If Paramount Pictures is searching for the perfect new summer blockbuster, they may want to take a look at "The Curious Case of Alberto Del Rio."
After failing to defeat Sheamus for the World Heavyweight Championship at Money in the Bank, many believed -- and several hoped -- Del Rio's time in the title picture had come to a close.
Randy Orton was returning from injury, bringing back another legitimate main event star and filling a void at the top of the card.
It seemed Del Rio's story was taking a turn very different than most others told by WWE in recent years, where people build a rivalry by being in the ring with each other night in and night out. It seemed as if it would be an interesting premise to see Del Rio not competing.
Of course, less than 24 hours in real time and a few short days in television time, Del Rio's promise was stripped away by new Smackdown General Manager Booker T, who put Del Rio in a match that night.
Del Rio continued to wrestle on both Raw and Smackdown from that point forward. What seemed as if it would be an atypical story turned into little more than standard fare.
Then, last week on Smackdown, Booker T granted Del Rio his title shot early, but when the challenger came up short, the general manager told him he wouldn't be getting a rematch at SummerSlam.
This created several opportunities: a mystery opponent for the pay-per-view, a number-one contender's match to determine a new opponent for Sheamus, an opportunity for Dolph Ziggler to cash in his Money in the Bank contract.
Instead, on tonight's Smackdown, Del Rio demanded that he get his shot on Sunday and was subsequently booked into a main event match with
Dolph Ziggler attacked Jericho before the match, but that didn't stop him and Del Rio from putting on a quality match. People who don't see anything in Del Rio baffle me.
Del Rio pulled out the victory with an assist from Ziggler, and he proceeded to lock in the cross-armbreaker on Jericho after the match. Sheamus predictably made the save, which led to a quick brawl and Del Rio retreating through the crowd.
After his victory, Sheamus demanded that the SummerSlam match be reinstated, Booker T had no choice but to comply.
Now, this whole saga has come to a close in the exact same position it was in at the beginning, Del Rio is poised to challenge Sheamus for the World Heavyweight Championship at SummerSlam.
Did this extended drama make the story more compelling? No, not for me anyway. Others may be more interested in it, and if so, great. WWE succeeded in reaching that segment of the market.
In my opinion, this story could have been told in many different ways. I'm not going to play armchair booker and pitch ideas, but at this point, the best ending scenario to the situation as it stands would be that Del Rio overcomes the odds stacked against him and wins the big one on Sunday.
I hope WWE hasn't backed themselves into that corner. While I wouldn't mind Del Rio getting another run on top, many fans would seemingly be very disappointed.
I would personally like to see a Sheamus vs. Del Rio rematch, but I worry I'm in the minority. Let's hope the Del Rio experiment hasn't been a bust.
** Daniel Bryan may not win much, but he is quickly becoming one of the most consistent performers on the roster when it comes to producing quality matches. He and Orton put on a good match that made me want to see more. Bryan had Orton in the No Lock when Kane's music and pyro hit, distracting Bryan. It makes more sense for flames shooting from the turnbuckle to cause Bryan to break the hold than just music, so at least it was believable in that sense. In the end, Orton hit an RKO on a distracted Bryan for the win. Once again, Orton continues to look strong against an opponent who is actively involved in a major program.
** Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara should be a full-time tag team. They could have a nice run, battling a pair of heel champs and then carrying the straps for a while. It would be a good chance for Cara to continue to learn and improve in working the WWE style, while giving Mysterio something relevant to do. The duo had a fun match with Intercontinental Champion The Miz and Cody Rhodes, who seems to be in a budding rivalry with Cara. The masked men won, and Mysterio put an exclamation point on the situation by hitting The Miz with a 6-1-9 and standing tall leading into their title match at SummerSlam.
** Curt Hawkins and Tyler Reks are apparently now ... male strippers? The commentary team was selling it as the pair trying to do something different to get noticed by Booker T. It was really kind of awkward. But once they got past the dancing and the stripping, Hawkins and Reks made quick work over a pair of nameless jobbers. They didn't look bad in the ring, and they're another duo that could add depth to the tag team division. I'm hoping they continue to get attention, but I hope it comes without the awkward stripping routine.
** Antonio Cesaro made quick work of Zack Ryder in a squash match to prepare for him his United States Championship match on the SummerSlam pre-show. It's a shame that match has been relegated to that status, but hopefully Sunday won't be the end of the road for Cesaro, who would make a great midcard champion if given the right opportunities.
** Eve won the right to be Booker T's assistant by defeating Kaitlyn. The match itself was short, but it wasn't bad while it lasted. This should lead to some good segments with Eve and Teddy Long, but hopefully it doesn't take Eve out of active competition, as she's one of the most sound divas on the roster.
Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara d. Cody Rhodes and The Miz
Curt Hawkins and Tyler Reks d. Unnamed Jobbers
Eve d. Kaitlyn
Randy Orton d. Daniel Bryan
Antonio Cesaro d. Zack Ryder
Alberto Del Rio d. Chris Jericho
Tonight's episode of Smackdown had a lot of good action on it and earns a big thumbs up. I won't be able to watch SummerSlam on Sunday, and that disappoints me. The show has had some good build, and I expect it to have a lot of good wrestling. While much of what happened on tonight's Smackdown dealt with people not on the pay-per-view (Sin Cara, Rhodes, Hawkins and Reks, Eve and Kaitlyn, Orton), it was still a compelling evening of sports entertainment.