Previously on SmackDown
What has become almost an unofficial open for the Friday night staple, Miz TV, gets us underway. The Awesome One and his guests, Dolph Ziggler and The Big Show, discussed how difficult it was to watch HHH's power play on the previous Raw. Show couldn't even get out a complete thought before the Chief Operating Officer (COO) interjected.
Explaining again his stewardship of pro wrestling, what was best for business last week was for Miz to face WWE champion Randy Orton, Ziggler to have a handicap match against The Shield and for Big Show to watch it all from the announcer's desk.
Daniel Bryan made a save for the host of SummerSlam when Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins set in on him after his loss to Orton. But no one saved The Show-Off when he took a triple powerbomb after a spear in his match.
In between the main storyline of the episode, RVD made Damien Sandow look like a chump in a quick match before the World Heavyweight Champion (WHC) cut a promo designed to make Van Dam look like one. The Wyatt Family re-emerged from wherever they were hibernating as Luke Harper and Erick Rowan squashed Tons of Funk. And Curtis Axel was given a microphone for a second, but Paul Heyman took it back and sold us some more on the Night of Champions match between the two of them and CM Punk.
Then, to wrap up the evening's plot, Bryan was well on his way to putting down Ryback when the Viper slithered in to cause a DQ. When he also found himself in a Yes Lock, the Hounds of Justice laid out the Beard. The Giant rose up from ringside and threatened to intervene on DB's behalf, but Hunter ordered him out to the crowd's dismay. The villains then spraypainted our hero and stood tall.
(NOTE: This show was taped on Tuesday for broadcast tonight. Previews are spoiler free, but results are available here)
The twin cities will be the site of the COO's "open forum" for employees. I hope it ends better than the last time he held one of these - somebody better Jimmy Hoffa that rabble-rousing Mike Chioda. The angles with Cody Rhodes and the World's Largest Athlete have been all over their website and we can no doubt expect those to be developed further tonight.
No matches have been officially scheduled, but with the way both shows have been booked of late, plan on Bryan, Ziggler or Show being put in some sort of precarious position by the boss. Will tonight be the night the técnicos get the upper hand, or even a measure of revenge?
And with just a little more than a week until the pay-per-view (PPV), the supporting acts should all get some screen time. Will Heyman respond to Punk's latest tirade? Who makes the next move between The Rio Deal and The Whole F'n Show? What's next for the Divas program - and I don't mean Total Divas?
And will any of The Shield's belts be on the line at Night of Champions? You know, the night where it should be safe to presume that champions will wrestle?
Expect to pop for:
Dolph Ziggler. Long-time Cagesiders probably know that I'm not the biggest Dolph mark on the internet. But even I was bummed out to see how his second WHC run went down the crapper due to injury and general non-commitment from the powers-that-be.
I'd like to nominate Ziggler's late spring/early summer of 2013 for possible inclusion in the 'everything happens for a reason' file, though. I didn't see his inclusion in the Daniel Bryan versus HHH story coming, but, man, is he a perfect fit for it - precisely because of how his last title run went down.
This story is exactly the kind of thing that will get him over as a babyface. His initial transition into WWE-style dickface with dropping AJ Lee (who might or might not be a good girl herself now) and feuding with Big E Langston (can someone put an APB out on him?) was rough, and that's generous. He's always essentially played face-in-peril, even as a heel, and now he's in a story that's a good fit his in-ring style. The offense is improving, and even when it looks high-flying but low impact, at least he'll be laying it on guys we're excited to see him overcome.
Most fans either didn't think his dissing of the Divas champ was that bad, or they're anxious to forget it. So focusing on one fighting spirit underdog narrative that starts with his cash-in, winds through the double turn, sees the machine trying to grind him out in the 'Best for Business' arc - watching him eventually overcome in some form should be quite cathartic for supporters and could cement him as a main event babyface in the deal.
And we'd owe it all to Jack Swagger.
The heat is on:
Big Show. It's clear at this point that one of the main objectives of the HHH story was to elevate Show back to the main event. But as what? I'm not quite as down on the angle or the big man's performance as the boss man, but more in an "I'll give it a few more shows" way than a "let me mount a defense of it" way.
I will tell them how to fix it, though.
I don't think you can convince fans to cheer for him again any time soon. The dressing down and still doing his evil master's bidding on Raw has left us all too angry and wary. But they could keep us confused and give us hints that he might rise up and snap on those that hold his leash. Build to a moment where he storms to the ring, convince the Universe that he's coming to DB (or DZ)'s aid and then have him take out one of our guys without any prodding from the McMahons. Get him to cut one of those promos that he was nailing as WHC at the end of 2012 and...BOOM...monster heel enforcer.
I like him better as a bad guy anyway. And I really don't think he and Mark Henry should be good guys at the same time, or there's no way to justify any of the regime's title holders...without a silly soap opera like we saw on Monday.
Can Smackdown continue to tell a complete story like they did last Friday, and will it be a different story than the one WWE has been telling since SummerSlam?
Let us know what you think in the comments, then meet back up tonight for the live blog and come back tomorrow for some Reactions!