It’s Saturday morning, which means that it’s time to watch the DVR’ed episode of Smackdown which I wasn’t able to watch last night due to tickets to a hockey game (Thanks J-Day!).  I’m doing things differently with this article, so at the end of it all I’ll want to know what you think of the new approach.

If you didn’t know, I do an article each week (on either Friday Night or Saturday morning) for where I review Smackdown and give my perspective on it.

Two weeks from now will be the Royal Rumble pay per view event.  What do they have in store for us?  That’s what I’m looking into.  Here are the questions at hand, and the way they were covered on Smackdown.

Will Alberto Del Rio have a feud with anyone other than Rey Mysterio and R-Truth going into Royal Rumble?

Alberto Del Rio got to kick off the show, continuing his quest to become the winner of the Royal Rumble so he can soon be known as the NEW Mr. Wrestlemania.  Then, yet again, we get an encounter between R-Truth and Poncho… I mean Alberto Del Rio (nickname courtesy R-Truth).  Apparently the “Truth” of the matter is that ADR can’t win the Royal Rumble by “destiny” alone.

Surprisingly, Cody Rhodes shows up and says that everyone who doesn’t look like him will be eliminated from the Royal Rumble.  Oddly enough, Alberto Del Rio actually looks a lot like Cody Rhodes when you look at them side by side.  Same hairstyle, similar facial features.  Still, wouldn’t you bet on Cody Rhodes having the shortest stint in the Royal Rumble this year, as opposed to winning it?

Frankly I would’ve picked Cody Rhodes to go after Kofi Kingston and the Intercontinental Championship, though at this point in the show there’s still a chance to have a quick backstage segment where we get something to that effect.

Rey Mysterio shows up, which shouldn’t be surprising because he and Alberto Del Rio seem attached at the proverbial feuding “hip”, and he reminds us that he won the Royal Rumble in the past, so he knows how to do it again.  Did anyone else forget that actually happened?

Cody Rhodes with some decent mic work, not only did he give Mysterio a rip that goes along with his “Dashing” gimmick, saying that Mysterio is “out of style”, but he also shot at R-Truth by throwing his “that’s What’s Up” catch phrase back at him.

As a brawl ensues, Teddy Long sets up a tag match with Rey & R-Truth against Alberto Del Rio & Cody Rhodes.

After a match which went a lot longer than I thought it would, R-Truth and Rey Mysterio are the victors after Mysterio hits his 6-1-9.

Will Kofi Kingston get someone to feud with for the Intercontinental Championship prior to Royal Rumble?  Will it still be Jack Swagger?

Kofi Kingston shows up, and instead of just wrestling a match, he actually gets some time on the mic, and does a fairly decent job in the process.  This is what I’ve been interested in seeing from Kofi, a departure from the Kofi who smiles 90% of the time.  I’m fine with him having a happy-go-lucky attitude and smiling in the face of adversity, but he didn’t seem to be taking things seriously, and now that looks to be changing a little bit as he shows some determination and appreciation.

Wow, who would’ve guessed that Jack Swagger shows up and sets his sights on the Intercontinental Champion?  Oh, right, he’s been involved in all of this for the past few months.

Does anyone else find it funny (and encouraging) that fans who are typically prone to cheer for an American when facing someone who identifies themselves as a foreigner will boo the All American American in favor of the champion from Ghana, West Africa?

Impromptu match time… as much as you can consider it impromptu, since they were both wearing their in-ring gear for the segment.

Kofi Kingston wins the match with his flip-over pinfall combination, and nothing happens after the match.

Does anyone else think they should’ve at least had Jack Swagger attack Kofi Kingston, or steal the Intercontinental Championship?  I would have probably booked Jack Swagger to win the non-title match with some trickery, but if they were going to have Kofi win, they should’ve given Jack Swagger something to hang his hat on.

What will become of Kane?

WWE Creative didn’t write anything into the show about Kane, which is awkward because he’ll probably return at Royal Rumble to have a decent role in the big match.

Do things continue between Kelly Kelly and Drew McIntyre?

We’ve seen Drew McIntyre approach Kelly Kelly backstage, looking for a date.  We’ve seen him show up after her match to keep her from being beaten down by LayCool.  How will things continue there tonight?

Drew McIntyre has a return match with Trent Barretta from two weeks ago (the previous match ending when Barretta knocked himself out after missing a leaping splash from inside of the ring targeting Drew McIntyre on the outside… leading to a post match beatdown from McIntyre.

Just a quick shout out to Trent Barretta, as he easily had the most surprising performance on the card.  I didn’t expect him to do this well against Drew McIntyre, and although the win was by a quick, unexpected roll-up, his performance was really good even when it looked like he was going to lose.  I took notice of Zack Ryder’s in-ring ability with his quality matches a while ago, and now I’m definitely seeing some skill in Barretta which has me very interested in seeing his future matches.  I could certainly see him get an Intercontinental Championship match sometime in 2011.  I’m going to have to add Trent Barretta to my weekly questions of the things I’m looking forward to seeing more from, as I hope he’s not just returned to “jobber” status.  Kid’s got skills.

