WWE SmackDown returned last night on the final stop before we reach the end of the road to TLC. As expected, tensions are high all around. WWE World Heavyweight Champion Big Show and opponent Sheamus are about to hit their breaking points in their no-contact contract.
The Shield is also lurking about before their showdown with Team Hell No and Ryback.
With all that and more on the plate, let's move right into the reactions.
- The main conflict of the show featured Sheamus and Big Show going back and forth. The show kicked off with Show taking on R-Truth with Antonio Cesaro and Sheamus sat at ringside. Cesaro got up during the match while Truth was down on the floor and was taunting him, so Sheamus pushed Cesaro into his chair. Show won the match and came face-to-face with Sheamus, only to have Cesaro cheap shot him from behind and bump Sheamus into Big Show. Show immediately started calling off the match after the contact, but Booker T told him that the match would be on. Show sought David Otunga and the two deliberated with Booker T, threatening to attempt to get him fired if their demands weren't met. Sheamus then came out with a chair to tell Show that, if the match is off, he'll just beat him down. Show immediately turned tail and said the contract was valid, leaving Otunga to eat a Brogue Kick. Finally, in the main event, Cesaro wrestled Sheamus. Sheamus was en route to victory until Big Show came to the top of the ramp with William Regal shaking in pain at his feet. Sheamus went to pick up Regal, who told him not to do anything. Show hits Regal in the back with a chair as he was in Sheamus' arms. Sheamus both lost the match by count out, and had his mentor beaten down right in front of him. All of this was pretty great build to Sunday's match. Show is playing a cowardly, opportunistic heel with genius. Sheamus... well, he's Sheamus, I guess. Great matches, great outcomes, great segments. Looking forward to this one Sunday!
- Also, just because this dead horse deserves to be beaten, I do not see how anyone who enjoys the "good guys" in pro wrestling could like Sheamus. He stuck his nose where it didn't belong by shoving Cesaro. He legally threatened Show in order to keep his contract intact. He legally assaulted Otunga just because he felt like it. While there are some really mean-spirited faces in the company, Sheamus really just takes the cake.
- Oh, also, best exchange of the night was on commentary between Cesaro and Sheamus. Sheamus: "Y'know, back in Ireland, my 'insert stupid name and their relation here' had a donkey who looked just like Cesaro over there." Cesaro: "That wasn't funny." Cesaro is the new voice of the voiceless, everyone.
- The other big part of the show was Miz TV, featuring Team Hell No. Team Hell No seems to be functioning on the same page to defeat The Shield. The Shield cut a promo backstage and Kane didn't want to wait until Sunday. The group agreed and began to pile out of their press box. That is, until Ryback came out. The whole set up here has been pretty great. The Shield has a sort of renegade feel about them, while I enjoy the narrative of Team Hell No finally pulling together in adversity. Ryback plays a vital role here as well, representing the force The Shield will struggle with. This is about as well done as a hasty storyline can be. WWE made some good lemonade with the lemons given here.
- Speaking of The Shield, the write-off Randy Orton was given this week was well-done also. The group attacked Orton, putting him out of commission, another good spur of the moment idea.
- Rhodes Scholars cut a pretty brilliant promo prior to taking on The Usos in a tag match. Sandow and Rhodes work very well together inside the ring, and out. Their match was pretty solid and saw them getting the win as Sandow had a handful of tights. It is good to see WWE giving the team a shot of adrenaline and picking right back up where they started.
- Kaitlyn and Aksana were some good eye candy, but Aksana legitimately held Kaitlyn in a headlock for five minutes for the seven minute match. WWE Divas, y'all.
- Alberto Del Rio and Kofi Kingston put on a fine match that saw Kofi winning, with Del Rio still looking very strong in losing. The match meant nothing really, but it was a great offering in between the ropes. After the match, Barrett ate a Trouble in Paradise from Kofi. Good bit there that didn't overshadow the match.
- International Airstrike, The Great Khali, and Hornswoggle beat The Prime Time Players and Primo & Epico. I got to see the lovely Natalya here, but then I had to see Titus O'Neil lose. I also had to see Khali walk. Ugh.
The best thing a go-home show can do is sell you on the pay-per-view. This week's episode did exactly that, with Big Show playing a great heel and The Shield looking very clever.
This show earns a "B+."
How did you Cagesiders enjoy the final major TV show before TLC?