Every week here on Bleacher Report, I will take an in-depth look at SmackDown, recapping all the action, offering analysis and grading the matches, segments and anything else that takes place on the show, as well as provide some predictions on the direction of storylines after the show.
This week's SmackDown wasn't anything special in regard to the matches that took place, but we had some decent storyline development on several fronts, as well as an in-ring debut for two new Superstars.
Bray Wyatt accompanied Luke Harper and Erick Rowan to the ring for their match with Tons of Funk. Kane was still MIA, which meant Wyatt was responsible for carrying this program with his mic work once again.
Conspicuous by their absence this week were Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns. Mark Henry and The Usos were present for a six-man tag match, but the Hounds of Justice were nowhere to be seen, which is a little out of the ordinary for SmackDown.
Curtis Axel and Paul Heyman also took this week's show off, which meant WWE were leaving four title holders off the show between the WWE, IC, US and Tag champions. The company tried to make up for it with a CM Punk promo, but it didn't really do much more than let everyone know that Punk is still upset with Heyman.
The two men who seemed to have the most focus throughout the show were Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow. Their feud is building into one of the more interesting non-title programs at the moment, and SmackDown gave Cody a chance to verbally battle Sandow for the first time.
Let's get right into the action with the first match of the night, Randy Orton vs. Damien Sandow.
Sandow's promo before the match was his usual stuff, except now he has a briefcase to brag about. Kicking off the show with this match was a good way to set the pace.
This was a pretty typical Orton vs. Sandow match. We have seen it several times already, and it usually ends the same way, with Randy Orton winning.
They traded offense back and forth throughout the match, with nobody having firm control for more than a couple minutes. Orton and Sandow have a good chemistry, so they can always put on a decent show for the fans.
Cody Rhodes came out toward the end of the match and took Sandow's briefcase from the timekeeper. The distraction allowed Orton to hit the RKO for the pin and the win.
The Rhodes and Sandow feud is clearly heading toward a match at SummerSlam, but Rhodes taking the briefcase makes one wonder if Sandow can be goaded into defending the case in a match against Rhodes.
Putting the case on the line adds to the value of the match, but WWE has not made a habit of having people defend the case, so it might just end up as a standard singles match.
CM Punk making a rare appearance on SmackDown only calls more attention to the fact that Brock Lesnar is barely around to sell the feud.
Punk's mic work is always reliable, but a simple promo would have been pointless. That's why Fandango was fed to Punk for an easy GTS to pop the crowd. This segment was probably cool for those in attendance, but it didn't really do anything to further Punk's feud with Lesnar.
Fandango is going to have to wait for a little while before he sees any kind of continuation of his push. WWE has too many other angles and storylines to worry about.
There is not a lot to say about this match. It was really quick and just served as a way to give The Usos and Henry a random win.
Mark Henry and The Usos are in interesting positions. If they get separate title matches against The Shield at SummerSlam, then it is possible they could take all the belts away from The Shield.
However, WWE has a lot of feuds at the moment, so they might end up being thrown into another six-man tag match to save time.
RVD returning after a handful of years really makes for some fresh matches. He hasn't faced half the roster, so every time he gets in the ring, it's going to be something we haven't seen before.
It's too bad that this match only lasted a few minutes, because these two could have put on a really good match with enough time.
Del Rio winning with a kick to the face was a bit surprising, but it does emphasize how dangerous he can be. Refusing to speak English to the ref was a nice touch on Del Rio's part.
RVD needs something to do for SummerSlam. He can't sit on the sidelines right after returning at MITB. It doesn't look like he will be in the World title scene after this loss to Del Rio, so hopefully WWE has something good planned for him.
The obvious answer would be a feud with Curtis Axel to play into the relationship RVD and Heyman have had in the past, but Heyman is too busy with CM Punk to have another high-profile feud with a former associate.
RVD will most likely end up in a throwaway singles match at SummerSlam, but at least he will be entertaining.
This segment was a little on the long side for my taste, but it had a satisfying ending.
AJ did her usual crazy routine, but this time it was while she was destroying Dolph Ziggler's possessions in the middle of the ring while Ziggler mocked her from the ramp. The crowd got into it with a few chants, but the amount of time AJ spent freaking out made the whole thing lose momentum.
Kaitlyn coming out of nowhere with a spear, followed by Ziggler hitting the Fame-asser on Big E. Langston, gave the crowd something to cheer for at the end.
