WWE SmackDown's long-awaited return to Thursday nights just happens to coincide with the return to in-ring action of former WWE World Heavyweight champion Daniel Bryan, who has been sidelined since last May with a neck injury that very much threatened his career.
His first opponent? The very same man that tried to cripple him for good, The Authority's Director of Operations, Kane.
With Triple H and Stephanie McMahon still hellbent on holding down the bearded Superstar, what would they have in store for Bryan when he battled their Big Red corporate demon?
On the heels of Monday's stunning show-closing segment, which saw Seth Rollins deliver a Curb Stomp to Brock Lesnar, what would Paul Heyman have to say as he addressed Mr. Money in the Bank Thursday night?
What roles would Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose play as they continue to oppose The Authority?
Fans in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, got their answers Tuesday night, as WWE rolled into town for its weekly SmackDown tapings.
Can't wait until Thursday to see all of the action?
Take a look at what went down, thanks to our friend at WrestlingInc.com.
Baton Rouge River Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Byron Saxton, Jerry Lawler and John Bradshaw Layfield
- Byron Saxton interviewed Daniel Bryan to kick off the show.
- Daniel Bryan defeated Kane by disqualification when Joey Mercury and Jamie Noble interfered. Big Show and Seth Rollins hit the ring, but Bryan escaped. Roman Reigns then appeared and stood by Bryan's side. Triple H then announced a huge Six-Man Tag Team match pitting Big Show, Rollins and Kane against Reigns, Bryan and Dean Ambrose.
- Damien Mizdow, The Miz and Alicia Fox defeated The Usos and Naomi.
- Paul Heyman cut a promo but was interrupted by Seth Rollins. Heyman was said to be excellent, as usual.
- Natalya defeated WWE Divas champion Nikki Bella in a non-title match.
- WWE Intercontinental champion Bad News Barrett defeated Sin Cara to retain.
- Bryan, Ambrose and Reigns defeated Rollins, Big Show and Kane.
The return of Daniel Bryan is an important occurrence within the WWE Universe, a moment that probably should have been saved for an episode of Monday Night Raw. Instead, it was squeezed onto the first Thursday episode of SmackDown in years.
Whether it worked or not remains to be seen, but one glance at the rest of this week's show reveals a card that looks eerily similar to many of the best SmackDown broadcasts, with the main event stars getting the majority of the attention while the midcard performers wage war in matches that matter very little in the grand scheme of things.
Bad News Barrett and Sin Cara wrestled what is sure to be a fun match, the result of the latter's huge upset of the WWE Intercontinental champion on last week's show. Other than that, there is nothing that takes place that fans could not have witnessed elsewhere on the WWE family of television shows.
With that said, the return of Bryan to the ring is worth tuning in to. The former WWE champion has not competed since last May and has managed to remain one of the most popular stars on the roster. The energy he brings to each of his performances should help, but the opener against Kane and the Six-Man Tag Team main event distance themselves from similar SmackDown main events in recent history.