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WWE Smackdown: Constructing a team worth bragging about

After sitting through a talk-heavy episode of TNA Impact Thursday night, it was refreshing to watch a wrestling show in which there were actual wrestling matches, including a couple of really good ones.

Friday's Smackdown featured a series of qualifying bouts to determine who will represent Team Smackdown against Team Raw at the Bragging Rights pay-per-view on Oct. 24. Unlike the Raw squad, Smackdown has assembled an All-Star team that includes former world champions The Big Show, Rey Mysterio, Edge and Jack Swagger, as well as Kofi Kingston and Alberto Del Rio. The surprise member of the team is Tyler Reks, who returned to TV with a tougher look and attitude.

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Edge and Dolph Ziggler had the best match of the night, and the Mysterio-Cody Rhodes contest also stood out. While the established stars predictably won those two matches, Ziggler and Rhodes both got in a lot of offense and looked strong in defeat.

Other thoughts on Friday's show:

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Smackdown opened with a cool shot of The Undertaker standing on the top of the arena. He hung out there all night until appearing in the ring for a confrontation with Kane and Paul Bearer in the final segment. ...

It was announced that Kane will defend the world heavyweight title against The Undertaker in a Buried Alive match at Bragging Rights. Hopefully, that will be the blow-off match to this feud. ...

There was more silly hocus pocus stuff with The Undertaker and Kane at the end of the show, but the segment was effective as far as establishing that The Undertaker is again a force despite not having Bearer and the urn by his side. ...

When Bearer was discussing the Buried Alive match in a pre-taped promo, he sounded like he was reading off a teleprompter. ...

The Big Show sat in on commentary during several of the qualifying matches and he did a good job of getting all of the competitors over and making Bragging Rights seem like a big deal. With that being said, however, the brand versus brand concept is still a tough sell because the talent moves from show to show so frequently. There really is no such thing as a Raw guy or a Smackdown guy (well, except for The Undertaker, who has been on Smackdown for seven years straight). There are four guys in the Raw vs. Smackdown match (Big Show, Kingston, Swagger and R-Truth) who were on the opposite side in last year's match. ...

The finish to the 2009 Bragging Rights match saw The Big Show betray Kingston and Team Raw in favor of Team Smackdown. Now that Big Show and Kingston are once again teammates, I wonder if there will be tension between them. ...

Rivals Mysterio and Del Rio being on the same side could be interesting. ...

I like what WWE did with Kaval and the way Reks was re-introduced. Big Show told Kaval that he could have a spot on Team Smackdown if he could last five minutes in the ring with him. Big Show dished out a lot of punishment to Kaval, but he never attempted to pin him, so it was almost like an initiation of sorts. After the match, Big Show shook Kaval's hand. Moments later, Reks came out and challenged the weakened Kaval to a match with Kaval's spot on the line. Kaval, showing that he won't back down in any situation, accepted the challenge. Reks made quick work of him and took his spot, which puts heat on Reks and makes Kaval a sympathetic underdog. ...

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Reks' new look is an improvement, but the robotic promo that he cut on his way to the ring didn't do him any favors. ...

I liked the spot in the Edge-Ziggler match when Ziggler hit the Zig-Zag into the ring steps and Edge was nearly counted out. ...

It was nice to see Swagger get a convincing victory, but it's too bad it had to come at MVP's expense. I'm always torn when Swagger and MVP wrestle because I'd like to see both guys get a push. By the way, WWE really needs to ditch Swagger's ridiculous eagle mascot. I think the gimmick is hurting Swagger more than it's helping him. ...

Speaking of convincing victories, I thought Kingston defeated Drew McIntyre a little too easily. ...

After last week's loss to Mysterio, Del Rio looked strong in beating Chris Masters. ...

Michael Cole apparently is now a regular member of the Smackdown announce team with Matt Striker and Todd Grisham, so why does he keep referring to himself as a Raw guy when he is actually a Raw and a Smackdown guy? ...

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Did anyone miss Michelle McCool? No, me either.


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