The holiday scrum that WWE always goes through to get all its television shows taped concluded on Sunday night, with the January 4 episode taking place on Sunday night from Richmond, Virginia.
After what turned out to be an eventful Raw taping that we won't spoil here in case you want to watch live, SmackDown was a much more subdued event. There were some notable stories, but for the most part, it sounds like a low-key, fun WWE show.
WWE will get a huge jolt of electricity, no pun intended, on the first Raw of the new year next week. You have CM Punk taking on Ryback in a TLC match for the WWE championship, as well as the return of The Rock.
SmackDown this week feels very much like the calm before the big storm that will take us through the Royal Rumble, Elimination Chamber and WrestleMania.
Here are all the spoilers for this week's SmackDown tapings, as well as some notes on key storylines to watch closely.
|The Miz defeated Heath Slater|
|Great Khali, Hornswoggle and Natalya defeated Primo, Epico and Rosa Mendes|
|Intercontinental Championship: Wade Barrett (c) defeated Kofi Kingston|
|Tamina Snuka defeated Layla|
|Sheamus and Randy Orton defeated Big Show and Antonio Cesaro|
Sheamus and Randy Orton can't get along
Which superstar is most in need of a gimmick change?
If Randy Orton's heel turn is ever going to happen, it appears now would be the time. WWE is starting to pit the top two babyfaces on SmackDown against each other heading into the Royal Rumble.
The show opens with Orton talking about the Rumble. Sheamus decides that he doesn't like what Orton is saying, so he comes out and the two get into a verbal battle about who will win the match and guaranteed title shot.
As the show ends, Orton knocks Cesaro out with the RKO. Sheamus jumps on Cesaro to score the pinfall, leading to a show-ending staredown between Sheamus and Orton.
It is no secret that Orton doesn't want to be a babyface. He has looked miserable in the role basically since he made his turn two years ago. He needs something to light a fire under him, and he is much better cast in the role of the heel anyway.
Hopefully the turn happens soon, because Orton has really fallen off the map recently. There was a time when he was, along with John Cena, as protected as anyone in the company. Now, he is almost an afterthought.
Wade Barrett and Kofi Kingston keep feuding
This is the one Raw spoiler that carries over to SmackDown, as Barrett wins the intercontinental championship from Kingston on that show.
In WWE's quest to make sure that new contenders never emerge from the pack for the secondary titles, the two continue to feud both on SmackDown and Main Event this week.
While it would be nice to see these two actually move to bigger and better feuds, the two of them are usually good for an entertaining matchup. It is hard to complain too much about a show that is basically just filler until next week.