World Heavyweight champion, Alberto Del Rio, started off Smackdown Friday night with the privilege of picking his opponent for Summerslam. A task Del Rio didn’t take very seriously as he attempted to name his Personal ring announcer, Ricardo Rodriguez, as his opponent for the biggest pay per view of the summer. Unfortunately the decision didn’t sit so well with SmackDown General Manager, Vickie Guerrero.
The newly crowned General Manager made her way down the ramp as fans throughout the arena showered her in the usual boos and shouts that usually accompany her entrance. She quickly scolded the World Heavyweight Champion, telling Del Rio that he was being disrespectful by taking advantage of her generous decision to let him pick his opponent at Summerslam.
Del Rio desperately tried to convince Vickie that he was capable of making the decision, as he tried to pick the Brooklyn Brawler as his opponent. The General Manager finally put a stop to Alberto Del Rio’s desperate attempts at an easy pay per view win, announcing a blockbuster Triple Threat Number One Contender’s Match between Rob Van Dam, Randy Orton, and Christian.
The match itself was mixture of fast paced action and gravity defying moves in the ring and around ringside, as these three superstars really put on a good show for the Smackdown audience. One of the best moves of the night was when Rob Van Dam nailed a crowd pleasing spinning wheel kick on Orton while he laid defenseless on the crowd barrier.
Another great moment in the match was when Orton tried to line up RVD for his signature,between the ropes DDT, but was stopped at the last second as RVD nailed The Viper with a head to the midsection. The Apex Predator regrouped for a second before coming back with a killer drop kick, dropping Van Dam to the ringside floor.
With Rob Van Dam out of the picture, Orton focused his attention on Christian, hitting Captain Charisma with a between the ropes DDT for good measure. Before the Viper could capitalize with a RKO, RVD jumped in front of Orton, in a last ditch effort to win the match. Unfortunately for RVD his efforts were met with a split second reversal into an RKO.
RVD wasn’t the only unfortunate one as the RKO on Van Dam gave Christian enough time to gain his bearings and reverse Orton’s second RKO into a landslide pin to win the match.
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Before leaving, both Van Dam and Orton shook hands with Christian to congratulate him on winning the main even match. After some replays were shown on the Titantron, Josh Matthews stood in the ring with a beaten and battered Captain Charisma to talk to him about his win.
Christian responded to Matthews questions saying “I’m a little hurt right now,” before being knocked to the ground in a surprise attack by World Heavyweight Champion, Alberto Del Rio. The crowd booed rapidly as The Mexican Aristocrat continued his assault on Christian. After a few more punches, Del Rio delivered a deafening kick to the head of Christian, before leaving the ring.
It was so refreshing to finally see a Number One Contender match in the WWE again. Instead of title bouts being decided by one superstar attacking one of the championship belt holders and then building up the feud into a match at the nearest pay per view, the superstar actually had to prove he belonged in the championship match by beating his set opponent in a match to determine who would then go on to face the title holder at the next pay per view.
The reason some fans prefer The Number One Contender matches over senseless feuds is simple. If a superstar is able to prove themselves in a Number One Contenders match, they actually deserve to go on to the title match, instead of just continuously attacking until the champion agrees to a match for the title.The different formula also gives the title being competed over a lot more meaning when it’s on the line, because to be in a championship match to start with, you had to outlast every other guy on the roster to get that spot.
For the longest time, the major WWE title contenders have been decided by feuds or Money In The Bank briefcases. For example when Mark Henry gave his fake retirement speech while in the ring with WWE Champion, John Cena, the night after Payback, he quickly duped The “Cenation” leader into embracing in one last hug. Before nailing him with the World’s Strongest Slam. The attack then led to championship match at Money in the Bank.
Ryback is another example of a superstar starting a championship feud with an attack on a title holder, instead of a Number One Contenders match. Ryback attacked WWE Champion, John Cena on Raw the night after WrestleMania 29. The next week he explained his attack by saying he was stepping out of John Cena’s shadow and seizing his opportunity at the WWE title. The feud culminated in a match at Extreme Rules, Where Ryback and Cena faced off in a last man standing match, and then another match at Payback.
Now that we know Christian will face Del Rio for the title. The conversation quickly turns to how will WWE Creative be able to build up this match for Summerslam. The feud already has a slow start due to Del Rio lamely attacking Christian at the end of Smackdown, but hopefully Christian will cut a decent promo Monday night on Raw and be able to carry this already lackluster feud with is in ring work and his microphone skills.
It is still very troubling to me that Christian got the title match with Alberto Del Rio, instead of a baby face Dolph Ziggler. Ziggler is so much more over with the audience right now after his face turn at Payback. It would seem that it would be impossible for the WWE to deny him one more shot at the title gold, especially given that Ziggler’s title match at Money In The Bank ended in disqualification when his girlfriend, AJ Lee, interfered and cost him the match. As much as I’m glad to see Christian get one more shot at a title, I think they should have given Ziggler one more match first.