking it or not, he begins pounding on Hardy, taking him down with his entire bag of tricks. Finlay walks into a boot and an elbow drop to the back of the neck and Hardy gets another headlock on him. Whip, shoulder block and Finlay goes down with a clothesline. A bulldog and Hardy goes for a cover. Finlay ejects him from the ring, looking for recovery time. A low dropkick through the ropes sends the returning Hardy back to the floor. Finlay goes outside and tries to slam Hardy’s head to the apron, but Hardy blocks it and Finlay’s head goes in. Hardy is shoved shoulder-first to the ring post and Hardy begins cradling it. Finlay then goes for endless work on the shoulder and appears to be getting the best of Hardy. This segment goes on forever and you can sense the crowd losing interest. Hardy finally comes back with a shoulder block that shakes Finlay – how he did it with his tender shoulder is another matter. Finlay isn’t stopped however, and we go on for another long, long segment of torture to Hardy’s shoulder. Matt Hardy makes a one-arm comeback – miraculously – and drops his famous elbow onto Finlay. With one arm, Hardy somehow pulls off a sidewalk slam and this match is getting close to the kind of thing that is no longer plausible. Finlay is again back in control and it’s time for the inevitable appearance of Hornswoggle. Finlay brings him into the ring, but Jamie Noble appears to halt the proceedings, dragging Hornswoggle out of the ring. Finlay interrupts it all and Hornswoggle heads to the back with Noble in pursuit. Finlay is distracted, looking concerned about Hornswoggle and Hardy attempts the Twist of Fate but Finlay escapes the ring and heads to the back. He’s counted out and the match goes to Hardy. With Finlay’s connections to the creative process, it’s noticeable that he doesn’t go under to the Twist of Fate like all other Hardy opponents.
Winner: Matt Hardy
The crowd wasn’t too responsive to a lot of this match and it didn’t seem to generate the kind of excitement that is expected from Hardy’s appearance. It may have been the overabundance of mat moves, but overall, it still was not a high point of the card.
Noble is backstage looking for Hornswoggle and he encounters Moore and Funaki who poke fun at him. Finlay appears, telling Noble not to lay his hands on Hornswoggle. Noble claims it’s three against one and Finlay should watch his step. Funaki and Moore object just as Finlay slaps a drink out of Moore’s hand and it goes all over Kane. Finlay receives a beating for this and Kane, dripping with soda, heads to the ring. “I wouldn’t want to be Kane’s opponent,” says JBL and we know we’ll be getting a squash. Pretty basic stuff, these match setups.
Kane vs Sylvan
Why Sylvan isn’t used more often is a mystery. He has great ring presence and can sell himself beautifully. After some introductory comments in his native French language, a disrespectful JBL scoffs, telling us he just surrendered. Kane’s music begins and we have what is not much more than squash. Another waste of a talented wrestler in Sylvan, although he sells his loss beautifully with some fantastic, scripted falls. JBL calls Kane the athletic one, but Kane’s efforts pale in comparison to the athleticism Sylvan gives us on the receiving end of Kane’s punishment. The WWE needs good help with all the injuries plaguing the roster, so why waste someone like Sylvan in a match like this? Kane certainly doesn’t need the build up.
Post match, Finlay appears with the shillelagh and attacks Kane. A posse of refs finally call him off but the damage is done. Finlay exits hesitantly with Kane writhing on the mat.
Backstage segment with Teddy Long and Vickie talking about the upcoming wedding. Vickie has an early wedding gift for Teddy Long. I won’t go into it here. Let’s just say that this kind of topic probably doesn’t belong on a show that is directed at such a wide audience.
Masterlock Challenge – Chris Masters
Masters generates some great heel heat as he issues an open Masterlock Challenge to the crowd. He has a sleeping crowd responding to him as he works the ringside area looking for potential victims. Not only does Masters look the part, he has the acting chops to sell himself. He finally sets his sights on a guy sitting ringside. “Are you staring a hole through me?” A rather angry-looking man enters the ring and Masters sizes him up, getting some statements from him regarding his football and wrestling background. Masters scoffs beautifully, “Anything else to add to your credentials, huh?” The delivery is priceless. The man responds, “I was convicted of manslaughter and just got out of prison.” What this has to do with a test of strength is beyond me. Masters deserves a lot of credit for successfully carrying off the creative team’s predictable and basic “material” here. It isn’t easy to sell this stuff, but Masters does it well. He rejects the first guy (“I don’t want to embarrass you in front of your family”) and goes on to choose another man who is “right here from Youngstown, Ohio.” Masters gives him a pre-masterlock pec bounce and then he finishes him off with the Masterlock.
Winner: Chris Masters
Ascending the corners, Masters caps off the challenge with some pec bouncing, a few winks of confidence and a knowing grin thrown in for good measure. A great heel he is. Let’s hope the creative team can come up with some better material for him. If Masters can shine with this kind of rudimentary stuff, imagine what he can do with some brilliant scripting.
Flair and Batista are backstage, Flair going on about how he’s encountered the “Claw” before. Flair claims he going to find Khali’s “weak link.” Flair is selling it like crazy to Batista, who gives Flair a confident smile, one that changes to a look of concern as Flair head off to the ring.
Great Khali vs Ric Flair
Flair is diminutive compared to Khali and you wonder how these two can even lock up to begin this match. They do, however, and Flair goes right for his chops but Khali simply chops him down in return. You can see the look of concern on Flair’s face but he gamely works up more chops to Khali, and even a few questionable moves to try and gain the upper hand, if that’s even possible. Flair unwisely goes for the overly confident strut at one point and he walks right into Khali’s claw. Khali makes a big dramatic event of pushing Flair down into the mat for the pinfall, which he could probably have gotten in far less time than it took. This one didn’t last long.
Winner: Great Khali
Batista runs in to make the save on Flair and attempts a Batista Bomb, which gets the crowd on their feet. Khali upsets his plans and plants a claw on Batista that Batista sells even better than Flair. In close-up, it’s riveting. You can see him slowly going out and Khali finally leaves him out cold on the mat.
Nine weeks into the new roster and I feel like we have a good group of people, but somehow the excitement level isn’t remaining up to par for the whole show. Rather than make changes within the rosters themselves, I think the WWE needs to start looking backstage at the administrative end of things. The performers have the ability to make a success of the show, but they need to be given the raw material with which to do it.