Chair Shots: Ryder rises to occasion at WWE Smackdown - Great American Bash

With all the big names involved in the 20 (well, 19) man Great American Bash battle royal, I'd guess that Long Island Ice Z Zack Ryder was nowhere near the top of the list of favorites. Yet, sure enough, Ryder not only won the battle royal to become Smackdown's general manager next week, but he also got some retribution on Kane and Eve -- who have been tormenting him since the beginning of the year.

Ryder's victory was the cherry on top of an entertaining live Smackdown Tuesday night that was certainly hokey at times, but nevertheless enjoyable.

The show also saw two favorites qualify for the World Championship Money in the Bank ladder match, Cody Rhodes and Dolph Ziggler. With seven competitors in the match currently, I'd expect one more to be added on next week's show -- likely Ryder, who will have the power to add himself as the GM.

Here's the rundown of the show:

Kane toed the line between babyface and heel for most of the show. He was essentially a heel against Ryder in the final segment, but in the opening segment, he used his powers to ignite a grill during the Great American Bash party backstage after Santino Marella failed to light it. I got a kick out of that segment, I don't know if anyone else did. I don't care. I'm a big fan of Kane. ...

The reason the battle royal ended up with 19 people is because Alberto Del Rio "injured" Sheamus in the opening segment. I found it a bit odd that Del Rio was getting heel heat by saying he was in the country legally. I don't want to get into the politics of illegal immigration, but something tells me that segment would've only worked in a few places, and Corpus Christi, Texas happened to be one of them. That brought out Sheamus, who ended up getting his head repeated smashed in the hood of Del Rio's fancy car.

On the replay, they showed Sheamus bleeding from his forehead, which was kind of a big deal. They rarely show blood in WWE if they don't have to, and considering they had come back from a commercial break and could've cleaned him up first, yet chose not to was an interesting decision. Not one I'm going to overanalyze though. Between that and the beating he put on Sin Cara, I thought they really sold how vicious Del Rio is acting these days. ...

I guess Teddy Long got his retribution on Antonio Cesaro and Aksana by booking them in a match against Great Khali and Divas Champion Layla, which the babyfaces won. Whatever. It wasn't exactly a technically sound match, but because Layla pinned Aksana, I guess it doesn't hurt Cesaro. Maybe he can move on to something interesting soon. I'd like to see him target Santino and the United States Championship. ...

In what was easily the match of the night, Cody Rhodes defeated Christian cleanly to qualify for Money in the Bank. The story here was that the Board of Directors heard Rhodes' appeal to get another shot at qualifying after he lost out when his tag team partner David Otunga was pinned last week. But Teddy Long got to choose his opponent and picked Christian, a man he had yet to beat. Makes logical sense. Rhodes is my favorite to win the MITB briefcase, as he certainly seems to be trending upward. By beating Christian clean to qualify -- yet not for the Intercontinental Championship he lost to him -- both guys look strong going forward. Smart booking. ...

Dolph Ziggler would be 1B on my list of favorites for the MITB briefcase, and would've been my favorite had he not just lost a series of matches to World Champion Sheamus. If he were to win MITB and cash in too quickly, he would be perceived as more of a fluke than any of the previous MITB winners because he just failed over and over in trying to gain the title. He's been there before, but I wouldn't mind seeing him get another extended run with the Intercontinental Championship. I just don't see him in the main event picture right now, so that's the next best thing. Nothing wrong with a high-profile feud with Christian.

Ziggler, by the way, made Alex Riley look pretty good in the qualifer. For a second, I thought they might actually have Riley pull the upset. ...

On a patriotic, July 4 edition of Smackdown, you knew Sgt. Slaughter and Hacksaw Jim Duggan would be there. I still think it's silly the United States Champion is a guy who is portrayed from Italy (who is actually Canadian!) but whatever. Santino's team won when he gave the Cobra to one of the unlucky members of the Drew McIntyre, Hunico and Camacho. By the way, shouldn't Slaughter -- a former GI Joe character -- put Santino's hand in the Cobra Clutch? How did Michael Cole not make a joke about that?

Speaking of Cole, I think they should do more with him as an in-ring interviewer. At some point -- probably when Stone Cold Steve Austin was setting the world on fire -- WWE went from having someone interview the wrestlers to the wrestlers just coming out to the ring to talk trash, which I never quite understood. I think talking segments work better when the talent has someone to work off of and keep them on track by doing an interview. It also makes it seem more "real" than this guy is coming out to interrupt the show and talk for 15 minutes, but whatever.

Anyway, I liked Cole's segment with AJ, even if he got a little creepy at one point. The uncomfortable factor kind of got turned up when AJ made out with Bryan, then with CM Punk. As Jim Ross likes to say, every AJ segment seems to leave us with more questions than answers, and that's a good thing when it comes to episodic television. ...

I'd say that Ryback finally got a "real" opponent, except that he wrestled Curt Hawkins. I'm kidding. Kind of. Not really. Actually, I like this idea that Hawkins and Reks flipped a coin to determine who got to face (ie: job) to Ryback. I only assume that Reks gets him next week and that Ryback will face both of them at Money in the Bank in an unannounced match. Since Ryback is beating two guys at a time, why not give him an angle where he wins the tag team titles on his own. Be honest, the purists would HATE it, but you know Vince McMahon would love it. It'd be different at least. ...

At some point in the second hour, Damien Sandow interrupted the party backstage, was confronted by and got into a fight with Ryder, who grabbed a bowl of punch and tossed it, "punching" Eve, who was in a white maid's dress and wearing the giant nametag she had made Teddy Long wear. This ended up being Ryder's retribution for everything Eve did to him earlier in the year. The folks who like to get angry about WWE bullying people need to realize that this was turnabout for Eve's character, who did much worse things to Ryder. It'll be interesting to see what Ryder does to her next week when he's in charge. ...

The battle royal was actually pretty uninspiring by itself. Usually, WWE uses these to advance some angles, but they didn't really do a whole lot of that here. If nothing else, I found it interesting the number of past rivalries that were referenced. In particular, Big Show's issues with Cody Rhodes dating back to WrestleMania, considering both are heels now. Show was pretty dominant in the match and, in fact, I thought he would actually win the thing. He eliminated at least six people (the eliminations of Heath Slater and Jack Swagger weren't seen on TV). Having Kane eliminate him while Show was in Ziggler's sleeper was a fine way to do it, however, and let's be honest, all he did was fall over the top rope, that's not a heat killer.

Bryan and Punk eliminated each other and Show eliminated Cena, so that keeps those main event angles going. Del Rio got chucked by Cena, so he doesn't lose too much heat. I was surprised Sheamus didn't make a return appearance to eliminate Del Rio, since the Great White has a tendancy to not listen to medical staff and fight anyway.

The big finish was pretty enjoyable though. Honestly, Kane running things would've been a lot more intriguing, but hopefully this is a step in the right direction for Ryder and not just a temporary moment in the spotlight. He definitely seems to have something going with Sandow, which I think could be a big angle on Smackdown moving forward.

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