The Good, the Great and the Awesome from SmackDown 2/28/14
The first SmackDown on the road to WrestleMania hit the airwaves from Milwaukee and featured the return of Batista to the brand he helped lead throughout the second half of the 2000s.
The Animal had a lot to get off his chest Friday night in regard to the fans and the industry he loves so much. What did he have to say, and who, if anyone, took exception to his rant?
After scoring a win over Kane on Monday night, Daniel Bryan rode a wave of momentum into this week's show. He would once again be faced with squaring off against the Big Red Monster, this time in six-man tag team action. Would he and The Usos find the same success as he did Monday night, as they battled Kane and the New Age Outlaws, or would the Authority's director of operations gain a measure of revenge?
The Real Americans, Big E, Mark Henry, Sheamus and WWE Divas champion AJ Lee were all in action elsewhere on the card.
Who would make a major impact as WrestleMania XXX rapidly approaches?
All of the answers to those questions would be presented on Friday's show.
What would be good, great and awesome about this week's broadcast?
That answer can be found after the jump.
Mark Henry and Big E vs. The Real Americans
The night's opening contest pitted intercontinental champion Big E and Mark Henry against Jack Swagger and Cesaro, the Real Americans.
Rather than playing up the feud between the heels and Big E, the match focused on the growing tension between Swagger and Cesaro. Each tagged themselves into the match just as it looked like their partners had things in control.
In Cesaro's case, it worked to his advantage. He entered the match, hoisted Henry in the Neutralizer and scored the pinfall victory.
The match was good enough, but the teased tension felt very pedestrian, at best. With two guys as talented as Swagger and Cesaro, hopefully the creative team does a better job of getting fans to care about their impending split and resulting match.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Batista
For what it was, the Ziggler-Batista match worked and deserves recognition in the "good" section of this week's article. After all, it followed up on Batista's promise to take apart the fans' heroes, and it did so in a matter where Ziggler put up a fight and lost nothing (else) in defeat.
With that said, Batista still has yet to knock the ring rust off, and even a match against someone as talented as Ziggler did not work.
If Batista rolls into WrestleMania performing at the level that he has thus far in his comeback, the crowd reaction to the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match between he and Randy Orton may be the most interesting aspect of the match.
Sheamus vs. Alberto Del Rio
Sheamus and Del Rio are two Superstars who, regardless of how badly creative has let them down as of late, always give 100 percent in the ring. Friday's match, which rekindled a rivalry that dominated SmackDown in 2012, was a prime example of that.
Del Rio did an excellent job of targeting the injured ribs of Sheamus, while the Celtic Warrior showed great intensity late in the bout.
The involvement of Christian helped play up his program with the Irishman, which appears to be the direction the company is heading in with those two ring veterans.
Del Rio controlled the majority of the match, but coming out of it, he appears to be the Superstar without a clear road to the Showcase of the Immortals.
Batista speaks his mind, and Dolph stands up for himself
The Animal kicked off this week's show and wasted little time expressing his frustration with the business he returned to after a four-year hiatus.
As he was back in 2010, Batista hit his stride as a heel, cutting a convincing promo and coming across as a bitter veteran Superstar who is not comfortable or pleased with the direction the industry is headed. He lashed out against the fans who turned on him back at the Royal Rumble and have been completely against him ever since.
He promised to systematically destroy the fans' heroes, which brought out Ziggler.
Ziggler made it clear that he wanted a match against Batista, and he got what he asked for, especially after landing a dropkick that infuriated the former World and WWE champion.
It was a great opening segment that established Batista as a heel and gave Ziggler an opportunity to shine in the spotlight, something that has been few and far between for WWE's resident Show Off.
The Shield vs. The Wyatt Family, take two
The Wyatt Family entered Milwaukee with one goal in mind: Send a message to John Cena.
Bray Wyatt did just that, cutting a promo about heroes and how fans are misguided in their worship of them. He discussed how those same people cast him out as a villain and how, at WrestleMania, he will convince Cena to quit living a lie.
The Shield made their way to the ring, and a war appeared poised to breakout. This brought out Triple H, who announced that the match will take place on Raw, allowing him the opportunity to promote the match and make money and ratings off of it.
Given how great the original match from Elimination Chamber was, the fans in Chicago should be in for a treat.
Daniel Bryan and The Usos vs. Kane and The New Age Outlaws
In case you have not been watching, WWE really likes its six-man tag team matches. It has developed a great formula for those matches over the last year and uses them as a way to kill time on the television shows.
That was the case again on this week's SmackDown, as the company took two of its midcard feuds, combined them and delivered a quality main event.
As one could imagine, the introduction of Bryan late in the match brought a ton of energy to the bout. His running knee to Billy Gunn spelled the end for the heel team and led to a joyous celebration of "YES!" chants to close out the broadcast.
Was the match special? Not particularly. Will anyone remember it a week from now? No. But that does not mean that it was not a perfect way to cap off another edition of SmackDown.
Thumbs up all around.