A Friday column?!? When I said I was planning on watching Smackdown, I meant it. Welcome everyone to the Wrath of Tito, the column that's a dish best served cold twice this week. Today, we'll discuss various wrasslin' issues and REVIEW SMACKDOWN. Yes, it's the show that many are avoiding these days, including yours truly... Hey, what can I say? I'm a wrestling consumer and I spoke out against Smackdown by not watching their shows AND Pay Per Views. They need improvement, clearly. Getting a new General Manager (Teddy Long), getting a main eventer back (Kurt Angle), and suring up the midcard (US Title situation) are steps in the right direction. Bringing out midgets to hype a main event title feud is NOT.

This is not to say that I'll watch every week. Wrestling has caused my attention lately to stray away from the product, especially on Thursday nights, which have oddly become busy evenings for yours truly. Now, if the show continues to take a few steps in the right direction, I MAY change my mind. You know, back when Smackdown had a main event scene with Angle, Lesnar, and Guerrero earlier this year... or how about Smackdown when they had that great tag team division? I hardly ever missed a show. Bring me back as a fan! I want to watch every week!!! Give me a reason to tape the shows if I'm absent!!!

-Damn, I got a TON of feedback regarding my comments regarding George Lucas and how he was changing up the Original Trilogy for the DVD release in September. If you need visuals, check out this website. Lucas is beginning to replace actors in the movies with the cast members of Episodes 1-3, and in my opinion, that's wrong. He's also replacing voices, deleting dialogue to hide conflicts (like Leia's comments about her mother), among other things. So basically, if you wanted the original 3 movies on DVD, "SCREW YOU" says George Lucas. However, if you want heavily edited movies, then buy whatever is coming out in September. I'm saddened by this act and I've ate a lot of crow over this when I defended the Special Edition Star Wars movies... I'm sure, though, come September, I'll breakdown and buy the damn trilogy that's been doctored up by a George Lucas well past his prime.

-The RAW rating went UP this week from a 3.6 to a 3.8, which is pretty good on the WWE's part. Things will get tough in the upcoming weeks with the Olympics around the corner, but it was good for the WWE to have a ratings bump with a show focused on hyping Summerslam. In my opinion, RAW has done a spectacular job hyping Summerslam and the most recent RAW especially proved to me that RAW will carry their end of the bargain. Will Smackdown? Will they with Undertaker vs. Bradshaw? Well... I'm sure Kurt Angle vs. Eddie and Booker T vs. John Cena will be good. Bradshaw needs a bigtime Pay Per View performance to prove a lot of disagreeing fans wrong about his title reign.

-Seriously, who is going to buy the Chyna/Sean Waltman sex tape? For one, this it's hilarious how Chyna is getting the rumored release out there by mentioning to whomever will listen. And secondly, when a sex tape becomes big, it's usually with at least ONE ATTRACTIVE PERSON in it. With Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee... I guess it was the best of both worlds, for I wanted to see Pam while a lot of ladies were curious about the Tommy Lee stories. With Paris Hilton, she was a big celebrity on the club scene and that tape only boosted her popularity. What does Chyna have? Several years removed from a Playboy spread? I mean, don't get me wrong, she looked decent naked (except for when she had her back to the camera... yecch!), but I don't want to watch a video of her getting her busted football pounded by X-Pac. I wouldn't even dare pay money to see that and I'd probably pass to see it for free. This will NOT get mainstream press because Hollywood and many other outlets have denied Chyna opportunities beyond wrestling and the mainstream media probably doesn't even know who Sean Waltman is!

-I ordered Fire Pro Wrestling off of Ebay for the Gameboy Advance. Any good?

On to the Smackdown review!

SMACKDOWN is TITO

The show started off with Teddy Long discussing what a great opportunity he has been given as Smackdown General Manager. I agree. He was fantastic as a fill-in for Eric Bischoff on one episode of RAW. His mic-skills are very much underrated and his personality is quite entertaining. I'm sure this is a good PR decision by the WWE, too, for Smackdown is viewed in more urban areas on UPN (which is why Eddie Guerrero and Rey Mysterio have strong followings). That's not playing the races, but it's the truth. UPN has a higher black and hispanic viewership than TNN does, and putting an African American in a position of authority on the show is quite good.

Teddy Long decided to make a #1 Contender's match for the United States title right then and there. What's with this instant hype for title belts? I mean, just last week, we saw Randy Orton win an unannounced Battle Royal to decide who would become the #1 contender at Summerslam. Anyway, the match was John Cena vs. Rob Van Dam, a bigtime clash of styles and both guys with big fan followings. The match went somewhat long, which is scary considering how RVD wrestles with psychology and how Cena still has some more stuff to learn. Not a bad match up... The crowd was pretty split up, basically chanting for whomever did a hand signal at the time. They didn't blow any spots and hit some decent flashy moves. I'll take it as a good opener to start off Smackdown. John Cena became the #1 contender with a roll up. The faces saluted each other afterward, awwww.

Backstage, Booker T was watching the match when Teddy Long approached him. Given Booker's reputation from his WCW days AND from Chris Benoit's new DVD mentioning the Best of 7 series in WCW between Benoit and Booker, Teddy Long decided to make a Best of 5 series between Booker T and John Cena, with the first match starting at Summerslam. I assume the 5th and final match will happen at the next official Smackdown Pay Per View? 5 matches between Booker T and John Cena? While this will be no Benoit vs. Booker, and that's a given, it's a good idea to build some drama in a midcard feud. I'm sure fans will dig the 5th match, just as they enjoyed Benoit and Booker's 7th match. I'm sure they'll work together well on this product and give the fans some great results. Let's hope, for both of their careers could use a catapult to help out the main event scene.

