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October 24, 2009

Team gets a makeover on Smackdown

Goodbye Dolph Ziggler, Drew McIntyre, Eric Escobar and Cryme Tyme. Hello Matt Hardy, R-Truth, Finlay and The Hart Dynasty.

The Smackdown team led by Chris Jericho and Kane got what most would consider an upgrade on Smackdown Friday night, as the latter five defeated the original team members in a five-on-four match (Shad Gaspard of Cryme Tyme was ill and did not wrestle).

It’s unfortunate that Ziggler will not participate in the Raw vs. Smackdown match at Sunday’s Bragging Rights pay-per-view, and it’s also a tough break for McIntyre and Escobar, who could have used the rub. However, I am glad that R-Truth and The Hart Dynasty are in the match, and the popular Matt Hardy, of course, deserves to be on the team. As for Finlay, I’d certainly rather have Ziggler.

It’s interesting to say the least that WWE decided to change the lineup the week of the pay-per-view. I have a hard time believing this is what they intended to do from the start, and it now makes those qualifying matches seem like a complete waste of time. If WWE came to the conclusion that newcomers McIntyre and Escobar made the Smackdown team look weak going up against a Raw squad consisting of DX, The Big Show, Mark Henry, Kofi Kingston, Jack Swagger and Cody Rhodes, why didn’t they realize that when they put the team together?

The whole concept of a brand vs. brand match is flawed anyway because there is nothing really at stake. Pride in their respective brands is the best WWE has come up with for the wrestlers’ motivation, but that’s weak since the wrestlers go back and forth between the shows so frequently that they couldn’t possibly feel any sense of loyalty.

Other thoughts on Friday’s show:

The Undertaker-CM Punk Submission Match for the world heavyweight title was somewhat compelling. I knew there was very little chance that The Undertaker would lose, but since the “fix was in,” I was interested to see how Undertaker would overcome the deck being stacked against him. The way it played out was pretty clever. After The Undertaker choke-slammed crooked referee Scott Armstrong, Punk caught “The Dead Man” in the Anaconda Vice. By the time a second referee had made it into the ring, however, Undertaker had escaped and secured Hell’s Gate on Punk, who quickly tapped. ...

It is now obvious – if it wasn’t already – that Vince McMahon was behind the plot to screw The Undertaker, and general manager Teddy Long was merely an unwilling accomplice. I’m not sure where this is leading, but I hope it’s not to an Undertaker-McMahon feud. That’s already been done. ...

Armstrong’s acting was really good when he was faced with the dilemma of doing what was right or saving his job and doing what was best for his family. It was a nice touch when McMahon insinuated that a spot in the WWE Hall of Fame for Armstrong’s father, “Bullet” Bob Armstrong, was at stake. ...

It was really weird seeing The Hart Dynasty hugging Hardy, R-Truth and Finlay after their victory. I know that they’re on the same side for now, but the hugging was a little much. A cautious handshake would have sufficed. ...

The tag team match in which Batista and Rey Mysterio defeated Jericho and Kane was good. I thought I was seeing things when Kane did the job instead of Jericho. ...

I almost fell out of my chair laughing when Jericho said, “Every time I step in the ring, I win.” His best line was when he referred to the fans as “germ incubators.” ...

It was a good night for Mickie James. She scored a victory over Layla in a decent match, and also handled herself well in a backstage confrontation with Michelle McCool. ...

And speaking of backstage confrontations with McCool, I marked out when everyone’s favorite octogenarian Mae Young slapped McCool across the face.

Posted by Kevin Eck at 4:35 PM | | Comments (22)


Absolutely agree on the brand loyalty thing.

If WWE really wanted to promote that the wrestlers are loyal to a brand, they should have spent the last few weeks playing that out.

Have Smackdown wrestlers defend one of their own (even if they're on the opposite side of the face/heel line) against an attack from Raw wrestlers.

