SmackDown is from Detroit this week touting the return of The Big Show, a clash between Sheamus and Alberto Del Rio, and The Shield Summit, all this 30 nights away from WrestleMania 30 in New Orleans. The commentary crew tonight is the usual, Michael Cole and JBL.
The show opens with a video package highlighting once again Daniel Bryan’s Monday night against The Authority including the conclusion of the main event that evening between Bryan and Batista that saw both The Authority and reigning WWE World Heavyweight Champion get involved in the match. The WWE has obviously been keeping the focus squarely on Bryan and his lack of a match at WrestleMania in the weeks leading up to the biggest show of them all. One can only wonder what the so-called “B+ Player” has in mind to reach his goal of a fight with Triple H at WrestleMania.
That will have to wait however as Batista’s theme blares over the speakers, much to the dismay of the Detroit crowd as The Animal makes his way to the ring. There is still a smattering of cheers in there, but they are nearly drowned out by the chorus of boos for one half of the WrestleMania main event. This coming one week after telling the fans that he didn’t need their support and that he was only back to claim the championship. Michael Cole calls it “going off on the WWE Universe” while JBL calls it “telling the truth.” The 2014 Royal Rumble Winner is in the ring again this week asking where the real men in the WWE have gone, gloating about his victory over Dolph Ziggler last week on SmackDown and Daniel Bryan on Monday night (though that is not the way most seem to remember it), while claiming that he is the hero of WWE, but also a humble man who doesn’t need the fans’ cheers. Batista is interrupted by Daniel Bryan to the delight of the Detroit crowd, questioning Batista’s line of thinking that he is the hero. Batista goes on to say the biggest mistake wrestling made was letting fans in the locker room and that is all that Daniel Bryan is. An overblown fan who should be buying a ticket to see Batista win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania. Bryan then reminds that Batista only took him down after Bryan had taken down Orton, Kane, and had Batista beat, and that was because he was a fan and knew what was coming and that Batista should be embarrassed that a fan nearly took him Monday night.
Batista warns Bryan that if he keeps mouthing off that he has no problem silencing him. Bryan as able to then goad Batista into a fight, leading to Bryan dispatching the former champion. Kane then made an entrance leaving Bryan distracted long enough for Batista to attack him from behind leaving the Goatface privy to attacks from both Kane and Batista until a returning Big Show saved the day. SmackDown General manager Vicki Guerrero then announced that the main event this evening will be a tag team match pitting Batista and Kane against Big Show and Kane.
The preview commercial for Raw on Monday promises Hulk Hogan and a huge announcement for WrestleMania XXX.
We are back from break as Captain Charisma himself, Christian is in the ring already as we are shown Christian’s attack on Sheamus following Sheamus’ match Monday night. Christian is taking on Dolph Ziggler tonight and Alberto Del Rio is on guest commentary for the match. Del Rio is angry after Monday night’s loss to Ziggler saying it was due to Need for Speed star Aaron Paul’s involvement in the match that Ziggler won. The action in the match started quick allowing for Ziggler to land his 10 elbow drops on Christian before Christian was able to get the action to the outside of the ring, sending the former Heavyweight Champion into the stairs as the show went to commercial.
The match picks up back in the ring with Ziggler trying to fight back but to no avail as Christian is firmly in control. Once again focusing on Father Time chasing Christian down and the subsequent change in attitude it’s brought in the past weeks. A desperation dropkick from Ziggler put him back in the match and on the offensive. A big DDT from Ziggler was good for a two-count before Christian tried to use the ropes in a leverage pin only to be caught by the ref. Setting him up for a Ziggler face buster from the top rope for another two-count. Del Rio then climbed to the top of the announce table to distract Ziggler, setting him up for Killswitch from Christian for the victory. Reneé Young immediately was in the ring to ask why all the anger is focused at Sheamus, Before he could get an answer in Sheamus was making his way to the ring to assault Christian, who was able to escape a Brogue Kick before running up the ramp. A good match between the two to open the show. Decent pacing throughout though the fans seemed quiet during most of the match.
