Previously on SmackDown
The cerebral assassin made like a politician, and welcomed his constituents to a town hall meeting. He encouraged his employees to speak freely, and then ridiculed face and heel alike when they did so. HHH felt it was a really productive meeting, though, as it allowed him to plant the seed of Daniel Bryan as thinking he's bigger than the rest of the roster. And make matches designed to keep his opposition down.
Starting with WWE champion Randy Orton defeating Rob Van Dam. The man RVD is chasing, World Heavyweight Champion (WHC) Alberto Del Rio appeared to beat up his former ring announcer during the match and put the boots to Mr. (what night is RVD married to now?) after the Viper's win.
Daniel Bryan cut a great promo saying that his ego only leads him to believe he should be WWE champion, and that The Shield could pick which one of them faced him since he knew all three would get involved anyway. Renee Young was there, which may have caused me to grade the interview a bit higher, but I'm almost positive it was killer on its own merits.
Ryback defeated Dolph Ziggler with help from Dean Ambrose at the announce table. Kofi Kingston took down Intercontinental champion Curtis Axel, which vexed Paul Heyman since a similar stumble at Night of Champions means that CM Punk gets him one-on-one.
AJ Lee riled up the non-Total Divas Divas, leading to another embarrassing looking brawl in the middle of an otherwise solid storyline. The Real Americans actually won a match, when The Usos fell to a sweet spot where Jack Swagger pushed Jimmy off the ropes and straight into an European uppercut from Antonio Cesaro.
Finally, it looked like DB was going to get to stand tall after fighting off Ambrose and Roman Reigns to emerge victorious from his one-on-one match with Seth Rollins. But the champ slithered in behind him and clocked him with the belt, as villainy again reigned supreme.
(NOTE: This show was taped on Tuesday for broadcast tonight. Previews are spoiler free, but results are available here)
From the capital of the 51st state! I kid, Canadians, I kid.
He gave the COO a little too much lip on Monday night, and ended up being escorted from the building. But Hunter has reconsidered and decided that having a pissed off Edge on Smackdown is what's best for business. Expect The Cutting Edge to continue to serve as a vehicle to advance the WWE championship story, and maybe plant a seed for Christian's next comeback.
Keep an eye on who comes out on top in any interaction between Sunday's competitors. The old pro wrestling adage says that the guys (or gal) who looks good tonight will be looking at the lights come the pay-per-view (PPV).
And, really, all I want to know is if Ambrose's red, white and blue belt will be on the line at a show called Night of Champions...
Expect to pop for:
Kofi Kingston. The Wildcat - and yes, he'll always be The Wildcat to me - has been doing solid work over the last month plus since his return from injury. And they've been booking him to win for the most part, too.
As I've discussed in the past, I don't think a WWE championship run is ever going to, nor should it, happen. Maybe he gets a turn with the WHC as a career achievement award at some point. With his long list of mid-card title reigns and loyal service, he'll be on the undercard of a Hall of Fame class at some point if he doesn't burn any bridges with the company. But no one's going to be arguing him as an all-time great.
His inclusion into the Punk-Heyman issues is interesting, though, and could be something that raises his profile above "guy who does some crazy spot in every battle royal". He has a long history with the Intercontinental championship and the man who currently holds it, and his bouts with Axel (under this and his previous WWE name) are always solid, sometimes spectacular affairs. His real-life friendship with the Second City Saint has been slowly working its way into kayfabe.
Those two things could combine to get him a lot of screen time - and hopefully the chance to show more of his actual personality. I presume that the acerbic, pop culture loving Punk's best friend in the entire company probably has more to him than boom, boom, boom. Worst case, he gets another title for his résumé of four IC reigns and three each with the tag and US belts. Best case, he gets a rub from working more with his friend and moves up to the Christian-level as a guy who can be used in higher profile feuds when needed.
The heat is on:
Paul Heyman. Similarly to his Straight-Edge mentee who was in this space for last Monday's Raw preview, his current program seems to be a little flat - at least for the internet wrestling community (IWC) and I'm starting to wonder how much blame he should get for it.
The man credited for making ECW the smart fans alternative during the Monday Night Wars has gotten quite a lot of love lately. And he's earned most of it with his peerless microphone work. But some of it based on the notion, begun in the scripted world of WWE by Punk's pipe bomb, of his "guys" all being big stars.
Now, not only his latest guy floundering, but what started as a blood feud isn't fueling buy rates - and it's rumored to only be getting started. Hopefully, Heyman and Punk can find another gear - and Creative will infuse some fresh talent into the program - or this could be the 2013 version of Punk - Jericho.
Go home? I am home! Now it's Smackdown's turn to convince us to stay home Sunday night and buy Night of Champions.
Talk about the as relevant as ever blue brand below, hit up the live blog tonight and stay with CSS all weekend long for all your PPV needs!