The Good, the Great and the Awesome from SmackDown (June 27)
With only 48 hours until Money in the Bank, WWE rolled into the Consol Energy Center for SmackDown!
Just four days after laying "the Demon" Kane out with a spear to close out Monday Night Raw, Roman Reigns would be given the unenviable task of squaring off with the Big Red Monster in Friday's main event. Despite the best efforts from the mask-wearing monstrosity and Randy Orton to take Reigns out of the match, the former powerhouse of The Shield once again stood tall on the road to what could be his first WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
Sheamus and Bray Wyatt went to war in a preview of Sunday's main event, but it was the arrival of the Usos and their interaction with Erick Rowan and Luke Harper that stole the spotlight. Those two teams meet for the Usos' WWE Tag Team Championships at Money in the Bank.
The competitive rivalry between Paige and Naomi intensified thanks to Cameron, who is developing into a truly effective heel, while Big E outsmarted and enraged Rusev ahead of their match this Sunday night.
Seth Rollins got the last laugh on Dean Ambrose, while Jack Swagger may have sidelined Bad News Barrett, as the hype for the Money in the Bank Contract match reached new levels.
With so much focus directed at building Sunday's show and selling a few extra pay-per-views, this week's SmackDown proved to be one of the best in recent memory.
Relive the very best from Friday's show right now with The Good, the Great and the Awesome!
Dolph Ziggler and Rob Van Dam vs. Alberto Del Rio and Cesaro
If you are a fan of competitive tag matches featuring four very talented workers, Friday night's show had a good one for you.
Del Rio and Cesaro, competitors in Sunday's WWE World Heavyweight title match, defeated Ziggler and Van Dam, contestants in the contract battle, when the Mexican aristocrat forced Van Dam to tap out to the Cross Armbreaker.
The win gave Del Rio some momentum heading into Sunday's event, though he and Cesaro both feel like placeholders in the main event. Which begs the question: If that is the case, why not have Ziggler and Van Dam win Friday's tag bout to put some heat on the contract match?
Ziggler and RVD are both perceived to be better than the spots they are currently in and are good enough to knock off any main event star they share the ring with. Having them go over Cesaro and Del Rio could have helped add some intrigue to the Money in the Bank Contract match while still delivering the planned spot at the end where Cesaro lays Del Rio out.
A questionable way to book what was an otherwise very good wrestling match.
Paige vs. Cameron
The match between Divas champion Paige and Cameron was short, sweet and to the point, as it should have been. Paige is an infinitely better wrestler, and to have her struggle to put away one of the least talented workers on the roster would have hurt her credibility significantly.
With that said, the extracurricular activities did a great job of building Sunday's match between Paige and Cameron's partner, Naomi.
The staredown between Paige and Naomi was intense, and the fact that it was instigated by the bratty, yapping Cameron only adds further intrigue to Sunday's Divas title match. Will the former Tough Enough star get involved? If she does, will she interfere on behalf of fellow Funkadactyl Naomi in an attempt to stick it to Paige, or will she betray her partner as she grows more and more tired of wallowing in her shadow?
Whatever the case may be, Friday's segment did a lot to drum up interest for the contest, and it deserves recognition.
Sheamus vs. Bray Wyatt
The match between United States champion Sheamus and "Reaper of Souls" Bray Wyatt not only was a hard-hitting, physical match between two men perceived to be top stars in the company; it was also a way to get heat on two of the marquee matches at this Sunday's pay-per-view event.
The competitors themselves are involved in the WWE World Heavyweight Championship Ladder match. Although Sheamus may not have much of a chance to leave Boston with the title, Wyatt is the best bet for a heel to leave with the gold. If that were to happen, the landscape of WWE would change instantly.
The other bout at Money in the Bank that got exposure was the Tag Team title war between the Usos and Erick Rowan and Luke Harper.
Rowan and Harper threatened to interfere in the match between Sheamus and Wyatt, only to have their plans thwarted by the arrival of the champions at ringside.
The disqualification finish may have been a disappointing conclusion to a very good match, but it helped both competitors save face leading into their big title opportunity.
Sheamus and the Usos standing tall to end the segment seems to indicate that Sunday could be a very good night for at least two-thirds of the Wyatt Family.
Roman Reigns Once Again and The Auhority's Plan Revealed
Friday night once again belonged to Roman Reigns.
The explosive young star wrestled a match against Kane that was far better than it had any right to be. Neither is exactly what one would call a technician between the ropes, but they had a very power-heavy bout that did exactly what it was intended to do: showcase Reigns.
The most interesting thing to come out of the show-closing segment on Friday night was that The Authority's plan involving Kane and Randy Orton appears to have been revealed. The Demon set the ladder up for Randy Orton to climb and retrieve the WWE and World titles, indicating that his only purpose Sunday night will be to ensure that The Viper leaves with the championship.
Reigns, however, proved that he will be much more difficult to dispatch, planting both men with spears and holding the titles in his hands to close out the broadcast.
It is hard to argue against Reigns winning the titles at this point, especially when taking into consideration the roll he has been on and the fact that he is among the most popular stars on the roster. At this point, the company could use an injection of excitement.
The Opening Segment
For the first time since Seth Rollins betrayed The Shield and joined forces with Triple H, tension between Rollins and Randy Orton boiled over into a public display of dissension.
First Orton promised to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Then Rollins vowed to capture the briefcase and the guaranteed contract that would allow him to cash in any time he wants over the next year. That vow, coupled with Rollins' insinuations that Orton may not get the job done again, caused a rift between them that Triple H was quick to try to smooth out.
The look on the face of the COO as he explained why it was important to stay on the same page was one of desperation. He clearly understands how important it is to keep the troops assembled. While he threatened them both with "adapt or perish," one could see that there was a sense of fear inside the usually confident Triple H.
Orton deserves major props for the segment. He does the little things, such as facial expressions and body language, so well that fans sometimes take it for granted. Friday night, he was excellent, as he knew exactly when to flash certain looks in response to things Rollins said.
When the former "Architect of The Shield" stated that he could cash in the Money in the Bank briefcase anytime over the next year, Orton could be seen shooting him a look of distrust and dismay. As Rollins continued, Orton's body language suggested that he does not see his former rival as any real threat to him or the title he hopes to possess come Sunday night.
Finally, as Triple H scolded both the Viper and Rollins, the former folded his arms and looked away like a child on the receiving end of a tongue lashing. It was a really great, understated little performance from a guy who has become somewhat lost in the shuffle but has not allowed that to influence the quality of his work.
Dean Ambrose vs. Bad News Barrett
The in-ring portion of this week's show got kicked off on the right foot with a great match between Intercontinental champion Bad News Barrett and Dean Ambrose.
These two Superstars have wrestled twice now and on both occasions have demonstrated strong chemistry.
Their physical, brawling, hard-hitting styles mesh well together and make for very fun matches to watch. A feud between them after Ambrose finishes up his program with Seth Rollins could make for some excellent television.
Barrett losing another match is a questionable booking decision, but it is clear there is more invested in Ambrose at this point. The bigger booking blunder involved Jack Swagger hitting the ring and tossing Barrett around ringside, leading to an injured shoulder.
The injury, reported by WWE.com, threatens to keep Barrett out of Sunday's Money in the Bank Contract match, possibly removing one of the favorites from contention.