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April 03, 2015

WWE SmackDown Rundown: Less than a week after WrestleMania, Extreme Rules begins to take shape

WWE’s post-WrestleMania edition of SmackDown came to us this week from the Save Mart Center in Fresno, California. This was an entertaining edition, and WWE already has its sights set on April 26th as it builds towards its next pay-per-view, Extreme Rules.

Coming out of SmackDown, we have two huge matches set for the event, a bloody Daniel Bryan, and an interesting Prime Time Players promo. Let’s hit it.

WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins kicked off SmackDown accompanied by The Authority, sans Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. Rollins boasted about his WrestleMania championship win after cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase, his appearance on NBC’s Today Show on Monday morning, and his confrontation with Brock Lesnar on Monday night.

Rollins was interrupted by Randy Orton, who reminded us that he never got a rematch after losing the championship at last year’s WrestleMania in a Triple Threat Match to Daniel Bryan. Orton then ran down The Authority before Kane had heard enough, and booked him in a match with the Big Show to kick off SmackDown. Later in the program, Director of Operations, Kane, officially made the main event of Extreme Rules – Rollins defending his WWE World Heavyweight Championship against Orton.

We’ll likely be seeing a stipulation added or a gimmick match since Extreme Rules is supposed to be the extreme pay-per-view. Nevertheless, I expect Rollins and Orton to have a better match at Extreme Rules than they did at WrestleMania.

Michael Cole and JBL continued to sell their injuries from Monday night at the hands of Lesnar, so Byron Saxton and Tom Phillips were filling in on commentary with Jerry Lawler.

Roman Reigns sat down with Saxton for an interview to talk about the WrestleMania main event, and played the face in peril to a tee. He mentioned being suplexed all over the ring by Lesnar on Sunday night, but then talked about how he kept getting back up and delivered his Superman punch to Lesnar, changing his face permanently. Reigns lamented how he only needed 30 more seconds to beat Lesnar. Interestingly enough, the majority of the interview focused on Lesnar instead of Rollins cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase and pulling the rug out from under Reigns.

While I didn’t think it was time for Rusev to lose his first match in WWE, I think John Cena as United States Champion works for now. Rusev is now playing the role Cena was in a few weeks ago, practically begging for a rematch, which Cena obliged. The two will vie for the United States Championship once again at Extreme Rules. In more good news, Lana is back at Rusev’s side despite the two of them continuing this on-screen tension that we normally see lead to a breakup, but I really hope that’s not the case here.

It took less than a week for Daniel Bryan to lose his first match as Intercontinental Champion, as he fell to a returning Sheamus. Advertised on Raw as a tag team match, Dolph Ziggler apparently couldn’t wrestle (there was no mention of this advertised tag match, so I can only assume), so the match was changed to a singles match with Bad News Barrett on commentary. There’s something about being the Intercontinental Champion and always losing clean on television. While Bryan defeated Ziggler on Monday night, we could have waited a bit longer for his first loss as Intercontinental Champion.

Sheamus explained why he turned on Bryan and Ziggler on Monday Night Raw – “Because I can.” Sheamus wants to know where all the real men have gone in WWE, and he’s there to crush everyone’s hopes and dreams. Good heel promo by Sheamus, but really, he needs to do something about that look. It’s ridiculous.

I’m surprised this main evented SmackDown, but I have no complaints. I could get behind the Intercontiental Champion and United States Champion main eventing weekly TV shows. It looked like Bryan cut himself open pretty badly after repeated headbutts to Sheamus. The doctor was in there right away trying to clear it away. This should be a good feud.

We had a promo by the newly reunited Prime Time Players [Titus O’Neil and Darren Young] directed to The New Day, who may be turning heel before long since Big E cut a Twitter promo on the fans that really read like a heel promo instead of a face promo. I’m not sure what WWE is planning to do with The New Day, but they’re not over with the crowd at all. They really should turn them heel, and this may be the beginning steps of doing just that.

Match rundown

     • Randy Orton d. Big Show by disqualification after The Authority attacked Orton during the match. Ryback made the save for Orton.

     • Naomi d. Natalya by pinfall via a headscissors slam, driving Natalya’s head into the mat.

     • The Miz d. R-Truth by pinfall via the Skull-Crushing Finale. Damien Mizdow attacked Miz after the match and gave him his own Skull-Crushing Finale, to the delight of the crowd.

     • Dean Ambrose NC Luke Harper. This could have been a double countout, but we never had an official decision. Harper powerbombed Ambrose through the announce table. Ambrose was helped to the back by refs and EMTs.

     • Non-Title Match: Sheamus d. Daniel Bryan (c-IC) by countout. Bad News Barrett was on commentary and delivered a Bull Hammer elbow to Bryan on the outside of the ring, causing the countout.