With nine days remaining until WWE Payback, WWE SmackDown continued its strong streak of entertaining episodes on Friday night. From Ryback's path of destruction to Randy Orton's explosive actions, this week's edition was successful in building towards the pending pay-per-view and providing plenty to look forward to as we quickly approach the event.
Miz TV Guest Starring Randy Orton and Team Hell No
A solid Miz TV segment to kick off the show guest starred Randy Orton and Team Hell No. Everyone played their role well here and produced good mic work.
Kane walking off on Bryan made sense and set up the main event match nicely with Bryan being forced to align with Orton against The Shield. This was one of the better Miz TV segments we've seen in better memory that helped set the tone for the remainder of the night.
Curtis Axel def. Chris Jericho
It was a good match between Chris Jericho and Curtis Axel. The two work well together and produced a quality contest that highlighted Axel's abilities in the ring.
Paul Heyman was fun to listen to on commentary and he did a great job of teasing a CM Punk return in order to allow Axel to score the surprise victory. This was another nice win for Axel that didn't do any harm to Jericho's character since he was distracted by Punk's entrance music.
Alberto Del Rio w/Ricardo Rodriguez vs. Heath Slater w/3MB Went to a No Contest
Fine segment with Alberto Del Rio and Ricardo Rodriguez dismantling 3MB. 3MB is a joke of a stable, so having them take the beating here was probably the best move.
Del Rio showed his serious side while Ricardo Rodriguez was able to showcase some of his high-flying talents as well. Furthermore, it was nice to see World Heavyweight Champion Dolph Ziggler return, even if it was via satellite.
Promoting his return for the upcoming episode of Raw provides a good hook for Monday's show.
Kane def. Ryback by Disqualification
The match between Ryback and Kane was decent. They worked a slow pace and weren't given much time to get out of first gear, but they made the most of it.
There were a few clunky spots here and there, and I thought the final powerbomb through the table could have been executed a bit better. Nonetheless, Ryback came off as a ruthless monster here, as he should.
He needs all the momentum he can possibly get going into his WWE Championship match with John Cena at Payback.
Damien Sandow Attacked Sheamus
Nice segment between Damien Sandow and Sheamus. The intellectual challenge was more of the same from the past few weeks, but Sandow's attack on Sheamus is what really surprised me about this segment.
To my knowledge, this was the first time that Sandow has ever gotten the upper hand over Sheamus, so I like how he was made to look like an equal here. Sandow was extremely aggressive in his attack on The Celtic Warrior and looked intimidating as ever.
However, I will be a bit disappointed if this is simply setting up a match between the two at Payback that Sheamus will inevitably win.
Fandango w/Summer Rae def. Zack Ryder
There was a brief match with Fandango squashing Zack Ryder. Ryder was able to get in some offense during the course of the contest, but the sole purpose of the bout was to further Fandango's momentum.
I hope to see him capture the Intercontinental Championship at Payback, as the belt has hindered Wade Barrett more than it has helped him by this point. On a side note, I'm glad Ryder was able to compete in his hometown, even if it was in a losing effort.
Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton def. WWE Tag Team Champions Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns by Disqualification
Great match with Randy Orton and Daniel Bryan defeating WWE Tag Team Champions, The Shield. The match was well wrestled and the live crowd was hot for both Orton and Bryan's offense against The Shield.
The disqualification allowed The Shield to lose without having Roan Reigns or Seth Rollins get pinned, which was smart booking. As intrigued as I am by Orton's RKO on Bryan, I don't think he's heel just yet.
However, I do find it interesting that the WWE made no attempt to cover up the boos he received at the end of the broadcast. I'm excited for the pending program between Bryan and Orton, which has the potential to be extremely entertaining and beneficial to both competitors.
Overall, this was an enjoyable edition that hardly had anything worth complaining about. The in-ring action was solid, the angles were intriguing, and plenty of feuds were furthered going into next Sunday's Payback pay-per-view.
Not only did it create anticipation for the pending pay-per-view, but a number of things were hyped for Monday's Raw as well. SmackDown continues to produce strong programming each week and this episode was no exception.
You can read the original version of this review here.