WWE Friday Night SmackDown hit the SyFy airwaves last night (May 9, 2014) from Buffalo, New York, with a taped show featuring continued fallout from Extreme Rules this past Sunday night in New Jersey as well as initial hype to the upcoming Payback pay-per-view (PPV) in June.
Click here for full results and the live blog from the show if you missed it. Let's get to reacting to the show.
We fight on Friday night!
Sometimes pro wrestling doesn't need angles to be fun. Sometimes the story doesn't even really matter and you get swept up in a match between two guys you didn't expect to sweep you up and you end up entertaining. Not that you weren't expecting it or anything, but did the idea of a Sheamus vs. Dean Ambrose program make anyone light up with glee?
No; no it didn't.
It's clear now, however, that it should have. William Regal once said of Ambrose "he is everyone's best opponent for the next 10 years" and this match may have proved our favorite Man's Man correct. Sheamus is in the process of becoming a heel WWE hopes will compete with Randy Orton at the top to carry the summer. I'm not sure how he'll do it with the U.S. title weighing him down, but perhaps a unification program with Bad News Barrett can help catapult him there.
Either way, this was just a fun match that featured zero interference and a clean ending. Ambrose put up a hell of a fight against a guy you can call a HOSS, needing two Brogue Kicks to put him away, and this felt like a meaningful title match on what appeared to be a meaningless episode of SmackDown.
More of this, please.
Segment grade: A-
Strength beyond strength
At some point in the past eight months or so, Mark Henry became the really big guy slightly less bigger guys toss around so they can look impressive. And while I mourn for the loss of the Hall of Pain, seemingly forevermore, I celebrate the fact that hot young acts like Roman Reigns can be made to look like hot young stars.
I mean look at that Samoan drop. That is one strong man relocating about 450 L-B-S (what up).
This match also highlighted an attribute we've been needing to see from Reigns but weren't sure he would possess: his ability to sell injury to the point that he's vulnerable but not so much that he ever looks weak because of it. That's an incredibly difficult balancing act, but as you can see in the video above, he's already shockingly proficient at it.
There are very big things in store for this man, beyond matches against big men like Henry.
Segment grade: B
He is the push that makes you move
On Cageside Live reviewing Raw this week, I boldly proclaimed Seth Rollins to be the next Shawn Michaels.
Watching this match only solidified that viewpoint.
Seriously, watch this match and pay close attention to everything Rollins does. Like Michaels, he's always in the right position. Like Michaels, his timing is impeccable. Like Michaels, his movement is flawless. And, like Michaels, he can be in the ring with a guy like Batista as the smaller man but never make you feel like he shouldn't be there.
He's always believable and because of that, he'll always be credible.
He'll need booking help later when he's on his own but tell me you wouldn't want to work a feud with that guy. He bumps like crazy, he's business, and, what's more, he elevates. How much better did Batista look in this match than he has since coming back?
Who else has been able to make Batista look this good? Daniel Bryan, and that's the end of the list.
Until last night when Seth Rollins actually made it one.
Segment grade: B+
All the best to all the rest:
- I think we may fast be approaching a point where Rusev isn't winning squash matches over jobbers but committing hate crimes against black wrestlers. We'll know if that's a joke or not if WWE trots JTG out as the next victim.
- Bray Wyatt's promos have started making a lot more sense and thankfully someone told the creative team that it's better to get to the point quickly because it doesn't matter how smooth your tongue is, if you're rambling on for 30 minutes, I'm checking out at 10.
- The beauty of pro wrestling is in the details. When Luke Harper tagged in to the main event match to stand opposite John Cena, he stopped with a crooked grin and leaned down next to Bray Wyatt to get some tactical advice on how to handle the situation. I surely liked this more than you, but it adds a wrinkle to the otherwise boring "overwhelming monster charges Cena and gets overwhelmed himself" booking.
- Here's my hope for future booking with Cesaro: He realizes that Paul Heyman is in this for himself and he needed a way to stay on television to continue harping on about Brock Lesnar breaking Undertaker's streak at WrestleMania. This is also why he's stuck in a mid-card program with the likes of Rob Van Dam, and he turns on Heyman just in time for Lesnar to come back to set up a match between the two at SummerSlam. Because wouldn't Cesaro vs. Lesnar be the best damn match at this point? And wouldn't that we a great explanation for how awful Cesaro has been booked since winning the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal and aligning with Heyman? And wouldn't it be a great way to re-introduce Lesnar leading to a match that would undoubtedly rule?
- The sooner Bad News Barrett moves away from Big E the better. As mentioned previously, let's hope for a Barrett-Sheamus program on the European tour where they unify the titles. Say, that's a good match for Payback.
- Why were Emma and Santino Marella so shocked and appalled at Fandango and Layla kissing?
- If I have to watch even one more Los Matadores vs. 3MB match I might just complain even more on the Internet.
This was a pretty damn good episode of SmackDown.
Overall grade: B
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?