I have been absent from the reviewing game for a small chunk of time now. Elimination Chamber came to close, and while the product as a whole looked bright, Smackdown had failed to catch my interest. What started as me having to miss an episode became a reluctant avoidance of having to type about the dreary material that Smackdown was consisted of during the Road to WrestleMania. However, the new WWE season has begun, and with that comes an increased interest in making the B-Show worth watching. And, of course, my favorite current wrestler is now the World Heavyweight Champion. Needles to say, this is the first time I’ve been excited to watch, let alone review, an episode of Smackdown in months.

SPOILERS FOLLOW

Excuse me while I just GUSH here. This is a moment I have been waiting for 2 months after I started watching wrestling. Dolph Ziggler is a man who caught my attention from the first PPV back(NIght of Champions against Kofi Kingston, for the Intercontinental Championship, for those keeping count). So to say I am excited would be a massive understatement.

Now, we have Big E. victoriously introduce the NEW World Heavyweight Champion, Dolph Ziggler, as he comes out and finally delivers the promo he’s been waiting to show. This is the Dolph that has the ability to speak his mind, not be limited to what the script-writers want him to say. Even with a hoarse voice, you can hear the passion in his words. Even Jack Swagger, interrupting Ziggler’s triumphant speech alongside Zeb Coulter, can’t hold Ziggler back as he takes the moment to still show he has what it takes to be given a microphone. They progressively force more emotion out of him as he continues to be interrupted by Alberto Del Rio, who thinks he’s The Terminator, and Y2J, who might be closer to being The Terminator than Del Rio could ever hope to be…whatever that means.

I have gone on long enough, and we haven’t even moved past the first segment, so I’ll close this out saying this opening segment was quite the treat, very fun and entertaining…even if Del Rio has trouble coming up with any good catch-phrase.
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Primetime Players(Titus O’Neal & Darren Young) v Team Hell No(B. Dazzle & Kurly Kane)(N/A): Any time I see Daniel Bryan on my screen, I get excited for whatever he’s going to be involved with, and while this match was way shorter than it could have been, it was still exciting for the, oh, maybe 2 minutes it lasted? Yet, The Shield have essentially set their sights on Team Hell No, which leads one to think they will be making their way towards the Tag Team Championships. The idea alone sound like an intense, earth-shaking idea.

Perhaps I am exaggerating a bit here, but The Shield have immediately made waves in the WWE, comprised of three people who, combined, create an insane mass of talent. Having them battle Team Hell No, a team of stars who have made the belts seem like something worth attaining, puts the division over in a big way. Imagine…The Shield running rough-shod over WWE with many teams, and even solo stars, having difficulty in stopping them. Imagine how HUGE the team that can actually take the belts from them will be? Oh, the possibilities.
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Santino Marella v Wade Barrett(C): I am not sure what the point is here other than to let Barrett have someone fun to beat over. I have openly stated how much I love Santino before, but it’s become incredibly obvious that WWE have no desire to give the guy any kind of mean streak that would allow him to take his matches seriously enough to become a true wrestling star. He has a knack for comedy, but he truly is a talent in the ring, and it shows here. At least he can make Barrett look even better, not that Barrett necessarily needs it.
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Once we come back from commercials and boring video tributes to WWE’s many different experiences throughout WrestleMania weekend(it’s great that you inspire kids to read, guys. Now get it the hell off my television, already), we only get a brief interlude from the advert show with a preview of the Booker/Teddy saga. Tension is building between the two for something, and I dearly hope its to bring back Teddy Long as a heel manager, because he’s been getting smart with Book. Really, I’ll take anything as long as it doesn’t involve him taking control of Smackdown again.

Looks like we’ll be getting this back sooner rather than never!

Oh yeah, Sheamus and Orton are miffed because of how terribly booked their match against each other on RAW turned out to be, so they want rectification. Booker decides to placate both of them with a handicap match against The Big Show, who they both originally wanted to fight in the first place. Hmm…a big, angry Irishman and a tall, violent psychopath get to go against a large, fat, baby-like man in a beanie. Sounds about fair.
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The Bella Twins(Brie & Nikki) & Tamina v The Funkadactyls(Cameron & Naomi) & Kaitlyn(C-): Hey, guys! Look! It’s the Divas Champion! It seems like ages since we’ve even caught a glimpse of Kaitlyn. I know this is not true, but that’s just a strong example of how terribly they are handling this Diva division. Kaitlyn is playing second fiddle to a feud between Brodus Clay’s back-up dancers and two anorectic barbie dolls. Excuse my blunt-ness, but priorities have been blown for the women for years, as has self-respect.

