We open Smackdown with a roster gathering hosted by Triple H. He’s got the Smackdown and Raw GMs, Vickie and Brad with him. Hunter lets some of the wrestlers speak about how they feel. Those wrestlers end up in matches. Kofi Kingston will take on Curtis Axel, Dolph Ziggler will take on Ryback, and Rob Van Dam will take on Randy Orton. Lastly, Daniel Bryan gets to pick which member of the Shield he wants to face tonight. Trips brings out Randy Orton.
^I love Hunter acting like the jerk that a lot of internet fans have portrayed him to be. It’s comical that WWE can make a joke of that sort of situation. I guess this is still more refreshing to setup matches for the show than what Teddy Long used to do EVERY SINGLE WEEK. Good start and some potentially fun matchups!
Randy Orton defeats Rob Van Dam with an RKO after RVD attacks Del Rio on the outside. Alberto Del Rio is on commentary during the entire match and attacks RVD after he loses.
^Good chemistry and good match. I like that the World Title rivalry didn’t get in the way of the match being decent, but the feud still fit nicely in the overall segment. Smart booking here, and nice to see two vets like Orton and Van Dam executing such a good story so easily.
Daniel Bryan is interviewed by Renee Young. He says the Shield can decided which one of them he will face tonight.
^Now THAT sounds like something a true fighting champion would say. Daniel Bryan is being booked PERFECTLY as we all continue to route for him in this war against “the man.”
AJ is backstage. She tells Aksana and Alicia Fox that she’d rather defend her Divas Title against one of them than someone from the Total Divas show.
^It’s fun to hear AJ cut promos, and it’s fun to see her interact with the other divas. She’s well on her way to becoming one of the most memorable divas in WWE history with how she’s being portrayed over time.
Ryback defeats Dolph Ziggler after interference by Dean Ambrose.
^If booking strategy means anything, Ziggler getting buried week after week must mean he’s going to win the US Title at Night of Champions. Doesn’t that seem like a ridiculous step down for the former Mr. Money in the Bank and World Title holder just a few months ago? I don’t understand it, but at least Ryback is looking strong again and the Ambrose/Ziggler match has potential to be one of the top three battles of the night.
Kofi Kingston defeats Curtis Axel w/Paul Heyman in a non-title match.
^Will Kofi be the one to eventually take the title off Axel? It seems appropriate given his lifetime midcard status. This one was fun to watch; Axel and Kofi have never had a bad match to my recollection.
Renee Young interviews Paul Heyman about CM Punk. Heyman says he overlooked Kofi Kingston tonight because he’s been so focused on CM Punk.
^Smart booking from the writers to give Heyman that excuse for Axel AND keep Kofi on a hot streak. Heyman does such a fantastic job of selling his fear of what Punk might do to him and making it really believable for the audience.
Naomi and Brie Bella wrestle to a no contest as AJ and other divas come out and confront the Total Divas’ crew.
^An eventual Survivor Series/Battleground matchup? At least WWE has done a good job of making multiple divas more relevant with their tv show and by booking the others on the actual wrestling programs. Good work all around for divas booking. Naomi didn’t do anything special, but at least the focus shifted to make it all seem interesting when AJ arrived.
The Real Americans w/Zeb Colter defeat the Usos. Cesaro gets the pin after one of the Usos is knocked off the rope by Swagger and lands into Cesaro’s forearm.
^More tag team wrestling, please! I love seeing the Usos and I’m actually quite pleased with the team of Cesaro and Swagger. Both men are capable of putting on good-great one on one matches, but as a team they work well together and they have the chemistry/ability to be very successful. Good match.
Big Show defeats the 3MB in a handicap match. He knocks out Slater for the three count with the WMD. Show goes to leave and the Shield come out for their match. He stops to possibly go after them but Triple H comes out and brings Show backstage.
^Anyone else find themselves routing for Show to knock Hunter out every time they’re in close proximity? Me either. But this one was enjoyable too. Sometimes a segment style match rather than an actual match can be good and Big Show is very good at selling his emotions to make these sorts of situations highly entertaining.
^Dbry gets the upper hand on Hunter’s henchman but doesn’t get the best of the WWE Champion; perfect! Everyone got their hopes up with Dbry’s success, we saw an awesome match, and then all hope was ripped away when Orton nailed Dbry with the title belt. Perfect ending to a solid show!
We saw a good balance of wrestling and entertainment on this edition of Smackdown, and it was fun to watch. WWE’s sense of balance right now is perfect, and as long as the opening segments are kept short to setup some matches, I don’t see any problem with this formula. Great show overall!
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