Seth Rollins and Ryback are just weeks away from monumental championship defenses at WWE's Battleground pay-per-view. This Thursday night, they will clash in a rare Champion vs. Champion match on SmackDown.
For Ryback, the match represents the opportunity to test himself against one of the elite performers in the industry. For Rollins, he has the chance to eliminate one unstoppable force and gain momentum heading into the highest-profile match of his career.
It was hardly the only main event match to take place Tuesday night as WWE rolled into Milwaukee for the SmackDown tapings.
Roman Reigns battled Big Show, rekindling the rivalry that unfolded over the spring.
With two huge bouts and an undercard featuring the likes of Dean Ambrose, Brie Bella, the New Day and the in-ring return of Rusev, this Thursday's broadcast is one that should continue to lay the groundwork for several notable rivalries ahead of the upcoming Battleground event and beyond.
Can't wait to see what happens when SmackDown hits the SyFy airwaves this week? Find out everything that went down at Tuesday night's tapings, thanks to our friends at WrestlingInc.com.
BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee
Tom Phillips, Jimmy Uso and Jerry Lawler
- Seth Rollins kicked off the night's show, complete with the Cadillac that was destroyed by Brock Lesnar on Raw. Paul Heyman interrupted. He and Rollins cut promos about the Battleground main event.
- Dean Ambrose defeated Bo Dallas.
- Rusev defeated Fandango. The Bulgarian Brute is now competing in boots.
- Roman Reigns vs. Big Show ended via disqualification. Midway through the match, Bray Wyatt's music played and he made his way to the ramp. It was a decoy, though, and the real Wyatt attacked Reigns from behind. The New Face of Fear delivered two straight Sister Abigails.
- Titus O'Neil defeated Big E after Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston were ejected from ringside.
- Randy Orton cut a promo on Sheamus. The Ascension interfered and ate two RKOs.
- Brie Bella and Alicia Fox defeated Naomi and Tamina Snuka.
- Intercontinental champion Ryback defeated WWE World Heavyweight champion Seth Rollins via countout when Rollins escaped out of the ring and over the barricade. Big Show hit the ring and a two-on-one beatdown ensued. Reigns made the save to close the show.
Ryback is a guy who has quietly delivered some quality performances since capturing the intercontinental championship at Elimination Chamber. His work with Big Show and Miz has been tremendous, even if the writing has not always backed him up.
That he has earned a match against WWE World Heavyweight champion Seth Rollins in the main event spot of SmackDown reflects the trust management has in him. How he performs in Thursday night's match could determine whether he earns himself an even bigger push in the months to come.
Speaking of Big Show, his match with Roman Reigns is interesting in that they have demonstrated some solid chemistry with each other, but all signs point to their bout on this week's show being little more than a backdrop for the Bray Wyatt attack.
The use of Dean Ambrose continues to be puzzling in that he is clearly one of the most popular stars in the entire industry, yet WWE Creative continues to struggle with the idea of giving him anything interesting or productive to do when he is not feuding with The Authority. Another win over Bo Dallas is hardly the way to maintain the Lunatic Fringe's momentum.
Lastly, Rusev's return to the squared circle occurring on SmackDown can be looked at one of two ways. It is either refreshing that WWE is allowing something that important to happen on the Thursday night show or stupid considering the lack of viewership when compared to the flagship show.
Either way, getting the Bulgarian Brute back into the ring is more than a welcome occurrence.