Following a wild week in the world of wrestling, Friday night marked the first official SmackDown on the road to WrestleMania. On this show, we witnessed the return of Jack Swagger, the aftermath from the Royal Rumble event and Monday's Raw and the feud between World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio and Big Show being taken to a whole new level.
Here, I will analyze each significant segment presented on the show. I will also provide a combination of prediction and wishful thinking about what I hope to see in coming weeks.
SmackDown general manager Booker T makes an announcement regarding the Elimination Chamber
Decent opening segment featuring Booker T's announcement of the No. 1 contender's Elimination Chamber match in a few weeks. The concept is interesting, but the participants seem somewhat random, despite the fact they're all former World champions.
I'm glad Ziggler opted out of it by saying that he's Mr. Money in the Bank, so at least logic applied here. It was nice to see Jack Swagger back, but his return fell flat. It's great he returned in a meaningful manner, but the lack of crowd reaction for him is understandable since he hardly meant anything when he left television back in September.
Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara def. WWE Tag Team champions Team Hell No (non-title)
Entertaining match with Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara defeating WWE Tag Team champions Team Hell No. The action was exciting and featured a number of cool spots.
However, I'm not sure if Mysterio and Cara winning was only to please Mysterio's hometown of San Diego or set up a future feud between the two tandems. Either way, I hope Mysterio and Cara are the ones to grab the tag titles off Team Hell No with Team Rhodes Scholars now parting ways.
The Great Khali with Hornswoggle and Natalya def. Jinder Mahal with 3MB
Throwaway match with The Great Khali defeating Jinder Mahal. I realize there's history between the two (which I'm not sure was acknowledged here or not), but hardly anyone cares about either of these two competitors, so why bother having it?
I'm not excited to hear that Khali will be competing in the Elimination Chamber match in a few weeks, especially since there are plenty of other guys who would make better use of that spot than him.
Sheamus def. Damien Sandow by count-out
Very physical match between Sheamus and Damien Sandow. Although the bout was brief, it was well wrestled while it lasted, with both guys scoring a substantial amount of offense.
The Shield interference was a pleasant surprise and an effective attack on the Celtic Warrior. Fingers crossed we see Sheamus, John Cena and Ryback clash with The Shield inside an Elimination Chamber in a few weeks.
Randy Orton def. Intercontinental champion Wade Barrett (non-title)
Solid match between Randy Orton and Intercontinental champion Wade Barrett. There was nothing particularly memorable about it, though, as it was the same basic match between the two that we've been seeing for years.
It was disappointing to see Orton go over clean here, as it basically erases any good Barrett's clean victory over Orton did from a few weeks ago. However, Barrett's backstage attack on Bo Dallas following the bout was well done and helped further the feud.
Jack Swagger def. Kofi Kingston
Good match with Jack Swagger defeating Kofi Kingston. Swagger hasn't seemed to have lost a step in the ring despite being out for a few months, but he hasn't changed in the slightest.
These two work well together, but it was hard to get excited about this match since Swagger didn't do much to garner a reaction from the crowd. That being said, it was nice to see him score a victory for the first time in forever and I hope to see him undergo more character development in coming weeks.
World Heavyweight champion Alberto Del Rio attacks Big Show in the parking lot
Intense parking lot brawl between World Heavyweight champion Alberto Del Rio and Big Show. Del Rio looked extremely aggressive in his attack on Show, which really helped give him an extra edge to his character that had been missing for a while.
Show took a quite a few unique bumps for Del Rio and it came off really well. This feud has been booked nicely thus far, so I wouldn't mind another rematch between the two at Elimination Chamber.
World Heavyweight champion Alberto Del Rio def. Dolph Ziggler with AJ Lee and Big E Langston (non-title)
Great match with World Heavyweight champion Alberto Del Rio defeating Dolph Ziggler. As far as I know, this was the first time these two had ever locked up in singles competition, and they certainly made an excellent first impression together.
It was given great time and their styles meshed nicely, making for a suspenseful conclusion. As much as I want Ziggler to win more matches, he looked strong in defeat here, and it'd be cool to see these two cross paths once again in the foreseeable future.
Big Show's attack on Ricardo Rogriguez backstage following the bout was an effective way of getting more heat on him and making the feud feel more personal.
Overall, a standard show that didn't feature anything out of the ordinary for the most part. Honestly speaking, Del Rio and Show were the only major highlight coming out of this week's SmackDown, with nothing else worth watching for a second time.
Not only that, but the two hours dragged at certain points due to lack of interest from this viewer. However, I'm glad they at least did some building toward the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view in a few weeks.