It was huge night for Smackdown this week, as something significant actually happened! Yes, The Shield suffered their first loss as a group.
Team RK-No & Kane vs. The Shield
The show started with Daniel Bryan in the ring, as he cut an entertaining promo about his accomplishments in WWE, including his nine month tag team run with Kane in Team Hell No, calling Kane out to the ring in the process. With the two eventually beginning to squabble after Daniel Bryan revealed he wouldn’t team with Kane anymore as he and Randy Orton were going to win the tag team championships at Payback, even coming up with a new team name, Team RK-No. With Kane about to chokeslam Bryan, Orton came out to make the save. However the three then continued to argue, until The Shield turned up on the video screen. The Shield put over their partnership as a group, as well as the main event and their respective match at Payback. It was a good opening segment that revealed each of the players in the main event well and set up any potential conflicts that might be seen later on as well as at Payback.
The match between the six, was as is now the norm for these six man tag team contest, was well worked and well paced by all six competitors. Some of the spots and sections during the beginning and middle of the match may have be familiar to some regular reviewers but this didn’t make seeing them again any less enjoyable. With The Shield dominating for most of the match, the match was driven by a number of hot tags from the face team, with of course the highlight and final turning point being the hot tag to Daniel Bryan. Bryan has managed to bring something new on every occasion he receives the tag, this time a nice dropkick to Rollins who had just springboarded of the ropes, which certainly helps to keep these matches feeling fresh and exciting.
With number of near falls for both Bryan and Seth Rollins really got the crowd worked up with the match beginning to look like it could go either way. The ending of the match saw the crowd almost red hot, as an exciting ending section began with Kane dodging Roman Reigns’ spear, sending Reigns over the barricade, Kane then choke slammed Ambrose on top of Reigns, which looked effective on screen. With The Shield finally outnumbered, Kane pushed Rollins off the top rope into the arms of a coiled Randy Orton who struck with an RKO, before Bryan had Rollins submit to the No Lock. It felt a fitting ending to match, which told a fantastic story throughtout and the reverse of the outnumbering was a clever move by WWE.
Many will be upset that The Shield lost their first match here, especially on Smackdown. However, I think it was a wise move by WWE, for a number of reasons, firstly it helps to build for the matches at Payback, by making showing the Orton, Bryan and Kane can beat the Shield and therefore could take the championships as well, secondly The Shield’s unbeaten run would have become repetitive very soon with them running out of opponents to face and it’s better to end something while it’s still hot than allow the crowd to grow tired of something, and finally it may not be a PPV or Raw, but because Smackdown is taped it would have meant a lot of people tuned into watch to see The Shield lose for the first time, rather than just another Shield match elsewhere, the ratings will hopefully prove this theory correct.
Alberto Del Rio & Chris Jericho with Ricardo Rodrigues vs. World Heavyweight Champion Dolph Ziggler & Big E Langston with AJ Lee
This match was set up by acting General Manager Teddy Long, during another blantant advertising segment for some American fast food restaurant. With Teddy munching his way through a burger, he was met by the returning Dolph Ziggler, alongside Big E Langston and AJ Lee. With Ziggler unhappy at being forced to compete tonight, Teddy Long basically told him to go away so he could eat more of his burger. With Ziggler gone, Teddy settled down for his dinner before Big E Langston turned up and stole it. It really was as bizarre as it sounds and I really hope WWE drops the burgers before the next episode of Raw.
The early parts of the match were slow with Langston doing the majority of the work for his team, dominating Jericho and Del Rio, who made quick tags after impact moves. The match picked up a gear with some nice work on the outside between Jericho and Langston, including Langston getting thrown into the steel steps and Jericho going spine first into the barricade. The little of Ziggler we saw during the match looked to be showing very little signs of ring rust, as he performed a nice section controlling Jericho, before the hot tag to Del Rio.
The end came pretty quickly after the hot tag from Del Rio, with another classic tag team breakdown segment. With Del Rio being bulldozed by Langston, Jericho quickly dispatched of him before receiving a good looking drop kick from Ziggler. With Ziggler taking time to celebrate Del Rio capitilized with a nice small package for the victory. It was a solidly worked ending to a solidly worked match that built up well throughout it’s ten minutes or so. Del Rio picking up the victory here gives him good momentum going into Payback, whilst Ziggler’s spree of moves on Jericho showed that he will be more than able to counter any threat shown from Del Rio, keeping both looking good heading into their Payback show down.
