Previously on SmackDown
In a radical break from formula, HHH opened the show with a promo. He was explaining how the babyfaces on the roster don't understand what's best for business, when The Miz interrupted him. After a some shoot-y comments about the former WWE champ peaking too early, Hunter makes a re-match of the Awesome one versus Randy Orton.
After World Heavyweight Champion (WHC) Alberto Del Rio (ADR) defeated R-Truth (big Jimmie) in a quick match (squash), his opponent at the last and next pay-per-views (PPV), Rob Van Dam (RVD) ran in to stop a post-match beatdown. This prompted the executives watching in the back to make their title tilt at Battleground a Hardcore Rules match. Another Daniel Bryan ally bit the dust when Zack Ryder was fed to Bray Wyatt.
The Real Americans tried to re-establish their heel credentials by demanding that the audience not chant "We The People" with them, and then began re-establishing their competitive credentials with a victory over The Primetime Players.
When The Shield couldn't stay out of United States champion Dean Ambrose's match against Dolph Ziggler, their one-on-one encounter turned into a six man tag. A frenetic sequence involving Ambrose, Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, Ziggler, Kofi Kingston and RVD ended in another victory for the Hounds.
AJ Lee debuted a new accessory to go with and protect her Divas title - Tamina Snuka. Santino Marella took out Heath Slater, because this show needed some actual entertainment before the main event.
A main event that consisted of Randy Orton beating The Miz until the ref is forced to stop the match. And then pinning him when the Chief Operating Officer restarted the match.
(NOTE: This show was taped on Tuesday for broadcast tonight. Previews are spoiler free, but results are available here)
They can do it from Baton Rogue, Lousiana!
Big Show damn near snapped on Raw, scaring the beautiful and talented Renee Young and almost getting arrested before Stephanie McMahon stepped in to save him (while making a joke about his ability to get and/or keep an erection). He's been booked in a 3-on-1 gauntlet match against The Shield tonight. Will that help him work out his rage, or will he go after his tormentors, too? There's no chance that Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins opponents for this Sunday, the Rhodes brothers, will get involved, is there?
We haven't talked much about The Best in the World, because I'm not sure what to talk about. Ryback hates "bowlies", CM Punk hates Paul Heyman, Curt Axel is kind of a doof who works a hell of a match. Will Punk's PPV record take a turn for the better? Will the Intercontinental championship make it onto the Battleground card?
Other than that, let's play the usual "who stands tall on the go home show" game to predict who will lose on the 6th, shall we?
Expect to pop for:
Rotating good guy punching bags. It's been said that the Best for Business saga has elevated a bunch of guys, especially faces, with its rise. I'm not sure that's the exact way to put it, as I wouldn't call what's been happening to the likes of Kingston, Gabriel or Ryder "elevation".
But it is a new found utility. Rather than being rolled out for a match that no one cares about to pad out a Monday night, a loss for R-Truth or Titus O'Neil is now part of something bigger.
I don't know that it will do much for them in the long run, as even some of the bigger names who were getting a rub out of it like Miz and Ziggler have already drifted to the fringes of the story. But even if it just gets more guys screen time and a PPV paycheck or two, it's good for them and the overall strength of the roster in the long run.
The heat is on:
October PPVs. The card for the weekend looks a little weak, and features guys who work more Superstars than Sundays. There's no reason other than ALL OF THE MONIES to have three PPVs in a month and a half. The buy rate will most likely suck.
The fear is that Daniel Bryan will be blamed, and labeled a non-draw. The real concern maybe should be - what if the kind of long-term, card-wide storytelling we've been enjoying on television since SummerSlam just doesn't work for building to big event shows?
The angles being run now develop beautifully over the course of two or three hours on Raw or Smackdown. But in order to keep telling even variations of those stories, WWE has reverted to the dramatic equivalent of a reset button. Bryan vs. Corporate Aitch is probably leading to one big mark out moment at one of WWE's larger shows - if not one of the Big Four, than maybe something like TLC. But the problem is, one the way to that big payoff, it winds its way through a bunch of other, equally expensive shows where we're being conditioned to expect nothing of major consequence happening.
WWE either needs to throw a big surprise at us in at one of the lesser Fall shows, or learn a lesson from other serialized television shows about giving our heroes smaller obstacles to overcome on their way to the big bad/boss-level opponent. The illusion of momentum is tricky to pull of, but they need to stop trying.
There's a reason treading water isn't an Olympic sport.
Can tonight's broadcast fill out the card and add some meat to matches we just saw variations of a couple of weeks ago?
Let us know what you think WWE in general and tonight's Smackdown in particular can do to freshen up the narrative of big Sunday shows. And be sure to come back for tonight's live blog and all the build to Battleground that CSS will have for you this weekend!