The Live Wire - By Tony Cottam

TLW: Laying The Smacketh Down

Well, hello. It’s that time of the week again, when I have to sit down, pop on some groovy tunes and start rambling endlessly – one of these weeks, I’ll come out with a point! Hey, don’t hold your breath though!

Well, hello. It’s that time of the week again, when I have to sit down, pop on some groovy tunes and start rambling endlessly – one of these weeks, I’ll come out with a point! Hey, don’t hold your breath though!

The tunes this week are supplied by the quite frankly incredible Screaming Trees and the quite frankly unbelievable The Darkness – drink du jour is Vanilla Coke! And with that, there is no more pointless and stupid information that I can pass on, so let’s get into it.

Watching Raw and SmackethDown this week, and I must say – it’s the first time in a while I’ve enjoyed both shows in the same week. There seemed to be a conspiracy for a while that only one of the shows every week would be good, or even worse – both would be appalling… this week broke the streak.

While Raw was good, SmackDown shone as the show of the week for me – with the return of PAUL HEYMAN any show would have benefited. The man is simply a heat magnet, and already he’s on his way to becoming one of the most hated men on Smackdown after only one week.

The build-up to the announcement of the Undertaker-Vince McMahon match was the only slight let down for me. While the fans in attendance loved it (and let’s face it – it’s those people that sink their cash into merchandise stalls and tickets and keep the WWE rolling) I think there were a few people at home shaking their heads wondering what was going on.

You have the WWE Champion Brock Lesnar and the United States Champion Big Show tagging up in a handicap match against ONE man. Granted, Undertaker has more experience than both Lesnar and The Show put together, but you’d still expect that the two of them would be able to put away the Taker with a little bit of ease…

Not the case, however. Even after various rule changes on the fly from Heyman, all we ended up with was a match that did basically nothing but make both champions and belts look weak. With the rules changing minute-to-minute, Taker actually scored FOUR wins over Lesnar and Show. How does that help either man?

Let me tell you – it doesn’t – it makes Taker look like a million buck, and while that’s great for him, it’s even better for one man – his opponent at Survivor Series, Vince McMahon. This huge star, virtually unbeatable, tough veteran has his choice of fighting anybody on the Smackdown roster… and he chooses Vince. D’oh!

Memo to Vince : Get over yourself! You don’t NEED to be facing some form of messiah in the ring – Smackdown will survive if you just beat up your daughter or a legend every so often… building Taker up to such a level achieves nothing but devaluing the championships already present on Smackdown.

But like I say, that was really the only downside… booking aside, the main event had a true big match feel to it, and the crowd present were lapping it up.

Much more appealing for me was the teased tension between Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit. Yes, it’s recycling and it’s all been done before, blah blah blah – but who cares when it’s Angle vs. Benoit? Those two represent what I see as perfect wrestling. Their match at the Royal Rumble this year is one of the most breathtaking exhibitions of pure skill that I have ever seen in any sport.

One more time? Sure! I’ll take that. This could be the bump that Benoit needs, even if we don’t get a fully fledged feud or match out of this, it’s planted the seeds for a turn for one of the two, and I’d put my money on Benoit turning heel and maybe even doing the ultimate – joining the forces of Heyman.

A heel Benoit with Paul Heyman as his mouthpiece? That, friends, is the stuff of dreams. Oh yes. I think we can realistically look at Benoit and see that he’ll never be WWE Champion… mic skills and promos seem to be more important than being the best damn technical wrestler in the WWE, perhaps even in history. If it was on straight wrestling, Benoit would have been a multi-time champion by now… but sadly, it’s not like that.

Much as I would love to see Benoit hold the WWE Title, his time has gone. If he was gonna get it, then he was carrying enough heat in January and February to legitimately do the title justice, but for whatever reason, was overlooked and just carried on his mid-card carry job on the latest Monster Of The Month.

Eddie has the same kind of momentum RIGHT NOW to hold the WWE title credibly, but he looks as if he’s on a crash course for a La Familia showdown, rather than a title shot at Brocky The Gowen Slayer. If Eddie comes out the other side of that with heat intact and still performing as he is right now, then surely there’s no way he can be overlooked?

Knowing the WWE, he will be though. Eddie’s lack of height is against him, no matter how over or how hot he is right now… WWE always was and always will be the Land Of The Giants – explain repeated pushes for A-Train and Billy Gunn otherwise – and not even Eddie in the best form of his life will be enough to change that.

He and Chavo spent Smackdown arguing and losing the tag team titles to The Bashams… now, the Bashams are getting better every week, you can really see their confidence growing – but they are in no way ready for the tag team titles. I fear that this is just a set-up for an APA title run…

Unless the newly reformed Scotty & Rikishi get the belts first, that is. With Scotty back from injury troubles, the WORM made it’s return to our screens… Knock them all you want, but like the Dudleys on Raw, Scotty and Rikishi can fire a crowd up simply by being there and hitting the spots that the crowd lap up… and why not?

Scotty is a talented wrestler, but I can’t ever see him shaking off the “W-O-R-M” or suddenly becoming a serious contender in the cruiser division. Seeing him back was a bit of a shock, and even more of a shock was Benjamin & Haas being sacrificed for them, although part of the thinking in that was to establish Heyman as evil… which we all know. Just ask Shane Douglas.

Yes, this week’s Smackdown was one of the best shows I’ve seen all year – not everything clicked, but on the whole, I enjoyed this as much as any WWE TV show in the past 12 months… hopefully, the addition of Heyman as GM means that we’ll have some fireworks in the future, and a GM that won’t be pushed to the forefront of every angle going…

Enjoy this week’s SmackethDown…until next time, have fun, go mad.

Tony Cottam

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