WWE SmackDown: Spoiler-Free Preview for July 26
CM Punk is in action, and the world champ takes on the returning Rob Van Dam in this week's WWE SmackDown.
It's going to be hard to avoid spoilers for the time being as WWE's international tour has thrown their schedule out of whack. WWE taped next Monday's Raw Tuesday and will tape the following week's SmackDown Thursday.
Corpus Christi, Texas, fans experience this Friday's show firsthand, and WWE made full use of the geography by putting the Gulf of Mexico into play.
Look for Vickie Guerrero's general manager reign to continue, as well as the drama surrounding that position. Expect more SummerSlam buildup and in-ring action of both the disappointing and thrilling varieties.
Here is the lineup for Friday's SmackDown sans the results.
Randy Orton vs. Damien Sandow
Two Money in the Bank briefcase holders square off in an intriguing matchup.
The questions heading into this bout surround WWE's intended direction for Orton as we head toward SummerSlam.
While he'll definitely be a threat to the winner of the WWE title match via cash-in, he'll likely have a match at the big show, but against who? He's battled a variety of foes in recent weeks, including Fandango, Alberto Del Rio and now Sandow.
We know it won't be Sandow he battles at SummerSlam as the other Mr. Money in the Bank will be busy fending off his former friend Cody Rhodes. How will WWE further Sandow and Rhodes' feud on this episode?
Mark Henry and The Usos vs. the Prime Time Players and Wade Barrett
WWE clearly seems to be setting a six-man tag match between The Shield and Mark Henry and The Usos for SummerSlam, so it's no surprise to see them get in some action as a trio.
The more chemistry those three can develop and the more momentum they can build in the next few weeks makes them an increasingly legitimate threat to knock off The Shield.
As for Barrett and the Prime Time Players, that has to be one of the most mismatched three-man teams in recent memory.
Alberto Del Rio vs. Rob Van Dam
The world champ takes on the former ECW and WWE champ.
This makes Van Dam's second straight SmackDown appearance after a multi-year absence. And from living in Houston, the site of Thursday's tapings for next week, I can tell you that WWE is advertising here on local TV that Mr. Monday Night is set to appear yet again.
Having him back in the fold has been a fun ride. Depending on how things go in this match, we may see him journey into the world title picture.
Wyatt Family vs. Tons of Funk
After all the beatings and vignettes, it's time to see the Wyatt Family in action.
Most fans might have selected a different set of opponents, but getting a look at what Luke Harper and Erick Rowan can do in a WWE ring will be intriguing.
It appears we'll have to wait to see the family's patriarch step between the ropes in a sanctioned match.
Christian vs. Jack Swagger
A Jack Swagger match surely means some more trash talk from Zeb Colter. With as many Latinos that populate Corpus Christi, don't expect Colter to be in a great mood.
As for Christian, it's unclear what WWE has planned for him in the immediate future, but he's certainly picking up lots of wins. He looks to add to his total as he takes on one-half of the Real Americans.
This pairing offers a good contrast of speed and power in a clash of two former world champs looking to climb back into that scene once again.
CM Punk vs. Fandango
Those will be the major questions heading into this bout, a surprising pairing that showcases how much WWE still believes in Fandango. A touch of randomness like this can be refreshing. It sure beats seeing the same matchup four or five times in a row like we so often do.
Punk gears up for his battle with Brock Lesnar in a few weeks.
Fandango, as of now, is dancing without direction. On this SmackDown and on WWE TV in the coming weeks, Fandango, along with the other folks without a SummerSlam match, will slowly get a clearer idea of who they will face at the summer pay-per-view.
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