Every week here on Bleacher Report, I will take an in-depth look at SmackDown, recapping all of 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.
This was the final show before Battleground, and WWE did a great job making sure every feud was addressed in some way.
There were a couple of good matches, there was one really great match and we got to see plenty of storyline development.
Battleground is one of those pay-per-views that could end up being amazing or a total dud, it all depends on what decisions WWE makes throughout the night. But that's Sunday.
Let's get into this week's SmackDown with the opening segment featuring Triple H and Big Show.
After a lengthy opening video package, Big Show came out to kick off the show. He talked about not having any job opportunities outside of WWE. I guess that paycheck from Knuckleheads wasn't that big.
The crowd was still pretty behind Big Show during the segment. He talked about having to face The Shield in a handicap match, and he said that he would let loose all of his recent frustrations on them.
Before the giant could leave, Triple H came out on the stage and said that he bought Big Show's house from the bank, so now Big Show is in debt to him.
Trips also changed the main event to Big Show vs. The Shield and Randy Orton. This was a pretty strong segment for Big Show and Triple H's feud.
While nothing groundbreaking occurred, Show really gave a believable performance, and Triple H's revelation of being the owner of Big Show's house is clearly setting up a match where Big Show has to fight Triple H for the deed to his house.
This feud is making good use of Big Show. He hasn't had a good feud in months, so it is refreshing to see him in such a high-profile angle.
Some notes from the segment:
- Whatever happened to the guy who did voice overs for the recap videos? I'm not saying I miss it, I only just realized I hadn't heard him for a while.
- I'm waiting for the first person to make a sign that says "Big Show can stay on my couch."
The crowd did not seem too into Fandango when he came out, but they perked up when RVD came out. Summer Rae caused a DQ early in a match that could have been good if given the chance.
Fandango tried to get a weapon from under the ring, but Ricardo Rodriguez distracted him long enough for RVD to recover and kick Fandango through the ropes.
An ECW chant broke out as RVD grabbed a garbage can from under the ring and delivered a VanTerminator like only RVD can do.
The match itself was too short and had a terrible ending, but the VanTerminator kept this from being a total bust.
Grade: C- for the match, B+ for the after-match fight.
Some notes from the match:
- Ricardo doesn't even seem like he's trying to announce RVD as good as he used to announce Alberto Del Rio.
- RVD elicits more chants than anyone in WWE.
- Seeing RVD fly the entire length of the ring and do all the other crazy things he does at the age of 42 makes me feel really lazy.
This was a Ryback match, but it wasn't a bad Ryback match. Truth got in some signature offense a few times during the match, and Ryback actually sold for Truth pretty well.
The constant talking during the match was kind of distracting, but if Ryback toned it down a little and let Heyman do more talking outside the ring while he was inside the ring wrestling, it would benefit everyone.
Heyman was great in his minimal role. He didn't have a promo; he just played the role of the manager outside the ring like a pro.
The match didn't have anything in particular that stood out, but it wasn't a flop and saying that about a Ryback match is a step in the right direction for the powerhouse.
Some notes from the match:
- Curtis Axel's attack after the match might indicate a title change at Battleground. My theory is that whoever looks weak in the final segment before the PPV is usually who will come away with the win. It is usually a pretty accurate way to predict matches, but it doesn't always work.
- Ryback really needs a new finisher. Shell Shocked simply doesn't allow him to show off his power when he has a guy smaller than he is on his shoulders and he just falls backward to drop him.
Damien Sandow was on commentary to remind us that he and Dolph Ziggler will be facing off on the Battleground pre-show.
As expected, Ziggler and Del Rio had a very high-energy match with a lot of hard hits and tons of footage for the highlight reel. Both men were able to hit just about all their signatures and then some, and this is definitely the match of the night by a large margin.
This would have been a great match for a PPV, but we got to see it on SmackDown. Del Rio might not be the most exiting on the mic, but when he is in the ring with someone who is as good as he is, magic tends to happen, especially when it's Ziggler he's facing.
Several times it seemed as if either man could get the win, but the match just kept going, and more impressive spots kept coming. Del Rio picked up the win with the cross armbreaker in a match that might be better than anything we see at Battleground in terms of sheer wrestling talent.
