WWE SmackDown: 5 Things to Watch for During This Week's Show (Spoilers)
Although SmackDown is normally considered to be the WWE's "B" show, it seems as though the WWE pulled out all the stops this week in order to put on a great show. Not only will The Rock be making his long-awaited return to the blue brand, but a shocking title change will take place as well.
The Rock appeared on WWE programming for the first time since Raw 1,000 on the most recent episode of Raw and made an instant impact. WWE champion CM Punk retained his title and will face The Rock at Royal Rumble, so the two of them closed the show with a fantastic promo that set the stage for their feud.
For an encore performance, The Rock will appear on SmackDown from his hometown of Miami. There has been no indication as to what he might be doing on SmackDown, but any time The Great One makes an appearance, it's guaranteed that the atmosphere will be electric and the fans will take notice.
In addition to that, a title changed hands in surprising fashion, and it could potentially shake up the WWE landscape moving forward. To learn about that and more, check out the top five things to watch on this week's edition of SmackDown.
Keep in mind, however, that this slideshow does contain some spoilers, so stop here if you're not interested in seeing results ahead of time.
Alberto Del Rio Defeats Big Show for World Heavyweight Championship
In a decision that seems to have come from left field, WWE.com is reporting that Alberto Del Rio defeated Big Show in a Last Man Standing match for the World Heavyweight Championship at Tuesday's taping.
The feud between Del Rio and Big Show had certainly heated up in recent weeks, but there was absolutely no indication that Del Rio would take the title from him so soon.
Del Rio's face turn was a big surprise initially when he aided Ricardo Rodriguez against 3MB at TLC. He has slowly become a fan favorite since then, and his defending of Ricardo against Big Show has been a big reason for that.
Based on the way their feud was building, it seemed likely that Del Rio would challenge Big Show for the World title at Royal Rumble, but he apparently earned his shot a few weeks early.
This may be tough for some fans to digest, particularly the ones who aren't too keen on Del Rio, but it makes sense for a few reasons. Del Rio's character has gotten much more interesting over the past few weeks and he seems to have the potential to be a top face. If nothing else, this title win will serve as a trial run for Del Rio as the top guy on SmackDown.
Also, since Dolph Ziggler is in possession of the Money in the Bank contract, the title needed to move to a face in order for Ziggler to cash in. Ziggler technically could have cashed in on Big Show, but cashing in on a face is ideal.
The WWE killed two birds with one stone by putting the belt on Del Rio, so hopefully it leads to Del Rio establishing himself as a top face and Ziggler becoming champion as well.
The Rock Makes His Return to SmackDown
After several months away from the WWE, The Rock finally came back once again on Raw and tore down the house, as he always does.
After retaining his WWE Championship against Ryback, Punk cut a scathing promo in which he blasted the fans and essentially told them that they didn't matter. The Rock came to the rescue and put Punk in his place, but both men came away from the segment looking great.
With The Rock's Raw return out of the way, now it's time to focus on his return to the blue brand. SmackDown is essentially The Rock's show, as it was named after his famous catchphrase, but he hasn't appeared on it in a decade. As luck would have it, this particular SmackDown will be taking place in The Rock's hometown of Miami, so it obviously makes sense for him to be there.
It's tough to say exactly what The Rock will be doing on the show, but I wouldn't necessarily expect it to be groundbreaking. His appearance will likely be more a case of the WWE trying to gain viewership than anything.
Another Rock vs. Punk promo war would be fantastic, as would a segment between The Rock on John Cena, but I just don't see either of those things happening.
Regardless of what role The Rock plays on SmackDown, though, I'm sure it will be worth checking out. Although The Rock will be appearing quite often in the coming weeks during the build to Royal Rumble, it's a rare treat to see him on WWE television, so I can't wait to tune in.
Will the Sheamus vs. Randy Orton Rivalry Continue?
