WWE Main Event and SmackDown: In-Depth Recap and Review
Every week here on Bleacher Report, I will take an in-depth look at Main Event and 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 featured the final shows heading into Money in the Bank, and if the pay-per-view features matches as good as what we saw this week, then we are in for a great show on Sunday.
Not only did this week feature some incredible wrestling, but we actually had some great non-wrestling segments, as well.
Let's get right into the action with the first match from Main Event, Dolph Ziggler vs. Antonio Cesaro.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Antonio Cesaro
Dolph Ziggler came out at the top of the show looking very excited. The crowd was really into him, and he seems to be taking to the babyface role quite nicely.
Antonio Cesaro came out with Jack Swagger to face Ziggler in what I can only hope is the first of many matches between these two. These two represent two very different types of wrestlers. Ziggler is the WWE-made guy while Cesaro is the guy who spent several years touring the indy promotions to hone his craft.
Ziggler and Cesaro worked extremely well together in this encounter, putting on a fantastic match that lasted through three segments.
Before the first break we got to see what makes Dolph Ziggler so great. He used his speed to keep Cesaro off his game, his wrestling ability to put on a little clinic, and his trademark bravado to entertain the fans.
The second segment was where Cesaro's skills were put on full display. He dominated Ziggler with a few hard European uppercuts and a textbook abdominal stretch, but it was his snap gutwrench suplex that really showcased his power and quickness.
The third segment was very back-and-forth. Cesaro had more control during the final minutes of the match, but Ziggler was countering with some impressive offense when he could.
The match came to an end when Jack Swagger pulled Ziggler from the ring following a Zig Zag to Cesaro, causing a DQ.
Winner: Dolph Ziggler
Some notes from the match:
- Cesaro mocking Ziggler's strut and yelling "I will put you out of your misery" before whipping Ziggler around both gave Cesaro a little more personality than we are used to seeing.
- This would have been the match of the week had it not ended in a DQ.
- Did Miz and Mathews ever mention how Ziggler and Swagger were a pseudo-team under Vickie Guerrero even once?
Top 5 moves from the match:
- Cesaro getting on the middle rope and superplexing Ziggler into the ring from the apron.
- Ziggler countering a European uppercut into a DDT.
- Cesaro's snap gutwrench suplex to Ziggler.
- Ziggler's dropkick. How could it not be on the list?
- Cesaro propelling Ziggler into the air for a European uppercut.
Tons of Funk and Khali vs. Heath Slater and Rhodes Scholars
This is where things looked like they would slow down, both literally and figuratively, but this match ended up having some high points. Sandow did give a pre-match promo, but it wasn't anything out of the ordinary.
Rhodes had a little fun with Sweet T in the early going with a few quick shots to the face, but Tensai turned things around by countering a monkey flip and then hitting Rhodes with a monkey flip of his own.
After the commercial break we got to see the two teams trade offense a bit, with the heels having more control over their opponents.
At one point it seemed like all heel was going to break loose when D-Mac and Jinder Mahal began mocking Natalya and The Funkadactyls, but the match managed to continue.
The end of the match came when Rhodes saved Sandow from Sweet T and Sandow tagged in Slater. Rhodes Scholars left up the ramp while 3MB tried to yell at them for ditching their partner mid-match.
Khali tagged in, hit a few big chops to Slater and picked up the win.
Winners: Khali and Tons of Funk
Some notes from the match:
- Was Cody Rhodes doing some Karate comedy? Whatever it was, he had me laughing a little.
- Brodus Clay diving off the apron onto Mahal and D-Mac was unexpected and kind of cool.
- Khali had less than 30 seconds of ring time, which probably helped the match keep a quick pace.
- You have to give Heath Slater credit. No matter how many times this guy gets jobbed out, he still goes out there and gives it his all every week.
- D-Mac was very vocal outside the ring during this match, even yelling at Sandow at one point.
- Despite being recently married to Tyson Kidd, and having the announcement made on WWE.com, it looks like Khali and Natalya will remain a team for the time being. Maybe that will change when Kidd comes back from injury.
- Why was Slater teaming with Rhodes Scholars in the first place? He has two other partners.
Main Event Final Thoughts
This week's show was pretty good considering we only got two matches instead of the usual three.
