Segment 1.  Sheamus & Randy Orton vs. Team Rhodes Scholars, Part One.

  • No opening narration this week.
  • Cody’s line “You don’t deserve the story” was fucking gold.
  • If WWE gave a shit they could really do some awesome things with a tag team division.  That only happens in other Universes though apparently.  It certainly doesn’t happen in this one.
  • The sound guys got a little carried away with the dubbed-over crowd noise all night long and it started in this match.
  • The action was nothing special, but Sandow and Cody getting some mic time made this segment a win for me.

Last Word:  WIN!

Segment 2.  Sheamus & Orton def. Team Rhodes Scholars.  The Shield challenges them to a six-man tag match at WrestleMania.  Commercial for The Call featuring Halle Berry, David Otunga and Kane.

  • Ambrose and Rollins need to stop looking like they’re about to make out.  Can almost see it happening though considering Rollins only grew out that goatee because he was tired of being mistaken for Kaitlyn.
  • The interaction between the faces and Shield on the large screen was unspectacular but noteworthy since it sets up a ‘Mania match, the kind of thing you’d think might be reserved for Raw.  So in that sense, it was nice for Smackdown to be chosen for this “reveal.”
  • The commercial for The Call wasn’t snorting, knee-slappingly funny, but it did show Kane’s ability as an actor.  It’s a shame he doesn’t have the kind of look that lends itself to a variety of roles because I honestly think he could make a living at it.

Last Word:  WIN!

Segment 3.  Replay of Brock Lesnar’s attack on the New Age Outlaws and his answer to Triple H from Raw.  Orton & Sheamus backstage, reveal Ryback as their partner for ‘Mania.

  • The replay dominated this segment, as seemed to be the case throughout this show.
  • I understand the reason for the replays, but sometimes I think if they weren’t there, the show could be shortened, which would make it easier to get through.  I just watched Raw two nights ago on dvr like I’m sure other probably did.  We really didn’t need this replay.
  • Still feel like Ryback should be the one leading the charge against The Shield but I’ll say more on that later on.

Last Word:  MINUS!

Segment 4.  Layla & Kaitlyn def. Tamina & Aksana.  Bella Twins attack the Funkadactyls backstage.  Replay of CM Punk – Undertaker – Kane interaction from Raw.

  • A typical short divas match but the action was pretty damn stiff!  Or was that just me…? Oh well, either way I really enjoyed the match!
  • Kaitlyn busts out a Scorpion Death Drop!
  • The more I see Kaitlyn, the more I think WWE made the right call in going with her as Divas Champion.  She still seems pretty green, but she has the kind of moveset and personality that fans can get behind.  Wait…am I still talking about wrestling…?
  • In case you missed Raw this week, the Bella Twins are back!  And apparently, with a vengeance.  They attacked the Funkadactyls who were innocently watching the divas tag match backstage (with pom-poms in hand, I might add; no, not those pom-poms, ya perverts!).  Hoping this leads to a match of some kind because it will be nice to see what these girls can do in the ring besides bust their “bubbles”.
  • Despite my usual complaint about replays, the Punk-Taker-Kane one included, this segment gets a win for shining the spotlight so brightly on the woefully unutilized divas division.

Last Word:  WIN!

Segment 5.  Dolph Ziggler def. Kane.  Ricardo Rodriguez and Alberto Del Rio spoof video.  Chris Jericho – Jack Swagger backstage confrontation.

  • Yes, you read that correctly.  Dolph Ziggler actually won a match.  Not only did he win, but he basically won clean.  Not only did he win, and win clean, but he won by pinfall.  Not only did he win, and win clean, by pinfall, but it was in the center of the ring.  Not only did he win, and win clean, by pinfall, in the center of the ring, but he did it using his finishing move!  (which I had to Wikipedia because it’s been so long since he’s beaten anyone with it, I couldn’t remember what it was called or if it actually was his finisher)
  • When Ziggler is allowed to win, it shows you how good his stable can be.  My first thought when the match ended was that he and Big E Langston should be tag team champions.  It made me think of the Shawn Michaels-Diesel tag team which won the championship in 1994 that lead to both men eventually becoming WWF Champion.  There’s no reason why they couldn’t work a similar storyline with these two.
  • I’ll be honest, I didn’t watch Ricardo and ADR’s spoof video.  I’m sure it was moderately funny, and that’s exactly why I didn’t watch it.  I’m just glad ADR didn’t have a match on tonight’s show because he probably would’ve beaten somebody who doesn’t deserve to be beaten and frankly, I’m tired of that.  Smart move by WWE for keeping him off the show tonight.  Proving the theory that sometimes less is more.
  • I did watch Chris Jericho’s backstage segment with Jack Swagger and I’m sure whatever Ricardo and ADR did, Y2J was better.  I still don’t like the fact that I know he’s going to lose.  WWE has already made it clear that that’s why he’s been brought back.  But when he can shine in the moment, like he did here and in the main event match with Swagger, it’s a little easier to forgive his new role.

Last Word:  WIN!

Segment 6.  Fandango refuses to debut against Khali.

  • When I saw that this was going to be another Fandango refusal to debut I immediately thought they had gone to the well one too many times.
  • BUT — props to Johnny Curtis for making it work.  The way he talked to Khali and tried to get him to say his name…he owned that segment.  It wasn’t great, but I honestly don’t know how it could’ve been any better.  I still regret that there is so much WWE on tv that we’re being subjected to the same thing twice a week when it should only be once a week, but as long as Fandango can perform the way he did tonight, it’s not going to matter.
  • No, I haven’t lost my mind.  If you don’t undertanding why this gimmick is working, then you don’t understand wrestling.

