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.
We are getting closer to Hell in a Cell, and WWE has only had a few weeks to build this pay-per-view. After some fans felt cheated by the results of recent PPVs it will be interesting to see if fans tune into HIAC.
This week's SmackDown featured some great action and plenty of storyline development. Two of the matches definitely stand out among the rest, but every match from the show had something positive to take away from it.
We got a rare SmackDown appearance from CM Punk, a possible babyface turn for Big E. Langston and a very entertaining main event. There isn't much more to ask for from an episode of SmackDown.
Let's get right into this week's show with the opening segment.
I honestly have not been as bored watching SmackDown in a long time as I was when watching this segment. Essentially, all that happened was Vickie making The Shield vs. Daniel Bryan, Cody Rhodes and Goldust for later.
Vickie did not have any semblance of power, Maddox seemed like he was there for no reason, Daniel Bryan coming out was way too predictable and the Rhodes brothers did not even get to say anything.
Cody and Goldust coming out could have been skipped had Bryan just been given the chance to pick his own partners for a six-man tag match against The Shield.
Rhodes and Goldust would have received even larger pops when the reveal was finally made, but instead WWE trotted them out at the top of the show to get the crowd excited early.
Goldust and Cody are hot commodities at the moment, so having them included in the opening segment was smart, but WWE could have gotten a lot more out of this segment.
Some notes form the segment:
- Even the general managers don't care about the brand-split. I know WWE stopped having separate brands a long time ago, but what's the point of having GMs for both shows when they both just show up whenever they want?
- It's too bad Goldust can't claim to hold WWE "Gold" since the tag belts are a bronze/copper color.
- It looked like Cody had almost as large of a reaction as Daniel Bryan, but it's always so hard to tell if SmackDown reactions are genuine.
- Why does my spellcheck still hate the word SmackDown? It became an official word in The Merriam-Webster's dictionary in 2007.
Miz and Kofi have both had issues with The Wyatt Family lately, so this tag match allowed WWE to address two different side-feuds at once.
Miz came out of the gate at full speed at the start of the match, but he was only able to maintain control before Rowan's size and power were too much for him.
The match itself did not last more than a few minutes, but all four men managed to get in a little bit of offense, allowing the match to have a decent level of entertainment.
The end came after Kofi took a huge spinning clothesline and gave up the pin. The final exchange worked very well. Kofi had low-bridged Rowan out of the ring when Rowan wasn't the legal man, but this put Rowan in place to pull Miz off the apron, preventing Kofi from making a tag and allowing Harper to pick up the win.
Bray Wyatt gave a solid promo after the match where he actually called off Rowan and Harper from attacking Miz and Kofi after the match.
Some notes from the match:
- Was anyone else really surprised to see Miz hit that dropkick? I swear that I cannot ever remember him using a dropkick.
- Having The Wyatt Family appear in the ring out of nowhere was a really cool way to save time on their entrance.
- Enthusiastic line-of-the-night from JBL: "What a clothesline! He just decapitated Kofi! Wow!"
I always hate saying this about a Divas match because I always expect them to let me down, but this was much better than I expected it to be.
AJ and Brie had a physical match that lasted just the right amount of time for a non-title match. Tamina and Nikki contributed to the drama on the outside just enough, and Brie picked up the win with a brutal-looking facebuster.
AJ sold the finishing move extremely well, making it seem like she really smacked her face into the mat like a pro. Brie is continuing to add more to her moveset with each passing week, including a missile dropkick from the second rope that came off beautifully.
Brie has really won me over since her face turn. Nikki's injury has allowed Brie to be in more singles matches and show off some of what she can do.
I'm also very happy WWE has not played up her relationship with Bryan too much on WWE programming. It allows Brie to stand on her own as a star rather than in Bryan's shadow as his fiancé.
Hopefully we get a great title match from these two Divas at Hell in a Cell, but nothing has been made official yet, so anything can happen.
Some notes from the match:
- Whenever anyone says "Right in the kisser!" I instantly flash back to the days when Nick at Night would show The Honeymooners. Thank you, Michael Cole.
- Is a reference from the days of the DuMont Television Network too dated?
- AJ plays the heel so well that it would almost pain me if WWE turned her babyface anytime soon.
- Tamina took that hit into the steel steps as hard as any man would have.
Big Show came through the crowd and took to the ring to address the crowd and thank them for their support, but as we all expected, Vickie and Brad Maddox came out to make him leave.
It would appear that Brad Maddox grew a set between the beginning of the show and this segment because he was right in Big Show's face, yelling at him to get the hell out of the arena.
Even with his new-found confidence, Maddox still ended up eating a KO Punch from Big Show. But you have to give Maddox some credit for selling that hit as well as he did.
This segment was short and sweet. It pushed the feud a little further, and it did not take up more time than it needed to. This is really the only way Big Show can ever be the underdog, and he is really making this feud what it is with his performances.
This whole affair should make just about every fan happy for three reasons: The match was great, the promo was great and we got a possible face turn for Big E. Langston.
The match lasted the better part of two segments, and it was very entertaining. Punk came off like the seasoned veteran that he is and Langston came off like the hungry, talented powerhouse that he is.
Langston showed a lot of versatility throughout the match, employing many different kinds of offense instead of just relying on power moves.
Langston controlled most of the match, and he looked like he belonged in the ring with a top star like Punk from beginning to end. Punk picked up the win with the GTS, but it was not an easy win by any means.
