SmackDown is in Little Rock, Ark., this week as April 7 and New Orleans get closer and the card for WrestleMania becomes clearer and clearer, each show becomes more crucial in the build to the Granddaddy of Them All and after one of the biggest Monday Night Raw telecasts in 2014 and the success of Occupy Raw, the struggle between Daniel Bryan and The Authority has finally boiled over, as illustrated by the opening package. Michael Cole and JBL are the commentary team for the evening.
Triple H opens this week’s SmackDown clearly irritated from the events of Monday Night Raw and being forced to agree to Daniel Bryan’s terms to a match at WrestleMania and a spot in the Main Event should Bryan manage to defeat Triple H.
The WWE COO begins immediately goading the fans, asking if they are happy they finally got what they wanted. Hunter would continue to berate and belittle the fans and the leader of the #Yes Movement, and that from this moment forward he would begin to destroy Daniel Bryan. Helmsley would continue, stating that he had been protecting Bryan since SummerSlam, that if he had allowed Bryan to remain champion, he would have been feeding The Goatface to the wolves and that he instead helped Bryan rebound from the events of SummerSlam and turned him into one of the biggest Superstars in WWE today. Something Triple H claimed to be willing to do for years to come before Monday night. After the stunt Bryan and the fans pulled Monday, Triple H promised to bring it all to an end at WrestleMania.
However, The Game was also in the ring to address another star who angered him Monday night in Memphis, Damien Sandow. Sandow, who was ordered to the ring Monday night by Helmsley but refused to try to walk through the fans was forced to apologize, something Sandow did quickly. Hunter assured Sandow there were no hard feelings before wishing him luck in his next match, one he claimed was made by SmackDown General Manager Vicki Guerrero without his influence. Cole immediately insinuates that Triple H was being dishonest and the he had arranged the match as a form of punishment for Sandow’s activity or lack thereof on Raw. JBL quickly and vehemently denies this.
As The Cerebral Assassin exited the ring, the theme music of The Shield hit the speakers as Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns made their way to the ring with no indication which or how many members would be taking on The Intellectual Savior of the Masses as the show went to its first commercial with that question still unanswered.
Back from commercial the answer is revealed as Seth Rollins and Sandow were squaring off with the Architect of The Shield firmly in control for a majority of the match against the former Money in the Bank winner. Sandow had started to gain the advantage but the distractions caused by Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns from ringside were too much for Sandow to overlook and Rollins was able to take advantage of that and earn the victory.
After the match, Dean Ambrose began to assault Sandow, tossing him back in the ring to be brutalized by all three members, Cole and JBL remarking how this is the most cohesive they have looked in months, calling it “old school Shield.” The Shield ended their beatdown of Damien Sandow with a Triple Powerbomb continuing to show cohesion on the heels of The Shield Summit.
Footage from Hulk Hogan’s announcement of the 30-man Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal was then replayed followed by the announcement that reigning Intercontinental Champion Big E would be taking part in that battle royal.
Also in the battle royal is E’s opponent for this evening, Fandango, who promises victory in the battle royal in an old-school picture-in-picture promo segment shown during his entrance with Summer Rae. This match was over pretty quickly and was very much like their previous encounters on this program and Monday Nigh Raw over the last several months. Fandango never really seemed to be able to get going in the match and a failed Tornado DDT attempt quickly spelled doom for Fandango as a clothesline followed by The Big Ending got the Intercontinental Champion the 1-2-3.
Michael Cole then informed fans of a rare appearance from The Undertaker on Raw which was followed with video of the segment, which saw Paul Heyman tell The Undertaker that Brock Lesnar will end the undefeated streak at WrestleMania if ‘Taker is to go to New Orleans. Bad News Barrett is on his podium being raised up. His bad news for the week is that while The Streak is impressive, it will indeed be coming to an end at WrestleMania at the hands of Brock Lesnar, which would in turn cause fans sleepless nights due to their crying children or their own disbelief, in turn causing them to fall asleep at work and thus losing their jobs.
A tag team encounter between The Rhodes Bros. and The Real Americans is next on the docket as both teams roll into SmackDown in need of some almighty momentum after faltering over the last several weeks. The contest featured Cesaro and Cody Rhodes in the ring for a majority of the match, giving both ample opportunity to show off their wrestling prowess and athleticism. These two will be wrestling each other in consistently fantastic matches for a long time to come if their efforts tonight are any indication. The match was highlighted by an incredible feat of strength from the Swiss Superstar, catching a flying Cody outside the ring and wrenching him onto the ring apron. There was solid teamwork for both teams, especially The Real Americans who were able to keep the younger Rhodes isolated from his older brother and maintain the advantage, until their egos got in the way and they began tagging each other into the match while treating Cody like a ragdoll. The following disagreement between Cesaro and Swagger was enough to allow Cody to get the pin for the victory for the Rhodes. The All-American American and Cesaro would proceed to whoop the junior Rhodes brother until The Usos hit the ring, forcing The Real Americans out of the ring and preventing further damage to Rhodes and Goldust.
