The Good, the Great and the Awesome from SmackDown 4/5/14
Two days out from WrestleMania 30, WWE presented a SmackDown light on action and heavy on final hype for Sunday's most anticipated matches.
The immortal Hulk Hogan made his return to the Friday night program for the first time in 11 years, put over the importance of the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal and shared some personal stories from his greatest WrestleMania moments.
Speaking of the Andre Memorial, Dolph Ziggler and Titus O'Neil attempted to pick up one last victory and a little momentum heading into Sunday's event as they enter singles competition. Would the former Florida Gator put a halt to his recent downward spiral or would Ziggler continue his winning ways and further cement himself as one of the stars to watch come WrestleMania?
With the Fatal 4-Way match for the WWE Tag Team Championship kicking off Sunday's festivities, two of the teams involved did battle as The Real Americans took on Los Matadores.
While content was limited, WWE presented one final bit of hype for their biggest show of the year.
What was good, great or awesome about Friday night's program?
Take a look.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Titus O'Neil
WWE's resident Show Off is heading into WrestleMania 30 riding a wave of momentum thanks to a series of wins over the last month, the latest coming Friday night when he defeated former Prime Time Player Titus O'Neil.
The match was fairly standard and really served only as a showcase for Ziggler, who is one of the dark-horse favorites to leave New Orleans with the Andre the Giant trophy. If that is the case, it will be the culmination of an improbable return to glory for the former World Heavyweight champion.
The last eight months have been anything but kind to Dolph Ziggler. He underwent an unpleasant losing streak and fell into the deep, dark abyss known as the WWE midcard. As the calendar turned over, he was largely irrelevant, and at one point looked like he may not even make the WrestleMania card.
Since the Battle Royal was announced, however, Ziggler has picked up several victories, including a few impressive ones against former world champion Alberto Del Rio.
A victory at WrestleMania would mean that Ziggler has done his penance for whatever it was he caught heat for in the first place and is now back on the road to championship and main event glory.
Something that his faithful fans, this writer included, have waited a long time for.
Los Matadores vs. The Real Americans
The tag teams were in action Friday night on SmackDown as Los Matadores and The Real Americans tried to pick up a win heading into Sunday's tag title match.
The match was a rather lengthy one, running just over 13 minutes, and served as a solid showcase for both teams. Los Matadores looked strong, which has not been the case recently, and Cesaro and Swagger brought the great, something they have become accustomed to doing over the last eight months.
The team with the most momentum heading into Sunday's pre-show title bout won here, as The Real Americans picked up the victory following the Cesaro Swing and the Neutralizer on Fernando.
Both Cesaro and Swagger deserve a spot on the main card, as do the tag champions The Usos. Unfortunately, WrestleMania is the one show every year where pomp and circumstance are as important as the actual in-ring content, and as a result, there is only so much room for matches.
Still, do not be surprised if the hard-working teams do everything in their power to steal the show Sunday night before the main portion of the event even starts.
Final Hype for WrestleMania
WWE has had one of the best production staffs in either sports or entertainment for a long time, and the video packages they have put together for Sunday's headline matches only further serve as proof.
The Undertaker-Brock Lesnar and John Cena-Bray Wyatt promos, in particular, were phenomenal and really highlight the importance of both matches. The sit-down with Batista and Randy Orton had an NFL feel to them and add legitimacy to the product.
There are few companies who can go into hype mode as well as WWE can, and having excellent production pieces at their disposal, as they do, only helps sell the show to those who may be waffling on whether or not to subscribe to the WWE Network or to order the broadcast on pay-per-view.
The Hulkster Returns to SmackDown
Any time Hulk Hogan appears on Raw or SmackDown, it is a special occasion.
Friday night, he provided some final hype for the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal and really put over how important it is to hand the trophy to the winner of the match.
He also spoke about his personal memories from WrestleManias of old. He talked about facing The Rock at WrestleMania X8, but really focused on the epic encounter with Andre from WrestleMania III. It was great to hear him speak so candidly about the match, about his friend and why Sunday's match bearing his name means so much.
A great final pitch for WrestleMania from the "Babe Ruth" of WWE.