To anyone who has been reading my column lately, it's been pretty obvious that I've been digging Smackdown.  For someone who enjoys wrestling, Smackdown is a programming that cuts the fat and gives you in ring action.  Now, I'm someone who enjoys a good promo or angle, but there is a lot more room for error with a greater volume of backstage segments and skits.  It's obvious that Raw is willing to take those risks, but for the wrestling purist who is turned off by 2 minutes of comedy on Raw, Smackdown is certainly a better program for that crowd.  Unfortunately, right now, Smackdown has but one match at Extreme Rules, and it's not for the World Heavyweight title.  On Raw, Randy Orton was given #1 contendership to Smackdown's title, which essentially ripped that privelege away from the feuding Chris Jericho and Edge.  This issue would be at the core of Smackdown, but lots of wrestling and the furtherance of a few other stories would also take us through the night.  Let's recap how it went.

As expected, Chris Jericho was out first.  No surprise to see that he was not happy with Orton getting #1 contendership when he still had a rematch clause in his pocket.  The brash superstar went as far as saying Teddy Long should step down or be fired for letting that happen.  To be honest, I'd probably agree.  After the double countout last week, I fully expected a triple threat to be announced, but we got nothing.  Thus, those late to the party get warm drinks and ugly women, or in this case, no title shot.  Of course, Edge disagreed that Jericho even deserved that shot, so he came out to debate Jericho.  He claimed that Jericho's ribs which have been the target of Edge's spears would prevent him from beating Swagger, so Edge should be the one facing Swagger.  This all led to Teddy Long coming out and overusing the word playa, but deciding that both men would get a title shot.........tonight!  I predicted that to be the Extreme Rules match, so to get it on Smackdown is a true TV treat.  If that doesn't make you want to stay around for the main event, I don't know what will. 

Of course, we had to get through the rest of the show before that huge main event, so we first got Drew McIntyre against Kane.  Before the match, McIntyre cut a promo about how great he is and how he doesn't like the fans.  Not his best work on the mic, and I think that aspect is holding him back from the main event at this point.  Compare Drew to another fast riser in Sheamus and the obvious difference (other than hair color and paleness) is mic skills, which Sheamus is clearly superior at this ponit.  If Drew can develop himself more as a personality, big things are in store for him.  As for the match, it was short.  Drew rolled out to avoid a chokeslam and tried to head backstage, but Matt Hardy came from behind and threw him back in the ring, getting a disqualification, but leading to a chokeslam and furthered the Hardy/McIntyre feud.  For Matt Hardy's troubles, he got a chokeslam as well.  In a weird way, I was sort of glad to see Kane have no soul and just attack whoever he feels like.  That's who Kane needs to be, even as his career winds down.  As for Drew/Matt, I like the rivalry, but I'd like to see it get more heated.  Matt is a veteran who can put on solid matches and have solid feuds.  This is exactly the type of person that can make Drew look good, though I really like Matt, so I'd be rooting for him over the up and coming Scot.

Before commercial, we saw a short backstage segment which literally had Teddy Long explain to Swagger that he has to follow the rules because he is in charge.  I get that Swagger is and should be upset about having to defend his title against 2 men just 10 days before he defends it against Orton, but this segment was flat out stupid.  There's really nothing more I can say. 

Back in the ring, Dolph Ziggler took on R-Truth in the second bout of the night.  Before it got started, Ziggler had to publically apologize for assaulting Josh Matthews last week, and did so in such a condescending way that I was entertained by Ziggler on the mic for once.  I think he should take on more of an "I'll do what I want" attitude; it seems to fit him.  As for the match, Ziggler won again with that Sleeper hold.  They are really trying to get him and that move over.  I think this ultimately leads to a midcard title reign, and it actually seems he'll deserve it this time.  I love the move and he seems to put on solid matches.  For those upset that R-Truth got "buried", the dude is 39 and not part of the future of the WWE.  He's over enough to be an upper midcarder, but he's not winning anything and is better suited to put over the young heels that need pushing.  This job will keep him coming out and rapping while people mumble until the "what's up!" part. 

The next match, which got equal time to the prior 2 combined, was a women's match between Michelle McCool and the finally healthy Mickie James!  Mickie apparently now wrestles in a denim and suede ensemble, which I'm assuming is promoting her as a country girl to inadvertantly promote her country album.  Considering I'm from New York, I'm generally not into country or the culture, but Mickie looks good in pretty much anything.  She also looked good in the ring, showing off some solid moves early.  This was a pretty good match that lasted almost 10 minutes.  To anyone who thinks the Divas can't wrestle, you might want to find this match on youtube.  Of course, Mickie ended up losing due to interference from the "flawless" crew (what else is new?) and when McCool went to further humiliate Mickie after the match, Beth Phoenix came out, leading to commotion.  In the end, flawless retreated through the stands and Beth helped Mickie up.  It's a little odd to see given Mickie and Beth's history, but the played it off as being awkward enough to sell it to the average fan.  Since I'm not average, I'm going to critique it and say that they should watch Cena and Orton to see how former enemies with a common enemy should act. 

