G.M. Vickie makes the grade
SAN ANTONIO -- Friday's SmackDown was a special night for our fans. They got to see Batista exact some measure of revenge against World Heavyweight Champion Edge, great interpromotional match-ups between Raw and SmackDown, and all-around sports-entertainment action at its finest. And we can all thank one person for making it happen: the evening's acting SmackDown General Manager, Vickie Guerrero.
Don't take WWE.com's word for it; throughout Friday night, SmackDown announcers Michael Cole and John Bradshaw Layfield praised the way Vickie stepped in for General Manager Theodore Long — who was busy planning his upcoming wedding to WWE Diva Kristal — and took the reins of a job that can be very demanding, and sometimes thankless.
"Vickie put together a heck of a show," JBL told both Cole and our fans. "When you can actually improve SmackDown, as good as we are, that is impressive."
For those who judge by deeds, not words, consider what Vickie accomplished in her first-ever performance as SmackDown's acting General Manager. First, she was responsible for inviting Superstars from Raw to compete against members of SmackDown's elite. That enabled our fans to delight in watching Ric Flair slap the Figure Four Leglock on former protégé Carlito, while Matt Hardy delivered some singles competition payback against co-World Tag Team Champion Lance Cade. When Deuce & Domino stole a victory over Cryme Tyme, Raw's "robbin' hoods" responded with some grand theft auto on the WWE Tag Team Champions' '50s convertible. And a debate over who the wilder Diva was resulted in a wild match between new SmackDown draftee Victoria and Mickie James, who picked up the win for her brand.
Jim Fenimore, a devoted WWE fan for more than 15 years, thought Friday's SmackDown was "one of the best in a long time. Definitely the best show I've ever gone to see live."
Kirby-based local Dottie Arthur and her family shared a similar experience. "My youngest one's a big Hardys fan, so he was absolutely thrilled that he got to see Matt in the ring. He had such a good time. We all did."
In addition to setting up interpromotional action, Vickie also treated our fans to contests only SmackDown can deliver, including a Triple Threat Cruiserweight Championship Match that saw Chavo Guerrero retain his title against Funaki and Jamie Noble. United States Champion Montel Vontavious Porter didn't have to defend his title against Kane, though that didn't dissuade the Big Red Monster from intentionally grounding SmackDown's "Franchise Playa" with a powerful Chokelsam.
"The only match I didn't like watching tonight was poor Eugene's," commented Maricruz Juarez, a San Antonio native who attended the show with her boyfriend. "He's so sweet and harmless. It was just mean putting him in the ring with The Great Khali."
Judging by the way the seven-foot-plus, 420-pound colossus demolished SmackDown's wrestling savant, we're sure Eugene would concur with Ms. Juarez. To be fair, though, it wasn't he who'd voice a supposedly legitimate beef with the acting General Manager. That voice belonged to the World Heavyweight Champion, Edge, who objected to facing Batista again only days after Vengeance: Night of Champions, where he deprived The Animal of his last chance to win the World Heavyweight Title. Vickie, despite her authoritative inexperience, stood her ground and declared, "I'll make this short and sweet: Batista will go against you tonight…just not for the World Championship."
"Seeing Vickie step up like that really impressed me," Michael Cole told WWE.com, about a half-hour after calling the match in which Batista got some personal retribution with a victory over the Ultimate Opportunist (who wrestled "under protest"). "Guys like Edge think they can intimidate everybody, but she wouldn't back down from him. Like I said on the broadcast tonight, I think Teddy Long made a pretty damn good choice by making Vickie his assistant."
JBL didn't think it was fair of the acting General Manager to put Edge in the ring with an enraged Animal, though he stood by the grade he gave her earlier on the broadcast. "Vickie gave an ‘A-plus' effort, no question, and did a fantastic job filling in for Long. Hell, he should get married more often, so she can keep running the show," he laughed.
The truest grades, however, come from our fans, which on this night included eight-year-old Martin Taylor. "This is the first WWE show I've ever been to," said the visibly happy young man, whose black T-shirt featured a certain SmackDown icon who's working hard to make his much-anticipated return to the ring. "My dad and mom brought me for my birthday, and it was great. I hope they come back around Christmas and that Rey Mysterio will be back, because he's my favorite. Then, when I have to write my Christmas list, I can ask for more tickets."
Congratulations, Vickie Guerrero. Judging from young Martin's reaction, plus the huge smile Friday's SmackDown on his face, your debut as acting General Manager definitely earned yourself an "A-plus."