Tonight we kick off this Friday the 13 edition of Smackdown with a recap of The Authority stripping Daniel Bryan of the WWE Championship and suspending it in the air for the Money in the Bank match. Two things about this segment from Raw:

  1. Stephanie totally outshined Triple H on the mic. Does the Observer award recognize the Most Improved on the Promos?, Stephanie has to win by a landslide. Her promos have gone from craptastic to stellar.
  2.  I am still trying to figure out how Daniel Bryan first heard the news about him being stripped during this segment yet The Authority had already gained control of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship titles as they were suspended above the ring during this segment for dramatic effect. So, either they broke into Daniel Bryan’s house and stole them, or they tricked Daniel Bryan which probably went something like this:

HHH: Hey Daniel do you think I could borrow the WWE World Heavyweight Championship titles? I want to take them in to get polished.

DBryan: Oh, uh… yea. I mean, you’re not going to strip them from me are you? The doctor said my arm doesn’t have full strength, but that’s the kind of thing Vince is into right? Me overcoming the insurmountable odds to win? I could totally return at Money in the Bank and overcome this surgery thing. You could even put me on a stretcher during the match and everything!

HHH: Yea, don’t worry about a thing. But hey, make sure you watch Monday Night Raw. Steph and I are going to open the show with a MAJOR announcement.

DBryan: Okay, man! But, wait. I don’t own a TV.

HHH: Oh that’s right. I forgot that you’re the vegan nerd guy without a TV. Well, too bad for you then.

DBryan: Aw, shucks. Okay.

The show then begins with The Shield’s music playing as Ambrose and Reigns make their way through the crowd and to the ring. Ambrose gets on the mic talks about how Triple H is stacking the deck against the Shield, but states that the Shield isn’t going to wait for the cards to be dealt. They are going to flip the table over and take Seth Rollins down. Reigns proceeds to use the same joke he made on Raw, that Randy Orton isn’t the face of the WWE he’s the “ass”. That joke was moderately funny the first time Reigns told it, but now it’s like when that little kid says something funny and then keeps saying it hoping it will make everyone in the room laugh just as loud again.

Triple H then comes on the Titan Tron and states that only one Shield member will get a shot at qualifying for Money in the Bank. Triple H flips a coin and tells Ambrose he is the winner and will have to face Bray Wyatt one on one later tonight in a match where the Shield and Wyatt family are banned from ringside. Triple H then tells Ambrose to leave the ring because Reigns has a match starting now and Ambrose is banned from ringside. Triple H then tells Reigns “I’m afraid I’ve got some BAD NEEEWWWSS” in a not-so-bad English accent/Wade Barrett impersonation.

Roman Reigns vs. Bad New Barrett: Reigns is a guy who has impressed in the small doses he is used in during the Shield’s tag team matches, but has left A LOT to be desired in any of his singles matches. It is a good thing to put Reigns in these lower profile singles matches on shows that go unwatched like Smackdown or Main Event. It has been a very bad decision on WWE’s part that his only singles matches are these high profile main events of Monday Night Raw against Bray Wyatt or Randy Orton. Two guys that couldn’t carry their own weight in a match let alone a green up and coming wrestler.

This, however, was Reigns best singles match of his career. Reigns owns the beginning of the match until Bad News garners some control after the commercial break. Reigns then hits all of his signature moves in his comeback and sets up for the Spear. Until 3MB comes out to crash the party. (Noteworthy because this is 3MB’s last official appearance after Black Thursday when Jinder Mahal and Drew McIntyre were both cut. This sparked a thought in my head. Heath Slater, for being “The One Man Rock Band” sure has been in a lot of stables. First the Nexus, then the Corre, and now 3MB. Maybe he will be the 3rd member of the Shield. How’s that for a 3rd Shield member, Joe and Rich? Just kidding. Heath Slater should be repackaged as the ultimate jobber. He should already be in the ring for his introduction of the match and wear real basic/generic ring gear and just play the role of the 80’s jobber and lose every week. I’ve been waiting for this gimmick for years, and he is the perfect guy for the role. )

3MB beats down Reigns causing a DQ. **

After the match Reigns turns into the Incredible Hulk and destroys all three members of 3MB. Reigns throws Mahal over the announce table and spears Slater and McIntyre on the outside with two sick looking spears. Reigns stands tall on his own in the middle of the ring in a rare image of a Shield member standing alone.

