Welcome to the first Smackdown Breakdown on a Friday as Smackdown has now completed it's move back to the night it aired on when it first began in 1999, Thursday's. I'm really digging the new logo for Smackdown and the new graphics in general. The show had a good feel to it this week, and I think the move to Thursday nights is going to be a good thing in the long run. We will see the impact on the ratings as soon as they are released, and I hope we see nothing but positive things from week to week from the show.
This week saw the first Hall of Fame inductee for 2015 announced, and finally many fans will feel happy that the Macho Man Randy Savage is taking his rightful place in the Hall of Fame. It's been a long time in coming, and the fact it's taken this long should be a fact we all over look so we can instead celebrate the memory and work of Randy Savage. We also learnt he would be inducted by Hulk Hogan, which isn't perhaps everyone's preferred option given that it's more than likely Hogan may try to steal Savage's limelight, but the fact Savage is going in is probably the best way to start off the 2015 Hall of Fame class.
And now let's head on into this week's edition of the Smackdown Breakdown, and see what I thought about this week's show.
Daniel Bryan Segment - 4 Stars
What better way to kick off the show than with the returning Daniel Bryan, whom we would see later in singles action against Kane. Bryan has not lost any momentum what so ever following his injury with the fans, and is clearly still over like a rover. It almost feels as if Bryan is about to come full circle for me, and I hope WWE does the right thing by Bryan and has him winning the Royal Rumble. Yes, it can be argued for Roman Reigns to win it, and he is my second choice, but I just feel Bryan deserves another chance at the top. I liked Bryan's breakdown of his history with Kane, his struggle with returning, and how he knows while his return isn't easy he will prove himself to everyone in this match. I love the fact Bryan just oozed confidence in his promo about winning the Rumble and going on to headline Wrestlemania. I sincerely hope someone in the back (Vince, I'm talking to you) was listening to the reaction Bryan got as it's likely if Bryan doesn't win this years Rumble match, then we could see a repeat of last years reaction to Rey Mysterio and Batista.
Daniel Bryan vs. Kane - 4 Stars
So it's clear that the odds were not exactly in Bryan's favour here as Triple H and the rest of the Authority accompanied Kane to the ring for his match with Bryan. That could only mean one thing in my mind; this wasn't going to end well for Bryan. Bryan was right in Kane's face right from the start, and while there were some signs of naturally expected ring rust in his movement I felt Bryan looked as good as he did prior to him being sidelined. Kane did a great job of working on Bryan's neck during this one, while Bryan did a great job of selling the attack on his neck, making you believe he could legitimately be hurt again at any moment. A good opening contest between these two that if I'm honest, I would have liked to see go on as the shows main event, but I guess having Bryan on first would help keep viewers interested to see the rest of the show, and after the match I understood it even more.
The disqualification finish to the match wasn't a huge show either as it was almost inevitable. Ambrose and Reigns coming out was used to set up the main event six man tag team match for the night, and immediately on his first night back we see Bryan pulling double duty. I hope WWE uses Bryan carefully and doesn't over use him too quickly into his return, otherwise I fear for his health in the long term. Luckily in a six man he doesn't have to do all the work so this could be advantageous to him at this point. I'm definitely looking forward to the week's main event.
The Usos & Naomi vs. The Miz, Damien Mizdow, and Alicia Fox - 3.5 Stars
So we're going to see the Usos take on Miz and Mizdow at the Royal Rumble, and if anything I think we are going to be in for a treat. Mizdow was sheer entertainment again during this one, as he made himself look impressive without really having to do anything physical. Naomi looked fired up and showed why is one of WWE's top Divas with some great, fast paced work. All involved made this an exciting match to watch, and it didn't surprise me Miz picked up the win for his team, as I expect them to get the better of the Usos headed into the event, but they will lose on the night.
