By Graham "GSM" Matthews
The Shield Challenged The Wyatt Family
After The Wyatt Family cost them their chance to contend for the world title at Elimination Chamber, it was only logical for The Shield to move into a program with them, and I couldn't be any more excited. All three members of The Shield cut good promos, showed nice intensity, and did a swell job of explaining their motives for targeting The Wyatt Family. The Shield's confrontation with Triple H was also very well done, as it also hinted at a potential Roman Reigns-Triple H for later down the line. I have been looking forward to seeing these two feared factions face off for a while now, and if it isn't going to held at WrestleMania 30, Elimination Chamber is the next best thing.
Antonio Cesaro def. Dolph Ziggler in an Elimination Chamber Qualifying Match
Cesaro and Ziggler are two of the best wrestlers in the company today, so I was a bit disappointed by this matchup. They have had far better matches in the past (on WWE Superstars and Main Event coincidentally enough, where no one will ever see them), and this bout was nothing more than a showcase for Cesaro. I am not saying that it is necessarily a bad thing, but I was hoping Ziggler would get in more offense than he did. It is a shame, too, considering the great reaction he received at the Royal Rumble and his subsequent win on Raw. I am very glad to see Cesaro advancing to the Elimination Chamber and contending for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship for the first time in his career. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come for the rising star.
Fandango def. Xavier Woods
Could the midcard be anymore dead? Every single week, if isn't R-Truth facing Fandango, it is Woods. What gives? It would be different if this was a rivalry, but it isn't, as it is the same result every time. Fandango's gimmick has grown tiresome and Woods shouldn't be saddled with Brodus Clay's Funkasaurus scraps. What a meaningless match.
Curtis Axel and Ryback def. The Prime Time Players
It was a throwaway match that was over in two minutes, which shouldn't come as much of a surprise. What did come as a surprise was WWE's decision to break The Prime Time Players up immediately afterward. First off, this moment was not built toward at all and the two have too much chemistry to break up right now, especially at a time when the tag team division is flourishing. I wouldn't doubt that both of them will get lost in the shuffle on the road to WrestleMania after a feud that will last a month at most. They should have at least won the WWE Tag Team Championships together before they parted ways.
Christian def. Jack Swagger in an Elimination Chamber Qualifying Match
It is great to see Christian back in action after a near five month absence. He worked an excellent match with Swagger that brought the best out of both competitors. The commentators bringing up Swagger's Chamber win from last year was a nice touch that helped make the match mean more. It was a good first victory back for Christian and Swagger's loss seems to indicate about he won't be with Zeb Colter for much longer.
Kofi Kingston def. Damien Sandow
The commentators continue to make mention of the fact that Sandow has been on a massive losing streak in recent months, but he has yet to be put in an actual rivalry with anyone (no, I don't count The Great Khali). He just constantly loses random matches. Both he and Kofi are in need of victories, so this match did neither of them any favors, hence why it was nothing more than filler. Sandow has already threatened to "quit" before, so what more can be done with this storyline? Turning him face isn't the answer, but time will tell.
Cody Rhodes def. WWE Tag Team Champion Road Dogg
Although I enjoy them in tag team action, The New Age Outlaws should not be wrestling singles matches. They aren't terrible in the ring on their own, but their singles matches are mediocre at best and prove that they are much better off together than apart. If nothing else, at least Rhodes picked up the victory, though I can't say the post-match brawl did anything to get me excited about their upcoming Steel Cage tag team title match on Raw.
The Shield def. Daniel Bryan, Sheamus and Rey Mysterio
The combination of Bryan, Sheamus and Mysterio looked odd on paper, but the fact they are all great in-ring wrestlers made up for it. Much like the six-man tag team match from this past week's Raw, this was a solid match with entertaining action throughout. Every competitor had their time to shine and the finishing sequence was fun to watch unfold. Replacing John Cena with Mysterio this time around was a sign that The Master of the 619 would be taking the pinfall loss for his team, but it didn't take away from The Shield's strong victory or Roman Reign's dominant showing.
To my memory, this was undoubtedly the best episode of SmackDown in weeks. There was a lot of focus on The Shield and their pending feud with The Wyatt Family, which was exciting. The two Elimination Chamber qualifying matches were well wrestled and the main event was equally awesome. Even the vignette that aired for the debuting Alexander Rusev has me intrigued to what will he do when he eventually arrives on the main roster. Sure, the show had its share of filler (Kingston vs. Sandow comes to mind), but it wasn't anything atrocious and the good definitely outweighed the bad on this show.