What you need to know
Triple H is such a heat-seeking missile that he'll steal Betty White's thunder. But that's just good heelin', and the leader of The Authority knows a thing or two about playing the heavy. The man that Hunter made the WWE World Heavyweight champ tried to apologize for his recent childish behavior, but Trips and his wife didn't look convinced. They certainly weren't swayed by the people's choice for face of the WWE, and they gave Daniel Bryan Monday night off.
Continuing to back up his mouth with his workrate, Bray Wyatt finished off Rey Mysterio in fantastic fashion. The Shield (especially Roman Reigns) are working that problem in reverse, showing off mic skills to match the high level of ring work we're accustomed to from the trio. The two groups built to their upcoming Elimination Chamber showdown with one of the coolest face-offs in pro wrestling history.
Half of the men who'll be locked in the Chamber on February 23rd faced each other in a tag match, with Christian and Sheamus edging out The Real Americans just before Zeb Colter cussed out Jack Swagger and Cesaro dropped his first name.
Alberto Del Rio is being rebuilt (at the expense of Dolph Ziggler) in order to get fed to Batista in Minneapolis at the next pay-per-view (PPV). We may have sussed that out last week, but The Game let his Evolution stable mate know it on Raw.
Tag champs the New Age Outlaws tried to top America's sweetheart at the her own games, that being the pranking she and fellow senior citizens will be doing on White's show Off Their Rockers. Betty got the best of them though, and Billy Gunn wasn't even able to stick around to see The Usos high fly their way another step closer to a shot at he and Road Dogg's belts.
Hugging, they could do. Following The Authority's orders to stay home? Not so much. Kane came out to say that he accepted being placed on administrative leave, so D-Bry stole Darren Young's "no days off" schtick and hit the ring to hit Kane with a flying knee.
To close out the show, John Cena and The Viper turned back the clock and put on a really good main event. The Champ who is here beat the champ with two belts, and Randy now has a losing record against his opponents for Elimination Chamber.
What to look out for
Orton's tour de challengers takes him to the Swiss Real American. Now that he's doesn't have to carry around the baggage of two names, he should be in much better shape to face a multiple-time WWE champ.
The advertised man event is an eight-man tag that pits NAO and Rybaxel against Cody Rhodes, Goldust and The Usos. Somebody get The Big Guy a Twittah Masheen!
And, hey, remember that white and gold belt? The Contra title or something like that? Well, they've decided it should be defended at least as often as Dean Ambrose's United States belt, so they've managed to get the paperwork done in order to have a fatal fourway to determine the #1 contender to Big E's crown. Who's in it? That would be telling, but if you listen to the podcast, you'll find out.
What they should do
Like those little candy hearts are to Valentines Day, bullet points are to Smackdown previews:
- If there is anything to the lingering rumors that Bryan will be pulled out of next Sunday's six-way for the title in order to face Kane, some kind of Authority-driven assault on The Beard should happen tonight. Then on Monday, have D-Bry come out and say "there's no point in my chasing the WWE World Heavyweight championship until I've proven to Triple H that I'm an A player. And the only way to do that is to take out The Authority's man...IN. THIS. RING."
- Start giving us more backstage skits and interviews. They've got the best reporter since Mean Gene on staff, and now they've called up Byron Saxton from developmental to support her. He's no Renee Young, but he's okay. More importantly, there will be pre and post-shows for Raw and Smackdown soon, so not having air time will really not be a valid excuse. Interview segments are what helped performers like Xavier Woods and Emma to get over in Florida, and they need to be brought back ASAP to help them on the main stage. They'd also be a boon to mid-carders like Titus O'Neil, Darren Young and Fandango who are trying to tell stories with three minutes of on-air time a week right now.
- Keep Cesaro as a heel. He's got some crowd-pleasing moves like The Swing, but he's so much better as a rudo. If WWE is high on his workrate but worried about his ability to get over on the stick, a face turn could be disastrous. Swagger could work as a goofy babyface badass, especially if he starts with Colter verbally assaulting him to get fans on Jack's side.
- Okay, that last one is largely an undercover plea to get the eagle back. And to anyone who would say that having a dude in an mascot costume is stupid, well, tell 'em Jack...
What we're afraid they will do
Not bring back Swagger's Soaring Eagle? Have pre and post shows on WWE Network consist of nothing but Michael Cole explaining how to download the app and The Bellas telling you how to use a remote control?
Our fears need more than just bullet points.
But we'll stay positive, if for no other reason than SHIELD VERSUS WYATTS IS HAPPENING!
Are you feeling positive heading into the penultimate Friday night show before the Network Era begins?
Let us know in the comments below, and come on back to hang in the open thread with your Smackdown peeps tonight!