On the post-Elimination Chamber edition of Friday Night SmackDown, the road to WrestleMania 29 rolled on with some excellent action and a handful of quality matchups. With this being a wrestling-heavy show, the two hours seemed to fly by and left this viewer eagerly anticipating what's in store for the blue brand going forward.
In a good opening segment featuring World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio, Randy Orton and SmackDown General Manager Booker T, Del Rio established his feud with Jack Swagger and his upcoming title defense at WrestleMania 29.
Orton also played his role well and made it clear that his sights are still set on the World Championship despite coming up short last Sunday night.
This promo helped hype the two main event matches later in the show, so it was effective in that aspect.
Sheamus def. Damien Sandow
In a nice match between Sheamus and Damien Sandow, spectators were reminded that these two always work well together to produce some hard-hitting action.
Although the outcome was never in doubt, Sandow still looked good in defeat. Sheamus, on the other hand, remains directionless until he finds to someone to feud with going into WrestleMania.
I'd be open to him chasing Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett, as long as the rivalry isn't treated as a joke like it was on this week's Raw.
Divas Champion Kaitlyn and Layla def. Tamina and Aksana
In a fine tag team match that saw Divas Champion Kaitlyn and Layla defeat Tamina and Aksana, the action was actually better than originally expected, with not as many botches as one would think.
The Divas have hardly been featured on television this year, so this was a step in the right direction.
While I'm content with Kaitlyn feuding with Layla over the title going into Mania, I'd much rather see AJ in contention for the strap given the storied history between her and Kaitlyn that dates back to their NXT days in 2010.
Jack Swagger w/Zeb Coulter def. Randy Orton
The solid match between Randy Orton and Jack Swagger was given great time, and Swagger scored an impressive amount of offense over the course of the contest.
These two developed awesome chemistry with one another, making for a strong matchup down the stretch. Sure, Swagger scored the victory with the use of dirty of tactics, but a win is a win, which is key for Swagger at this point in time as he heads into the biggest match of his career at WrestleMania.
The Miz def. Cody Rhodes
This was a brief match between The Miz and Cody Rhodes. Although this is the third time we've seen these two face one another in the last two weeks, they still produced some entertaining action.
The bout was over within mere minutes, and I would've liked to see Miz and Rhodes get more time to shine this time around.
While this was a logical win for Miz, Rhodes needs a victory much more than the Awesome One does at the moment if he hopes to be as successful in singles competition as he was in the tag team division.
Given the fact that Miz is currently feuding with Antonio Cesaro, it would've been nice to see the United States Champion make an appearance at ringside as well.
World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio def. Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett (non-title)
This was a great Champion vs. Champion match, with World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio defeating Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett.
The match was hyped well enough going into it that the Champion vs. Champion stipulation felt significant, which was nice to see.
With this being the first ever meeting between these two in the squared circle, they had a quality contest that saw both Barrett and Del Rio shift the momentum. It would've been a huge victory for Barrett (especially since Jack Swagger could have been his out for losing), but Del Rio going over doesn't signal the end of the world and it makes sense.
Overall, this was a great show that featured some excellent action and feud progression in the main event scene. Most of the matches were given enough time to feel significant and none seemed to be meaningless filler this week.
This was definitely one of the better editions of SmackDown we've seen in recent weeks, so here's hoping they can continue the major momentum going forward on the road to WrestleMania.