Ziggler and Cesaro put on one hell of a match, and hopefully we get to see more from these two down the road. Both men represent some of the best pure wrestlers in that ring, and they proved it in their match on Wednesday.
Main Event consistently puts on at least one match worth seeing every week. If you watch WWE programming and you do not take the time to watch Main Event, you're missing out on some great action.
Daniel Bryan vs. Christian
Daniel Bryan and Christian kicked off the show with a one-on-one match. This is a matchup we have not seen many times, if ever, which is always a great way to kick off a show.
Bryan and Christian both incorporate a lot of variety into their offense, which allowed them to put on a very entertaining match. What else would you expect from two veterans like Christian and Bryan?
The match was pretty even until Bryan dropkicked Christian's arm into the steel steps, a move which looked impossible to pull off without Christian being in a lot of pain afterwards.
The second half of the match saw both men pick up the pace quite a bit. There were counters left and right, a lot of intensity from both men, and several hits that looked especially brutal.
Bryan ended up picking up the win with the Yes/No Lock. This match was outstanding. It had everything you could want in a pay-per-view match, and we got to see it on SmackDown. Anyone in the back who wasn't taking notes watching these two missed out.
Winner: Daniel Bryan
Some notes from the Match:
- Christian's missile dropkick hit Bryan square in the beard.
- Bryan might have a better grasp of ring psychology than anyone in the business. Everything he does in his matches seems perfectly timed, and he knows how to work a crowd like nobody else.
- Christian cleaned Bryan's clock with a right hand when Bryan was going to go for a suicide dive. It is not often a single shot to the face can get the crowd to react, but they did when Christian nailed Bryan.
- Bryan almost kicked Christian into next week when he delivered a roundhouse to the side of the head.
- These two have not been in the ring together too many times, but their chemistry in this match was great. If this isn't a World title feud at some point down the line, I would be shocked.
Jey Uso vs. Seth Rollins
SmackDown really delivered in its first match, and the second match of the night kept the same pace.
Uso and Rollins had a very high-energy match with a lot of back-and-forth action packed into just a few minutes.
Jimmy and Roman Reigns had a brief exchange on the outside which distracted Jey long enough for Rollins to take advantage and knock him off the top rope.
The end of the match came when Rollins delivered a brutal finishing move, which was essentially just stomping Jey's face into the mat.
Winner: Seth Rollins
Some notes from the match:
- Before the match got started Michael Cole told us how we can watch the MITB Kickoff on Yahoo, WWE.com, FaceBook, the WWE app, YouTube, Google and Twitter. How do you watch a pre-show on Twitter? Do they even have streaming video for things like this?
- I love that The Usos are continuing the tradition of Samoan wrestlers having really hard heads.
- The fans seem to be taking to the Usos. They were very vocal whenever Jey was in control.
- I always wonder if it is uncomfortable for The Shield to wrestle with those tactical vests on. It seems like it would limit movement a little, although you wouldn't know it from watching them every week.
- Was Dean Ambrose anywhere to be seen? We returned from commercial in the middle of Rollins' entrance, so it is possible he took off like he usually does before matches he isn't involved in.
- That might be what eventually leads to the breakup of the team. Ambrose separating himself from Rollins and Reigns is an easy way to write some tension into their storyline.
Chris Jericho vs. Curtis Axel
Curtis Axel and Chris Jericho put SmackDown at 3-for-3 with entertaining matches, but this was a little different than the first two.
Bryan vs. Christian and Uso vs. Rollins were fast-paced matches with a lot of action, whereas this is what I would call a more traditional wrestling match.
They were telling a story instead of trying to go for the most exciting moves, and a lot of that is due to the fact that Jericho is a storyteller in the ring. He and Axel have had a few matches at this point, and it looks like they could possibly enter into a feud after MITB, but before Jericho goes on tour with Fozzy.
The match ended when Axel took a Codebreaker on the apron and ended up being counted out after failing to make it back into the ring.
There are always people who will complain about a DQ or countout finish, but this was the best way to end this match. It allowed the veteran Jericho to pick up the win without Axel having to suffer another pin or submission loss.
