WWE SmackDown, Feb. 22: Champion vs. Champion, Swagger Beats Orton and More

Kyle SchadlerChief Writer IFebruary 23, 2013

photo from wwe.com
photo from wwe.com

WWE SmackDown opened with World Heavyweight champion Alberto Del Rio. He was addressing Jack Swagger and Zeb Coulter, who both don’t like immigrants. Del Rio brought up the point that the United States was built by immigrants and ultimately called him out.

He got Randy Orton instead, who wanted to face Swagger after what happened at the Elimination Chamber. Booker T then made his way out to give Orton his match and also booked Del Rio vs. Wade Barrett.

This was a good opening segment. Del Rio was solid on the mic, and I liked how he brought up how this country was built by immigrants. People who are against immigration seem to forget that their ancestors were immigrants themselves. But everyone is entitled to their opinion.

Orton was his usual self on the microphone, which can sometimes bore me. He didn’t here, though, so I enjoyed his short promo. I’m glad Booker T stopped making tag team main events. He needs to distance himself from the way Teddy Long ran things, and he’s doing that.


Sheamus vs. Damien Sandow

After Sandow said that the destruction of Sheamus would be a “monumental occasion,” the Celtic Warrior hit the Brogue Kick for the victory. My cable starting bugging out in the middle of this match, but what I saw was quite good. I missed maybe two minutes of action, so I didn’t really miss much of it.

Sheamus and Sandow showed here that they work very well together. They really have some great chemistry. I’m glad that Sheamus didn’t Brogue Kick him right away, like I was expecting him to.

This contest got a good chunk of time, which was a very good decision on WWE’s part. To me, this shows that Sandow is ready for the main event. He has had good matches with other main event talent before but mostly as a tag team wrestler with Cody Rhodes. Now that he’s a singles star, the sky’s the limit.

Nothing will probably happen until after WrestleMania, but when WWE does pull the trigger, he’ll be ready.

As for Sheamus, what does WWE have in store at WrestleMania for one of its top stars? He’s feuding with The Shield, but on Monday’s Raw, he interrupted Wade Barrett’s segment. As seen later in the show, nothing was done to continue what Sheamus did. Barrett doesn’t even mention what happened.

With the exception of the top matches, WWE doesn’t seem to have a clue what to do for the rest of the show.


Kaitlyn and Layla vs. Tamina Snuka and Aksana

After Aksana got the majority of the ring time for her team, Tamina finally tagged in but was beaten within a minute with a spear from Kaitlyn. Like most Divas matches, I couldn’t really get into this. If WWE doesn’t care to give the division the light of day, then why should I care?

One thing that caught my attention, though, was Layla holding the Divas Championship a bit longer than she should have before handing it to Kaitlyn. WWE teased this when Kaitlyn first won the title, but it went nowhere. Perhaps they’re heading back to it now.

I’m hoping this will lead to a Layla heel turn and a Divas Championship match at WrestleMania. The title of the Divas division hasn’t been defended at the event since WrestleMania 23, and that was the now defunct WWE Women’s Championship. The Divas deserve a little more attention than just a short tag match.


Randy Orton vs. Jack Swagger

Before the match, Swagger and Zeb Coulter ran into Wade Barrett backstage. Barrett liked what they were doing, but Coulter told him that since he didn’t sound like him, and that he was from England, Barrett was a part of the problem, like Alberto Del Rio.

It’s good to see that the Swagger/Coulter gimmick isn’t exclusive to bashing people from Mexico. It’s even better to see them targeting heels as well. They don’t care who you are; if you’re foreign, they have an issue with you. They are doing a great job getting over as heels.

Swagger would then defeat Orton after a poke to the eyes, a hangman on the top rope and a roll-up with his foot on the rope. Swagger and Orton had a good matchup here. They exhibited solid back-and-froth action throughout the contest and showed that they have some good chemistry in the ring together.

The match was quite even, with neither wrestler really having an advantage for too long. I like a match when it’s like that. It makes the outcome unpredictable.

Much like Sheamus, I have to wonder what Orton is going to do for WrestleMania. WWE was teasing a feud with Mark Henry before and during the Elimination Chamber, but nothing was done with it on Raw. WWE really needs to kick it into high gear.

As for Swagger, his WrestleMania status has become quite the mystery. His now widely known arrest after the SmackDown taping has possibly put his WrestleMania position in jeopardy. How is WWE going to handle this? Time will tell, I suppose.


The Miz vs. Cody Rhodes

The Miz got the win here after Rhodes tapped out to the Figure-Four Leglock. SmackDown gave the WWE Universe another solid match, as Miz and Rhodes delivered some nice overall action. Both wrestlers showed good chemistry in the ring with one another, which is great.

I think Miz and Rhodes are a future WrestleMania main event. Probably not anytime soon, but I’m hoping within the next five years. Both of them have many years left with WWE, and their in-ring work will only go up from here.

The Miz is another wrestler whose WrestleMania status is up in the air. Will he face Antonio Cesaro for the United States Championship one more time, or will he start a feud with The Big Show after what happened on Wednesday’s Main Event? The undercard of the big event has too many questions and too few answers. I fear that Rhodes won’t even have a spot on the card.


Alberto Del Rio vs. Wade Barrett

With Jack Swagger and Zeb Coulter watching from the stage, Del Rio picked up the victory after making Barrett tap out to the Cross Armbreaker. The show ended strong with another good match. Del Rio and Barrett delivered some solid back-and-forth action as they gave fans an entertaining showing.

WWE made the right call in turning Del Rio babyface. As a heel, he just couldn’t catch a break. He lost match after match and the fans just didn’t care about what he did. As a good guy, he’s actually winning matches and audiences are behind him. He deserves some props for getting over as quickly as he did. The World title win probably helped, though.

As for Barrett, what is going on with him and the Intercontinental Championship? The last time I remember Barrett defending the title was on the Jan. 4 edition of SmackDown, when Kofi Kingston got his rematch. The Intercontinental Cup was cancelled a few weeks back, and his feud with Bo Dallas seems to have been dropped.

What happened? The title was gaining some momentum with Barrett as champion, but it has since stalled.


Final Thoughts

Overall, I thought this was a very good episode of SmackDown. Four out of the five matches delivered, and all four of them were given good amounts of time. With all the action in this show, the two hours just flew by.

This was definitely the best show for WWE this week and ranks up there as one of the best shows presented during the week. I really hope WWE can keep up the good work with SmackDown!


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