WWE SmackDown: 5 Things to Watch for During This Week's Show
Since SmackDown is generally viewed as the show that helps develop midcard feuds in the WWE, the blue brand will certainly be of the utmost importance this week and moving forward.
The main event matches are already set for WrestleMania XXIX, but there is still plenty of depth that needs to be added in the coming weeks.
One of the most intriguing midcard rivalries that has been cultivated recently is between Ryback and Mark Henry. It began a couple weeks ago on Raw when they had a staredown and it has continued ever since. Despite the fact that most believed it would be saved for WrestleMania, they are scheduled to wrestle on SmackDown, so it will be interesting to see how it plays out.
Also, SmackDown promises to feature other supporting feuds such as Alberto Del Rio vs. Jack Swagger and The Shield vs. Randy Orton, Sheamus and Big Show.
The WWE must try to figure out what to do with the midcard champions as well as other capable superstars like Chris Jericho, Dolph Ziggler and The Miz as well, so hopefully that starts this week.
Here are the top five things that you should keep an eye on while watching this week's edition of SmackDown.
Ryback Scheduled to Face Mark Henry
Things certainly heated up between Ryback and Mark Henry on Monday night following a match between Ryback and Heath Slater.
Drew McIntyre attempted to attack Ryback, but the big man struck back and hit McIntyre with Shell Shocked. This prompted Henry to come to the ring and deliver a World's Strongest Slam. Each superstar attempted to one-up the other and McIntyre was essentially used as their own personal rag doll.
Because of that, it was announced that Ryback will face Henry on SmackDown this week.
It is definitely a strange match to set up for SmackDown since most agree that they are heading toward a showdown at WrestleMania. As soon as the bout was put into place, I immediately figured there was something fishy. Most fans seem to be quite intrigued by this feud and have warmed up to the idea of seeing them throw down at 'Mania, so it wouldn't make sense to give the match away for free.
With that in mind, I have to believe that something will prevent their match from happening.
Perhaps they will start brawling beforehand and the bell will never ring or something of that nature, but I simply can't envision any scenario in which they actually have an official contest on SmackDown.
The WWE's build toward WrestleMania has obviously been suspect in a lot of ways when it comes to the midcard, but I will cautiously say that the creative team isn't dumb enough to go through with this.
Ryback vs. Henry isn't going to happen, but it's still worth tuning in to see how the WWE handles their feud and ultimately advances it.
Will Fandango Finally Debut?
It has been a couple weeks since Fandango made his televised debut, but he has yet to compete in an actual match.
Fandango has been scheduled to wrestle on several occasions, but he has bowed out each and every time. His explanation is that nobody has been able to say his name correctly. Fandango continues to dodge opponents on both Raw and SmackDown, so he figures to be put in the same situation on SmackDown this week.
Fandango hasn't even wrestled yet, but it seems as though a lot of fans are already tired of him. It's also important to remember that vignettes aired for months hyping his debut, so this has been a long time coming, and it's understandable why some people are getting a bit impatient. Even so, I'm still interested to see what Fandango brings to the table.
His promos have been pretty entertaining thus far and I like the idea of his gimmick. There are definitely fans out there who scoff at him being a ballroom dancer, but I enjoy oddball characters in wrestling.
Based on the way he has been handled as of late, I can't imagine that he'll wrestle this week. He'll probably do the same thing as usual and opt not to compete. It's anyone's guess when Fandango will finally decide to wrestle, but it seems like there is a good chance it won't happen until after WrestleMania.
The WWE generally likes to debut new talent after WrestleMania season since things reset to some degree, so we could still be about a month away from Fandango stepping inside the ring.
If nothing else, at least the WWE will have effectively built up plenty of anticipation if it decides to ultimately go that route.
What's Next in the Alberto Del Rio vs. Jack Swagger Feud?
World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio and No. 1 contender Jack Swagger have been engaged in a feud since the night after Elimination Chamber, easily making it the longest-running rivalry currently on the WrestleMania ledger.