Next, we had Eddie Guerrero come out to the ring... he was pimpin' his ride with Divas Dawn Marie, Sable, and Torrie Wilson and they all went to the ring where Angle's stuff was (with the auction ending later that night *gasp*). This was a long and drawn out segment, which had Eddie trying to up the value of the actioned goods by having Sable, Torrie, and Dawn Marie sign separate items. I bet if Sable, Torrie, or Dawn Marie left a "snail trail" on the wheelchair, you'd have a lot more potential buyers... Oh man, did I just say that? After all of this long stuff regarding the auctioned materials, Eddie showed footage of him beating Angle at Wrestlemania 20 and then revealed a new Summerslam commercial that showed Eddie cheating in a race at the Oympics. Talk about your shilling for one big commercial (although the auction is for charity)!!! I usually enjoy Eddie segments, but this one completely dragged and the comedic gags weren't hitting. Eddie should be intense because Kurt Angle is a man who tried to screw with his life as the General Manager AND as a wrestler before Wrestlemania 20. This segment ate up a lot of time and did not serve well as a hyping piece for Eddie vs. Angle 2 at Summerslam. This is a contrast between RAW and Smackdown.

We actually had another match with Orlando Jordan vs. Rene Dupree. Just seeing Orlando Jordan move... he's got a ton of charisma and ability. He just needs to nail down a look and something unique that sets him apart from other wrestlers. This match was very short, which had Orlando getting the win with a flying cross body. Well, good for him, although Rene Dupree is a prospect you should be pushing as a strong midcard heel, not depushing to lose to returning wrestlers who aren't that well known with the fans.

Backstage, Josh Matthews waited on and then interviewed Bradshaw or JBL... JBL said he would confront the Undertaker later and then whipped out the famous FDR quote, "there is nothing to fear but fear itself". Interesting use of that famous quote, although you'd have to wonder what FDR would think if he knew his famous wartime quote was used for a wrestling event. What actually sickens me, though, was that this segment set up Bradshaw's later recycled angle involving a midget. Oh, I'll get to that in a moment!

The next bout was between Kurt Angle and Charlie Haas. Pretty good matwork between the two, although Angle seems a little too tight in the ring from some rust, I assume. It was still good to see ol' cue-ball wrestling again and having a good opponent to work well with. This match, in my opinion, actually made Charlie Haas look strong and it baffles you when Haas doesn't get the attention in the midcard that he deserves. He could be a solid midcard wrestler, right up there with RVD, Cena, Booker T, and Dupree... he'll, I'd argue that Charlie Haas is probably a better mat wrestler than all of those wrestlers (although he's nothing compared to Booker T when he's motivated or Rob Van Dam when he's allowed to go balls-out in a match).

Next, it was the Bashams vs. Kidman/London. This match deserved more time, maybe 10 minutes instead of the 5 or so it got. It was just getting started when Kidman/London won the match after a nice flipping splash. I honestly wonder where they are going with the Bashams gimmick. There seems to be no serious push going their way since Linda Myles left them as a manager (Shaniqua) and both were considered to be good wrestling students at OVW in Jim Cornette's eyes. Then again, Cornette was high on Rico and the WWE hasn't seriously pushed him as a wrestler. Hmm...

The last match of the night was the Dudleys vs. Spike Dudley/Rey Mysterio. I expected more out of this match, given that the Dudleys had smaller wrestlers to abuse and they usually do that VERY WELL. This match seemed like a long Dudley beatdown on poor Rey Mysterio, with Mysterio fighting back here and there. The Dudleys won cleanly by pinning Rey-Rey with the 3D (interesting seeing Mysterio take that move). Afterward, Spike TURNED HEEL by attacking Mysterio and the Dudleys destroyed Rey-Rey through a table. That had to hurt Mysterio when Spike jumped on him! Smells like a six-man match happening at Summerslam between Kidman/London/Mysterio vs. the Dudleys.

And now, the segment that would make environmentalists proud... WWE RECYCLING! John Bradshaw Layfield, JBL, or Bradshaw came out and said he wasn't scared of the Undertaker. So he called him out and guess what?!? It was a midget dressed up as the Undertaker! Oh no, nobody in the WWE hasn't tried that gag (HBK, Edge/Christian). Of course not, that would be ludicrous to mock another wrestler with a midget. I mean, it's so original. Nice of the WWE to recycle an angle to hype what has to be a Pay Per View buying angle between Bradshaw and Undertaker. Your main event sells PPVs and you can't even hype it properly, only to revert to the past for stupid ideas. The REAL Undertaker, as predicted, would show up as predicted and go after Bradshaw. Then, out of no where, Orlando Jordan makes the save to pull JBL out of the ring before the Undertaker can maul him. SAY WHAT?!? Did I miss a storyline or something? There better be an explanation for this, especially given how the WWE made Jordan beat a top midcard heel before this happened. I don't get it... Is this a way to hype Summerslam? Have a returning unknown wrestler side with your heel world champion against the Undertaker? I don't get it...

LAST WORD: I actually enjoyed the wrestling part of this show. Yes, some deserved more time, but there's a Pay Per View to hype. However, with that being said, the time used for segments was poorly used, especially anything within the ring, such as Eddie Guerrero and JBL/midget/Undertaker. The sad thing is that this time given was to hype the two main matches off of the Summerslam roster. NOT GOOD. The main problem with Smackdown is NOT the talent. The midcard wrestlers are pretty good and the main event scene just improved greatly with Angle's return. The main problem is on the creative end, as they've made JBL's main event push out to be a sham and they can't show fans why they must spend $30-$40 of their hard earned bucks on a Pay Per View to see their featured matches. Get some better storylines and character development on this show, pronto!!! Otherwise from the storylines, I enjoyed this show, so a [ B ] grade has been awarded. See you Tuesday or Wednesday!

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