The fact a commercial for Animal Planet's new series "Tanked" aired during tonight's live Smackdown seems oddly appropriate.
With much of the WWE roster already en route to Europe for an upcoming tour, the company tried to make the best of the show by using a "Blast from the Past" theme and filling the void with Hall of Famers and legends.
The fact of the matter is that it didn't work.
Live editions of Smackdown are usually special occasions and frequently produce must-see TV. This week's episode felt pieced together and hard to believe.
Some of the legends were used perfectly, in secondary roles, while others were too heavily involved.
It's been said before, and it will be said again, but nostalgia can only go so far. In this case, it brought down the trend of decent television being produced by WWE.
Some old-school fans may have found tonight's episode appealing, but for me, it may as well be featured on that new Animal Planet series they advertised.
- General Manager John Laurinaitis forcing World Heavyweight Champion Sheamus to apologize to referee Chad Patton for kicking him last week - even though the champ already had - was quite humorous. Not as fun, though, was the use of a "Monopoly money" angle, with Laurinaitis fining Sheamus $500,000, in WWE. Yes, in sports, fines work. But in wrestling, something just seems senseless about these types of angles, especially when considering worse offenses happen on a near-daily basis that go unpunished. It all boils down to Laurinaitis punishing Sheamus, but there are better ways of doing that than bringing play money into the equation.
In the main event, Sheamus teamed with "Mean" Gene Okerlund to face Daniel Bryan and Alberto Del Rio, the two men gunning for "The Great White's" championship. Sheamus did a good job selling the match as a two-on-one encounter, but it didn't last long before the villains cornered Okerlund. At that point, all the legends poured out to the ring, distracting Bryan and enabling Sheamus to hit the Brogue Kick for the win. Post-match, the legends took turns hitting their finishers on Ricardo Rodriguez. The ending seemed appropriate for the two hours that preceded it; let's leave it at that.
- One of the most anticipated segments on Smackdown was Daniel Bryan's appearance on Piper's Pit, but even that failed to reach its full potential. Roddy Piper and Bryan both did their jobs on the mic, and AJ once again excelled at playing her role, but something about the segment just seemed to fall flat. It was announced, though, that Bryan and Sheamus will be in a two-out-of-three falls match at Extreme Rules, so that's something worth getting excited about.
- Kane and Mark Henry rekindled their recent feud with a decent match that saw Henry land a lot of offense leading into his WWE Championship match on Monday. But the bout was cut shot when Kane appeared on the big screen, having attacked Orton's father "Cowboy" Bob Orton. The younger Orton took off looking for his pops and was attacked from behind by Kane. This was an effective use of the elder Orton and gave Kane his heat back after losing to Orton last week.
- Ryback destroyed another local competitor, this time East Coast independent wrestling star Bobby Shields appearing under the name Benny Camer. There wasn't much to the match, as Ryback won in a matter of seconds. Once again, the local competitor was presented as having a lisp and a group of superstars - or in tonight's case, legends - watched backstage. It's still not clear if Ryback is supposed to be a heel or a face, but it doesn't really matter, as I only know one person who is excited to see him back. Chad, I'm looking at you...
- Drew McIntyre left the Bella Twins hanging high and dry in their mixed-tag match against The Great Khali, Natalya and Alicia Fox. There wasn't much to the contest other than that, as Fox pinned one of the Bellas with relative ease. After the bout, Khali was met with a victory kiss, albeit from Mae Young and not either of his more spry and youthful partners.
- Much like the Ortons, the Rhodes family also had some father-son issues, though in this case, they were on opposite sides. Cody Rhodes came out for a promo, only to be interrupted by daddy Dusty and, predictably, the Intercontinental Champion Big Show. Show played another embarrassing Cody Rhodes clip, and this time, it was actually a new one, as they showed one of Rhode's "dashing" promos. It was entertaining and worth a good laugh, unlike most of this show.
- The Usos scored a win over Tyson Kidd and Heath Slater in a match that was good while it lasted but suffered from playing second fiddle to a confrontation between Mick Foley and Jimmy Hart. At first, I thought it would have been nice to see the tag champs on TV instead, but they deserve more than even this.
- In one of the most awkward segments of the night, "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan and Sgt. Slaughter completely buried Hunico and Camacho. There was supposed to be a match somewhere in there, but it never seemed to happen. This was just an awful segment all around.
- Damien Sandow did another quality pre-taped promo. There isn't much to say, but I'm excited to see if his in-ring skills can match those on the mic. Hopefully he makes his wrestling debut soon.
Randy Orton vs. Kane went to a non-finish
Ryback d. Benny Camer
The Usos d. Tyson Kidd and Heath Slater
The Great Khali, Natalya and Alicia Fox d. Drew McIntyre and the Bella Twins
Jim Duggan vs. Hunico never really started or ended
Sheamus and Gene Okerland d. Daniel Bryan and Sheamus
While I understand the reasons for tonight's episode, I don't think that's an excuse. Even with a limited roster, WWE could produce an episode of Smackdown that features lengthier matches. Maybe it's the fact I didn't watch wrestling when any of these performers were at the top of their game or that part of my hopes and dreams died when Dean Ambrose posted a picture of airplane tickets on Twitter indicating he wouldn't be debuting, but this show just didn't appeal to me. Here's hoping next week's shows from across the pond step up the quality again.