Hi there tatfans, and welcome to a special two-in-a-row double A-Side edition of The Announce Table. I’m in a good mood today because I have just sat through the first genuinely exciting, and marvellous, episode of Smackdown! And I want to tell you all about it.
Any wrestling fan, even the most hard-faced Smackdown watcher, will admit that since the draft, and since Kurt Angle was made GM, Smackdown has become a bit stale, a bit predictable. Eddie was the probably the only enemy-less WWE Champion of all time, John Cena was only an F-U away from certain victory each and every week, the Cruiserweight belt went through a period of being so badly defaced I thought John Cena had moved into Grafitti tagging, and the Raw superstars who came over from the draft stagnated even further than their bottom-feeding roles on Raw.
What was the turning point, I ask? Two things. Firstly Vince McMahon stood by his instincts, defied the smarks and made John Bradshaw Layfield a worthy champion. Secondly, Vince McMahon actually listened to the smarks and has given the Cruiserweights decent airtime, and belts too! The higher echelons of the WWE have demonstrated perhaps the most professional, and respectable move of all: they have reacted to what the fans want. I think they realise the relationship with the fans is give-and-take. Good job!
John Bradshaw Layfield is a fabulous character and a fabulously smug champion. He has also got three faces in Cena, Eddie and Undertaker and the WWE’s best wrestler Kurt Angle, to work programmes with over the next year. JBL may not have the dextrous moveset of Eddie Guerrero but he provides just as much entertainment. His last three major matches, all against Eddie, have been truly unforgettable. His promos have been killer, and his in-ring psychology is masterful. I am confident JBL could feud with anyone in the Smackdown locker-room and keep me enriched with respect.
Another rather brilliant ploy was to strip John Cena of his US belt. Now, instead of having either Dupree, Booker or whoever else face Cena week-in week-out we now have the opportunity to watch a variety of talent battle for a prestigious if rather naff-looking belt. Booker, Dupree, Mordecai, Haas, Jindrak, Cena, RVD, Luther Reigns, Kenzo Suzuki and even big John Heidenreich, when he makes his comeback.
And finally, the beloved Cruiserweights have been given the opportunity to showcase their aerial ability. For two weeks in a row we have been treated to Spike Dudley, Jamie Noble, Rey Mysterio and Chavo Guerrero duke it out in tag team action. Last week we also had the gymnastically fliptacular Akio perform plancha after swanton after cross-body to the delight of the drooling fans.
And how can we forget that everybody’s perennial favourite Cruiserweight, Paul London, has just won the tag belts along with Billy Kidman? Things are truly looking up on Smackdown.
And finally, Kurt Angle is out of his wheelchair and is feuding with Eddie Guerrero; need I say more? Smackdown is once again the big leagues, baby!
And just to back up my point, I have just bought tickets to the Manchester Evening News Arena – that’s right: I wanta go see Smackdown!
Thanks for reading!