By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Chris Jericho Hosted 'The Highlight Reel' with The Authority
Why wasn't this treated like a bigger deal beforehand? I know they hyped it up on Monday's Raw a bit, but Jericho's WWE return should have felt like a bigger deal (even though he's been gone from TV for all of two months). Despite that, it was a very solid segment with all three individuals shining on the mic. Jericho has always had awesome chemistry with Triple H and Stephanie McMahon on the mic and The Authority played their heel role well. It was a nice little boost to the big multi-man main event at Survivor Series.
Bray Wyatt def. Sin Cara
Anyone who watches Main Event regularly saw this exact same match last week, so while it was repetitive, it was effective in furthering Wyatt's momentum. The real focus was on the post-match promo from Wyatt and Dean Ambrose which was really good. It didn't make sense for Ambrose to not just exit the ring and attack Wyatt, but I'll let that one slide. The rest of their interactions throughout the night were also excellent and it finally feels like a feud between the two is underway. Hopefully this can translate to Raw.
WWE Tag Team Champions Gold and Stardust def. Adam Rose and The Bunny (Non-title)
I dreaded the pointless match between Rose and Stardust on Main Event this week, but at least it led to this match actually serving a purpose. Obviously, the match itself was throwaway, but the tag team champions needed the win after losing so often as of late. Rose once again attacking The Bunny was predictable, but let's hope they can get to the next chapter in this story before this starts to get old. The commentators questioning who was under the bunny mask was interesting and it led me to believe that they'll be revealing who it is sooner rather than later.
Intercontinental Champion Dolph Ziggler def. Cesaro and Tyson Kidd in a Triple Threat Elimination Match
What I write here won't do this match justice, but I'll try my best. It had all the potential in the world to be a great match on paper and it managed to live up to the hype. All three talents worked tremendously hard and the pace never slowed down at all. Cesaro and Kidd, while notches below Ziggler, looked like equals here and there were a handful of times where I thought a new champ would be crowned. It was pleasantly surprising to see Kidd make it until the end and I hope his days in the title picture aren't over.
Natalya def. Layla
By Diva match standards (not including NXT), this was above-average. It was nice to see Layla wrestle on her home turf of England and she and Natalya worked a nice match. There wasn't anything storyline driven about it, but as a filler bout, it didn't overstay its welcome and it wasn't a total waste of time, so I didn't mind it one bit.
Ryback def. Kane by Disqualification
Obviously, the match was no five star mat classic as one would expect from these two, but it was fine for what it was. It was slow and plodding at times and I was just waiting for the disqualification finish which we ended up getting. At the very least, it wasn't terrible, so there's that. Ryback beating down Kane afterward made him look strong and the staredown with Triple H was intriguing. Was it planting the seeds for something down the road or just for the hell of it?
This was without a doubt one of the best episodes of SmackDown I've seen all year. There was hardly anything to complain about and the furthering of the feud between Dean Ambrose and Bray Wyatt, the building up of Ryback and especially the Triple Threat match (which is well worth going out of your way to see) are all awesome and made the two hours fly by. The England atmosphere only enhanced the episode and made it enjoyable to sit through.