If you saw Smackdown last night, there is but one thing on your mind. If Raw hadn't convinced you that the WWE is intent on moving into a new era, Smackdown should have solidified that idea and then some. Within the first 15 minutes, Smackdown changed, and in my opinion, probably for the better. There's just a new feel to WWE shows, and though it's hard to describe, it makes me feel more like a kid again in my excitement for each show. While there were elements of the show that were lacking, one major event can steal the show, and that is more than the case here.
The show opened up to Jericho bragging about his victory which of course led to Edge countering his argument. At this point I'm thinking about a rematch at Extreme Rules, which would have been good, but then everything changed forever. After yet another spear to Jericho, who this time was supporting taped ribs (due to the Spear off of the announce table), Jack Swagger came out, hit Edge with the briefcase, and cashed in his Money in the Bank on Jericho. One Pumphandle Slam later, he was World Heavyweight Champion. I know I criticized Swagger's performance on Monday, but this was a different Swagger, as he has ditched the goofy smile (thank g-d!) and gone to a more somber look. As we'll get to later, the look goes with a bit of a new persona for the former college All-American, and it is definitely for the better. At this point now, it was hard not to still be a bit shocked.
After one shock came another, as after a short tag team bout which saw Cryme Tyme lose to MorriTruth in under 2 minutes, Shad turned on his longtime friend, JTG. An attack left JTG laying in the ring, but probably hurting more on the inside. This segment was followed up by an interview with Shad who claimed "no more Cryme Tyme, this is MY time". His word choice seemed a bit contrite, especially since Triple H used the mantra in 1999, but I think Shad could work as a monster heel. The only problem is that there are so many heels these days in the midcard that I have no idea where he fits in. I think he'd work best as a bodyguard type for a faction, but since the only faction available already has a bodyguard type in Luke Gallows, his options are limited. I suppose I will reserve judgement until I know more about Shad's new character, but I'm definitely interested to see where they plan to take him because I can't see much of a future at this point. Of course, I see less of a future for JTG, but again, who knows where JTG's character will go at this point. All I know at this point is that I was a bit surprised to see the longest running tag team in the WWE break up.
Next, we saw Jack Swagger backstage showing his belt to people. I loved that he was going up to people and making them congratulate him. This new persona is really fitting him well. He even spoke a sentence without stumbling and actually said something quoteworthy when me said "maybe I should be called the gold standard now" to a perturbed Shelton Benjamin. Excellent backstage segment to really push Swagger's new character.
As much as I liked that segment, that's how much I hated the next one. Drew McIntyre was scheduled for a match with Matt Hardy, but he beat him up before the bell rang and just left. I suppose they want to show that McIntyre is vicious and will do what he wants, but it was pretty lame. Plus, his finisher still doesn't look devastating. About the only good thing about this segment is McIntyre's music, which is still awesome.
Of course, a tribute video to HBK was shown, but I won't talk about it because you can read my thoughts in the Raw review and you can watch them on the special edition of Mouthing Off.
Short backstage segment was next where "Flawless" did their annoying Shtick, which now incorporates Vickie Guerrero. I still don't understand how Team Simply Flawless accepts Vickie but made fun of Mickie for being fat. That's like making fun of Bill Gates for lack of intellgence and inviting Lindsay Lohan instead to Mensa. Anyway, this led to Swagger asking to give a "state of the champion address" later on Smackdown which Vickie obliged and received a cheek kiss for her troubles. If being champion means going around kissing Vickie, that's one position I would NOT want to be in. No offense, Eddie.
We finally get another match, pitting Dolph Ziggler against The Great Khali. Even though Khali is a joke, this match served its purpose as Khali was unable to break Ziggler's sleeper hold. If only Ziggler was a master with words, he'd be the next Roddy Piper. Unfortunately, he hasn't cut a good promo yet in his entire stint in the WWE.
After the match, Khali announced that he's going to go back to his native India to recharge his batteries and spend time with family. He says he'll be champion when he returns. I sincerely doubt he will, but I have heard that he is indeed heading to India for real, so don't expect to see Khali for a few months..........if you care.
