With Battleground just a couple of nights away, let's just get right into Smackdown! I am hoping for a great lead in for the show, as the build up until this point has been lackluster at best.
Break it Down!
Opening Segment: 7.25
So, are they going with the name The Authority for Steph and HHH? If my Closed Captions are any indication, then I am really not a fan of it. It just doesn't flow right to me. And while I have really enjoyed Show's emotional roller coaster ride, save a few of the tears, the illusions to him possibly turning heel again in this promo are extremely misguided. Show has only recently turned face again, and while he is one of the few people in this industry who can do that flop seamlessly, changing him again within 4 months of the last one is foolish. But at least they are trying new things to make this interesting. HHH buying Show's mortgage from the bank, while seemingly improbable to most viewers, could actually happen, as my father had the very same thing happen to him with a private equity group. And with HHH holding it over Show's head, now he has to fall in line with The Authority or lose his home! That is dirty and very psychologically effective! The Cerebral Assassin is back!
RVD vs. Fandango: 6
I love RVD's dedication since returning. Maybe it's because of guys like Lesnar and The Rock, but having RVD work just about every show since his return has been quite refreshing. But despite my feelings for RVD, this match was quite a disappointment. We had about 2 minutes of action before we got a commercial, then shortly after it returned Summer Rae causes Fandango to get DQed! I know it was a setup for RVD to hit a Van Terminator on Fandango, but it just didn't feel right to take away from the fans what could have been a great match on Smackdown.
Winner: RVD (DQ)
Ryback vs. R-Truth: 6.75
Wait, Ryback doesn't get an entrance? Ouch! So much for Heyman Guys having some stroke in WWE! Well, at least his opponent was relevant to the Heyman Guys with R-Truth. And R-Truth but on a good performance before being squashed down by Ryback's two moves of doom. But the real telling story in this match was the almost hypnotic state Ryback was in as he focused on R-Truth being a “bully” to him. I don't really know what to make of it. Was he that traumatized as a kid that he now becomes a different person when confronting someone he perceives as a bully? I ask this because the way he was talking about it in the ring was child-like. Maybe we can get a psychological break for Ryback somewhere down the line. Paging Dr. Shelby!
As a secondary note, I think Axel's post match attack on R-Truth, while very short, did one thing right. It showed us a more intense side of Axel, which is much better than the smug, arrogant side WWE has been trying to feed us. Sure, he's his father's son, but he just doesn't pull off the “Perfect” arrogance well.
Winner: Ryback (Pin)
ADR Interview: 5
ADR was really weak. He tries to act like the arrogant heel, but he just doesn't convey it across the screen well at all. I have said many times that I don't think he believes in his character, and it showed here better than at any other point. It was like he was trying to remember what he was supposed to be saying.
Alberto Del Rio vs. Dolph Ziggler: 9
Sandow is on commentary was sublime! And all of the teases to him cashing in MITB really makes me hope he cashes in on Sunday. This was a simply fantastic match, as it seems these two can't put on a bad one. It's a real shame their feud was killed so quickly, as it could have been great. It wasn't that they did anything different from what we have seen from the two of them in the past, but it was that they knew each other so well and worked like they had never missed a beat from their feud. I was just enthralled with it, as I had to watch the match 3 times just to write the notes for it!
Winner: ADR (Sub)
Los Matadores vs. 3MB: 5.75
Again? Monday wasn't enough? 3MB just wants to be embarrassed week after week. Drew's got the rope... That's a Boondock Saints reference! But Drew has been conspicuously absent for the past couple of weeks... Maybe it is a sign that he is finally going to get that push we all have hoped that he would get. Wow! It is a mini Mantaur! That is pure Are You Serious material! And while Los Matadores' ring work wasn't bad, their gimmick is making it very hard for me to get into it. My big gripe is their finisher. After so many high flying move throughout the entire match, their finisher is a double backdrop? It makes little sense. But at least we got to see the bull fly after the match!
Winners: Los Matadores (Pin)
Heyman Interview: 7
This interview was not his best work, but it served it's purpose, which was to hype up Heyman's two matches at Battleground. I know that I am at least looking forward to one of them.
Aksana vs. Brie Bella: 4.75
It's a cold day in the Netherworld when I say that brie Bella was the better Diva in a match! She carried Aksana throughout the entire match. And while Brie has 2 years more ring experience than Aksana, up until recently I wouldn't have guessed that was the case. Other than her modeling background, I just don't see Aksana's appeal. And while the match itself wasn't anything to write home about, the ending was atrocious! Aksana, even if it was only for a second, had her feet on the ropes, and the ref missed it because his back was turned to them! And it was the same one that botched two endings in a row a month ago! Baka!
Winner: Brie Bella (Pin)
AJ Lee Promo: 8
AJ's feeling inspired... Uh oh! It sounds like she is going back off of the deep end of her crazy pool! This could make the Divas Title match much more fun than I anticipated!
Big E. Langston vs. Kofi Kingston: 4
That was fast! They didn't even have a chance to do hardly anything in the ring before Kofi rolled up Big E. and the bell rang! Creative really didn't put a lot of thought into the wrestling side of this week's show.
Winner: Kofi Kingston (Pin)
Bray Wyatt Promo: 9
So on the Sabbath, the first of our heroes shall fall... I like the idea of Wyatt running through all of the most popular midcard superstars to help propel him into the main event. I just wonder how much Harper and Rowan will hold him down, as their ring work is clearly not up to par for this level of competition.
Rhodes Recap: 9.5
This is probably the most emotionally invested I have been in a storyline in quite some time. The Rhodes Family is easily one of the most talented wrestling families in the history of this business, and The Authority's prejudice against them makes you just want to support them that much more. The match between The Rhodes and the Shield will easily be the one every fan will be tuning in to see on Sunday night.
4-on-1 Handicap Match
The Shield and Randy Orton vs. Big Show: 8
There was some absolutely fantastic tag team psychology by the Shield during this match. Fast tags, picking apart a particular point on Show's body, and just all being on the same page with one another show the fans just how cohesive of a unit The Shield are. Add in the fact that they worked seamlessly with Orton added into their mix, and that further added to how great they operate. That was a very sloppy DDT counter by Orton. I can't totally blame Orton on it, as it looks like Show didn't fall into it very well, but it just looked really bad. That was an excellent ending to the match, as we knew the Authority's minions had to do something to subdue the giant. And what better way then with the numbers game? Of course, a segment such as this wouldn't be complete without a Reigns Spear, and between his and Big Show's, I think Reigns does it much better. We did get to obligatory save segment here, which let Bryan get the upper hand going into Battleground, but is that enough momentum?
Winner: Big Show (DQ)
Overall Wrestling Grade: 6.25
Overall Segment Grade: 7.5
Overall Show Grade: 6.75
It is a sad day when the promos outshine the ring work by such a large degree. I had such high hopes going into this show that we were going to get a great lead in to Battleground, but as usual, my hopes were dashed upon the rocks of Creative's fallacies. But given the way the PPV is built, I don't know if one show could have saved Battleground. Don't forget that about the Live Blog and Live Coverage for Battleground, and I will see you Sunday!