WWE SmackDown opened with the World Tag Team champions, Team Hell No. They assured fans that they had not gotten soft and would retain the titles at the Royal Rumble. They then argued over who would win the Rumble match, and that brought out The Big Show.
Bryan reminded him that he beat him before, and that turned into Big Show complaining about Alberto Del Rio stealing his title. He would take it back at the Rumble, and threatened Team Hell No to leave the ring.
That brought out Team Rhodes Scholars, who said their win at the event would be “biblical,” and that signaled Del Rio before the heels could attack Kane and Bryan. Cue Booker T, who made a Six-Man Tag Team Elimination match.
With that segment, SmackDown continues to open the exact same way as it always does, but this time, it was a bit different as it featured six guys instead of four. The mic work during the segment made it an overall good one, though.
Everyone was strong on the mic here, especially Damien Sandow. Along with Antonio Cesaro, Sandow is one of the best new faces on the mic in WWE.
These segments do tend to be good due to mic work, but it would be nice if WWE gave fans a bit of variety. Maybe open with a match next week, or just two guys. Anything other than the same thing would be nice.
Sheamus vs. Wade Barrett
Sheamus picked up the victory after hitting Wade Barrett with the Brogue Kick. They had a very good match here. With solid back-and-forth action throughout the contest, the Celtic Warrior and the Barrett Barrage delivered for the WWE Universe.
I liked this match a lot more than their match on Raw this past Monday. On Raw, their match was a part of the Beat the Clock Challenge, so there was a sense of urgency. This time around, they didn’t have to hurry the action to try to beat a certain time.
Sheamus and Barrett are definitely two of the favorites to win the Royal Rumble match on Sunday. I think that Barrett is more deserving than Sheamus, though. The Celtic Warrior is already a top star in the company and is always in the spotlight because of it.
Barrett is on the cusp of breaking out into the world title picture, but he needs that one big win to transition him into it. Winning the Rumble would be perfect.
I don’t see him actually winning, nor do I see Sheamus winning for that matter. They’re going to be major forces in the match, though.
Natalya vs. Rosa Mendes
Natalya got the win here after Rosa was distracted by a dancing Hornswoggle, and Natalya locked in the Sharpshooter. This was a decent match with the typical Divas action.
It was great to see both Natalya and Rosa in action, though. I can’t even remember the last time Rosa even wrestled a singles match, so it was nice to see her get a bit of the spotlight. With Beth Phoenix gone, Natalya is probably the best women’s wrestler in WWE right now.
It’s a shame that she doesn’t really get to wrestle that often. Instead, she’s stuck with the Great Khali and Hornswoggle. The upside is that she’s actually getting time on television, but I would much prefer to see her wrestle a match over making out with Khali.
If given the time, I think Natalya and Rosa could have had a good match. It’s just unfortunate that the Divas barely get any time.
The Champion, The Shield and the Brahma Bull
CM Punk then made his way out with Paul Heyman. He was afraid of his own potential, but was more frightened that his potential would be halted by The Shield. He repeated Vince McMahon’s stipulation from Raw and called out The Shield.
They stood on the apron while Punk told them to stay out of his way. The biggest injustice would be costing him the title, and that led to The Shield just walking way. Punk then praised himself until The Rock came out.
He knew that Punk was working with The Shield but didn’t care. When he has Punk up for the Rock Bottom at the Royal Rumble, the only thought going through Punk’s head would be “It’s over.”
I thought that this was an overall good segment. Punk delivered on the mic like he usually does, and The Rock was great as well. I especially liked when The Rock said his “If you smell what the Rock is cooking” line very seriously. He looked Punk straight in the eyes and said the line.
That really added to the segment. The Rock knows that this is a serious situation, and now he’s acting like it.
The Shield’s involvement was interesting. They simply stood on the apron and stared back at the WWE champion. Why not attack him, like they have done so many others? I think that The Shield will play a part in the match, but it won’t be Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose or Roman Reigns that get involved.
Randy Orton vs. Drew McIntyre
Randy Orton was awarded the victory by disqualification after Jinder Mahal jumped into the ring. His reward for interrupting was an RKO. Heath Slater would also take one, while McIntyre got the DDT and the RKO.
This match was very short. McIntyre got in a burst of offense in the beginning, but as soon as Orton took control, the match was over. McIntyre doesn’t really get the credit he deserves as a wrestler, and this gimmick isn’t helping. Getting destroyed by the Viper doesn’t help either.
I am a fan of 3MB, but more so of their talents and not the gimmick. I would really like to see 3MB get taken seriously, but I know it’s never going to happen.
Orton’s quick DQ victory and dissection of the group served as hype for the Royal Rumble match, or hype for him going into the match I should say. If he can make quick work of three guys, then imagine what he could do in the Rumble match with more.
The Miz vs. Darren Young
After Darren Young had a short time on offense, The Miz gained control and won the match within a minute with the Figure-Four Leglock. Two short matches in a row; I expect better from SmackDown.
Then again, this was another way to hype the Royal Rumble much like Orton’s match was. United States champion Antonio Cesaro was on commentary during the match, and The Miz making short work of Young sends Cesaro a message leading into their United States Championship match on the Royal Rumble pre-show.
Both of them will also be in the Rumble match itself, so this gave The Miz some momentum for that as well.
Alberto Del Rio and Team Hell No vs. The Big Show and Team Rhodes Scholars: Six-Man Elimination Tag Team Match
The babyfaces picked up the win here after Alberto Del Rio kicked Cody Rhodes in the head. This was a fun match that saw the action split into parts.
Damien Sandow was the first to be eliminated by Kane’s Chokeslam. Before the fall, the match showed some solid action between Del Rio, Rhodes, Daniel Bryan, Sandow and Kane. I particularly liked the portion of Del Rio vs. Rhodes, which fans got more of a taste of later.
Kane was eliminated next via count out after The Big Show hit him with the Knockout Punch. The action between them was hard-hitting, which was good. I know that seeing Kane fight Big Show isn’t going to bring great wrestling, but the action they do bring is entertaining.
Bryan was eliminated the same way, and the action reminded me of their feud toward the end of 2011. It was David vs. Goliath again, only this time Goliath won.
The count outs continued as The Big Show got crotched on the top rope and kicked in the head a few times by Del Rio, which knocked him out of the ring. Del Rio showed a lot of intensity with the big man, and that’s exactly what he’s going to need at the Royal Rumble.
It came down to Del Rio and Rhodes, who delivered some solid action until the end.
Post-match, Big Show speared Del Rio, knocked him out, tipped the announce table onto him and counted to 10. The match and post-match actions was good build for the Royal Rumble.
Overall, I thought this was another good episode of WWE SmackDown. While there was only one really good match and a great segment, the rest of the show was a solid build for the Royal Rumble.
Since the Royal Rumble is the official start of the Road to WrestleMania, build is something an event like that needs. WWE has done a great job in hyping the pay-per-view. This was the final stop for WWE in terms of PPV build, and it got the job done.
It has been the solid build to the event that has gotten fans very excited for the Royal Rumble. I can’t wait for Sunday!
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