Every week here on Bleacher Report, I will take an in-depth look at SmackDown, recapping all the action and offering analysis on everything from the matches to commentary and anything else that takes place on the show.
This week's show did not disappoint in storyline development or entertainment value.
Not only did the show include some great action, but the non-wrestling segments all delivered as well.
Let's get right into it with the opening segment for MizTV.
MizTV with Randy Orton and Team Hell No
Miz started the show off by bringing out Randy Orton, Daniel Bryan and Kane to talk about what happened on Monday when they took on The Shield.
Bryan cut Miz off so he could tell Orton he was sorry for not realizing he was hit by accident and tell Kane he was sorry for pushing him away.
Miz calls Bryan a goat-faced, vegan troll and Orton tells Miz to lay off because Bryan's head is messed up, which gets Bryan angry.
Orton says he respects Bryan less and less the more he complains. Kane started to act like a defensive big brother to Bryan at this point.
Kane kept trying to convince Bryan that he is respected before he tried to get Bryan to leave. Bryan freaked out and Kane got pissed, leaving Bryan in the ring.
Tag team Teddy came out and decided to give Bryan a chance to prove himself in a match with Randy Orton against The Shield.
The crowd was totally behind Bryan during this segment, chanting his name and Yes Yes Yes over and over.
Unfortunately, it does look like Team Hell No is close to breaking up, but the upside is that Bryan will probably be pushed as a singles star.
I only had one question when this segment was over. Where is Booker T? There was a storyline with Booker and Teddy that ended up going nowhere.
After the first match took place, Kane ran into Ryback backstage and they ended up agreeing to a match, but not before Kane mentioned how he Tombstoned a priest, set people on fire and buried his brother alive.
I think he forgot to mention locking Paul Bearer in a freezer, but he may have left it out on purpose of respect for the late, great William Moody.
Curtis Axel vs. Chris Jericho
Paul Heyman joined Michael Cole and JBL for commentary during this match, which is always a plus, but he made sure to remind us all that Axel has defeated John Cena and Triple H.
Jericho took control of the match early on, putting the third-generation star through a clinic, but Axel didn't let him stay in control very long.
Axel was still in control when we returned from commercial, but the veteran Jericho mounted a comeback and ran through all his signatures until Axel avoided the Lionsault and almost picked up a big win with a running neckbreaker.
Jericho locked Axel in the Wall of Jericho at one point, but Axel made it to the ropes to force a break.
This is when Heyman did what Heyman does best. He got up on the table and screamed "It's clobberin' time!" CM Punk's music hit and Jericho focused on the ramp.
Axel came in and rolled up Jericho for a quick win and another upset. This was a good back-and-forth match, with both guys hitting most of their big moves.
However, Jericho was not going to take the cheap win lying down. He rushed the ring after the match and took out Axel with a Codebreaker before staring Heyman down to end the segment.
If Jericho was not already facing CM Punk at Payback, I would say that this was the perfect way to start a feud between Jericho and Axel leading into a PPV match.
Some notes from the match.
- Chris Jericho and Curtis Axel have very similar builds, but totally different styles, which makes for a good match.
- Jericho's new nickname needs to be The Rock 'n Roll Rooster with that haircut he has. It's a style I am sure Terry Taylor appreciates.
- Axel can sell a chop to the chest better than most.
- Heyman screaming "I'm an advocate, I'm an advocate" when Jericho appeared to be coming towards him was hilarious.
Alberto Del Rio vs. Heath Slater
This match never actually happened because 3MB attacked Del Rio before the bell could sound.
Del Rio was able to dispatch the wannabe rockers, but the big pop from the crowd came when Ricardo Rodriguez delivered a picture-perfect cross body from the top rope to the outside onto 3MB, which could not have been easy in dress shoes.
Dolph Ziggler came on the Titantron and addressed Del Rio, saying he would be back on Monday during Raw.
Some notes from the match (that never happened.)
- I think Lilian Garcia introducing Ricardo Rodriguez in Spanish is awesome. It really gives you a sense of camaraderie among the people in the back.
- Ricardo is more over with the crowd than Del Rio it would seem.
- Ziggler should keep the five o'clock shadow. It makes him look a little tougher.
Kane vs. Ryback
Just as he has the past few weeks, Ryback arrived in an ambulance for his match.
Ryback tried to start out the match by shoving Kane a few times, to which Kane responded with some big right hands.
They traded offense a bit until Ryback did one of the most impressive things he has ever done. He gorilla pressed Kane above his head, and actually held him in the air for a few seconds before letting him crash down to the mat.
You can say what you want about Ryback's in-ring ability, but if that show of strength didn't impress you, then nothing will.
Kane nearly won after a chokeslam, but Ryback was too close to the ropes to keep him down for the full three-count.
Ryback had brought a table in the ring, but it was Kane who set it up in hopes of putting Ryback through it as payback for his partner.
Ryback avoided the chokeslam before pulling off the second most impressive thing he did during the match. He powerbombed Kane through the table.
This wasn't one of those powerbombs where Kane is on the second turnbuckle and Ryback gets underneath him to lift him on his shoulders. This was a legitimate powerbomb.
Granted, he did not get Kane all the way up before putting him through the table, but who could?
Some notes from the match.
- The crowd chanted "We want Bryan" when Kane was on the defensive.
- Kane nearly took a header into the table when Ryback struggled to get him up.
Damien Sandow's Intellectual Challenge
This was, by far, my favorite segment of the whole show, and it is rare for me to say that about any non-wrestling segment.
Damien Sandow is one of the best talkers WWE has at the moment. Everything this guy says can draw heat, and he always seems like he is comfortable no matter what the situation.
It is hard to believe that this is Idol Stevens, the guy who didn't make any waves in 2006 as one of Michelle McCool's Teacher's Pets.
