With the Road to WrestleMania officially underway, extra scrutiny and attention is being paid to the WWE's B show, as fans try to conceive what the first half of WrestleMania will entail.
The show's ever staggering ratings, and lack of creative concepts, have made for rather predictable programming the last few weeks. But this week's episode of SmackDown showed a possible glimmer of hope for this Sunday's Elimination Chamber pay-per-view and perhaps a exciting feud that could develop between two of the companies top talents.
I had the opportunity to attend a SmackDown house show and the SmackDown taping in Fresno on Tuesday. There were some similarities, but overall they were two completely different shows. Let's take a look at what was aired on Friday night.
As previously mentioned, I attended a SmackDown house show on Saturday night, where Randy Orton had a steel cage match against Wade Barret in the main event.
Which made the beginning of this week's episode of SmackDown particularly odd.
We were informed in the beginning segment that Randy Orton is not medically cleared to compete tonight, or in the Elimination Chamber for that matter, due to a concussion he suffered on Monday Night Raw.
The injury is obviously kayfabe, but the real question is why isn't Orton competing in the Chamber anymore? It's no secret that SmackDown's programming has been anything but drawl lately, so Orton's departure from the Chamber on Sunday spells nothing good for the match.
I never realized how boring Khali really is until I saw him wrestle live. I'm still trying to figure out the angle that the creative staff is trying to play for Khali, but at the moment we have no choice but to accept his presence since McMahon loves him so much.
Last week they started to hype this possible tag team of Show and Khali. It was tested at the house show as well on Saturday. Together, they get a huge pop from the crowd, but I don't see anything successful coming from it.
Even still, they're match on Friday against Rhodes and Barrett was entertaining. Of course, Show and Khali picked up the victory, but I feel what happened after was a bit more important.
With Orton out of the Elimination Chamber match on Sunday, everyone wanted to know who was going to replace him. After their match, Rhodes and Barrett stormed into Teddy Long's office demanding to know who the replacement was. The disdain in their voices to each other was what caught my attention.
Call me over analytical, but the WWE has been at a loss for months to find someone to contend against Rhodes for the IC title. And I know Barrett has already held the IC title and voiced his thoughts on being world champion, but a possible feud between the two of them could make for some very entertaining matches.
This is another example of the shambles that SmackDown is currently in. A prime example, really.
Both of these wrestlers have tremendous talent, they've had this feud going on for a couple of weeks now and I don't think anyone really has a clue what to think.
I understand it's a midcard thing and maybe there's really no storyline per se for them, but there could be. And if the WWE made one, it would just make the show that much more entertaining.
If you've read my previous articles, you know I love tag team wrestling. You might also know that I feel it's a division that's virtually dead. This can be communicated by the fact that the titles changed hands at a house show of all things.
The Usos have had a few matches against Primo and Epico now, and they seem to get a huge pop from the crowd when they wrestle. It might be because of who their father is, or their overall attitude to involve the crowd in their matches. They have some spunk.
As far as their match on Friday, it was nothing out of the ordinary. I really think the WWE is not doing anymore than they have to to keep this division from all but dying, but there is enough talent at the moment to at least deepen the storyline and develop some feuds and, perhaps, bring the prestige back to the tag titles.
Daniel Bryan is probably one of the most schooled and exciting wrestlers on the WWE talent roster. Which is why it makes me sick to my stomach to turn on my TV every week and see what the creative staff is having him do.
The biggest question most fans had this week? Why weren't Daniel Bryan or CM Punk at the WWE's WrestleMania 29 press conference this week at MetLife Stadium?
Most people think it symbolizes the end of Bryan's title reign on Sunday. There has been speculation of a Big Show vs. Sheamus match at WrestleMania for the World Heavyweight Championship. If you think Sheamus is going to challenge for anything other than the World Heavyweight Championship, let me be the first to tell you, the company isn't going to let him go after anything else. They have to keep as much talent on the SmackDown roster as they can.
The bottom line is, though, that Daniel Bryan has essentially murdered his character, and when his title reign does end, he will have to completely start from scratch to build it back up.
That is, unless the WWE does the right thing and lets him turn heel.
Whenever I attend WWE live events or meet other wrestling fans, I always ask them what they think the WWE needs to do to improve its programming. One of the most common responses I get is that they'd like to see more work done on the Divas division.
It's not secret that if you grew up in the Attitude Era, the Divas division now doesn't even hold a candle to what we used to watch. Not even half a candle.
That's because the WWE doesn't have any divas who can wrestle. Well, they might have a handful. Tamina is one of the Divas that can wrestle. And it's not surprise if you look at the lineage she comes from.
Do I think she wins the Divas Championship at Elimination Chamber? No. She hasn't been on the scene long enough yet. Her time will come, though.
That's all I have to say about the Divas match from Friday night.
So we eventually found out that there would be an invitation to any wrestler on the roster that was in the building to compete in a Battle Royal to replace Randy Orton's vacated spot in the Elimination Chamber match this Sunday.
I've seen some pretty crazy things happen in the WWE over the years, but even to me, Santino being chosen to replace Orton is a little odd.
But before you think the match will be a snoozefest with Santino in it, read on.
Most of us have gotten to know the filler role of Santino pretty well, but he can wrestle. We just don't get to see it very often. We're used to seeing the comedic antics and promos that he shoots. But if you've ever seen him compete at a house show or in a dark match, or if you even remember some of his earlier stuff, he can wrestle.
Will he be a major contender in the match? Of course not. But he will bring some necessary enjoyment to the Chamber match, and he will definitely get a huge pop from the crowd.
Grab you popcorn and get ready, folks.
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