The final SmackDown of 2013 aired this past Friday night. This episode falls in between the Christmas episode of Raw, and the beginning of the Royal Rumble build, so this must be a tough show to plan out.
John Cena promo/The Shield attack/Mark Henry and Big E Langston make the save/Kane plays match-maker
Cena opens with a promo about bringing in the new year. He makes some jokes about new year’s resolutions. He then says he wants to gain 40 pounds, but he intends to do that tonight, by using his rematch on Randy Orton and winning the two belts that, together, make the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
The Shield comes out instead and they attack Cena. Henry comes out but is taken down as well. Finally, Langston emerges and helps Cena and Henry remove The Shield from the ring. Kane comes out and makes three singles matches, Langston vs. Dean Ambrose, Henry vs. Roman Reigns, and Cena vs. Seth Rollins.
My Take: Cena opened the show strong, not one of his best promos, but good. Some of the resolution jokes fell flat, others were pretty funny, like planning out his XFL fantasy draft, and starring in the musical version of “No Holds Barred” (note the Hulk Hogan reference). The Shield coming out still has a special feel to it, it feels like something big is going to happen. Henry and Langston are hot right now, there run-ins were well executed. Kane comes out and makes three very enticing singles matches. The segment ended with the fire coming out of the ring posts, I’m not quite sure why they still do that with him if he is wearing a suit.
Cody Rhodes (w/Goldust) vs. Antonio Cesaro (w/Zeb Colter and Jack Swagger)
These two have really good chemistry. Ever since Goldust came back, him and Cody have been working well with every tag team they’ve worked with. Their singles matches in that time though, prove that they are on a red-hot run, not just as a team, but individually. Cesaro wins here with a roll-up, Swagger with the distraction.
My Take: I don’t like that Goldust got the singles win on Main Event, but Cody lost here. Although I think it is supposed to be leading to their breakup, giving Goldust a reason to blame Cody for their eventual title loss.
Randy Orton vs. Dolph Ziggler/Orton post-match attack
Ziggler gets in a lot of offense, which is unexpected. Orton exits the ring to catch his breath multiple times. Orton’s slow, methodical offensive style benefits his persona greatly. Orton with a thumb to the eye, followed by an RKO for the win.
Orton’s post-match attack was reenforced by Michael Cole telling the audience it seemed like Orton “setting an example”.
My Take: Ziggler never really had a chance in this one. The amount of offense he got is a positive sign, it would be really nice to see him get back in the main event. This was a good match with Orton, and the two of them have had countless good matches in the past.
Big E Langston (w/John Cena and Mark Henry) vs. Dean Ambrose (w/Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns)
All six men are down for the first match, despite it being a singles match. During the match, Ambrose threw Langston to the outside and expected Rollins and Reigns to get involved, they did not because of the watchful eyes of Cena and Henry. Ambrose was not pleased with his teammates and pushed Reigns out of the way to get to Langston, a move Reigns took exception to. When they got back in the ring, Langston hit the Big Ending for the win. Reigns got in the ring to stare down Langston, when Henry came in to get their match started.
My Take: This is the first time in a while we have seen any sort of tease for the breakup of The Shield. The feud these guys have when they break up will be amazing just because of the slow build of the tension, forget about when you add in their talent.
Mark Henry (w/John Cena and Big E Langston) vs. Roman Reigns (w/Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose)
This was a good pairing. Reigns doesn’t have to sell for a bigger guy very often, so it would be easy to understand him having trouble, but he absolutely did not. The power struggle, with Reigns using his usual power moves, but eventually being overpowered, was the biggest strength of this match. Reigns wins with the spear.
My Take: I did not expect this match to be as good as it was, due to Henry’s lack of athleticism, but they compensated well. It makes a lot of sense for Reigns to win his match, while Ambrose loses his, I just wish they would involve Rollins in this breakup more.
John Cena (w/Mark Henry and Big E Langston) vs. Seth Rollins (w/Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose)
Rollins gets in a lot of offense on Cena. The announcers are really selling Rollins’ athleticism during the match, which Rollins showed in his impressive counter to the Attitude Adjustment. Cena used a powerbomb in this match, a move he has used before, although it is interesting he would use it with Batista’s imminent return. Cool counter by Cena to Rollins’ Blackout move, he rolled out underneath Rollins while grabbing his boot and bringing him to the ground, into the STF. With all the tension in the first two matches, it finally boiled over with the four outside guys ending up in a brawl, right before Cena caught Rollins off the top rope and rolled into the Attitude Adjustment.
My Take: Rollins is my personal favorite member of The Shield, and in this match I believe he showed his potential to be the best member of the group. The other participant in this match is Cena, who always wrestles to his opponent, and does it well. Whether he wrestles CM Punk or Daniel Bryan, or Big Show or Kane, Cena always has the ability to put on a good match, even if it’s not always pretty.
- The Wyatt Family with a quick victory over The Usos, surprisingly quick. I would have to think this is bad news for The Usos. Championship contenders don’t lose that fast.
- The Prime Time Players win a good match against RybAxel. I find it a little bothersome that more time was devoted to this than the Usos.
- The Shield cut a promo where each member of the trio talked about their individual opponents for the night to set up the triple main event. As usual, everything works so well together.
- Daniel Bryan beat Damien Sandow with the running knee. This should be a future pay-per-view main event. Bray Wyatt post-match promo, more of them trying to get Bryan to join them. I feel as though this has been going for too long. Bryan shouldn’t join them, and the time for a Bray vs. Bryan match has passed.
An excellent showing from the blue brand, I was thoroughly entertained throughout. I’ve never been against a three hour Raw, but when you look at SmackDown, and how little “filler” there is on Friday nights, it’s tough to argue that three hours is better than two. But, WWE makes more money this way, and there is no arguing with that.