By Graham "GSM" Matthews
The Authority Called Out Intercontinental Champion Ryback
With Big Show doing his own thing and Jamie Noble out with an injury (here's wishing him a full and speedy recovery), The Authority seems to be dwindling down, and although I would love if that meant they were slowly being phased out, I doubt that's the case. Noble's injury presents the perfect opportunity, however, to have Brock Lesnar take out each member one by one in the weeks leading up to Battleground. This was a typical promo from them to start the show on a less-than-stellar note, but at the very least, it established the night's two big matches in Ryback vs. Kane and Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose.
Sheamus def. Dolph Ziggler
Yes, it feels like we've seen these two face each other a million times before, but you can't help but admit that their matches never cease to entertain. This was another good match from the two, and while not their best bout, still enjoyable for what it was. As established before, I'm digging Sheamus' character right now and I'm glad he's picking up wins more often than not as Mr. Money in the Bank, but the Ziggler and Lana pairing just isn't doing it for me. Meanwhile, Rusev continues to look terrible throughout this whole thing and I can't believe he was among the company's hottest acts only a few short months ago. What a shame.
Alicia Fox def. Naomi
I feel nothing but apathy for the women during each of the Divas matches nowadays and this one was no exception. Much like on Raw this week, there was no one to cheer for in this match as Fox is aligned with The Bella Twins and Naomi has been an unlikable character since turning, so what was this supposed to accomplish? The match wasn't that good, either, as it was sloppy at some points and filled with botches. If the end game of this whole mess is to call up the "Four Horsewomen" from NXT, then I can't wait any longer for that to happen so I can be spared of this atrocious program.
Intercontinental Champion Ryback def. Kane by Disqualification (Non-title)
As little as I care for the Big Show character, I actually liked this approach of having him attack Ryback prior to this match and thus keeping the match relatively brief much better than if they were to had a straightforward match between Ryback and Kane. It put heat on Show, made the fans feel sympathetic toward Ryback, and prevented him from taking an unnecessary loss, so this was successful in furthering the feud between the two. For those curious, The Miz was busy with Tough Enough at the time this was taped, explaining his absence.
WWE Tag Team Champions Prime Time Players and The Lucha Dragons def. The New Day and Bo Dallas
I like the Players as tag team champions, but their feud with The New Day has been nonexistent because all they've done is face each other in multi-man matches. They need to do more to make fans invest in the rivalry and why the titles mean so much to the Players. That said, this was a fun little match while it lasted and I got a major kick out of the tandem of The New Day and Dallas. Their inspirational gimmicks are so similar yet they gel so perfectly, and I hope this isn't the last time we seem them together.
WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins def. Dean Ambrose (Non-title)
The chemistry Ambrose and Rollins have together is off the charts and they are simply incapable of having a bad match. I assumed this would be a limited version of the awesome matches they tend to have because it occurred on SmackDown, but it was extremely entertaining down the stretch despite all the overbooked interference from The Authority. Rollins was the right person to go over in this scenario, but it left me wondering what's next for Ambrose going into Battleground.
When a majority of the show is centered around The Authority, you know it isn't worth watching. In all seriousness, this was a decent edition of SmackDown, but the only true highlight was the main event between Rollins and Ambrose. Everything was just kind of there, even the Sheamus vs. Ziggler match that we've seen countless times in the past. It was by no means a terrible episode, but nothing too spectacular by SmackDown standards.