Despite being the follow-up show from SummerSlam, we all know this Smackdown was only about one thing, Jeff Hardy. More on that in a bit, but let's dive into the show:
CM Punk starts things off with another one of his spectacular promos, running down the crowd, Jeff Hardy and The Undertaker. Here's hoping somewhere down the line, Punk accuses Taker of abusing extra-strength formaldehyde. Jeff Hardy interrupts the champ, they hype up the Steel Cage main event, but Punk proposes they add a Loser Leaves Town stipulation. Not exactly surprising, but the match is on and Teddy Long sanctions it.
Matt Hardy & John Morrison vs. The Hart Dynasty is the first match of the night and it's criminally short considering the participants. I'm enjoying the Matt/Morrison team, again I have to say how awesome their Russian Leg Sweep/Leg sweep combo is. Bummer to see the Hart Dynasty lose so quickly, but there's no shame in losing to these guys. I wouldn't mind seeing Hardy & Morrison get involved in the Unified Tag Title scene, as I think it would be exactly what both guys need to raise their stock as top faces on Smackdown.
Quite an impressive debut for Drew McIntyre, who's been in development for years now, by absolutely dominating R-Truth. I honestly thought this was going to be an R-Truth vs. Local Competitor kind of match, but then McIntyre clocked him with that boot and hit that nasty double-arm DDT, I was pretty surprised. Great way to bring in a new guy and it's nice to see someone new debut somewhere other than ECW.
Michelle McCool cuts a promo and - ZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...
Melina vs. Layla was pretty standard for these two, pretty much what you expect to see every Friday night when it comes to Divas wrestling. Did enjoy watching Melina shove down Michelle McCool though, that was the best thing that's happened in the Women's Division since Night of Champions.
Even though it was one of the best matches they've had against each other (aside from the lame ending), I had a hard time getting into Rey Mysterio vs. Kane because of all the business with Rey's suspension. An unfortunate situation, but hopefully Rey can put it behind him when he returns in October. Still, this match was good, which was a bit surprising considering how many times we've had to watch these two compete in the last year. But COME ON, do we really need to see Kane and Khali continue their feud?! Nice Singapore Cane shots though. And I suppose Dolph Ziggler's ambush after the match will cause Rey Mysterio to bump up their match from Breaking Point out of anger and then drop the title? Seems like the most likely scenario, but I hate to see Dolph have to win the title under these circumstances.
Chris Jericho vs. Shad, which became Chris Jericho & Big Show vs. Cryme Tyme, wasn't as good as their encounter at SummerSlam, but still rock solid. Jericho & Show have done wonders for Cryme Tyme, but the Blingling Bros. need more teams to work with on Smackdown. There's The Hart Dynasty, maybe Morrison/Hardy, but that's about it. Why not find something for guys that aren't being used like Charlie Haas and Curt Hawkins? Probably wouldn't make much of a splash anywhere, but it'd be something to keep Cryme Tyme from having to work with the Harts or JeriShow every week.
I don't know how it was possible considering the ending was entirely obvious and I had even had it spoiled for me, but the Cage match between Jeff Hardy & CM Punk was somehow very dramatic and very enjoyable. Despite putting their bodies through hell on Sunday, they still went out there and had an engaging, exciting contest, which was the perfect way to write out Jeff Hardy. Seriously, some of those near falls, with Punk barely kicking out, made me wonder if I had been swerved.
After this tremendous match, Jeff gave a great goodbye speech to an emotional crowd, who were all chanting "THANK YOU JEFF!" It was a great moment, spoiled by a sick belt shot on top of the ramp from CM Punk, who taunted the crowd to boo harder. I'm sure a lot of people are upset that Punk stole the moment from Jeff Hardy, but that was absolutely the right call. While Jeff essentially confirmed he'd be back somewhere down the road, Smackdown's not about him anymore, he did the right thing by making CM Punk look like the better man. I'll have more thoughts on Jeff Hardy's departure from WWE in the next few days.
Overall, another good episode of Smackdown, but things are certainly about to change on the brand. With Jeff on an indefinite hiatus and Mysterio suspension, Smackdown is without a top face. Undertaker will definitely fill the void while feuding with Punk, but as always with The Phenom, I assume we'll be on borrowed time. I wouldn't be surprised if this return will only get us through WrestleMania, and he obviously won't be working with Punk that entire time, so who's ready to step up? Matt Hardy makes the most sense, that's why I suggested him and Morrison working with Jericho and Big Show for a little bit, it'll get him back in the groove and working with Jericho is good for anyone's career. Hopefully Matt's time is coming, he's certainly earned it.