Every week here on Bleacher Report, I will take an in-depth look at SmackDown, recapping all of the action, offering analysis and grading the matches, segments and anything else that takes place on the show, as well as provide some predictions on the direction of storylines.
In just a few days, we will be thinking of champagne toasts, singing a song nobody really knows the words to and wondering what it is 2014 has in store for us.
This was the final SmackDown of 2013, and WWE packed the show with eight matches, most of which ended up being way too short to really excite the crowd.
Several feuds were furthered and a couple of the matches stood out above the rest, but you can judge for yourself how the final SmackDown of the year performed.
Let's get right into the show with the opening promo from John Cena.
John Cena opened up the show with a promo that took five minutes to get to the point, which was just him wanting his rematch for the title against Randy Orton.
The Shield came out and attacked Cena. Mark Henry and Big E Langston came out to make the save and send The Shield running.
Kane came out and made three singles matches for the six men involved in the fight. This was a very average segment, but not every promo can be a pipebomb.
Some notes from the segment:
- Cena's voice cracked like a kid going through puberty at one point when he was getting all fired up.
- Henry, Cena and Langston could probably lift the ring if they all tried at the same time.
- I wonder if WWE will merge the IC and U.S. titles at some point? We haven't had a four-title system in WWE for a very long time. Back when it was just the WWE, IC, Tag and Women's titles, everything seemed more important because there was so much less gold to go around.
- WWE created the European Championship in 1997, and that was the last time we had a four-title system. The company has always had five or more since then.
The Usos were on fire from the moment the bell rang. They hit The Wyatt Family with several signature offensive moves in a short time, but the match ended abruptly when one of the Usos took a clothesline from Luke Harper and a running splash from Erick Rowan to give up the pin.
These are two teams who have put on several good matches lately, and I felt a little ripped off at what was essentially a squash match.
The Usos and The Wyatts have traded victories in several different tag and six-man matches in recent months, and the results are usually above average. Why we were deprived of another decent match is a mystery.
Some notes from the match:
- It would have gotten an F, but The Usos got in a few nice moves.
- The way WWE cuts away from The Wyatts is not as effective when it doesn't immediately go to commercial afterwards.
- It's kind of crazy to think that Bray Wyatt is the son of IRS in real life. That's not just falling far from the tree, that's like the apple falling off the tree, rolling down a hill into a river and floating into the ocean.
- But being related to BlackJack Mulligan totally makes sense.
This is more like it. Two of the best WWE Superstars to never win a World title going at it in a singles match. Cody Rhodes and Antonio Cesaro have been in the ring together before, but this singles match felt very fresh.
They are both so technically proficient that everything they do looks great, but this match could have gone on much longer.
They had about five minutes to work, and they did a good job making the most of their minutes. Goldust and Jack Swagger each got involved at points in the match, but it was the distraction from Swagger that led to Cesaro picking up the win with a roll-up.
We didn't get a Cesaro Swing or a Disaster Kick, and neither man even attempted their finisher. Sometimes those surprise wins can be exciting, but these two guys could have stolen the show with another five minutes.
Some notes from the match:
- JBL was trying to act like a heel while putting over Zeb Colter, but he ended up making some very real points about how people view freedom of speech in this country.
- Why does JBL support cancelling Christmas so much?
Another quick match with another win out of nowhere. Darren Young stole one from Curtis Axel when he countered a roll-up for a quick win.
WWE may have made the first few matches quick to make room for the three matches featuring The Shield, but it could have scrapped one match for the sake of giving the other matches more time to make the show more entertaining as a whole.
This match had a quick pace, and all four men looked pretty solid in the ring, but nothing stood out as a highlight.
This match was made by Kane earlier in the show when Ziggler interrupted an interview Randy Orton was giving with Renee Young.
This match got off to a slow start, but they picked up the pace leading into the break. Ziggler sent Orton out of the ring with a dropkick that definitely connected with Orton's face before they went to commercial.
The match came together very well in the second segment. Both men hit a variety of different moves, but it was Orton who won over Ziggler yet again with an RKO.
This wasn't the best we have seen from Orton and Ziggler, but they have never had a bad match.
Some notes from the match:
- Orton beat the hell out of Ziggler after the match was over. The DDT Ziggler took on the floor was brutal looking.