Something I did care about was the next segment. The Straight Edge Society came out, but this time, Gallows and Serena talked! Surprisingly, they did a pretty good job, both talking about how Punk is an angel who saved them and could save more people too. When Punk finally started to speak, the heat was clearly on as the extremely anti-straight edge Las Vegas was the perfect place to cut scathing promos of this regard. Punk called the city liars and finally challenged Rey to a rematch. Knowing Rey has nothing to prove since he already won, he offered to sacrifice his hair if he lost again. Great heat and actually a decent way to further the feud. Rey was nowhere to be found, but it'll be interesting to see how he responds to this challenge.
Another feud being furthered is the women's feud between Beth Phoenix and Simply Annoying. This time Beth teamed up with Tiffany to take on the delusional duo and picked up the victory. Sadly, this match got the most time of the night so far, and damn near doubled the next closest competitor. It was a pretty good match though, and Tiffany is a lot better than you might think. She had a few moves in the match that made you say "wow, she can do that?" Of course, the end saw Beth dominate and Glam Slam Layla for the win, effectively sending a message to women's champ McCool. Beth is really getting over as a face and I like that this match actually helped to develop the feud unlike the crap in the Diva's division on Raw.
Before the next commercial, Jericho confronted Teddy Long about Swagger's victory and it basically came down to Teddy offering Jericho a rematch tonight or nothing and he chose nothing on account of his ribs still in pain. This obviously progresses the angle and as usual, Jericho's diction was spot on for a well spoken segment.
After the break, we got the first face interview with the Hart Dynasty and boy was it phony! These 3 need to seriously work on their acting, as everything seemed very fake. Hell, if you can't be truly happy to be associated with your family, how can you ever be? The only person that was decent on the mic was Tyson Kidd, but his phony smile at the end killed his decently chosen words. I like the Hart Dynasty being faces, but they really need to word on their face promo skills, otherwise I fear their momentum will fade as Bret's appearance is further in the past. I loved how the segment ended though, as Swagger walked right in front of the dynasty and held up his belt in true jerk fashion. I love how he's inserting himself into everything he possibly can to stroke his ego. It's a nice touch.
Next was a segment where Kane decided he was bored, so he challenged the entire NXT roster. It was good in the sense that it gave the guys exposure on a main show in competition and it gave the announcers a great chance to hype them up and perhaps talk some people into watching NXT (that is if they haven't read my column first!). The downside was that Kane was over with the crowd and it made every NXT guy come off as a heel. Considering most are actually babyfaces it seems, this may not have been good for them, as you'd want them to work for the desired crowd reaction, not team up on a monster and all get treated like heels. Either way, I felt the segment was bad anyway, as it accomplished nothing and wasn't all that enjoyable to watch.
The main event, if you want to call it that, was Swagger's "state of the champion" address. Coming out with a leather binder, Swagger demands respect and starts to read his prepared statement. This style of promo might actually work for him, as his ability to speak for more than 5 seconds without sounding ridiculous is completely lacking, and having a gimmick like this might help. I did like that he talked about his past as a college champion and ECW champion and I really loved how he said that his reign came at a great time because he'll replace Shawn Michaels as greatest wrestler. If you want heat at the moment, compare yourself to The Heartbreak Kid! These statements brought out Jericho, which in turn brought out Edge, and both gave their reasons to Swagger for wanting a match with him, but Teddy Long decided Edge and Jericho will wrestle next week and the winner gets the shot at Swagger. It seemed both men were on board, but a Codebreaker from Jericho to Edge inspired Swagger to come in the ring and Gutwrench Powerbomb both Jericho and Edge to stand tall at the end of the show. A great ending to a show completely devoted to the new champion. It should be interesting to see where Smackdown goes from here.
As I said, it's a new era in the WWE, and this young champion is looking to be a large part of it. While his mic skills are a bit lacking, he did a great job with a tweaked persona on Smackdown. I believe this is the perfect place for him at the moment and I expect to see a lot of Swagger at the top of Smackdown cards in the coming year. As for the rest of the show, it was probably average at best, but the Cryme Tyme breakup is at least a little intriguging. Overall, I'd say it was an excellent show, but most of that credit has to go to the writers for doing a great job showcasing Jack Swagger.