The Good, the Great and the Awesome from SmackDown (June 20)
With Money in the Bank just over a week away, WWE SmackDown hit the Syfy airwaves with a show focusing heavily on the WWE World Heavyweight Championship Ladder match.
The competitors involved in the June 29 main event started and closed the show, ensuring that they left an impression on the fans still deciding whether or not to purchase the annual event.
Roman Reigns was the unquestioned star of the broadcast, coming face-to-face with John Cena at the top of the show and tearing through the competition and winning the night's main event handicap match for the babyfaces. The image of him, Cena and Sheamus staring up at the top prize in all of sports entertainment really hammered home the importance of the impending match and helped cap off a great night of build for it.
Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins continued their war of attrition. Despite doing a lot of talking, it was Ambrose who found himself on the receiving end of a Curb Stomp courtesy of Rollins, whose Friday night was far more successful than that of his former partner.
Dolph Ziggler stated his case for a spot in the Money in the Bank Contract match by defeating intercontinental champion Bad News Barrett, and Bo Dallas continued his winning ways with an assist from Layla and Summer Rae.
As WWE continues its road to Money in the Bank, relive the best of the best from Friday's SmackDown with "The Good, the Great and the Awesome."
The opening segment of SmackDown was a fairly generic-yet-effective way to hype both June 29's Money in the Bank pay-per-view main event for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship and Smackdown's huge 4-on-3 handicap headliner.
The most interesting aspect of the entire promo was the face-to-face between Reigns and Cena. They have not been portrayed as opposition or enemies to this point, but there was something so intriguing about watching the darker, more mysterious and edgier Reigns standing toe-to-toe with the neon green-wearing Cena.
Character wise, they are complete opposites, and if played right, Reigns could be the opposite of what Cena is as the top star in the company. He can be the Batman to Cena's Superman, even if he does utilize the Superman Punch as one of his signature moves.
The absence of Bray Wyatt absolutely made sense in that Wyatt would not lower himself to or waste his time by being involved in a mindless brawl. He addressed the crowd and his Money in the Bank opponents later in the night, vowing to take what is his.
The brawl to end the segment helped put heat on the main event and got the show off to a hot start.
Kofi Kingston vs. Seth Rollins
Rollins continued his recent roll Friday night by defeating former intercontinental and United States champion Kofi Kingston in a brief-yet-competitive match. The win allows Rollins to maintain the momentum he has built for himself with a strong performance in a good match.
The win over Kingston is Rollins' first over someone other than Ziggler since splitting from The Shield, and therein lies what could be a potential problem.
The company continues to push Rollins as a main event-level heel and paired him with Triple H to make that transition easier. Yet, it has not allowed him the opportunity to beat anyone considered to be on that level. Instead, he has beaten Ziggler repeatedly and knocked off Kingston on this week's broadcast.
At some point, he will have to be allowed to wrestle someone like Sheamus or Cena in singles competition and prove that he can beat them. If not, Rollins may eventually find himself compared with Ziggler and Kingston for all the wrong reasons.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Bad News Barrett
Speaking of Ziggler, he and Bad News Barrett had a very good match Friday night in what felt like a primer for the traditional Money in the Bank match on June 29.
Commentators Michael Cole and John Bradshaw Layfield talked that match up and added how big Ziggler's victory over the current intercontinental champion was in gaining momentum for it.
WWE's resident Show Off is a veteran of Ladder matches and has taken some scary bumps in them. While it appears unlikely that he would win the briefcase for a second time, there is precedent. In 2008, WWE Creative badly muffed CM Punk's first run as world heavyweight champion and made up for it a year later by booking him to win the briefcase and his second title.
While Rollins and Ambrose are likely to get the most attention, should the Lunatic Fringe actually join the match, do not be surprised if WWE makes up for its horrid use of Ziggler over the last year by giving him a second (third, but who really counts his first "reign") chance at championship glory.
Fandango Fails to BoLieve
Don't look now, but the rivalry between Summer Rae and Layla is good. Like, for real, no sarcasm.
The Divas have a very real, defined reason to be fighting, and the fans are eating it up. They do not take up much television time, they have not been exposed in anything resembling a real match and physical encounters have mainly consisted of good, old-fashioned Attitude-era catfights.
Friday night, their differences cost Fandango a match to Dallas, who has been nothing short of brilliant since debuting on the main roster. As the ballroom dancer attempted to pull Summer and Layla apart, the latter caught her boyfriend with a kick to the head.
Dallas, feigning concern for his opponent, checked on Fandango before planting him with the Bo-Dog.
"There are plenty more fish in the sea," Dallas told Fandango before getting off his catchphrase. "All you have to do is BoLieve!"
It was a great use of time by WWE Creative. It continued to spotlight Bo and, at the same time, added the latest chapter to the love triangle that has developed between Fandango and his dance partners. A great, effective segment.
The Ambrose-Rollins War Wages On
While Reigns seems perfectly content moving on and focusing on the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, Ambrose and Rollins continue to target one another in the weeks leading up to Money in the Bank.
It should be no surprise. Ambrose struggled to trust Rollins after the Architect of The Shield betrayed his teammates back in March, and now that he did so for a second time, Ambrose is rightfully irate and hellbent on revenge.
After Rollins' victory over Kingston, Ambrose appeared on the TitanTron and vowed to pay Rollins back. He vowed that his former teammate would not know when or where he was coming from, but that it would be painful when they finally met up.
The match between Ambrose and Kane later in the evening was nondescript, but the brawl at ringside between the Lunatic Fringe and Rollins added more heat to their program. Unfortunately for Ambrose, it also left him open to Kane's assault and another pinfall loss.
After the match, Rollins attacked Ambrose, proving to have the upper hand once again.
With Rollins already involved in the Money in the Bank match, expect Ambrose to join him. If not, expect the unpredictable competitor to ensure that Rollins does not leave with the guaranteed title opportunity.
4-on-3 Handicap Main Event
The night's main event was a great way to focus on the main event of the Money in the Bank pay-per-view while, at the same time, showcase the surging Reigns. The former powerhouse of The Shield got the hot tag from Cena and exploded into the ring, taking out his opponents and spearing Alberto Del Rio for the pinfall win.
The crowd's reaction for the second-generation star indicates that what WWE is doing with him is working and that deviating would be a huge mistake.
It has been quite a while since the company has had a babyface as dominant as Reigns, with his intensity and physicality. At the same time, he does not crack jokes or smile. He talks soft and hits hard, something the audience appreciates.
He is the complete opposite of his tag team partners from Friday night, which is refreshing.
After the bell, Reigns and Cena had another tense staredown. Could that mean the company is planning a match between them sooner rather than later, or was it simply a way to build to the ladder match? That remains to be seen, but the visual alone is enough to sell a major pay-per-view bout if that is the direction the company opts to head in.