Despite the fact that most fans seem to long for an extended build and lament the way that The Rock vs. John Cena and The Undertaker vs. CM Punk have been handled, there has been a bit of backlash with regards to the world title scene lately.
I can understand it to some degree as there is no doubt that the feud between Del Rio and Swagger is somewhat of a low-burning flame at the moment.
At the same time, the WWE started very strong and is likely trying to save something for the stretch run to WrestleMania. Fans are well aware of the platform that Swagger and manager Zeb Colter are supporting, so there isn't much reason for them to shove it down our throats until 'Mania draws a bit closer.
The interaction between Del Rio and Swagger has actually been pretty mild thus far with a couple promos and some brief physical altercations. It seems like the creative team is progressing the feud slowly, which is something that should be embraced.
This is the way angles used to be as the combatants would largely stay away from each other and be made to look strong by beating other wrestlers. It is an effective form of booking because the fans will be excited to see what happens when they finally do lock horns.
By and large, Del Rio has gotten the better of Swagger in this feud. That is to be expected since Del Rio is a face and the world champion. With that said, it would be nice to see Swagger stand tall this week.
Will The Shield vs. Randy Orton, Sheamus and Big Show Be Officially Announced?
It is no secret that The Shield has made life miserable for Randy Orton and Sheamus over the past couple months, and that has continued in recent weeks.
One new target that has shown up on The Shield's radar, however, is Big Show. The Shield had never gone after heels in the past with the exception of Brad Maddox, but Big Show has taken the brunt of the trio's punishment as of late.
Big Show knocked out Roman Reigns when The Shield interfered during one of his matches, and the young triumvirate has taken it personally.
The Shield struck once again on Monday night as Big Show faced Seth Rollins in a singles match. Reigns and Dean Ambrose quickly got involved and eventually helped perform a triple powerbomb on Big Show. Neither Orton nor Sheamus attempted to help Big Show, but that wasn't necessarily unexpected since both men have had their issues with Big Show in the past.
The WWE is clearly building toward The Shield vs. Orton, Sheamus and Show at WrestleMania, so I'm fascinated to see how this is handled.
Since fans are already well aware of what this is leading to, it would behoove the WWE to officially announce the match on SmackDown. The Shield has gone after Orton, Sheamus and Big Show for several weeks, so there are no secrets in this entire situation. It seems like Orton and Sheamus are trying to avoid associating themselves with Big Show, but eventually there has to be a boiling point that causes them to throw caution to the wind and join forces with him.
Perhaps that will be the case on SmackDown this week. The Shield has been featured prominently on the show in recent weeks and I'm sure that will be true once again on the upcoming episode.
What Is Going on with Chris Jericho?
Despite his advancing age, Chris Jericho is easily one of the most exciting and entertaining superstars on the WWE roster.
Based on the way he has been utilized, however, a casual observer probably wouldn't come to that realization. Y2J is a six-time world champion and is among the best in the business both in the ring and on the mic. He has resembled midcard fodder more than anything during his recent run, though, as the creative team has bounced him from feud to feud without rhyme or reason.
Jericho's initial return was as good as it gets. He shocked everyone by entering the Royal Rumble match at No. 2 and he proceeded to be among the final six superstars remaining.
He has also competed in excellent bouts against the likes of CM Punk and Daniel Bryan since then. It appeared as though everything was set for Jericho to feud with Dolph Ziggler, but the WWE has made Jericho into a rover of sorts. He has gotten involved with The Shield a bit and most recently he expressed some desire to beat Wade Barrett for the Intercontinental Championship.
The WWE still has some time left when it comes to building toward WrestleMania, but the writers have to make a decision quickly. Feuding with Barrett wouldn't be too bad as Barrett could obviously use the rub, but The Miz's involvement muddles things too much. Because of that, Jericho really should be in a program with Ziggler.
They have history and have had great matches in the past, so it would be a huge blunder on the WWE's part if it doesn't capitalize on that.
There are no guarantees, but Jericho figures to be on SmackDown this week, so hopefully the WWE finally decides how to properly use one of its marquee stars.