The Good, the Great and the Awesome from SmackDown 4/25/14
If Triple H, Batista and Randy Orton think reuniting as Evolution will be enough for them to overcome The Shield at Extreme Rules on May 4, they have another thing coming based on what unfolded Friday night during SmackDown.
After Vickie Guerrero informed both live and television audiences that Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins would be taking on 11 other Superstars in a Handicap match main event, the Hounds of Justice set out to introduce a little anarchy to the evening's festivities.
Attacking wrestlers and authority figures alike, The Shield had what may go down in history as the game-changing night of their young careers.
Elsewhere on the show, Cesaro and Jack Swagger wrote the latest chapter of their rivalry as they met one-on-one in the night's opening contest.
What effect would managers Paul Heyman and Zeb Colter have on the match? More importantly, would they be able to keep their hands off each other after nearly inciting a brawl among themselves earlier in the show?
No. 1 contender to the Divas title Tamina took on Natalya, and Jey Uso met Curtis Axel to round out the night's in-ring action.
With just over a week until Extreme Rules, relive the best of the best from the April 25 episode of SmackDown right now!
Natalya vs. Tamina
The match between second- and third-generation Divas Tamina and Natalya may not have been the prettiest to watch, but it did exactly what it set out to do—put the former over prior to her match against Divas champion Paige at Extreme Rules.
Outside of the Norwich, England native, Natalya is one of the few Divas who have the fans' respect as a legitimate wrestler. Though she may not always find herself on the winning end of things and her character is about as bland as drying paint, it still means something to beat the accomplished in-ring competitor.
Tamina has benefited from AJ Lee's decision to take time off. While Tamina may not have been the original choice for the title shot on May 4, she can earn a push if she performs well and has a good match with the champion. She will have to be much better than she was this week on SmackDown, but the opportunity is there for the taking nonetheless.
Jey Uso vs. Curtis Axel
In recent weeks, Ryback and Curtis Axel have enjoyed a push toward the WWE Tag Team Championships, which are held by the Usos. This past Tuesday on Main Event, Ryback knocked off Jimmy Uso in singles competition, and Friday night on SmackDown, Axel scored a decisive victory over Jey as the new No. 1 contenders continue to mount momentum heading into their tag title opportunity.
Ryback and Axel were left for dead at the beginning of the year, serving as the punching bags for the rest of the tag division. They lost more than they won, but they overcame their booking to now find themselves in the hunt for the top prize in tag team wrestling.
After SmackDown went off the air, WWE's texting service revealed that the title match will happen this Monday night on Raw—a curious decision considering many thought it would take place at Extreme Rules.
Goldust and Cody Rhodes vs. The Wyatt Family
One can put a mask on any situation to try to make it appear better than it is. They can put on smiles and take pictures and try to look happy, but people can see right through it. That is the case with the Rhodes Brothers, who, as fans witnessed Monday night and again Friday, are clearly not on the same page.
The former tag team champions were faced with the task of defeating Erick Rowan and Luke Harper, which is never an easy task—especially when your team is falling apart.
Still, Rhodes and Goldust put up a valiant effort, but another miscommunication on their part led to their downfall as Harper delivered the Discus Clothesline for the win.
The creative team's decision to split Rhodes and Goldust now rather than prior to WrestleMania, where they could have had an excellent match to further enhance that already excellent card, is questionable, but it seems like the end is near for the formidable duo.
The Great Debate
You know WWE's creative team is on fire when it even manages to book a debate flawlessly.
The brilliance in the segment came from the fact that one man told the truth throughout, while the other used a past accomplishment to try and downplay what his rival was saying.
Zeb Colter told the truth, relayed facts and warned Cesaro about Paul Heyman's long history of telling lies. "He would rather climb a tree and tell a lie than stand on the ground and tell the truth," he told the Swiss Superstar in regard to Heyman.
The former ECW owner shot back at Colter with the one phrase that fans have been hearing nonstop since April 7. "My client, Brock Lesnar, conquered the Streak," he announced repeatedly, never once giving any legitimate answer to counter any of Colter's valid points.
His knock against Swagger for never winning was fun, harsh and true all at the same time, and the pull-apart scuffle between Heyman and Colter got the crowd into the ordeal. But it was Heyman completely shooting down anything Colter said with his braggadocio reminders about Lesnar defeating the Undertaker that really elevated the segment from good to great.
It should be interesting to see if Cesaro finds out over time just how right Colter was and just how shady, sneaky and untrustworthy Heyman really is.
The Shield Wages War
The story of Friday's SmackDown was The Shield's refusal to sit back and allow themselves to be beaten down by 11 other Superstars for the second time in as many weeks. Instead, they opted to take them out one by one until only a select few were left.
They started with Jack Swagger, following the former world champion's disappointing loss to Cesaro. They followed with a beatdown of 3MB in the backstage area and then added Raw general manager Brad Maddox to their list. A sick triple powerbomb to Fandango, off the stage and through two tables, ended the ballroom dancer's night and brought a "this is awesome" chant from the crowd in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
Curtis Axel was apparently attacked off-camera, according to commentator Michael Cole, which left Titus O'Neil, Damien Sandow, Alberto Del Rio, Bad News Barrett and Ryback to battle the Hounds of Justice in the night's main event.
Despite taking a pounding from the opposition, Reigns, Rollins and Ambrose fought back and dispatched their opponents with methodical precision. Sandow, as has become the case with the former Money in the Bank winner, ate the pinfall following a Spear from Reigns and O'Neil, and Ryback also suffered the brunt of the punishment after the bell had sounded.
As The Shield stood united in the center of the squared circle, it was clear that this week's show belonged to them. WWE may have something special on its hands if it can resist the urge to split them too soon and if they can maintain the momentum they have built over the last month.
Kudos to the creative team, which perfectly crafted a story that ran throughout the show and had viewers wanting to see what The Shield would do next—where they would come from and which unlucky Superstar would be the latest to suffer at their hands. WWE should try utilizing this excellent storytelling more often.
Bray Wyatt Promo
The best talker in wrestling delivered once again this week as he discussed his upcoming Steel Cage match against John Cena at Extreme Rules. He said Cena would be trapped in a cage with a snake in Wyatt, who was still full of venom.
He discussed the fact that the fans turned on Cena Monday night by selecting him to compete in a three-on-one handicap match against the Wyatt Family.
While the point was the same as it has been throughout the feud, Wyatt's delivery, cadence and conviction continue to be head and shoulders above everyone else on the roster and in the business, making him the most engaging and captivating talker in pro wrestling.
Cesaro vs. Jack Swagger
While wrestling may not have been prevalent on this week's show, the opening match of the evening was a stellar, hard-hitting and hard-fought battle between Real American tag partners Cesaro and Jack Swagger.
Cesaro utilized uppercuts to his advantage, while Swagger repeatedly tried for the Patriot Lock, which the Swiss Superstar was able to counter. The Cesaro Swing stunned Swagger, and the Neutralizer finished him off as a joyful Paul Heyman watched at ringside.
Cesaro's win seemingly ends the program between him and Swagger, but with the vendetta between Colter and Heyman looking far from over and the Extreme Rules pay-per-view coming up in a matter of days, do not be surprised to see a rematch of sorts, perhaps even including the managers.