Michael Cole announces two matches for tonight. Cesaro vs. Sheamus and Jey Uso vs. Rowan (apparently Luke Harper wrestled Jimmy Uso on Main Event. Why couldn’t I trade matches with Jason Felix?………. I just checked Jason gave that match a 1/10 rating on his Main Event review. Maybe it doesn’t matter which match I had then.)

Jey Uso w/ Jimmy Uso vs. Erick Rowan w/ Luke Harper: To start the match Jey knocks Rowan to the outside and does an over the top rope cross body on Rowan to no effect, because Rowan immediately takes Jey down inside the ring. Watching Erick Rowan, I feel like he is a poor man’s Luke Gallows. Which means he terrible, because Gallows isn’t that good. Rowan then gives Jey the Rock Bottom for the quick win. Michael Cole calls it a side slam, but it looks like a modified Rock Bottom to me. N/A

We get a vignette of Bo Dallas taking the word “impossible” and changing it to “I’m possible”. Because we just need to “Bolieve”.

Bo Dallas then comes out to the ring with this usual shtick. Listen, I totally dug IRS as a kid, and I mean that. I never knew who “Mike Rotunda” was until years and years after IRS retired, but I liked IRS as a heel when I was a kid. I loved seeing my favorite baby faces grabbing him by his stupid tie and throwing him around the ring. I didn’t know crap about taxes except for the fact that they were boring and this guy liked to talk about them. The IRS Hasbro figure was one of my favorites to beat up. In fact! It is probably my most scratched up Hasbro figure for this reason. But, his sons are getting into Curtis Axel territory. Dudes that wouldn’t be in the WWE if they had a different last name.

R-Truth comes out and Bo Dallas is dancing around with him as R-Truth raps about pimples, wheels falling off, and questioning the opposite of down. R-Truth then HILAROUSLY says “Let’s do this the right way. GREEN BAY! MAKE SOME NOISE!” because if you remember a few years ago when the WWE was in Milwaukee after the Packers won the Super Bowl R-Truth mistakenly said “GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN! WHAT’S UP?!” And the Milwaukee fans booed him out of the building which then led to his heel turn and eventually lead to the birth of Little Jimmy. Which was only second to the birth of Mae Young’s hand as far as stupid WWE gimmicks go. This might be my all-time favorite R-Truth moment. Subtle inside-joke humor is my favorite.

Anyhow, Bo takes the mic from R-Truth and says “Green Bay! What’s going on?!” and gets some good heel heat. Truth just hands the mic back to the ref and starts the match.

 Bo Dallas vs. R-Truth: R-Truth might be my least favorite WWE wrestler of all-time. No hyperbole, for real. I have never liked a thing this guy has done (sans my previous statement about Truth correcting his Milwaukee/Green Bay mistake) and Bo Dallas might be my least favorite new WWE wrestler. Neither of these guys are even entertaining in a bad way. Like Akeem the African Dream was entertaining in a bad sort of way. R-Truth and Bo Dallas? Not so much.

Michael Cole says Green Bay fans were saying that Bo Dallas’ speeches were akin to Vince Lombardi.

Isn’t Bo a heel? Why would it make sense to put over Bo’s speeches by comparing him to the great Lombardi?

Cole then spits the line that Bo Dallas was training today at “Lam-Bo Field” and Bo wins with the Bo-Dog as JBL screams “7 in BO! 7 in BO!” This gimmick has no legs and is not amusing or entertaining. Not even in a Wrestle Crap kind of way. Like Akeem. That dude was great. ¼*

WWE Network’s most watched shows of the week, WrestleMania 30 is #10. WHO IS STILL WATCHING WRESTLEMANIA 30?!

