It’s hard to believe that another year has gone by. As we approach 2011 I’d like to share my thoughts on the good, the bad, and the ugly in my third annual Smackdown Year in Review!
2010 has been an up and down sort of year for wrestling. We’ve had some memorable moments like Shawn Michaels’s retirement and some moments we’d like to forget, like the entire NXT concept. Throughout it all Smackdown has once again been the most consistently good show every week for WWE. Yes, it’s taken a dip in quality these past few weeks but you can’t argue that the eleven months that preceded the Edge and Paul Bearer segments have been good.
So, without further adieu, let’s start handing out some awards…
Rookie of the Year: Alberto Del Rio
When I was watching those endless, boring segments over the summer introducing him I never thought he’d be getting this award. I didn’t think the character looked like a homerun based on those videos but I was wrong. He exploded onto the scene after Summerslam and immediately engaged himself in a feud with Rey Mysterio. From the moment he interrupted Mysterio and cut a promo on him I was intrigued. Then he showed up later in the night with Ricardo Rodriguez and put on a good match with Mysterio and I was completely sold. From there he’s been gold every week. This guy is the total package and I fully expect him to be a champion next year.
Best Bump of the Year: Jack Swagger gives Rey Mysterio a Gutwrench Powerbomb on the FLOOR!
This doesn’t really need an explanation. A regular powerbomb on the floor is sick but a Gutwrench Powerbomb is insane.
Best Diva of the Year: None Applicable
Yeah, I fully expect to get angry messages below for this but seriously, diva-wise, this show had nothing going for it all year. Lay-Cool started the year off annoying everyone by calling Mickie James fat and Lay-Cool is ending this year as annoying as ever. Aside from Lay-Cool there has been no dominant divas on Smackdown. Beth Phoenix was injured for half the year and the rest of the divas can’t work. There was no upside with the divas this year and from the looks of it, 2011 doesn’t look much better.
Biggest Loss of the Year: MVP
This was such a disgusting waste of talent. This guy had it all: the look, the talent, the mic skills, and the gimmick to make it all work. All that was missing was the heel turn. If he turned heel this year I think it would have been huge. Instead he stayed a weak face stuck in mid-card hell. Last year before he was moved to Raw I thought he was well on his way to that next step to main event status. Then he had a big first night on Raw before wasting away for the rest of the year. By the time he came back to Smackdown they seemed to not care about him anymore. All I know is they left a lot of money on the table by releasing him. Hopefully he gets another chance and they don’t waste it.
Honorable (or maybe dishonorable) mention goes to Kaval. I was floored by his release and they left some money on the table with him as well. That was complete and utter crap what happened with him. Another mention goes to Luke Gallows and Serena.
Best Finisher: Rey Mysterio’s 619
For the past two years I gave this award to the Undertaker’s Tombstone Piledriver so I figured it’s time for a change. I’ve always loved the 619 and I enjoy watching Mysterio perform it. There’s really not much more to say than that…
The Paul Bearer OHHH YESSSS Moment of the Year: Paul Bearer returns!
I love Paul Bearer and I don’t care who knows. There wasn’t a whole lot to get excited about in his most recent run so I figured I’d give a quick mention to the one highlight of it. That was, of course, his surprise return out of nowhere. Even if it was just for a short while it was good to see Paul Bearer on WWE Television once again. I just wish that they did more with him promo-wise. Watch some of his old school stuff on YouTube. I always get such a kick out of it, particularly that time he told Jerry Lawler how Kane was conceived. Absolutely hilarious!
Worst Feud of the Year: Edge vs. Kane
This picture pretty much says it all…
I thought the basis for Edge’s whole face turn was to rid WWE of ridiculousness. If that’s the case then how does he explain the month of vignettes he did with Paul Bearer? Talk about brutal on top of brutal. I admit that I thought it was funny when he was shoving brownies in Bearer’s ear and dumping chicken wings on him but then they kept it going for another four weeks. To add to the misery we had Kane crying over his kidnapped father and chasing dummies that always got destroyed. It did nothing except make Kane look like a complete and total buffoon after looking so dominating throughout the year. There was just no upside to this feud, especially since it ended with Paul Bearer’s demise, again. At least they had Edge go out and admit that this feud was a disaster when it was all said and done.
