The road to WrestleMania XXX encountered several potholes, twists and turns this past Monday night with the announcements of the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt and Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H, not to mention the stipulation stating that if Bryan is successful against the COO, he will be entered into the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match.
Add to those announcements the fact that The Shield is apparently reunited, stronger than ever and unafraid to confront Director of Operations Kane, and you have a WWE that's surging entering the biggest show of the year.
What would WWE have in store for fans as it taped Friday Night SmackDown inside the Verizon Arena in North Little Rock, Ark.?
Find out now, thanks to our friends over at WrestlingInc.com.
Verizon Arena in North Little Rock, Ark.
Michael Cole and John Bradshaw Layfield
- Sheamus defeated Heath Slater.
- Triple H announced that Daniel Bryan was not in the building and promised to end the Yes Movement. He called out Damien Sandow and berated him for his actions on Raw.
- Seth Rollins defeated Damien Sandow; The Shield delivered a triple powerbomb to Sandow.
- Big E defeated Fandango.
- Bad News Barrett claimed the Undertaker's streak will end at WrestleMania.
- Cody Rhodes and Goldust defeated The Real Americans; Cesaro and Swagger beat down Cody until The Usos could make the save.
- Bray Wyatt defeated Kofi Kingston.
- Kane ordered The Shield to be present at ringside during the main event. The trio responded by telling him they do not take orders from him but will be at ringside because it is best for business.
- Brie Bella defeated Tamina.
- Dolph Ziggler defeated Alberto Del Rio; in an interview with Renee Young, he vowed to have his WrestleMania moment by winning the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal.
- Carlos Colon was announced for the Hall of Fame.
- The Wyatt Family cut a promo regarding the match with John Cena.
- Alexander Rusev and Lana cut another promo.
- Big Show defeated Kane. After the match, Kane berated The Shield but ended up taking a spear from Reigns. The Shield stood tall to end the show.
The announcement of the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal means that 30 Superstars miss out on the opportunity to be involved in any real story heading into WrestleMania. It also means that Raw and SmackDown will feature several matches of little or no substance between the men that will compete in that massive Battle Royal.
Big E vs. Fandango, Dolph Ziggler vs. Alberto Del Rio and Sheamus vs. Heath Slater are just a few examples of said matches.
While the Battle Royal should be a nice attraction for WrestleMania, the idea that so few stories and rivalries will be present heading into the match could devalue it slightly.
The Hounds Bite Their Owner
The recent rivalry with the Wyatt Family resulted in The Shield receiving babyface reactions from the audience. Now, based on the interaction the group had with Kane on Monday and the events that went down on this week's SmackDown, an official face turn could be in the works.
Kane ordered The Shield to be at ringside for his match against Big Show. After he lost yet another match, he took out his frustrations on The Shield, blaming the trio for the defeat. He ended up suffering a spear from Roman Reigns and was laid out to close the show.
The booking of The Shield is interesting because, a month ago, all signs pointed to a three-way feud leading to a Triple Threat match at WrestleMania. Then the group reunited on last week's show and has been on a renewed roll as of late.
It looks as though the three members of The Shield will be involved in some sort of match against Kane come April 6, but who the Big Red Monster finds to team with remains unknown.
Perhaps Luke Harper and Erick Rowan could be of assistance to the Director of Operations.
Ziggler Rolls Through Del Rio
Over the past two weeks, Dolph Ziggler and Alberto Del Rio have been involved in a competitive little rivalry that has seen Ziggler score a win over the Mexican star and Del Rio return the favor by costing Dolph a match against Christian.
This week on SmackDown, the former world heavyweight champions brought their feud to an end when Ziggler scored a big win over his rival and picked up some much-needed momentum heading into WrestleMania.
Ziggler also entered himself into the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, which should feature a number of very talented midcard stars.
With so many other competitors involved, one has to wonder what chance Ziggler really stands given his lack of push over recent months. Regardless, the win over Del Rio was a welcomed one.
Bad Week to Be Sandow
During Monday night's Yes Movement takeover by Daniel Bryan and his fans, Damien Sandow refused to enter the ring for his match, drawing the scorn of Triple H and Stephanie McMahon.
Friday, he once again found himself on the wrong end of a tongue lashing from The Game.
He also was forced into a match with Seth Rollins of The Shield, which he lost, then suffered a triple powerbomb from the Hounds of Justice.
There is no Superstar who has suffered a fall from grace as rapidly as Damien Sandow. Last October, he wrestled a brilliant match with John Cena when he cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase and lost. Since then, he has been on the receiving end of a lengthy losing streak.
Perhaps this angle leads to a character overhaul for Sandow, who is a talented talker and a very solid worker. Most likely, it is the payoff for a one-off angle involving someone who cannot be any further damaged than he already has been this year.
Too Many Matches?
A look over the quick results from this week's show reveals an abundance of matches, which, for those who enjoy action-packed episodes of Raw or SmackDown, is a good thing.
Unfortunately, it also means that the matches themselves are likely too short to mean anything and that the angles surrounding them are elevated in importance.
With WrestleMania XXX rapidly approaching, putting that emphasis on angles and stories is not necessarily a bad thing.
What quality of matches fans are treated to remains the big question. Will the bouts be good enough to keep fans invested and tuned in? If not, will the angles be interesting enough for people to care?
With a main event of Big Show vs. Kane, the company better hope so. If not, the show's rating could be somewhat scary.