WWE SmackDown aired in Omaha, Nebraska. You can hit up WWE.com for clips of the show.
The Blue Brand needed to deal with the aftermath of the Royal Rumble pay-per-view while gearing up for Elimination Chamber. Several angles needed to be continued as well as some groundwork to be laid.
Let's get started.
The show opened with SmackDown general manager Teddy Long getting right the point of the announcing SmackDown's Elimination Chamber match at the next pay-per-view. Mark Henry sauntered to the ring to go over the odds of his victory at Elimination Chamber.
Long showed some some guts in finally standing up to Henry after months. This gave Long a nice edge to his character, particularly after the Laurinaitis episode on Raw.
Henry did alright on the microphone, though it wasn't his best outing. Getting suspended was needed to let the big man deal with his injuries, though the "tie flip" seemed kind of a weak excuse for a suspension.
Sheamus coming to Long's rescue was appropriate and helped to put him over as the next top star.
Also, the "Great White" got some nice elevation on the Brogue Kick he nailed on Henry. Cody Rhodes was solid enough in his promo and put himself over nicely in his Royal Rumble match performance.
Overall, it was a good enough opening segment that accomplished what it needed to do.
Rhodes vs. Sheamus
Standard match for these two, but solid enough ring work. Rhodes wasn't squashed, which is a nice change for a match involving Sheamus. Rhodes got some nice elevation on his beautiful-looking moonsault.
Sheamus hit his usual spots and debuted a new finisher (Finlay's Celtic Cross maneuver). Good finishing sequence as well. They could have used a few more minutes to be a really memorable match, but this was still a fun one.
Rhodes lost little in defeat. *3/4
Barrett Promo video: The WWE Video Production continues to blast these videos out of the park.
Daniel Bryan promo
It's always nice to see Cole's character eat his words. The fact that Bryan shot him down was lovely as well. Bryan seems to be able to generate his own heat, which is great for a heel in the WWE.
The crowd chanting "We Want Bacon!" while Bryan was doing his Vegan bit was a nice touch.
Bryan is really sells his gimmick nicely. The segment started to get a touch longer than it needed to before Big Show came out. Show slapping hands and giving his hat to the kid at ringside felt out of place, as he needed to deal with Bryan on the mic rather than in the ring.
Big Show did get a couple a nice "Take that!" lines on Bryan.
Bryan shifted gears nicely on the stick when he cranked the intensity. Bryan getting laid out was to make the fans happy. AJ plays the abused waif role well.
Overall, an enjoyable segment.
Be A Star segment: The WWE stars encouraging folks to be who they are and never change is touching in the right ways.
Barrett vs. Orton
No Disqualification matches are usually fun. The feud between Barrett and Orton has been surprisingly even with the men trading victories in a variety of matches, so this is beginning to blow off.
Orton looked good while he dominated the opening minutes of the match. The match switched gears when Orton set up the table in the ring.
Barrett showed some nice heelish intelligence in focusing a majority of his offense on Randy's lower back. The match took the usual audience detour before going back into the ring. That said, it's still fun to see it when it happens.
That match looked a little more brutal then the usual fare for SmackDown. Good finishing sequence as well. Good match overall. **1/4
Gabriel Rescue segment
I couldn't understand what Hunico was saying during his entrance. The setup was simply to remind the audience of who Khali is.
Khali got a nice-looking double-armed chokeslam, but overall, the segment did little for me.
Ok, the "massive piece of wood" line made me laugh. Normally, I either blatantly ignore her or leave her in the "bad" section.
That being the case, this is an improvement.
Beth Phoenix and Natalya vs. Aksana and Tamina
This wasn't for the match itself. It really was a throw-away segment that continued to reestablish Beth's domination of everyone else. But the Divas getting a possible angle with dissension between Natalya and Beth may bode well.
Hopefully, it gives the gals something to do until Kharma and Beth hook up at WrestleMania 28. That said, I still hate the fact that Natalya is jobbing almost every week.
Primo and Epico vs. Santino and Duggan
The fact that Jim Duggan got solid time in this match really does expose the lack of legitimate tag teams in the WWE.
Just a standard comedy match following the usually formula. Not good at all. 1/4*
Wait, so passing gas instead of winning is supposed to get someone over now? Natalya is one of the few legitimate Divas with wrestling ability. The fact that she's farting and continually being abused by Tamina simply isn't believable in my eyes.
Fart jokes are OK for angles involving Santino or Hornswoggle, but Natalya is a pedigreed wrestler with massive ability in the ring.
Cutting the cheese doesn't cut the mustard.
Khali's Elimination Chamber inclusion: There are still certain decisions that boggle my mind. I'm guessing that Christian isn't fully ready to return to action yet.
Wow. Long grew a pair!
Well, I guess whatever what Hunico was saying, it was probably a better setup for a feud then the "Feud from the Barrio."
"There's nothing worse then predictable television." Tag Match Teddy, I hope you appreciate the irony of that statement.
"It's a massive piece of wood!" She said wood. heh
The WWE Tag Team Champion. Team Bossa Nova!
"Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!"
Apparently, Vegans are inherently evil. Being Vegan means I'm better than you.
Toilet humor means a face turn? That just stinks.
Wait, is that a Diva angle I see?
Randy Orton is still a robot.
Barrett's new music makes puppies cry.
OK, Orton's not a complete robot. He did give Bryan a good "What the hell?" look after his match with Barrett.
Overall Grade: B-
SmackDown's average efforts are usually better then Raw's. But with Raw absolutely crushing it this week, SmackDown didn't bring it's absolute "A" game this week.
That said, it was still an enjoyable show with two fun matches and some nice promotion work. The feud tease between Bryan and Orton has intriguing possibilities.
However, the tag division suffers without Air Boom or other teams to carry the weight. The prospect of a Divas angle and the fact that overshadowed the Divas match itself is kind of sad.
Beyond that, though, it was a enjoyable show.