We start off this episode right away with the Shield making their way down the steps and through the crowd. The Shield is easily the best thing the WWE has had going post-WrestleMania. Which isn’t saying a lot, but the Shield continues excel and out do anyone else on the roster.

Seth starts off on the mic first talking about how hungry, angry, strong, and focused the Shield is after the contract signing from this past Monday on Raw. Triple H pulled out his stupid sledgehammer during this brawl. I hate the sledgehammer. I like the idea of a wrestler having a signature weapon they use, but nothing removes me from the suspending my disbelief than Triple H using the sledgehammer. It is idiotic. If I were to enter a fight with a sledgehammer against a guy who has no weapon, than the guy I am fighting against isn’t likely to be alive afterward. Triple H should literally be killing people if he is using a sledgehammer. Instead he puts his hand over the top of the sledgehammer before he hits them as if to say “I really want to hurt you, but I don’t want to hurt you that bad.” It makes no sense.

Anyways. Dean Ambrose gets on the mic and asks Evolution how crazy they are willing to get at Payback. Ambrose warns Evolution that the match at Payback is going to get real ugly. Seth then sells the “elimination” stipulation of the match by describing that Triple H could be stuck by himself in a 1 on 3 situation against the Shield.

Seth Rollins continues to improve on the mic. These three are destined for the main event. And with how stacked the NXT roster appears to be shaping up coming this fall the future of the WWE is looking bright. The Post-WrestleMania WWE product has been pretty lackluster, but I don’t think it will be but another year or two before we have another outstanding in-ring product like we had in 2013.

Michael Cole then talking about the “Champion vs. Champion” match later on Smackdown between Sheamus and Bad News Barrett. Michael Cole then talks about the prestigious Intercontinental Championship. Cole runs down the list; Pat Patterson, Honky Tonk Man, Mr. Perfect, Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, Triple H, and the current 4x Intercontinental Champion, Bad News Barrett. JBL refers to the Sheamus vs. Barrett match as “Monkey butt ugly, but fun to watch.” Interesting.

Kofi Kingston vs. Cesaro w/ Paul Heyman: This was a decent match. It put over Cesaro’s power and recent run of being unbeatable. Kofi had a few nice high spots. Cesaro catches Kofi with the Very European Uppercut when Kofi tried to jump off the top rope onto Cesaro. After the match Cesaro gives Kingston the Neutralizer. **

Renee Young interviews Bad News Barrett in the back. Renee tries to ask Barrett about the obstacles that stand in his way. Bad News tells Renee that if she feels like his Intercontinental Championship is in jeopardy, then he’s got some bad news. 

Tamina Snuka vs. Paige: Alicia Fox makes her way ringside early on in this match and takes selfies with fans, steals the Divas championship, and parades around with it.

This match had less to do with wrestling and more to do with the tired WWE trope of wrestler A distracting wrestler B from their match thus causing wrestler A to lose their match. Except here Paige (wrestler A) just gets angry and takes it out on Tamina. N/A

Paige is still the best WWE Diva’s wrestler in history. Hands down. And as much as I don’t care for the new Alicia Fox gimmick it at least gives Alicia Fox a personality, because she has literally done nothing in the WWE since she debuted spending 7 minutes in heaven with Edge on a couch.

Long story short, the storyline is overdone, but at least it gives Paige something to sink her teeth into. 

Bo Dallas vs. Xavier Woods: Bo cuts a promo before the match putting over how he is 2-0 one and how everyone’s dreams can come true if they work hard enough. Throughout Bo’s matches he screams “YEAH, BABY!” at the crowd like Jericho did during his last run. I don’t understand how this fits Bo’s gimmick/character. It feels out of place.

Xavier controls the majority of the match until Woods jumps off the top rope and Bo catches him with a drop kick. Bo then hits Woods with the “Bo-dog” for the win. *1/2.

The only part of the Bo Dallas gimmick I like so far has been when post-match, Bo goes over and tries to motivate and inspire his opponent that he just defeated. Bo looks oblivious as he is talking to his opponent and I can’t wait until his opponent retaliates against him. And I really hope his finisher isn’t going to be called the “Bo-dog”. That name has got to go. Is this the gimmick? Is it the ultimate parody on “go away heat”?

We then get a recap of the Wyatt/Cena feud.

After a commercial break El Torito is in the ring with Brutus Beefcake’s clippers in his hands as he threatens Hornswoggle before their “Mask vs. Hair” match at Payback.

El Torito vs. Jinder Mahal: El Torito continues to look for his tail. Jinder gives Torito an atomic drop and Torito sells the effects of his injured tail and then eventually hits Mahal with a “Bull-Sault” for the win. N/A

Torito vs. Hornswoggle might be the WWE feud of the year for the first half of 2014. Everyone has been playing their role to perfection. Torito improves week by week at playing the subtle comedic role.

Cole then runs down the list of former United States Champions; Harley Race, Sting, Ric Flair, Eddie Guerrero, The Big Show, John Cena, and Sheamus.