In totally unexpected fashion, Trent Barretta reverses a move by Drew McIntyre and gets the victory with a roll-up pinfall.

Backstage, Drew McIntyre attacks Trent Barretta… until Drew is stopped by Kelly Kelly, who tells him that she doesn’t want to be with someone who gets pleasure out of beating up other people.  Clearly she meant “bullying other people”, or that’s how WWE Creative should’ve written it for her, because she’s in a business full of people who enjoy beating up other people, and there’s a difference between “beating up” and “bullying”.

Will Christian return from injury in time for the Royal Rumble?

Sadly, this Smackdown didn’t include Captain Charisma at all.  It’s probably not the right time to insert him back into a story with Edge, as that would seriously limit the credibility-growth of Dolph Ziggler.

What’s next for the Divas on Smackdown?

Beth Phoenix gets a big win over LayCool by defeating Michelle McCool, who’s typically slated to win her matches.

What about Kaitlyn?  She got a contract, got sent to Smackdown, and she hasn’t done anything in recent weeks aside from attend a holiday party.

Why did Wade Barrett attack The Big Show last week on Smackdown?

Wade Barrett showed up last week on Smackdown and inexplicably attacked Big Show.  Despite being a RAW competitor, Wade Barrett wasn’t on RAW 5 days ago to explain his actions, but The Big Show (a Smackdown competitor) WAS on RAW, explaining that he was going to target The Big Show.  Odd, right?

Prior to the promised match between Big Show and Wade Barrett, the former leader of Nexus explains that he attacked Big Show because he respects the Giant and wants to make his mark by going after the biggest guy on the show.  He cut a good promo, using a decent comparison between himself and Julius Caesar, possibly even giving himself a catchphrase (“All Hail caesar”) in the process.  The catchphrase could use a little work, but Wade Barrett is impressing me a lot more now than he was during NXT.

We get the match between Wade Barrett and The Big Show, and it seems odd to see him without the Nexus theme song and branding.

The match is fairly even between the two, but then Heath Slater and Justin Gabriel show up to help out Wade Barrett, giving us a look at where their allegiances lay.  Then, oddly, we get Ezekiel Jackson at ringside, and after some questioning of his intentions, he joins in on the attack against Big Show.

I was wondering what Zeke’s involvement on this week’s Blue Show was going to be, and honestly I’m not so sure how much I like this alleiance.  Didn’t Wade Barrett just get done with a situation where there was an alpha male who rose up and took his power?  I suppose WWE Creative might have Zeke play it up as being content in the role of enforcer, especially because mic skills aren’t his strong point.  I had hoped he was going to be in a tag team, potentially with JTG (given WWE’s inability  to form inter-racial tag team pairings, and because I like JTG).  Maybe he’ll team with Heath Slater, allowing Justin Gabriel to feud with Kofi Kingston.  I’ll stop fantasy booking at this point…. at least for these guys.

Is JTG going to actually start getting used again after a long time on the bench?

WWE Creative hasn’t done much with JTG following the end of the Cryme Time tag team, though a couple weeks ago we did get a “Str8 Outta Brooklyn” segment from him to remind us that he hadn’t been Future Endeavored yet.

We get another video from JTG, and this time he actually ripped on some of the folks in WWE, including the Cena / Punk / Nexus situation and Dolph Ziggler.  Since he won’t be doing a feud with any of those folks any time soon, I’d expect to see more encouraging signs in future weeks.

Will WWE Creative treat Dolph Ziggler as a serious threat to Edge’s World Championship?

The “Cutting Edge” segment involving Dolph Ziggler and Vickie Guerrero showing up on Edge’s segment is the main event of the evening, so that’s a decent start.  It could’ve potentially opened the show, which wouldn’t have highlighted the upcoming match as well as this does…. though some people would’ve loved to see a match be the final part of the show.

I’m usually good with wrestling history, but am I the only one who had forgotten that Edge and Vickie Guerrero were “married” (or at least “engaged”)?  Now that they’re reminding me about it, I remember a fair number of the details.  Does anyone find it weird that essentially this is the battle of the current boyfriend going after the old boyfriend?

After Vickie and Dolph take a dig at Edge for having cheated on Vickie Guerrero with Alicia Fox, Edge then cues up the video footage of Dolph Ziggler making out with Kaitlyn, which is totally awesome because that’s the only time she had showed up on the show to that point.  While Edge was looking to get set for the Spear on Vickie Guerrero, two thoughts were in my mind:  First, why didn’t Vickie try to escape the ring?  People rarely try to escape even when they see it coming.  Secondly, wouldn’t that have been a good opportunity to bring Kaitlyn in and have her attack Vickie Guerrero?

WWE Creative goes the route of having Dolph Ziggler make the save, attacking Edge and leaving him laid out on the arena floor.  I’m glad to see that they gave Dolph the upperhand to end the show, as he needs to have his credibility in tact when we get to the Royal Rumble pay per view.  WE also get the potential for Kaitlyn to show up in a mixed-tag match next week, which is always a good thing.

Also:  The top two comments in response to this article will win the respective commenters a point.  Earn 10 points over the coming months, get a free shirt.