The Good, the Great and the Awesome from SmackDown (3/7/14)
With the road to WrestleMania under way, Friday Night SmackDown featured a huge tag team main event pitting Daniel Bryan and the Big Show against Kane and Batista.
Frustrated and angry following Monday's Raw, Bryan was undoubtedly looking for a chance to gain a measure of revenge against The Animal, who delivered a Batista Bomb that set him up for a Pedigree from Triple H.
With the Big Red Monster also gunning for Bryan following a disappointing loss on Main Event, would Bryan be able to escape SmackDown in one piece?
Speaking of one piece, how would The Shield respond to Seth Rollins' walkout during the giant six-man tag team match against The Wyatt Family on Raw?
Meeting inside the ring for what was dubbed the Shield Summit, the future of the trio was up in the air. Seth Rollins had some explaining to do. Whether Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose were willing to listen would determine whether the once-strong unit would remain intact or if the breakout stars would go their separate ways.
What else went down Friday night and, more importantly, what was good, great and awesome about the show?
Find out after the jump.
The Usos vs. Ryback and Curtis Axel
The new WWE tag team champions competed in tag team action on SmackDown, taking on the tandem of Ryback and Axel in a non-title match.
The bout was relatively short but showcased the new titleholders in impressive fashion.
Ryback eating a superkick, followed by the top-rope splash and the pinfall was somewhat of a surprise given his stature on the roster in relation to his partner Axel. With that said, it means more for The Usos to pin a former No. 1 contender to the WWE title than someone like Axel, whose ceiling as a performer is seemingly more limited thanks to questionable booking.
The Usos are rolling heading into WrestleMania XXX, and with a showdown against the New Age Outlaws possibly on the horizon, strong wins like this one will go a long way in cementing the champions as the best team in wrestling.
Daniel Bryan and Big Show vs. Kane and Batista
The night's main event featured Bryan and three of WWE's greatest and most popular big men.
Batista and Kane were looking for a measure of revenge against Bryan for losses they suffered earlier this week. Big Show was returning to action for the first time since being the recipient of a massive, violent beatdown at the hands of Brock Lesnar at the Royal Rumble.
The match exceeded expectations given the participants and once again proved that the company has mastered the art of the tag team main event.
Bryan brought his explosive offense to the bout, while the other Superstars carried their own.
Big Show delivering the knockout punch to Kane, allowing Bryan to score the pinfall win, did nothing to take away from the more interesting and blossoming rivalry between Bryan and Batista.
An entertaining way to cap off a very solid episode of SmackDown.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Christian
The opening match of the evening featured WWE's resident Showoff, Dolph Ziggler, taking on Christian in singles competition. Alberto Del Rio, whom Ziggler defeated with the assistance of Breaking Bad and Need For Speed star Aaron Paul, was on commentary for the bout and would play a major role in the conclusion of the match.
Ziggler and Christian delivered a very solid, if not somewhat lackluster, match that played to both of their strengths. Unfortunately, it was marred by interference, as Del Rio stood on top of the commentary table (as Paul had Monday night) and provided a distraction that allowed Christian to deliver the Killswitch and pick up the win.
Del Rio and Ziggler have outstanding in-ring chemistry with one another, which was on display on several occasions in 2013, and a program between the two heading into WrestleMania would make for a very entertaining undercard bout on the show.
For fans to really invest or care about the feud, however, the creative team absolutely must do a better job of protecting the talent and allow them to pick up wins heading into the show.
Otherwise, it will be a tall task for the company to ask fans to get up for a match between two guys riding losing streaks into the biggest show of the year.
As for Christian, he continues to enjoy a run that has him more relevant than he has been in two years. His feud with Sheamus, whom we will get to in a moment, should provide Captain Charisma with the most high-profile singles WrestleMania match he has had since 2004.
Sheamus vs. Alberto Del Rio
Four days after a vicious backstage assault at the hands of Christian, the "Celtic Warrior" Sheamus returned to the ring for a showdown with former rival Alberto Del Rio.
The competitors have tremendous chemistry with one another, the result of working together as much as they did in 2012, and again provided fans with an entertaining bout on SmackDown.
Del Rio, as he typically does, worked over the arm of his opponent in hopes of applying the cross armbreaker. Sheamus fought back and eventually scored the Brogue Kick for the pinfall victory.
It can be argued, and rightfully so, that Del Rio needed the win much more than his opponent. If he and Ziggler are to feud heading into WrestleMania, they both need to amass some momentum, and a win for Del Rio over someone with the star power of Sheamus would have done wonders.
That Sheamus had a built-in excuse in the arm lacerations he suffered at the hands of Christian on Raw would have made it so that the Celtic Warrior lost nothing in defeat.
On the flip side of that argument is that Sheamus vs. Christian is a more relevant midcard 'Mania match than Del Rio vs. Ziggler would be, and as a result, the focus should be shifted in that direction.
Bray Wyatt promo
Bray Wyatt is, hands down, the best promo man in WWE right now.
Whether or not the promos are heavily scripted or not, the conviction with which Wyatt delivers them makes him one of the best characters to enter World Wrestling Entertainment in years. He is completely believable in the role he is in, and it is not a stretch for fans to have a difficult time separating performer from persona.
"I don't want to save John Cena; there's nothing left to fix. I just want to stand back and watch as it all burns down!" is a money line that will only help to sell the match with Cena as the real main event of WrestleMania.
Whether Cena can rise to the level of verbal performance that Wyatt is delivering on a weekly basis remains to be seen.
The Shield Summit
After Seth Rollins walked out on tag team partners Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns during Monday's six-man tag team match against The Wyatt Family, fans wondered what the future held for the once-dominant trio.
Ambrose and Reigns made their way to the squared circle, and it only took a few moments until the United States champion called out Rollins.
Ambrose and Rollins aired their grievances, then shoved one another before the trio decided to stay united, a decision that will allow them to remain strong and continue dominating the landscape of WWE.
While it would appear as though the unit is refocused and prepared to move onto bigger and better things, the fact that Reigns remained quiet and barely interjected himself in the quarrel between Rollins and Ambrose was interesting.
Where WWE takes The Shield from here should be very interesting to watch. Have Rollins' actions strengthened the group, or did the public airing of grievances simply put a Band-Aid on a much larger fracture?
Batista's skinny jeans
While the night's opening promo was disjointed and pedestrian, it is about time that someone pointed out the ridiculousness of Batista's obsession with skinny jeans.
Thank you, Daniel Bryan.