WWE SmackDown on August 8 will feel like a throwback to the days of the brand split.
Much of the company's roster was in Australia for a series of live events during the tapings. That means the show will have less star power but offer big opportunities for those who stuck around in the U.S.
It's up to Dean Ambrose, Paige and Rusev to step up and deliver a standout show. Ambrose will name the stipulation for his SummerSlam match against Seth Rollins. Paige and Rusev face tough challenges before that pay-per-view arrives.
WWE taped all the action in Laredo, Texas, on Tuesday, but it won't air on SyFy until Friday at 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT.
Fans can find out what happened early by seeking out spoiler reports. For those wishing to wait until Friday night to discover the results, the following is a preview of all the matches on tap with the winners and losers excluded.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Seth Rollins
Only one man can gain momentum here en route to SummerSlam.
Ziggler hopes to pick up a win against the Money in the Bank winner before charging toward his Intercontinental Championship match against The Miz.
Rollins needs the victory more. Thanks to Ambrose's antics at ringside on Monday's Raw, Rollins added a loss to his record courtesy of Heath Slater, of all people.
That will leave Rollins more desperate and enraged on Friday's SmackDown as he pursues a familiar foe.
The Showoff's previous battles with him have been entertaining. Their speed and high-energy offense have led to some quality bouts in the past.
Fans will be expecting more of the same this time around.
Big Show and Mark Henry vs. Ryback and Curtis Axel
Henry returned on Monday's Raw decked out in University of Texas gear. Big Show joins him on Friday night, rekindling their brief alliance from the past.
That's bad news for RybAxel. They have struggled to be anything other than fodder for other teams.
On Monday, they lost once more, this time to Stardust and Goldust.
This may either be a showcase of a pair of giants back from hiatus or the way that Ryback and Axel turn their fortunes around. Knocking off Big Show and Henry would be a resume-booster and instantly get RybAxel into the tag team title discussion.
The Usos are in need of challengers for SummerSlam. RybAxel may emerge from this bout.
Damien Sandow vs. Sin Cara
What goofy getup Sandow puts on will likely be more noteworthy than the match itself. Since beginning his trend of constant costumes changes, most of Sandow's matches have seen him lose in a hurry.
Sin Cara dominated The Intellectual Savior of the Masses in their series of matches earlier this year. He looks to restart that trend here.
Expectations will be low for this bout because of each man's low position on the card. Sin Cara should get a bigger reaction than normal, as he's performing in a Texas city with a large Latino population.
Paige vs. Natalya
Paige has a great chance to both improve her resume and gain momentum for her upcoming title match against AJ Lee.
Natalya is one of the most talented wrestlers that Paige has faced in WWE. Natalya's mat acumen has led to stellar bouts against Charlotte and AJ this year. It's now The Anti-Diva's turn to tangle with her.
WWE will likely be looking to make Paige look good here as she's prepping for a SummerSlam match, and Natalya is not. Fans will be hoping that means this is a hard-fought battle because of that and not a one-sided beatdown instead.
If these women are given a decent amount of time, the audience can expect excellence here.
Big E vs. Rusev
Before Rusev gets his rematch with Jack Swagger, he takes on a man he defeated at two straight pay-per-views earlier this year.
It was Big E who first truly tested The Bulgarian Brute. While Rusev did eventually overpower him, Big E wasn't the pushover he was used to facing.
Big E will seek to do better than just stun Rusev, hoping to score a victory this time instead. What fans will be tuning in for here, besides the smashmouth offense each man will bring, is what WWE does with Big E's alliance with Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston.
Will they be at ringside? Will they show signs of being heels?
The mystery group hasn't laid out their intentions, but this match may offer some hints as to just what they are trying to do.
Dean Ambrose vs. Randy Orton
His rivalry with Rollins has afforded Ambrose a multitude of opportunities in the ring. Friday's SmackDown provides another in a main event clash with one of WWE's top stars.
These two have collided before, including a captivating, physical match on Raw on July 7.
They will look to recreate that magic in the Energy Center, with each foe looking to gain a big win before their upcoming SummerSlam battles. Ambrose will have to look out for Rollins ambushing him in order to do that. Orton will have to worry about Roman Reigns doing the same.
It's up to Orton and Ambrose to cap the show off with a memorable performance and make up for the light roster WWE has to work with on Friday night.
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