This is the penultimate SmackDown before WWE’s annual blockbuster, The Royal Rumble. As Hall of Famer Jim Ross used to say, "Business is about to pick up."
The biggest takeaways from this week’s Raw were The New Age Outlaws turning on CM Punk and the closing segment, which was yet another reminder that Daniel Bryan is really, really over.
Friday's SmackDown actually deviates from the formula in that the main event isn’t a six-man tag match; it’s not even a match at all!
The tag team champions are also in action and Bray Wyatt has a message for Daniel Bryan.
Below are the full spoilers for this week’s show (courtesy of WrestlingInc.com), which emanates from Worcester, MA.
- SmackDown opens with The New Age Outlaws facing Cody Rhodes and Goldust in a non-title match. Vickie Guerrero interrupts and talks about how it’s every man for himself in the Rumble, allowing Billy Gunn to roll up a distracted Cody for the win.
- CM Punk is interviewed by Renee Young and calls out all three members of The Shield.
- Paul Heyman cuts a promo on Big Show vs. Brock Lesnar and says that Lesnar will be on next week’s Raw. Big Show comes out and Heyman runs off through the crowd. Big Show plays a replay from last week of him throwing Lesnar around, and says on Raw he’ll knock Lesnar out.
- Rey Mysterio gets a roll-up win over Alberto Del Rio, but gets put in Del Rio’s cross armbreaker after the match.
- Naomi defeated Tamina Snuka.
- Bray Wyatt comes out and cuts a promo on his past and Daniel Bryan. He says he gave Bryan a chance but now he will burn.
- Another backstage segment with Renee Young and CM Punk. Punk says he’s calling out The Shield and The New Age Outlaws.
- Big E gets a pinfall victory over Fandango after he hits The Big Ending.
- Renee Young interviews The Shield backstage.
- The Real Americans are defeated by The Usos. Zeb Colter came out in a wheelchair and cut a promo before the match.
- CM Punk comes out, talks about how The Authority are all cowards and how Triple H hides behind his wife. He then calls out The Shield and The New Age Outlaws, who all come out and surround Punk. Kane comes out and says that he has a new directive to make sure Punk gets the respect he deserves. After some back-and-forth between Punk and Kane, The Shield and The Outlaws all beat down Punk and then Kane chokeslams him. SmackDown ends with Kane standing over Punk.
There's A First Time for Everything
It feels like it’s been forever since SmackDown ended with a promo segment rather than a match. Yes, this is the first SmackDown in a long time that wasn’t headlined by a six-man tag match.
The Shield was given a reprieve from three-on-three action to help supply us with a slightly more interesting six-on-one beatdown.
Punk got a big win over The Shield at TLC but as of late they’ve gotten the best of him week after week.
Many thought that Daniel Wyatt was a bad idea, but the payoff on Raw ended up being worth it. Will Punk’s payoff be the Royal Rumble win that Kane has been taunting him with?
Probably not. It seems like the long-rumored Triple H vs. CM Punk WrestleMania match (credit to PWInsider via WrestleZone) is slowly coming into fruition.
One thing we learnt on this week’s SmackDown, though—Kane will be a big red roadblock on Punk’s path to the WWE COO.
Follow the Dragon
Up until Raw it seemed that Batista was the surefire winner of 2014’s Royal Rumble, but that may no longer be the case.
Of course, it still seems like a strong possibility, but after this week’s edition of Raw it looks that Daniel Bryan may actually have a chance.
As rumors circulated that Bray Wyatt would be John Cena’s WrestleMania XXX opponent (F4WOnline via PWMania), it seemed that the Daniel Wyatt angle was built around bolstering Bray. Now it's looking like that may not be the case.
Maybe Monday’s extremely pro-Bryan crowd made the moment feel bigger than it was meant to, but it truly felt like we were watching an Austin 3:16 moment.
Bray’s promo on SmackDown sounds promising. It’s clear that Vince McMahon has big WrestleMania plans for Bryan or Bray.
Expect to find out which one at The Royal Rumble.
And Also Orton vs. Cena
Fan response to the program between John Cena and Randy Orton hasn’t exactly been overwhelming, and it looks like even the WWE knows that their match isn’t much of an attraction for the Royal Rumble pay-per-view.
Orton and Cena are both absent from this week’s SmackDown.
Even if one or both men were on the card, they’d likely be stuck in the middle somewhere, as they have been on Raw for the past couple of weeks.
It’s really quite strange. CM Punk vs. The Shield and Daniel Bryan vs. The Wyatts both seem to have taken precedence over the WWE title.
Most shows in the last month have been closed by a segment involving either Bryan or Punk. It’s like the WWE knows that the feud between their two golden gooses isn’t all that interesting.
But remember fans, Cena and Orton are golden gooses for a reason. Even if their angle is uninspiring, don’t be shocked if they steal the show at the Rumble.
Follow Daniel on Twitter @dvanboom