SmackDown this week is from Colorado Springs as WWE is less than two days away from Elimination Chamber, Sunday in Minneapolis. The last show before the last pay-per-view before WrestleMania as Cole calls it is underway with a main event between Sheamus and Christian along with the Wyatt Family in action against Rey Mysterio and the Rhodes Brothers.
A taped up Daniel Bryan is making his way to the ring to open the show and Michael Cole calling him “the people’s favorite” heading into Sunday, highlighting his recent feature in USA Today followed up by a quick review of what went down Monday night for the Goatface. Bryan is opening the show this evening against Jack Swagger. A big match for both men as they head into their respective title matches. A good match between the two as they Swagger really focused on Bryan’s shoulder injury from earlier in the week. The crowd however was able to will Bryan back into momentum and a quick Flying Knee to the challenger for the Intercontinental Championship was out for the count. Vicki Guerrero quickly cut Bryan’s celebration short telling him he had another match against Cesaro starting immediately to end the first segment. Good bout that makes Swagger look like a legitimate threat to the Intercontinental Championship as he had Bryan on the ropes for much of the contest. As the winner however, Bryan looks to be using his wiliness to claim the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
The match starts after the commercial with Cesaro immediately pushing the pace stomping Bryan in the corner and continuing the focus on Bryan’s injured left shoulder. Bryan was able to turn the tables however until a Cesaro knee drop from the top rope put him squarely back in the driver’s seat and continued the attack on the shoulder. JBL does a great job deferring Cole’s accusations that Kane and Triple H have it out for Daniel Bryan continuing to push the “best for business” line. A suicide dive through the middle rope to the outside looked to put Bryan in control until Zeb Colter was able to distract Bryan, setting him up for a kick from Cesaro and setting Bryan up for a chair shot from Swagger had the official not caught Swagger in the act leading to his and Colter’s exit and also giving Bryan a chance for a breather as he lay outside by the announcer’s table.
Coming back from the commercial the crowd is already heavily chanting “yes” as Cesaro lays in uppercuts and Cole alerts Kane’s presence to the audience as the Director of Operations sits ringside. Also during the break a brawl between Swagger and Big E broke out in the backstage area. Bryan hits a missile drop kick and slowy begins to gain the advantage to the delight of the fans in Colorado Springs, Cesaro again was able to gain the advantage blocking a kick into an airplane swing. That and a European Uppercut were not enough to keep the former WWE Champion down as Bryan kicked out. A Flying Knee from Bryan had him in advantage until Kane walked in and chokeslammed Bryan in front of the WrestleMania logo. Perhaps giving some foreshadowing as Kane stood over a prone Bryan in the shadow of the logo, perhaps looking too deeply into things. Cesaro then hit Bryan with a Neutralizer to throw salt on the wound.
Bryan is squarely the underdog heading into Sunday night and the point was driven home emphatically by all parties in this match.
Renee Young asks Christian if his “new, aggressive side” would benefit him heading into Sunday night. Christian reminds fans that he is wrestling with desperation as he realizes he is getting older and knows the last few weeks have not gone his way. Christian says he needs to figure a few things out before the pay-per-view but that desperation is dangerous and that Sheamus is going to find that out, that he will win the Elimination Chamber match and headline WrestleMania if it is the last thing he does in WWE.
Roman Reigns continues to be the center of attention in all things Shield as Cole and JBL highlight his victory over Mark Henry on Monday night and the mind games between The Wyatt Family and The Shield that were played after the match. Highlights of the brawl to end the main event of Monday Night Raw were also shown before the Wyatts made their way to the ring to take on Rey Mysterio and the Rhodes. Harper and Mysterio started the match before Rey tagged in the junior Rhodes and the Wyatts slowly tried to wear Rhodes down, unable to do so as Cody tagged in older brother Goldust who used veteran savvy to get the best of Erick Rowan until being caught for a fallaway slam and tagging in Bray Wyatt who was quick to take advantage before going to commercial.
Back from commercial and Harper is exercising the Wyatts’ advantage over Goldust, trying to quell any hope of a comeback, until the elder Rhodes brother was able to take both he and Harper out with a sunset flip powerbomb. Goldust was able to tag his brother in before Harper could get to his corner and as the fresh man was able to get a two count on Harper after a moonsault. Mysterio was tagged in next and was able to get in a few headscissor takedowns and other high risk offense before being nearly decapitated by a huge boot, landing square on his neck. Mysterio was able to kick out but found himself in the Wyatts’ corner where the three continued to victimize the diminutive superstar. The beatdown on Rey continued as all three treated Mysterio like a rag doll until quick flashes of brilliance from Mysterio found him able to tag in Goldust and was able to handle Rowan and Wyatt getting a near fall on Rowan (that was broken up by Harper) after a combined effort between he and Mysterio on a 619. Rey Mysterio was then sent flying into the security wall by Harper as Rhodes came flying with a cross body from the top to the outside taking out he and Harper, but leaving his brother on his own against Rowan and Wyatt. Goldust was able to handle the two almost connecting with Shattered Dreams on Rowan, but failed to see the tag made to Wyatt before falling victim to a vicious back elbow from legal Wyatt before hitting him with Sister Abigail for the victory.