Paul Heyman Segment - 4 Stars
Great to see Heyman back on TV, helping to further build up the main event for the Royal Rumble. I really hope WWE are careful with the title match at Wrestlemania, and they book the match to protect the WWE World Heavyweight CHampionship going forward. Does Lesnar win or lose? That all depends on who wins the Rumble match, but having Seth Rollins in the match does add an extra dimension to things given he could lose and still cash in the Money in the Bank to walk out champion by the end of the night. Seth came out and displayed great mic skills and really seemed worked up. He seemed pretty damn confident headed into the match, and I enjoyed the interaction between him and Heyman. Seth made a valid point that Lesnar is nothing without Heyman, and it showed when we heard Brock on the mic on Raw this past Monday night. A very enjoyable segment that left me wanting to see more from all involved.
Nikki Bella vs. Natalya - 4 Stars
I'm not sure what the deal is with Natalya and Paige at this point, but I'm guessing this is all stuff linked into Total Divas at this point. Focusing on the action in this match and I thought that Natalya and Nikki had a pretty good match. Nikki can be hit and miss in the ring, and Natalya is always capable of a good match, so it was good seeing them work well together. Paige slapping Nikki to give Natalya the assist was inevitable and I can possibly see a triple threat match between the three at the Rumble for the Divas title, and I for one cannot wait to see what Nikki, Natalya, and Paige can bring to the table.
Sin Cara vs. Bad News Barrett - 3.5 Stars
Boy did WWE make a mess of things with Bad News Barrett right off the bat with this Intercontinental Championship run. Seeing him lose cleanly to Sin Cara last week was just totally head scratching and made a mockery of his run immediately. This was the WWE's chance to repair some of the damage they did last week and thankfully they managed to partially make up for last week. Sin Cara came out looking to pick up the quick win, but he never looked like he could beat Barrett during this one. I would have liked to see Barrett get more offence in during this one, but I'm just thankful Barrett picked up the victory. I liked the work at the end, seeing Sin Cara power bomb Barrett before he was hit out of nowhere with a Bull Hammer Elbow to end the match.
Seth Rollins, Kane, and Big Show vs. Daniel Bryan, Dean Ambrose, and Roman Reigns - 4 Stars
This match saw some good work from all involved, and really set the scene for what is to come at next weekends Royal Rumble. Bryan continued to look just as good as he did earlier in the night if not better toward the end of the match when he picked up the pace, while the work of Rollins, Reigns, and Ambrose was solid as expected, and you had Kane and Big Show as the two reliable veterans. Things broke down part way through the match and it looked like the momentum would not be on the Authority's side in this one, but during the second part of the match things took a turn back into their favour. It was a well worked back and forth match between six tremendous talents and fun to watch. It was great seeing Bryan pick up the win at the end of the match and maintaining his momentum. He really did not look like he lost a step toward the end of the match when he picked up the pace back to an incredible level.
Much like WWE did with CM Punk last year I fully expected the Authority to stack the odds against Bryan headed into the Rumble, and making him have a rematch with Kane putting his Rumble shot on the line is just another way of trying to make it look like Bryan has no chance. I just hope they don't pull the rug from under Bryan next week and have him lose, otherwise things are going to get real ugly quickly with the WWE Universe. I somehow doubt though that WWE is going to do anything dumb and take Bryan out of the match.
Overall Show Rating - 4 Stars
Things look positive for WWE going forward with Smackdown on Thursdays if this weeks show is anything to go by. There were some great segments throughout the show that were enjoyable, and some great in ring action. I'm picking three segments this week for my favourite moment of the show, and all of them revolve around one man; the returning Daniel Bryan. He did not look like he had missed a step by the end of the night, and the fans certainly got their Bryan fix for the night. I do worry WWE may over work him so soon after his return, but I somehow don't expect to see him pulling double duty again for a while. No matter what, Bryan looked strong, and I hope he will keep his momentum headed into the Rumble next Sunday.
That brings another week to a close on the Smackdown Breakdown. If you have anything to say about my thoughts on the show, or if you have anything you want to say about the show then please use the comments section below to have your say. I will be back next Friday with another edition of the Breakdown. Until then, thanks for reading.