WWE SmackDown returned last night (Jan. 11, 2013) from Miami, Florida, with a taped show on the SyFy channel featuring the return of The Rock and the crowning of a NEW World Heavyweight Champion.
If you missed the show, or just want to go back and read the live blog again, click here. But time for the reactions!
- The Big Show vs. Alberto Del Rio Last Man Standing Match was a pay-per-view quality affair. Both performers were on top of their game. The psychology, the pacing, the use of international objects -- especially the use of the announcer's table to keep Show down -- was all just perfectly done. Even knowing that Del Rio was going to win ahead of time did nothing to diminish the match. On top of that, JBL and Josh Mathews on commentary was just absolute perfection. I know Mathews gets some heat for not being able to keep up with JBL, but tonight he did an excellent job. The pair are finally finding a flow, and just in time for WrestleMania season.
- And the best part is that Del Rio and Ricardo were celebrating and crying after winning the belt. That is how you build up a title. That is how you build up a babyface. These are men that care about winning the championship, but also putting down the bully. I am almost speechless at how perfectly it was done.
- Seriously. Great match.
- We give The Rock a hard time for relying on dumb catchphrases and immature jokes because we know he can be so much more. Last night was proof of it. His interaction with Rhodes Scholars was everything we could ask for from Rocky and so, so much more. Yes, he dropped in a few things here and there, but none of it seemed forced. It just flowed naturally in a way it never did last year. Words cannot describe how awesome it was to hear The Rock say "Rutherford B. Hayes, BITCH!" It was a brilliantly done segment, and deserves all the praise in the world.
- Also, give credit to Damien Sandow for going one-on-one with "The Great One" and holding his one. In fact, he straight up went tit-for-tat with Rocky. This is a performer that can keep up with "The Most Electrifying Man in ALL of Sports Entertainment." This is a performer that WWE trusts to go out there and work with the returning star. Damien Sandow has been given the keys, and so far he has excelled.
- Let's not forget about CM Punk and Paul Heyman. These men stood inside Sun Life Stadium and ripped The Rock a new one. I think his promo on Monday (Jan. 7) was a little bit better, but they had different goals. On Monday, Punk was shooting from the hip and spraying everything in sight. Last night was a more calculated shot. He went after Miami, The University of Miami, and all of the fans who cheer for "The People's Champion". What would sound like cheap heat ended up being a beautifully done promo. Punk and Heyman are money in anything they do together.
- Seriously. Punk vs. The Rock will be amazing to watch.
- Antonio Cesaro vs. Randy Orton was a great match up until The Shield ran in to layeth the smackdown on "The Viper." I don't know what the plan is with the NXT Trio, and I'm hoping we start to see some advancement soon. Right now, though, I do enjoy a good slow burn.
- Dolph Ziggler & AJ Lee faced off against The Great Khali & Natalya. Normally, I would crap all over this, but it had its moments. AJ bit Natalya. Twice. She then had her shirt lifted up so she was wrestling in her bra. Which was fun to watch. Then Big E Langston laid out Hornswoggle. I really hope these two groups aren't going to be involved for any amount of time, but it was a fun match for what it was.
- 3MB continues to act like fools, and I love it. Sheamus laying out Heath Slater while Drew McIntyre and Jinder Mahal watched, was chuckle worthy.
All told, I'm not sure if there was a single thing I would change about the episode. When WWE puts its mind to it, the promotion can deliver an amazing product. This show was about as perfect as things could get.
In fact, I would say it was perfect.
WWE has kicked off the new year with three outstanding shows. I don't know if the trend will continue, but if it can, this WrestleMania season will be great.
What about you, Cagesiders? Am I being too overzealous, or is my enthusiasm well deserved. Lets hear your thoughts in the comments below.