We start off with a recap of Daniel Bryan announcing that he lost his smile….I mean…. That he has to get neck surgery. Complete with Kane dragging out his lifeless carcass on the stage to end Raw.

Whoever is writing Daniel Bryan’s promos is doing him such a disservice. (Unless it’s Bryan doing his own promos, in which case someone needs to write for him.) You don’t have to pander to the crowd and say “largely because of all of you… WE made this happen” in reference to winning the championship. The crowd is going to get behind you because you are the underdog. Because they can relate to you. They know Bryan’s journey from high school gyms to the Mercedes Benz Superdome. If Bryan is crediting the fans for his winning the WWE title via “high jacking the shows” then he is removing us from the scene. This fourth wall breaking crap has got to stop. Bryan might as well be saying “Cheer for me because I am an underdog like all of you! Cheer for me because the man is always trying to keep me down like your bosses and colleagues try to keep you down!”  It goes back to the acting class I took in high school. The teacher always told us to “show who you are” don’t tell the audience who you are. If you are portraying a 60 year old grumpy janitor and then you need to play the part and SHOW the audience you are a 60 year old janitor without telling them “Hey guys I am a 60 year old grumpy janitor! You see my grey hair and jumpsuit? It’s my janitor costume? Okay? So, for the next two hours whenever you see me, just think to yourself that I am a grumpy janitor.” That is what immerses the audience. The crowd is going to start seeing right through Daniel Bryan’s BS promos if they stay this way. The only time Steve Austin EVER pandered the audience is when he asked them “If you want to see me kick (insert opponent’s name here)’s ass then gimme a hell yeah!” And that didn’t ever make someone feel like Austin was begging for their adulation because whether the crowd said “Hell yeah!” or “Hell no!” Everyone BELIEVED that Austin was going to open a can of whoop ass no matter what because he is the toughest S.O.B. the WWE has ever seen!

Back to Smackdown!

John Cena’s music hits to kick off the show.

Before Cena gets on the mic we see a recap of Bray Wyatt challenging Cena to a Last Man Standing match at Payback.

John starts off by saying that he hopes Daniel Bryan heals quickly and gets back to where he belongs in the middle of the ring. John then calls Bray Wyatt all charisma and no substance. John then questions why Bray would challenge him to a Last Man Standing match when Bray has never been in one. John then talks about his experience in Last Man Standing matches. John then questions whether Bray has testicles and uses every euphemism you can think of referring to testicles. John then tells Bray that he accepts the challenge.

John is cutting one of his goofy not-so-funny promos where he completely diminishes the feud he is in by making sophomoric jokes. I promise you guys, I like John Cena. I think he is a necessary component to the WWE’s product. I could write a whole column on how awesome John is. But, one thing I can’t stand is when he cuts these promos. It makes me feel like I have zero need to watch his Payback match with Bray Wyatt, because he isn’t taking it seriously. (Not that I have a need to watch this match after their atrocious Steel Cage Match).

John then challenges any member of the Wyatt family to a match tonight on Smackdown. Bray and the Wyatt Family appear on the tron. Bray cuts his usual promo. Good promo, but usual.

Why isn’t Bray a dastardly heel that is costing John matches? Is that formula TOO EASY? Why are they using Bray in this grey area tweener role? How is that helping anyone? The usual demo of Cena fans are constantly chanting his name sans the anti-Cena “Cena Sucks!” retort from the adverse fans. This would be a perfect opportunity to revitalize Cena as a face. Sometimes the WWE gets too caught up in these overly complicated overly booked authority figure storylines that they forget the power of simplicity. Remember when Jake Roberts gave Steamboat a DDT on the concrete ground and built a whole feud out of it? Remember when Rick Rude wore air brushed tights with Jake Roberts’ wife’s face on them and they built a whole feud around it? Remember when Bret Hart and Owen Hart had a big jealousy feud that was layered with problems, then them teaming together, and then them breaking up and wrestling for a whole summer? These feuds weren’t complicated concepts and needed zero authority figures. And they WORKED!

The Brotherhood (Cody Rhodes and Goldust) vs. The Uso’s (Jimmy and Jey Uso): I have to question the state of the WWE’s tag team division. If they have no real plans for Titus O’Neil and Darren Young (pre-injury) why did they break them up? Why did they not sign the American Wolves and make them a team? Why couldn’t they reunite the Kings of Wrestling for a team? Why is Evan Bourne not teamed up with Tyson Kidd or Justin Gabriel by now? Why don’t they reunite Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger as a new age Varsity Club? Why not reunite Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins?  This is mostly fantasy booking/ my dreams and desires for a solid tag team division in the WWE. I love tag team wrestling and firmly believe there in money in adding that different dynamic to a wrestling show. It was exciting to see the Uso’s win the tag titles, but now it’s in IC and US title territory to where people forget who the champions are.

