Every week here on Bleacher Report, I 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. I also provide some predictions on the direction of storylines.
This was a great week for SmackDown, and most of the credit for that goes to the participants in four specific matches.
WWE has been working hard to make Elimination Chamber seem like a pay-per-view worth buying as well as to make up for recent talent losses and injuries.
Several storylines were advanced during the show, and a new storyline was started that will see Jack Swagger challenge Big E for the intercontinental title at the PPV.
Let's get right into the action with the opening bout featuring The Shield taking on Sheamus, Christian and Daniel Bryan.
SmackDown started off strong with a big six-man tag match featuring three former world champions vs. three possible future world champions.
Everyone got a chance to shine for a little bit in this match, and The Shield showed absolutely no signs of their recent problems with one another.
The action was great, the ending was well-executed and we got a little JBL chant from the crowd. This match had a little bit of everything.
Some notes from the match:
- Christian really needs some new attire. The stuff he has been wearing for the last decade is boring.
- I know commenting on someone's attire might seem stupid, but some flashier gear could make Christian feel a bit fresher. He just returned after being gone for a long time, and I am already getting bored of his routine.
- I like that The Shield got a pretty clean win with no animosity. It makes them look strong heading into the Chamber PPV.
Zeb Colter was shown backstage asking Vickie Guerrero for an IC title shot for Jack Swagger. Vickie put together a Fatal 4-Way match to see who the No. 1 contender for Big E's title would be.
She put Swagger against Rey Mysterio, Kofi Kingston and Mark Henry. Colter was not pleased, but he took the opportunity anyway.
This was pretty standard stuff, but it was interesting to see Byron Saxton interview Cesaro right after the commercial break without Colter or Swagger by his side.
It was interesting that Cesaro ended the interview by making a comment about being exciting after winning the WWE World Championship. It's almost as if he was addressing the criticism he has received for being bland on the mic.
Some notes from the segments:
- The grade is combined for both segments, FYI.
- I don't like that WWE took away Cesaro's first name. It seems like a weird move after he has been on the roster for as long as he has.
- They even stuck some black tape over the name on Cesaro's jacket because it said Toni.
SmackDown went two for two with good matches with this Fatal 4-Way match.
Swagger, Mysterio, Kingston and Henry all contributed to a very fun bout to watch.
The two high-fliers made sure there were plenty of exciting spots, and the two powerhouses hit a couple of big moves to pop the crowd, but it was Swagger who really shined bright.
Swagger picked up a decisive win with an Ankle Lock submission on Kofi, but his most impressive move was a double German suplex to Kofi and Rey at the same time.
These four men really put on a good show in this match, and it really allowed Swagger to stand on his own without Cesaro.
Some notes from the match:
- Taking away Big E's last name makes just as little sense as taking away Cesaro's first name.
- I got so excited at the possibility of Henry doing some kind of dive through or over the ropes that I was actually on the edge of my seat.
- This match made me realize how awesome a feud between Kofi and Rey would be. We have never had a chance to see them really mix it up, and they could have a classic spot-fest like nobody else.
- The double German suplex was my favorite spot in this match.
The first half of this match kept a pretty steady pace, but nothing really exciting happened. It was after the commercial break when business began to pick up.
The babyfaces provided some very exciting spots, but Jey Uso's dive over the corner ring post to the outside was the most impressive of them all.
The Usos and The Brotherhood picked up the win after Jimmy hit The Superfly Splash on Road Dogg to pick up the pin.
This match was given enough time to let everyone get in some ring time without making things feel rushed, and that is a big part of what made this a good bout.
Some notes from the match:
- I love how Billy did the classic "Stagger and fall on your face" routine. Ric Flair used it in just about every match he ever wrestled.
- Cody is a beast. His knee is still wrapped up, and he's running up the ropes and diving to the floor onto his opponents like it's nothing.
- NAO are the definition of tweeners. They get babyface reactions while acting like heels and teaming with other heels while still doing their signature intro regularly to get the crowd pumped up.
- Goldust landed right on two crewmen when he dove off the apron onto Ryback.
This was a short bout that saw Darren Young pick up the win. Titus O'Neil was on commentary for the match, but after the bell had rung, he attacked Young from behind.
The match itself was nothing special, but seeing this feud between Young and O'Neil being given a good amount of screen time makes me hopeful for a decent outcome.
Far too many tag teams have broken up too early only to see one or both men fade into irrelevancy. Both Young and O'Neil have the talent to be successful on their own, and putting on a feud with each other is where they get to prove it.
This match also reminded us just how far Sandow has fallen. He went from having a mic in his hand every single night to having his entrance cut out of the televised show. Who did he piss off to fall so far?
The only reason there is a plus on the grade is because I like where the Young vs. O'Neil feud is going.
Miz and Fandango were actually having a decent match before Santino and Emma came out and ruined it.
Miz ended up getting the win after Santino hit Fandango with the Cobra while the ref was looking the other way. The only interesting thing that happened was the fight between Emma and Summer Rae.
I am a big fan of Summer Rae for a few reasons. She is so animated and emotional in her performances that you can't help but be drawn to her.
Joining the cast of Total Divas is a big step for her, and it's possible we could see her start having her own matches in the near future.
The fact that this was a really great match is not the most important thing here. The most important thing is that Cesaro defeated WWE World champion Randy Orton clean in the middle of the ring.
This might not mean Cesaro will win the title in the Elimination Chamber, but this win certainly makes Cesaro look a lot stronger.
Colter had absolutely no involvement in the match other than moral support, and when Cesaro won, you could clearly see the crowd was behind him.
The match itself was really fun to watch. Both guys hit all their signature moves, and Cesaro found about six different ways to hit Orton with the nastiest uppercut in wrestling.
The only thing missing was a "This is Awesome" chant from the crowd.
Some notes from the match:
- Colter had a big night. It's too bad neither one of his boys are likely to walk out of EC with a title.
- It was cool to hear Cole and JBL make such a big deal out of Cesaro winning.
This was an above-average SmackDown thanks to four great matches and a lot of storyline progression.
The big story coming out of SmackDown will be Cesaro's win over Orton. This is the biggest win Cesaro has had since debuting in WWE, and hopefully it will lead to the former U.S. champion being booked better than he was during his singles run.
Another storyline getting some real attention is The Usos and The New Age Outlaws. The Usos picked up a win over the tag team champions in an eight-man tag bout, and we will most likely see a title match at Elimination Chamber between these two teams.
This show was way more about wrestling than the average show, and that led to some great action.
- The final three men in the Chamber will be Orton, Bryan and Cesaro.
- Sheamus will defeat Orton on Monday, making Christian the only person to lose to Orton out of the five challengers.
- Alexander Rusev will debut against a jobber instead of someone who can actually make him look good by putting him over.
- Scott Hall will go into the Hall of Fame this year, but he might end up going in with Kevin Nash as a team. Nash's Rumble appearance makes me think WWE might actually put him in this year.
- Lita will have at least one appearance prior to or following the Hall of Fame.
- Trish Stratus or Edge will be the one to induct Lita.
- Either DDP or will induct Jake Roberts into the Hall of Fame.
What did you like about SmackDown, and what do you think will happen on Raw?
Thanks for reading, and follow me on Twitter @BR_Doctor.