This episode of SmackDown hailed from Baton Rouge, LA, and it was the prelude to the inaugural WWE Battleground pay-per-view. It focused on the WWE Championship feud between Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton, with the Shield and Big Show included.

RVD vs. Fandango was a decent match, but it appears as if WWE is trying to hold on to Fandango being relevant as much as possible. The DQ win saved some dignity for Fandango, but it really does not matter. The Van Terminator that RVD executed to ADR was not a good sign for RVD's chances at Battleground.

(Not so fast, Ricardo. I beg to differ)

Ryback vs. R-Truth was purposed to make Ryback look good, but it was not the best idea to make at the expense of R-Truth. Particularly due to R-Truth being in the IC title match against Curtis Axel at Battleground. Axel attacking R-Truth while he was down made Ryback's win a bit more meaningful, but it was not necessary. R-Truth needs to look good before the event, especially if he is going to lose (which he probably will).

Alberto Del Rio vs. Dolph Ziggler was a fantastic match. One of the best matches on SmackDown this year. Definitely PPV quality, but too bad for Dolph Ziggler that he is relegated to a thrown-together match at the Battleground pre-show. I do think that he will defeat Sandow, though, with Sandow at least teasing a cash-in later in the night.

Los Matadores vs. Slater/Mahal was a decent match. The tag team division is looking better, but I wonder how long it will be before Los Matadores become a jobbing comedy act. El Torito is a good addition, but putting them anywhere close to the tag team titles at this juncture would be a terrible idea.

Brie Bella vs. Aksana was not bad. Aksana can be better used as a heel, but it does not seem like WWE has any interest in doing that. Brie Bella may get the win vs. AJ Lee at Battleground to further hype Total Divas, but if she does not, Natalya could (and should) be the next person in line.

Kofi Kingston vs. Big E. Langston was a good match, but was a bit too short. Big E. should undoubtedly be used in a better spot, but he is now simply a big guy who put others over. Kingston did need this win, though, because he does not stand a chance against Bray Wyatt.

The 4-1 handicap match was decent, and it made both parties look good. Orton attacking Big Show post-match may be a sign of a feud between the two, and Daniel Bryan/Usos making the save was a good way to end the show. Don't expect Bryan to win, though. Battleground would not be a good platform to start a lengthy reign, and a Royal Rumble win would be a nice rebound to a feud that had so much potential, but was improperly booked.

Sound off with your predictions below.

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