Sunday sees the arrival of WWE Fast Lane, the show on the final stop to the gran daddy of them all, Wrestlemania. The Wrestlemania card will begin to take shape following this Sundays show, and the way Raw and Smackdown are booked after this weekend headed into Wrestlemania is going to be key to the shows success. Last weeks episode of Smackdown was a good watch, with the focus being more on the wrestling content than talking. It's a key ingredient that helps make the show more appealing to fans. No one needs to see countless segments of superstars talking about what they are going to do later that night. Don't get me wrong, talking has it's place in the product, but I think fans need faster paced segments and something more original. Raw is always a pain for talking for me, and it's always nice to watch Smackdown where I know there will be less of it and more action.
There has been so much breaking in the last few days in terms of news I don't know where to even start with this one. We've seen Samoa Joe leave TNA after nine long years with the company, which has fuelled speculation he may finally get a shot at a move to WWE. I'm not sure Joe needs to go to WWE at this point in his career, but the thought of him facing names like Kevin Owens, Adrian Neville, Finn Balor, or Hideo Itami is just too much to ignore. WWE needs Joe maybe more than he needs them, and only time will tell what happens going forward, but seeing Joe in a WWE ring would be great for any wrestling fan.
This wasn't the only news of the week as WWE physician Chris Amann is sueing CM Punk and Colt Cabana for deformation of character, after the claims made by Punk on Cabana's Art of Wrestling podcast that Amann was negligent and refused to treat a lump on Punk's back. I'm not surprised this has happened, but this just about ends any relationship between WWE and Punk going forward surely. I don't know what this means for AJ Lee's future in WWE, but it will be interesting to see what happens with this case. There are also claims the wife of Viscera has filled a wrongful death lawsuit against WWE, but those claims have been denied by WWE. Both cases are interesting and will be worth following closely over the coming months, and I get the feeling these two stories are not going to go away quietly no matter what the outcomes.
And with that, lets head on into this weeks edition of the Smackdown Breakdown and see what I thought of this weeks show.
Daniel Bryan vs. The Miz - 4 Stars
Headed into his big match this Sunday against Roman Reigns, Miz was more of a warm up act for Daniel Bryan, which helped make sure he was ready for one of the biggest nights of his career. Bryan looked more like he'd spent the past week in a war, with scratches and welts on his body and I would expect Sunday's match with Reigns will only cause him more. While Miz seemed more interested in Mizdow early on, Bryan seemed more intent on making the Miz look more of a jobber than an in prime Barry Horowitz for the early portion of the match. I never foresaw any other outcome than Bryan winning this one, so Miz taping wasn't a great shock in quick fashion. Bryan kicked off the show with a strong and energetic outing, giving him momentum headed into Sunday at Fast Lane. Miz did a good job of making Bryan look strong, and this felt a good way to open up the show.
Ryback vs. Kane - 4 Stars
The Big Guy and the Big Red Corporate Monster going one on one, neither with anything meaningful going into Sunday, but still a focus of the on going Authority storyline. These two gave a pretty physical account of themselves, trading back and forth blows throughout this one. I didn't find myself really caring too much about who would win this one, as both need a program to work headed into Wrestlemania, and this was obviously just another match to pass them into Fast Lane. That said, this was an enjoyable watch. It wasn't anything we haven't seen before or expected from these two, but they still provided a solid match.
R-Truth vs. Bad News Barrett - 3.5 Stars
Clearly Dean Ambrose has been exploring his Fifty Shades of Grey side this week, after he cable tied Bad News Barrett to the ring post and made him sign a contract for an Intercontinental Championship match at Fast Lane. Dean Ambrose was on commentary, and provided some very entertaining insight during this match. Barrett came out with his usual mean, powerful side and seemingly made easy work of R-Truth. You ask the fans What's Up R-Truth? What's Up is you lost again son. That being said, both men gave a good account of themselves in this one, with Barrett seemingly making a statement to Ambrose with his brutal assault of Truth outside the ring, before he would actually lose to Truth, who hit a roll up because Barrett was more occupied with what Ambrose was doing. It's likely Barrett is retaining his title on Sunday, but boy does Dean Ambrose really need a Pay Per View win after having not won one since the middle of 2014.
New Days vs. The Ascension - 3 Stars
A match between two tag teams who appear to be going nowhere fast. While New Day are at least cared about by the fans to an extent, but it's not like the fans are majorly behind either team big style. It wasn't your typical domination by the Ascension by any means, which was refreshing to see, but did I really care for anything either team was doing in this one? No, not really. It was no surprise seeing the Ascension pick up the win, but I was more glad the match was over pretty quickly.
