The Good, the Great and the Awesome from SmackDown 11/15/13
Manchester, England was the site for the November 15 episode of Friday Night SmackDown, and on tap for the evening's broadcast was a huge tag team main event pitting CM Punk and Daniel Bryan taking on Ryback and Curtis Axel.
Earlier in the week, it was officially announced that Punk and Bryan will take on Erick Rowan and Luke Harper at the Survivor Series. In their first opportunity to team up since that announcement, would Punk and Bryan give fans and the Wyatt Family a taste of what they can expect come November 24?
Speaking of the Wyatt Family, Rowan and Harper would prep for the biggest match of their career by taking on The Usos. Would they be able to channel their aggression into a big win over one of the top tag teams in World Wrestling Entertainment, or would they focus too much on their match at the pay-per-view and overlook the second-generation twin brothers and fall victim to a major upset?
As he prepares to defend the World Heavyweight Championship against former champion Alberto Del Rio, John Cena was challenged by Del Rio for an arm-wrestling match? Would Cena pick up what would seem to be an easy win, or would the Mexican Superstar have a devious plan in store for the champ?
Also scheduled for this week was a double dose of Divas action as Natalya takes on Tamina Snuka and the Bella Twins meet fellow Total Divas castmates the Funkadactyls.
With just over a week until the 27th annual Survivor Series, let's take a look back at this week's SmackDown.
Prime Time Players and R-Truth vs. The Union Jacks (3MB)
In a rematch from this past Wednesday's Main Event, Titus O'Neil, Darren Young and R-Truth looked to gain a measure of revenge after a humiliating loss to 3MB.
They did just that in an entertaining three-minute Six Man Tag Team Match that saw Truth pick up the pinfall victory for his team over Heath Slater.
The match was completely meaningless in the long run but was another showcase for 3MB, a trio that does not get enough credit for their performances over the past year. Anyone in their spot could easily slack off and mail it in, but Slater, Jinder Mahal and Drew McIntyre continue to work hard to put over their co-workers.
They are consummate professionals who know how to rile up the crowd and are perfect in their roles at this point, even if they have potential to thrive further up the card.
The Funkadactyls vs. The Bella Twins
A quick, harmless Divas tag match saw Cameron and Naomi score an upset victory over Brie and Nikki Bella.
The match was rough to start, thanks in large part to Cameron and Nikki carrying the action at that point, but the hot tags led to Naomi and Brie entering the match and the pace quickened as a result. Naomi leveled Brie with the Rear View and stacked her up for the pin.
Naomi continues to be the most underutilized Diva on the roster. Despite the fact that she does have a tendency to get sloppy the quicker she moves, she has an athletic and innovative offense that no other Diva is capable of and wins the crowd over as a result.
Brie Bella deserves a ton of credit for the improvement in her ring game over the past five months. Go back and watch her matches when she and Nikki returned to the company, then watch her now and you will see a more crisp performer who has a better grasp on timing and whose workrate has improved tenfold.
A decent match that probably would have benefited greater from a Brie-Naomi singles match.
The Usos vs. The Wyatt Family
The opening match of the evening saw the Wyatt Family continue their push up the card as they kicked off the evening's festivities with a win over Jimmy and Jey Uso.
The match was a logical followup to the closing moments of Monday Night Raw, when The Usos joined the WWE tag team champions Cody Rhodes and Goldust, CM Punk and Daniel Bryan in fighting off Luke Harper, Erick Rowan and The Shield.
Harper continued his hot streak, and Rowan was surprisingly impressive.
The Usos have been one of the most valuable players in the tag team division this year and remain over, despite losing more than they win, thanks to a fast-paced, frenetic energy that they bring to their matches.
Harper's discus lariat is an impressive, believable, high-impact finisher that works well for someone of his size.
A really good match that continued to establish the Wyatt Family as an absolute bruising, punishing team that overpowers and outmatches their opponents in nearly every match they wrestle.
No Big Show, No Triple H, No 'Face of the WWE'
The largely despised Triple H-Randy Orton-Big Show feud was nowhere to be seen Friday night, outside of a video recap from Raw, and Friday night's show was better off for it.
CM Punk and Daniel Bryan vs. Ryback and Curtis Axel
Earlier in the evening, intercontinental champion Curtis Axel revealed to Ryback that he is no longer a Heyman guy in a moment that was not nearly played up as much as it should have been.
That instantly leaves Axel in a potentially disastrous position as he is nowhere near over enough to thrive without a mouthpiece, manager or valet.
Only after hearing Axel say this would Ryback agree to team with him in the night's main event.
It was a nice bit of continuity from Raw, where Paul Heyman ran down Ryback and denounced him as a Heyman guy.
The match itself was an excellent showcase for Punk and Bryan, who suddenly find themselves in a high-profile tag match at Survivor Series.
Axel was his typically solid, if unspectacular, self, and Ryback worked hard.
The finish, in which the Wyatt Family interrupted the bout, allowed Ryback to save face and led to the outstanding show-closing angle.
After a brief blackout, the lights came on and Harper and Rowan were left looking for Bryan and Punk, who had outsmarted them and disappeared from the ring. The massive Superstars searched high and low for their Survivor Series opponents but ultimately settled on beating down Axel and Ryback.
When they dispatched of those two men, Punk and Bryan reappeared from underneath the ring and got in a quick shot to each man and bailed up the entrance ramp.
It was a nice change of pace to see the cerebral Wyatt outsmarted and should lead to painful payback courtesy of Harper and Rowan.