Do midcard matches between the brands on the weekly television shows to accentuate the bragging rights concept.

A lot more could have been done to promote the concept of this pay per view.

Instead of trying to think of new gimmicks to get a PPV to sale the WWE needs to realize that most of the fans have became kinda desensitized to TLC or Hell in Cell matches and are actually shocked and happy when a PPV match is just a regular match with no type of silly stipulation. The brand pride thing was thrown together too quickly for anyone to care about it. The fact that they have to have all these dumb gimmicks to liven up a show is just a sign that they aren't looking for guys who can actually wrestle but guys who look like they could wrestle and they can't even get that right because Escobar looks to be a little to jiggly for Vince's tastes. I couldn't help but notice his gut jiggling when he was wrestling.

It was really stupid of them to pull Ziggler from the match. He's over enough to look like a creditable part of Team Smackdown and him being in there would've pushed him that much further.

My problem again with the Taker-Punk match is that Punk was made to look just plain weak. Undertaker never even sold the Anaconda Vice - he just lied down there until the ref came in and then reversed it magically. Punk tapping again in 2 seconds isn't something I care to see.

"It is now obvious – if it wasn’t already – that Vince McMahon was behind the plot to screw The Undertaker...."


Awhile ago, when there was that rumor about Bret Hart returning to WWE, I thought that he would be revealed as the chief conspirator. Perhaps I misunderstood, but in a particular backstage discussion between McMahon and Punk, I thought that McMahon referred to the conspiracy as Punk's plan, and that Punk acted confused that McMahon would say such a thing. Granted, I hadn't come up with an explanation for why Hart would screw The Undertaker.

Going all the way back to Georgia Championship Wrestling I've always liked the Armstrongs. It say's something about the business being in your blood when in 2009 the highlight of a show is the facial expressions of a referee.

The McMahon-Undertaker feud will happen, Im not sure when, but it will end at WrestleMania when Undertaker is defeated by Drew McIntyre

For the 7 vs. 7 brand match, do you think having a #30 entry for the Royal Rumble on the line would spice it up? Whatever brand wins, the GM for that brand could use whoever they want on the roster to have the #30 slot into the rumble.

At least it would provide an end game of value to the match.

As it is right now, I don't plan to buy this PPV (the first time in a long time) because I have ZERO desire to pay to watch Orton and Cena wrestle for 60 minutes.

What I would like to see at Bragging Rights is Tiffany come out right before the 7 on 7 and say that ECW feels disrespected and as a brand GM she's changing the match to a three-way seven on seven. ECW team of Kozlov, Big Zeke, Regal, Shelton, Sheamus, Tommy and Christian.

I'd also like to see the Hart Dynasty get a huge rub with getting a load of offence in on HBK or HHH...

Once again I am sorry I bothered watching the WWE TV main event.
For one thing,the idea that a match could be "fixed" after the promoter has spent over 5 years now telling us that the match results are predetermined anyways and its all just entertainment fun,totally boggles the mind.Its like one of those old Saturday Evening Post covers by Norman Rockwell where somebody on the cover is reading that issue of the Post,so there are infinite repetitions of the cover.Might be a little bit metaphysical,but certainly stupid.
Not only that,but I've never seen the Taker do such a lousy job in the ring.At the end Punk had to put himself in the Hellsgate hold because the Taker missed it!No need for this because the hard cam showed it from the reverse angle on the replay and it didnt look so fake,but there was no need on a taped show to use the fake-looking shot.
Bah.Enjoy the PPV.

Well well, someone was using Just for Men for the main event tonight.

And now we see some balance. 4 faces 3 heels in Raw, 3 faces and 4 heels in SmackDown. And I agree with Kane: the new Bragging Rights team did a very good promo in my opinion.

Eck, I anxiously anticipate the Brand vs. Brand match in the same way I anticipate the NFL Pro Bowl. Not at all.

