The Good, the Great and the Awesome from SmackDown (5/24/13)
Friday's SmackDown featured the continued dominance of The Shield, as Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose defeated Randy Orton, Kofi Kingston and Sheamus in a wild six-man tag team main event.
Elsewhere on the show, Damien Sandow made an impact, hosting his own segment in what may be a sign of things to come.
Daniel Bryan unleashed his fury and frustration over losing the WWE Tag Team titles, defeating former No. 1 contender Jack Swagger and brutalizing him with a second No Lock after the bell.
Curtis Axel continued to make a name for himself as he battled Sin Cara, The Miz hosted an edition of Miz TV that featured Fandango before challenging Wade Barrett for the Intercontinental title and two former WWE champions met up as Chris Jericho squared off with the giant Big Show.
What did WWE get right on this edition of SmackDown? What was good, great and awesome?
Find out inside.
Damien Sandow, the Gordian Knot and The Celtic Warrior
After months of taking a backseat on the Road to WrestleMania, Damien Sandow received significant television time on Friday's SmackDown in what may have been a test run for The Damien Sandow Show, which debuted during a recent set of NXT tapings.
This week, Sandow belittled both Matt Striker and Sheamus after they failed to figure out the Gordian Knot. Receiving his first significant mic time in quite a while, Sandow made the most of it, declaring his superior intelligence and generally being the loudmouth intellect most people cannot stand.
The involvement of Sheamus in the segment points at what may be a feud between the two, perhaps leading to a match at WWE Payback in the month of June. A program with one of the top babyfaces in the sport could only help to elevate Sandow, who is one of the more complete performers on the roster.
Either way, it was great to see Sandow receive a featured spot on this week's show after months of he and Cody Rhodes being used as punching bags for other WWE Superstars.
Curtis Axel def. Sin Cara
The newest Paul Heyman guy made his second in-ring appearance since his repackaging, and it was an impressive victory over Sin Cara.
While a match against Sin Cara may be a step down from a Raw main event against future Hall of Famer Triple H, it goes a long way in establishing Axel as a force to be reckoned with, all the while giving him a big win over a Superstar who, as recently as a week ago, defeated Intercontinental champion Wade Barrett.
The Intercontinental Title Picture Becomes Clearer
This week's SmackDown kicked off with The Miz hosting another edition of Miz TV, with his guest being the flamboyant ballroom dancer Fandango. Midway through their exchange, Intercontinental champion Wade Barrett interrupted. After an exchange of words, a championship match between Barrett and Miz was underway while Fandango partook in commentary.
Fandango would ultimately get involved in the match, delivering a kick to the head of The Miz and drawing a disqualification. The two heels would double-team Miz, before Barrett set up for what many believed would be the Bull Hammer elbow strike to Miz. Instead, Wade knocked Fandango out to the delight of the WWE Universe.
Everything from Miz TV, to the Intercontinental title match, to the post-match events worked because all three men were intertwined following Monday's show. Miz forced Barrett to tap on Raw while Fandango abandoned the Intercontinental champion during their tag team bout.
Four days later, Barrett got a bit of revenge on both of them.
Solid booking 101.
Randy Orton and Chris Jericho Put over Curtis Axel on the WWE App
While fans may be sick and tired and disenfranchised by the overabundant plugs for the WWE App, it does produce quite a few hidden gems on any given week. During Friday's SmackDown, in particular, it featured two interviews that did more to get Curtis Axel over with WWE fans than any no contest over Triple H or win over Sin Cara did.
In two separate interviews, Chris Jericho and Randy Orton did a lot to put over Axel as a big deal. Jericho mentioned his upcoming Highlight Reel with Heyman and Axel on Monday's Raw and discussed how happy he is for Axel's success.
Orton brought up the fact that Heyman is not stupid and would not have chosen Axel if he did not think he could be a top star.
The fact that two of the top stars in the industry over the last 10 years went to bat for Axel speaks volumes about the potential WWE sees in him. And the fans that have the App and were able to watch those two interviews, no matter how short they may have been, probably think better of Curtis Axel than they did watching him beat Sin Cara and get beaten up by Triple H on Raw.
Daniel Bryan Snaps
Still distraught over losing the WWE Tag Team tiles, Daniel Bryan unleashed his inner fury on former World Heavyweight champion Jack Swagger in a match that had Bryan looking more like a World Heavyweight title contender than a tag team specialist.
Bryan delivered thunderous and stiff strikes to Swagger before forcing him to tap out to the No Lock in what was a particularly impressive performance.
What happened after the match was even better, as Bryan was not satisfied with having beaten Swagger. He applied the No Lock again, leaving Kane to watch his partner's violent meltdown.
It is no secret that Daniel Bryan is one of the most talented professional wrestlers on the planet. While his Team Hell No comedy bits with Kane have been very entertaining, the fact that there has been hints at a more aggressive and angry Bryan is encouraging, both for his fans and for the performer himself.
6-man Tag Team Chaos!
Just when you think The Shield has to slip up eventually, that it cannot possibly continue to deliver pay-per-view quality matches every single time it takes to the ring, the group continues to prove you wrong.
This week's SmackDown was headlined by a six-man tag match pitting Ambrose, Rollins and Reigns against Randy Orton, Sheamus and Kofi Kingston. While not quite the quality of the six-man tag on Raw, this match featured the same frenetic pace, chaotic style and, most importantly, a Shield victory.
The Shield continue to be the most satisfying part of WWE programming and the company's determination to stick with the it rather than beating the trio and ending the experiment proves the faith they have in the three young stars.
Add their championship victories to the repackaging of Curtis Axel and the continued development of Ryback as the company's top heel, and the steps have been taken to solidify the future of World Wrestling Entertainment.