After the match, Jericho was interviewed by Renee Young. As we’d expect from Y2J he gave a very good interview his match with CM Punk this Sunday. He built up the connection between CM Punk and Chicago, as well talking about his connections to the city. Jericho then made the claim that this match will be better than their previous contests, which is a brave claim to make after the quality of those matches, Punk-Jericho III (as it’s being billed) will have to have to set the world on fire to live up to it’s high expectations. Punk’s manager Paul Heyman turned up to talk up his client, before Jericho shoved the mic in his face, it’s nice to see Jericho playing a different kind of face than we have been taught to expect from WWE, although without Punk being present his aggression towards Heyman feels a little out of place. The absence of Punk has obviously harmed this rivalry, as it’s been difficult to build any kind of story around it, similar to the absence of Dolph Ziggler, especially with the rumours that Punk might not even turn up in Chicago.
Best of the Rest
Elsewhere on Smackdown, the build for Intercontinental Championship Triple Threat at Payback continued with Curtis Axel facing champion Wade Barrett. Although with Barrett suggesting the two hold of the fight until Payback, it seemed the match would not happen. That was until The Miz came out with a slightly annoying promo in an attempt to get the two to fight. The Miz clearly has a lot of skill when handed a microphone, but his character and personality do not suit the face role he is currently in and everything he says comes out like a brattish child who really wants you to like them. The childish behaviour continued with the Miz attempted to get the crowd to chant “Fight” on television it seemed like this worked, although I wouldn’t be surprised if WWE added in a few extra chants.
For some unknown reason, Axel and Barrett decided to have their fight. For me, it would have made more sense for the two to leave, allowing them to garner heat for not doing what the crowd wanted. The match itself was short but good between these two, with the two going back and forth throughout. The ending came with Barrett ducking a clothesline from Axel who took out the Miz, with Barrett distracted by Heyman, once he was ready to get back in the ring, Axel was waiting with a Rope Hung Spinning Neckbreaker for the victory. It was a logical ending to the contest involving all parties that will be involved in the triple threat and giving Axel a credible victory over Barrett giving him a reasonable claim to the title. The only problem is we’ve seen Wade Barrett lose so many times as Intercontinental Champion recently, it’s difficult to see him as the credible champion we know he could be.
Kaitlyn continued to show signs of a breakdown in a contest with Aksana. Before the match, the reveal of Kaitlyn’s secret admirer was shown on the screen with Kaitlyn clearly affected by it. She charged at Aksana and a catfight eschewed, all the was missing was Joey Styles over the top. The match never got started, although I’m sure there isn’t a lot of people too upset about that fact. With Kaitlyn battling Aksana to the outside and the referee trying to break up the fight Kaitlyn slapped the referee in the face before Aksana escaped. It was a decent segment, an helped to further Kaitlyn’s new persona, although we’ve seen similar storylines before with the Divas. With Kaitlyn and AJ now showing signs of being a little big crazy, they should have a decent match at Payback, it goes to show that all the Divas need is a little TV time, a storyline and some character development to get the people interested.
The first match of the show saw a rematch from last weeks Main Event, as Sheamus faced Antonio Cesaro. Before the contest there was a promo from Sheamus’ Payback Kick-Off opponent Damien Sandow, who did a good job building the rivalry on the whole and finally appeared to be the heel in the story. If anything it was refreshing not to have to watch another awful games segment as we’ve experienced over the last three weeks. The match was another good match between these two who shared the offence more or less equally throughout the match, with highlight seeing Sheamus catch Cesaro on the outside and send him overhead into the barricade and Cesaro driving Sheamus into the ring steps. The ending saw a Brogue Kick out of nowhere from Sheamus for the victory. These two seem to work well together, with Cesaro’s serious wrestling style bringing out a more serious side of Sheamus which is a lot better to watch than the goofy side we’ve seen for most of his face run. Whilst Sheamus headed to the back Sandow reappeared with a blindside attack. With the rivalry now feeling a lot more serious than in recent weeks, I have high hopes for their contest at Payback Kickoff and hope they keep the serious nature for the contest.
There was also a match pitting The Great Khali against 3MB’s Heath Slater. Khali dominated most of what was a poor match, although if you were expecting anything else from Khali then you obviously haven’t been watching WWE television in the last six years. The end saw an altercation between the other members of 3MB and Hornswoggle which distracted Khali allowing Slater take down the giant, before a thunderous DDT gave him the victory. I’m not sure of the last time Slater won a match on TV, especially on a Raw or Smackdown, but it’s been a very long time indeed. It would be nice to see 3MB move higher up the card, as I think they’re all fairly talented guys and have taken to the poor 3MB gimmick well, but I’m not quite sure where they will fit into current WWE plans.
What have we learnt from this weeks Smackdown?
1. WWE isn't afraid having huge moments, like The Shield first loss, happen on what is essentially the B show.
2. Dolph Ziggler looks ready to go come this Sunday's Payback.
3. WWE should really stop the over the top advertisement of Fast Food product during segments of their show.