The Good, the Great and the Awesome from SmackDown (3/14/14)
Little Rock, Ark. was the site for this week's SmackDown, a show that will be remembered for the continued restrengthening of The Shield.
Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns are reunited and stronger than ever, and both Damien Sandow and Kane found that out the hard way, as they were left lying at the feet of the Hounds of Justice.
Speaking of Kane, the Big Red Director of Operations went one-on-one with the Big Show in the evening's main event. After being knocked out by the giant on last week's show and losing a tag match as a result, would Kane be able to right the wrong and get back to his winning ways, or would the World's Largest Athlete add to his former tag team partner's frustration?
Dolph Ziggler took on Alberto Del Rio in match three of their mini-rivalry, Tamina attempted to slow down the surging Nikki Bella and Bray Wyatt took to the ring for a match with former Intercontinental, United States and Tag Team champion Kofi Kingston.
As is the case most weeks, wrestling dominated the program and made for some good, great and awesome television.
What hit biggest?
Let's find out.
Big E shines
The Intercontinental champion has had a very up-and-down start to 2014, and Friday night, for the first time all year, he was put over very strongly as the dominant force he has the potential to be.
It unfortunately came at the expense of Fandango, whose descent after last year's WrestleMania is rather alarming, but it put Big E over as a legitimate threat to win the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal and helped him pick up some of that momentum he lost at the turn of the calendar.
Nikki Bella vs. Tamina
The injury to Naomi prior to Elimination Chamber clearly put a wrinkle in WWE's plans as far as the next challenger to AJ Lee's Divas Championship goes, resulting in several Divas vying for the No. 1 contender's spot in recent weeks.
One of those Divas, Nikki Bella, has separated herself from the pack thanks to impressive victories in both singles and tag team competition.
Friday night, she defeated the champion's bodyguard, Tamina.
With Total Divas Season 2 debuting this weekend, it is not hard to see why Nikki would be put in the spotlight and given a push toward the title. As one of the stars of the show, it makes sense that the company would want to position her around the title, and that is exactly what is happening.
Whether she wins the title or not remains to be seen, but the company is doing a very good job of portraying her as a threat to AJ's dominant title reign.
Triple H and a bad night for Sandow
Triple H has and always will earn his fair share of criticism, and, most of the time, it is 100 percent warranted. What he does not always receive is credit when he deserves it, and that is the case coming out of both Raw and SmackDown this week.
After saving a forced, overly long Occupy Raw segment this past Monday night (at least in this writer's opinion) with strong dialogue and performance, Triple H followed it up with a great promo to kick off SmackDown.
The Game equated Daniel Bryan and the Yes Movement to a glimmer of hope for the WWE Universe and that come WrestleMania, he will not only ensure that Bryan does not have a fairy tale ending but he will snuff out that hope and return the fans to reality.
It was a great promo from The Game, who appears much more motivated for this year's WrestleMania program than he was for 2013's Brock Lesnar feud.
The COO followed up his words for Bryan by calling out Damien Sandow and running him down for the cowardice and blatant disrespect he showed him and his wife, Stephanie, by refusing to go to the ring for his scheduled match, thus dragging out the Occupy Raw segment.
A one-on-one match with The Shield's Seth Rollins.
Sandow was beaten easily by Rollins, who completely overwhelmed the Intellectual Savior of WWE.
The whole opening segment made sense, and the work from Triple H was far above average as he prepares for one of the bigger, more meaningful matches on the WrestleMania XXX card.
Cody Rhodes and Goldust vs. The Real Americans
While Friday's match may not have been one of their best, the chemistry between these two teams is off the charts, meaning that what would be a pedestrian match for other Superstars still manages to be above-average work for Goldust, Rhodes, Cesaro and Jack Swagger.
A solid match that, given the interference from The Usos afterwards, may lead to a big triple threat or Fatal 4-Way match come WrestleMania.
Two weeks ago, The Shield appeared to be on the brink of implosion. Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns were getting along about as well as two jealous schoolgirls. Seth Rollins was tasked with playing mediator, and the their win-loss record was suffering because of it.
After a summit that saw them air their grievances, however, the group has rebounded and appears stronger than ever following Friday night's show.
First, Rollins dispatched of Damien Sandow, then the group executed the first triple powerbomb in months.
Later in the show, the three members stood up to Director of Operations Kane again and vowed only to accompany him to the ring for his match against Big Show because it was "best for business."
They refused his orders to get involved, instead watching as he was planted with a chokeslam and defeated by the World's Largest Athlete. As they attempted to leave, Kane grabbed hold of Rollins but was taken down by Reigns, who delivered a hellish spear.
The Hounds stood tall in the center of the ring as the evening's broadcast faded to black, leaving questions about their alliance with The Authority and if they may be turning babyface or not.
The Shield is more over now than it has ever been, and it should be very interesting to see what course the company takes with the trio as WrestleMania rapidly approaches.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Alberto Del Rio
The match may have been far from awesome, but seeing Dolph Ziggler pick up a strong win without the assistance of an actor, then be given interview time after the match, was a nice change of pace for one of the most talented stars on the roster.
His involvement in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal may not net him a win, but it will give him a much-deserved spot on the show.
Bray Wyatt promo
There will come a day when the "Awesome" section of this article is permanently renamed the "Bray Wyatt Promo" section.
The third-generation star continues to be the best mic man in wrestling, as evidenced by another exemplary promo on Friday night.
His convincing win over Kofi Kingston earlier in the night, including the facial expressions he incorporated during it, only helped accentuate another great night for the Reaper of Souls.