The Katz Files – Arnie Katz
My Weekly Smackdown Notebook!
The Kingfish Arnie Katz presents his analysis and insights inspired by the 11/14 episode of Smackdown
The opening video for the 11/14 Smackdown from Manchester, UK, highlighted some of Jeff Hardy’s recent brushes with destiny.
The climax was a scene in which Jeff told Vickie Guerrero that he could succeed where Kozlov failed and take out Undertaker.
The Kingfish Comments: The video set the tone for the night, a show dominated by the presence of the Charismatic Enigma. Hardy used this episode to unveil a much darker, harder-edge personality and showing him coming up just slight short was part of the motivation for the change as well as a good contrast to it.
After Jim Ross and Tazz welcomed fans to England, an eerie “live” opening began with Undertaker talking to Big Show about what would happen to him in their upcoming Casket Match.
Undertaker described the sensations associated with being buried alive – and then the ornate casket opened and Undertaker sat up and stepped out into the arena!
That’s when Jeff Hardy’s voice came through the PA system. He sarcastically praised the “spookiness” of Taker’s segment, but he added that the Dead Man should keep his mind on the real danger at hand, the match against Jeff on this very Smackdown.
The Kingfish Comments: Face paint and a wild gleam in the eye made Jeff Hardy look really stressed, somewhat in the style of Edge. Having him ridicule the Undertaker’s fake-mysterious stuff immediately told fans those things would be a little different on this night.
Matt Hardy d. Shelton Benjamin
Benjamin’s mat skill helped him keep control in the opening segment of the match. He inflicted a lot of punishment with a Side Headlock that grounded Matt on the canvas, Hardy punched his way out of an Arm Bar, but it didn’t lead to more than a “one” count.
Hardy worked on a Hammerlock until Benjamin Snap Mared him. The ECW Champion rolled through and came up with the Hammerlock again! Even when Benjamin Bodyslammed him, Hardy managed to hang onto his Armlock.
The Golden Standard worked on Hardy’s vulnerable left leg. His Spinning Toehold caused Jim Ross to raise memories of the Funk brothers,
Jeff hit a Side Effect and then, despite shaky legs, uncorked a Bulldog. Still, the US Champion would stay down for the one-two-three. Shelton missed a couple of Round Kicks, but his on-target Superkick nearly gave him the victory.
Shelton Benjamin hit two corner Splashes, but his third attempt earned him the wrong end of a Running Lariat. Matt tried for a Twist of Fate, but Shelton executed a perfect Neckbreaker.
Benjamin trapped his foe in a Half Boston Crab that put more pressure on the already weakened left leg. Matt made the rope to force a break.
Benjamin’s Chop Block put Matt on the mat. When he bent over Hardy, though, Hardy came to life and uncorked a Twist of Fate.
The Kingfish Comments: This was definitely the right way to stage this kind of champion-versus-champion contest. Both men looked good and Hardy, with the more important title, eked out the win.
The Brian Kendrick (with Ezekiel Jackson) d. Carlito Colon (with Primo Colon)
The Brian Kendrick fired off a very effective series of kicks, but Carlito roared out of the corner with one that leveled him. Carlito vaulted over Kendrick on a Corner Charge and the decked him with a Dropkick and flung him across the ring with an Armdrag!
Carlito really stunned Kendrick with a Swinging Neckbreaker. The Caribbean star dragged him to center-ring, but he couldn’t get the winning cover.
Suddenly, Ezekiel attacked Primo Colon in the ringside area! Carlito looked at his brother and, in the instant, The Brian Kendrick pulled off his finisher and wont he match.
The Kingfish Comments: Like the match that preceded it, this one was good until the somewhat weak ending. Both combatants did well, but neither pulled out all the stops. I’m sure that Kendrick/Jackson versus the Colons will be featured at some of the smaller house shows.
The obligatory John Cena video, this time about his dedication to the business, ran.
Vickie Guerrero promised fans that there would be “no physicality” in the contract signing for the Triple H-Vladimir Kozlov match.
HHH made fun of Vickie’s on-going battle with her weight problem. He said she was from “Bulge-garia” and “ Chunk-eslovokia.”
When Kozlov said something in Russian, Triple H pointed out that no one in the arena understood him.