- Did anyone else laugh when JBL and Michael Cole started goading Sandow to cash in during the match? It sounded like two kids egging another kid on to do something stupid.
- WWE shouldn't have played the entire RVD YouTube video during ADR's entrance. It lasted way too long since ADR was already in the ring.
- The interview with ADR wasn't significant enough to get its own slide, but it is worth mentioning because it was kind of funny. Some PA came up and delivered a present to ADR from RVD. It was the beat-up trash can that RVD kicked into Fandango earlier in the night. It was split right down the side from the kick.
- Ziggler is such a great babyface. The crowd loves him, and he is over-the-top exciting in the ring. He might not be being booked like he should be, but he still steals the show every night, and that is enough to keep him on TV every week.
The bullfighter gimmick is meant to appeal more to kids, but I can't help but think that this is going to fizzle out and they will end up right back where they were when they were Primo and Epico.
The match had some decent action, with Los Matadores picking up the win with a nice double-team move. This wasn't much different from their match on Monday, but the crowd definitely seemed more into the masked men than they were on Raw.
- For those who are unaware, El Torito has actually appeared in WWE before. He played both mini-Vader and El Torito, albeit without the bull costume.
- Rather than having you rewatch the same tag match you saw on Raw, I have decided to include a video of El Torito from the 1998 Royal Rumble. He's lost a lot of weight since then. The rest of the video is the whole PPV, so you get some bonus content with Friday night's recap.
- You really should watch the match with El Torito. It's just as exciting as most non-mini lucha matches.
This match was average length for a Divas match, but it has been really obvious lately that Brie has improved quite a bit. She is much more physical in her matches, and she is taking more chances.
Aksana is still kind of sloppy, so the match could only be so good. AJ coming out to deliver a promo after the match helped a bit.
Brie picked up the win with a nice facebuster from the middle rope.
Some notes from the match:
- Aksana would be better served as a valet again. Cesaro wasn't the right person to pair her with. She needs someone with more charisma to make the pairing more believable.
- Either WWE did some serious editing or the crowd was pretty into this match.
Kofi picked up the win in this match with a counter into a pinning combination. The match was really short, but hopefully we get to see more from these two as what we did get to see on SmackDown was entertaining.
The Wyatt Family came out and surrounded Kofi before Bray Wyatt delivered a promo about someone being chosen on Sunday.
This match was pretty predictable, but it was still decent, and the after-match action was a great way to end the show.
Big Show controlled the early part of the match, running through every member of The Shield with ease. Eventually the heels took control, but big Show came back and all four men pounced on him, causing the referee to call for the bell.
The Usos and Daniel Bryan came out to make the save, and the show ended with Bryan celebrating in the ring as the crowd chanted "Yes" over and over again.
Some notes from the match:
- Dean Ambrose took a chair right to the face when Big Show punched it out of his hands.
- Daniel Bryan was the most over with the crowd, and he didn't even have a match. It is really awesome to see someone who has worked so hard get the kind of appreciation the fans have shown him.
- Big Show and Orton work really well together. Orton is just big enough to rock Show with some of his hits, and their matches have always been decent in the past.
The final WWE show before Battleground did a great job selling the feuds heading into the PPV. Just about every match scheduled for the PPV was addressed in some way on SmackDown.
Dolph Ziggler and Alberto Del Rio stole the show with their extremely entertaining match, but the biggest pop of the night went to Daniel Bryan when he came out to help Big Show against The Shield and Randy Orton.
Battleground could go either way in terms of quality, but some of the matches on the card are almost guaranteed to be entertaining.
- Big Show will eventually face Triple H for the deed to his house.
- Big Show will have an affect on the outcome of the WWE title match at Battleground.
- Damien Sandow will tease cashing in at Battleground, but he will either change his mind or be stopped before the match can start.
- If Brie and Daniel Bryan end up as champions at the same time it will be turned into a storyline for Total Divas.
Thanks for reading, and join me Sunday as I cover Battleground here on Bleacher Report. Follow me on Twitter @BR_Doctor.