WWE SmackDown: 5 Things to Watch for During This Week's Show
After one of the better episodes of SmackDown in recent memory last week, the WWE has a tough task ahead of it as it will try to build on the momentum.
While this isn't the most exciting time in SmackDown history by any means, there are some new feuds that have certainly piqued my interest.
The main angle worth keeping an eye on is the rivalry between World heavyweight champion Sheamus and Big Show. The two big men are scheduled to face each other at Hell in a Cell, but a couple of other behemoths in the form of Wade Barrett and Tensai appear to have got involved.
Meanwhile, Randy Orton is scheduled to make his return to SmackDown after being brutally beaten by Alberto Del Rio a couple of weeks ago. All signs point to them having a feud as well as a match at Hell in a Cell, so there are sure to be some fireworks between them.
In addition to the main-event storylines, the tournament to determine the No. 1 contenders for the tag titles has come down to two teams, United States champion Antonio Cesaro continues to look for a suitable opponent, and tension is heating up between general manager Booker T and adviser Teddy Long.
Here are the top five things you should be looking out for while watching this week's edition of SmackDown.
How Will Wade Barrett and Tensai Figure into Sheamus vs. Big Show?
World heavyweight champion Sheamus and Big Show have been going at it for the past couple of weeks in anticipation of their match at Hell in a Cell, but a couple of new wrinkles have been thrown into their feud in the form of Wade Barrett and Tensai.
Sheamus defeated Barrett on Monday thanks to interference from Tensai, but the two heels proceeded to work over Sheamus before Big Show finished the job.
It's quite possible that the attack could be an isolated incident, but since neither Barrett nor Tensai have any true direction right now, it leads me to believe they will continue to stick their noses in Sheamus' business.
Whether they have an allegiance to Big Show or are simply rogue superstars who want a title shot of their own remains to be seen.
I tend to believe that Tensai's involvement stems from Sheamus using the Brogue Kick on him last week in order to saddle Big Show with a disqualification loss.
As for Barrett, I could easily see him being Sheamus' next opponent after Big Show. The two of them were having an excellent match on Raw, and I have no doubt they would have a compelling feud over the World heavyweight championship.
Are Randy Orton and Alberto Del Rio Set to Clash?
After losing a World heavyweight championship No. 1 contender match to Big Show a couple of weeks ago, Randy Orton was attacked by Alberto Del Rio.
The beatdown occurred after SmackDown had already gone off the air and it has kept Orton out of action. The Viper faced Big Show on Main Event this week, however, so there is little doubt that he will be at SmackDown to confront The Mexican Aristocrat.
Orton lost to Big Show on SmackDown partially because of Del Rio as well. In a fit of rage, Del Rio ambushed Orton prior to the match and attempted to place himself in the bout instead. Orton recovered to the point where he could compete, but he was compromised.
Now, with neither Orton nor Del Rio in the world title picture, a program between them is imminent.
I consider Orton and Del Rio to be two of the stalest characters in the company right now, but they have to be utilized somehow. Both of them are capable upper-midcard guys, so they'll have a decent depth match at Hell in a Cell, but I can't say that I'm particularly excited for it.
Orton is one of the company's biggest stars, but he hasn't been near a world title in a year. I feel like he needs to revitalize his gimmick in some way, but he needs to come out on top in this feud and perhaps face Sheamus sooner rather than later in order to legitimize The Great White's title run.
Will the Tag-Team Tournament Be Decided?
An eight-team tournament to determine the No. 1 contenders for the tag titles has been playing out over the past couple of weeks. It has now been whittled down to two, as Rhodes Scholars will meet Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara in the finals on Raw.
Rhodes Scholars defeated Zack Ryder and Santino Marella while Mysterio and Sin Cara took down The Prime Time Players on Monday to set up what promises to be an exciting final matchup.
Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow are the overwhelming favorites to win, and while they will come out on top in all likelihood, I would really like to see Mysterio and Sin Cara win the tournament and receive a big push.
Based on the fact that Kane and Daniel Bryan are leaning much more toward face than heel status right now, though, Rhodes Scholars would be the more sensible opponent.
Whatever happens, I'm very optimistic about the future of the tag division. Several months ago, there were only about four or five teams in the entire company, and none of them seemed like championship material.
There are now at least four or five teams capable of wearing the straps, and a host of good supporting tandems. Team Hell No isn't ready to relinquish the titles yet, but the division should be in good hands whenever they do break up.
Is a Feud in Order for Antonio Cesaro?
Over the past couple of weeks, it seems like the WWE has made a concerted effort to push United States champion Antonio Cesaro. He dumped Aksana and scored wins over the likes of Santino Marella, Brodus Clay and Tyson Kidd.
Cesaro's vast potential is obvious and it's great to see him gaining some momentum, but in order to truly be taken seriously as a champion and a rising star in the company, he needs to begin feuding with someone of note.
Since winning the United States title at SummerSlam, Cesaro has essentially wandered around aimlessly. He has faced Santino a couple of times and beat Zack Ryder at Night of Champions, but he hasn't been given anything to grasp onto.
With Hell in a Cell a few weeks away, there is no logical opponent for him to face.
I'm glad that Cesaro seems to have dropped the lame five-language gimmick and is being made to look very strong, but the fans aren't going to buy him as an upper-tier heel if he isn't put in a position to succeed.
The midcard is pretty barren when it comes to faces, but a guy like R-Truth would be a decent feud for him if booked correctly. Truth is a veteran guy who has been United States champion before.
I honestly have no idea where the writers are heading with Cesaro, but hopefully he takes a step in the right direction on SmackDown.
Will Eve Continue to Turn Booker T Against Teddy Long?
Since Booker T became SmackDown general manager, assistant Eve has been extremely manipulative and has pulled the wool over his eyes on a number of occasions.
Not only was she clearly behind the attack against Kaitlyn at Night of Champions, but she abused her power by suspending Beth Phoenix for no reason. Booker overturned the suspension, but Eve blamed it on Teddy Long, saying that he instructed her to do so.
Teddy let Eve know last week that he was on to her plan, but Booker overheard him. Teddy called Booker T an inexperienced GM and said that Eve would be out of the door if he were in charge. That didn't sit well with Booker, and it seems quite clear that Teddy is on the outs himself.
It will be interesting to see if that leads to Teddy's dismissal or if Booker catches on to Eve's conniving ways first.
It's only a matter of time before it is revealed that Eve was the mastermind behind the Kaitlyn attack, so her plan is likely to unravel when that comes to fruition.
With that said, this is probably one of the most interesting diva storylines in a very long time. While that may not be saying much, Eve has done a great job in her new role as top diva.