Yeah, no way I was watching this one live with the Angels and Red Sox going neck-and-neck. So this one comes through the magic of TiVo once again...
-Show starts with a video package. John Cena is injured. There will be a new champion at No Mercy. At the very least, it'll mean something significant will actually happen at what is usually one of the least-watched PPV's of the year. -Michael Cole interviews Batista in the ring to hype up Punjabi Prison II: Electric Boogaloo. The Great Khali and translator appear on the Titantron to threaten Batista. Translator says that people lose their sanity in Punjabi Prison. I think he meant people lose their sanity WATCHING Punjabi Prison. Harmless opening promo. -Chuck Palumbo (w/ Michelle McCool & Undertaker's motorcycle) v. Ace Steele. Hey, it's Donald Trump! Well, it's Faux Donald Trump, anyway. He gets much less offense here than he did against Rosie, as Palumbo easily dispatches him with the Full Throttle. After the match, Chris Masters makes his grand return from Suspension Island and takes Palumbo down a notch with the Masterlock. -Jamie Noble v. Jimmy Wang Yang. The Yung Dragons collide...again! Good match, albeit short. I'd love to see these guys go at it on PPV. Noble wins with the still-unnamed Gut Buster finisher. -MVP and Matt Hardy come in for a tag title defense. But to pass the time before their opponents come out, they decide to have another game of "Can You Top THIS?" Tonight's competition: a push-up contest. Both guys go neck-and-neck, but MVP slips and knocks Matt's arm out. Oh well, guess that means MVP wins. Great stuff! With that out of the way, it's time for... -MVP & Matt Hardy v. Deuce & Domino (w/ Cherry) for the WWE Tag Team Championship. Starts off with both teams going back and forth. Matt tries to put Deuce away early with the Twist of Fate, but Domino tries to take him out. Matt ducks a Domino clothesline and MVP pulls down the ropes to send Domino out. MVP then hits the Jim Jones Elbow off the apron before a commercial break. After the break, the challengers take control on MVP. MVP playing face-in-peril presents an interesting dilemma, considering he's a heel. Matt finally gets the hot tag and he cleans house on the Greasers. Later, Domino gets ready to whack Matt with his belt, but MVP out-cheats him with a low blow, leading to a Matt Twist of Fate for the pin. Good match and the MVP/Matt tandem continue to entertain. As the champs make their way to the back, Kane's pyro goes off, sending them away just a little faster. This segues into... -Kane v. Kenny Dykstra (w/ Victoria). We are joined in progress, as poor Kenny doesn't even get an entrance. Kenny surprisingly gets a good amount of offense in, but it's all for zilch, as Kane kills him dead with a Chokeslam for the pin. -Backstage, MVP and Matt Hardy see GM Vickie Guerrero, with MVP looking to pitch an idea. Since he had to face Kane last week, MVP thinks it's only fair that Matt gets the Undertaker one-on-one. Vickie somehow takes this to mean that MVP & Matt should defend their titles against Undertaker & Kane. Matt doesn't look happy. MVP DEFINITELY doesn't look happy. But it looks we have a tag title match for No Mercy (I assume, since no date is mentioned) in a great twist to this already-awesome feud. -Jesse & Festus v. Chad Collyer & Mike Tolar. Ok, after all the vignettes, let's see what these guys can do. Jesse starts things off with a quick promo while Festus stares off blankly into space. As soon as the bell rings, though, Festus goes Waylon Mercy on both the jobbers and absolutely clobbers them. Festus wins the match for his team with a sit-out gut buster across the shoulder. Very nice debut for Terry Gordy's kid and the former Fake Kane. I'm still unclear on whether they're supposed to be faces or heels, though. -Rey Mysterio v. The Great Khali. Rey tries to dodge Khali and get some quick shots in, but Khali catches him and works him over ever-so-slowly. Rey's punches get him nowhere and he gets knocked to the outside. Khali follows and goes for a JUDO CHOP~!, but hits the steps. Mysterio takes advantage and hits a baseball slide and 619, but Finlay runs in for the DQ. Not as painful as most Khali matches, which is a compliment, at this point. Post-match, Khali gets the Iron Claw on Mysterio, but Batista makes the save, taking out the big lunk with a chair. Show ends with Batista standing tall.
Decent show this week, with the easy highlight being MVP & Matt. Jesse & Festus also make a good debut and I'd get excited about them, except there isn't much of a tag division right now. But they're definitely a step in the right direction. Thumbs up this week.
We all bash the Smackdown! writing team quite often, and rightfully so, but look at what they have to work with. On top, you have Khali and Bautista, Rey and the UT. Since 'Taker is only part time right now, you've got the other three to work with on a daily basis. One is a giant, slow, awkward lug, one is a light-heavyweight, and then you also have Khali. If I were the writers, I would STILL be mad about the Raw draft steeling Kennedy, Booker and others. I know the injury bug has bitten but man. At least Smackdown has an excuse for sucking, and tonight wasn't acutally that bad (MVP/Hardy/Finlay). It wasn't water-into-wine, but it was at least water into ... Tang or something.
What I'd like to see the most is some real effort (and TV time) spent on the light-heavyweight division. The crowd can really get into these matches and the talent is right frickin there. Do it, man! Do it!
While it's true that there doesn't NEED to be a last-second signing by Steph, the progression of this story, with Steph always beating Eric (or at least tied) seems to indicate that she would get someone, anyone on Smackdown.