Interesting match next, as Darren Young teams with the Straight Edge Society to take on the Hart Dynasty and Rey Mysterio.  The formula on Smackdown seems to be that each match is preceded by a short promo or interacton, and this one featured Young and Gallows arguing before Punk broke it up to get them focused for the match.  It's a good think he did, because Gallows and Young sounded so scripted it's ridiculous.  Just dry delivery with no emotion from either man.  It was awful until CM Punk salvaged the whole thing.  Thankfully, he is awesome.  Speaking of awesome, The Miz was out to do commentary for the match, which is always a good thing.  The match ended up being really good, but I have to admit that I lost track of it at times due to Miz's commentary.  He was Jericho-eque on commentary, with such lines as "the dungeon is overrated and so is the Hart Dynasty" and "I was the heart attack that put HBK in the hospital and Undertaker just pulled the plug".  I also enjoyed Miz calling Todd Grisham a geek.  Unfortunately, this commentary was during a lengthy and high quality match, which ended with a 619 in the corner followed by a running powerslam by the son of the man who made it famous, DH Smith.  Huge crowd pop for that victory as the move reminded the Brits of their fallen hero.  As much as I was looking forward to the main event, the combination of solid wrestling and Miz commentary will make this part of the show tough to beat. 

The WWE, knowing that'd I'd be riding a high after that match, wisely gave a short backstage segment with Jericho talking to his rookie, Wade Barrett next.  If there's anyone I like as much as Miz right now, it's Jericho, and although this segment was short and basically pointless, it reminded me that Jericho could become a 7 time champion.  It slipped my mind that he's won the title 6 times already.  Quite an impressive resume for the man who holds the record for most Intercontinental title wins as well.  These facts perhaps caused Barrett to tell Jericho he is in awe of him.  Jericho says he should be and I can't say that I disagree. 

Decent match next between JTG and one of the Dudebusters.  Obviously, this match would serve to further then Cryme Tyme feud, and it did.  JTG won the match and was immediately attacked by Shad, though this time, JTG ended up getting the upper hand and Shad retreated.  I'm glad to see JTG fighting back, as he's kind of the one expected to fade into obscurity with this breakup, but he's the better wrestler, so if he can develop a personality outside of Cryme Tyme, he might have potential.  I wouldn't mind seeing him team with R-Truth actually, as they seem to have similar energy.  Unfortunately, we have to wait until this feud ends before any of that happens.  I hate that every tag team has to have one member turn on the other to get heat.  Is there no other way to break a team up?  It's not that Cryme Tyme's segments have been bad, but it's so overdone!  I just want to get their match so we can see them move on with their careers. 

We got a little backstage banter with Edge and Josh Matthews next.  Not sure what Josh Matthews' purpose was in this segment as he stood there like an idiot and just said "ok" at the end.  Josh has a lot of knowledge and does really well on NXT, so let's limit him to that.  He is a terrible interviewer and backstage personality.  Reason being, he has no personality in his face or body.  Stay behind the desk Josh, please!  As for Edge, he feels good about his chances tonight and he relates to Swagger because he too cashed in Money in the Bank in an opportunte time.  My feeling on Edge's comments....... DUH!! 

So we finally came to the main event match.  I'll say it again, this is a PPV quality matchup and delivered as such.  Though the ring entrances and introductions were too long for my liking, the match itself was fantastic, especially the last 5 minutes.  I absolutely loved the ending too, which saw Swagger win after a spear from Edge to Jericho.  Swagger saw an opportunity and pulled Edge out of the ring and pinned Jericho himself.  This is the perfect way to keep Swagger champion without making Edge or Jericho look too weak.  It makes Swagger look smart and savvy, while the other men looked to be the unfortunate victims of circumstance.  As such, Edge was a bigger victim.  After the pin, Swagger powerbombed Edge and walked away.  All the while, Jericho was recovering and finally, he attacked Edge as well, culminating in an attack on Edge's injured achilles which was slammed between the ring stairs and the ring itself.  I think it's clear at this piont that these men will get a match at Extreme Rules, and I'm positive that match, though not for a title, will possibly be the best match of the night. 

Yet again, Smackdown delivers with a quality show.  It might be formulaic in delivery, bu when your show presents quality wrestlers in matches for the majority of the time, it's hard to miss on shows all that often.  What I must applaud Smackdown for, which Raw seems to neglect, is pushing individuals as well as feuds.  For instance, Dolph Ziggler is getting a push due to his new finisher, but he is not directly feuding with anyone.  Therefore, his TV time is useful each and every week.  The 5 minutes he got showed that he can go in the ring and that his finisher can take out almost anyone.  The same 5 minutes on Raw showed the Evan Bourne can hit the shooting star press on a jobber in Carlito and given the inconsistency of Bourne's appearances, the win will mean nothing.  Thus, edge to Smackdown there.  The one thing I could always count on with Raw was a Miz promo, but since he got like 10 minutes on commentary, Smackdown really had it all for me tonight.  Since I was so into it, I have included a large part of Miz's commentary below.  Watch the match too, but I'm sure you are going to love the commentary.