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The Smackdown Breakdown - Finding Your Inner Animal

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Hello and welcome to this weeks Smackdown Breakdown. I figured I would try something different this week compared to the last week in terms of how I watched the show. With Sky here in the UK not airing the show in the correct order and sticking a random match from that night at the start if the show instead, I managed to watch the show online earlier via Hulu so that way I have watched the same version shown in the States and I know I haven't missed out on anything as things tend to get edited out over here. With Wrestlemania coming up in almost a week WWE will be looking to build up to their biggest show of the year next week with the go home Raw and Smackdown shows. This week would be a good chance to build some momentum going into next week but I didn't feel entirely like WWE managed to do that. The show wasn't tragic but it wasn't anything to write home about either. Without further adieu lets get into this weeks Breakdown.

Opening Segment - Batista and Triple H - 3.5 stars

Since his return there is no doubting Batista has drawn a reaction many perhaps could not have predicted. Despite the fact he has been given a hard time by fans I personally am glad to see him back. Batista managed to sum up the reaction he receives well when he said "you begged me to come back and now I am you boo me". It is kind of ironic because it was a question fans would often ask Batista and now it almost seems those same fans are the one booing him for doing what they wanted. Batista gets in a shot about Stephanie hitting harder than any of his other opponents. Then Triple H came out and that's when things got really interesting. Batista used a typical point that a lot of fans and Triple H's co-workers have used in the past; "You wouldn't have any of this if you hadn't married the bosses daughter". I bet Trips is probably tired of hearing that one by now. I found the segment itself compelling, especially when Triple H talked about us not seeing "the Animal" in Batista since his comeback. I found I was being sucked in to this opening. This was much better from all concerned following the atrocity of an opening we saw on Raw.

The Shield (Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose vs. 3MB (Drew McIntyre & Jinder Mahal) - 3 stars

This was a fairly swift match where the Shield picked up a victory that doesn't really do much for them. The match itself was alright, nothing to really write home about. I liked Rollins doing the three amigos in what I imagine was a tribute to Eddie Guerrero. I was one of the many fans looking forward to seeing the Shield break up but now they seem to have done a total 360 on the idea and I am actually pretty glad. I think there is still more to come from this talented team and Wrestlemania is going to be their chance to shine even more. Seeing the New Age Outlaws, or should I say the Corporate Outlaws, in suits was different and a look I like because it just further sells the influence of Triple H looking out for his buddies. So then Kane announces The Shield must compete again against another team, which ended up being Rybaxel.

The Shield (Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose vs. Rybaxel - 4 stars

Wow I'm giving a match containing Ryback a rating I wouldn't normally even consider touching - Wrestlemania season must be going to my head! I actually enjoyed this second match far more than the first as it was much more of an aggressive style throughout. I liked the acknowledgement that it was also the late great Curt Hennig's birthday Friday and maybe that's why Axel seemed more fired up for this one than he has in past matches. I've got to give credit where it's due, the team of Rybaxel impressed me. They stepped up and were on par with the Shield throughout this match. Seth Rollins continued to show how amazing he is with his efforts toward the finish of the match. I don't know why I've never noticed before but his finisher is brutal to watch, I love it though! The match between the Shield and Kane and the Outlaws promises to be a real interesting affair.

Sin Cara vs. Damien Sandow - 2.5 stars

After Sandow's embarrassing loss on Raw Monday with Scooby Doo in Sin Cara's corner (Yes you read that correctly if you missed Raw) I didn't think things could get much lower for Sandow, other than having Scooby Doo come out and pin him (Thank god creative didn't go there, and if they do I'll know they stole the idea from me). However they did and he chalked up a loss in a match he actually pretty much dominated. It wasn't a brilliant match but I don't think they were given enough time to do as much as both men are capable of. I think Hunico has found his niche under the Sin Cara mask and I just hope WWE can continue to build the character with the aim of maybe, just maybe, one day replacing Rey Mysterio, which is something I wrote about on WWENews.Net last year and said WWE simply could never do. However with Hunico now under the mask it's no longer impossible.

Big Show Interview - 3 stars

I thought this interview was a nice little way to build up the match between Show and Bray Wyatt later that night. There was something about Big Show throughout this that made him seem either afraid or preoccupied. I liked how Show talked about how the Wyatt's get into peoples heads and make them question themselves. He ended the interview nicely by delivering the line "I have a giant problem on my hands. But so do they". It was a nice little set up for the match and nothing more so I couldn't really justify going above the 3 star minimum.

Goldust vs. Fandango - 3 stars

Hopefully after the last time these two men set foot in the same ring we won't see an angry Goldust as a result. The matches Fandango has had with both of the Rhodes brothers as of late have been enjoyable to watch as all three men are solid performers in the ring. When Fandango was under the NXT banner as Johnny Curtis I could see something in him and I still believe that he is going to be something big one day, I just don't think Fandango as a character is going to be his ticket to the top. Both men worked this match well together and I have to say I enjoyed everything up to the finish. Yes I know Summer Rae was the only way they could book a distraction in this one but I just felt it spoiled the end to a good contest. I'm not entirely sure where WWE are going with this angle but I'm going to stick it out and see what happens.

