Every week here on Bleacher Report, I will take an in-depth look at SmackDown, recapping all the action and offering analysis on everything from the matches to commentary and anything else that takes place on the show.
This week's show featured eight matches, three of which were singles matches featuring each member of The Shield.
There was some decent storyline development during the show, and every match had something to like about it.
Let's get into the action with the first match of the night.
Seth Rollins vs. Kane
The show opened with the first singles match of three for The Shield tonight. I found it interesting that only Roman Reigns accompanied Rollins to the ring while Ambrose headed back up the steps.
This was a very high-energy match from start to finish. Nobody was using rest holds and Rollins kept a very quick pace throughout the match.
Kane proved once again in this match why he is one of the best big men in the history of the business. He kept step with the younger and quicker Rollins very easily.
The end of the match came when Roman Reigns caused a distraction, allowing Daniel Bryan to push Rollins off the top rope so Kane could give him a Chokeslam.
I have a lot of faith in Seth Rollins' abilities as both a singles and tag team wrestler, and I think that once The Shield is done with, he will have a great run on his own.
Some notes from the match.
- Kane using a delayed vertical suplex was something I did not expect.
- Rollins' jumping tornado DDT out of the corner was very impressive.
- Seeing Bryan take a shortcut to help his partner was a great way to finish the match without having Rollins lose completely clean.
Daniel Bryan vs. Roman Reigns
After The Shield were unsuccessful in convincing the ref that Bryan had interfered, the next match started right away between Bryan and Reigns.
Reigns immediately began to take his frustrations out on the smaller Bryan, but he gave Bryan too much room and ended up on the receiving end up several kicks to the chest.
This was another match with very little time spent resting, and a lot of high impact offense. The chemistry that has developed between these four men in the ring has been amazing to watch in recent months.
At one point Reigns had to crawl 3/4 of the way across the ring to break the No Lock, and Rollins still had to help by pushing the rope in a little.
Reigns pie-faced Kane from the ring, which of course upset the big man enough to hit him in the face right in view of the ref to cause a DQ.
Bryan was visibly upset at Kane for costing him the match. Kane tried to walk away, but Bryan followed him up the ramp yelling at him. It looks like this team might be nearing the end of their run.
Some notes from the match.
- The way Bryan wrapped up Reigns' legs and then proceeded to drop elbow after elbow to his face was one of the most brutal things I have seen Bryan do in the ring.
- It was awesome.
- One of my favorite things about Daniel Bryan is that despite the fact that he is always the smallest guy in the ring, you never feel like he is an underdog.
- Roman Reigns has a lot more in his bag of tricks than most people give him credit for.
- Bryan might be the smallest wrestler to ever "Hulk up" during a match.
- Bryan has the most dangerous feet in wrestling.
- Bryan rolling a crucifix into the No Lock was very innovative.
Damien Sandow's Challenge
Sandow is out after the break to bring us another challenge. Sandow gets some cheap heat by mocking Wayne Gretzky.
This week's challenge is the basic shell game with three cups and a small ball. As he explains the game, Sheamus' music hits and he makes his way out.
Sheamus makes a joke about tiny balls. Sandow lets him play the game.
While it was somewhat impressive, Sandow's sleight of hand needs some work. I could see him palm the ball while showing it to Sheamus. If you watch it back you can see him put the ball in his pocket right after he tells Sheamus to make a guess.
Sheamus grabs a cup, and it's empty. Sandow says his idiot license is good for another year. Classic Sandow.
While Sheamus considers his options, Sandow shows us why he is one of the best heels on a mic today by telling Sheamus he is "Better than this."
Sandow says he can choose from the other two cups and have one more shot. He grabs a cup and it's empty again.
Sheamus demands to see what is under the third cup and Sandow calls him "Simple." As Sandow lets go of the third cup a "Show your balls" chant breaks out in the crowd. The look on Sandow's face was priceless.
Sheamus picks up the third cup and reveals that there is no ball, which prompts Sandow to say he is also a magician. Sheamus calls it cheating.
