The Good, the Great and the Awesome from SmackDown 4/11/14
On the heels of one of the best Monday Night Raw episodes of all time, World Wrestling Entertainment continued its hot streak with a very entertaining episode of SmackDown that continued to build several rivalries heading into the upcoming Extreme Rules live special.
The Shield came to the aid of Daniel Bryan and the Usos for the second time this week and again found themselves at odds with Randy Orton, Batista and Kane. The Hounds of Justice joined Bryan in the squared circle to close out the show, further planting seeds that a war is about to break out in WWE.
John Cena made his return to SmackDown referring to himself as the company's measuring stick before being interrupted by the Wyatt Family. Bray, channeling the Joker from The Dark Knight, discussed not being able to drag the monster out of Cena. He ominously promised to go to new extremes to attain his goal.
Cesaro and Paul Heyman walked the aisle for the first time together as the Swiss Superman took on Big Show, the man he eliminated to win the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania. After Jack Swagger's interference, expect to see the former Real Americans teammates do battle sooner rather than later.
Rob Van Dam made his SmackDown return, Bad News Barrett continued his reintroduction to the ring and Fandango debuted a new dance partner just days after breaking up with Summer Rae.
With a rather busy episode of the Friday night staple in the books, here is a look back at what was good, great and awesome about this week's broadcast.
Rob Van Dam vs. Damien Sandow
Former WWE and ECW champion Rob Van Dam made his return to Friday Night SmackDown this week, taking on the man he defeated Monday on Raw, Damien Sandow.
Their latest match was much more competitive than their bout four days earlier, with Sandow showing much more aggression as he laid into Van Dam. Commentators Michael Cole and JBL put over how badly the failed cash-in of his Money in the Bank briefcase affected him, leading to a long losing streak over the last six months.
That streak continued this week. Despite a solid outing from Sandow, Van Dam was able to launch himself off the top rope with the Five Star Frog Splash and pick up a hard-fought pinfall victory.
With the youth movement taking over in WWE, it should be interesting to see where RVD fits in over the next few months. He is still incredible agile and can still pull off moves that others his age would not even think of. Whether he can hang against the top young stars in the industry remains to be seen.
Kofi Kingston vs. Bad News Barrett
Bad News Barrett continued to compile wins upon his return to the ring, defeating former intercontinental, United States and tag team champion Kofi Kingston in a fast-paced match Friday night.
Despite the rather short nature of the match, the two Superstars packed in a lot of action, something that can be attributed to the undeniable chemistry built through their many matches against one another over the years.
Kingston attempted to put Barrett away with Trouble in Paradise, but it was a well-timed Bullhammer from the brutish Brit that scored the pinfall win for him.
One of the most talented and promising young stars to come through WWE in quite some time, though one who has also been booked horrendously over the past three years, it is great to see Barrett back on the right track and enjoying somewhat of a career renaissance.
Fandango's New Dance Partner
Tuesday afternoon, Fandango tweeted about his breakup with Summer Rae. Over the days that followed, he and the leggy blonde exchanged public messages that indicated their on-screen relationship was over.
Any doubt was erased Friday when Fandango was accompanied by the always lovely Layla, who paid immediate dividends by distracting Santino Marella and allowing Fandango to roll him up for the win.
Layla, a former Miami Heat dancer, has long been one of the most underrated female performers in WWE, and her partnership with Fandango makes perfect sense. The potential feud between the former Divas and women's champion and Summer Rae could be very entertaining.
Layla's experience, not to mention the entertainment value she has demonstrated over her eight years with the company, should instantly improve the Fandango character and hopefully elevate him back to the level he was at a year ago when he was a solid midcard performer.
Daniel Bryan and the Usos vs. Randy Orton, Batista and Kane
SmackDown was capped off with another very solid, extremely entertaining six-man tag match as new WWE World Heavyweight champion Daniel Bryan, partnered with tag team champions the Usos, squared off with Randy Orton, Batista and Kane.
The match was another fine example of the six-man tag formula that WWE has perfected over the last year, as it built steadily before delivering the wild finish. The double-countout finish knocked it down a peg, but the arrival of The Shield, who fended off the villains to end the show, picked the crowd back up.
A great, energetic way to close out a really fun show.
Paige Video Package
WWE did a tremendous job of making Paige's debut and victory over AJ on Monday night look significant thanks to another gem from the production team. It put over Paige as the alternative to the rest of the Divas, the Anti-Diva if you will, and also portrayed the emotion that she felt upon capturing the gold.
If booked carefully and correctly, Paige can rejuvenate a Divas division that has been as lackluster over the last six months as it has ever been.
The congregation of Divas waiting to congratulate her after she came through the curtain really hammered home the importance of the moment and was the highlight of the video.
Hulk Hogan and Daniel Bryan Pose
One thing that Hulk Hogan does better than anyone is promote and sell things, especially when he believes in the cause. Friday night, he did a tremendous job of selling Daniel Bryan as WWE World Heavyweight champion to the audience and even did his trademark poses with the Aberdeen native to the delight of the fans inside the Cajundome.
Bryan, in turn, described how important Hogan was to his childhood and how much he made him want to become a wrestler.
It was a moment that may mean nothing a week from now, but for Hogan to endorse Bryan and for the new WWE World Heavyweight champion to partake in a posedown with his idol was a fabulous way to end the best week of Bryan's career.
Cesaro, Paul Heyman Guy
Sunday night, when Cesaro won the Battle Royal, he showed great respect for the man he eliminated to win when he shook Big Show's hand. The following night, he revealed to the world that he aligned himself with Heyman. Friday night, that humility and respect he showed Sunday was suddenly nonexistent.
Jack Swagger attacked Cesaro, drawing a disqualification win for the Swiss Superstar. Big Show tossed Swagger from the ring and was repaid for his kindness with an assault from Cesaro, who finished with a jaw-dropping Neutralizer.
The change in attitude following his alignment with Heyman is exactly what Cesaro needed. As great as he has been over the last year, he needed that injection of edginess and attitude. And if being aligned with Heyman brings that to his performance, there is no reason he cannot achieve his goal of reaching the main event in WWE.
John Cena and Bray Wyatt Promos
Cena kicked off this week's show by recapping all of the highlights from WrestleMania 30 and the Raw that proceeded it, then referred to himself as the measuring stick and standard bearer of World Wrestling Entertainment.
Regardless of one's opinion of him, Cena is absolutely correct in his assessment of himself. Anytime a young star is rapidly ascending up the WWE card, they are thrown in the ring with Cena to test just how ready they really are. CM Punk and Daniel Bryan are two Superstars who rose to stardom by working with Cena while Wade Barrett and The Miz are two that, it was determined, needed more seasoning before joining him in the main event.
The Bray Wyatt promo that followed Cena's was, as usual, outstanding. He said that breaking Cena would not be as simple as he thought.
"I saw it in your eyes, John. For the first time, I realized you're not hollow in there." It was a great line that was only accentuated by the one that followed. "Now I realize I have to go to new extremes if I want to pull the monster from you."
Another exemplary promo from Wyatt, who may be the best promo guy WWE has seen in years. It furthers the feud and gives fans something to look forward to as Wyatt continues his quest to expose the monster inside of Cena.