The Good, the Great and the Awesome from SmackDown 4/18/14
Just four days after Evolution reformed to beat down The Shield, Triple H made his return to SmackDown and addressed the Hounds of Justice.
His Evolution teammate Batista backed up The Game's words in the main event as he knocked off Sheamus and picked up a much-needed victory.
Divas champion Paige continued her roll by defeating Aksana, Fandango and Layla's partnership experienced its first speed bump as Santino Marella defeated the ballroom dancer in the latest chapter of their never-ending story, and Alexander Rusev demolished R-Truth and Xavier Woods to continue his tear through the WWE roster.
With most of the roster in Saudi Arabia for a major international tour, the star power was minimal, but the show was still an entertaining one that dealt fans a major piece of news in the form of The Shield vs. Evolution match at Extreme Rules.
With the table set for a huge six-man tag team main event at the May 4 pay-per-view, here is a look back at the very best of the April 18 episode of SmackDown.
R-Truth vs. Alexander Rusev
OK, so there really was nothing inherently good about the match, but the booking of Rusev certainly was. The Bulgarian Brute continues to tear through the competition and establish himself as a dominant force within WWE.
Not only did he mow down former United States champion R-Truth, but he also beat up Xavier Woods for the second time this week, proving that some things do not change between NXT and the main roster.
Rusev's athleticism is stunning, but the booking, to this point, has been highly protective of him. Eventually, the WWE will have to expose him to longer matches, and when that happens, it will be interesting to see how he responds.
Will he thrive with a talented opponent in a longer, more traditional match, or will he falter and create questions within management?
Hopefully we find out sooner rather than later.
Big E vs. Alberto Del Rio
Another week, another match where Big E is not allowed to beat Alberto Del Rio, winning by disqualification on this occasion.
This was a very competitive match that had the audience on its feet toward the end. Unfortunately, the cop-out finish kept it from the "Awesome" section of this week's article and also ruined all of the work that came before it.
The intercontinental champion has grown exponentially as a worker and has exhibited great chemistry with Del Rio, but as long as he continues to lose or split decisions with Superstars higher than him on the food chain, he will continue to be perceived as nothing more than a second-tier star.
This could lead to a match between Big E and Del Rio at Extreme Rules, but if that is the case, one has to wonder what the purpose of the No. 1 contender's tournament was when Del Rio lost in the first round but has been programmed with the champion anyway.
Did you know his client Brock Lesnar ended The Undertaker's streak at WrestleMania 30?
You do now.
Sheamus vs. Batista
For the first time since beating Alberto Del Rio back at Elimination Chamber in February, Batista scored a legitimate victory over a legitimate main event talent, defeating Sheamus in the headliner of this week's broadcast.
"The Animal" had been presented as a star but went a long time without a win and needed to remind fans that between the ropes, he is one of the best of the last decade. He got that win against Sheamus, who is a former world heavyweight champion and has largely been protected by WWE booking for the better part of two years.
Sheamus loses nothing in defeat, especially considering who gave it to him, and Batista gets back on track and picks up a little momentum following Evolution's reunion this past Monday night.
Paige vs. Aksana
Anyone who expected Aksana to be in one of the best matches on this week's SmackDown should give themselves a pat on the back because Friday night, she and Paige wrestled a very good Divas match.
The Lithuanian beauty utilized her power advantage, which she gained through years of bodybuilding, wearing down the smaller Brit and working over her lower back. Paige fought back, showing great intensity in doing so, and scored the win with her Scorpion Cross Lock submission finish.
This very competitive match showed off skills from Aksana that few knew she had and continued Paige's successful (to this point) main roster stint.
Triple H Promo
While Daniel Bryan, the Wyatt Family and The Shield have garnered a ton of press and have been among the most talked-about stars in the industry to this point in 2014, there may be no more valuable member of the roster than Triple H.
The King of Kings has been at the top of his game, both in-ring and on the mic, and Friday was no exception. He spoke about creating The Shield and giving them the opportunity to come back to him, crawling and begging for forgiveness. But they did not, so now he must destroy them.
He spoke specifically about Roman Reigns, adding fuel to the fire that the two of them will meet somewhere down the road.
It was a phenomenal promo by a master of the art form and one that will only add to the anticipation for The Shield vs. Evolution at Extreme Rules.