Paul Heyman is in the ring translating for the Global Superstar, Cesaro. Cesaro then in a foreign language that I do not recognize says very few words as Heyman goes on tangents about Brock Lesnar conquering the Undertaker’s streak and Cesaro winning the Andre The Giant Battle Royal. Cesaro then explains that tonight his fists are taped up because he does not intend to grapple under Greco Roman rules or WWE’s Sports Entertainment Rules, that he is here for a FIGHT.

A fight against Sheamus the Shameless who brought an inside cradle to a fight at Payback. Cesaro is willing to risk fines and suspensions for fight Sheamus that would require the referee to declare Cesaro the victor via Technical Knock Out.

It’s be YEARS since I have seen a wrestler tape up his fists and declare its because he is ready for a fight. Cesaro is the King of Old School tropes and I love it. I love this feud. This was my favorite match of Payback and I could watch these two beat the snot out of each other time after time again and never get tired of it.

Sheamus vs. Cesaro w/ Paul Heyman: Forgive me for my lack of move by move analysis. Just do yourself a favor and watch this match. It is the second best Smackdown match this year (behind the surprising gem of Ziggler vs. Batista). Sheamus is at his best in this environment and Cesaro is at his best in any environment. Two bad asses destroying each other. The middle of this match slowed down quite a bit, but it was justified by the fact that these guys were selling the damage they were doing to each other. These two were stiffing each other and hitting each other with everything they’ve got. The story here is that Sheamus defeated Cesaro with a roll up at Payback and Cesaro was ticked off that Sheamus didn’t outright beat Cesaro in the “fight”. Well this match ends with a clever Heyman interference leading to Cesaro pinning Sheamus with an inside cradle for the win. Which mean Cesaro heels it up as a hypocrite and we will most likely get more of this feud! ***3/4. Could have made it to **** or more if it had a quicker pace in the middle of the match.

Michael Cole then cuts to a recap of Triple H faux flipping this coin with Ambrose vs. Bray Wyatt announcement. I know I complain about Raw recaps on Smackdown, but did we really need to recap this?

Bray cuts a promo in the back about how when he was a kid he was a dreamer. He dreamed of happiness and a white picket fence. Until he woke up and realized he lives in this ugly world. Until he met “her”.

This allusion to “her” is really scaring me. “Her” is eventually going to be a Sister Abigail reveal. What scares me is this is the ultimate “Jumping the Shark” point for the Wyatt Family. It doesn’t matter who Sister Abigail is. It could be the recently released Aksana, it could be Sara Del Ray, it could be Sable, Sunny, the recently (but, not really recently) outed Pat Patterson, or Miss Elizabeth….Oh wait. It can’t be Miss Elizabeth. But, it doesn’t matter. Whoever it is it won’t be good. Anyways, Bray talks about climbing the ladder and leading to his absolution and happiness.

We then get a recap of Summer Rae causing Layla to cry over spilled milk…. On her head, from this past Monday. Then on Main Event Layla pours Kitty Litter on Summer Rae. As a guy who owns a cat and has to change the litter box, this is gross. Poor Summer Rae.

Fandango and Layla are in the ring as the Exotic Express makes their way to the ring with Adam Rose.

Adam Rose w/ The Exotic Express vs. Fandango w/ Layla: This must be the battle of the one legged gimmicks. And both of these men should realize that Zach Gowen owns the crown of that.

Rose and Fandango fool around and then Adam hits Fandango with the move that looks similar to Ambrose’s finisher. N/A

After the match one of the Exotic Express dressed up as a San Diego chicken look alike reveals themselves to be Summer Rae and she attacks Layla. Fandango rips Layla away as Summer Rae is fired up calls Layla to the ring. I must say, Layla and Summer Rae gave quite good performances here. I was highly impressed.