Winner: Chris Jericho
Some notes from the match:
- These might be the two most evenly matches Superstar in WWE in terms of size, speed and the variety of offense they use. The Usos don't count since they're twins.
- Paul Heyman's black eye was still pretty visible. He must have taken quite a hit.
- Chris Jericho doesn't even have to try anymore. He make everyone step up to his level in the ring and they always come out looking better for it.
- JBL brought up Vader during commentary when talking about some of the big names Jericho has been in the ring with. It's always nice to see Leon White get some credit.
- I like how WWE's cameras have began to pick up more of what the Superstars are saying during the match. Some of what the Superstars can be heard saying helps drive the story forward.
Ryback vs. Miz
After Curtis Axel and Chris Jericho went to the back, their MITB opponents came out for a rematch from last week.
Miz used his speed to get the early advantage by sending Ryback over the top rope. Ryback immediately began to favor the knee Miz injured last week after landing on the floor.
Surprisingly, Miz controlled almost the entire match, which made it a better match than I expected it to be. Miz focused on the leg of Ryback to set up for the Figure Four throughout the match, but it didn't end up working that way in the end.
After Ryback told the ref he heard something pop in his knee, the ref backed Miz off to check on him. This allowed Ryback to get up and nail Miz with a Meat Hook clothesline.
The end of the match came when Ryback, struggling to stay on both feet, hit Shell Shocked to pick up the pin
Some notes from the match:
- Miz keeps adding more and more moves to his arsenal.
- Ryback gets a lot of flack from people for being too green, but he did a good job selling Miz's offense in this match.
- This goes back to a point I made earlier. Hearing exactly what Ryback was saying when he was hurt helped the story, at least on television.
Divas Contract Signing
Michael Cole mentioned how this was the first Divas title contract signing. I really hope this is an indication that the Diva's division will be getting some more real storylines.
AJ and Kaitlyn have managed to be one of the best Divas feuds in quite some time, and it is nice to see WWE giving them some real TV time to develop the feud over the past several weeks.
AJ started out by talking some trash, but Teddy Long urged her to hurry up and sign the contact.
AJ ended up taking out her phone to read some of the texts that Kaitlyn had sent to her secret admirer, one of which apparently called Natalya untrustworthy.
Another text said all Naomi and Cameron care about is the new reality show. Kaitlyn got upset, which prompted AJ to say "Hulk Smash!' It got a laugh from the crowd.
Kaitlyn had some harsh words for AJ, which caused the champion to haul off and smack her. Kaitlyn pushed the whole table into the corner, with AJ still in her seat behind it, and proceeded to pound on AJ for a few moments.
Big E. Langston pulled Kaitlyn away, only to receive what might be the hardest open-handed shot anyone has ever taken to the face. He seemed genuinely shocked at how hard she hit him.
Kaitlyn then speared AJ into oblivion before heading to the back with her new BFF, Layla
Some notes from the segment:
- Why all the Divas were in the ring for the contact signing was somewhat confusing. Maybe they are trying to push the Total Divas show a bit, but as far as I know Kaitlyn and AJ won't be in it.
- AJ is such a naturally gifted performer that if she doesn't end up doing some kind of acting at some point I will be shocked. She is witty and always seems very comfortable on the mic.
- You could probably hear the impact of Kaitlyn smacking Langston throughout the entire arena.
Wade Barrett vs. Fandango
This match came about after Barrett decked Fandango on Monday during a backstage segment involving all of the MITB participants.
Zeb Colter was on commentary with Antonio Cesaro and Jack Swagger by his side during this match.
Fandango tried to mess with Barrett right off the bat with his signature dance moves, but Barrett put a stop to that with one well-placed boot to the face.
Colter insulted Rhodes Scholars on commentary, which brought the duo out to ringside to confront him. Swagger and Cesaro blocked their path, and the mayhem distracted Barrett long enough for Fandango to roll him up for a quick pin with a handful of tights.
Some notes from the match:
- It's always interesting to see how the crowd will react during a heel vs. heel match.
- Since the World title MITB match is all heels, it will be even more interesting to see who the fans get behind on Sunday.
- This was a short match that served more to remind us about the ladder match than anything else.
- SmackDown started off really strong, but not every match can be a crowd-pleaser.
