The John Report: Giving the Thumbs to Smackdown

The John Report: Giving the Thumbs to Smackdown
By John Canton

Follow me on Twitter @johnreport



Giving the thumb to Smackdown? What the hell is that? It’s my way of giving some general opinions on Smackdown without recapping the show. My buddy Christian Michael covers it weekly for us at, so I won’t recap it for you. What I will do is go over certain angles, segments or matches in recent weeks that have caught my eye and tell you whether I liked it (thumbs up) or didn’t like it (thumbs down). I’ll provide four thumbs for each.

Thumbs Up to…Edge vs. Del Rio.

I like the feud for the World Heavyweight Title. It helps that I’m a fan of both guys, of course. I just think it feels very fresh and there doesn’t have to be a silly storyline surrounding every feud for a belt. Del Rio won the Rumble. He says he’s going to win at WrestleMania. Edge overcame the challenges of Dolph Ziggler and five others in great Elimination Chamber match, so he’s the fighting babyface champion trying to keep what is his. Del Rio’s gone after the arm like a savage while Edge has done an excellent job of selling the move, even wrapping it up in a bandage. Do Cena and Orton ever sell injuries? It’s rare. It’s important to sell injuries, yet the top guys on Raw rarely do it. The end result of Edge putting over the Cross Armbreaker submission of Del Rio is that when Del Rio wins the World Title at WrestleMania by using that move it only solidifies his status as the new top guy on Smackdown.

In other words, this is a simple feud. Don’t get too complex and wrestling can be very easy to book. Take note. It’s not that hard.

Thumbs Down to…Quality wrestling being forgotten on Smackdown.

What happened to the good wrestling matches that we saw on a regular basis on Smackdown? It seems like the mantra on Smackdown in 2011 is to forget about the actual in ring stuff while focusing on the longer promos. I understand it’s WrestleMania season and they have decided to really drive home some of the angles, but I think taking away the identity of Smackdown (the strong matches) has hurt the show’s quality too. It’s important to try to differentiate the shows a bit.

Thumbs Up to…Christian being back.

He’s a personal favorite of mine. It was devastating to learn of his torn pectoral injury in the fall, so when he made his return at the Elimination Chamber PPV I was as happy as anybody. This past week on Smackdown they had an advertisement saying he’d be back next week. Instead, he showed up at the end of the show to save his friend (not brother) Edge

To celebrate his return how about a five second pose?

That brings back fond memories. I marked out.

Thumbs Down to…Jack Swagger as Michael Cole’s trainer.

I had somebody theorize that Swagger as the trainer of Michael Cole against Jerry Lawler is a better thing for his career than being in some random tag match at the PPV. That’s not a good thing to me. The guy is a former World Champion. He’s basically managing a non-wrestler. You’re going to build your company around younger wrestlers like Swagger (theoretically speaking) and you want fans to believe he’s a good talent because he is training the nerdy announcer? I don’t like it. Invest in character development of your wrestlers, not your announcers.

Thumbs Up to…the Cody Rhodes-Rey Mysterio feud.

I love it. Rey “broke” Cody’s nose, he went off TV for a few weeks, came back with a mask on his face, had his great father Dusty help him turn heel and now you’ve got a really hot feud going into WrestleMania. Ever since I got to Smackdown last year I said Cody Rhodes was going to be a star sooner or later. I think he’s on that right path now. He’s much further along than his former Legacy ally Ted Dibiase and he’s got as bright a future as anybody in WWE. If they cut back on the cheesy aspects of the “Dashing” gimmick that’ll be good for him too. He needs more of a serious side anyway.

Thumbs Down to…no storylines around the IC or US Titles.

Daniel Bryan is a great wrestler that happens to hold the US Title. Kofi Kingston is a great wrestler that happens to hold the IC Title. How hard is it to book either man into a feud for their belt that is supposed to mean something? It’s sad. My solution? Book them in a singles match at WrestleMania that is babyface vs. babyface. Winner gets both belts. You don’t have to unify them, but if you do that’s fine by me. Give them 15 minutes, tell them the finish is Bryan making Kingston tap and let them figure out the rest. It took me three seconds to think of that. Chances are it would be better for each guy than whatever else they have in mind for them.

Thumbs Up to…Undertaker’s promo on Smackdown.

I liked it even though I think they are trying too hard to get the “Last Outlaw” phrase over. There was a bit of a fault when he said 18 men have challenged and 18 have fallen because Kane and Shawn Michaels each lost to him twice at WrestleMania while Triple H, who he will beat at WrestleMania, also lost to him. Still, the focus of the promo was good and it was better than burying talent the way HHH did on Raw. I think the Taker-HHH feud is shaping up nicely. I’d book it so they don’t have any physical altercations before WrestleMania. Build up to it. Make it special. Plus, one of them might get hurt if they try to hit eachother before that. Just a joke! Relax!

Thumbs Down to…people getting “fired” regularly.

First it was Kelly Kelly. Then Dolph Ziggler. Then Vickie Guerrero. Kelly’s back while the other two are still storyline fired. I’m not sure what TV show or movie that WWE writers must have watched to pull the trigger on so many firing angles, but they are all the rage in the company now. I guess it makes storyline sense since Dolph attacked Teddy Long and Vickie allowed it to happen. However, does anybody actually believe they are fired? I’m sure the dumbest of marks do, but most fans can probably look past it. At least I hope they can. All I’m saying is there are better ways to end angles without going to the “firing” route every single time.


That’s all. They can’t all be epic columns. I’ll do my best to cover Smackdown on a monthly basis going forward without doing full recaps of the shows.

Last thing. Here’s an audio clip of me and my buddy David Kay talking about The Undertaker. It’s the follow up piece to my 6,000+ word piece on The Undertaker from last Thursday. The feedback has been overwhelming and I am still catching up on a lot of it, but doing my best to reply to people. The audio is on the TJR youtube channel, so give it a listen. It’s a solid 14 minutes of audio goodness.

You can also subscribe to the TJR Youtube channel at Also for those that remember a column called Commentfest that I used to do I’ll make this proclamation to you. If that Undertaker video and the two others posted that day (one about The Miz and one about TNA on 3-3-11) can reach 1000 views I will host Commentfest and bring it back for four weeks. All three of those videos need to get over 1000 views first. The first few vids on that channel did it. Let’s make it happen!

I’ll be back really late Monday night or early Tuesday for The Raw Deal.

John Canton – [email protected]
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