#properopening: Finally they’re letting Sheamus open the show with a promo instead of running in to toss Bryan back in the ring like they have done the past few times. It just feels like the WHC match at Mania is #4 in importance, which is a shame since The Pale One did win the Rumble. Then again it’s not like WWE treats a Rumble victory like anything important. It hasn’t turned into a Mania victory since Taker in 2007 and with Elimination Chamber right before Mania, it takes the luster off the claim of a Rumble victory leading to the ‘main event at Wrestlemania. I am wondering when they’ll have an actual in ring promo exchange between Sheamus and Bryan. Not tonight since Vickie comes out with Dolph in tow, to ramble on about how Laurinaitis is the best GM choice. Dolph cuts a nice, short promo on Sheamus before ruining it with a lame joke about his hair. Of course that brings out Long, who booked Shemaus-Dolph next instead of a tag match, which is always mildly surprising.

#showboating: I’m a little confused as to the direction WWE has with Ziggler. They seem to want to push him into the main event, which they have over the past 2 PPVs, but then again it looks like he’s heading for a meaningless tag match at Mania like last year. He and Sheamus put on a good match, with plenty of back and forth. Dolph goes for the sleeper twice, which is good to see since he kind of stopped using that regularly for a while. Of course Sheamus wins since they need to keep him hot for Mania, and that backbreaker type finisher he’s using now looks appropriately brutal.

#venomstrikes: No this isn’t about the much hyped return of The Viper, Randall Orton, but the usual filler match involving Santino. A very short match as he was able to hit The Cobra on Wendy Slater after only a few minutes. His inclusion in the EC match may have exposed the lack of depth on the roster, but Santino is still excellent at what he does, being a comedy act that entertains.

#usermanual: So it seems pushing Eve as a heel is more important then the actual women’s title. Then again we all knew this. Eve gets a backstage segment where Natalya comes up to complain how much she’s changed. Of course Eve badmouths Zack, bragging about how she used him, and then says he stinks.  That leads to something we all knew was coming the moment Eve said it…yes a gaseous output from Natalya. To which the Dungeon Diva replied that this is what stinks. Even though I’m dismayed by the flatulence angle, I have to admit that but was kind of funny. This leads to a match soon after, which Eve wins very quickly, gaining a ton of heat in the process. So is Natalya now a face?

#maniamatch: Cody Rhodes comes out to continue to mock Big Show for his fails at Wrestlemania in his usual snarky way. Of course Show has to come out, but he doesn’t o right after Cody instead saying he was coming out to see the next installment of Cody’s Big Show Wrestlemania series. A good, humorous line, but before Show can go after Cody, Long comes out yet again. No tag match, but he does book Rhodes-Show at Mania for the IC Title. This could be a great way to further elevate Cody with another Mania win over a veteran or a way to pass the title onto Show while Cody goes for the MITB match, if it ever happens. Oh and a Show-Henry match took place for some reason. Only noteworthy for a monster WSS from Henry before Show overcame to hit the WMD for the win. Rhodes was on commentary for the match and the banter between himself and Booker was amusing.

#pinkslip: So this is Drew McIntyre’s last chance, for like the 42nd time, to get a victory or he’s fired, according to Long. He draws Justin Gabriel this time, and while he gets some offense in, he eventually falls victim to the 450 splash. It appears this loss is the last straw, as Long appears on the Tron to formally fire Drew. Of course we know Laurinaitus will find some way to bring him back to get back at Teddy.

#slitheringback: Orton’s return to Smackdown brought a gigantic response from the crowd. Bryan’s promo backstage before the match was great with tons of emotion. If WWE ever wanted to put these two in an extended feud, I’d be on board. Their styles mesh very well in the ring and they can always put on a great match. There were near falls and counters that kept the crowd into the action. The end looked like it was coming when Orton hit his Rope Hung DDT, after a huge dropkick counter to an aerial attack from Bryan. That looked like it hurt. Back in he ring, Orton soon gets ‘that’ look in his eyes. Bryan countered the RKO into a LaBell Lock attempt but Orton slithers out. As he is about to deliver the DDT again on the outside, the pyro hits to announce Kane. Bryan takes the opportunity to scamper away and Orton goes at it with the Big Red Machine. Kane hits the chokeslam, grabs a mic and welcomes Orton back. This is as sure an indicator that it will be Orton-Kane at Mania then anything.