Oh, I guess the match was OK considering it’s lack of relevance.
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Triple H finally shows his face after his victory over Bork Lazer at WrestleMania, and for some reason it sounds like someone is wearing Triple H’s skin and doing a rough impression of Triple H’s voice. By the time I have had enough of this awkward promo, a rarity for The Game, 3MB decide that making an impact against the COO would be a wise idea.

Because attacking authority figures totally worked for these guys

However, The Shield’s music hits(a bit frustrating, as it would be more shocking if they’d show up without the musical cue), and reminds everyone that such an act only works when you have decent booking behind you(just for you sticklers who think The Shield is being booked terribly, or “stale.” Look at any forums. People are saying this. With knowledge of how bad previous attempts like this turned out. It’s maddening). They don’t quite get to do much other than assault the Band to prove they are aligned with no one but The Shield, and then get scared off by Team Hell No for the second time of the week. So the question is…do Hell No go on to team up with The Undertaker or Triple H to take on The Shield, or is all this just a way of rushing us to the Tag Titles at Extreme Rules?
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Sheamus & Randy Orton v The Big Show(C-): Well…its purpose was to move forward a storyline. The proceedings were not outright boring, but they did not “dazzle” me. It was just a way to allow Big Show to walk out so there could not be any finality to the whole issue. Whatever the end game is with this hate triangle, it will come to some sort of conclusion, or at least move on to the next phase, in a Triple Threat match. It essentially writes itself, and it really reeks of a heel turn for Randy Orton. It’s been a necessary change. If Randy Orton can’t produce something worth watching after getting what he wants…I will lose all confidence in his career and abilities.
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Of course…I may have spoken too soon on the whole Sheamus/Orton/Big Show shenanigans, because moments after the match, Sheamus alluded to being satisfied with that chance at revenge, seconds before Mark Henry railroads him from behind(thank you, Austin Aries). I am not too sure what purpose Mark Henry would have for picking a fight with Sheamus, but this is a feud that never came to its proper conclusion a year ago…let’s see where this leads.
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Antonio Cesaro v Kofi Kingston(C+): The trend of champions being void of significance continues with Antonio Cesaro. Only months ago, it seemed like they were taking him higher and pushing him as one of their premier stars. While his promos were not ALWAYS successful, his matches were getting big reactions, and giving him regular TV Time and competitive matches is kind of a key aspect of that. Now, it seems like he has not won a single match in over a month, and that is a terrible position for a champion. Putting him on the back-burner is one thing, but booking him in situations where he has to lose on a regular basis is mindless. It has no purpose.

Even though he loses here, the match is still worth a watch, as are most Cesaro matches. Plus, he and Kofi have some chemistry.
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Dolph Ziggler v Chris Jericho(C+): It’s time for Dolph and Y2J to sell the wrestling-side of this show. Well…that’s what I was hoping for, but unfortunately, between the commercial breaks and the constant focus on Fandango, this match never kicked into the gear of AWESOME.

No, Miz…not you.

Seriously, with only 7 minutes on-air time for the match, it just couldn’t become more than a decent TV match, and that is pretty upsetting considering I’ve seen these guys do so much better. Perhaps if it were more of a big deal rather than a vessel to the feud between Fandango and Chris Jericho. Speaking of which, Fandango takes Jericho’s weakened state following the match as an opportunity to make his lasting mark, particularly in attempting to concuss The Ayatollah of Rock ‘n Rollah! The crowd reacts so well to Fandango every time he comes out, and now that he’s got this popular chant behind him –

– There’s nothing stopping him from becoming one of the best performers that’s ever graced a WWE Ring. I never doubted Johnny Curtis ever since he got “weird”.

By the way…Dolph Ziggler is STILL your World Heavyweight Champion.

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Perhaps it was not as great as I would have hoped, but hey: I got to hear Ziggler cut a World Champion promo, we had a decent crowd, and Fandango is continuing to solidify his place as a star. I can’t complain too much, can I?

-Julius Johnson(@aPsychoSoldier)

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