Roman Reigns vs. Luke Harper - 4 Stars
Reigns is heading into Fast Lane with a chip on his shoulder and a point to prove. He is without a question deserving of the Wrestlemania main event spot, but he has to go up against Daniel Bryan this Sunday with his main event shot on the line. I find it hard to see any outcome that doesn't have Reigns still heading to Wrestlemania, but that is no guarantee Roman wins on Sunday. I enjoyed this one, it was a great match between two up and coming superstars, who both displayed their different talents during this one. Harper made it look like Reigns was going to have to work for the victory, and that was good to see as I didn't want to see Reigns just dominate Harper in this one. The outcome of a Reigns win was always inevitable, but I felt their match was well worked, and a great advert for both men who I see having big futures in WWE.
Big Show vs. Erick Rowan - 3.5 Stars
Another match between two big men who don't really have anything headed into Fast Lane, but they certainly weren't going to let that get in their way, with the action kicking off before the bell even rang. Big Shows brutal assault of Erick Rowan was strong, but it was inevitable Big Show would win this one. What was more surprising by the end of this match is we hadn't seen another character turn for Big Show, who seemingly doesn't know whether he wants to be cheered or booed from one week to the next. Harper has a bright future in the company, and I would have liked to see him have some offence in this one, but Big Show simply showed what a dominant giant he can be. While I didn't think I was going to care for this match before it started, by the end I found I had enjoyed what I saw.
Cameron vs. Paige - 4 Stars
Was I the only one who loved Paige in the outfit she stole from that Rosebud on Monday night? I vote for her dressing that way more often! We had to listen to the Bella's on commentary during this one, who were more interested in trying to undermine Paige and her look than talking about the Divas title match Sunday. Cameron tried to show her aggressive side, and to be fair she has show some considerable improvement in the ring since she first started out, but she's no Paige in the ring. Paige was excellent as usual, and hopefully we will see her lock the PTO in on Nikki Bella this Sunday to see her become Divas Champion again. A good Divas match, something I wasn't totally expecting given Cameron's involvement.
Jimmy Uso vs. Tyson Kidd - 3.5 Stars
I'm really looking forward to watching The Usos face off with Tyson Kidd and Cesaro at Fast Lane. The two teams are fantastic workers to watch, and I think their match is going to be of show stealing potential. There appears to be more of a bromance developing between Kidd and Cesaro, rather than Kidd focusing on his romance with Natalya, which is quite entertaining. Sadly we didn't get much of an early preview of the match as Rusev came out and destroyed The Usos, causing a disqualification finish. Rusev was able to send a message to John Cena, and it adds another dynamic to the match between Rusev and Cena, I just don't see Fast Lane being the end of their feud. A shame this match didn't get chance to get going, but it leaves fans wanting more on Sunday.
Seth Rollins vs. Dolph Ziggler - 4.5 Stars
In a rematch from Monday Night Raw, we saw Seth Rollins and Dolph Ziggler one on one, this time without Jamie Noble and Joey Mercury causing a disqualification. Dolph looked like he had Seth beaten Monday night, so it would have been no great surprise to see him beat Rollins during this one, but it was Seth who walked out the victor at the end of this one. What was more important than the outcome in this one was seeing a solidly worked match between these two. Rollins is at the top of his game right now, and is easily the biggest heel in WWE right now, while Dolph is one of the most popular stars amongst fans. Both are sure to be big name players over the next ten years, and they worked a great match here. The pace was up and down, the action was back and forth, and the ending was nice and tense. These two told a great story, and they really ended this weeks Smackdown on the right note. The match didn't really need the inclusion of Big Show, Kane, Ryback, and Rowan, as Rollins and Ziggler did enough on their own to make this match interesting. The beat down at the end didn't do much for me, but I guess it will probably set up an impromptu tag team match between those four at Fast Lane.
Overall Show Rating - 4 Stars
Another week goes by, and it was great to see wrestling was more of the focus in this one. I'm all for a talking segment where it is appropriate, but I don't like to see shows loaded with them, and this gives Smackdown a different feel to Raw. The wheels for the final journey to Fast Line have well and truly begun to turn this week, and I for one am really looking forward to Sunday's Fast Lane show. Without doubt my favourite segment this week was the well worked match between Dolph Ziggler and Seth Rollins in the main event. I can't wait to see how Sundays show pans out, and I hope you will join us here on WNW for live discussion during the show.
As always, if you have anything to say about this weeks episode of Smackdown, or my thoughts on the show then please leave your thoughts in the comments section below. Thanks for reading the Smackdown Breakdown, and I will catch you next week for another instalment of the Smackdown Breakdown.