The Game tried to get into Kozlov’s head by conjuring the image of mounting fear as the date for their match approaches.
Jeff Hardy crashed the party and knocked down Kozlov! He took the contract and tore it into pieces.
The Kingfish Comments: Having Vickie telling fans that, basically, nothing would happen between Koslov and Triple at the signing, was a pretty gutsy move. Of course, that made it certain that that something would actually happen.
Jeff Hardy’s run-in was quick and deadly. Could WWE be having second thoughts about the timing of the Kozlov challenge to Triple H. The fans totally rejected the idea for Cyber Sunday and there’s little reason to think that Kozlov has done anything since then to raise his image in the eyes of the fans.
WWE feels, with some justice, that they have a valuable property in Kozlov. What the promotion hasn’t done very well is get the fans to share that perception. The big Russian needed a much bigger build-up before moving into the title picture. The premature introduction of Kozlov as the number-one challenger has backfired on WWE.
Kung Fu Naki d. MVP
The announcer talked about the fact that MVP must pay back his multi-million-dollar signing bonus if he doesn’t win at least one match before Survivor Series.
Just when it looked like MVP might get that victory, Great Khali and Rungen Singh came to the ring.
MVP gaped at the Punjabi Playboy, which gave Kung Fu Naki a chance to score with a match-winning King Fu thrust.
The Kingfish Comments: A nothing match, but a cute bit.
The Great Khali Kiss Cam returned. They picked out a plump woman named Tallulah. Khali didn’t really want to kiss her and, eventually, they made MVP do it. He and Tallulah ended up rolling around on the mat.
Michelle McCool d. Maria
Divas World Championship
They shook hands before the match to show that there were no bad feelings between them.
Festus, accompanied by Jessie, came to ringside to watch the match. Festus has a crush on Maria.
Maria gave a fair account of herself, by the champion retained with an Anklelock.
The Kingfish Comments: It’s nice they found Michelle McCool a finisher she can do, but the matches still need a lot of improvement.
Jeff wore extensive face paint to go with the multi-colored hair.
Hardy tried to keep moving, but Undertake slowed him down with a well-placed knee. The Dead Man connected with a Back Elbow, but Jeff Clotheslined him over the top rope to the arena floor and then blasted him with a Baseball Slide. Hardy came off the top of the barricade, but Taker caught him and drove him into the steel!
The fighting in the ringside area grew brutal. Undertaker flung him from pillar to post. He leaned Hardy’s head over the edge of the ring for a couple of running punches. He got a chair and jammed it into Hardy, edge on!
Hardy picked up a kendo stick and dealt three rapid shots before poking Undertaker in the stomach with it! Back inside the ropes, Hardy landed a couple more kendo stick shots, but Taker came to life and flattened his adversary with one tremendous boot.
Undertaker stopped Hardy in his tracks with one big punch. Then he picked up the Charismatic Enigma and rammed him into the ring post. Again the fighting at ringside grew brutal as Hardy took wild chances and Undertaker kept coming back to even the score.
Fans booed Undertaker as he tried to go Old School. They cheered when Jeff yanked him off the rope.
Jeff brought a ladder into the ring, but Taker slammed it back at him. Then the Dead Man hit Hardy with a tremendous shot to the head with it!
Jeff Hardy executed an Enzuiguiri. Before he could capitalize on it, though, Big Show stormed into the ring and Chokeslammed Undertaker!
Just as Big Show was about to obliterate Undertaker with one of his titanic punches, Hardy came flying off the top at him! Undertaker hit Big Show with a chair, but then Hardy hit Taker with it!
Jeff Hardy hit a Legdrop off the top of the ladder and covered for the pin.
The Kingfish Comments: The screwjob ending was more necessary than usual, because it gave Big Show a role in the match. Since Taker is going to meet the big man at Survivor Series, pushing the match was one of this RAW’s main objectives.
The booking gave Jeff Hardy the win he needed to trigger the next phase of the storyline. At the same time, Undertaker’s loss was completely understandable and carried very little stigma.
Overall Grade for this RAW: C+
I’ll be back tomorrow with another installment of the Internet’s fastest-rising daily wrestling column. I hope you’ll come back then – and, please, bring your friends.
– Arnie Katz