With nine nights remaining until WWE’s annual Extreme Rules PPV, Friday Night SmackDown rolled into Raleigh, NC. coming off the heels of an eventful Raw Monday that saw several main conflicts take the next step in their respective rivalries. Let’s delve into this week’s episode of SmackDown.
Tonight’s show began with the return of the Highlight Reel featuring Chris Jericho and his guest, Ryback. I’ve always loved the Reel as you knew drama was bound to spew and the stuff was sure to hit the fan. We didn’t travel far from the norm here a Y2J’s comments and questioning ultimately led to conflict. Jericho questioned Ryback on his recent actions and how the WWE Universe has lost respect for him…and how the fans’ disdain for Ryback will only increase if he wins the title acting the way he has been since the night after WrestleMania. Ryback wasn’t amused by Jericho, nor did he seem to have much tolerance for the first ever Undisputed Champion in WWE history. The challenge was thrown down, but SmackDown Senior Adviser Theodore Long came out to stop the proceedings. He let both men know if they wanted to get it on, it would be done the right way in tonight’s main event. Ryback, to his credit, continued the angle he’s been on the last few weeks by sucker punching Y2J as he turned back from looking at the stage. Ryback delivers the first shot and the main event is set.
Zeb Coulter and Jack Swagger conducted a backstage interview where Zeb had more words for Dolph Ziggler and Alberto Del Rio ahead of the PPV Ladder Match, as well as tonight’s encounter between Swagger and Big E. Langston.
In my preview of tonight’s telecast, I wrote that I thought this match could be quite intense and extremely physical. Perhaps I was putting the cart before the horse as this contest never got underway. Alberto Del Rio, who was at ringside for color commentary, introduced a ladder before the opening bell and things went downhill from there. All hell broke loose as everybody went for the ladder and looked to go 1-up heading into the final week before the PPV. Props to Zeb Coulter, who has been getting quite physical over the past couple weeks for a seasoned vet his age. Also want to send well wishes to Dolph Ziggler, who’s first title defense is now in jeopardy following the serious concussion suffered at this week’s tapings. Reports out as of press time suggest that Ziggler may be suffering from some sort of amnesia and everyone here wishes him a speedy recovery. Del Rio got the last word here tonight and let Josh Matthews tell it, the former champion from Mexico is now in the driver’ seat heading into Extreme Rules. I disagree. I think this thing is still wide open and barring Ziggler’s legit injury, I think it’s still up in the air and any man’s ball game. Let’s see what the “go home” week holds…..
The conflict between The Shield and Team Hell No has been personal from the start when The Shield attempted to make history the night after WrestleMania at the expense of The Undertaker. After tonight, Dean Ambrose has taken on both tag team champions as well as the Dead Man in singles competition…and it’s clear nothing has been settled as of yet. Very good match between Ambrose and Daniel Bryan as Ring of Honor met Combat Zone Wrestling for a big time fight on Friday night. Ambrose is the future of WWE and more people need to recognize that. He continues to prove this on a weekly basis. I said another chapter would be written in this tag war, and that’s exactly what happened tonight. I wasn’t expecting Kofi Kingston to add his two cents, but the fact that he did may suggest there’s more to this story. Kofi clearly feels some type of way after being pinned by Ambrose on Raw…but what will become of tonight’s run-in? It seems the tag team of The Shield may indeed be Rollins and Reigns. I don’t see how The Shield doesn’t also set their sights on the United States Championship after this week’s events.
We see video from 3pm earlier in the day where Mark Henry tugged a single tractor trailer in preparation of his double truck challenge on tap later on. We also saw photos of the aftermath of Henry’s attack on Sheamus with the leather belt from Raw. The welts Sheamus suffered were highlighted as the announcement came of a Leather Strap Match between the two at Extreme Rules.
We were now in the parking lot where a few Superstars, including the Prime Time Players, were on hand to cheer Mark Henry on. After a few struggling attempts, Henry was able to hull the two trucks past the finish line…said to be 20 feet in length. As I said on Facebook (Referee Jimmy Dylan), if this was legit, Mark Henry is a beast without question! However, can someone tell me why it sounds like Henry is crying when he talks sometimes?
Backstage, Randy Orton offers thoughts on his on-going issue with Big Show that began at WrestleMania. He says there will be no anecdote for what he plans to do to Big Show at Extreme Rules. With that being said, I ask the same question I’ve asked since this match became apparent. What kind of match will Orton and Show have at Extreme Rules?
Big man match, but not much of one as Big Show makes quick work of Tensai…knocking him off with the KO punch. After the match, Big Show also set his sights on Brodus Clay. I’m cool with this since Big Show is a mammoth beast with ill-regard for anyone but himself. His job at this point is to send a message to Orton, and it seemed he was well on his way to accomplishing the goal at hand until Orton came out of nowhere and returned the favor from Monday night…laying out an unsuspecting Big Show with a RKO in the center of the ring.
Good stuff backstage with AJ and Kaitlyn as the plot thickens with her secret admirer. These two Divas have a storied past as best friends and the potential conflict now-brewing with no friendship claims binding them could make for one of the best Divas feuds we’ve seen in a long time.
For the second time this week, Ryback took on a worthy competitor for the first time in his young career. This time it was Chris Jericho and both men engaged in a battle that I’d like to see more of. Both Superstars battled back and forth until the fight eventually spilled outside to the point of no return. The assigned official repeatedly told both men to return to the ring or he’d have no choice but to administer his ten count. After Ryback crotched Y2J on the ringpost, the referee decided to take action and DQ Ryback for his actions. Everything is still wide open after tonight’s events. As expected, Cena wasn’t there to answer what happened on Raw…taking the hostile situation into the upcoming week with very little time left before Extreme Rules. What will happen next week as these run-away locomotives clash head on for the most prestigious prize in the game? Only time will tell……
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