By Graham "GSM" Matthews
John Laurinaitis and Teddy Long Returned
I've never been a fan of John Laurinaitis, but it was cool to see him make a cameo. It also made Teddy Long's surprise return mean that much more. The crowd popped huge! It was a silly segment, sure, especially when Adam Rose and the Rosebuds came down, but it was silly enough that I didn't mind it. It set up the night's major multi-man main event as well as the subsequent match between Kane and Rose.
Kane def. Adam Rose
Rose had zero chance against Kane, which is funny since Kane rarely wins nowadays. It was everything it needed to be in that it was a complete squash. I was glad that Michael Cole made mention on commentary of the fact that this was Rose's first singles loss on the main roster. Can you believe he hasn't lost AT ALL in the last five months? The post-match bit with Kane taking out the Rosebuds was fun. I was hoping it'd lead to the unveiling of who The Bunny is, but no such luck.
Divas Champion AJ Lee def. Alicia Fox (Non-title)
The two are obviously capable of having better, longer matches, but this was the same length as most Divas matches, so I can't say I was surprised. It was fine while it lasted, but there's only so much you can do in a minute or two. If nothing else, it gave AJ her win back over Fox. There was some very odd editing afterward. For what reason I don't know, but it looked terrible.
Seth Rollins def. Kofi Kingston
Rollins and Kingston had a good match, but it was mostly one-sided for Rollins and we've seen them have better bouts in the past. The crowd was quiet for most of it, but if they had to re-tape it as reported, it's understandable. It was a basic showcase for Rollins and not much more. Can we please get back to Kingston appearing alongside his stablemates Xavier Woods and Big E?
Rusev def. Intercontinental Champion Dolph Ziggler (Non-title)
These two are the perfect opponents given Ziggler's stellar selling ability, making this match very enjoyable. However, the ending result was never in doubt. It was a good win for Rusev, but I always hate it whenever a midcard champion gets beaten and whoever defeated him isn't given a title shot. It makes zero sense from a storyline standpoint. It was a fresh match that was designed to give Rusev his heat back after Monday's Raw, but they couldn't have had someone else lose to the Bulgarian Brut?
The Rock and Triple H Came Face-to-Face
I didn't think Rock would be making an appearance in front of the live crowd, but it was great to see him in this pre-taped backstage segment. He and HHH have so much history together that it made the segment memorable and their verbal exchange was hilarious. There was quite a bit of teasing of a future WrestleMania match between the two. It's certainly a possibility, but I'll believe it when I see it.
Team Teddy (United States Champion Sheamus, Mark Henry, The Usos, Los Matadores, El Torito and Jack Swagger) def. Team Johnny (WWE Tag Team Champions Gold & Stardust, Slater Gator, Damien Mizdow, Bo Dallas, Cesaro and Mini-Gator)
On paper, this looks like a match filled with no-names, enhancement talent and people just flat-out don't care about it, but the "greatest general manager of all-time" stipulation was a nice little twist that gave it more meaning. It was your standard multi-man match with everyone having their time to shine. It was entertaining for the most part and the finishing sequence was well done. As noted earlier, it was great to see Teddy back considering he was a big part of the program for so many years.
The Miz Hosted 'Miz TV' with John Cena and Dean Ambrose
A No Holds Barred Contract on a Pole Match at Hell in a Cell? Ugh. The No Holds Barred stipulation should be good and I'm sure Cena and Ambrose will make the most of it, but Pole matches rarely ever work and I can't believe they're doing it at the pay-per-view. That aside, this was a solid segment with strong promos from both Cena and Ambrose. The baseball thing from Cena was stupid, but he made up for it with the Make-a-Wish talk. Ambrose and Miz also played their roles well and I like how Cena evened the odds by getting the better of Ambrose here (though Ambrose was the last man standing on the show more people watch).
Although I was excited for this show going in, I didn't set my expectations too high because.. well, it's SmackDown and WWE hasn't taken the blue brand seriously in a long, long time. That said, I loved the cameo appearances from Long, Laurinaitis and Booker T as well as the various video packages that aired throughout the night. The backstage segment with Triple H and The Rock in addition to the multi-man tag match were entertaining, though the rest of the matches left something to be desired. On the whole, it wasn't an awesome anniversary show, but I enjoyed it for what it was.