- I don't have a problem with Dolph Ziggler having pink hair, but the part where he chose to just dye a small part of the right side of his head is what confuses me.
Daniel Bryan and Damien Sandow did the best they could with four minutes, but this was another match that suffered from a lack of time.
Bryan picked up the win with the running knee to the face. Sandow got in the majority of the offense, even throwing Bryan into the barricade very hard at one point, but Bryan came back in the final minute to pick up an easy win.
I do not like that Sandow is being used as a jobber for main event babyfaces, but being in matches with these guys at all is a step in the right direction.
Some notes from the match:
- Bray Wyatt gave a promo after the match about being a god. His gimmick has yet to grow stale for me. He is always so creepy that I almost believe that he believes what he is saying.
- Something has to be said about the video with Big Show in a New Year's baby costume. If you saw Knuckleheads, then you know this is not below his standards.
Mark Henry and John Cena stood in Big E Langston's corner to even the odds against Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins in Dean Ambrose's corner.
This was another really quick match. WWE obviously brought out all six men at once to save time on entrances for each match, but it may as well have booked a six-man match and given it all the time the three singles matches had.
Langston picked up the win with the Big Ending. The more interesting thing to note is that Ambrose gave Reigns a little shove that Reigns seemed to take offense to.
WWE is planting the seeds for a Shield breakup, and it looks like it might be right around the corner.
This might have been another quick match, but Reigns looked good in his win over Mark Henry. It was decisive and totally clean.
Reigns is someone who has made huge improvements right in front of our eyes, and one day he will be a WWE champion, but for now getting a win over a former World champion is good enough.
Reigns hit his awesome Superman punch and Spear to pick up a quick pin over The World's Strongest man.
The last 20 minutes of the show were devoted to the match between Seth Rollins and John Cena. Due to every other match being way too short, this ended up being the match of the night.
But don't take anything away from Cena and Rollins. They put on an awesome match, with Rollins looking very impressive against one of WWE's most decorated champions in its 50-year history.
Rollins had an answer for just about everything Cena threw at him. He even countered Cena's signature AA to save himself from a loss.
Cena was on top of his game in this match, pulling out moves we rarely see from him on more than one occasion, but it was Rollins who looked like the star.
The match went back and forth several times, with both men scoring several near-falls. Cena picked up the win with his third attempt at an AA, but not before Langston and Henry prevented Reigns and Ambrose from getting involved.
Some notes from the match:
- Reigns caught Ambrose in the face with his boot as he was thrown over the announce table by Henry.
- I am so happy that none of the matches ended in a DQ. The members of The Shield have way too many DQ finishes, and to see three clean endings was a nice change of pace.
- It was almost worth the other short matches to see this match tear the house down.
- Some of the things Seth Rollins does in the ring remind me a lot of Edge for some reason.
WWE packed a lot into the final SmackDown of 2013, and most of the matches suffered for it. There were eight bouts crammed into two hours, which is just too many.
A three-hour PPV would be fine with eight matches because you have no commercial breaks and another hour to give the undercard a chance to shine. When six out of the eight matches on SmackDown last less than five minutes each, you know you have a problem.
We got another Batista hype video, a video featuring Big Show in a diaper and Kane randomly making matches because Vickie wasn't around to do it.
But there were two high points. Dolph Ziggler and Randy Orton added another solid match to their in-ring history, and the final match between John Cena and Seth Rollins was a lot of fun.
Some of the shorter matches had great energy, with all involved putting their best effort into them, but as a whole, this was an average episode of SmackDown.
Since this is the final SmackDown report card of 2013, the predictions will focus on what is to come in 2014.
- The Wyatt Family will gain at least one new member. Probably not Daniel Bryan, but definitely someone with a beard.
- The Real Americans will become Tag Team champions.
- Roman Reigns will be the first member of The Shield to become a babyface.
- The U.S. and IC titles will be unified.
- The Royal Rumble winner will be someone who has won the event before.
- Daniel Bryan will hold the WWE title for more than a day.
- And lastly, Ric Flair will return to side with Batista in a feud against Randy Orton and Triple H.
What did you think of the final SmackDown of 2013?
Thanks for reading, and follow me on Twitter @BR_Doctor. And Happy New Year!