Coming back from commercial are highlights of The Usos winning the WWE Tag Team Championship Monday night. Tonight they take on RybAxel. It seems that there are those that agree that Steve Lombardi should be in the Hall of Fame. Hopefully more people get behind that movement.The match starts with the champions using teamwork to quickly gain the upper hand on Ryback, before a blind tag and smart rope usage from Curtis Axel put him in advantageous position over Jimmy Uso. Curtis Axel’s offense in tag team matches is superb. Everything he does is either setting his teammate up for an offensive attack or an attack of his own, very little wasted movement from the third-generation star. Ryback was able to continue the advantage until taking a little too long to come down with a splash from the second rope, leaving Jimmy with the opportunity to tag in Jey. A two count broken by Axel lead to Axel being sent over the top rope to the outside by Jimmy Uso before hitting Ryback with a double super kick and splash from the top for the victory.
Since stealing the show during the pre show at Money in the Bank, and perhaps even before then, the tag team division has been on an upswing and is consistently producing some of the better matches every week on TV and The Usos have been a big part of that renaissance the division is experiencing. This match showed once again why the division is on the rise. Great teamwork between both teams.
The next segment was the Raw Rebound recapping Brock Lesnar’s attack on Mark Henry Monday night and Paul Heyman’s comments that he wants to see The Streak end, before the announcement that The Undertaker will be at Raw live.
We come back from commercial for an interview with Director of Operations, Kane who promises that Daniel Bryan’s luck will run out tonight due to his bad decisions from an inferiority complex and anger issues. Kane says he will rip Bryan’s beard off and shove it down his throat.
Natalya and Eva Marie are in the ring to take on Tamina Snuka and Divas Champion AJ Lee who has held the championship for 264 days and counting as Cole points out. Eva Marie started the match off against Snuka which JBL quickly and rightly calls out as a mismatch. Snuka and AJ were quickly able to use Eva Marie’s inexperience against her keeping her isolated from Neidhart. Eva was able to use the energy from the crowd however to will her way to the corner tagging in a fresh Natalya who quickly went to work on both, delivering a nice series of snap suplexes before capping it off with a Michinoku Driver for the near-fall that was broken up by Tamina. Natty was able to send Snuka to the outside however and wrap AJ Lee up in the Sharpshooter for another submission victory over the reigning Divas Champion.
The late Paul Bearer’s induction into the WWE Hall of Fame was announced again for those that missed it on Monday. Bearer’s contributions to professional wrestling on both the big stage and the independent level are legendary as there is hardly anyone who knew or worked with the man who doesn’t have a glowing recollection of Bearer, and this induction, a year after his passing is richly deserved. No one could’ve played the role better than Bearer did. Oh yes.
The Shield Summit caps off the first hour and is the bridge to the second hour as the United States Champion Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns make their way to the ring sans Seth Rollins as Cole refreshes the fans memory on Rollins’ walking out on Reigns and Ambrose during The Shield’s battle with The Wyatt Family on Raw. Ambrose says there is a lot they can handle but they can not handle being lied to and that Seth Rollins has been lying to he and Roman Reigns, they then give Rollins 30 seconds to get to the ring. Rollins makes his way to the ring from the entrance stage stopping at the apron of the ring. Rollins admits that Monday was not a good time to prove a point, but that he was sacrificing himself to show that The Shield wasn’t what it was. Rollins says that for the first time in month Reigns and Ambrose are seeing eye to eye and that they can separate now or they can stand together and rule WWE. Ambrose however was not happy with the answer and shoved Rollins to the canvas only to be shoved himself by Roman, then slapped in the face by Rollins. Rollins then said he was willing to sacrifice himself again for Ambrose to get animosity off his chest. Rollins looking for solidarity put his fist in the middle of the ring, with Reigns being the first to join, reluctantly followed by an even more reluctant Ambrose, talking to both his partners the entire time. A shaky, uneasy reunion at best that saw the three put pride aside, but clearly the alliance is on its last legs.
A heavily taped up Sheamus welcomes us back from commercial as he makes his way to the ring to take on Alberto Del Rio who immediately tries to go after Sheamus’ taped up arm in the early moments of the match before Sheamus began asserting his dominance with a clothesline to the outside followed by a rolling senton. Del Rio however was able to turn the tables and focused again on the left arm as the show went to commercial.
