As the final show before this Sunday’s major Pay-Per-View event, story of the night should be SummerSlam feuds. Expect final build for Daniel Bryan, Cody Rhodes vs. Damien Sandow, the World Heavyweight Championship match, and The Shield.
Opening Segment w/The Wyatt Family
Smackdown opened with a video segment recapping the Bray Wyatt/Kane feud.
After the video Bray Wyatt was in the middle of the ring. He introduced his brothers, and then cut a promo on Kane living a lie by hiding behind a mask. He said he “walks on water” just to prove he can. On Sunday, he’s going to prove that one man’s hell is another man’s paradise.
As Bray Wyatt got down into his praying motion, Kane’s flames hit. He snuck in from behind and took out the family. Bray Wyatt and Kane stared each other down in the ring before Kane finally put his hands on Bray Wyatt. He got the early advantage, but the numbers game was too much for him to handle. Bray Wyatt hit his finisher on Kane to close the segment. He leaned over Kane and yelled “Follow the Buzzard!”
Rating: Good - I’m not always a fan of opponents getting their hands on each other right before a Pay-Per-View, but it made sense here from a storyline perspective. Also, Bray Wyatt cut a killer promo that put over his animosity against Kane. Solid opening.
Christian vs. Damien Sandow
Hot match-up, and a great lead in for Sunday. Sandow controlled the early part of this match before the show went to commercial. Afterwards, Christian fought back in. He hit a reverse DDT and eventually followed it up with a European elbow from the top rope. When he attempted his finisher, though, Sandow cartwheeled out. Sandow hit the rolling leg sweep, and was going for the “Elbow of Disdain” when Christian rolled him up into a small package to score the win.
After the match, Alberto Del Rio attacked Christian from behind. He told Christian that he would never get back the gold. He set Christian up for the cross arm-breaker, but Christian reversed it and hit the killswitch to close the segment.
Rating: Good - The match was a little shorter than I would have liked, but it still proved entertaining. The further Sandow gets buried, the more convinced I am that he might try a cash in this Sunday. I’m glad Christian got the upper hand here on both accounts. He looks deserved of the title shot.
Layla and AJ vs. Natalya and Kaitlyn
Let me just be honest – I missed most of this match. I know AJ scored with the shining wizard to pick up the victory.
Winner: AJ and Layla
Rating: Meh - I don’t know, I didn’t watch it. You tell me?
After the match, Renee interviewed Ryback about not being on the SummerSlam Pay-Per-View. She asked him if it was because of his recent brutality. He unconvincingly mocked her, then confronted a guy backstage who was “looking at him.” He punched the rando in the stomach, and slapped him in the face. Ryback walked away with a giant smirk on his face.
Smackdown showed an excellent video package highlighting “The Best vs. The Beast”
The Shield vs. Rob Van Dam, Mark Henry, and The Big Show
Mark Henry and Seth Rollins started thing off, but Rob Van Dam was quickly tagged in. RVD took command from there. He hit Rollins with his normal array of moves, but Ambrose was tagged in to even up the score. A “We Want Big Show” broke out through the audience. After Roman Reigns had control of the match, Big Show was eventually tagged in, and so was Ambrose However, he was goaded outside the ring by Reigns, and barely made it back in the ring before the ref counted 10. Show finally hit Ambrose with a K.O. Punch, and tagged RVD in for a Five-Star Frog Spalsh. He got the pinfall, and the win.
Winners: Rob Van Dam, Big Show, and Mark Henry
Rating: Good - The main problem I have is that this match never elevated. It started off fun, slowed down in the middle, and just kind of laid there like a dead fish. I’m also not happy with the continued burial of the Shield. That being said, nothing here was particularly bad, and I liked the finish.
The Miz vs. Jack Swagger
Good to see The Miz wrestling again, I guess. Remember when he was headlining Wrestlemania? Too bad his character has barely changed since then.