Paul Heyman came out with his two clients and had an exchange with Punk on the mic which saw Heyman demean Punk's victory over Langston by claiming Langston to be a rookie. Ryback and Curtis Axel attacked Punk, but it didn't go the way they planned.
The crowd popped big when Langston came to Punk's aid and helped take out Axel and Ryback. He made Heyman back up the ramp at light speed when he started yelling "Whose the rookie now" right at him from the apron.
Langston could end up in a feud with one of Heyman's clients, and it is very possible that we could see him take the Intercontinental title from Axel if that is who he ends up facing.
Some notes from the match:
- That was easily Langston's best match since coming to the main roster. WWE needs to push this guy right now.
- Langston vs. Ryback could be pretty awesome. WWE hasn't had two powerhouses like them clash in a long time.
- Axel took the clothesline from Langston and sold it like he was hit by a Mac truck.
Considering Alberto Del Rio had to carry this segment on his own, he did alright. He hit on all the major notes to push his feud with John Cena heading into Hell in a Cell, and the attack to Josh Mathews made him look very heelish.
Nothing special stands out from what was said, but that is mostly due to the fact that WWE is not treading any new ground here. Cena is absent at the moment, so they have to rely on Del Rio to keep the feud in the front of everyone's mind.
Since this was kept short, it did not kill the momentum of the show, but it certainly won't be a talking point coming out of this episode of SmackDown.
The Real Americans and The Usos had a decent match until Los Matadores came out and distracted Antonio Cesaro and Jack Swagger. The Usos could have used a clean win to make them look strong while they wait for their title shot, but they still looked good picking up the win in this match.
Swagger managed to kick out of the initial roll up following the distraction, but he took a nasty kick to the jaw and a Superfly Splash to end the match and give The Usos the win.
We got a Cesaro Swing with over 20 revolutions, and all four men had a chance to get in some good ring-time in a solid match that lasted about seven minutes.
Some notes from the match
- Funny line of the night from JBL: "Why would he gore Zeb? That's a grandfather he just gored!"
- I am so happy Michael Cole acknowledged that The Usos are still in line for a title shot at that tag title. Obviously The Shield will get a rematch, so The Usos will probably have a throw-away title match on Raw or SmackDown in the coming weeks where they will likely lose. Goldust and Cody might hold onto the belts for a little while.
- Zeb Colter's commentary during the match was the most entertaining he has been in months.
- I don't know why, but JBL and Colter assuming Lose Matadores kidnapped El Torito made me laugh.
This match had a lot to live up to after Cody, Goldust and The Shield tore the house down on Raw, but these six men did a great job of capping off an enjoyable episode of SmackDown.
It's hard to imagine a bad match when you have any combination of these six men. On one side of the ring you have the veteran Goldust, his highly talented brother Cody and Daniel Bryan, the hottest commodity in wrestling today.
On the other side of the ring you have three very different, but very talented Superstars who have stood in the ring with WWE's best time after time and have been some of the most consistently solid performers on the roster.
This match had a lot of great spots, so it's easier to just make a quick list of some of the highlights.
- Rollins taking Cody off the apron into the powerbomb position and throwing him into Goldust, sending both men over the announcer table.
- Rollins Spearing himself into the steel steps.
- Bryan's suicide dive to Ambrose and Rollins.
- Cody's dropkick is so great that it deserves mentioning. It's right up there with Dolph Ziggler and Randy Orton's dropkicks.
Bryan picked up the win for his team by taking out Ambrose with a running knee to the face to end a great match.
Some notes from the match:
- Fun fact: Dean Ambrose was in the main event of all three shows this week, and each match was definitely a "Match of the Week" contender.
- Fun Fact No. 2: Cody and Goldust are the first people to have three consecutive victories over The Shield.
- Randy Orton's promo before the match was pretty good. It is obvious that WWE kept him as a babyface for way too long.
- Dean Ambrose's mannerisms during his matches really separate him from a lot of the roster. He has a level of acting ability that will allow him to excel once he breaks away from The Shield.
Punk and Langston would have stolen the show on any other night, but Cody Rhodes, Goldust, Daniel Bryan and The Shield gave them a run for their money in the main event.
SmackDown opened with a weak segment, but the night built into a very entertaining show overall. Every match had something to like about it, and two of the matches were what some would call "PPV quality."
The blue brand is usually good for some great WWE action, and this week we got to see a wide assortment of WWE's best doing what they do best. Even the Divas match was above average.
Hell in a Cell is just over a week away, and WWE has done a pretty good job building up some of the feuds in a very short amount of time. Hell in a Cell will be WWE's third PPV in seven weeks, then we have four weeks until Survivor Series and then only another three weeks until TLC.
The fall months can get expensive for WWE fans who buy PPVs, so hopefully WWE works extra hard to keep up with the pack schedule.
- Dean Ambrose will either lose his title very soon or it will become a point of contention for the group once he is the only champion for a little while.
- Brie will defeat AJ for the Divas title at Hell in a Cell. The match isn't official, but WWE is clearly building towards it happening.
- Big E. Langston will complete a babyface turn and defeat Curtis Axel for the IC title soon.
- Big Show will be offered a match at HIAC to earn his job back.
- Antonio Cesaro will give the Big Swing to two people at the same time sometime in the near future.
- Hell in a Cell will see a new World Champion. Either John Cena or Damien Sandow.
What did you think of SmackDown, and what are your predictions for Hell in a Cell?
Thanks for reading and follow me on Twitter @BR_Doctor.