A little surprised this was how you started the show off, but I have to say that I loved JBLís arrogance in having him believe Teddy called him there just so he could go off at Teddy and leave. Long putting JBL on probation is fine, I guess, although I really hope it doesnít change his commentary, because he has been entertaining as hell in this thread. Interesting to see in the last week youíve inserted Styles and Tazz back into the announce teams too. Iím not a huge fan of Tazz, but Iíll be interested to see if you can make the three man announce team dynamic work.
Iím glad to see Kennedy opening the show here, because while his match with Flair looks like it wonít be happening until WrestleMania, keeping him hot here is vital, and allowing him to start the show to cut a promo is doing exactly that. The promo transitioned pretty well in the early going, with Kennedyís outrage at Flair moving onto him talking about a title shot well, before then moving to him getting a title shot and thus the Royal Rumble. It was all smooth, and I thought the way you went about it was pretty clever. Including the little shot at Finlay being another old guy was smart too, before we got to the video packages. The arrogance of Kennedy really rubbing in the attacks too, talking about how it got better and that he loved seeing it was good to see. The little digs at Flair and the crowd were good too, before the interruption from Batista. Having Batista interrupt seems like a pretty clever way to go about things to possibly start a little feud between him and Kennedy, with Batistaís past with Flair obviously coming into play. Thereís one thing Iím not so sure about should they face each other at No Way Out, but Iíll get to that later since I donít know for sure if they will yet. Iím surprised Kennedy showed such guts to Batista, but I guess heís a man on a mission. Batista standing up for Flair and Anderson was done well too, having Batista play the typical big hero with some strong words. Having him make it a little more personal between himself and Kennedy was smart as well, with Batista bringing himself up, then really calling Kennedy out for being a coward and threatening him. Kennedy playing the coward then was good to see, as he obviously wouldnít want a piece of Batista in a fight, before the interruption from Teddy. The portion from Teddy was good, especially with the way he explained his decisions in terms of not letting Batista and Kennedy fight, before making the number one contender match because Kennedy hadnít actually earned a shot at the title yet. It seemed a little weird that Long would almost set up an attack from Batista, considering he tried to break a fight between Kennedy and Batista up earlier in the segment, but, still, it was good for the segment to end with a bang, after a good promo and some nice matches being set up. Good start to the show.
Nice way to open the show with a real physical match between Benoit and Tatanka. While Tatnka obviously isnít great, a match like this does a good job of showing the toughness of Benoit.
Benoit calling Finlay out for a fight is a good way to have Benoit show his guts, while also continuing the very physical aspect with which their feud began last week. Finlay making the challenge for the US Title match at No Way Out is great to see, because it should be a quality match, while Finlay trying to play it smart, only for Benoit to keep the intensity of the feud up by starting the little brawl was a good way to continue this on. Loving the way this feud is going at the moment, making for a very good match between these two at No Way Out.
Only 51 days until WrestleMania? Canít wait.
Very nice promo from Booker here, keeping in character by having him use his king shtick until the frustration boiled over for him. The little ďpeasantĒ shot at the crowd was good, while I really liked the way he talked about his challenge to The Undertaker and the way that Teddy Long has disrespected him. Good little promo here to keep the Booker/Undertaker situation in mind.
Nice simple eight man tag match here, using the chaos to keep Burchill looking good after last week and allow the momentum for The Bluebloods to continue along. While these four teams mightnít be the most known in the world, I really like the way youíve built the division around them on SmackDown!, making a lot out of what others may consider to not be a lot.
The little exchange between Miz and MVP was really nice at the start of this promo, showing just how big their egos are with both thinking Teddy Long was going to apologise to them and put them into a title match. I loved the way you had both turn against Matt when he showed up too, claiming they were both being added to the main event. The announcement from Teddy Long was good too, putting a real focus on the US Title by having four guys vying for a shot at it, which I like. Nice addition to No Way Out.
Nice little way to set up a confrontation between Guerrero and Moore, with both being interested in watching the Cruiserweight Champion after a good contest last week. Helmsí arrogance in sending a message to both men too, making for a good Triple Threat Match at No Way Out.
Very hyped for WrestleMania 23.
I have no problem with Helms getting a squash win over Funaki, keeping him simmering as champion. The promo afterwards was obviously the main point of the segment, addressing the issue with Moore and Chavo, before making the connection with Danielson, seemingly making for a WrestleMania match down the line. I donít mind that at all, as when it comes around it should be a very nice match. Good little segment here to start to set it up.
Like with Benoit earlier, a good way to keep Batista looking strong with a hard fought win, while also allowing Test to look good by hanging pretty well with the world champion.
Kane being the mystery part of the No Way Out match (and this tag match) makes sense due to his history with MVP, although I have to say that it feels a little weird to see Kane competing for a shot at the midcard title. Heís just a guy who seems above that all of the time, even when jobbing. Anyway, the tag match here was pretty nice, with a good little spot in keeping the half crab locked in. The finish makes sense, with MVP playing the coward, while having The Miz, the worse wrestler in the match, take the fall is also logical. Good tag match.
Kennedy attacking Anderson this week is some nice progress, turning up the heat on both his lingering feud with Flair, and his current one with Batista. Nice to see some follow up on last week, with Arn used again this week.
No Way Out seems to be shaping up as a pretty decent card for you. Especially looking forward to Benoit/Finlay.
Not going to comment too much on the writing or the logic of Kennedy, as both was good, but rather on Edge arriving on SmackDown!. Iím not at all surprised that Edge is challenging for the World Heavyweight Title at WrestleMania, but I was shocked to see him reveal it tonight. Revealing it to Kennedy too, a man who he obviously isnít going to face, seems a little odd, and his arrival tonight almost too random for it to make as big of an impact as I feel it should have. I know he canít show back up on RAW since heís running from Orton, but I think you could have had him disappear, showing his cowardice in continuing to run from Orton, before reappearing by spearing Batista at the end of No Way Out. That, to me, would have made a much bigger impact for Edge on debut, and it would have got the feud going right away, while Edge will have to wait until No Way Out at least to go after Batista now anyway. Glad to see Edge on SmackDown!, but Iím not so sure about the timing of it on this specific show.
The actual main event here was very nice, with some good action towards the end. The interference from Booker is a smart way to hand Kennedy the win, giving Kennedy his title match and allowing Undertaker to face Booker at No Way Out. My only problem with all of this is that Iím not sure Kennedy/Batista is good enough to main event a brand exclusive Pay-Per-View, with no match bigger than it on the card. Kennedy was still a midcarder at this stage, and while itís just No Way Out, thus likely that Batista will retain, it seems like a bit of a weak main event, even if it makes sense in terms of storylines. Still, a good finish to the show.
As I said above, while I have a little bit of concern about the booking of the last portion of the show, this was once again a very enjoyable read, with very good writing throughout. Youíre continuing to build strongly to No Way Out and WrestleMania, meaning this thread is right up there as my favourite thread right now. Good stuff, my man.