By Graham "GSM" Matthews
The Authority Opened the Show
I cringe whenever The Authority open Raw or SmackDown if only because it's not only necessary and their drawn out talking segments have grown tiresome with this viewer. Thankfully, this segment didn't take up too much time and effectively hyped up the Money in the Bank pay-per-view. Tension was also teased between Randy Orton and Seth Rollins, so I'm glad they addressed the logic if they both win their respective matches on Sunday. HHH introducing Bad News Barrett was a nice tie-in to the subsequent match.
Dean Ambrose def. Intercontinental Champion Bad News Barrett (Non-title)
Similar to their Raw match last week, Ambrose and Barrett work well together and had a solid match. I guess I missed the part when Barrett was named The Authority's official hitman. Ambrose hasn't won many matches lately, so this victory was a nice momentum booster. On the same token, I hate to see Barrett lose non-title matches, especially when I'm afraid Ambrose will never contend for the belt. Seth Rollins' attack afterward furthered his feud with Ambrose nicely. On a side note, I wish Barrett a quick recovery after separating his shoulder upon making impact with the barricade.
Divas Champion Paige def. Cameron (Non-title)
Usually, I'm an advocate of longer matches for the ladies, but given Cameron's limited abilities, I'm glad this bout was kept brief. The dissension between Naomi and Cameron continued, but I liked how tension was teased between Naomi and Paige as well. After all, they're the ones fighting over the Divas Championship on Sunday night, so I'm glad they have some heat with each other going into their upcoming title match.
United States Champion Sheamus def. Bray Wyatt by Disqualification (Non-title)
These two once again worked a good match. They kept the pace consistent throughout and were given a substantial amount of time. Although they weren't directly involved, Luke Harper and Erick Rowan and The Usos being at ringside helped hype their match for Money in the Bank as well. I was disappointed to see their match end in a disqualification once again, thought I wasn't completely surprised given that Wyatt should be protected and Sheamus is U.S. Champion.
Alberto Del Rio and Cesaro def. Rob Van Dam and Dolph Ziggler
I figured this match would be short given that none of the participants received entrances, but it was surprisingly given more time than expected. It was well-wrestled and everyone involved was able to shine at one point or another. I was shocked to see Del Rio be the one to pick up the clean victory, but it was a nice way of giving him an extra edge going into the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match. Is it too little, too late, though? RVD and Ziggler looked like second-tier Superstars compared to Del Rio and Ziggler, but the title Ladder match is more important anyway so I didn't mind it.
Rusev def. Sin Cara
The squash match was nothing new, but it was simple and effective in furthering Rusev's momentum. I was glad to see Big E get the better of him for once and his promo was decent. It's obvious Big E will lose to Rusev again, but I appreciate the effort in making him more of a threat. They've had an on-and-off feud in recent months, but at least they're getting a spot on the PPV card.
Roman Reigns def. Kane by Disqualification
I didn't expect Reigns and Kane to have the best chemistry together, but they worked a surprisingly solid match that was given good time. Like most other matches on this show, it built toward the WWE World Heavyweight Championship Ladder match and made a star out of Reigns. The bit with Randy Orton climbing the ladder and claiming the titles was drawn out longer than it should, but it still put over Orton as a contender to win on Sunday. Reigns once again looked strong coming out of this show and I love the way WWE has made him look like the favorite to win the Ladder match.
This may not have been the most entertaining episode of SmackDown in recent episode, but it didn't need to be. It was the go-home show before Money in the Bank, so it succeeded in hyping many of the advertised matches on the card and getting this viewer excited for the event. The show has the potential to be great and I surely hope it lives up to expectations.