Previously on SmackDown
Vickie Guerrero tried her best to impress her boss. She belittled Daniel Bryan, and tried to harass him into confessing to a conspiracy with referee Scott Armstrong to steal the WWE championship at Night of Champions. When Bryan wouldn't bite, she decided to punish him and the ten other men who assisted him on the September 16th edition of Raw by putting them in a gauntlet match against The Shield. I'm still not entirely clear on how it was a punishment to serve Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins, after fighting ten other men, up to Bryan. #VickieLogic
Natalya was pretty dull on commentary, while AJ and Naomi managed an inoffensive little Divas match in the ring. Zeb Colter delivered an almost offensive little promo about Santino Marella, before the Milan Miracle made it a clean sweep over The Real Americans for the week.
Ryback took out a local when Paul Heyman told him that the native didn't sign autographs for little kids. Big Hungry hates bullies and snobs, don't ya know. What happened to the jobber is what Mr. Back is going to do to CM Punk at Battleground, says Heyman.
The Shield made it through 4/11ths of their gauntlet before HHH came out to put a stop to it. The matches Vickie put together weren't fair, and the COO is all about fairness. A few of the guys who hadn't already been beaten down by The Shield were given the opportunity to be beaten down by other wrestlers - namely Justin Gabriel and Zack Ryder by The Wyatt Family and R-Truth by World Heavyweight Champion (WHC) Alberto Del Rio.
Randy Orton continued his crusade to convince H and Steph that he still has the psychopath living within him that they say they're looking for in the face of the company.
Then the man they definitely don't want as face of the company joined up with The Usos (the remaining 2/11's of the Raw uprising) to defeat a weary Shield unit when Bryan connected with a flying knee to the United States champion's dome.
(NOTE: This show was taped on Tuesday for broadcast tonight. Previews are spoiler free, but results are available here)
In a rare piece of advanced booking, WWE announced during Raw that Dolph Ziggler would be getting a shot at Dean Ambrose's US title tonight. Could this be the first time a Hound of Justice is without championship gold since May?
Beyond that, WWE hasn't released much else. I usually avoid the spoilers so as to be on equal footing righting these previews with the average fan, but this week I had to write those, so I already know what's going to happen. But it's pro wrestling, so if you're reading this, you probably do too.
It's the journey, not the destination. And if the journey includes Miz getting beaten up, all the more better.
Expect to pop for:
Santino Marella. Beware the Cobra! He's probably the very definition of a "your mileage may vary" guy, but he cracks me up. I'll also never forget the Elimination Chamber match in 2012 where he (and Daniel Bryan) made me believe he could be WHC.
So I'm not as upset as some with his victories over Jack Swagger and Antonio Cesaro last week. The man is a goof, and a glorious one at that, but between his kayfabe accolades and the real life mixed martial arts background that he possesses, wins over anyone are explainable. That he's a gifted enough physical storyteller to make matches against everyone this side of Brock Lesnar believable doesn't hurt either.
I can see The Real Americans fading away into obscurity (hopefully to allow Cesaro to blend in to the main event) in the not too distant future, and these losses can be part of the catalyst for that. They can also serve as feathers in Marella's cap so that in a year or two he can make me jump off the sofa multiple times when he almost but not quite wins a big belt.
In the meantime, I'll stay just a little embarrassed at how hard I laugh with the power walking little foreigner on most occasions.
The heat is on:
Natalya. It's safe to say that this is the best push that WWE has given Natty in her career. The only competition would be her debut with The Hart Dynasty, but I don't recall that leading to as many high profile women's matches.
Somewhat ironic that it took a reality show on E! to get one of, if not the, best female workers in the company (depending on whether or not you include head NXT women's trainer Sara Del Rey, IMHO) a chance to show what she can do as an actual, you know, wrestler. Not that there's anything wrong with being portrayed as a flatulent extra or sexual partner of an Indian with gigantism.
Oh, wait. There is something wrong with that.
Anyway, here's Ms. Neidhart, probably 1A after Brie Bella on the list of people getting pushed as a result of Total Divas. It's entirely reasonable to assume that at some time in the near future she'll begin her second run as Divas champ, if for no other reason than that her presence on Raw and Smackdown would promote the reality show while she can be counted on to get decent matches out of her competitors.
But in the long-run, I don't know that this spotlight has really brought out the best in Nat. I don't watch the show, but early critiques of her performance on Total Divas had her coming across as whiney. Her stint at the announce table last week was dry - especially in comparison to the sparks that fly when AJ Lee is down there. And even her work rate hasn't looked as impressive with increased exposure. The last bit is probably more on her partners than her, but when you're supposed to be the ring general of the division, a disproportionate amount of the blame will fall on you.
Here's hoping the hiatus on the reality show keeps Natalya in the limelight on WWE shows while allowing her to focus on why she's on those show in the first place.
Can tonight's Smackdown keep the streak of good-to-great WWE shows rolling?
Find out along with us in the live blog, and feel free to get the party started early talking about last week, Santino, Natalya or whatever tickles your fancy in the comments below.