Just 48 hours away from WWE Payback, the company rolled into the host city of WrestleMania 27 for this week's SmackDown.
With his Last Man Standing match against John Cena on the horizon, Bray Wyatt tests himself in the same match type as he takes on Jimmy Uso.
Sheamus and Cesaro are in action as they prepare for what should be an incredibly physical bout Sunday night with the Celtic Warrior's United States Championship at stake. Sheamus takes on Intercontinental champion Bad News Barrett in the previously advertised champion vs. champion match, while Cesaro takes on Kofi Kingston.
The Shield has a few words for Evolution prior to the No Holds Barred Elimination match Sunday night.
The final stop on the road to Payback, SmackDown provides WWE with the opportunity to make up for a poor episode of Raw with a more suitable "go-home" show.
Does it succeed?
Find out now, courtesy of our friends at WrestlingInc.com!
Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia.
Michael Cole and John Bradshaw Layfield
- The Shield kicked off the show with a promo about Evolution and Sunday's match at Payback
- Cesaro defeated Kofi Kingston; he attacked Kingston after the match with the Neutralizer
- Divas champion Paige defeated Tamina in a non-title match with the Scorpion Cross Lock; Alicia Fox attempted to distract Paige but failed
- Bo Dallas defeated Xavier Woods with the Bo-Dog
- El Torito defeated Jinder Mahal
- Paul Heyman cut a promo ("My client, Brock Lesnar...") and joins Michael Cole and JBL at the broadcast table
- Sheamus defeated Bad News Barrett in a match described as a "must-see brawl"
- Big E defeated Titus O'Neil; Lana and Rusev watched from ringside
- Adam Rose defeated Jack Swagger; he taunted Zeb Colter after the match
- Bray Wyatt defeated Jimmy Uso in a Last Man Standing match
Last Man Standing Preview
SmackDown has the reputation of being the B-level show in WWE. It is oftentimes treated like the redheaded step child of Monday Night Raw and is regularly criticized for being the show where nothing happens.
What better way to buck tradition than by booking a Last Man Standing match in the main event?
The match gives fans something to look forward to and, at the same time, puts the final touches on the hype for Sunday's show. Without Cena, the creative team was forced to come up with a different way to put heat on the pay-per-view match.
They did just that by having Wyatt take out one-half of Cena's backup, creating questions as to whether Cena will have any support come Payback.
Building an Undercard
One of the biggest weak spots of the Payback card is the undercard. With Cena-Wyatt and Shield-Evolution on top, there is potential for two truly great matches. The Intercontinental and United States title matches should be good, but after that, there were plenty of questions surrounding the rest of the show.
Friday night appears to do an excellent job of tying up loose ends by giving shape to the prelim matches. Big E vs. Rusev appears to be a certainty. Paige vs. Alicia Fox was added early Monday night and features interaction between both Divas. Cesaro and Sheamus is hyped via two hard-fought matches.
Most surprising is the decision to blow off Rose vs. Swagger on SmackDown rather than have the program culminate at Payback. Whether that decision was made for time constraints or for some other reason is a mystery, but it definitely feels like a waste of weeks of programming.
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