Jack Swagger w/ Zeb Colter vs. Big E: Swagger starts off fired up. He immediately throws Big E shoulder first into the ring post and then on the outside Swagger launches Big E into the guard rail and hits Big E with a VICIOUS clothesline. Big E can sell his butt off for a guy his size. Big E then hits Swagger with a couple of big clotheslines of his own and a belly to back suplex followed up by a big splash. Lana comes out and distracts Big E with her Russian gibberish. Swagger hits Big E with a big boot. Zeb Colter then walks up the ramp and tells Lana to get out of here. Big E then turns a Vader Bomb into a Big Ending for the win. **

It was an interesting twist that Colter involved himself in the Lana+Rusev/ Big E feud. Adds an interesting element to the feud and it was a realistic reaction for Colter’s character.

Aksana vs. Alicia Fox: Another final appearance for a recently released superstar, Aksana is wrestling Fox in her last WWE appearance. (Unless she comes back as Sister Abigail.)

In what world does a bi-polar girl that was probably the popular girl in high school become best friends with a trashy French girl who has an affinity for porno music and was probably the slutty girl in high school? Its things like this that makes the WWE Divas division stupid.  The lack of consistent characters and gimmicks.

Alicia Fox wins in a typically forgettable WWE Divas match. N/A

Cole then recaps the sit down interview he had with Seth Rollins this past Monday. I tweeted it out after this promo and after watching it again I still feel this way. BEST promo of Seth Rollins/Tyler Black’s career. He hit every word perfectly, his inflection was perfect and changed at the right times, he sounded believable and not scripted. Rollins has my vote for winning the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Money in the Bank. The guy would have a plethora of fresh challengers and interesting PPV main events. John Cena, Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns, Sheamus, Cesaro (following a potential face turn), Daniel Bryan, and Randy Orton (if Evolution breaks up). That is 7 opponents that could fill 12 months of PPVs. CROWN HIM! Rollins has the in-ring ability and now he has the mic ability!

Money in the Bank Qualifying Match – Dean Ambrose vs. Bray Wyatt: So far we have Cesaro, Sheamus, Randy Orton, and Alberto Del Rio qualified for the Money in the Bank match.

Ambrose has Wyatt on the outside and jumps over the top rope only to be caught by Bray Wyatt and Wyatt actually Rock Bottom’s Ambrose onto the apron in a tough spot to watch.

Back from commercial break Ambrose hits Wyatt with a DDT, but can’t cover Wyatt because he is selling his hurt shoulder after the Rock Bottom spot. Wyatt takes advantage of the shoulder injury and sends Ambrose shoulder first into the ring post.

The commentary is spot on for this match. Nothing but putting the match over. Selling Ambrose’s shoulder. Wyatt goes for a superplex right on Ambrose injured shoulder and Cole sells that this could be the end of Ambrose. Ambrose breaks loose with head butts and then hits Bray with the Nigel McGuiness rebound lariat. Ambrose puts it all on the line with a suicide dive to the outside. Ambrose blocks a big boot and rolls Wyatt up for a two count.

Ambrose hits Bray with a missile drop kick for a two count. Bray goes for a vertical suplex, but Dean reverses into an inside cradle for a two count. Dean then hits Bray with Dirty Deeds, but Seth Rollins is on the announce table distracting Dean. Dean crawls out of the ring and chases after Seth. Seth runs into the ring and Dean runs right into Sister Abigail (the finisher not the inevitable debuting Diva). Bray wins and is going to the Money in the Bank match as Rollins in a suit looks on laughing at Ambrose. ***

Final Thoughts

Overall this was a very good episode of Smackdown. No Cena, Orton, Batista, or Daniel Bryan gave the newer stars a chance to shine. Some did (Cesaro, Sheamus, Ambrose) others, not-so-much (Fandango, Adam Rose, Alicia Fox), but it is telling of the WWE’s future. And with the next influx of indie talent headed to NXT the future of the WWE looks VERY bright, it just might take time for them to get back to their 2013 run of great in-ring performances.

You can follow me on Twitter @LuchaNerd and tell me your thoughts about tonight’s episode of Smackdown! And who you think should win the Money in the Bank match!