Daniel Bryan challenges Randy Orton to a rematch.
By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Daniel Bryan Interrupted WWE Champion Randy Orton
I realize SmackDown is a taped show and it is very easy for WWE to simply add in reactions, but it seemed Orton was receiving legitimate heat in the opening segment. I was surprised to see him on SmackDown and he cut a good promo here. He and Bryan had an enjoyable exchange, but were able to keep it short and sweet without giving too much away. Orton didn't target the fans too much here, but his arrogant mic work was enough to render him a heel.
Intercontinental Champion Curtis Axel def. Cody Rhodes (Non-title)
It was a good match while it lasted, but the commercial break somewhat took away from it. Nonetheless, this was their first match against one another and manage to impress this viewer with their instant chemistry. It was a nice win for Axel, who is desperate for victories at this point, but I was confused as to why Damien Sandow didn't cost him the match in order to further their feud. Paul Heyman's post-match promo was also well done and seemed to tease an Intercontinental Championship match between Axel and CM Punk at some point in the near future, more than likely at Night of Champions.
Dolph Ziggler def. Big E Langston
A decent match, but I was really hoping Ziggler's feud with Langston and AJ Lee concluded at SummerSlam. This is the same guy who was contending for the World Heavyweight Championship a month ago, so I don't wish to see him involved in this love triangle any longer. A win over Langston essentially means nothing, as they haven't built Langston up enough for him to be considered a threat to Ziggler.
World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio def. Christian (Non-title)
It shouldn't come as much of a surprise at this point, but Del Rio and Christian worked another great match on this show. They shouldn't have given away the rematch for free mere days later, but it all depends on whether this feud continues going forward. Del Rio's win was a step in the right direction in rebuilding him back up as a credible champion, but Christian's post-match attack on Del Rio seems to indicate that their feud is far from over. Rob Van Dam's partnership with Ricardo Rodriguez is still a mystery to me, but he's extremely over and be a nice opponent for Del Rio.
Big Show and Mark Henry def. 3MB in a Handicap Match
As one would expect, this was essentially a basic squash match used to establish Show and Henry as a cohesive tandem. 3MB sold the offense of the two big behemoths well and weren't affected by the loss since they have nothing to lose. What was really worth watching was the promo from Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins, which made the tag titles feel important for the first time in recent memory. They put over the team of Henry and Show while also coming off as a legitimate threat, setting the stage for their future title clash in the process. Excellent work from The Shield as always.
Darren Young def. Antonio Cesaro
The audience didn't seem as much into this match as they were for the tag team match between The Prime Time Players and The Real Americans on Monday's Raw, but it was still a well worked match, nonetheless. Both scored a substantial amount offense over one another, but it was still too short to mean much. I've been liking this newfound push Young and Titus O'Neil have been getting as of late and it looks as if the crowds are gradually getting behind them as babyfaces.
Daniel Bryan def. Wade Barrett in a Steel Cage Match
These two have clashed a number of times in recent months, but their matches never seem to get old. This match wasn't as exciting as their previous encounter from last week (probably due to the fact that there wasn't nearly as much overbooking and shenanigans), but it was still a solid outing from both men. It was pretty predictable that Bryan would be emerging victorious here, but Barrett still looked good in defeat. I realize the commentators always say that Randy Orton hits the RKO "out of nowhere", but that overused hyperbole has never been more true. Orton standing tall to close the show was a cool visual and leaves this viewer in suspense as to where they go with this feud from here.
Nothing noteworthy occurred on this show, but the entertaining action definitely made the two hours worthwhile. I didn't expect the WWE Championship feud to be featured on SmackDown, and they were able to do it without having Triple H or any other member of the McMahon family overshadow it. Everything else on this week's episode came off as filler, but each match and segment seemed to serve a purpose in the long scheme of things.