Previewing the Jan. 4, 2013 episode of WWE "SmackDown"; featuring the return of Randy Orton and a match between Wade Barrett and Kofi Kingston for the Intercontinental Championship.
Show! Del Rio! Ricardo! Ziggler! Sheamus! Orton! Money in the Bank! World Heavyweight Championship! One! Last! [Expletive]! Holding! Pattern!
I'm not going to lie to you, my dear Cagesiders. These last few weeks have been tough on Ol' C.J. As someone who follows pro wrestling for the storylines, there just has been next-to-nothing going on recently. I'm not saying that WWE hasn't been enjoyable to watch; in fact, the Christmas Eve episode of Monday Night Raw was probably one of the better episodes in the three-hour Raw era. There have actually been a few fun spots and entertaining promos in recent episodes.
But someone could have skipped the entire month of December and not missed a single important thing.
While I understand this was most likely done on purpose, as it is the holidays, and many fans have probably missed an episode here or there, probably spending time with their loving family, opening gifts and filling each other's lives with merriment and eggnog. But by limiting the amount of plot advancement in these last few weeks, WWE has allowed its fans to step aside and take a breather, without having to worry how they would get caught up.
It's a nice gesture in the grand scheme of things. It just makes it really hard to stay interested in the product if you haven't taken any breaks from it.
Right now, SmackDown is sitting at a pretty wide crossroads. The Big Show is still holding onto the World Heavyweight Championship, and his run could extend for a while. Alberto Del Rio seems to be the next in line for the title. I can't say that I hate that idea. Show has been tormenting Ricardo Rodriguez for the past week, having laid him out with a WMD on last week's (Dec. 28) SmackDown, and choosing to face him in a title match on Monday's (Dec. 31) Raw. Del Rio has acknowledged the poor way he has been treating Ricardo, cementing his face turn. A few high quality matches with Show would do well to re-establish him as a real power.
Who knows, maybe Del Rio will be able to win a pay-per-view (PPV) match in this feud.
Then there is Dolph Ziggler, who is still holding onto the Money in the Bank briefcase. If his feud with John Cena is done -- which I believe all fans hope it is -- then now is the time to start building him into a competitive talent. If he is not going to cash in yet, I don't know exactly who he will be able to face to hold him over. His stable with AJ Lee and Big E Langston has been fun to watch, but it has yet to really find a foil. It will be interesting to see how WWE handles Ziggler & Co. moving forward.
Of course, he might just eat a pinfall or two from Cena to hold him over until WrestleMania 29. It would be incredibly stupid, but I wouldn't put it past WWE.
It is notable that Sheamus and Ziggler are set to face off on the Jan. 9 episode of Main Event. This is a possible direction I could get behind. However, rumor has it that Randy Orton -- who returned to television on Raw -- and Sheamus, will be having a program heading into WrestleMania 29. An Orton heel turn is something fans have wanted for awhile, along with Sheamus moving away from the main event picture.
This is WWE, though, and things can always change at a moment's notice.
Come this time next week, we will know a lot more about what WWE is planning on doing with the SmackDown roster. It will be gratifying to have advancement in angles and finally know where everything is heading.
We only have a little more time to wait to see the pieces fall into place.
Tonight may very well be an exciting way to spend two hours on a Friday night, but it is not a place to learn about WWE's long term plans. The best thing to do is sit back, enjoy the matches, maybe find a chuckle or two in the backstage segments, just have fun.
This is the first SmackDown of 2013, but it is the last show of the dreaded Winter Holding Pattern.
One! More! Thing!
Wade Barrett won the Intercontinental Championship from Kofi Kingston on Monday's Raw. Kofi then defeated Wade on Wednesday's Main Event, after the newly-crowned champion had faced three opponents in a row. That win has earned Kofi a shot at the IC title tonight. This is insane booking, and I don't understand it at all. I'll give any Cagesider who can adequately explain this to me, one REC Award.
Hopefully, this has prepared you for the night's festivities. Leave a comment below about what you are looking forward to, and please join myself and the entire CSS Friday night gang in the live blog right here!