I'm always surprised at how much you disagree with the brand loyalty aspect of the ppvs. Athletes always want to win. That is what sports is about.. The ppv name says it all, it's about BRAGGING RIGHTS. You can brag that you were on the winning team from your show. If I was traded from Raw to Smackdown and then back to Raw. I would still want to win my match on my new Raw team. Why is this a poor concept?


It would be nice if the Smackdown guys who were cut loose to storm the winner of the 7 on 7.

I have a feeling we're going to see a double turn coming with the Hart Dynasty and Cryme Tyme.

And while it has no chance of happening, I'm hopeful that Ziggler takes Finlay's place on the SD team.

It's funny how they keep saying the 7 on 7 tag match will decide which is the better show. Like one brawl can decide which show has a consistently more compelling 2 hours of entertainment.

Perhaps, after beating up Bob Barker, Chris Jericho can lay out Morley Safer and Smackdown can say they are a better show than 60 Minutes.

"Undertaker never even sold the Anaconda Vice - he just lied down there until the ref came in and then reversed it magically. Punk tapping again in 2 seconds isn't something I care to see."


uhhh...perhaps i remember incorrectly but didnt punk hit taker with a couple chair shots, including one to the head, just prior to locking in the anaconda vice...therefore "knocking out" the undertaker?? how is someone thats supposed to be knocked out sell a submission? and isn't "vintage undertaker"(god i've become micheal cole!!) to suddenly sit up and be fully recovered?

My problem again with the Taker-Punk match is that Punk was made to look just plain weak. Undertaker never even sold the Anaconda Vice - he just lied down there until the ref came in and then reversed it magically. Punk tapping again in 2 seconds isn't something I care to see.

THANK you!!! That's exactly how I feel!

The other thing about that match is that he recovered way too quickly from those chair shots. Excuse me (oh great, this whole thing has got me turning into Vickie Guerrero), but I remember back in '97 when Taker defended his championship against Bret Hart with HBK as the special referee. In that match, it took Taker a long time to get out of the Sharpshooter as I recall, and it took only a single chair shot to knock him out for good.

I mean, c'mon, people get out of the Walls of Jericho all the time (and don't get me started on that), but at least it takes a lot of effort every time. Cena has never just effortlessly slipped out of the hold and locked Chris in his STF, for instance; he has dragged himself to the ropes bit by bit, all the while selling the move as being painful for him.

So yeah, Taker made Punk look bad.

I don't like how when somebody turns heel they suddenly lose whatever cojones they used to have and run away from people they have stood up to in the past, and how nobody ever taps out to them any more (other than Matt Hardy, that is). I know there are monster heels like Kozlov who aren't afraid of anybody, but they seem to be the exception rather than the rule, and I wish that weren't the case. Particularly when it's one of my favourite wrestlers who's turned heel, like CM Punk

hey do you think the raw v smackdown at ss a few years back was the way wwe should of built up this one.. after all that one was built up over the course of a few ppvs..

The only thing worse than a renewed Undertaker/Vince McMahon feud, would be the return of Vickie Guerrero as GM.

I like the new 7 on 7 match even though we know that raw is going to win most likely Truth getting pinned but atleast its am ore formible looking group instead of 3 totallyed green people who you know couldn't win. Is it me or are you tired of seeing VKM on SD for the first 10 years you might have saw him 1 or 2x a year. I think your right about Punk I like his persona vs. Hardy vs the way he's acting against Taker i love his old school coun-out finishes but i love the fact they he wanted to be the best legitimatly. It was great to see lady Taker get hers on SD.

Mickie vs Layla was a real good match, not great like the nearfall on Layla was kind of bad but other than that it was a fun match! Layla has come so far and Mickie, well I think people unfairly give her too much of a hard time, I'm biased though as I think she's the greatest haha. But was still a good match, no matter what you think of either of them.

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About Kevin Eck
The Baltimore Sun's Kevin Eck blogs about professional wrestling.
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