The State of SmackDown! for July

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We here at Ring Psychology understand that it may have been some time since you’ve followed wrestling regularly. Perhaps you’re looking to jump back into it, but you’re concerned you won’t understand what’s going on. “Oh no,” you may be thinking, “I don’t want to look like a fool in front of my wrestling friends if I can’t tell The Miz from The Morrison!” Don’t worry, we’re here to help! “The State of…” will provide key storyline info and identify the main players of all the major television shows…and ROH, too!

Friday Night Smackdown, now in its tenth year on the air, may only get a fraction of the audience of the average Monday Night Raw, but for the past several months, it has consistantly been the best weekly wrestling program in the world.  Smackdown continues to put on great shows week after week because they don’t have to rely on gimmicks like special guest hosts, or publicity stunts like Donald Trump “buying” the show.

Smackdown benefits greatly from being one of the two shows, along with ECW, that Vince McMahon doesn’t watch, appear on, or care about.  As a result, the creative team is free to put together 20-minute matches, slow-building nuanced angles, and oh yeah, it doesn’t feature Triple H, John Cena, or Batista.  The only real “old guard” on Smackdown is The Undertaker, and he’s out on vacation (injured) three-to-six months out of every year.

The General Manager of Smackdown is Theodore “Teddy” Long, who you may remember as the manager of Rodney Mack, or before that, “the black referee” (he once botched a two-count when a wrestler didn’t kick out, prompting a “Tupac sucks” chant from the crowd, because wrestling fans display a stunningly limited knowledge of black culture when confronted with “what bald black guy do we know off the top of our heads”), or wayyy back in the day, the manager of the tag team DOOM.  He is somewhat put-upon in his capacity as GM, and is in the midst of a half-aborted angle where Vince McMahon is pressuring him to present compelling television or risk losing his job.  The joke is that Vince himself is unable to legitimately do this on Raw.

Let’s take a look at the major players and storylines of Smackdown!

World Heavyweight Championship: The current World Heavyweight Champion is CM Punk, the “Straight Edge Superstar.”  He was a mega-babyface, but ever since winning the title from Jeff Hardy (by cashing in his guaranteed title shot mere moments after Jeff won the title in a grueling ladder match), he has been in the midst of a wonderfully-executed slow heel turn.  Everyone loves Jeff Hardy, and I really mean that.  They love him like crazy.   Jeff Hardy is a meth addict and a pill-popper, so that makes the clean-living Punk a perfect foil.  The odd thing is that Punk is the heel in this situation by calling out Hardy as a drug addict.  And this makes him a bad guy somehow.  Keeping in mind WWE’s current family friendly image, it is exceedingly bizarre (albeit wonderful) that when Punk says something like “Jeff Hardy is a drug addict” and the crowd goes YAYYYYY JEFF HARDYYYYY as hard as they can.

Waiting on the outskirts of this feud is John Morrison, who looks like Jim Morrison (not just a clever name).  He has beaten Punk cleanly in recent weeks in non-title matches.  WWE is in a rush to position Morrison as a main-eventer, since Hardy’s contract is up in about three weeks, after which Jeff is planning on taking a lengthy hiatus.  Morrison is great all-around, but a bit bland since becoming a babyface after splitting from longtime tag team partner The Miz.  Hopefully he will start showing a bit more of a distinct character other than “good-looking good guy”.

Intercontinental Champion: Current I-C champ Rey Mysterio is the super tiny dude in the mask.  He is at what appears to be the tail-end of a great, great, great feud with Chris Jericho.  The feud has featured some of the very best WWE matches of this year and hopefully we’ll get a hair vs. mask match at Summerslam before all is said and done.

Women’s Champion: Current women’s champ Michelle McCool, who has come into her own as a bitchy, conceited heel.  She’s still feuding with “fiery Latina” Melina and will continue doing so for the forseeable future, since the only other women on SD are Maria, who can’t wrestle, and Natalya, who manages the Hart Dynasty.

Unified Tag Team Champions: The Tag Team Chamionships got unified at Wrestlemania, and are currently held by Chris Jericho and Edge. The only problem is that Edge snapped his Achilles tendon two weeks ago and is out for the rest of the year.  The Tag Champs can appear on all three brands/shows, and they have not yet announced who will be taking Edge’s place or whether Jericho will be stripped of the titles.  Edge being out is bad news for all of Smackdown, as he’s been the top heel on the show for the past couple years and electrifies every match or segment he’s in.  Look for him to make a huge babyface return around Wrestlemania or later next year.

Smackdown does have a few tag teams, including the aforementioned Hart Dynasty, which consists of British Bulldog Davey Boy Smith’s son, David Hart Smith, and “last graduate of the Hart Family Dungeon” Tyson Kidd.  They are real great.  There is also Cryme Tyme, who as of late have been mostly relegated to a weekly segment called “Word Up” which teaches white people about “gangsta words”.  It’s exactly as small-minded and racist as whatever you’re picturing right now.

Other Notables: A feud between up-and-coming heel Dolph Ziggler (whose gimmick is that he introduces himself to people.  No, really.) and The Great Khali (a giant Punjabi man whose legs don’t bend) has dovetailed into a feud between Khali and the returning Kane. Get ready for EXCITEMENT!

There aren’t a whole lot of other major storylines on Smackdown at the moment, but one worth mentioning is R-Truth, who had been getting popular with a rapping entrance and catch phrase, appeared backstage last week sporting buck teeth and calling himself “Pretty Ricky” and acting pretty close to a Martin Lawrence scene from the film “Blue Streak”. We’re all curious to see where that one goes.

Check out Smackdown. You won’t be disappointed. Check back on Tuesday for The State of ECW!

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