WWE Friday Night SmackDown hit the SyFy airwaves last night (Feb. 28, 2014) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with a taped show featuring the fallout episode from the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view (PPV) that went down this past Sunday night in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Click here for full results and the live blog from the show if you missed it. Let's get to reactions. These were written as the show moved along with real time reactions to everything that occurred hour-by-hour.
- I'm wondering why they didn't acknowledge Nelson Frazier Jr's death on Raw but at least they bothered with the "in memory" flasher at the top of the show. He may not have been a huge star for the company but he was a prominent performer at various points. Rest in peace.
- It goes without saying, or it should, but WWE can manipulate the audio for SmackDown. Batista's music hitting was followed by a thunderous chorus of boos and, if anything, they were turned up to 11. The Batista spotlight also made its return for his promo and, it must be said, he did a hell of a job in this new role. It was absolutely the right decision to turn him heel and let him run with all the talking points he used while he was gone. Having him come out and tell us he's going to destroy all our heroes? That's brilliant. Having him take his shirt off while telling us how much better he is than everyone else? Awesome.
- Also, Batista made sure to mention Bryan without ever saying his name. If nothing else, that leaves the door open for Bryan to sneak into the WrestleMania 30 WWE world heavyweight title match. Or, if not that, they could work a program after it. It's an easy feud to book, especially considering Batista having made shoot comments that he doesn't understand how Bryan could ever get over being who he is in WWE.
- Dolph Ziggler wasn't much more than a meal to feed Batista, but I actually liked his fire when he came out and demanded a match. Also absolutely adored "The Animal's" condescending reaction to it before accepting. Great babyface/heel interaction with Dolph hitting a dropkick before running away while Batista fumed to the delight of the crowd.
- That was a home run opening segment.
- Sometimes I wonder about little decisions that must be made and how they, whoever "they" may be, go about making them. For instance, Big E and Mark Henry coming out as a tag team for a match. Whose music gets played? They went with Henry, and to my ears that was the right call, but why would they put his music on instead of the Intercontinental champion?
- Cesaro hit the deadlift suplex from the turnbuckle on Big E. You should love this guy.
- The way the Real Americans are going about breaking up is actually pretty great, if that's what they're doing. This way, we got Swagger and his Patriot Act giving way to Cesaro giving Henry the Neutralizer. It was a thing of beauty. Plus, Cesaro is clearly positioned as the superior here and that's exactly the way it should be.
- A Sheamus vs. Alberto Del Rio match is death for a fan like me who just can't understand what the appeal is of either character. Sheamus is an Irish tough guy who says "fella" too much and Del Rio is a smooth talking Latino who says "Perro" too much. Both can go just fine in the ring but their characters leave you wanting quite a bit. Throwing Christian into the mix is putting all the guys you can call stars who can work but struggle as characters in the same place at the same time. I don't know that this is a good thing. Maybe.
- Oh man, Sheamus' two strips of black tape is a real thing.
- Christian is wearing a suit and sunglasses indoors, he's definitely a heel now, you guys.
- The Sheamus forearms through the ropes spot slays me because there is nothing stopping the guy taking them from simply unhooking his arms and moving out of the way. Maybe you can get away with it when a guy is super tired or already selling a big move, but not when he's clearly fine to improve his situation and he refuses too. This is the psychology we don't like.
- I do enjoy Sheamus using the Cloverleaf submission. Actually I was watching Souled Out 1998 on the WWE Network the other night and Dean Malenko put the Cloverleaf on Kidman and pushed the guy all across the ring with it. It was glorious. Perhaps that paints Sheamus using it, and well, in a far more flattering light. Either way, I like it.
- Credit: Christian's Killswitch on Sheamus was pretty.
- And here's Alexander Rusev. More importantly, here's Lana. I don't get how this guy is supposed to get over. They literally brought him out and had him say something in a foreign language before raising his hands while a beautiful woman stood below him. This is supposed to make me want to watch him wrestle? He looks like a powerlifter who competes in strongman competitions. Again, nothing that really makes me want to see him wrestle. They're going with it, though, so we'll see.
- Enjoyed the promo from The Shield. Roman Reigns actually got the chance to show his range and you know what? He wasn't bad, though this was a controlled environment. Still, Seth Rollins has consistently shown himself to be just as good as the other two while so few have been outwardly willing to give him credit for as much.
- I was surprised Batista gave Ziggler the kind of offense he did early in their match. In fact, you could argue "The Animal" was making him look better than anyone else has in months. I assumed the idea of booking a match like this would be to have Dolph bump like a madman, making Batista look really good in the process. After all, the couple matches he's had since returning have been absolute trash. Instead, we got an evenly booked match, with Ziggler getting a ton of offense in, including a near fall, before Batista took over late and powered his way to victory. He looked good along the way, too. His promo and the match he had here turned me. I wanted him gone this morning, but by the end of all this, I'm glad he's here working heel. A program with Daniel Bryan sounds delicious to me.
- "Milwaukee ... we're here." Never end.
- Bray Wyatt promos won't ever get old, trust that. Even if he doesn't have anything to say, he'll deliver the message in such a way that it will be captivating. It's better when you agree with his premise, of course.
- Hate, hate, hate, hate Triple H coming out and stopping a brawl from happening because he "needs time for promotion". Yes, I get that it's smart for business to hold off on this match until a show like Raw in Chicago next Monday night but I absolutely do not want that to become part of the narrative on television. That's not the story, that's the nonsense that should only exist outside it. The unreality era is unbelievably annoying when it goes this far. You can't have it both ways with stuff like this. You just can't.
- Maybe it's just me but the Funkadactyls dance doesn't work for me with only one of the two. Girl, bye. That video package they showed of Total Divas beforehand at least appears to be pushing Cameron's character in a new direction, something like what AJ Lee has been except as a babyface. Anyway, this match sucked. AJ's application of the Black Widow was lazy and uninspired, and so was Cameron's sell of it. This was dumb.
- Loved Booker T mentioning Frank Mir in his analysis of Brock Lesnar wanting to fight, although he kind of sort of put Mir on the same level as "The Deadman" and that's just not okay.
- Kane, Road Dogg Jesse James and Bad Ass Billy Gunn was an oddly fitting team. Corporate Kane's ring gear is his best ever.
- When is the last time a six-man tag match held under the WWE umbrella didn't impress? Have we had even one bad six-man tag in the past two years or so? Even when you're pairing The Usos with Daniel Bryan against the likes of Kane and the New Age Outlaws, they're still having matches that are, if nothing else, incredibly fun to watch. This was a great match to send us off to Chicago and all the intrigue that awaits us there.
This was a damn good show. Batista's performance was about as good as it could have been, all things considered. His turn here changes the game for WrestleMania 30. I loved it.
That's it from me, Cagesiders. Now it's your turn to sound off in the comments section below with all your thoughts on last night's show. How did you like it, if you liked it at all?