Monday night's Raw, which saw The Authority announce that Randy Orton will compete against all five of his Elimination Chamber opponents in singles competition in the coming weeks, has set the stage for a big main event on this week's SmackDown.
One of the great rivalries of 2011 will be revisited as The Viper takes on Christian in a match that should go a long way in determining just how much of a threat "Captain Charisma" is to the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
On the heels of Daniel Bryan's win over the aforementioned Orton and an attack at the hands of Kane, what will the goat-faced Superstar have on his mind as he kicks off the Friday night program? More importantly, what will Triple H, Stephanie McMahon and the Director of Operations have in store for him?
With Elimination Chamber right around the corner and big matches on the horizon, including The Shield versus the Wyatt Family, here is a look at everything that will go down this Friday night on SyFy, courtesy of our friends over at WrestlingInc.com.
Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa
Michael Cole and John Bradshaw Layfield
- Daniel Bryan cut an in-ring promo about Monday's Raw and called out Kane. A match between Bryan and Elimination Chamber opponent Antonio Cesaro was set up for later in the night.
- Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose defeated Dolph Ziggler and Kofi Kingston after Ambrose tagged himself in and pinned Ziggler. The Wyatt Family cut a promo on The Shield after the match.
- Sheamus defeated Ryback.
- Renee Young interviewed Alberto Del Rio.
- Daniel Bryan defeated Antonio Cesaro; Kane chokeslamed Bryan after the match.
- AJ Lee defeated Nikki Bella.
- Renee Young interviewed Titus O'Neil.
- Bray Wyatt defeated Goldust; The Shield cut a promo after the match.
- Randy Orton pinned Christian.
The Road to Elimination Chamber
When looking at the field for February 23's Elimination Chamber match for the WWE title, Christian and Antonio Cesaro are the two Superstars who immediately stand out as questionable additions to the bout.
This week on SmackDown, the WWE creative team has done nothing to change the minds of fans by having both competitors lose matches against more established opposition.
The Christian-Randy Orton match was destined to happen given the announcement made by The Authority on Monday night's Raw, so it was very likely the the Toronto native would fall in defeat at the hands of the WWE World Heavyweight champion.
Cesaro, however, could have been spared the defeat from Creative had it simply replaced him with someone such as Jack Swagger, his very own tag partner.
The writers did not and as a result, the two men who were weakest in terms of booking heading into the Chamber match in three weeks ended up suffering losses and looking even weaker on SmackDown.
Team Hell No Explodes!
Monday night on Raw, Kane interrupted the victory celebration of former tag team partner Daniel Bryan by beating him down and flattening him with a chokeslam.
Friday night's promo involving the former WWE Tag Team champions indicates that there is a great deal of unfinished business between the two, business that will ultimately lead to a match between the Director of Operations Kane and the most popular star in all of wrestling in Bryan.
The question is, where does that match take place?
Bryan is busy with the Chamber match on February 23, and the bout hardly seems big enough to occupy Bryan at the biggest show of the year, WrestleMania. That leaves it to be blown off on free television. While there is plenty of time to build the free television match, it is incredibly questionable to waste so much valuable air time for a match that will be seen on Raw instead of a pay-per-view.
There is a wealth of backstory for the company to build a match off of. Whether it ultimately means much or not is the question.
The match pitting Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose against Dolph Ziggler and Kofi Kingston not only sounds like a really fun one, but it accomplishes two things at once.
First, it gives The Shield a big win over two quality opponents as the faction prepares for a match against the Wyatt Family at Elimination Chamber. Second, it teased tension between Reigns and Ambrose, further proving that The Shield continues to show cracks.
Ambrose is so cocky, confident and arrogant that his constant need to tell people how good he is has done a lot to create those very cracks. Given the way that fans continue to react to Reigns, the eventful breakup of the group should do much to make the Samoan a big star for WWE.
Both The Shield and the Wyatt Family continued to build to their match on February 23 with promo work rather than physical competition, a unique booking decision that ensures that, by the time they meet at Elimination Chamber, it will be with the full anticipation of a hot crowd.