WWE Friday Night SmackDown hit the SyFy airwaves last night (April 25, 2014) from Hershey, Pennsylvania, with a taped show featuring The Shield dishing out punishment and 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.
- What an awesome opening segment. Not only does Paul Heyman continue to find new and interesting ways to tell us that Brock Lesnar conquered the Undertaker's undefeated streak at WrestleMania -- because he did, you know -- but he also found a way to work the same gimmick with Cesaro, who won the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania. Normally a debate complete with podiums on a wrestling show would be a horrible idea, but putting Heyman opposite Colter led to multiple gems and wild entertainment, all while Cesaro and Jack Swagger played second fiddle in the best way possible. This was just fun, because it was two outstanding talkers making it fun, likely without a script.
- "Look at me man-to-man, Paul." - Zeb Colter. "I would love to, but we're one man short, grandpa." - Paul Heyman.
- Cesaro vs. Jack Swagger was a wildly entertaining match for a number of reasons, both because these two can be physical enough to call it a hoss fight without sacrificing a great deal of fluidity in their actions in the ring and because they know each other so well. Cesaro might be underrated for how smooth he executes his power based offense. We also had the added story of Heyman and Colter on the outside trying to outmanage each other after their debate broke down into near violence.
- One thing I'm not sure I like: The set up for the Giant Swing now appears to be for Cesaro to call for it, the other guy to throw a punch and miss, and Cesaro to double leg him down. That might not work for me.
- You know what's perfect? A badass group of three badass guys carrying out badass missions. It's really a simple formula. You give me a reason to get behind the badass guys, make me want to be like them, then set up a scenario where I would want to carry out an ass whooping on various guys who actually deserve to have their ass whooped. There's nothing an American male likes more than the idea of being a total badass who tears through dickheads who deserve it and everyone loving him for it. That's The Shield right now, and that's how they were booked here, at least when they laid waste to Swagger. The spoilers said to expect more and the wait for it is fun in and of itself. Great booking.
- Man, that video package for Paige was perfect. Really, it was everything we wanted at first and badly needed by now. If I was a fan who doesn't watch NXT, I never once had a reason to care about Paige outside of her being a good looking female who somehow managed to defeat the longest reigning Divas champion in history, though she was shy and timid while doing it. This video told us that while that was absolutely the case, she's also worked her ass off to get where she is and she looks forward to proving that she deserves the success she has by winning whatever matches she's in. So far, that's exactly what she's done. So, really, she's been booked perfectly so far. I loved this.
- Tamina vs. Natalya was no mat classic but the spoilers read as though it was a sloppy match that would need heavy editing. Maybe that was true, but I wonder if people weren't being unnecessarily hard on the ladies here. I enjoyed this match, especially the finish that saw Natalya kip up into a superkick and get pinned. Was it perfect? No, but it was miles ahead of what, say, you would get with a Kelly Kelly match.
- Remember the great booking of The Shield with Swagger? No, they weren't done, and yes, it got better. Another hallmark of letting the babyface badasses run wild and having the American males of the world live vicariously through them is you can't do the same beatdown twice. You have to spice it up each time. Having Rollins roll up on 3MB alone at first and the jobbers react like they were tough because they had an advantage was perfect. Having that toughness fade a bit with Ambrose coming into the picture was even better. That transitioning into Reigns stepping up to confront the loudest jobber, Heath Slater, and just staring him down in the foreground while his buddies were beat down in the background was about as good as it gets. Slater, who was Mr. Tough Guy seconds before, suddenly starts bargaining but eats a Superman punch anyway and we can absolutely continue getting behind this because, remember, Slater is the asshole who deserves it. MORE, PLEASE.
- Brad Maddox is the perfect kind of smug. You know why? Because he's beautiful. A gorgeous man should always be smug, and he should always get his ass handed to him because you want to appeal to the majority and the majority of men are ugly as hell.
- Curtis Axel pinning Jey Uso after Ryback pinned Jimmy Uso to set up a tag team title match makes sense and all but Axel vs Jey was painfully slow and uninteresting. Odd set up for the finish and Axel loses points but not having a name for his finisher. But wait! We can help him, can't we? Hit it up in the comments, Cagesiders. Name Curtis Axel's finisher.
- A Bray Wyatt promo isn't even really a promo anymore. I mean, sure, the idea is to get you excited for a match he's getting ready to have, in this case with John Cena, but it's more like an experience. He's written so well that people think he isn't saying anything when he's really saying everything and you just aren't paying enough attention to hear it. He challenges the limits you're willing to accept and what more can we ask of a top level heel opposite the top level babyface who never loses? He's kind of perfect because he's the guy they can beat over and over and he'll erase it all with his smooth tongue and hypnotizing sounds.
- Don't get me wrong, it still sucks something fierce they won't book Cena to lose to build a better story. It really does.
- Maybe it's just me but have Cody Rhodes and Goldust slowed down considerably from late last year? Like, they were the hottest tag team on the roster for months on end and then, out of nowhere, they just went from speeding down the road at a blistering pace to barely keeping up on ther frontage lane? I don't get it. Help?
- The beautiful smug guy got his ass kicked by The Shield. Well done. "Dog off the leash" Dean Ambrose is a favorite.
- As stated previously, the beatdowns had to stay fresh. So they interrupted Fandango's entrance, had Layla go scared shitless at the sight of the hounds, and Triple Powerbombed dude off a stage through some tables. What is there to say about this other than HELL YES, DESTROY EVERYONE. Like, this entire show so far has bascially been Heyman and Colter being awesome, The Shield destroying worlds, and Bray Wyatt delivering the way he always does.
- Rewatching the segment when Kane took out Daniel Bryan in the Raw rewind it became clear that if we were to hand out an award for most improved performer over the past 15 years, it would EASILY go to Stephanie McMahon. Remember when her shrill voice used to cause broken dials everywhere? Those days are long gone. She's amazing. Now she's coming back to "apologize" to Bryan next week? I can't wait for this.
- I think Roman Reigns figured out the best way to avoid unwanted touching from fans during his entrance in the stands: Getting his hair unnecessarily wet and shaking it out as he moves. I saw at least three fat guys going to touch his shoulder and ending up getting splashed. That'll learn 'em.
- Reigns, by the way, has a great side slam. He doesn't just sit guy's down, he drives guys down. Perfect for the character and it looks impressive. His moveset is incredibly fun to watch.
- By the time the main event was over, one thing was clear: no group has been booked this strong since the nWo and they might even be stronger than that because they win clear over the top guys all the time. They didn't cheat even when they were heels. Now that they're babyfaces in a babyface promotion, they're destroying everyone and it's the funnest damn thing because they're really, really good at decimating everyone in their path and making it look awesome along the way.
Almost the entire show was dedicated to The Shield, destroyer of worlds. This felt like someone at WWE read a site like this where we openly stated we badly wanted an entire episode of a show dedicated to The Shield killing everyone and they decided, to hell with it, it's SmackDown, let's give it to 'em.
And it was fucking glorious.
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?