Sheamus lays him out with the Brogue Kick, and ends the segment by saying "You're welcome."
This was an entertaining segment, mostly due to Sandow being gold on the mic. I hope Sandow gets at least one win in this feud.
Curtis Axel vs. Sin Cara
Paul Heyman delivers a promo about telling the truth while he and Axel walk to the ring. Seeing Heyman on SmackDown is great. I will never be tired of hearing this guy spin webs.
Axel says "When you're a Paul Heyman guy, life is perfect."
Axel takes it to Sin Cara right after the bell with hard rights and a backbreaker. Axel hits a beautiful dropkick before trying to rip the mask off Cara's face.
Sin Cara came back for a bit with some of his high flying offense and signature quick feet, but when he tries for a back elbow off the ropes he gets laid out hard.
The Perfectplex gets Axel the win in a quick match.
Some notes from the match
- It looks like they are back to the original remix of Mr. Perfect's music for Axel.
- Did Axel have his appendix removed at some point? I am just noticing a big scar on the right side of his stomach.
- Axel saying he beat Triple H so bad he couldn't continue is exactly how I hoped they would play that.
- Axel hitting the Perfectplex for the win was a big flashback for me personally. I really miss Mr. Perfect.
Big E Langston vs. Alberto Del Rio
Before the match we see a clip of Langston and AJ having an argument after Langston lost to Del Rio on Monday.
Langston started off strong, but Del Rio hit a running kick to the gut to take him off his feet very early.
This might be one of the first times we have truly seen just how quick Langston is in the ring. He was able to keep up with Del Rio with just about everything.
At one point, Del Rio gave Langston a nasty German suplex that brought Langston down right on his head.
Langston managed to power out of the Cross Armbreaker with ease before running right over Del Rio for a close two count.
This is another match where nobody was using any headlocks to rest for a moment. The action started and kept going through to the end.
AJ raked the eyes of Del Rio outside the ring before Langston managed to finish of Del Rio with the Big Ending.
This was another match I enjoyed watching quite a bit. It was kind of short, but there was some great back and forth action between Langston and Del Rio.
It's great to see Langston getting some time in the ring while Ziggler is out with an injury. I can see Langston as a World Champion within two yeas.
Some notes from the match
- I still think it's wrong that Del Rio uses the backstabber as a signature when Primo and Epico use it as a finisher.
- Well, have we actually seen Epico and Primo "Finish" anyone off in awhile? Maybe it's not so bad.
- AJ's interference might have affected the outcome, but I still see this as a big win for Langston.
- AJ manages to get better looking as time goes on.
Ryback vs. Kofi Kingston
Kofi used his speed to put Ryback off balance right from the get-go. Kofi had a couple minutes of high-intensity offense before Ryback took control.
Ryback was able to avoid Trouble in Paradise by catching Kofi, but he was not able to keep Kofi on his shoulders and almost lost to a cross body from the top rope.
Ryback turned Kofi inside out with a Meat Hook before hitting Shell Shocked for the pin and the win.
This was another quick match that still had some entertainment value. Kofi got in some good offense throughout.
After the match Ryback grabbed a table from under the ring and put Kofi through it with a powerbomb. Then he did it two more times.
I have to say that this is the most I have ever liked Ryback. This really put him over as a monster heel very well, and hopefully he keeps up the intensity in the coming weeks leading up to Payback to make the match with John Cena more enticing.
Some notes from the match.
- Ryback came out in the ambulance for his entrance.
- At one point Kofi hit a huge springboard dropkick that I think was supposed to be a cross body, but he got so much height he had to shift in mid-air to compensate.
- The blue cow-print pattern on Kofi's attire is still confusing me. Who thought it would look good?
- Kofi either had no friends in the back, or nobody wanted to get in Ryback's way to stop him.
- You have to give Kofi credit for taking three powerbombs through tables. That could not have been a walk in the park.
