WWE Friday Night SmackDown hit the SyFy airwaves last night (April 18, 2014) from Nashville, Tennessee, with a taped show featuring all the latest build to the Extreme Rules event early next month in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
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 really, really, really like that WWE is pushing "Believe in Evolution" in the midst of the hottest feud going right now. Double entendre FTW.
- This Shield vs. Evolution story has become an old war tale. Soldiers marching off to test the King of Kings and his henchmen. A battle for power, and control. The old guard refusing to release its death grip over the realm while the once proud defenders of that have shed their label as mercenaries and assumed the role of heroic hounds of justice. This feels so very Final Fantasy Tactics to me, and I love it. Does this make Roman Reigns Delita? Or probably Ramza, really. Delita was a far more interesting character, though.
- Big E definitely entered a pop, lock, and drop it competition, didn't he? Hey, I'm just glad someone at WWE had the foresight to not book Big E vs. Alberto Del Rio as an Intercontinental title match after the latter lost in the first round of a tournament to crown a number one contender to that very title on Raw this past Monday night. That would have been a very WWE thing to do. As it were, they booked Big E to win this match via disqualification because Del Rio was unwilling to release the Cross Armbreaker. I'm not sure why it's more important to push Del Rio as the unrelenting heel than it is Big E as the fighting champion who, you know, actually wins a match every now and again.
- I did like that WWE booked a finish that included a referee firmly establishing a rule -- that he would disqualify a wrestler for not breaking a hold before the count of five -- and then enforcing that rule when it was broken -- disqualifying the wrestler who held for the five count. If they were more consistent with this, pro wrestling would be better off for it.
- You know why it works to have Paul Heyman repeatedly drive home that his client, Brock Lesnar, conquered the streak? Because it's the one thing he can't say so often that it loses meaning. It will never lose meaning. It was such a historic moment in WWE history, such an amazing event, that he can just repeatedly talk about it for the next year and we have to acknowledge its impact. I'm not sure I'll ever hear Heyman say Lesnar broke the streak and not feel that tinge of shock remembering the moment the referee slapped that mat for the third time and Undertaker's shoulders stayed down. It also works because Heyman is so damn entertaining when he talks about it. So, there's that.
- Tamina might be the worst promo of any wrestler in the past five years. Never seen someone so stiff when they talk. Check that, I spoke too soon. They gave Aksana a microphone in the ring before her match with Paige and she managed to measure up quite well.
- It's appreciated that the announce team is bothering to admit to how god awful the story was with Paige debuting and winning the Divas title. Not that it happened, mind you, just how they booked it to happen. Paige came out just to say thanks and was goaded into challenging for the belt while she meekly sat back and apologized for even making AJ think she was being disrespectful. It just didn't make a lot of sense. With that said, she's gradually showing more of a mean streak and her offense gets vicious at times. Add that scream in and the booking might not be so bad in the end. Paige is slowly winning matches and seemingly gaining confidence as she goes. That's good. Having her win the belt the way they did confuses that story, though.
- They started hour two of this show with El Torito vs. Hornswoggle. It was exactly what you would expect: two little people wrestling a match and fans reacting to two little people wrestling a match while JBL made really bad jokes on commentary. Los Matadores and 3MB were awesome coaching up their respective guy on the outside. This was either dumb fun and you enjoyed it, or offensively stupid and you hated it. Me? It was there and I found what I could find to like about it. The Bull-sault El Torito hit for the finish was great.
- I'm not sure whose decision it was to have Lana get her own entrance music, titantron, entrance, and intro before bringing out Alexander Rusev but it is absolutely the right thing to do. She is the star of the duo and me thinks WWE understands this. They need to be together for now, though, and that's fine because it works. CRUSH.
- I can't watch the Ultimate Warrior tribute video without getting emotional. WWE is masterful in how quick they put those together and it always comes off classy and tasteful, even with the history of bad blood between the two sides in this particular instance.
- Why did we get that date with Emma and Santino where she outright stated she didn't want to be with him and they're going along with the pairing of the two anyway? I understand they can do the platonic relationship thing and a man and a woman can run together without being a couple but this just seems odd considering the story. Wait, what the hell is the story here? Santino wants Emma, Emma doesn't want Santino, and the two hang out together? It just feels like there's a better way to use Emma in all this, although I did enjoy her tackling Layla to give Santino the win over Fandango.
- I spoke too soon. They did a great gimmick with Santino accidentally high-fiving Emma using the Cobra and Emma selling like her arm went totally limp. She was perfect here.
- Batista vs. Sheamus was just sort of a match that happened, no? Fine for a main event on a SmackDown, and it was actually a solid match for what it was. Probably the best Batista has looked since he's been back, though that isn't saying a whole lot. Plus, it had some measure of a story behind it, what with Batista laying waste to Sheamus a few weeks back and this being the follow up. It felt a whole lot like they booked this like two titans squaring off in a match that may not be deeply meaningful now but WWE could easily revisit later as a top level program.
About as forgettable as could be.
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?