This week's WWE SmackDown was the final show before the inaugural Payback pay-per-view this Sunday. It was the final opportunity to give the event its proper build, as the main event comprised of Randy Orton, Kane and Daniel Bryan against the Shield, with The Shield's six month streak of not getting pinned or forced to submit on the line.
The show started with Daniel Bryan talking in the ring, attempting to make amends with Kane. Unfortunately, this didn't last long, as the two began to argue. Randy Orton tried to play Dr. Shelby, but soon found himself in the heat of the discussion as well. The Shield soon sizzled the heat by cutting a promo with their amateur camera. Good way to build up for the main event.
Sheamus vs. Antonio Cesaro was a great match, and proves how much Cesaro can be a major player for the company. This match had pay-per-view for the World Heavyweight Championship written all over it, and it is sad that the WWE does not capitalize on Cesaro's abilities. Sheamus does well with opponents that share a similar hard-hitting style, and a feud with Cesaro would be worth the investment. Hopefully, we will see more of Cesaro on the winning side in the near future, instead of jobbing to upper mid-card/main event superstars. Sandow blindsiding Sheamus was a good way to gain momentum, but lowered his chances of winning at Payback.
Heath Slater vs. The Great Khali was a step up for 3MB. We all can admit that the trio was failed project, and they fell victim to a much more interesting heel group named The Shield. However, the trio can still benefit from being together, because we also can admit that none of them were relevant right before they aligned with each other. Expect for maybe Heath Slater, with his Legend Killer 2.0 gimmick (which WWE Creative could have done much more with; he was actually getting over).
Chris Jericho/Alberto Del Rio vs. Dolph Ziggler/Big E. Langston was improperly booked. First of all, they could have done without Ziggler competing in a match until Payback, especially since he did not compete on Raw. The question could be posed about him not being cleared on Raw, but let's be real, here—Smackdown is only a day later, so I doubt if that was the case.
Ziggler could have played on the most recent report that he was not cleared to wrestle yet, which would have garnered some kind of intrigue to see if he was really going to compete on Sunday. Instead, he competes on Smackdown, is the one who actually gets pinned, and continues to lose stock as the World Heavyweight Champion. Bad idea, not matter how you slice it.
Kaitlyn vs. Aksana being a random scuffle that I suppose was ruled a no-contest was a waste of time, and completely purposeless. It did absolutely nothing to build interest toward her match against AJ at Payback, even if they were trying to have her be angry about the secret admirer ruse. I feel like I'm already giving it too much time, so let's move on.
Curtis Axel vs. Wade Barrett was also quite puzzling. To save any dignity that Wade Barrett has, he should not have been a part of this match. Instead, The Miz should have been the person that Curtis Axel defeated to gain momentum, while Wade Barrett did commentary. After Axel wins, Barrett could have stood up from the table and had a staredown with Axel to build steam for the triple threat match. This definitely would have been a better option than to have the IC champion lose right before his PPV match. The Miz giving Axel the Skull Crushing Finale would have been better suited after Axel defeated him and was distracted by Barrett after the match. Again, bad booking heading to the PPV.
I have mixed feelings about the Kane/Daniel Bryan/Randy Orton vs. The Shield match, but mainly favoring the negative side. Yes, it was a great match, and did a great job putting all three winners over before their respective PPV matches. However, defeating The Shield clean on Smackdown after a six-month semi-undefeated (including the hiccup of them losing by DQ before Extreme Rules) streak was a bad idea.
The Shield ran roughshod over the WWE, defeating a total of eight world champions (John Cena, Kane, Daniel Bryan, Randy Orton, Chris Jericho, Sheamus, Big Show and The Undertaker). This win should have been saved for a PPV, with a proper build around it. Say what you want, but The Shield is starting to lose some stock as well. Yes, they are still very over, but the WWE has created a glass ceiling over them, and have not been as creative with them as the first few months of their tenure (very similar to how they booked The Nexus). Hopefully we will see more intriguing angles for The Shield in the months to come. If not, we will see more losses than wins, which would be terrible seeing how WWE really had something going with them.
Do you think The Shield should have lost clean on Smackdown? Sound off below.