WWE ‘SmackDown’ Preview – [4/6/12]
It’s official, ‘WrestleMania XXVIII’ is over and done with and it was one heckuva show. Don’t believe me? Then make sure to check out my full write-up of the event.
But just because the biggest event of the professional wrestling year is now behind us, that doesn’t mean there’s not some great stuff brewing in WWE right now. In fact, this past week on ‘Monday Night Raw’ saw the return of not one, but two big, humongous, beefy wrestlers from the early 2000s: Brock Lesnar and A-Train (as Lord Tensai).
While this week’s ‘SmackDown’ doesn’t feature any UFC World Heavyweight Champions (that we know about), there’s definitely some stuff to look out for. Keep reading below to find out what it is, and please do remember that SPOILER WARNINGS are in full effect. Then make sure you tell us what you’re looking forward to in the comments and share the preview on all your sundry social media networks. Finally, follow me on Twitter for all my most up-to-date wrestling ramblings.
The Team Johnny Era of ‘SmackDown’
As of his team’s victory this past weekend at ‘WrestleMania XXVIII,’ John Laurinaitis is now the General Manager of both ‘Raw’ and ‘SmackDown.’ Since last year, the once and future Johnny Ace has really settled into his role as a goofy, bumbling, inept authority figure, breathing new life into the “evil boss” trope that always works so well in WWE. Laurinaitis’ on-screen persona plays off his obvious troubles with the microphone and connecting with the audience to produce a character that is as hateable as Mr. McMahon but in a completely different way. Where Mr. McMahon spoke to people who worked for sadistic egomaniacs, Laurinaitis speaks to people who work for folks that are just plain dumb and incompetent.
That’s why I’m thrilled to see Laurinaitis’ kayfabe job responsibilities extended to cover WWE’s Friday night show in addition to the Monday flagship. It’s not that I have anything well and truly against former ‘SmackDown’ GM Teddy Long, it’s just that his character felt too familiar and well-worn, and there’s no drama with a goofy, dancing boss that everyone likes. Also, there’s always the chance that former wrestler Laurinaitis might suit up and actually compete in another match, possibly even squaring off with ‘SmackDown’ star Randy Orton, whose RKO finisher is a renamed version of Johnny Ace’s Ace Cutter.
Skip Sheffield is now Ryback
If you think back to the inaugural season of ‘WWE NXT’ (or possibly even as far back as ‘WWE Tough Enough 4’), you might recall a guy by the name of Skip Sheffield. The heavily muscled wrestler looked impressive as hell, but tried to run a goofy, happy-go-lucky good ole’ boy gimmick, complete with his own wacky catchphrase. Trouble was, even when he was smiling – especially when he was smiling – Sheffield looked absolutely terrifying. Things looked to be on the up for him with the formation of the villainous Nexus stable, but an ankle injury in August of last year sidelined him for the rest of 2011.
Now, Sheffield is back and has returned to the gimmick he used in WWE’s developmental territory: Ryback, a “Terminator”-esque wrestler who shares a name with Steven Seagal’s character in the “Under Siege” movies. He’s wrestled a few dark matches in recent weeks, but this Friday sees Ryback’s television debut in a squash match against a jobber. I would have preferred he come back as an absolute monster-heel (like what they’re doing with Lord Tensai on ‘Raw’), but it will still be interesting to see what the wrestler can do when not running his goofy Sheffield gimmick.