Best Feud of the Year: Undertaker vs. Kane
Kane has the rare distinction of being in the best and worst feuds of the year. Some people are going to read Undertaker vs. Kane and just remember the end of that feud with Paul Bearer shining the spotlight urn in Undertaker’s face and the lackluster Buried Alive Match. Yes, that would be enough to kill a mini-feud but I ask you to go back and remember everything that happened from the beginning after Memorial Day Weekend.
This was some of the best work of Kane’s career. It started with the Undertaker being taken out and Kane looking for the perpetrator. Kane tore through the entire Smackdown roster and we had some fun moments involving the S.E.S. and Jack Swagger’s father (oddly enough) along the way. We all knew in the end that it was going to be Kane but they completely saved it by having Kane talk about this being his plan for years. They then brought logic into this and used the many years of history they had together. I absolutely loved it and then they added Paul Bearer into the mix as well. Of course it didn’t end as well as I’d hoped it would but it still provided us with a summer’s worth of compelling television and that’s all you can really ask for.
Worst Moment of the Year: WWE tries to get the “SPEAR” chant over
I’ll admit that this one is an honorable mention but I’ve already talked about Edge and Paul Bearer enough. Oh wait… this involves Edge anyway. Damn! Anyway, does anyone remember how brutal this was heading into WrestleMania? They tried so hard to put it over but it just never worked or caught on. After a while of getting the crowd to chant the word it didn’t even sound like “spear” anymore. It’s not really a chant-worthy word. Thankfully they dropped that after a while but I hold that “Spear” chant personally responsible for Chris Jericho vs. Edge not living up to the full potential it could have.
Best Moment of the Year: Jack Swagger cashes in Money in the Bank on Chris Jericho
This was just a really cool surprise. The Money in the Bank concept is one of the best ideas WWE has had (match-wise) in the last ten years, in my opinion. It’s just cool because it can happen at any time when you least expect it. Five days after WrestleMania I definitely wasn’t expecting it to happen. I had figured that since Smackdown was taped they wouldn’t spoil the surprise on TV so they’d save it for a PPV. I was wrong and this was fun to cover. Sure, in retrospect the Jack Swagger title run was a bit disastrous but the beginning was really cool.
An honorable mention goes to the creepy rendition of “Happy Birthday” CM Punk sang to Rey Mysterio’s daughter.
Worst Episode of the Year: Smackdown’s Debut on the SyFy Channel
This episode wasn’t as bad as the pre-WrestleMania Smackdown but in terms of hype and opportunity this failed on an epic level. This was the big move to SyFy that they had been hyping for weeks and it was the first live Smackdown in years. There was ample opportunity and buzz surrounding the show. They had the opportunity to hit it out of the park but instead they overdid it with Raw wrestlers and the Nexus taking everyone out. Every “interpromotional” match featured a Raw wrestler handily defeating a Smackdown wrestler. Even the Big Show got taken out and embarrassed! What incentive would a regular viewer of the show have to tune in the next week when the main guys on the roster got beat so easily on the debut episode? The show was just a mess and a huge disappointment considering what it could have been.
Click here for my recap of the show.
Best Episode of the Year: June 25, 2010 in Manchester, NH
I don’t think I’ve seen a better episode of wrestling than this all year. For some reason I just never forgot about this episode or how good it was. It featured the continuation of feuds, Cody Rhodes debuting his narcissist gimmick, and two excellent knock down, drag out brawls. It even had some unintentional comedy at the end of it when CM Punk ran out of the arena sweating and in his wrestling gear. I thought he looked like the greased up deaf guy from Family Guy. This was my favorite Smackdown of the year and since I remember it more clearly than any other episode I’m putting it as the best episode.