Batista vs. Sheamus - 4 stars

This was a pretty decent match, probably the best match Batista has had since he came back to WWE. This was clearly used as a match to further build Batista up as the unstoppable force going into Wrestlemania and I feel this was achieved. Batista certainly came across much more aggressive than normal in this match and it was good to see Sheamus selling it well. Sheamus gets some stick for being a Triple H guy but he is decent in the ring and while I don't see him as a face of WWE he can certainly be a big player for the company in the long term future. The end of this match was sold perfectly and showed the 'animal' being back in Batista, using a steel chair to beat down Sheamus and hitting him with a Batista Bomb. I wasn't entirely sold on Batista's post match promo but it did sell the point of him being fired up and confident of his chances of winning the championship at Wrestlemania.

Just because I can I want to address the fact that Raw will see Orton versus Batista in a match the week before Wrestlemania. Is this really a clever move by WWE? Fans clearly didn't want to see this match on the biggest show of the year, what makes you think they want to see it on TV? I think WWE are just determined that they are going to do that math in some shape or form and Monday just happens to be the time and place so if doing the match makes them happy and satisfies their need to do it then lets just get it out of the way . I expect some sort of crowd hijacking on this one and I also expect some interaction with Daniel Bryan and Triple H in this one.

Bray Wyatt Promo - 4 stars

"When you give a man a mask, he reveals his true face". Following the awesome end to his match with John Cena on Raw this comment could not be more appropriate. The promo was as always creepy and that's what makes Bray's promo's just so enjoyable to watch. He really makes you believe in the things he is saying and I really believe he could be under the skin of John Cena. I really cannot say enough positive things about Wyatt. I just hope that when this match with Cena is all said and done he can keep up his momentum going forward and he gets his chance higher up the card.

AJ & Tamina vs. The Bella Twins - 3.5 stars

Well it wasn't a four star encounter like I thought last week but yet again this was another decent Divas match. We had Vickie Guerrero on commentary which seemed more as a way to sell the Divas match at Wrestlemania more. There wasn't any real focus on the match due to this which I felt was a shame because it took away a little from the match itself. The fact is the Divas matches have improved in terms of their standards over the last few months and it is something I have been waiting to see for a while now. I thought it was interesting to further pull the trigger on the AJ and Tamina dissension and not wait until either next week or Wrestlemania itself but I think those two could have a good series of matches going forward. Seeing Brie pin AJ was interesting and I hope that is the outcome at Wrestlemania personally as she has been probably the best Diva next to AJ this year.

Emma and Santino Marella Segment - 3 stars

I just love seeing these two together, their timing together in comedy situations just seems to really click. I love how Emma referred to Santino as the "ultimate friend with benefits" and then proceeded to explain she was talking about the food aspect. Santino really sold his struggle to tell Emma how he felt and the segment ended well with him spitting wine on her and running away. I'd personally like to see these two do something different next time to advance this but it was a nice little segment none the less.

Jack Swagger vs. Jimmy Uso - 3 stars

The short match theme rears it's ugly head again in this one with Swagger being the more aggressive of the two men early on. Jimmy came back well with a mixture of high flying offence and then keeping his feet firmly on the ground and back to a more natural style of wrestling. The Uso's as a team have come on so much in the last year and they deserve the push they have finally gotten that was long overdue. Swagger picked up a victory in this one in a match that didn't really do anything for either man going forward.

Mark Henry vs. The Miz - 3 stars

This was another match that was out to sell the importance of the Andre the Giant battle royal (If we didn't already get how important and big it is) and was another instance of one man controlling the majority of the match only to end up on the losing end of things. Miz was unfortunately the loser in this contest , despite him coming across really aggressive throughout. I really don't think Miz gets the credit he deserves for just how far he has come since he started. When he teamed with John Morrison I saw big things in both men's futures, I just hope Miz can return to the main event in some capacity over time. The importance of the battle royal was sol, and just to add to it we had Miz 'eliminate' Mark Henry by dumping him over the top rope. Sadly that seemed to light a fire in Henry who then proceeded to finish the match not long after.

The Big Show vs. Bray Wyatt - 3.5 stars

When I saw this match advertised as the main event I was a little unsure exactly how Bray Wyatt was going to pull off a win here. He needs to remain being booked strong into Wrestlemania so putting him up against a giant in Big Show made me scratch my head a little. They actually had a fairly good match which saw Wyatt trying to provoke aggression out of Show to start before he finally managed to gain control. Whenever Bray does that creepy lean back and crab walk I just get chills. A man of his size doing that with the way he looks just scares the heck out of me. With Harper and Rowan at ringside you knew they would get involved somehow and they were used perfectly to help Wyatt set up to hit Big Show with the Sister Abigail. Now it's not as impressive as seeing Cena hit Big Show with an AA but credit has to go to both men here for pulling this off and making it look smooth. The size difference could have made this look sloppy but in the end it was perfectly executed. Ending the show with the Wyatt's over a fallen Big Show was perfect and really made me feel Bray is just unstoppable right now and the perfect opponent for John Cena.

Overall Show Rating - 3.5 stars

This came out pretty much the same as last weeks show rating and a bit like last weeks episode it had it's high points and had it's low points. However I think this weeks overall show was slightly better, it just happened to have more segments which were quicker which cost it dearly. I don't mind the odd short match every now and then but I felt there were just too many on this show. I prefer seeing a bit more of a longer contest than seeing something rushed and guys not being able to do everything they can to give the fans a good match. Overall the match of the night for me goes to Batista and Sheamus. I feel their match did everything it was intended to, and as I said already I think this is Batista's best performance since his return to WWE.

Next week sees the final stop on the road to Wrestlemania. I'm hopeful we will see a show with some twists, turns and surprises going into the big one. That's all for this weeks Smackdown Breakdown folks. Thanks for reading, and in the words of the late, great Gorilla Monsoon, so long till next time.

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