The August 29 episode of Friday Night SmackDown continued the show's reputation of being a placeholder for World Wrestling Entertainment. Despite appearances from former heavyweight champions such as Dolph Ziggler, the Miz, Big Show, Mark Henry and Jack Swagger, no storylines were advanced and very little of substance actually occurred.
Instead, fans were treated to a solid night of professional wrestling, with several quality bouts and some key victories for top stars.
As Night of Champions rapidly approaches, expect the importance of the SyFy network's highly rated program to increase exponentially. Until then, relive this week's episode of SmackDown by taking a look back at the winners and losers from the August 29 show.
Winner: Roman Reigns
SmackDown has become the Roman Reigns show in recent months, and the second-generation star has benefited tremendously as a result. As the biggest and brightest star on the program, he is treated like a legitimate main event attraction, something that will only help with fan perception in the long run.
Friday night, he and Bray Wyatt wrestled a solid match to kick off the show before competing in a huge six-man tag team main event also featuring Big Show, Henry, Erick Rowan and Luke Harper.
The babyfaces emerged victorious on the back of Reigns, who exploded into the match late, executed his trademark offense and finished Harper off with a Spear. It capped off another excellent showing for Reigns, who gains more and more momentum with every passing week and continues to establish himself as the future face of WWE.
Losers: The Wyatt Family
Wyatt, Harper and Rowan capped off the worst week of their WWE careers by playing punching bags for Big Show, Henry and Reigns in Friday's main event—the second time in five days that they filled that role for higher-ranking babyfaces.
Since dropping the Last Man Standing match to John Cena at Payback in June, Wyatt had lost considerable momentum and has floated aimlessly around the midcard, feuding with Chris Jericho in an uninspired program.
Harper and Rowan's recent losing streak is particularly disappointing considering the outstanding match they wrestled against The Usos back at Battleground. The two teams stole that show, but the big men have since found themselves regularly losing to the likes of Henry and Big Show and Stardust and Goldust.
The trio is in desperate need of a spark. With so many top stars embroiled in other rivalries, that spark may have to come in the form of a midcard program in which they can rediscover the elements that made them one of the most compelling acts in wrestling just months earlier.
Winner: AJ Lee
The former Divas champion continued to prove that you cannot out-crazy crazy as she confronted Paige following the Brit's impressive victory over Emma and continued to play mind games with her rival.
She presented Paige with candies, then continued to throw the Divas champion's words back in her face. AJ brought up Paige's claims of love, then watched as she reluctantly ate one of the chocolates and spat it out. As Paige made her way up the ramp, AJ ate some of the chocolates and looked thoroughly unhinged, creating a sense of discomfort within the younger champion.
The descent back into madness for AJ has been a welcome addition to the rivalry. When she returned, she showed flashes of becoming a generic babyface, something that simply did not suit her. Returning her to the instability that helped make her the first major breakout Diva in years is exactly what the feud needed to take the next step forward.
Loser: Rob Van Dam
And so the RVD's latest stint in WWE ends not with a bang but a whimper.
His loss to Seth Rollins on SmackDown brought to a conclusion one of the most disappointing stretches in Mr. PPV's Hall of Fame career. After losing far more than he won, he leaves the company as a glorified midcarder, a star whose best days are so far behind him that today's fans are unlikely to understand the hype surrounding the performer or why he is as popular as he is.
An enhancement talent whose job it was to put over the likes of Rollins and Cesaro, Van Dam proved ineffective in that role because he was never allowed to remind fans of his past greatness. Instead, he returned and lost. And lost. And lost some more. Beating him meant nothing because he meant nothing, at least during this last run.
If he returns to WWE, hopefully management and WWE Creative recognize the issues with his latest run and fix them. Otherwise, Van Dam will continue to hurt his legacy and descend further and further into mediocrity, which is something no fan wants to see from someone who has brought them such joy and entertainment throughout his career.