WWE Friday Night SmackDown hit the SyFy airwaves last night (Jan. 4, 2014) from Washington D.C., with a taped show featuring the very first episode of the new year. This one showcased the continued storyline teasing a split for The Shield.
Let's get right to reactions:
- I really, really, really, really, really am not ready for The Shield to break up, though I understand why it's necessary and will act as a strong tool to help get Roman Reigns over. He's obviously the guy who will break away and get the big babyface push in the process and the subtle -- and sometimes not so subtle -- teases for as much have been done really well. I like the idea of having them play off the rumors and band together while continuing to show that it's more of a front than any actual renewed commitment to excellence. All the jobbing they've been doing lately is going to pay off, and that's a good thing. It certainly hasn't been Reigns' fault, what with his Spear being so protected over the past year.
- Dean Ambrose on commentary is sweet music to this Cagesider's ears. Where Ambrose really excels is psychology; it always feels like he's so in tune with the story and his character's role within it. He also executes that role to near perfection. He was awesome putting over how deadly The Usos are when they get the tempo up before deciding the time was right to ditch commentary and help his brothers in arms because of the fact that the Usos had gotten that tempo up. That's simple stuff that we don't get enough of.
- I will say that we're at that point where there's no such thing as a straight Shield tag team match during a free TV show. If they're in there and one of the three isn't involved, he'll get involved, someone else will then get involved, and another match will be booked for later.
- Hey, wait a minute, what the hell is CM Punk doing running in to save The Usos? Didn't he just talk about wrestlers not helping other wrestlers because they're all grown men who handle their business the way they need to handle their business? And he wasn't even asked when he revealed this. He just came right out with it when Renee Young wondered what his opinion was on Daniel Bryan joining The Wyatt Family. Is it a minor point? Sure. But it's a legitimate gripe when he made it a point to say something that helped advance a story only to go against it just days later.
- I'm already tired of the Xavier Woods "stand on the commentary table and distract heel wrestler who is dumb enough to fall for it so R-Truth can pick up another meaningless victory".
- Cody Rhodes and Goldust vs. Erick Rowan and Luke Harper was a lot of fun, for a number of reasons. For starters, the workrate was solid, as is usually the case with the former crew and is becoming the case quite often for the latter team. I also loved the wily tag team champions retaining their titles by outsmarting the tough challengers who were weakened by the fact that their leader was missing. But this was a strong match because it was executed well to set up for another match between the two teams that could just as easily go the other way.
- Cody has to stop landing on his side on the back body drops, though.
- I've become a fan of the Bella Twins, and it's worth noting that they've gotten so much better at pretty much every aspect of pro wrestling. But here's the really great thing: Nikki, who pinned Aksana in a squash last night, has one of the best finishers on the roster. Yes, it's a variation of the Shock Treatment but it's awesome.
- During the Big E. Langston vs. Curtis Axel match, the referee prompted the former by shouting "come on, Big!" That tickled me. A grown man calling another grown man "Big" like it's his actual name.
- I'll give Axel this much, he's a pretty good jobber.
- I feel like Bad News Barrett does what he does without any tie in to pro wrestling because someone pitched Vince McMahon that he could talk all the shit to his audience that he wants as long as he filters it through a wrestler everyone hates anyway with this particular gimmick. So he went for it and now this is what we're getting. The not very subtle podium that now rises above everyone in the arena because he thinks he's better than everyone else, the smirk while delivering the lines, and the lines themselves. Barrett is basically Vince with an accent. I would love it if it was pro wrestling. But it's not. It's ego.
- No wrestler on the WWE roster should ever get to use the superman punch except for Reigns. Ever. That's his move and it's glorious.
- Really loved the finish to the main event, which was yet another awesome six-man tag involving The Shield. The sequence was genius. Ambrose refuses to tag in Reigns, letting his foolish pride get the best of him, only for Punk to blast him with a head kick setting up a GTS. Reigns comes in for the save but Punk sets him up to nearly collide with his partner, throwing him off enough to get hit with a kick of his own. That gives The Usos time to get back in and knock Reigns out of the ring. Seth Rollins runs in at this point but he gets sent over to the outside as well. With Ambrose still down in the corner, The Usos go for their diving splash over the top rope, which Punk lends a hand with by holding down just as they leap over it, making for a great visual. When he gets back up, Ambrose meets him in the middle of the ring for a sweet little failed clothesline into a failed neckbreaker into the GTS for the three count and the victory for the good guys.
- The agent for The Shield matches deserves a raise.
- That Bray Wyatt promo was pitch perfect. His haunting air alongside the WWE production team combine for an incredibly potent mix. The genius on display here cannot be overstated and it is my sincere hope that this story is told right. So far so good.
This was a fine show.
That's it from me, Cagesiders. Now it's your turn to sound off in the comments section below with all your thoughts on last night's show. How did you like it, if you liked it at all?