This past Monday on Raw, WWE World Heavyweight champion Randy Orton was left standing tall over the fallen bodies of John Cena and Daniel Bryan, marking the second consecutive night in which he was booked in a manner that did not resemble incompetence.
Will he make it three shows in a row as SmackDown emanates from the AT&T Center in San Antonio?
With CM Punk and The Shield and Daniel Bryan and The Wyatt Family all under the same roof, it is a safe bet that those respective rivalries will continue.
The last SmackDown before Christmas, it should be interesting to see if the creative team advances any stories or leaves them in lingo until the hype for the Royal Rumble kicks into full gear.
What went down at Wednesday night's tapings and how did it affect the top feuds in World Wrestling Entertainment?
Let's take a look, courtesy of our friends at WrestlingInc.com!
Michael Cole and John Bradshaw Layfield
- Randy Orton starts the show and criticizes The Authority for the lack of celebration surrounding his title win. John Cena and Daniel Bryan interrupt. Eventually, CM Punk and The Shield join. A six-man tag match pitting Cena, Bryan and Punk against The Shield is announced for the main event.
- Big E Langston defeated Jack Swagger
- Brie Bella defeated Tamina Snuka, then shoved AJ Lee at ringside
- Sin Cara defeated Drew McIntyre
- Tensai defeated Brodus Clay after Xavier Woods, Naomi and Cameron interfered
- Erick Rowan and Luke Harper defeated WWE Tag Team champions Goldust and Cody Rhodes in a non-title match. After the match, Bryan challenges The Wyatts to a six-man tag despite having a match later in the evening.
- Bryan, Goldust and Rhodes defeated The Wyatt Family
- Damien Sandow defeated The Miz
- Fandango defeated Kofi Kingston
- Daniel Bryan is assaulted backstage. Cena and Punk vs. The Shield is the new main event.
- John Cena and CM Punk defeated The Shield by DQ. After the match, the babyfaces are beat down by the heels until Big E Langston hits the ring and makes the save to close out the show.
Tag Team Wrestling Dominates Again
When in doubt, throw together tag team matches and let some of the best wrestlers in the world do what they do best.
That seems to be WWE's line of thinking when they are lazy and are looking for a way to fill out a TV card.
Friday's show will be no different as tag bouts abound, featuring largely the same pool of talent that have dominated television over the last month. Bryan, Goldust, Cody Rhodes, The Wyatt Family, CM Punk, John Cena and The Shield appear to be WWE's go-to workhorses and they provide the majority of the action on this show as well.
That is not necessarily a bad thing, given the talent of all involved, but one has to wonder how long WWE can adopt this booking method before fans tune out in droves.
It is understandable that the creative team would take its foot off the pedal with the holidays rapidly approaching but in the new year, it will have to put its best foot forward and change up their formulaic booking or risk losing a good portion of its audience at the most important time of the year.
Brodus Clay's Heel Turn
The Funkasaurus is officially extinct and it could not have happened at a better time for Brodus Clay.
The former bodyguard for Snoop Lion has never really felt at home in the smiling, dancing babyface character. In fact, in the second-half of the year, it oftentimes looked as though he was going through the motions.
But no more.
He has appeared motivated in recent weeks and has been spot on in all of his facial expressions. He has done a great job of delivering intensity and aggression and looks poised for a big push in the coming weeks.
Whether the company actually capitalizes on the momentum the character has remains to be seen, but Clay has potential to be a big-time player heading into the new year.
Divas Championship Contenders
Brie Bella's victory over Tamina Snuka and her subsequent interaction with AJ Lee highlights a problem with the Divas division in WWE.
Bella suddenly appears to be right back in the Divas Championship picture, despite the fact that she just had a lengthy feud with Lee and failed to win the title in any of her several opportunities.
The fact that Natalya just wrapped up her quest for gold proves that WWE is simply throwing a different Total Divas cast member into the No. 1 contender's spot without regard for any kind of story or reason to care.
Management also cannot seemingly decide whom it wants to dethrone AJ when that time comes, leading to treadmill booking where the shows keeping moving but there is really no upward momentum.
Until that changes, it is going to become harder and harder for fans to invest themselves in any Divas match, regardless of whether or not they are improving.
The Rise of Big E Langston
Big E Langston has been extremely impressive since turning babyface and enjoying a solid midcard push.
By the looks of it, however, that push is about to get much bigger, especially if the closing moments of SmackDown are any indication.
Rushing to the aid of CM Punk and John Cena, arguably the two biggest babyface stars of the last three years, is a huge step up for the Intercontinental champion. He is being portrayed as on their level by not only being allowed to come to their rescue but also by single-handedly dispatching of The Shield.
Whether it leads to anything substantial in terms of a long-term push remains to be seen but for one night, Langston gets a hell of a rub to close out SmackDown.