Del Rio is still in command coming back from the commercial break, until Sheamus was able to use his intestinal fortitude to gut his way out of it, delivering punches to Del Rio and sending him to the mat with a clothesline and a tilt-a-whirl slam for a two-count. A crescent kick to Sheamus’ head earned Del Rio a near fall and a chance to set up for the cross arm breaker, but Sheamus was savvy to the impending doom and was able to counter with an Irish Curse for another two count. Del Rio then locked in the Cross Armbreaker but Sheamus was able to power out of it, leaving both men laid out on the canvas, but Del Rio was able to again lock the hold though Sheamus was able to reach the ropes. Del Rio’s aggressiveness doomed him however as the referee pulling Del Rio out of the corner gave Sheamus the split second he needed to line Del Rio up for the Brogue Kick and the victory.
The Wyatt Family next question John Cena and what he would be without his legacy as he heads to WrestleMania. Wyatt says there is nothing left of the Cenation Leader to be saved and is rather going to watch it all burn down come April 7.
Batista is interviewed in the locker room next being asked for his thoughts about the tag team main event tonight with Kane against Daniel Bryan and The Big Show. Batista states he’ll run through Big Show and Bryan by himself and then finally focus his attention where it needs to be, on Orton and the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania.
The SmackDown Pre-Show and Backstage Pass crew from WWE Network were next giving some of their thoughts on what they had liked so far, Booker T expressed his enjoyment in The Shield Summit while fellow Hall of Famer “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan gave props to Sheamus and his victory over Del Rio in the last match.
Lana is next to the ring to introduce “The Superathelete” Alexander Rusev. The Bulgarian Brute then took the microphone to give a speech in his native tongue to absolutely no reaction from the crowd.
Bryan and The Big Show are interviewed feeling very confident heading into the main event against Kane and Batista, calling Triple H’s manhood into question as he is guilty of several of the same things Batista accused Bryan of to start the show. They name the team Respect the Beard, Fear the Giant, the crowd agrees.
As Daniel Bryan makes his way to the ring, a clip of Michael Cole’s weekly interview with Triple H plays where Triple H reveals that he is not scared of Triple H. Kane and Bryan start the match off with Kane finding himself the victim of several vicious kicks in the corner before The Big Show was tagged in to continue applying damage to Kane, before a quick trip from Kane set up the tag to Batista, but for naught as a double suplex attempt by Kane and Batista was reversed by The Big Show, sending the three men to the outside and setting Kane and Batista up perfectly for a suicide dive between the ropes to the outside from the reigning Superstar of the Year heading to commercial.
Back from commercial and Big Show is in the driver’s seat against Batista and tag s in Bryan who continues with an offense of kicks to the Mania headliner’s midsection. After clearing the ring of Kane however, Bryan went to the well once too often and found himself the victim of a Batista sidewalk slam. Kane was then tagged in and proceeded to severely damage Bryan pummeling him with punches in the corner before a failed superplex attempt put Bryan in position to connect with a missile dropkick leaving both on the mat before Batista was able to get tagged in and continue the beating of Daniel Bryan. Cole and JBL do a fantastic job of debating the merits of Triple H accepting Daniel Bryan’s challenge at WrestleMania. The two have great chemistry together and it’s been steadily improving since JBL came back to the booth in September 2012. Bryan was able to fight his way back and get out of a Batista Bomb attempt and tag in The World’s Largest Athlete as Batista tagged in Kane. Bryan was tagged back in quickly connecting with a Diving Headbutt for a pin attempt that was broken up by The Animal who was then thrown into a steel ring post on the outside by Big Show. In the ring Kane had a chokeslam attempt nearly reversed into a pinning combination, and was nearly able to power his way out of it, but he was too close to the Big Show who connected with a right fist, knocking Kane out for the cover and the win for Respect the Beard, Fear the Giant.
Daniel Bryan’s wave of momentum continues to ride high and tonight’s telecast further proves that. As Bryan nears WreslteMania with no match, the cheers and demands from the fans for Triple H to accept his challenge and accept him as an A+ Player get louder and louder and harder and harder to ignore. It’s going to be interesting to see how much more the deck can be stacked against Bryan as WrestleMania is still a long, long month away.