WWE Friday Night SmackDown hit the SyFy airwaves last night (May 2, 2014) from Kansas City, Missouri, with a taped show featuring the go home edition to the Extreme Rules event this coming Sunday night in New Jersey.
Click here for full results and the live blog from the show if you missed it. As with Raw this week, we're switching up the format just a bit.
fight finally defend the U.S. title on Friday night
I would hate being a booker. You have to present compelling match-ups fans will want to pay money to see -- though the WWE brand will do most of the heavy lifting at the gate -- while also servicing storylines for a deep roster of talent, all with egos that need massaging. Never mind the politics in all this and the fact that the man you have to get through to get your ideas on TV is Vince McMahon.
That's enough to send a shiver down your spine.
My guess is the idea was to put the focus on Dean Ambrose defending the U.S. title as the longest reigning champion in WWE history while also pushing The Shield as a strong unit just days away from their showdown opposite Evolution at Extreme Rules.
I have two problems with this:
1. Why did Alberto Del Rio, Ryback, and Curtis Axel get awarded title shots after having done nothing to deserve it?
2. Why was Ambrose booked so poorly in the match itself?
The issue here is wanting the best of all worlds and not having any way to get to it. I can't buy this match because Del Rio, Ryback, and Axel are in it and it stops there. But WWE put them there because they were the best available party to end the night having been thoroughly beaten down by The Shield to make them look strong headed for this weekend. That's all well and good but it kills the match itself by undercutting the fact that they were supposed to be a threat to Ambrose and his title, which was supposed to mean something here and ultimately didn't.
Not only that, he barely won. You could argue he shouldn't go over big in a Fatal 4-Way but then again, we're dealing with one rung above jobbers here.
Segment grade: C
Who's the heel here?
It wasn't long ago that Jim Ross was ranting on the status of heels in WWE, namely the fact that we can no longer tell who the bad guys are. This point was perfectly illustrated in this match, The Wyatt Family (the heels) vs. The Usos & Sheamus (the babyfaces).
The match goes along just fine and is fairly entertaining. The Wyatt Family go over clean, and for good reason. Bray is working John Cena at Extreme Rules while Sheamus is on the pre-show panel and The Usos will be owning it in catering.
So Bray hits Sister Abigail, gets the pin, and he and his goons start to head to the back. Then, suddenly, they're attacked by The Usos and Sheamus. So the bad guys won a match, fair and square, mind you, and the good guys decided to attack them as they were trying to leave.
Naturally, The Family handed them their ass and I was left feeling like, well, they deserved it.
I am not supposed to feel this way. That's a product of poor writing unless Bray is going to turn soon (in fairness, that's been rumored but likely isn't happening anytime soon) and Sheamus (also rumored) and The Usos (nothing there) are as well.
Segment grade: D
Not Magneto ... he's magnetic!
WWE heard our cries for more Magneto and delivered in spades. Not only was Damien Sandow clad in the same get up he had during that awesome segment with Wolverine on Raw this week, he improved on it by making it so much more ridiculous with the tights over the top of it.
And he wrestled in the cape!
Again, he was perfect here because he took this so very seriously, as though he is Magneto and he must destroy Ziggler using the power of magnetism. At one point, he gloriously shouted to the crowd, "who's laughing now?"
My favorite part of this, and one of the reasons it worked so well, is that he was ahead for most of the match. Michael Cole called him "an idiot" and immediately after JBL chided him for it because Magneto was beating up a former world champion. It's great because neither of them are wrong.
If they keep pushing this, they'll run out of ideas fast but it's awesome right now.
Segment grade: B-
All the best to all the rest
- Here's why the El Torito vs. Hornswoggle feud doesn't work: It's so blatantly obvious it was booked just so the commentary team and anyone else nearby with a microphone could crack jokes about the fact that they're both midgets. I don't ever again want to watch a segment that includes Vickie Guerrero telling a bad joke and spending three minutes laughing that unbearable laugh of hers. That's a waste of my life.
- Also, El Torito can actually work. What's wrong with booking this seriously to let him show off his skills? Hornswoggle has next to no skill, sure, but he can do enough to be protected. Just because they're small doesn't mean they have to play the comedy angle.
- WWE has done a fantastic job killing any and all interest in Cesaro with this Jack Swagger/Rob Van Dam nonsense.
- Lana is getting more and more comfortable speaking in front of large audiences, and her introductions for Alexander Rusev, preceded by her runway style walk out, are fast becoming far more entertaining that anything that follows it. WWE realizes she's the star here too. How many times does a manager get their own entrance complete with music and the ring announcer bringing them in? Lana gets all that.
- Speaking Rusev, why is he selling so big for R-Truth and Xavier Woods? This feud has turned into an annoying gnat I'm ready to swat away. Here's to hoping I'm supposed to feel that way ahead of Rusev swatting these jobbers away this weekend.
- Way to show that fire, Daniel Bryan. I have no issues with his promo on this show, though it was entirely forgettable, as was Kane's response. That could have a lot to do with the fact that big mean Kane who is big and mean is a played out character that badly needs to be laid to rest ... for good.
- Who did Big E piss off?
Like Raw, this was supposed to help me feel excited for Extreme Rules and it failed to do that. Some of the booking here was baffling and the wrestling itself didn't make up for it the way it usually does on SmackDown.
Overall grade: D+
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?