With a monumental showdown against Evolution at Extreme Rules looming, The Shield takes center stage on this week's SmackDown.
Again on the wrong end of a numbers game, they refuse to sit back and allow themselves to be beaten down and left for dead. They take the fight to their scheduled opponents until only a few are left to oppose them later in the evening.
Elsewhere on the show, Tamina Snuka continues to gain momentum as she heads into Extreme Rules to challenge Paige for the Divas Championship by taking on Total Divas' Natalya.
The war between The Real Americans culminates in a Great Debate between Paul Heyman and Zeb Colter, which is followed by a match between Cesaro and Jack Swagger.
With the company solidifying the card for Extreme Rules, this Friday's show continues to highlight some of the key stories and talent heading into that show. What goes down this week as WWE presents its Friday night staple on SyFy?
This writer was on hand for this week's tapings and has all of the news and results!
Giant Center in Hershey, Pa.
Michael Cole and JBL
- The show kicks off with Vickie Guerrero announcing an 11-on-3 handicap match main event pitting several midcard heels against The Shield. She then introduces a Great Debate between Paul Heyman and Zeb Colter. Colter made valid points, bringing up Heyman's history of lying and deceit, while the former ECW owner repeatedly reminded Colter, Swagger and the WWE Universe that his client, Brock Lesnar, ended the Undertaker's Streak. He then added that his other client, Cesaro, won the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. The segment ended with Heyman and Colter going at each other, but Swagger and Cesaro stepped in between them.
- Cesaro defeated Jack Swagger in a phenomenal match. Well worth watching Friday's show for.
- After the Cesaro-Swagger bout, The Shield hit the ring. Reigns delivered a huge Superman Punch to Swagger before Rollins and Ambrose joined in with a Triple Powerbomb. "It looks like Swagger failed to adapt," Ambrose stated. One down.
- Tamina defeated Natalya following a side kick. Not a pretty match, as the chemistry between the two appeared off. A nasty bump on the floor earlier may have adversely affected Natalya as well.
- Backstage, 3MB discussed being back in the main event. Unfortunately, they never made it to that show-closing match, as they were beaten down and taken out by The Shield. Four down.
- Vickie Guerrero was on the phone with Triple H. After revealing that The Shield was in the building but not necessarily listening to her, she was given the night off and replaced with Raw general manager Brad Maddox, who vowed to control The Shield with real authority.
- Curtis Axel defeated Jey Uso. Not a bad match, but the crowd had already seen both competitors earlier during the main event taping and was not as into or as hot for the match as it might have been otherwise.
- A steel cage lowered, and The Wyatt Family made its way to the ring. Bray was brilliant as he discussed Monday's Raw and how the fans threw Cena to the wolves in a 3-on-1 handicap match. He put over the cage match against Cena at Extreme Rules as the crowd sang along to "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands."
- Luke Harper and Erick Rowan defeated Goldust and Cody Rhodes in a hot tag match that further planted the seeds for dissension within the brotherhood and put the Wyatt Family over clean.
- Brad Maddox became the latest casualty of The Shield, who tossed him into a wall. Dean Ambrose then attacked in a moment that can best be described as the most comical of the night.
- Santino Marella and Emma vs. Fandango and Layla never got started. The Shield attacked Fandango on the stage and then delivered a Triple Powerbomb off the stage and through two tables. Easily the most over Rollins, Reigns and Ambrose were all night, with a "this is awesome" chant breaking out.
- The Shield defeated Titus O'Neil, Bad News Barrett, Alberto Del Rio, Damien Sandow, Ryback and Curtis Axel when Reigns pinned Sandow. Rather than suffer the wrath of Reigns, Del Rio and Barrett bailed out of the ring match but still found themselves on the receiving end of a beating. The Shield stood tall to close out the broadcast.
A Friday Night Game-Changer for The Shield
Fans can point to certain nights and say, without hesitation, "That changed things." The plan may be to split The Shield eventually, but given the reaction "The Hounds of Justice" received with every passing beatdown, it would be a major blunder to kill the momentum they have built for themselves over the last month.
Friday night's SmackDown unfolds similarly to Raw prior to the 1998 Royal Rumble, in which Steve Austin took out his fellow Superstars, most of whom were planning to collect a bounty on him. Rather than allowing them to get to him first, he took the fight to them, and that is exactly what happens Friday night. The crowd ate up every beatdown and treated the trio like the stars they are.
Excellent booking and a legitimate star-making evening for Reigns, Ambrose and Rollins.
The Real Americans Explode
The long-awaited match between Cesaro and Jack Swagger occurs Friday night, and the two talented ring workers deliver an exceptional wrestling bout. It is a hard-hitting affair that sees Swagger wear his former partner down, but the Swiss Superstar utilizes his uppercuts and Cesaro Swing to get himself back into the match. A Neutralizer finishes off Swagger and seemingly brings the program to an end, just over a week from an Extreme Rules show many assumed would host the culmination of their feud.
The physical altercation between Paul Heyman and Zeb Colter during the Great Debate was interesting. Could a tag match of sorts still unfold on May 4?