The Miz and Swagger exchanged a series of early blows. When The Miz was distracted outside the ring, the referee decided to evict Zeb Coulter and Cesaro from ringside. This gave The Miz a chance to sneak in the rollup, and score the victory.
Winner: The Miz
Rating: Bad - I’m just not a big fan of this cheap promotional attempt. We get it, The Miz is hosting SummerSlam, and that’s supposed to make us care more. Unfortunately, his character is more stale than a pack of ‘Zesty’ crackers, and this match was too short to matter. I did love Zeb Coulter’s facial reactions, though.
Curtis Axel vs. Zack Ryder
Ryder went for a pin attempt almost immediately, but Axel quickly kicked out. Michael COle put over the importance of this match to Ryder, and how a win here would set him up for an IC title shot. Ryder maintained control, attacking from the top rope and following it up with a missed Bro-ski Boot. Axel rolled out of the ring to regain his composure. He came back in, hit a side-slam, and finished Ryder off with a modified neck-breaker.
Winner: Curtis Axel
After the break, Paul Heyman cut a promo on CM Punk. He congratulated Punk on surprising them from behind Monday Night. He said that WWE has a smart marketing tactic for SummerSLam, in Punk’s quest for revenge, but that Punk still has a giant target on his back. He put over Lesnar as being the victor come Sunday.
Rating: Good - I was happy to see Ryder get a little offense and not get COMPLETELY smashed. I’m still not sure why WWE Creative books Axel like this – having him look weak in the first half of a match, only to pull out a quick victory with one or two moves. However, Axel made sense as the victor. Also, I’m glad WWE gave us one final sell for “The Best vs. The Beast.”
Daniel Bryan vs. Wade Barret in a No DQ Match
Early on, the announce team put over Bryan’s comments from earlier in the week of not being the next Rock or Stone Cold, but being the FIRST Daniel Bryan. Bryan put Barrett in a painful-looking submission, and Barrett fought out before both men tumbled outside the ring. Bryan eventually went to pull a table from underneath the ring. However, Barrett attacked him from behind and rolled him inside the ring. Barrett attacked Bryan with a Kendo stick, but Bryan got up and got back in it. He nailed Barrett with a missile dropkick from the top rope. At that point, Vince McMahon’s music hit, and he swaggered out to the ring while making hobbit-like gestures.
After the commercial, Bryan maintained control. Bryan stepped up to McMahon with a “Yes!” chant, but McMahon mocked him when Barrett attacked from behind. Bryan was able to sink in the “no lock,” and just as it looked like Barrett was going to tap, McMahon pulled the ref out of the ring. This gave Barrett the opportunity to hit Bryan with the Bull-Hammer, and go for the pin. McMahon gestured for a referee to come out, and Brad Maddox came out to save the day, but Barrett only scored a two-count.
Finally, Barrett hit Maddox with the Kendo Stick when he missed Bryan, and Bryan pushed Barrett through the table. McMahon decided to take matters into his own hand and put on the referees shirt. However, Triple H’s music hit, and he came down to the ring in his own referee shirt. Bryan went to the top rope, nailed Barrett with the Diving Headbutt, and scored the pinfall.
Rating: Good - Fun main event for the “B” brand. The hardcore aspects were used only to enhance the talent, and both men still had the chance to show off their mat skills. I didn’t expect McMahon OR Triple H to make an appearance, but it was a very appropriate set-up for this coming Sunday.
Final Thoughts: A much more engaging show than I expected. Although some of the in-ring stuff felt rushed, I felt like Smackdown went out of its way to promote SummerSlam better than even Monday Night Raw did. Also, it’s always refreshing to have surprise appearances from Triple H and the boss because it seems like the company actually cares about what happens on Friday nights.
What are your final thoughts on tonight’s WWE Smackdown? Are you more interested in buying SummerSlam as a result? What did you think of the main event? Leave a comment below, or let me know your opinion on Twitter @therealwiseman.