Chris Jericho vs. Cody Rhodes
This is a feud I have personally wanted to happen for quite some time. Jericho and Rhodes could probably tear the house down on a pay-per-view, and hopefully they get the chance to have a real program at some point.
Jericho took control early with a dropkick and a clothesline over the top rope to Rhodes, but Rhodes came back quickly after dropping Jericho across the top rope.
This was a very back and forth match. Nobody was in control for more than a minute at any one time.
The end came when Jericho caught Rhodes coming off the ropes for a Disaster Kick, and then locking him in the Walls of Jericho for the submission win.
After the match we get another showing of the video package for the Wyatt family. Erick Rowan and Luke Harper kind of remind me of The Highlanders.
Does anyone else actually remember The Highlanders?
- Chris Jericho calling Bob Barker his evil nemesis made me chuckle, although saying he would spay and neuter CM Punk was a little disturbing.
- Also, you can either spay a female or neuter a male, you can't do both. Jericho should have paid more attention to Barker's pleas to keep the pet population down.
- And why was that such a big issue on The Price is Right? It always seemed odd to me that he chose to sign off by requesting we make out pets infertile.
- Jericho is the perfect wrestler to put someone like Rhodes over. They both have tremendous versatility in the ring, and both of them have an old school style mixed with contemporary techniques.
- I love that Rhodes adopted some of Bob Holly's signature moves into his arsenal. It was Rhodes' first real feud in WWE, and to see him show respect to Holly by using the suspended kick to the gut and Alabama Slam is great.
- JBL actually mentioning Bob Holly by name was a nice touch.
Randy Orton vs. Dean Ambrose
The main event of the night was US Champion Dean Ambrose taking on Randy Orton in the third singles match for The Shield.
Dean Ambrose is clearly being booked as the front-runner of the group at this point, which is fine with me since he is my favorite.
Ambrose and Orton worked very well together, which seemed to make Orton step it up another level during the match.
I could see these two feuding over the WWE or World title at some point. They seem like a natural match for each other.
Reigns and Rollins rushed the ring to cause a DQ finish. Normally I would have complained about this, but for storyline purposes I feel it worked very well.
Kane and Bryan came out to even the odds, with Bryan looking like the most dangerous man out of all of them by taking out everyone in The Shield.
The whole crowd got on their feet to chant "Yes, Yes, Yes" with Bryan, Kane and Orton as they celebrated to end the show.
This was a great way to end the show. The Shield have looked almost unstoppable for months, and to see someone like Daniel Bryan single-handedly take out everyone was highly entertaining.
- At one point JBL was being kind of quiet and Cole asked if he was going to contribute to the conversation. JBL replied saying Cole was doing a great job by himself.
- I don't know why that made me laugh. Maybe because JBL is just naturally funny.
- JBL called Ambrose a psychiatrist's dream. Nightmare seems more appropriate.
- Dean Ambrose is like a combination of Kevin Sullivan, Brian Pillman and Steve Austin all rolled into one.
- Orton caught Ambrose with a dropkick flush when Ambrose came off the top rope.
This week's SmackDown was extremely enjoyable, which is a bit of a surprise given Dolph Ziggler and the World title were not featured.
The Shield is finally starting to show some weaknesses, and WWE chose the perfect trio in Kane, Bryan and Orton to face them tonight.
Every single match on the card had at least one thing to like, and the non-wrestling segments were actually entertaining and advanced storylines a bit.
Some people might point out how titles mean nothing if the show is good without the top champion, but I think this week being a great show can be chalked up to everyone putting their best effort forward.
Having eight matches on a single two-hour episode of SmackDown was great, especially since only one of them felt like a squash match.
Maybe I am alone on this, but WWE seems to be improving on a weekly basis since WrestleMania, which is odd seeing as WrestleMania season is usually when things are exciting, and then they die down afterwards.
Ryback is finally starting to fill the role of a monster heel, which was helped greatly by putting Kofi through three tables in a row.
Payback is starting to look a lot more interesting as time goes on, and hopefully we get some more matches added to the card on Monday.
What did you think of this week's SmackDown?
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