It’s the season premiere for Smackdown on the SyFy network in the United States, and it is indeed a live event. While it may not pack the intrigue of a “Who Shot J.R.” storyline (or even “Who fired good ol’ J.R.”), tonight’s show feels like a return to the spotlight for Smackdown with a host of Raw wrestlers in attendance and a final push for this weekend’s Hell in a Cell event.
Match #1 – MVP vs. Dolph Ziggler (C) (w/ Vickie Guerrero) – Intercontinental Title Match
So far so good for the new Smackdown, as the show opens with its new theme song, “Know Your Enemy” by Green Day. Green Day trumps Nickelback hands down. The crowd is jumping as the match starts; Ziggler attempts an early sleeper hold, but MVP escapes and counters with a pair of suplexes. Ziggler is then thrown out of the ring and the match is soon declared to be a no-contest because the Nexus descends as promised, minus Wade Barrett, and dismantle Ziggler on the outside before surrounding MVP inside the ring. MVP fights gamely, but can’t survive the numbers. Big Show enters the fray to slightly better success, but he is also beaten down. Finally, John Cena arrives and, together, he and Big Show manage to force the Nexus to back off. Barrett appears on the Titan Tron with Teddy Long, announcing that the Nexus have arranged some matches for later in the show.
Match is ruled a No-Contest
Match #2 – Michelle McCool (C), Layla, Maryse, & Alicia Fox vs. Nikki and Brie Bella, Kelly Kelly, and Natalya
In what hopefully proves to be a one-time event, Michael Cole returns to his Smackdown commentary role, joining Todd Grisham and Matt Striker. Early on, McCool breaks up a sharpshooter on Maryse, prompting a celebration outside the ring by Laycool. Layla is almost pulled under the ring by Hornswoggle, who emerges to chase her until he’s felled by a McCool boot to his face. Natalya re-applies the sharpshooter and Maryse submits.
Winners via submission: Nikki and Brie Bella, Kelly Kelly, and Natalya
Returning from the break, Jack Swagger has decorated the ring in an Oklahoman theme, and he comes to the ring with a regal cape, accompanied by his own mascot: the Swagger Soaring Eagle. He runs down Oklahoma and its people for not appreciating him, and announces that he has moved to Texas. Edge interrupts what would have been Swagger’s self-coronation as King of Oklahoma, with the former Rated-R Superstar (now rated PG-13, perhaps?) vowing to rid the WWE of all things stupid. He begins his quest by spearing the Swagger Soaring Eagle.
Dashing Cody Rhodes has a great tip on how to avoid embarrassing perspiration: apply anti-perspirant.
Match #3 – The Nexus (Wade Barrett, Michael Tarver, Justin Gabriel, Heath Slater, and David Otunga) vs. Big Show
All five members of the Nexus are in the ring at the same time, and they immediately charge Big Show into a corner. He fights back, able to throw a couple of them out of the ring, but Barrett stuns Big Show with a driving kick, and it goes downhill for Big Show from there. He ends up with all four limbs and his head caught in submission vices, forcing a referee’s decision.
Winner via decision: The Nexus
After the match is over, the inevitable Nexus beatdown continues. Justin Gabriel hits a 450 Splash, and then follows with a 443 Splash (just missing his final revolution).
Match #4 – The Undertaker (w/ Paul Bearer) vs. CM Punk
As noted by the announcers, this is a re-match from a few weeks back, but this time The Undertaker is unstoppable. Punk starts with a flurry of offense, but after suffering Old School, Snake Eyes, a chokeslam, and a Tombstone piledriver, The Undertaker completes a dominating victory.
Winner via pinfall: The Undertaker
Ricardo Rodriguez is on hand to introduce Alberto Del Rio, who makes a big deal about announcing Rey Mysterio down to the ring. Instead, Rodriguez comes down the ramp holding a chihuahua wearing a makeshift Mysterio mask. Apparently Rey didn’t see the humour, because he charges the ring. Del Rio escapes to the floor unharmed, but Mysterio catches Rodriguez with his 619.
Match #4 – Cody Rhodes (w/ Drew McIntyre) vs. Randy Orton (C) Non-Title Match
In this Legacy reunion, it’s easy to see the great divide between Orton, who has gone on to take the WWE Championship, and Rhodes, who is spending as much time preening as he is pinning these days. The match itself is quick as Orton plants Rhodes with a scoop slam, drives him down with his rope-leveraged DDT, and finishes him off with an RKO.
Winner via pinfall: Randy Orton
McIntyre attempts to come to Rhodes’ rescue, but receives an RKO himself for his efforts. Sheamus appears and attacks Orton from behind ahead of their match on Sunday, laying out the champ with his Brogue Kick.
The WWE, while never afraid to toot its own horn, nonetheless runs a well-deserved promo for the work it does with the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Most interestingly, their clips include Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan. Considering that Mick Foley’s latest book also received a mention earlier in the evening, could the WWE be entering a brave new world of non-partisan reporting style for wrestling news and history?
Match #5 – John Cena vs. Kane (C) – Non-Title Match, Lumberjack Match
With the Nexus surrounding the ring serving as lumberjacks, Kane takes the early advantage and tosses Cena out onto the floor. The result is sensible as the Nexus lays a beating on Cena before sending him back into the ring. Cena escapes a submission hold by Kane, and then dodges the champ’s attack off of the top rope. Cena hits two shoulder-blocks and hits the Five-Knuckle Shuffle, then Kane escapes the Attitude Adjustment followed quickly by Cena escaping a chokeslam. Kane ends up outside of the ring but Nexus does not attack him. No matter, Kane starts attacking them instead. Cena is also pulled out of the ring and he retreats up the ramp. Before he’s gone, the lights go out and Kane soon finds himself alone in the ring with The Undertaker and Paul Bearer. The Undertaker shows off more of his newly regained power and hits Kane with everything but the Tombstone, which Kane narrowly avoids before getting out of the ring.
Match is ruled a No-Contest
Dave Hillhouse is a screenwriter and teacher, and actually can’t even remember who shot J.R.