Previously on SmackDown
Daniel Bryan, as he is wont to do these days, opened and closed the show with his buddy/nemesis Randy Orton. This edition of their ongoing chapter play saw Bryan win by countout, which everyone who watches both of WWE's shows knows was a set-up for Monday.
Some stories mostly happen on the Friday night show, but they're not that exciting. Sheamus continued his feud with the Rhodes Scholars, defeating Cody Rhodes by submission.
Curtis Axel defeated Wade Barrett, officially removing him from the Intercontinental championship scene. Paul Heyman kept his guy from getting physical with commentator Miz after the bell.
AJ Lee had a match designed to get her finisher over, since Natalya is the woman who takes it the best, and AJ the character is already plenty over. Christian won over Heath Slater, in a match designed to remind us that Christian is back, and that Slater is the best jobber in the business.
And, hey, everybody remember the World Heavyweight Championship (WHC)? It's still a thing, and the guy who holds it had a decent match with Chris Jericho. The champ won by disqualification when Dolph Ziggler ran in and attacked him. I guess the referee decided not to use instant replay to see that Ricardo Rodriguez had interfered first.
(NOTE: This show was taped on Tuesday for broadcast tonight. Previews are spoiler free, but results are available here)
From Columbia, SC!
WWE is hyping two things for tonight's broadcast. First, is more of Sheamus versus two guys who never beat him. He and the Duke of Decency will face off in Dublin Street Fight. Which is probably not much different from a regular street fight, except that it features the Celtic Warrior. Maybe Finley's old shillelagh will make a surprise appearance?
You're also cordially invited to a Fiesta Del Rio! It seems like Alberto has thrown several of these in his relatively short time in the company. But maybe I'm confused and/or racist and lumping in all of Eddie Guerrero's celebrations. I hope Brock Lesnar comes to this one, but it will probably just be Dolph.
I suspect the IC title drama will be ratcheted up, as that belt seems even more tied to the blue brand than the big gold one these days.
And since some spoilers are nigh unavoidable, I can promise you that the participants in the WHC Money in the Bank match will be announced.
Expect to pop for:
Ricardo Rodriguez. You'll read it so much within the internet wrestling community (IWC) that you'd almost think it was a proven fact. But there's a lot of truth to the argument that the most over thing about Alberto Del Rio is his sidekick.
It probably shouldn't come as a surprise considering that he does most of his active wrestling behind a mask, but 'Cardo is amazingly gifted at soliciting a reaction without saying much, or at least without saying much in the language that the majority of his audience speaks.
He was instrumental in his boss' face turn - heck, most folks would say that he was ADR's face turn - but it's really impressive to me how seamlessly he's transitioned back to the bad guy role. With just a devilish smirk and a sideways glance, the same actions that were noble a month ago are now treacherous. And this is a different heel character than he was playing last year. That guy was a brow-beaten manservant who did underhanded things to help his master just on the hope that he would get a pat on the head. The character we'll watch tonight is much more a partner in crime. Some of that is the dropping of the aristocrat gimmick for Del Rio, but some of it just a more in charge performance from Rodriguez.
Tonight's probably designed for the champ to get a little comeuppance for his arrogant celebrating, but whatever digs he gets in, his sidekick will make it seem like an even deeper cut with a malevolent grin.
The heat is on:
Sheamus. Forget about whether he's a face or a heel or a dick face. Is he a main eventer?
The best sign for him is probably his inclusion in the MitB match for the red briefcase, an indication that WWE sees him as a contender for the belt that they actually care about these days. But even there he seems an after-thought. He's not being buzzed about as a potential winner, and he's not a regular on Raw the way the competitors in that contest (outside of the just returned Christian and the not-yet-returned Rob Van Dam) are.
Another widely accepted IWC opinion is that the 18 second WHC match at WrestleMania 28 was the start of great things for Daniel Bryan. Even though he had a lengthy reign with that belt coming off the Grandest Stage of Them All, could that match have been the beginning of less-than-great things for the Celtic Warrior?
Last year, the scuttlebutt was that the big Irishman, a HHH guy, was in line for nothing less than babyface 1A position at the top of the company food chain. Now he's locked in a month's long feud with a pair who couldn't win the tag belts? Something is rotten in Dublin. It'll be interesting to see where the former King of the Ring is next year.
Shows built around a heel champion celebrating can be iffy propositions. Will Fiesta Del Rio make the June 28th Smackdown a winning or losing one?
We're having our own fiesta in the live blog tonight, and you won't want to miss that. Get a head start in the comments below, and stick with us for a weekend of news and analysis at Cageside Seats!