WWE SmackDown returned last night (Jan. 25, 2013) from Sacramento, California, with a taped show on the SyFy channel featuring the go home show to the Royal Rumble pay-per-view (PPV) this coming Sunday night in Phoenix.
If you missed the show, or just want to go back and read the live blog again, click here.
Let's get to the reactions!
- It is always a pleasure to see great talent work intelligently in a storyline that is logically consistent. With Main Event becoming wrestling fans favorite shows, SmackDown has started to lose its way. But last night showed when everyone wants to bring it, it gets brought.
- CM Punk, The Rock, Paul Heyman, and The Shield are simply the greatest performers in WWE right now, and the greatest the promotion has put forward in a while. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Punk in particular, has used these few weeks to reignite his entire career. In the span of one promo, the WWE Champion went from hyping up his match at Royal Rumble, to calling out The Shield, to demanding they leave him alone, to calling out The Rock, to actually coming face-to-face with "The Great One." That may not sound like much, but the range of emotion needed to make each transition is incredible. To go from cocky to scared, and back again, without missing a beat is impressive. If Punk ever has the want or desire to be in the movies, I don't doubt for a second he will do amazing work.
- Let's not forget that The Rock was able to match him step-for-step this entire feud. Us fans sometimes get so caught up in the small stuff that we lose the bigger picture. Yes, The Rock does tend to overuse the dumb jokes and silly catch phrases. But he has always had the ability to flip the switch and channel all that energy into pure intensity. To want the intense Rocky without having the goofy Rocky is to miss the entire point. He does the fun stuff early in the feud to draw people in, then turns it around and gets serious when he needs to. And it makes promos like what he did last night, all the more special. Getting up in Punk's face to whisper "what The Rock is cooking" meant that things just got real. I'm excited for the match because both men have built it -- and each other -- up so wonderfully. I just wish WWE would see what they have here and ride it all the way to WrestleMania 29.
- Can I just point out that Dean Ambrose looks legitimately insane? That man scares the crap out of me.
- The show opened with Team Hell No bickering about who would win the Royal Rumble Match. These two will break up sooner than later -- I personally have it pegged at Elimination Chamber -- and it will be a shame because they work so great together. Once The Big Show marched to the ring, though, Hell No showed their unity in defiance of the giant. Then Team Rhodes Scholars would come down to put the heels at a man advantage. Then Alberto Del Rio made his way to the ring to even things up. The staggered entrances is tried and cliched, but each storyline was tied together so it made perfect sense why they were all there. Even the inevitable tag team match was made a bit more interesting with an elimination stipulation. This was a case of "it's not what you do of how you do it," and everyone here know how to do it perfectly. Great mic work all around.
- Likewise, the six man tag team elimination tag team match was a standard affair, but still quite enjoyable to watch. Kane eliminated Damien Sandow to give the faces the edge. Then Show started handing out WMD's like Peeps on Easter, eliminating Kane, Bryan, and almost Del Rio by count out. Then Del Rio got his shine and sent Show over the tope rope to be counted out and pinned Cody Rhodes via Enzuigiri. It builds Del Rio up, doesn't ruin Show in any way, and finally gives "The Mexican Aristocrat" a legitimate impact finisher. Like I said, fun match to watch on a Friday night.
- Having The Big Show land the WMD on Kane and Daniel Bryan so they would be counted out, that's perfect touch of psychology that makes Show so great. Pinning Alberto Del Rio under the announce table and counting to ten twice, once in English and once in Spanish, is the type of in-your-face psychology that makes Show so great. The repetition of counting to ten plays directly into Sunday's Last Man Standing stipulation. Everything you do on free TV should build to the pay-per-view (PPV). This is why I love Show.
- There was a point when Rhodes and Sandow just looked like two guys WWE stuck together because it had no clue what to do with them. But now these two have an amazing chemistry that just bleeds through the television. One can almost imagine these two hanging out at the theatre making fun of the miscreants who don't understand the high arts. This will be the team that will lead the division back into greatness.
- With all that being said, the show just died in between Punk/Rock and the main event. A Randy Orton squash of 3MB, The Miz doing his Miz thing to Darren Young, and recaps galore killed any heat going into the six man tag team match. On top of that, we got the pleasure of seeing Sheamus defeat Wade Barrett -- again -- and Natalya go over Rosa Mendes -- with Hornswaggle shaking his booty -- following the show's open. Fully half the show -- if not more -- was wasted away on nonsense and garbage. There is no excuse for this, particularly on a go-home show. Why not have matches for Rumble placement? Why not let some of the undercard cut a promo or two? Why not have a bloody tumbler out there to draw names? Everyone loves tumblers! It's all the kids are talking about!
- I jest, but seriously; stop wasting half your show, WWE. I beg you.
So that was the last show before Royal Rumble. If it was just the opening, the main event, and the Punk/Rock/Shield bit in the middle, this easily would have been an 'A'. As it stands, though, too much crap in the middle to not drop it down.
Maybe my standards are too high, Cagesiders. Feel free to let me know how wrong -- or how right -- I am in the comments below.