Sin Ziggler/Del Rio and Vickie Guerrero
Sin Cara rushed the ring during his entrance and went right after Del Rio before the bell. Del Rio got in a quick kick as Cara took his jacket off, but the masked man was right back on Del Rio.
Once Sin Cara hit the Zig Zag, it became clear what was really going on.
Teddy Long had given Ziggler the night off in a backstage segment earlier in the night, which did not make the show off very happy. Apparently he found a spare Sin Cara outfit in back.
After Sin Ziggler started to head to the back, Vickie Guerrero seemingly appeared out of thin air and started screaming on the mic about being fired on Monday.
She says she had to buy a ticket to come to the show and nobody is showing her any respect. Teddy came out and had security escort her from the building.
After the break we saw Teddy find the real Sin Cara backstage thinking it was still Ziggler. Ziggler popped in wearing his normal clothes and pretended that it was Sin Cara who attacked Del Rio.
Randy Orton vs. Sheamus
Sheamus and Randy Orton are no strangers to one another, so it came as no surprise that this match delivered.
From the moment the bell rang, these two were going strong. Sheamus began with his usual array of strikes, but Orton quickly turned it around with a rake to the eyes.
They went back-and-forth, eventually spilling to the outside. Neither man kept control for very long before the commercial break, but after we returned we saw Orton putting Sheamus through the ringer.
Save for the occasional rest hold, these two were very intense throughout the match, which seems to be how most of Sheamus' matches go these days
Both guys pulled out just about everything they had in their arsenals. Since they know each other very well, there were also plenty of counters from each man.
At one point Orton tried to deliver a superplex in the corner, but Sheamus pulled him down and both men took a tumble from the turnbuckle down to the floor.
Daniel Bryan came down and grabbed a ladder from under the ring and took out both men to cause a DQ, but he wasn't able to climb up and grab the briefcase like he did on Monday.
Christian came down as well, but Bryan tipped over the ladder to knock him off before Orton came out of nowhere and gave Bryan an RKO.
Orton climbed to the top of the ladder and took down the briefcase to end the show.
Some notes from the match:
- Like Jericho and Axel before, these two are very evenly matched. They are both tall, powerful individuals with explosive speed.
- It might just be me hoping he turns heel, but Orton seemed to be acting a little more heelish during this match.
- Orton's beard and mustache refuse to have anything to do with each other.
- Orton not only seems to have been reinvigorated lately, but he also seem to have picked up a little quickness.
- Sheamus tried to clothesline Bryan over the top rope, but Bryan just ended up having his head bounce off the rope and he had to roll out.
Final Throughts Heading into MITB
Not only is Money in the Bank shaping up to possibly be one of the best PPVs of the year, but WWE managed to deliver a week of great shows leading into Sunday.
Raw featured great matches like Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan the first of two matches between Curtis Axel and Chris Jericho, and CM Punk vs. Randy Orton.
Main Event had a great match between Antonio Cesaro and Dolph Ziggler, and a decent six-man tag match featuring Tons of Funk, Khali, Heath Slater and Rhodes Scholars.
And to cap off the week SmackDown featured great matches like Christian vs. Daniel Bryan, Jericho vs. Axel II, Jey Uso vs. Seth Rollins and Randy Orton vs. Sheamus.
Even Miz vs. Ryback was entertaining.
Not only did we have some great matches this week, but we also had some excellent storyline development.
AJ and Kaitlyn had the first Divas contract signing on SmackDown, and it was possibly the most entertaining contract signing we have seen in a long time.
The debut of the Wyatt Family on Monday still has people talking, and Sunday could see them make an even bigger impact than they made on Raw if they choose to get involved.
Money in the Bank is the first PPV since WrestleMania where it feels like every feud is very well developed. It also has a feeling that anything could happen.
Not everything we saw this week was great, but it very rarely is. This week is the kind of week that reminds me why I watch wrestling, and hopefully Sunday continues that trend. It's hard to complain about the negatives when there are so many positives to point out.
I hope you enjoyed this week's shows as much as I did, and I hope you will join me here on Bleacher Report for liver coverage of Money in the Bank on Sunday.
Out of all the great matches we saw this week, which one stands out to you as the best?
Thanks for reading and follow me on Twitter @BR_Doctor.