Sheamus and Randy Orton are currently among the top faces on SmackDown, but neither is in the World title picture. Sheamus just got done feuding with Big Show, while Orton hasn't seriously vied for the World Heavyweight Championship in over a year. Both men continue to make a splash, though, as they announced on SmackDown last week that they would be competing in the Royal Rumble match at the upcoming PPV.
Sheamus and Orton aren't technically feuding, and their rivalry is more of a friendly one at this point, but there is definitely something developing between them.
Another clue to that was the fact that Orton faced Heath Slater on Raw, while Sheamus faced Jinder Mahal. They have basically been operating in lockstep and are currently linked together, which suggests an actual feud of some kind down the line.
The ideal situation would be an Orton heel turn since his current character is broken beyond repair.
He needs a change of some kind and a heel turn would allow him to feud with Sheamus immediately. I expect that to happen over time but not on the upcoming episode of SmackDown. However, I'm definitely interested to see if the Orton vs. Sheamus rivalry gets some more layers added to it.
I wouldn't mind seeing them team up again, only for a mistake by one of them to cost them the match. That is often the best way to create turmoil, and I can see something like that happening with Sheamus and Orton.
Whatever the case, it's refreshing to see Sheamus out of the title picture and Orton back in the spotlight to some degree.
What Is the Next Step for The Shield?
Since debuting at Survivor Series by attacking Ryback, The Shield has made its presence known time and time again.
Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns have wreaked havoc on the WWE by taking out many of its top stars, including John Cena, The Miz, Randy Orton, Sheamus, Kane, Daniel Bryan, Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara.
The Shield struck again on Monday night during the WWE Championship match between CM Punk and Ryback. With Ryback seemingly on his way to victory, the lights went out and The Shield appeared. The trio knocked Ryback off the ladder as he attempted to retrieve the title and they proceeded to powerbomb him through a table and onto the steel steps.
Ryback was unable to recover and Punk ultimately retained his title.
As entertaining as The Shield has been, many are left wondering what the group's purpose is and who they are working for. They have said on multiple occasions that they want to stop injustice in the WWE, but the bulk of their attacks have favored Punk. Michael Cole and Jerry "The King" Lawler were adamant on Raw that The Shield was clearly working with Punk, but Punk continued to deny any involvement.
We likely won't know the true relationship between The Shield and Punk for a while, but I continue to enjoy the trio of young stars in the interim. All of them have a ton of potential and they have really meshed as a unit.
They figure to be on SmackDown in some capacity, as they have been the past few weeks, and it will be interesting to see who they target.
Can Dolph Ziggler Rebound from Loss to John Cena?
After defeating John Cena in a Ladder match and retaining his Money in the Bank contract at TLC, it appeared as though Dolph Ziggler had finally turned the corner in terms of becoming a main event superstar. Ziggler has definitely gotten more attention since then and has had the opportunity to cut a few promos.
But for whatever reason, the WWE refuses to capitalize on any momentum that it creates for The Show Off.
Ziggler has been embarrassed by Cena on a couple occasions since their match, but the most egregious example was on Monday. Big E Langston volunteered Dolph to face Cena and the two of them put on a fantastic match, but the result was ridiculous.
Ziggler hit Cena with everything but the kitchen sink and had help from Langston and A.J., but he couldn't put Cena away. All it took for Cena to win, though, was a single Attitude Adjustment.
If Ziggler is going to be a top guy, then he should be kicking out of an Attitude Adjustment, especially after Cena kicked out of four of Ziggler's best moves.
If the WWE wanted to give Cena the win, I can live with that, but do it via disqualification or count-out to protect Ziggler. I understand that heels are going to lose matches, but when a guy is being built toward world champion status, that shouldn't be the case.
The WWE has never booked Ziggler well, but hopefully the creative team doesn't allow things to get out of control. If he goes on a little winning streak between now and Royal Rumble, then the loss to Cena shouldn't harm him much. But if this is allowed to snowball, then it's going to make him look like a joke.