Everyone gets cheap heat by insulting the city they are in, but Sandow chose to specifically insult a community college in the area, which he compared to a preschool.
This week Sandow was going to attempt to beat a super-computer in chess which he claims once beat a Chess Grand Master. Calling the crowd a bunch of checker-minds in a chess world was perfect.
The computer also spoke, which gave Sandow another opportunity to be hilarious by screaming "SILENCE!" when the computer greeted him.
After making his first move, the computer said "Excellent move, Damien." To which Sandow naturally responded, "Of course it was!"
Sheamus came to the ring claiming he could beat the game in one move, an impossibility in Chess.
Sandow stood back and watched as Sheamus kicked the computer off the table, which was very upsetting to Sandow, apparently. The look on his face was one of absolute horror.
For the past few weeks we have seen Sheamus get the better of Sandow, but tonight was Sandow's night to show just how tough he was.
He took down Sheamus with a hard right hand and then proceeded to beat the snot out of the Irishman by slamming him into the side of the table the computer was sitting on multiple times.
It was easily the most brutal we have seen Sandow act in the ring, and seeing him finally put Sheamus down had to have made Sandow's fans very, very happy.
Some notes from the segment.
- I knew it wouldn't happen, but I was content to sit and watch Sandow yell at the computer all night while playing the game.
- It is a safe bet that Sheamus calling the computer an Atari went over a lot of younger fans' heads.
- Was it as obvious to anyone as it was to me that the monitor he was using was not actually a touch screen?
- Why was half the crowd in the front row looking at the screen instead of the ring?
Double the Wyatt Family Fun!
This week we were treated to not one, but both of the videos for The Wyatt Family. I have not looked forward to a debut this much since I found out Bryan Danielson signed with WWE.
These are some of the most intriguing and well-made video packages WWE has ever produced for a debuting Superstar.
Fandango vs. Zack Ryder
Miz was on commentary for this match to keep the feud between himself, Fandango and Wade Barrett going.
Fandango controlled most of the match, but Ryder did manage to have some offense in the form of a missile dropkick and a Browski Boot.
Fandango would counter The Rough Ryder with a powerbomb that allowed him to finish off Ryder with the flying leg drop.
The match was short and pretty textbook when it comes to squashes. Nothing special happened after the match with Miz, which was a bit of a surprise. I fully expected a physical encounter since he was on commentary.
- It appears that after dying down for a bit, the Fandangoing craze has come back a bit. It seemed like a lot of people I the crowd were dancing and singing as he made his way to the ring.
- I have to admit that I laughed pretty hard when Miz said of Fandango's outfit "It looks like a hippie threw up on him."
- I laughed a little less when Miz said "Keep looking at me and I'll make you taste the rainbow" when Fandango looked at him during the match.
- It is sometimes surprising how Ryder can be so over with the crowd and still have no program.
Kaitlyn and Natalya
A quick backstage segment to remind us that Kaitlyn's secret admirer being revealed on Raw was shown, and something about it surprised me.
Kaitlyn not only took Natalya's words the wrong way, but she insulted the woman who has been supporting her through the storyline.
Kaitlyn turning heel seems unlikely, so this confused me.
Randy Orton and Daniel Bryan vs, The Shield
Earlier in the evening, Bryan and Orton were shown having a bit of an argument in the back which ended on Orton telling Bryan he does not like him.
They argued a bit about who would start the match as well, with Bryan eventually starting off against Seth Rollins.
Bryan took control of the match right away, showing his more aggressive side we have seen emerge recently.
Roman Reigns and Randy Orton both tagged in and went back-and-forth through the commercial break.
Bryan got the hot tag towards the end of the match and went on a rampage, nearly kicking both Rollins and Reigns' heads clean off.
Bryan turned Rollins inside out with a German suplex before taking out both Rollins and Reigns with a suicide dive.
Things took a turn for the worse when Bryan accidentally hit Orton with a running dropkick after Rollins moved out of the way.
Rollins tried to capitalize with a rollup which Bryan countered into a No Lock, but Dean Ambrose came out of nowhere and caused a DQ finish by attacking Bryan.
Bryan managed to take out all three members of The Shield once again, but he turned right into an RKO from an angry Orton afterwards.
It was a great way to end the show. Orton looked like Orton we all used to know and love. He was the guy who would take out anybody that looked at him cross-eyed.
Whether this leads to anything in terms of a heel turn will have to wait since the show ended seconds after the RKO, but hopefully this was the seed that needed to be planted to put the heel turn in motion.
- When Bryan set up for the surfboard submission, only to jump up and stomp both of Rollins' knees to the mat, I cringed. There is no way that did not hurt,
- I love when JBL marks out for a Superstar like he does for Daniel Bryan. Jim Ross is probably the only person who can make a wrestler look better through commentary as well as JBL.
- Reigns sold a side suplex from Orton like he was dropped from 20 feet.
This was a solid episode of SmackDown. I wouldn't say it was as good as last week's show, but it had its moments.
Damien Sandow and Daniel Bryan were the stars of the show. Bryan continues to be the best performer on any show he appears while Sandow is building himself into one of the best heel characters we have seen in years.
Ryback is beginning to grow on me, as well. His heel turn came at just the right time. He might not be the best worker, but his power allows him to do things nobody else can do.
The Shield have begun settling into the roster by having regular matches and attacking people out of the blue less and less, which is exactly what needed to happen with them at this point.
WWE has managed to keep them looking strong while creating a sense that they can actually lose matches one in awhile.
We still only have three matches set for Payback on June 16, so expect the go-home Raw on Monday to see the rest of the card rounded out.
Thanks for reading and feel free to leave your thoughts on the show below.
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