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THE BROAD PERSPECTIVE
Dear SmackDown, You Suck.
Love, Erin
October 10, 2003

by Erin Anderson
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com

 

I'm usually very quick to defend the quality of Smackdown!, and I almost always rate it higher in Battle of the Brands than I do RAW. For the most part, Smackdown! gives me what I like to see in a good wrestling show: 1) great in-ring action, 2) a strong focus on the importance of the titles, and 3) a minimum of ridiculous storylines. Even through all the McMahon drama we've been subjected to recently, I've forgiven it because Smackdown! consistently showcases entertaining matches and gives me something to love about the show.

This week was a different story, and it's had a slow build for the past few weeks. Ever since the outstanding "free-per-view" show with the Iron Man match, the quality of Smackdown! has slowly gone downhill. Last night, they hit rock bottom.

Jesus Christ, that was an awful, completely indefensible show. It's as if the writing team took everything that hasn't been working well on RAW for the past year and threw it all into an excruciating two hours of my life that I'll never be able to get back. Yes, I thought it was that bad.

Smackdown!'s greatest strength lies in its in-ring product. All of the cruiserweights can put on an entertaining spotfest, and there's no dead weight in that division. The roster includes Kurt Angle, Eddie Guerrero, and Chris Benoit: my picks for the three best technical wrestlers in the company. The champion, Brock Lesnar, has all the classic big-man qualities, but also is incredibly athletic and knows how to mat-wrestle. The Undertaker is looking better than he has in years. There's a talented undercard including Haas, Benjamin, Matt Hardy, Rhyno, and John Cena.

Looking at the show last night, I never would have known any of this. Let's take a quick look at the matches:

  • Tajiri v. Ultimo Dragon
  • Undertaker v. Chuck Palumbo  
  • Big Show v. Orlando Jordan 
  • Shannon Moore v. Zach Gowen  
  • Chris Benoit and the APA v. the Bashams and A-train
  • Brock Lesnar v. Paul London

They didn't look good in the spoilers, and they didn't look good last night, either. The only match here that I was even remotely interested in was Tajiri/Ultimo Dragon, but they were only given about three minutes to work after 12-minute cruiserweight matches from previous weeks tore the house down. Three of those six matches were meaningless squashes, and the longest match of the night clocked in at four and a half minutes.

That's strike one against Smackdown!, as their usual stellar in-ring product was either completely nonexistent or too short to mean anything. But the show had to have a few redeeming qualities, right? It usually at least stresses the importance of the title belts, right?

Wrong. Only one of the matches put a title on the line, and honestly, did you really think that Paul London had a snowball's chance in hell of winning the belt? Of course not. The cruiserweight match was non-title, and we never heard a thing about the tag team championships. After allowing three of the titles to change hands on free TV in the past month, Smackdown! should take advantage of the lingering "Anything can happen" atmosphere and give us more matches where the audience will believe that the challengers have a chance: there's instant drama there, but the Thursday night show has yet to capitalize on that.

And then there is the U.S. Championship. God bless Eddie Guerrero for making the U.S. Title seem like the most important thing in the world to him, but his opponent for No Mercy doesn't seem to care in the slightest.

Has the Big Show said, even once, that he wants the U.S. Championship? Has he even made mention of the fact that his match against Eddie will be for the belt? He hasn't even mentioned the belt at all, and that negates the hard work that Eddie is doing to try and beef up the importance of his championship. Show has only said that he doesn't like Eddie, and left it at that. While the personal animosity between the two is necessary, the total lack of importance of the U.S. Title to the Big Show only hurts the secondary titles.

Strike two for Smackdown! First we get too-short matches that don't allow the wrestlers to do what they do best, and then none of them put the titles on the line with plausible challengers to the belts. But at least we're not getting any ridiculous soap opera storylines, right? That's not usually Smackdown!'s style.

But we got plenty of soap opera last night from the McMahon family, Taker/Lesnar, and Big Show/Eddie. I've noticed an inverse relationship between the amount of airtime the McMahons get and the quality of Smackdown!, and last night only proved that. Smackdown! has a knack for giving the fans great opening matches for every show, but not last night. Instead, we were given the wooden acting of Linda McMahon in an attempt to bring more drama to a storyline that is already drowning in it, and to hype a match that will probably be the worst one of No Mercy.

Then, there was the most recent development in the Taker/Lesnar feud, one that had been incredibly solid until last night. With Taker looking so good lately, I was expecting an entertaining match out of him at No Mercy but now we have this "Biker Chain" stipulation. Can somebody please explain to me what a Biker Chain Match is? Tazz and Michael Cole had no idea, and said so in their commentary. I'm assuming it's a match under basic Street Fight rules, and both men will have chains at their disposal. Um why not just make it a street fight? By calling it a "Biker Chain Match" in an effort to sell the match to the fans, WWE has really only caused the fans to ask, "Huh?" When I think of the Undertaker and gimmick matches, "Hell in the Cell" immediately springs to mind. "Biker Chain" does not.

And, of course, the ending really put a stamp on the show as a whole: a giant pile of shit. I know that Austin driving a beer truck and Angle driving a milk truck to the ring were both big hits, but since when did anyone think that a septic truck would be a clever spin on an old favorite? Eddie spraying sewage all over the Big Show ranks as only the third time I have ever changed the channel when watching wrestling because I absolutely hated what I saw.

Strike three, Smackdown! You have managed to do what I thought was previously impossible for a show with a roster like yours: made me completely unable to defend your choices of booking and writing leading in to your pay-per-view. I hate having to write badly about you, but congratulations: you now officially suck.
  

E-MAIL ERIN
BROWSE THE BROAD'S ARCHIVES

Erin Anderson is an Atlanta native and a student at Georgia State University. Since writing about wrestling didn't go over too well with her English professors, she vents here at Online Onslaught.


  
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