The Wyatts are clearly ready for The Shield as this match, much like the match The Shield had last week against Daniel Bryan, Christian and Sheamus, showed the cohesiveness and sheer dominance the team possesses. Goldust however, again as he has been since coming back last summer, is on another level, having better matches than he had at times in his prior runs, seemingly knowing what’s going to happen before it actually happens and rolling with it. Letting things happen instead of making them happen. Good work from all participants (that boot Rey took from Harper is going to stay with me for a long time), but it was clear the stars of the match were The Wyatt Family as they were dominant throughout.
Next a replay of the Brouge Kick from Sheamus that connected with Christian ending last week’s six-man tag team match is shown followed by Cole questioning whether the kick connecting with Christian was an accident or not. The Celtic Warrior is asked for his thoughts on his match with Christian this evening. Sheamus feels partly responsible for Christian’s aggressive side beginning to show, suggesting the kick shook something loose, but that he is looking forward to a good scrap, saying last week was an accident but this evening would not.
A dance-off between Summer Rae and Emma was next on the docket. After a 30-second showcase from Summer Rae, Emma debuted the “Advanced Shopping Trolley,” basically parading around the ring pantomiming grabbing groceries off shelves. Summer Rae says she was not ready for the contest and asks for Fandango’s music to play, dancing to a chorus of boos from the fans once again. Emma’s second dance was Emma’s normal dance routine. Emma was the clear winner of the dance-off. Summer Rae then attacked Emma, only to be thrown to the outside herself before shoving Fandango out of the ring with assistance from Santino.
WWE Hall of Famer, Ron Simmons was then highlighted as WWE celebrates Black History Month. Simmons was the first African American World Heavyweight Champion in wrestling history, defeating Vader in Baltimore in August 1992. Simmons was also an outstanding football player at Florida State University, being voted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2007 and the first defensive player to have his number retired by the Seminoles. Simmons, also a former tag team champion as part of the APA with Bradshaw in the WWE and Butch Reed in WCW, Simmons is quite possibly one of the most underrated members of the WWE Hall of Fame.
Another Alexander Rusev vignette hits the screen next as the impressive Bulgarian is once again hyped up by Lana. Obvious Rocky IV jokes and comparisons aside, the 300-pounder looks to be an impressive addition to the main roster and could be a dominant figure and possible threat to Big E, or anyone for that matter as this is purely speculation, in the upcoming spring.
Dolph Ziggler is in the ring to take on Titus O’Neill and his former partner, Darren Young is ringside providing guest commentary as the two prepare to butt heads in Minneapolis. O’Neill was impressive from the jump using his physicality to get the upper hand on the former World Champion. Young gives his word that fans will see a new Darren Young at the pay-per-view while O’Neill continues to manhandle Ziggler in the squared circle while verbally lambasting both his opponent in the ring and his opponent on Sunday. Ziggler was able to gain some offense but was in peril after a big boot to the face from the former Prime Time Player. O’Neill was in control again before Young distracted him by stealing his whistle setting Ziggler up to get the win. O’Neill was fantastic in this match, handling Ziggler well until the momentary lapse due to Young’s involvement.
John Cena recently granted his 400th wish with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, far and away the most wishes granted for the organization. Cena’s charity efforts are to be commended regardless of how fans feel about him as a superstar.
Road Dogg and Jimmy Uso are in singles action before their WWE Tag Team Championship match in two days. The Outlaw was quick to take the advantage using Billy Gunn’s distraction to gain the upper hand in the early stages of the match. Road Dogg was able to use several underhanded tactics to gain the advantage but Jey was able to get the crowd behind his brother, aiding him in a comeback before Road Dogg went to the outside striking Uso from the outside and setting him up for a Pumphandle Slam once back in the ring. Uso was able to get out of the attempt and connect with a super kick for the victory picking up even more momentum and another clean pin over a member of the New Age Outlaws leading up to their title opportunity.
The main event is next as two participants in the upcoming Elimination Chamber match face off as Sheamus and Christian look to gain momentum heading into the event and potentially earn a spot in the main event at WrestleMania. WWE is stressing Christian’s wear and age heading into the title match as Sheamus and Christian go tit for tat in the early going, frustrating the veteran Canadian who started laying in jawjacking slaps to Sheamus’ face before Sheamus picked the pace up and took the match to the outside, rolling across the arena floor with Christian on his shoulders before going to break.
Coverage picks up back in the ring with Christain fighting his way back to his feet again utilizing slaps to the face and his speed, before each wrestler blocked the other’s signature move. Sheamus was able to spear Christian into the security wall, but was launched into the timekeeper’s area on a second attempt. Christian then began to focus on Sheamus’ recently injured shoulder smelling blood as he sent the match back into the ring connecting with a missile drop kick for a near fall. Christian continued the attack on Sheamus. The two began to trade blows in the middle of the ring before Christian climbed to the top only to be sent crashing to the mat by the Irishman. Christian would exercise control a while longer despite falling victim to the giant clubbing forearms of Sheamus. Two backbreakers after a reversed Tornado DDT put Sheamus back in control leaving Christian in position for a Brogue Kick before exiting the ring, regaining control before falling victim to White Noise for the finish, continuing Christian’s frustration heading into Sunday after another valiant effort and giving Sheamus more momentum heading towards Elimination Chamber.
Another solid show leading up to Elimination Chamber that did well to reinforce the dominance of The Wyatt Family over just about everybody and the Usos over the New Age Outlaws while making clear that Daniel Bryan is the biggest underdog heading into Sunday, don’t be at all surprised if he winds up as the number one or two entry in the match through dubious means.