The Uso’s and The Brotherhood have a decent back and forth match with a pretty good finishing sequence. No overtly obvious continuation of the dissension between the Brotherhood during the match. Jimmy Uso hits Cody Rhodes with a Frog Splash after hitting him with a super kick. After the match Cody yells at Goldust for not breaking up the pin fall. **

The Usos Vs. Cody Rhodes & Goldust: SmackDown, May 16, 2014

El Torito w/ Lose Matadores vs. Heath Slater w/ 3MB: Torito shows off his great talent and great awareness of his role in the WWE in a really pretty solid comedy match. Hornswoggle comes in and nails Slater in the crotch inadvertently and Torito gets the win with a moonsault. **

El Torito Vs. Heath Slater: SmackDown, May 16, 2014

We get a recap of the Shield vs. Evolution feud from this past Monday.

Natalya vs. Nikki Bella w/ Eva Marie as Special Guest Referee: Remember when I was mentioning all of those classic feuds from the past that were simple? NONE OF THEM INCLUDING A “WRESTLER A” SENDING “WRESTLER B” A PAINTING AND “WRESTLER B” MAKING FUN OF IT.

The WWE Divas division will ever be taken seriously if their feuds revolve around this non sense. This match was “Eh.” The most glaring thing that came from it was that Eva Marie might be more terrible at being a referee than being a wrestler. AND THAT IS SAYING SOMETHING! *1/4

Renee Young interviews Ziggler and asks him why he interjected himself in the Shield vs. Evolution feud. Ziggler talked about Batista not meeting expectations when he returned and tells Batista that “The Show Off is going to show you…UP!”

Dolph Ziggler vs. Batista: The best Batista has looked since his return was in a singles match vs. Seth Rollins last week on Smackdown. Ziggler’s selling is second only to Rollins, could bode well for Batista. Batista uses his power and Ziggler bumps around for Batista. Ziggler turns hot and begins his fiery comeback until Batista nails him for a low blow and gets disqualified. After the match Batista Batista Bomb’s Ziggler onto the guard rail. *1/2

Sheamus vs. Titus O’Neil: This match is happening because three weeks ago on Raw Titus attacks Sheamus. Titus starts the match off cutting a promo mocking Sheamus for the way he won the United States championship and the fact that he is not American, but is a US champion. Titus then offers Sheamus an opportunity to leave the ring. Titus beckons the time keeper to ring the bell. Sheamus nails Titus O’Neil with the Brogue Kick immediately for the win in a ten second match. N/A (Again, why did they break up the Prime Time Players.

Byron Saxton is in the back trying to interview Adam Rose. Saxton asks Adam what his plan for handling Swagger and Zeb Colter. Rose says he does not have a problem with Swagger and Colter, he just wants them to lighten up and not be lemons. That what I want to see. Wrestlers mention they don’t hate their opponent they just want them to “have fun!”.

Santino Marella w/ Emma vs. Damien Sandow: Sandow starts off by beating Santino down. Santino then throws the Cobra sleeve on and nails Sandow with the quick Cobra for the win in under a minute. N/A. Is there a problem with have a little bit longer of a match around here?

Cesaro w/ Paul Heyman vs. R-Truth w/ Xavier Woods: Heyman starts the match off with another classic promo putting Cesaro  over. I hope the WWE realizes what a great talent Cesaro is. They are finally getting behind him with this push. Cesaro hits Truth with a Very European Uppercut and then the Neutralizer in under two minutes. N/A

We get a recap of the Daniel Bryan story complete with his surgery going well from this past Thursday. We will find out this coming Monday what is going on with the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.

John Cena w/ The Uso Brothers vs. Erick Rowan w/ Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper: The Uso’s are in the corner of Cena tonight to make sure things go fairly down the middle tonight. Bray chose Erick Rowan to take on Cena and Rowan beats Cena down to start the match off. John goes for the big comeback shoulder block only to hit a wall named Rowan. Rowan busts out a weak Bear Hug to wear down Cena. Rowan turns the Bear Hug into a side slam for a pin and two count. Cena then catches Rowan with the 5 moves of doom until Rowan counters the Attitude Adjustment with a Rib Breaker. Cena clumsily catches Rowan with the STF. Harper hits the ring break up the STF, the Uso’s take out Harper before he could cost the match. Cena hits Rowan with the AA for the win. *1/2

Final Thoughts

This was not the best episode of Smackdown. Too many short, pointless squash matches topped off with the focal point of this show was based around Cena and Wyatt, which is a feud similar to Kane and Cena a few years ago. There is a lot of time and money invested into the feud and the payoff/delivery left a lot to be desired.

Follow me on Twitter @LuchaNerd and join be in live tweeting wrestling and other topics of Nerd Culture!