Best: Jack Swagger, Power Technician
I like almost everything about Jack Swagger except his wrestling, which is weird, because the dude could legit outwrestle anyone in the company not named Brock Lesnar. He’s not bad mind you, the guy’s just never really grown past that generic mid-2000s OVW style. Hell, even John freakin’ Cena has added more wrinkles in the past decade.
Swagger seemed to be trying something different on Smackdown though, combining his wrestling ability with the oft-overlooked fact that he’s a massive, corn fed superman. Instead of just working on Bryan’s arm with armbars or stomps or whatever, Swagger would gorilla press him into the post or amateur takedown him onto his shoulder. It was a style I don’t really recall seeing often before — the technical monster.
Of course, there’s a good chance Bryan came up before the match with a chalkboard and told Swagger, “Okay, do this, this and this to me” and we’ll never see any of this stuff again, but at least for tonight Swagger was a true soaring eagle inside the ring.
Best: Cesaro, Punishment Guy
So, after Bryan beat Swagger, Vickie (who still exists in the Smackdown bubble universe) came out and put Bryan directly into a match with Cesaro. Just a couple weeks ago Bryan’s reaction to this would have been a shrug followed by YESing, but on Friday Bryan had to put on his serious, worried face, because Cesaro might just become the new guy general managers sic on people who mildly annoy them.
Now, I know the unmotivated Randy Orton of a couple years ago sullied this position, but it’s a good spot for Cesaro. It’s great for job security — how else to explain ol’ wrestles like a pile of rotten lumber Kane being featured on WWE TV more than maybe any other wrestler in history? Being the scary punishment guy confers instant and permanent credibility in WWE. Plus s–t, wouldn’t you be afraid of getting in there with Cesaro?
Oh, and Bryan vs. Cesaro was a good match (of course). A tad slow, but then Bryan was selling an injury and Cesaro was playing Kane with talent, so it made sense there were a few less flashy touches. Sadly Cesaro had to lose — you know, just in case you weren’t sure if he belonged at #4 or 5 in the Elimination Chamber power rankings — but hey, at least he’s in Vickie’s Rolodex now. Get in Brad Maddox’s and you’re set man.
Worst: Sassy Bray Wyatt
Annnd the streak of good Bray Wyatt promos comes to a crashing halt. Bray was straight up black grandma-ing it here, all sitting in his rocking chair wagging his fingers and doing his most theatrical “Mah stars and heavens to Besty!” voice. Listen, I agree Madea is a fairly terrifying figure, but this isn’t the way to go Bray.