Previously on SmackDown
Special guest star CM Punk provided his thought's on the importance of independence (America's and his) in a show opening promo that was interrupted by World Heavyweight Champion (WHC) Alberto Del Rio. The Straight-Edged one called ADR on his recent face/heel flip-flopping, the champ was incensed and Teddy Long made a one-on-one main event for a change.
Paul Heyman tried to talk his best friend Punk out of the match, but the Best in the World wasn't having it. Heyman accepted Long's request to provide commentary on the main event - thereby working his way down to ringside despite Punk's requests to the contrary.
The Usos sent a message to The Shield when they defeated the Rhodes Scholars. The hounds of justice delivered a message of their own via a shaky cam video from their lair. I still love those videos. We need more of those.
AJ Lee distracted Kaitlyn and cost her her match with Alicia Fox. But the Divas champ was feeling intimidated by the #1 contender, her man arms and the Bella twins and told her lackey Big E Langston to get her out of the arena, pronto. She didn't seem too concerned with whether her boyfriend, Dolph Ziggler, knew about it or not, either.
Ziggler beat Drew McIntyre and then made he and his bandmates look foolish with a post-match game of cats and mouse.
Christian lost "one more match" to Randy Orton, as The Viper remains Captain Charisma's personal kryptonite. It was another solid outing in a library full of them for that pair.
Fandango reminded us that he was back, and how to pronounce his name, when he defeated Justin Gabriel in singles action.
And a story-driven finish to the main event saw Punk's babyface turn take an important step when he stood up for his friend against an attack by the WHC. It's moments like this one that will allow the eventual reveal of Heyman's villainy to really sting for the Chicagoan and his faithful followers.
(NOTE: This show was taped on Tuesday for broadcast tonight. Previews are spoiler free, but results are available here)
It's go-home-so-a-rama from the Hampton Coliseum in Hampton, VA! I like that Hampton has a Coliseum, because when I think gladiators and public spectacle, I think coastal Virgina.
Not sure if it will come tonight or earlier in the day, but WWE.com is saying an announcement regarding Kane's status for the All-Stars ladder match will be made today. And if the Big Red Monster can't go after the red briefcase, will he be replaced or will there only be six contenders for the contract for a WWE championship shot?
I'd expect that, like Monday, we'll get matches made up of contenders for the briefcases. Hopefully the "future stars" will get more than one backstage segment...maybe Dean Ambrose will even show up and get involved with his competitors.
And while the likely main event for Sunday's show in Philadelphia won't get more than the Raw Rebound treatment, it would be nice if the WHC feud could be better served than they were by Monday's mood lighting and awkward run-in promo thing (more on that below).
Expect to pop for:
Fandango. After being pushed a little too high a little too fast, the dancing sensation might just be finding his groove.
You don't want to ever say that getting concussed was a good thing, but forcing creative to take a chill pill and stop pushing the former Johnny Curtis down our throats - and better yet, stop trying to manufacture him into a pop culture and social media phenomenon - may be just the thing that lets him get over as a pro wrestler.
He's risen to the challenge of working with big names on the biggest stages the form has. So, unlike a lot of new guys or new characters, we know he can play there. So now, as we saw last week, we let him build himself up a little more working with the Justin Gabriels of the world.
The match for the blue briefcase gives him a lot of talented performers to work with, as well as a good opportunity to show his unique blend of strong wrestling, a few impressive aerial maneuvers and heelish avoidance techniques. He's not going to win, and he probably shouldn't at this point. Fandango needs to find his heel/face balance (crowds want to cheer him; the character and performance are too over-the-top fun), and Summer Rae needs to be integrated into the act.
If we just let him breathe into his role a little more, we could really have something here.
The heat is on:
Dolph Ziggler. After I watched Smackdown last weekend, I completely expected to be putting Ziggy in the section above. I thought his segment with 3MB was WWE heels vs. dick/face done right. Of course the heels will be sore losers and attempt to jump you with numbers after the bell. And rather than using your superhuman powers to fight them off and assault them after they're already wounded, or waiting to spring your own trap on them later, you use your superior abilities to make them look foolish.
That's how a hero takes down bullies. That's how a guy who KNOWS that he's better than his opponents "shows off". It seemed like a big step forward for him as a babyface.
Then whatever that segment was on Raw happened.
In retrospect, maybe I should have seen it coming when the it's-never-going-to-get-over (and I mean never) catch phrase "Show...off" reared its ugly head prior to the match with McIntyre. And, no, the booking did him no favors, sending him out to talk while a match was in process. But creative hamstrings everyone from time to time, and you have to salvage something from it. Flubbing a line (saying the Del Rio "flanted" his wealth) while the crickets are audible is not treading water; it's kicking and splashing before you go under.
I've never been the platinum-haired bump machine's biggest fan, but I do enjoy him and he seems like a good dude who deserves every chance at a long career. But I don't like the streak he's been on.
The individual highs are high: the cash-in and the double turn. But outside of that, disappearing due to a concussion, receiving limited time after losing the strap while the new champ main events with the biggest stars, a bad promo and segment, getting broken off from the second valet/manager who's more over than you...even the biggest doomsayers couldn't have predicted all that.
Bad timing, bad luck...it sucks. But I don't think it bodes well for his upward mobility.
It's the last chance for everyone to angle for position before the pay-per-view (PPV). Hopefully that means good matches and not a lot of recaps.
Dive into the live blog with us tonight, and keep it here all weekend long for previews and news heading into Money in the Bank!