Ziggler will defeat Langston at SummerSlam if they end up in a match together, but with Kaitlyn still in the mix, it's possible this could turn into a mixed tag situation.
The way TOF had their entrance cut short by The Wyatt's entrance and the way the show cut out after the match were nice details to add to The Wyatt's gimmick.
This was another short match that served to show off the brawling ability of Luke Harper and Erick Rowan. The attack to Sweet T following The Wyatt Family's win and the promo given by Bray Wyatt probably lasted as long as the match itself.
Wyatt is great as this character, but this match seemed like a waste of an in-ring debut for his brothers. The Wyatt Family as a group have a lot of potential, but everything has a shelf life. Harper and Rowan might suffer from playing second fiddle to Wyatt when this group runs its course.
It should be interesting to see if Kane takes on Wyatt in a singles match or if he gets some partners to take on the whole group.
However it goes down, The Wyatts will come away as the victors when all is said and done.
Swagger and Christian had an average match that saw Christian pick up the win with the Killswitch. Christian and Jack Swagger have been having matches since Christian won the ECW title from Swagger in 2009, so it comes as no surprise that nothing ground-breaking happened during this bout.
Christian has been revitalized since returning from nearly a year-long absence, so at least his enthusiasm helped keep the crowd into the match.
Sandow was shown looking for Rhodes a few times throughout the evening, which led to a confrontation between them that capped off the show.
The show ended with a segment involving Cody Rhodes holding Damien Sandow's MITB briefcase hostage outside the arena, which is conveniently located next to the Gulf of Mexico.
Sandow came out of the arena pleading with Rhodes to not throw the case in the water, running right out in front of a vehicle that was passing by.
But Rhodes did what we all knew he would do and chucked it into the water. Sandow screamed for help, claiming that he could not swim, as Rhodes just walked away with a smile on his face.
Sandow attempted to go after the case, but he had to come back when he was unable to stay afloat. Somehow Sandow seems less like our savior after finding out he can't swim.
This segment brought back memories of when The Rock threw Stone Cold's title off a bridge and when Edge and Lita threw John Cena's title into the Long Island Sound.
The interaction between Rhodes and Sandow is always entertaining, so this segment was a solid way to cap off what ended up being a pretty average show overall.
The show ended with an image of a drenched Sandow weeping as his blue briefcase floated out into the Gulf. This was my favorite segment from SmackDown. It is rare for me to say that about something that involved zero wrestling, but these two sold it well.
This was about as average of an episode of SmackDown as you can get. If you average out all the various grades, the show would come in at about a C+.
Going forward, there are several different directions WWE can go with the various storylines it has running, but some of them seem obvious where they are leading.
Short- and Long-Term Predictions Going Forward:
- Damien Sandow will replace the Halliburten he lost with a leather attaché case just to show how classy he is.
- Cody Rhodes will present Sandow with a pair of water wings so he can swim like a big boy.
- Randy Orton will cash in within weeks. Either at SummerSlam or the following night on Raw. Sandow will hold his case a little longer.
- The Wyatts will attack Kane during his match with Daniel Bryan on the next Raw.
- Brock Lesnar vs. CM Punk will see at least one of them get busted open. They will be going for a stiffer match than usual since Punk needs to look convincing against the much larger Lesnar.
- Kaitlyn and Ziggler will take on Langston and AJ in mixed tag action at some point in the next few weeks. You can always tell when they will pair up two people who are in separate feuds with two other people.
- Total Divas will get higher ratings than this episode of SmackDown. It's sad, but it is probably going to be true.
- Between Colter, Sandow, Daniel Bryan, Wade Barrett, Randy Orton, CM Punk, Curtis Axel, The Wyatt Family and Triple H, there are bound to be a few entries into the Beard and Moustache World Championships sometime in the near future.
- Jack Swagger or Antonio Cesaro will turn babyface and leave The Real Americans. The trio is going nowhere fast and the best thing to do is have them go against each other.
- Prime Time Players will soon go their separate ways, but like Rhodes Scholars until MITB, they will remain on friendly terms with one another.
- At least three titles will change hands at SummerSlam or the following night on Raw.
I have not yet had a chance to read the spoilers for the next week of Raw or SmackDown, so some of this may have already happened.
Thanks for reading and follow me on Twitter @BR_Doctor.