Rob Van Dam nails Randy Orton with a vicious kick.
By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Randy Orton def. Rob Van Dam
This is a marquee match, so it's a shame is wasn't advertised in advance. I was a bit disappointed that the commentators didn't mention the fact that it was Orton who took out RVD back in 2007, but I was happy with them mentioning how Orton cost the one-of-a-kind competitor the Money in the Bank briefcase at last month's pay-per-view. I always love when a match kicks off a show rather than a promo, so that was a nice touch. The action was extremely exciting as expected and was filled with many fun reversals and counters. The final few minutes were very suspenseful with the finishing sequence being very well done. I initially hoped to see these two clash at SummerSlam, which could still be possible seeing how neither Superstar has a match set in stone for the event at this time.
The Miz Hosted "Miz TV" with Divas Champion AJ Lee and Big E Langston
AJ's mic work was decent and it was probably best for her to do all the talking for Langston. Dolph Ziggler's interference was pretty predictable, as was Kaitlyn's. Their exchange with AJ and Langston was fine for what it was, but it was thankfully kept short and sweet. The Miz also played his role here and wasn't completely pointless. It was only a matter of time before the mixed tag team match was confirmed for SummerSlam, so I guess it was better late than never.
Fandango def. Kofi Kingston
Similar to their match from this week's Raw, this match was nicely paced and featured some fun action. Summer Rae played her role at ringside and gave Kingston an out for losing, but I still question the move to hand Kingston a loss this early into his return. Looks like it's the same old, same old for the Ghana native. Perhaps a rubber match between the two is in store for SummerSlam, presumably on the pre-show, but only time will tell.
Daniel Bryan def. Wade Barrett
This match was only logical after their clash from this past week on Raw. However, I was once again disappointed by the match. I ranted the last time that their bout was too short, and despite that, this contest wasn't much longer. I guess I shouldn't be surprised, though, as Barrett hasn't meant anything in ages. It was well wrestled while it lasted and continued the strong momentum of Bryan, who was heavily over here. On a side note, I'm saddened by the fact that Barrett has shaved his awesome beard, as I thought that was his best look yet added to his tough image.
Kane def. 3MB in a Three-on-One Handicap Match
This was essentially a squash match that was used to showcase Kane's dominance going into SummerSlam. 3MB has never had any credibility as a group, so this loss doesn't help or hinder them. Bray Wyatt's post-match promo was excellently executed and had me anxiously anticipating his upcoming Ring of Fire match with The Big Red Monster.
Brock Lesnar Said "It's Personal" with CM Punk
It's common knowledge that Lesnar isn't the best mic worker in the world, but he thrives in pre-taped interviews such as this one. It added an extra edge to his match with Punk, which I thought was impossible to accomplish seeing how the feud has been brilliantly booked thus far. This was a great Lesnar video package that has me even more excited for the "Best vs. Beast" matchup at SummerSlam.
Christian def. World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio (Non-title)
I was surprised to see this match occur given the fact it's already been confirmed for SummerSlam. I was even more surprised by how much time they ended up receiving. That's not a complaint, though, as they ultimately had a great match with enjoyable action and a fun finishing sequence. The outcome was never in doubt, but I sense Del Rio going over at the pay-per-view. Ricardo Rodriguez's role in that bout remains to be seen, as he was mentioned on this show and will apparently play some sort of factor in the match. Furthermore, Del Rio continuing to lose non-title matches also hurt the credibility of his title reign. Damien Sandow attempting to cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase was a nice tease and Cody Rhodes preventing him from doing so was an effective way of furthering their feud.
I enjoyed almost every aspect of this show, as all the matches were solid and some were even better than others. Not only that, but every match on the SummerSlam card was very well hyped throughout the course of this show and made out to feel important. The event is shaping up to be one of the best in modern memory and this edition of SmackDown was successful in building towards it.