Daniel Bryan Opening: I enjoyed this. Bryan described team Hell No as one of the best of all time, right before Kane came out to the ring and further-cemented the demise of Team Hell No. Kane asked, “are you breaking up with me?” Funny stuff. This accomplished what it needed to by putting “Team RK-NO” over as a credible championship contender, while showing fractures in the group’s cohesion.
Sheamus def. Antonio Cesaro: I liked how Damien Sandow came out at the beginning to poke the Celtic Warrior a bit more. I’m glad WWE saw fit to build up their pre-show match for once.
This was an entertaining brawl between two big, athletic men. Letting Cole follow up with the Zeb Coulter “WWE App” interview made it feel more relevant, and even though Cesaro lost, he was given more time to work than he’s had in weeks. The post-match attack by Sandow was a great reminder to catch the pre-show this Sunday.
CM Punk Return Video: I’m pretty sure they’ve showed this recently. Still, great way to hype his return
Chris Jericho & Alberto Del Rio def. Dolph Ziggler & Big E. Langston: The announcers did a good job of putting this over as Ziggler return to in-ring action in over a month, and questioning whether or not this will affect him on Sunday. Big E also looked solid in the ring with three guys in the “main event” picture. Entertaining match.
Chris Jericho Backstage Interview: Did a solid job of putting over the match as important, and downplaying the divided-audience (or, really, pro-Punk) issue. Heyman coming out to poke Jericho’s buttons was a nice addition.
Heath Slater def. The Great Khali: Are they building these guys up? No. Is this a real feud? No. Why is WWE wasting TV time with this garbage when there are plenty of more deserving superstars in the back Grumble, grumble, grumble. WWE booking never ceases to amaze me.
Aksana vs. Kaitlyn ends in no-contest: WWE.com broke the story earlier in the week that Kaitlyn was being (kayfabe) fined over her actions at the Smackdown taping (which, if WWE is willing to admit on its own website that the show is pre-taped on Tuesday, why do the announcers make such a big deal about the show being on Friday?) I thought they didn’t do enough with that here, though. Kaitlyn looked crazy, but there wasn’t much emphasis on the story here. Where’s AJ? Way to check out, creative team.
Curtis Axel def. Wade Barrett: Barrett argued they should just wait until Sunday to fight for “business sense.” Miz came out and did his “really?” schtick, and finally talked them into fighting (because apparently even heels care that the fans leave happy?). Short match, more of the same. Nothing to see here…
Randy Orton, Kane, and Daniel Bryan def. The Shield: The match was, like all of their encounters, pretty freakin’ good. That’s not my issue…
I thought that The Shield losing (as a trio) would be a really big deal. Remember how they built up to it at Wrestlemania? And isn’t that The Shield’s real calling card – that they’re completely dominant, and nobody can take the group out? So why did WWE give away what should be a REALLY BIG MOMENT on a throwaway issue of Smackdown (sorry, Greensboro) where it wasn’t really necessary from a storyline perspective? Way to kill your build.
Maybe I’m being unfair. The audience seemed to love it, and Cole and JBL both did a good job of selling the moment. Even Lilian Garcia announced it as such. I just feel like this whole moment was shoehorned in to fill an empty night. Where’s the big picture?
Overall Show: Weak night. While some of the segments and matches were okay, the whole thing just felt like a series of stitched-together, unrelated, and mostly unimportant events. I guess WWE felt like it finished its build for Payback this past Monday Night.
Teddy Long vs. the Hardee’s Thickburgers Promotions: These cheap promotional segments are killing me faster than my propensity for weekly fast-food (…at establishments not named Hardee’s).