Another recap of Monday Night Raw followed the match, catching viewers up on The Wyatt Family’s words for John Cena during his time in the ring with The Immortal Hulk Hogan. Bray Wyatt is in action tonight against Kofi Kingston.
Kofi used his speed to his advantage in the early going, avoiding several of Wyatt’s high impact attacks, following them up with kicks and springboard attacks, trying to avoid the larger Wyatt and his power based offense. Wyatt was finally able to catch Kingston coming off the ropes, shoving him to the outside and gaining the upper hand. Kofi would continue to try utilizing his speed and athleticism, connecting with a nice dropkick during an attempt at a comeback, but eventually Wyatt was able to send Kingston careening into the turnbuckles before splashing him, setting the Ghana native up for Sister Abigail and the win.
Next The Shield is in the office of The Director of Operations, Kane, who congratulates The Shield on their success over the course of the week and further informs them that they are to be at ringside during Kane’s match with The Big Show in the main event. The Corporate Monster tells The Hounds of Justice that they are free to do what they want to The Big Show after the match. Rollins sees through the perceived lies and expresses that Kane only wants The Shield out there for protection should Big Show knock Kane out as he did last week. Reigns then reminds Kane but are curious to see what Kane does with The Big Show. Rollins assures Kane however that they will do what is best for business, just as they did with Sandow earlier in the show.
Nikki Bella looks to continue her hot streak of late, after getting the pin over the Divas Champion Aj Leein tag action on Monday, she is in singles action against Tamina Snuka on SmackDown. AJ Lee is joining Cole and JBL for commentary. Tamina was able to stay in control for a majority of the match setting Bella up for a Superfly Splash for which no one was home but Bella was unable to capitalize, falling victim to a brutal crescent kick from the Pacific Islander that could only muster a two count. Brie and AJ then began to fight on the outside distracting Tamina momentarily to save Lee, sending Brie into the barricade and giving Nikki a chance to recuperate before re-entering the ring and once again attempting a crescent kick, which Bella was able to duck and turn into a Rack Attack for another victory for the number one contender for the Divas Championship.
Alberto Del Rio and Dolph Ziggler continued their longstanding rivalry with another SmackDown installment. Del Rio also announces that he will be entering the Andre the Giant Battle Royal as the match begins with a quick tie up and Del Rio gaining the early advantage before a back body drop and drop kick send Del Rio to the outside, once taking the action back inside the ring Ziggler was able to connect with his trademark 10 elbow drops before Del Rio regained the advantage. Ziggler’s rally bore no fruit as an enzuguri sent Ziggler down for a two count giving Del Rio a chance to jump of the top rope for a rare high risk attack that did not pay off as Ziggler connected with a dropkick in midair. After several two-counts for both wrestlers including a Fameasser from Ziggler and a reverse suplex off the second rope from Del Rio The Show Off was able to reverse The Mexican Aristocrat’s Cross Armbreaker into a Zig Zag for the pinfall victory. Neither man ever slowed down during the entire match keeping the pace up the entire time. After the winning effort Reneé Young then interviewed Ziggler who announced that he would take part in the Andre the Giant Battle Royal and promises to win and finally have his WrestleMania moment.
Carlos Colón was then announced as the next inductee to the WWE Hall of Fame’s Class of 2014. Colón’s contributions to not just Puerto Rican wrestling which he established and was a top draw for several decades. Credited with being one of the best entrepreneurs in wrestling by fellow Hall of Famer, Jim Ross, Colón is a definite luminary in professional wrestling.
The Wyatt Family interrupted a sales pitch for the WWE Network, Bray Wyatt once again warning John Cena of what’s to come at WrestleMania 30.
Kane and The Shield then make their way toward the ring heading into the commercial break. It appears The Shield will be ringside with Kane.
Back from commercial and Kane is making his entrance, sans Shield, who were accompanying him in the backstage area. The Big Show makes his entrance next and the match begins with The Shield nowhere to be found. A few moments into the match The Shield casually saunter to the ring, Kane showing his disappointment in The Shield before continuing the match with The Big Show. The arrival of The Shield was a boost of confidence for the Director of Operations however as he was in the driver’s seat until trying to choke Show, giving Show a chance to regain the advantage while The Shield stood idly by. A chokeslam to The Big Show off the top rope as he tried to re-enter the ring was good for only a two count. At this point Kane then ordered The Shield to enter the ring and attack The Big Show. While The Shield jumped up onto the apron, they did not obey Kane’s order to attack leaving him yelling at all three of them questioning their lack of action before walking into a Chokeslam from The Big Show for the pin.
A seething Kane dragged Seth Rollins into the ring as The Shield were exiting the ringside area. As Kane lifted Rollins for a Chokeslam, he was Speared by Roman Reigns to close the show.
Things are continuing to fall apart for The Authority heading into WrestleMania while The Shield’s bond seems to be strengthening. It will be interesting to see how these two dynamics coalesce as The Shield are still clearly the go-to guys when The Authority needs something done, but as also shown, will march to the beat of their own drum.