Katz Files: The December Smackdown Report Card

The Katz Files – Arnie Katz

The December Smackdown Report Card!

The Kingfish Arnie Katz presents his December promotion report card for the good folks at WWE’s Smackdown.

About the Report Cards

Each month, I issue a report card for TNA. I examine and grade the promotion in all the vital areas. I discuss strengths and weaknesses and chart the ups and downs. The grades in parentheses are for the previous report card.

Smackdown is barreling toward Survivor Series, one of WWE’s “major” pay per views of the year. This is a good time to hand out the promotion’s monthly grades. Up this time is the report card for Smackdown.

Let’s see how it’s faring in its new broadcast home of the My TB Network.

Talent Pool

The return of Edge, who is the lead heel, is huge for the show. He was the center of the most compelling storyline and fought in most of the big matches. It may take him a little while to get going, but he has already had an effect on the show, improving almost every aspect.

MVP might as well not be part of the show. I have no idea what he did to piss off WWE, but he has become the designated loser. When you see him head to the ring, his fate is as certain as the member a Star Trek away team in the red polo shirt.

The women’s roster is a little thin, starting at the top with Michelle McCool. She’s a nice looking woman, in the general style of Stacy Keibler, but she is still not a terrific wrestler and her work in the ring is not strong enough to carry some of the even weaker wrestlers she has to fight. When you see Maryse wrestling as much as she has recently, it’s a potent piece of evidence that suggests that they don’t really have anyone else to put in there.

The return of Hurricane Helms is most welcome. He works very well in the ring and he has come up with some intriguing story and character ideas in the past. I don’t think he’ll be more than a mid-carder, but Helms adds depth.

Grade: B (B-)

Star Power

Edge is a big plus, especially with MVP remaining in the doghouse. The one-time young fan of WWE has grown into one of its most valuable marquee names. If he can stay healthy and focused, Edge is going to get even bigger in 2009.

The Colon Brothers aren’t being pushed as they probably should be. They need a strong storyline and some big title matches. This is very likely to happen as the show heads toward WrestleMania, which would restore some of their star power.

The women’s division is almost devoid of star power at the present time. Once one of the really valuable commodities on Smackdown, Maria seems all but forgotten. She could still rebound, but it’s going to take a concerted push to restore the aura of glamour that surrounded her,

Grade: C+ (C+)

In-Ring Action

Smackdown is currently devoting more of its two hours to wrestling than formerly, about 40 minutes in all, and that has a very positive effect on the matches. Less rushing and more storytelling always results in a more entertaining contest.

Grade: B (B-)

Booking & Dramatics

The continuing sage with Vickie Guerrero at its center has hit a lull. The subplot with Chavo is a yawner and, frankly, a bit too predictable. Vickie sending him for coffee show after show is not as interesting as so many other things Chavo Guerrero Jr could, and should, be doing. Edge’s return should be a tonic for that story, though. Big Show did the best he could with what he was handed, but Edge is the charismatic presence that ignites it.

The Great Khali Kiss Cam is not well-booked. Since they want to make him a babyface, the girls should be more eager – and he should be more willing to kiss them. I’ve never been a Khali fan, but there’s definitely fan interest in him. A more positive presentation would help.

Grade: C+ (C+)

Announcing

Jim Ross and Taz may not have won the Slammy, but they would be my choice as the best team. JR still calls play-by-play better than anyone else in the business and Tazz is always good for some inside observations.

Grade: B+ (B+)

Overall

Smackdown has found a comfortable home on My Network. The biggest lack is that it needs more cohesive planning with more long-running storylines.

The matches have improved, which enhances the show. Now they need to put more of a plot framework around those matches to give them more meaning to fans.

Grade: B- (C+)

That’s it for today. I’ll be back tomorrow with another installment of the Internet’s fastest-rising daily wrestling column.

— Arnie Katz
[email protected]
(12/23/08)