Previously on SmackDown
Chris Jericho took time out from feuding with one 31 year old rookie (Fandango), to mix it up with another (Ryback). When the pair had a difference of opinion on The Highlight Reel, Teddy Long jumped at the opportunity to book them in a main event.
Big E Langston was scheduled to face Jack Swagger as a way of advancing the angles for the triple threat for E's running buddy, Dolph Ziggler's World Heavyweight Championship (WHC). But before a non-finish that saw Alberto Del Rio atop a ladder, Swagger had concussed Ziggler and changed the whole dynamic of the upcoming pay-per-view (PPV) match.
A smart mark dream match between Daniel Bryan and Dean Ambrose thickened the plot for The Shield's upcoming challenge of Team Hell No's tag team championships. A run-in by United States champion Kofi Kingston earned Ambrose a victory by disqualification. More importantly, it planted the seeds for a future US title tilt.
Other men have pulled one truck, or even buses and such. Pulling one truck isn't what Mark Henry does. Pulling two trucks is what he do!
Big Show and Randy Orton both got to display their finishers. In another quick match that was all about moving stories forward, Show knocked out Sweet T with a WMD. But the viper slithered in and hit an RKO after the bell.
Khali has more disguises than Clouseau. And I'm worried about myself for finding him kind of funny in the role of backstage detective investigating Kaitlyn's secret admirer.
Y2J got a pretty solid match out of big hungry, but a DQ finish caused by the Ryback intentionally the racking the Jericho on the ring post ended the night on a weird note.
(NOTE: This show was taped on Tuesday for broadcast tonight. Previews are spoiler free, but results are available here)
As the last stop before asking fans to plop down their money for a pay-per-view (PPV), you should expect lots of action featuring the main eventers against enhancement talent, some tense interactions between combatants set to do battle at Extreme Rules and everyone explaining to you why this event is different and you'll want to be watching.
Or, you know, Raw recaps, Miz TV and random tag matches.
You won't be getting Brock Lesnar, HHH or John Cena, except maybe in one or more of the aforementioned recaps.
With a number of last minute changes and additions to the card announced Monday night, it would be nice to see time spent in those areas especially. The WHC triple threat is now an "I Quit" match for #1 contender status, in a rematch of the WrestleMania 29 championship contest. Maybe some explanation of why we should care about the continuance of a feud that nobody cared too much about in the first place?
The Shield suddenly has two different title opportunities. There's tons of backstory for the tag match between Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns and Team Hell No of Bryan & Kane, but Ambrose and Kingston for the US strap is a recent beef that could certainly use some fleshing out.
The Sheamus - Mark Henry and Big Show - Randy Orton dances will no doubt continue. And speaking of dancing - Fandango and Chris Jericho were both scheduled to be on hand in Raleigh, NC.
Looks like we're doing another PPV without a woman's match, so there may be nothing for the Divas but some secret admirer shenanigans. Teddy Long must be exhausted from all the tag matches last week, but he'll probably find the strength to book one or two more.
Expect to pop for:
Dean Ambrose. We love him, the legends of the business-ah love him...and he probably doesn't give two $#!+s. Which only makes us love him more. The singles title shot positions him as the front runner to break big as a solo act when the inevitable Shield-splosion occurs, and it's hard to argue against. His "big" offense could use some work; it's been said that his finisher is a little lacking. But he does the little things so very well that you can never take your eyes off of him when he's on screen. It'll be interesting to see how he handles a championship feud. There's not much chance of his losing clean, but it's debatable whether a DQ or other non-finish would be better or worse than holding the seemingly cursed US strap.
Teddy Long. The senior advisor has been getting to flex his muscle while General Manager Booker T has been on the shelf with an elbow injury. Theodore R has been a fixture on Smackdown for so long that it's hard to remember or think of it without him. A slow burn power struggle was teased between Teddy and Booker before 'Mania, with both guys showing signs of turning. I'm not big on authority figure feuds, but I'd like to see a truly villainous figure take over one of the "brands", so if this were to lead to that...
The heat is on:
Miz. Imagine you were famous for a few reasons and started to pursue your dream profession. Because of all that, you could get booked for interviews quite easily, and you were a really good representative for yourself and your employer in those interviews. But despite a bunch of opportunities, you just couldn't get past a certain plateau in your field and your customers started to resent you for the stuff you were good at and the opportunities that brought - like representing the company outside of the primary business.
Somebody important obviously loves Miz and recognizes the good publicity he can engender for WWE. But if your best ambassador isn't much of a pro wrestler/sports entertainer, is it worth it? The "awesome one" is spending more time outside of WWE rings than in them these days. While that may please his "haters", it certainly doesn't help him improve. He's treated like a special attraction right now, but the hardcore fan base doesn't care. Do the casual fans stop caring how good you are on Conan if they've never seen you wrestle?
What do you do with a problem like Mizanin?
Fans who like finishes. Uh, what is this, TNA? DQs. Count outs. Run ins. No contests. That doesn't even count the dance and face offs. With six hours of programming to fill each week, it has to be a challenge to keep things fresh and keep the right guys looking strong. But it gets frustrating when there's little to no payoff to a contest that takes up ten or twenty minutes of time. And in their effort to protect wrestlers with indecisive results, they often times leave everyone involved looking weaker. Potential remedies for this are a much longer conversation, but the non-pinfall/submission endings have really stuck out in the build to Extreme Rules. And what a slapped together PPV card doesn't need is build that consists of network time killers.
SmackDown's reputation as the show with quality wrestling is on the ropes as we've been getting as many angles as an average Raw, plus replays! Can they turn it around before the PPV?
Let us know what you think, dear readers. Start getting geared up for a big weekend here, chat it up in the live blog/open thread tonight and stay with us all weekend as we get ready to get EXTREME.