It’s been an eventful past few weeks in the WWE.
The return of The Undertaker, the subsequent announcement of his WrestleMania showdown with CM Punk and also the escalating Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar feud have all contributed the growing excitement as we edge ever nearer to the Showcase of the Immortals.
And though SmackDown may lack some of the star power that Raw can rely upon, the Blue Brand has been doing a pretty solid job as of late in supplementing the WrestleMania XXIX build.
This week was no different, as we witnessed a number of interesting storyline developments on Friday Night SmackDown.
This article takes a look at the top five talking points from the show, analyzing exactly what they could mean for the WWE in the coming weeks.
Taking centre stage once again on SmackDown was the trio of Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose—The Shield.
Before blindsiding both Randy Orton and Sheamus later in the show, the rebellious faction issued a WrestleMania challenge to the team rather terribly dubbed the “Celtic Viper” by Michael Cole.
While such an event had been in the cards for some time, it remains to be seen who will be joining Orton and Sheamus as the third man.
Ryback was originally selected by the duo as their missing puzzle piece, but further developments on SmackDown would suggest that he now has a score to settle with Mark Henry. The next most likely option would appear to be the Big Show, given his recent history with the Shield.
For me, this would be a more interesting option, as it creates a highly fractious relationship between all three team members and thus could offer some welcome unpredictably to the WrestleMania card.
Nonetheless, one thing for certain is that The Shield will be featured at WrestleMania. With regard to the group's opponent though, do you think that Ryback will remain as the third member of Orton and Sheamus’ team?
Last week on SmackDown, we witnessed Tamina pick up a big non-title victory over Divas champion Kaitlyn, thanks in part to some inadvertent interference from Layla.
This week, the meddling Layla teamed up with Kaitlyn to face the team of Tamina and Aksana.
Now, the match was never going to be a classic, but there are certainly some potential storyline developments to take from this one.
Layla tagging herself in to steal the pinfall from under her partner’s nose is just another sign that these two could be set to have a “falling out” in the not too distant future, the likes of which could lead to a WrestleMania showdown.
But given that Tamina actually defeated the Divas champion last week, not to mention the fact that she’s arguably the best female on the full-time roster, shouldn’t she be first in line for a shot at the title?
It may still pan out that the second-generation Diva gets her opportunity, but events on SmackDown this past week would seem to suggest that the WWE has different ideas regarding the women’s division going forward.
I hope I’m wrong, but Tamina may unfortunately be overlooked once again.
After a surprising return to the WWE on Monday Night Raw this past week, the Bellas showed up on SmackDown, too, to make sure everyone knows that they’re back.
And having previously assumed that the twins would be limited to a mainly managerial role, I was forced to eat my words after Nikki and Brie launched a backstage attack on the Funkadactyls, Naomi and Cameron.
For starters, this is interesting enough, as it has been a long time since we had two simultaneous Diva storylines in the WWE.
And while I could be getting ahead of myself here, it certainly seems likely that this altercation will lead to something; otherwise, what was the point of it at all?
It may have been merely a chance to show everyone that the Bellas are back and they mean business, but it could also be the foundations being laid for a Divas tag match at WrestleMania.
While such a match isn’t going to steal the show, it would at least be commendable of the WWE to try and involve as much of its talent as possible at the biggest show of the year, would you not agree?
On Raw this week, Dolph Ziggler defeated Daniel Bryan before his buddy Big E Langston came in to deliver his debilitating finisher to the smaller half Team Hell No.
This was followed up on SmackDown by another win for Ziggler, this time over Bryan’s partner, Kane.
While two wins for Dolph Ziggler in a week is potentially a talking point in its own right, it seems more appropriate to discuss the likely Tag Team title match that this looks to be headed for.
Langston once again attacked Bryan after the match and also took out Kane for good measure, suggesting that Team Hell No vs. Ziggler and Langston could well be in the cards.
While I like the idea of the match, I can’t help but feel there are better alternatives.
The Rhodes Scholars or the Primetime Players are both more deserving of title shots at WrestleMania, while Ziggler himself could have been used elsewhere in another significant feud.
Nonetheless, it will be interesting to see Langston in action if the match comes to fruition, and with Bryan and Ziggler in the same ring, this one would have the potential to be a top-quality contest.
Do you agree though, or do you think there are better options available for the Tag Team Championship match at ‘Mania?
I’ve been very supportive of Alberto Del Rio’s face run, but since feuding with Jack Swagger, it’s definitely taken a turn for the worse.
Granted, it may be the Creative Team’s fault for putting Del Rio in segments that he is obviously not comfortable in, but nonetheless, it’s ruining a rivalry that had all the potential to be a classic.
Jack Swagger’s intensity has rarely wavered, as we saw in his backstage exchange with Jericho and their subsequent matchup.
Del Rio, however, has turned the feud into a joke.
It’s difficult to buy into a xenophobic, racist gimmick when the opponent isn’t taking the matter seriously at all. Surely, if this happened in the real world, Del Rio would be a little more offended than he is making out?
For me, this one needs to drop the silly parodies and start upping the ante before it’s too late and the storyline becomes irrelevant.
With just three more SmackDowns remaining before WrestleMania, it was important that this week’s show delivered in some capacity.
Regarding The Shield’s angle with Randy Orton and Sheamus, we certainly got what was required, and there was some much-needed attention given to a number of other budding storylines in the company at present.
So will Ryback remain as the third man on the team?
Are we seeing the development of a Tag Team title match that will culminate at ‘Mania?
And will Jack Swagger and Alberto Del Rio be able to save their feud from ultimately flopping?
Comment below with your thoughts on the article and the talking points discussed, as well as any other opinions you may have about this week’s episode of SmackDown.