By this point, it seems like beating a dead horse to say there's a lack of depth at the top of the card in WWE.
But it's a statement that remains true and was evidenced by tonight's Smackdown, in which a new No. 1 contender for Sheamus' World Heavyweight title was named.
Four superstars -- Rey Mysterio, Alberto Del Rio, Kane and Daniel Bryan -- competed in a fatal four-way match to determine The Great White's top challenger. That's a lot of talent in the ring, and it paid off with a good match that Del Rio won, but there's a deeper-seated problem.
In recent months, all of those men -- with the exception of the recently returned Mysterio -- have had numerous shots at the WWE and World Heavyweight championships. How many times can they continue to come up short yet receive another immediate title shot?
WWE has attempted to throw a curveball into the scenario by having guys switch between the titles. Bryan, for example, lost the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania, failed to regain it from Sheamus at Extreme Rules and then instantly found himself in contention for CM Punk's WWE Championship. Now, after failing in that bid, he's back pursuing the World Heavyweight title.
Mysterio, on the other hand, has only been back a few weeks and hasn't done much of consequence since his return, so why does he deserve even a chance at being the No. 1 contender?
Each of these stars earned a spot in the qualifying match simply on name value. None of them have recent successes that should grant them the opportunity. If anyone of them even comes close, it's likely Kane, and that's a sad, sad thought.
Sheamus is capable of having good matches with most opponents. We've seen him do solid work with Bryan and Del Rio, and a match with Mysterio would certainly be intriguing.
So don't read this as a complaint about the potential match-ups offered on Smackdown. I may be in the minority, though, of people who were happy to see Del Rio pick up the win, as I think he and Sheamus can top their previous effort.
After SummerSlam, hopefully there will be some new challengers climbing to the top. There's a long break between SummerSlam and the Royal Rumble, so this is the time of year to take a chance on someone like Cody Rhodes in the main event.
For those who are wondering, no, Randy Orton is certainly not the answer.
** How many times will Sheamus hit Dolph Ziggler with the Brogue Kick before Ziggler actually cashes in his Money in the Bank briefcase? Someone should get the over-under from Vegas on this one. Sheamus had a good back-and-forth match with Rhodes that made the latter look like he belonged in the spot. After Sheamus won, Ziggler teased hitting the ring but retreated to the back instead. Chris Jericho, wearing Ziggler's shirt, came out and threw Ziggler back into the ring so the champ could hit his finishing move. For good measure, Jericho hit a Code Breaker, as well. The Jericho involvement makes sense and helps build their feud, which has potential to be amazing, but the constant Brogue Kicks aren't doing anything to help build Ziggler as a true future main event star.
** As a card-carrying Mizfit, I was thrilled to see The Miz win the Intercontinental Championship live on the 1,000th episode of Monday Night Raw. Watching him retain against former champion Christian tonight was just as sweet. They put together a really good match that was a lot of fun to watch. The Miz took an opportunity to bend the rules and won in relatively clean fashion in the end. If Miz continues to defend the title and secure a number of wins like this, it could do a great deal in restoring both his career and the prestige of the championship. For a guy who has reportedly been in the doghouse for months, The Miz seems to be looking at a bright future right now.
** I have a confession to make. When Ryback's opponents actually land offense and look as if they stand any semblance of a chance, I don't hate his matches. Jinder Mahal looked decent in there with the man-beast, and he eventually went for the intentional countout loss. Hopefully this seemingly new angle with Ryback's opponents trying different things -- Jack Swagger's pre-bell attack and Mahal's countout -- goes somewhere and isn't just a way of protecting the mid-level jobbers. That's what they're there for, right?
** There wasn't much to the match between United States Champion Santino Marella and Antonio Cesaro. It was kept short, both men got some quick shine and Cesaro picked up the win. Hopefully this leads to a title shot for Cesaro in the near future. It would be a lot of fun to see him run rampant with that belt -- and no one would complain about Marella dropping it.
** Has Damien Sandow had matches against anyone other than Zack Ryder and Yoshi Tatsu? I don't recall any. He once again made quick work of Tatsu. He cut a promo after the match talking about being a martyr after what happened on Monday with DX. Sandow and this martyr persona have a lot of potential upsides.
The Miz d. Christian to retain the Intercontinental Championship
Ryback d. Jinder Mahal by countout
Sheamus d. Cody Rhodes
Antonio Cesaro d. Santino Marella
Damien Sandow d. Yoshi Tatsu
Alberto Del Rio d. Daniel Bryan, Kane and Rey Mysterio
This was a really strong episode of Smackdown. Coming off the tails of an amazing live experience at the 1,000th episode of Raw, I wasn't sure what to expect, but WWE delivered a worthwhile product. Every time I hear someone say they never watch Smackdown, I wonder why, as the show is often more worth your time than Raw. Tonight's episode rounded out a fun week of WWE programming. There's little to complain about, outside of the lack of depth at the top of the card. Move some guys up the card a bit, shake up the status quo and things will be great.
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