Sheamus vs. Bad News Barrett: Much like the anticipated Cesaro vs. Sheamus match that is taking place at Payback, I was stoked to watch Sheamus vs. Barrett as both men can be very good with the right opponent and don’t mind fighting a little stiff when necessary.

Paul Heyman is on commentary for this one.

The fans are really into this match with dueling chants of “Let’s go Barrett!” and “Let’s go Sheamus”.

Barrett delivers the patented Mick Foley diving off of the apron elbow to the downed Sheamus on the outside. Sheamus follows this up with a rolling fireman’s carry slam and clothesline over the top rope combo. Sheamus then dives off the apron with a shoulder block plowing through Barrett.

The two trade stiff blows in the ring until Barrett gives Sheamus a superkick to the head as the commentators put over the damage to Sheamus’ skull this past Monday from Del Rio and Cesaro.

Sheamus goes for the Brogue kick, misses, and Barrett hits him with the Winds of Change. Barrett gets a two count, goes for the Wasteland; Sheamus rolls out and knock the crap out of Barrett with one of the best Brogue Kicks I have seen in some time. Barrett sold it like a champ. ***1/2

Sheamus goes to the commentary table to confront Heyman. Sheamus says nothing; he just grabs Heyman by the tie as Heyman sells like only he can.

Final thoughts on this match. GET PAUL HEYMAN A PERMANENT SEAT AT THE COMMENTARY TABLE. He did more to put Sheamus over in the 5+ minutes he spent at the commentary table tonight than anyone commentator has been able to do for Sheamus his whole career. Heyman was one of the best commentators in history in 2001 when he was paired with JR, and he will do wonders for the WWE. Michael Cole would feed off of him so much better than he does JBL. Make JBL a manager and get Heyman on commentary.

Renee Young is with the Uso’s in the back. Renee talks to them about how they lost to the Wyatt Family on Main Event this past Tuesday. Jimmy Uso then talks about how he is going to keep that crazy dude Bray Wyatt down for a 10 count tonight as Bray and Jimmy Uso are wrestling in a Last Man Standing Match. Why does that match make sense? Why is the heel being punished by wrestling in the very same kind of match two nights before he has to wrestle Cena? Why isn’t Cena wrestling tonight?

Big E vs. Titus O’Neil: We start off with a recap from 4 weeks ago when these two wrestled. Titus was disqualified and then Big E and O’Neil brawled on the outside.

Big E makes his entrance with the American Flag screaming “USA!” like Hacksaw Jim Duggan. Big E is doing this because he has a big match this Sunday against the Bulgarian Brute, Rusev in a battle of guys who lost half of their names. When is Titus O’Neil going to drop the “O’Neil” from his name?

Before the match gets started Lana comes out and cuts a promo on the weak American’s. Lana screams at the fans and demands they stop their USA chants. Rusev comes out and waves his Russian flag. Big E is beckoning him to come down and fight.

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t at least a little excited to see these two behemoths battle it out at Payback.

Titus takes advantage of Big E being distracted and attacks Big E. Big E quickly gains the advantage and squashes O’Neil. N/A

Jack Swagger vs. Adam Rose: Zeb Colter is on commentary for this one. Michael Cole repeatedly asks Colter if he was “hunting wabbit” before he came out here. Who tells Cole to say this crap?

Adam Rose messes with Swagger’s head by doing his goofy shtick and then does the Colt Cabana styled pin for the win. N/A

This could be the first time Adam Rose looked credible in my eyes. It was the first time his gimmick looked like it could work in a wrestling ring. Verdict is still out on if this is the next “Fandango” one trick pony type gimmick.

We then get a recap of Daniel Bryan given the ultimatum from Stephanie McMahon to either relinquish the WWE World Heavyweight Championship or have a stay at home wife.

Last Man Standing Match – Jimmy Uso vs. Bray Wyatt: The Last Man Standing Match has got to be one of the worst match stipulations the WWE has. Probably next to the Steel Cage Match (see Cena vs. Wyatt Extreme Rules). The constant 10 counts make the match drag on, they lose the crowd with how long and tedious they are, and are not dramatic at all. Especially when the referee is counting to 10 only a couple of minutes into the match.

With all of that said, go back and watch the exception to the rule, Alberto Del Rio vs. The Big Show on Smackdown last January. That match ruled.

As Jimmy and Bray are on the outside, Jimmy runs on the guard rail (Jeff Hardy style) and hops over Bray then catches Bray with a super kick. Awesome spot.

The rest of the match is filled with interference from Rowan and Harper. Bray hits the Sister Abigail on Jimmy. *

Final Thoughts

Overall this episode of Smackdown was not very good. I do appreciate the lack of “even Steven” booking as of late on Smackdown; although that means we get a surplus of squash matches or matches that I can’t really give ratings to. Daniel Bryan could not come back soon enough, we need more Shield matches on Smackdown, and Paul Heyman needs to do commentary permanently in place of JBL.

Follow me on Twitter and tell me what you thought of this episode of Smackdown @LuchaNerd!

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