It's that time of the week again where I look back at another edition of Smackdown. Last week was the first week for the show on a Thursday night for the first time in almost ten years, and it has to be said that Smackdown did a good rating for it's first night in it's new slot. So far in 2015 the show has done an average rating of 2,582,000 on the first show of the year, followed by 2,432,000 on the last Friday edition of the show, and an average of 2,675,000 last week, an average increase of 243,000 viewers. The return of Daniel Bryan may well have helped but this is a strong sign for the show already. It will be interesting to see what this weeks show got for a rating, and I will be keeping a close eye on this to see if the move helps or not. Bare in mind the show can now pick up on that lost Impact Wrestling audience, given the companies move to Destination America.
I have to say I loved this past Monday's edition of WWE Raw, with the return of so many legends, and of course the Raw debut of Sting. It appears this year is going to see Triple H and Sting face off, which isn't a bad thing but as any fan must feel, I kind of wish it was Undertaker. The good thing is we get to see Sting in a WWE ring for the first time, and even if it's only for one match I think you have to be excited as a wrestling fan to see this moment. Seeing the APA reunited was also pretty cool to see, and JBL showed he can still hit one hell of a clothesline. It was one of the more enjoyable episodes of Raw in recent memory, I just wish the show was of this quality every week.
Lets head on into this weeks edition of the Smackdown Breakdown, and check out what I had to say about the show this week.
Daniel Bryan And The Returning Superstars Opening Segment - 4 Stars
So if the odds couldn't get any more worse for Daniel Bryan, he has to face off against Kane in tonight's show to keep his spot in the Royal Rumble. I don't even what to think about what could happen with the crowd if he loses the match (I haven't seen spoilers). Whilst the internal favourite is Roman Reigns, Bryan has to be considered a top candidate and should not be bet against. It was good how Bryan came out, cut a promo to hype out what he could talk about, and then give his time to Ryback, Dolph Ziggler, and Erick Rowan. I had to laugh at Ziggler's comment aimed at CM Punk, as he does have a point. Despite that, something tells me Dolph didn't come up with that off the top of his head, and it was more a scripted line. A good opening to the show, and I'm sure all three will have good matches tonight to get back into the Royal Rumble. All three men cut good promo's to kick off proceedings, and it set a good tone for the show. Rollins and the Authority made their way into the proceedings, and of course that just allowed for tonight's matches to be put into place.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Bad News Barrett - 4 Stars
A big double opportunity for Dolph Ziggler in this one. If he can beat Bad News Barrett in this one then that not only gets him back into the Royal Rumble, but surely it gives him a shot again at Bad News Barrett and the Intercontinental Championship. Barrett took it to Ziggler throughout the match with some good aggressive work, while Dolph used his quickness to gain an advantage toward the end. This was an enjoyable mix of wrestling, fast paced action, and aggression that made a pretty good match to watch. These two have bright futures in the WWE, I just hope they get the chance to fulfil their potential. Great to see Ziggler pick up the win, even though it was inevitable, but none the less, we saw a great effort from both men.
Ryback vs. Rusev - 4 Stars
Now this was an interesting choice for WWE. Obviously Ryback was going to win, but it's clear he wouldn't be pinning Rusev, or making him submit. So it was inevitable the finish was going to be either disqualification or count out. This was a match between two power houses and the early stages of the match saw them both trying to tussle for control. Rusev took control and worked Ryback well, showing why he is one of WWE's premier talents. Ryback did a good job of making it look like he might just beat Rusev toward the end but that wasn't to be the case. This was a well worked match between two big guys that I enjoyed, and for once I thought the outcome and ending of the match with the count out was well executed.
Naomi vs. Brie Bella - 3.5 Stars
Paige and Natalya on commentary was worth watching this one for alone. Their match at Royal Rumble against the Bella's will be interesting, and something tells me we will see a turn from one of them on the other, most likely Paige. Naomi and Brie put in a good effort of a match in preparation for the Bella's match at the Rumble. It was a nice little back and forth effort, with both displaying some good work in the ring. Brie picking up the win was of no surprise, and I think the match at the Rumble will be interesting between the four Divas.
Luke Harper vs. Erick Rowan - 3.5 Stars
I'm a fan of watching these two face off against one another, so seeing these two face off again on television is a good move. Another match between two big men who both have great potential going forward in WWE, but just need some more time before they reach their peak. Harper executed a head scissors of Rowan, which was an agile move I was surprised to see, but it looked good. Rowan answered back with a sweet looking spin kick, and proved these two are more than just size and power. Interesting to see Harper beat Rowan, thus meaning Rowan lost his spot in the Rumble match. What does that mean for Rowan going forward? Could this give John Cena a new big man to work with in a singles feud? Time will tell, but I'm disappointed we won't see Rowan in Sunday's Rumble.
Kane vs. Daniel Bryan - 4 Stars
The fact this is a no disqualification match just further stacks the odds against Bryan, and after just watching Rowan lose his spot, it suddenly wasn't impossible that Bryan could lose the match. Having lost on Monday already, I had a feeling if Bryan was winning this match then it wasn't going to be easy. It wasn't long before the weapons came out and the Singapore cane made an appearance, used by both men to take out their aggression on the other. It was a good back and forth match between both men, that would see the Authority do everything it could to stop Bryan walking out the winner. Sadly for them they failed, and good news for the fans is Bryan is in Sunday's Rumble, giving him every chance of walking out the winner. Bryan is my pick to win, but if WWE make the decision to go with Roman Reigns then that's not the end of the world. Bryan executed a great counter into the Yes Lock from Kane's top rope clothesline well. The end was tense, and was booked well to make it look like Bryan might not walk out the winner, but it was only a ever a tease. As I predicted though it was the Authority standing tall at the end of the show, as Big Show assaulted Bryan on the ramp way, bringing him back to the ring for a melee between the locker room, in preparation for the Rumble match. The crowd popped big style for both Dean Ambrose, and Roman Reigns, as they came down to the ring. Interesting to see Bryan, Reigns, Ambrose, Ziggler, and Ryback stood in the ring to end the show, and you have to think they will be the favourites headed into Sunday.
Overall Show Rating - 4 Stars
Just as Raw had a pretty solid outing, Smackdown managed to match it with another strong show this week. The show had elements of predictability, but it also came with an element of surprise as we saw Erick Rowan lose his Royal Rumble spot to Luke Harper. If anyone saw that coming I would be very surprised. I'm real excited headed into this years Royal Rumble, and even though I accept Roman Reigns in the internal favourite to win, you still never know and there could be a swerve as nothing is set in stone till it happens. My favourite segment of the show this week has to go to Dolph Ziggler and Bad News Barrett, who I thought had a real solid match. There weren't any real bad segments throughout the whole show though, and I hope that next weeks show continues the trend of a good quality for Smackdown.
That's all for this week. If you have anything you want to say about my thoughts on the show, or if you have something you want to add, then please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section below. Until next week, so long and thanks for reading the Smackdown Breakdown.