WWE SmackDown returned last night (March 29, 2013) from Hershey, PA, with a taped show on the SyFy channel, featuring the continued build to WrestleMania 29. It seems this was the week WWE was determined to be perfectly average. If you missed the show, or just want to go back and read the live blog again, click here.
To the reactions!
- The Rock came back to "his" show last night, not necessarily to hype the match with John Cena at WrestleMania 29, but mostly just to be entertaining and get the crowd fired up. I understand how people can hate "Story Time with The Rock" as a self-indulgent and cheap gimmick. But if I'm sitting in the crowd and The Rock himself talks about hanging out in my hometown, I'm going to mark out. The whole thing might have been dumb, but in a really fun way. Finding out how "candy ass" was created by someone trying to take Rocky's Whatchamacallit is probably false, but it was a fun tale. He finally brought it back to facing Cena, until...
- John Laurinaitis made his triumphant return! Oh, it has been far too long. I had forgotten how much I love this man. He comes out, completely self-aware that the segment will end with him eating a finisher, and saying some of the most ridiculous things I may have ever heard. It was a complete non-sequitor, but I enjoyed it immensely. Laurinaitis is a rorschach test for smarks. You either love the absurdness, the self-awareness, the "gimmick" of never having a promo without a flub or slip up. Or you think he's dull, stupid, boring, and should burn in the depths of pro wrestling hell. He really is a fascinating character. It's a damn shame John Cena got him fired. I really hope someone kicks Cena's ass for that.
- One last point on the opening segment: The Rock vs. John Cena at WrestleMania 29 has nothing to do with The Rock. The story revolves solely around Cena's redemption and his quest to reach the top. Rocky is simply an obstacle in the way. Which is why I'm more than fine with segments like this. Everything doesn't have to be so damn serious all the time. This is pro wrestling. It's supposed to be fun.
- Sheamus, Orton & Show continue to bicker and argue, but it looks like they have fully come together as a functioning team. S.O. S. -- shut up, I don't see you coming up with a better name -- even managed to send The Shield running for the hills to close the show. Which of course means they are almost certain to fall apart at the seams. I've said it before, but this angle is far too thin to be stretched out over Monday Night Raw, Main Event, and SmackDown. Unless WWE surprises me with something new, this should have been the go-home moment heading into WrestleMania. Now we have at least Mon. and Fri. nights to watch repeats of the same thing. Even The Shield's shaky cam promo seemed to fall below their normal level of excellence. I'm really interested in what will happen next, but it has become a waiting game until April 7.
- It's a damn shame Team Rhodes Scholars & Antonio Cesaro were the ones who were jobbed out to S.O.S., but I do understand it; you can only face 3MB and other complete jokes so many times. The match itself was actually really fun to watch, and the mark in me loved the heels eating everyones' finishers. Hopefully, following WrestleMania, Cody Rhodes, Damien Sandow, and Cesaro are used to the best of their potential.
- Antonio Cesaro debuted speaking five languages, which was a cute little gimmick. Then he started carrying a United States flag to the ring, which was a beautiful bit of heelin'. Now he yodels, which...yeah. Not a fan of the yodeling.
- It's nice to see Alberto Del Rio and Jack Swagger actually go after each other instead of the proxy war. Following Swagger's match with The Great Khali -- which was about as bad it sounds -- the #1 Contender decided to go after little Hornswoggle. Ricardo Rodriguez came down the ramp, seemingly offering himself up. But it was all a trap, simply a way to have Del Rio sneak up from behind and attack Swagger himself. It's about as simple of booking as one could have. Nothing really wrong with it, nothing really new being added. The angle has clearly stalled. Just a little while longer before this thing is either forced to evolve or dies out.
- The mixed tag team match between Daniel Bryan & Kaitlyn and Dolph Ziggler & AJ Lee was about as perfect booking as one can get. Bryan and Ziggler continue to be amazing to watch in the ring, but you limit it to keep fans wanting more. You show that Kaitlyn and AJ can work, and get people excited about the Divas match. You have a brawl outside the ring to create chaos, so the heels aren't hurt by the loss. Ideally, this would be the way to get fans wanting to see more Divas action. You pair them up with the best workers in the company so people are actually interested, and they get excited about a real one-on-one match. Of course, WWE is never going to follow through with anything Divas related. But for what it was, the match did everything it needed to do.
- Can WWE ever not let their storylines slide backwards? Fandango started off by refusing to fight until someone said his name correctly. It was a cheap way to try and gain some heat. It worked for some fans, others thought it was stupid, but it made sense for the character. Then Fandango attacked Chris Jericho, costing him a match and laying him out in the ring. It started the feud and gave a reason for the pair to meet up at WrestleMania. Then last night, Fandango comes down to the ring after Jericho defeated Wade Barrett, only to dance back up the ramp. It seems like such a step in the wrong direction. Things need to move forward, they need to advance, or it just becomes a waste of time. I'm enjoying Fandango, and I adore everything about Jericho. But please stop killing time, WWE.
All told, it was an average show from "The Blue Brand." Which would be fine most weeks. But this is supposed to be the "Road to WrestleMania" for crying out loud. Average does not cut it.
What say you, Cagesiders? Was this week's SmackDown a strong showing in your eyes, or is the promotion failing to hype the "Grandaddy of Them All" in a satisfactory manner? Let me know how right -- or how wrong -- I am in the comments.