Last Word:  WIN!

Segment 7.  Hype video for Rock vs. John Cena.  Matt Striker interviews Orton & Sheamus backstage.  The Shield attacks.

  • This segment was once again dominated by a hype video.  I just don’t think it’s necessary.
  • That being said, while the interview was nothing, the attack by the Shield was swift and surprisingly violent.  The faces took some tough bumps with Orton being rammed into a rollaway door a couple of times and Sheamus first being speared through a partition and then flung into a wall!  Props to these top guys allowing themselves to be manhandled by three guys who are essentially rookies.  Say what you will about Orton and Sheamus being top guys and not being willing to put people over, or being Triple H’s “teacher’s pets”, they gave their bodies to the Shield in this segment in order to get their opponents over and it worked.

Last Word:  WIN!

Segment 8.  Ryback vs. Mark Henry.  No contest due to interference by The Shield.  Henry takes advantage.

  • Why is Ryback always beaten up?  He’s got another black eye!
  • It seemed odd that this match was taking place on Smackdown when it seemed like the build-up was towards a WrestleMania showdown.  But it made sense after Big Show was passed on as Orton & Sheamus’ partner and Ryback was chosen instead.
  • I thought that at this point, there had been a little too much of the Shield for one show.  But the segment ended up doing more for Ryback and Mark Henry than it did for Rollins, Reigns and Ambrose.
  • Ryback fighting off the Shield’s initial assault was exactly what needed to happen for the sake of putting some much needed steam behind the wheels of his character, which had fallen kind of flat lately.
  • The only reason Shield is able to get the upper hand is because of a distraction by Henry, allowing Ryback to save face despite eating the triple power bomb.
  • Adding to the crowd sympathy for Ryback was Henry’s brutal assault afterwards, planting Ryback with THREE World’s Strongest Slams!
  • Hearing the crowd chant “Feed Me More!” as Henry stood over Ryback just made me hope that WWE realizes that Ryback is IT.  I don’t know how far the gimmick can go, but everything is there for this guy to carry the company.  Perhaps they’re going with the “slow build” but they’re notorious for waiting too long and failing to strike when the iron is hot.  With hindsight being 20/20, I think I would’ve started building Ryback up since Survivor Series to challenge for the WWE title at WrestleMania.  Not that it can’t be put off a little longer.  I would just hate to see that opportunity slip away completely.

Last Word:  WIN!

Segment 9.  Jack Swagger vs. Chris Jericho, Part One.

  • Jericho got some new ink.  That is all.

Last Word:  WIN!

Segment 10.  Swagger vs. Jericho, Part Two.

  • See below.

Last Word:  WIN!

Segment 11.  Swagger def. Jericho.

  • That’s right, a THREE SEGMENT MAIN EVENT!  Not that it was a five-star classic by any means, but I’ve got to give WWE credit for devoting so much time to the in-ring product.  That’s something you just don’t see often enough.
  • The match accomplished the purpose of making both guys look good, but Swagger look just a little bit better.
  • The finish made sense, but my only complaint is that I would like to have seen Swagger counter the Code Breaker by holding Jericho’s legs and turning it into the Patriot Act.  Still, it was a well-executed match.

Last Word:  WIN!

FINAL VERDICT:  This episode of WWE Smackdown is a WIN!

Chief Complaints:

  1. DON’T Pon de Replay.  As I’ve stated so many times already, there’s too much WWE on tv right now.  Things already run together as it is and fans have a hard time distinguishing which show things occurred on.  Devoting so much of Smackdown to replays of Raw just adds to that problem.  Smackdown is mercifully still two hours.  But it could be even shorter without losing anything important if these replays were just cut out.  I think it would increase viewership in the long run because you’re saving fans time.   Anytime you make something easier to digest, you make people more prone to eat it.  I don’t read spoilers, but I can see how someone who does would be more inclined to watch Smackdown even though they knew the outcomes, if it was only ninety minutes and they knew they wouldn’t have to sit through or fast forward replays of shit they just saw a few nights ago.

Points of Praise:

  1. Character Devolpment.  From Orton & Sheamus sacrificing themselves for the sake of The Shield.  To the divas making the most of their time.  To Mark Henry inducted Ryback into the Hall of Pain.  To all the time devoted to the main event.  Even FAHN-DAHN-GOOOOOOO!!!!  This Smackdown was all about establishing characters.  The ring action may not have been great, but it doesn’t always have to be in order to communicate a storyline or change the fans’ minds about a gimmick.

If this week’s review does anything, I hope it will encourage you to watch start giving Smackdown a try.  And watch it without reading the fucking spoilers.  You know they’re called spoilers for a reason, right?  Remember what it was like to just be a fan again and watch the show without the aid of a microscope and a fine-tooth comb.  I’ll be honest, I watched Raw on my dvr this week and got to two-hour mark before I fell asleep and haven’t gotten back to it yet.  I probably will eventually, but in my opinion, I’ve already seen the week’s best show in it’s entirety.  So give Smackdown a try and see if you won’t find watching Raw become less of a must, and more of a maybe.  It’s what WWE deserves anyway for expecting their fans to sit through a three-hour show every week.

That’s the last word for now, my fellow Americans.  Until next time, discuss!

[You can find more of “Handsome” Dan’s ramblings on his personal wrestling blog, “Handsome” Dan’s Last Word.  Follow him on Twitter, @DansLastWord.]