An honorable mention goes to the New Years Day episode of Smackdown (which I attended). That featured some excellent wrestling c/o the Beat the Clock Challenge. Another mention goes to the January 29 edition that featured Shawn Michaels taking on Rey Mysterio.
Click here for my recap of the show.
Worst Match of the Year: Anything involving the divas
I’m sorry. I don’t mean to hate on the divas but, again, they’re brutal in the ring. For almost the entire year Michelle McCool was the only diva on the roster that could actually work. Half the year we were treated to the same tag match over and over again between Lay-Cool and Kelly Kelly and Tiffany. It was just nightmare match after nightmare match and then more of the same. For some reason WWE feels the need to insert them into every episode despite having almost no diva talent on the roster. I guess they feel like every show needs a piss break but then what do they think the commercial breaks are for?
Best Match of the Year: Edge vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Alberto Del Rio *** 1/4
This was just an awesome match. The wrestling was excellent, the spots were set up and executed well, and the drama was through the roof. It looked like anyone could win the match but Edge came out on top. This match was to determine the number one contender for the World Heavyweight Championship at Survivor Series so this was the match that set up Edge vs. Kane. I won’t disqualify it based on that fact, though. If you can find this on WWE.com or YouTube I’d suggest watching it in its entirety. I thought about posting the entire recap of the match here but this review is long enough already. Here’s the link if you’d like to check it out.
On a side note I only rated four matches this year *** or higher. I rate my matches out of four stars in case you were wondering. Honorable mentions go to Shawn Michaels vs. Rey Mysterio (***), Rey Mysterio vs. Jack Swagger 2-out-of-3 Falls (***), and Kofi Kingston vs. Jack Swagger (***1/4).
The Great Khali Award (Worst Superstar of the Year): Drew McIntyre
Ok, I gave him his year and he still hasn’t proven anything. What in the world are they doing with Drew McIntyre? The guy had a rocket to the top shoved up his ass from the beginning. He had the public endorsement from McMahon, he won the Intercontinental Title, and he had an undefeated streak that went on for a while. Yet after all that hype and shoving him down our throats he has yet to get over with the crowd. It’s painful to watch him make his entrance and hear crickets. Speaking of which, that entrance may be partly to blame. That music and entrance has everyone asleep even before he starts to talk or wrestle. I think he’d go a long way if they just change the entrance first. A heel is supposed to make people angry and pay to watch him get beat up, not put them to sleep. Hopefully they make the changes necessary to get him over but I think it may be too late.
Best Superstar(s) of the Year: Rey Mysterio & Kane
Yeah, I cheesed out and made this a tie but let me explain why. Kane has the tremendous mic skills that can hold a feud together all summer but doesn’t wrestle well and Rey Mysterio has the wrestling ability to get himself over but can’t really talk. Combined they’d make one hell of a superstar so that’s why I’m awarding it to them both.
I’ve already spoken highly about what Kane did over the summer with his promo work on the Undertaker feud. The guy was just money on the microphone for a good portion of the year and it led him to the World Heavyweight Championship. The last time he held a World Championship it was 1998 so he was long overdue. Unfortunately we forgot we’d have to watch him defend it but that’s a different story. Kane had the wrestling world talking over the summer with all the stuff he was doing and it was a lot of fun to watch.
Rey Mysterio… what more can be said about him? Mysterio has been so good for the past year and a half it’s ridiculous. That feud with Chris Jericho last year started it all in my opinion. He’s been going better than I’ve seen since he debuted with the company in 2002. He’s not doing the stuff that he used to be able to do in his younger days but he makes it work. Mysterio can still put on an amazing match with anyone and make anyone look good. He even got a chance to hold the title again. The second reign wasn’t much better than the first one but at least he wasn’t jobbing at every given second. It was another excellent year of wrestling from him. He’s a great example of a guy not needing the best mic skills to get over. Sometimes all that needs to be said is in the ring.
E-Mail – MikeyT817@hotmail.com
Thanks for reading! Happy Holidays!