WWE SmackDown opened with the Viper, Randy Orton. He declared that he wanted the World Heavyweight Championship back and was officially entering the Royal Rumble. Sheamus then made his way out to say the exact same thing, and they discussed the Rumble until the Big Show came out.
He bragged about being champion until Antonio Cesaro made his way out to give an anti-American promo. Booker T then made a tag team main event to end the segment. Looks like Booker has been taking some pointers from Teddy Long.
Anyway, this was a good way to open the show. Despite saying the same thing, both Orton and Sheamus delivered on the mic as they helped build the Royal Rumble match. Big Show and Cesaro were strong here as well, but I would have liked to see Cesaro get a little more mic time.
While this wasn’t anything too exciting, it was a good way to start the first SmackDown of 2013.
The Miz vs. Heath Slater
The Miz would pick up the victory with the Skull Crushing Finale in a solid match. This match was a really good one and exceeded my expectations. Both the Miz and Slater are quite good in the ring, but I wasn’t sure how they would mesh in the ring. They turned out to have great chemistry with one another and delivered a solid, back-and-forth match.
The Miz’s face character is coming along nicely. When he first began to turn, I didn’t think it would work. The Miz was an established heel, but the fans didn’t care. When given the chance, audiences cheered for him, which I think is great. He needed a fresh start anyway.
Slater sometimes doesn’t get the credit he deserves as a performer, but he is very good in the ring, and he showed that here. I haven’t seen him in a solid match on one of the main shows in a long time, so I was very happy to see him get this opportunity to shine. As for the 3MB gimmick, well, all I can really say is that it’s growing on me.
Backstage, Matt Striker was with Wade Barrett. Barrett bragged about being the new Intercontinental champion and assured that he would defeat Kofi Kingston in their rematch later.
Even though I was unable to watch Raw this past Monday, I was happy to hear that Barrett won the Intercontinental Championship. He has been working hard since his return and deserved to redeem himself after his lackluster reign with the title in 2011.
I hope that the title catapults him to the main event and that we see him with one of the World titles during the summer.
The Great Khali, Hornswoggle and Natalya vs. Primo, Epico and Rosa Mendes
The faces picked up the victory after the Great Khali hit the Brain Chop on Epico. This match wasn’t anything too special. In fact, the best part about it was John Bradshaw Layfield’s commentary. The man really knows how to entertain when he’s got a mic.
If there was any good to come out of this match it would be that Natalya and Rosa got some ring time. They didn’t get much time, but they still got to be in the ring. I’m happy to see Natalya have a role on television now, though I do wish it was something better like fighting for the Divas Championship.
As long as she’s actually getting television time, I can’t complain too much.
Backstage, Striker was with Kofi Kingston. He admitted that Barrett got the best of him on Raw, but that this could also be his last chance at the title. Kingston delivered a good promo here. I never thought Kingston was too good on the mic, but he gave a solid and serious promo in this segment.
I was quite impressed. Assuming this isn’t a fluke, I would love to see him get more mic time in the future.
Wade Barrett vs. Kofi Kingston: WWE Intercontinental Championship
Barrett would retain the Intercontinental Championship after catching a leaping Kingston with the Bull Hammer. These two superstars had a good match here as they went back-and-forth for a nice chunk of time.
Both Barrett and Kingston are great in-ring performers and continue to show that they have good chemistry with each other. Like I said earlier, Barrett as Intercontinental champion is a great thing. The title is slowly regaining its once great prestige, and I feel that the Barrett Barrage will do wonders for the title's credibility.
The belt doesn’t mean what it once did, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t have that meaning once again. With Barrett as champion, the midcard is looking quite strong.
As for Kingston, I’d like to finally see him move onto the main event, even if it’s just for a month or two. He’s worked hard for years and deserves to at least get the chance to shine in the ring with CM Punk, John Cena, Randy Orton and the like.
Layla vs. Tamina Snuka
Tamina would pick up the victory with the Superfly Splash in what was basically Tamina dominating the whole time with a small burst of offense from Layla. It was the typical Divas match, but more hard-hitting thanks to the daughter of the Superfly.
I’m glad to finally see her getting some attention since the Divas division has pretty much been Eve, Layla and Kaitlin the past few months. With the Divas champion being a heel, we obviously won’t be seeing Tamina fight for the title. I hope that she enters into the hunt once Eve loses it, though.
The Big Show and Antonio Cesaro vs. Randy Orton and Sheamus
The faces picked up the victory after Orton hit the RKO on Cesaro. I thought this was a good tag team match. All four superstars gave strong performances here with the star being the United States champion.
I believe this match marks the first time he’s main evented one of the main shows, and he fit right in. He looked great in the ring with both Orton and Sheamus. This gives me great hope for the 2013 main event scene.
Once Cesaro loses the United States Championship, I think we’ll be seeing him compete for the World Heavyweight Championship. He has no doubt been one of the most impressive new faces last year, and I feel that 2013 is going to be a great year for him.
I liked the interactions between Orton and Sheamus. Whether it was Sheamus tagging himself in to the dismay of the Viper, or Orton delivering the RKO before the Celtic Warrior could hit the Brogue Kick, WWE planted the seeds for what could be a massive feud this year.
Overall, I enjoyed the first SmackDown of 2013. There were a number of good matches, and the segments helped build storylines. The matches did a great job building their respective storylines as well while also giving some good hype for the Royal Rumble.
SmackDown delivered here in a big way and kicked off 2013 nicely!
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