WWE Week in Review, Dec. 28: John Cena Slams Shut 2013, Dolph Ziggler Flounders
In the final full week of 2013, WWE celebrated the Christmas holiday by holding a very festive episode of Raw on Monday night. However, SmackDown was the exact opposite in that it was very wrestling-heavy and featured very little filler, much less any campy comedy.
John Cena was prominently featured on WWE programming in the last seven days, as he rivaled against The Shield in six-man tag team action as well as in singles competition. As the new year draws near, when should we expect Cena to be re-entered into the world title picture and receive his rightful rematch for the prestigious prize?
Daniel Bryan's ruthless rivalry with The Wyatt Family raged on, as he collided with the bearded clan on both Raw and SmackDown this week. After Bray Wyatt's ominous words to Bryan on Friday night, what else does he have in store for the former WWE champion?
One year removed from his epic victory over Cena in the main event of WWE TLC, Dolph Ziggler now finds himself losing to the likes of Fandango and others on a weekly basis. What will it take to get the bleached-blonde Superstar back to prominence in 2014?
Here, I will break down the week in wrestling by analyzing the Monday Night Raw, Friday Night SmackDown and WWE Main Event broadcasts, including each show's highlights, low points and other noteworthy, monumental moments. Also, an award will be given to the show and Superstar that shined the brightest over the course of the week.
Match of the Week: John Cena vs. Seth Rollins (SmackDown, Dec. 27)
More often than not, John Cena gets a lot of flak from fans, and understandably so. He is a 14-time world champion, his promos can be unbearable at times and he hasn't evolved as a character in nearly a decade.
However, there is no denying that he can flat-out go in the ring, and his latest in-ring encounter against Seth Rollins on SmackDown was pure proof of that. In their first ever one-on-one meeting, Rollins took Cena to his absolute limit.
He had a counter for every one of Cena's maneuvers and would simply not quit, even when locked in the former World Heavyweight champion's lethal STF submission hold. After Big E Langston and Mark Henry collided with the two other members of The Shield at ringside, Cena took advantage of the distraction by connecting with the Attitude Adjustment on Rollins for the victory.
Although Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns look to be breakout stars, don't underestimate Rollins, who also appears to have a bright future in WWE.
Superstar of the Week: John Cena
You may not be his biggest fan, but John Cena has been on quite the roll as of late. Sure, he isn't the WWE World Heavyweight champion at the moment, but he has had a handful of great matches since returning to the ring in October, and this past week was no exception.
In the main event of this week's Raw, Cena led his team of CM Punk and Big E Langston to victory against The Shield by way of disqualification. He wasn't finished with the rogue trio on SmackDown, however, as he went one-on-one for the first time ever with Seth Rollins in the main event.
In what was an excellent outing from both competitors, Cena scored the win and ended the show with his hand raised high. How long will it be before Cena gets his rematch for the world title?
Show of the Week: Friday Night SmackDown, Dec. 27
It was a holiday week in WWE this week with Christmas being this past Wednesday, which meant that all of its programming would feature campy comedy and meaningless matches. Surprisingly enough, that only proved to be the case with Monday Night Raw, as it was business as usual for both WWE Main Event and Friday Night SmackDown.
Given that I am a fan of the holiday season, I actually enjoyed Raw to an extent, but not as much as I did SmackDown. On paper, the card for the blue brand appeared to be pay-per-view worthy. Although most of the matches didn't go as long as I initially hoped (one of the few problems of a two-hour program), they were all solid and furthered a feud in one way or another.
It was the final three matches that really stole the show and concluded the final episode of SmackDown for 2013 with a bang. The Friday night program has had its fair share of ups and downs this past year, but I hope to see it continue being a wrestling-heavy show in 2014 as well.
This Week's Highlights
John Cena, CM Punk and Big E Langston vs. The Shield: This may not have been the best six-man tag team match The Shield has ever taken part in, but it was certainly solid considering all the other holiday shenanigans on this show. The important thing is that tagging with two main event stars in Punk and Cena gave Langston a nice rub and made him feel like their equal in the process.
Daniel Bryan, Cody Rhodes and Goldust vs. The Wyatt Family: Similar to what was written above, this match was among the few highlights on a holiday-heavy Raw. It was very well wrestled, given great time and furthered two feuds successfully. After all that transpired this week, I expect the Bray Wyatt-Daniel Bryan feud to continue going into the new year. Also, look for The Wyatt Family to get a shot at the Tag Team titles at some point.
Randy Orton vs. Dolph Ziggler: While these two have had better matches in the past, I enjoyed this match for what it was. Ziggler got in enough offense on Orton throughout the bout that he didn't look weak in defeat, but the post-match beatdown pretty much solidified his burial. At least Orton came off looking as aggressive as ever.
Mark Henry vs. Roman Reigns: Is there any questioning at this point that Reigns is an absolute beast? His dominance was showcased nicely in this match, and the clean win over Henry will only boost his credibility as a singles competitor. It is only a matter of time before Reigns leaves The Shield to become WWE's latest breakout babyface.
Batista announcement: Rumors were running rampant last weekend, but it was cool to see Batista's return made official this week on Raw. Unsurprisingly, the announcement was the only thing of note that occurred on the show this week. It was smart of WWE to hype his return one month out, and I look forward to seeing which Superstar he will target upon his arrival on January 20.
This Week's Low Points
12-Diva tag team match: The first season of Total Divas wrapped up a few weeks ago, yet the feud between the show's cast and the "true" Divas of the WWE is still going on. Can someone please tell me why that is? Oh, and this match was as asinine as it gets.
Christmas carol contest: There is nothing more embarrassing than seeing The Great Khali singing on national television, much less winning the Christmas carol contest with Santino Marella as his partner. That's how you know this show was taped in advance. I am all for a little holiday fun, but I surely hope Xavier Woods isn't going to be used as a singing fool like R-Truth for the remainder of his run.
Fandango vs. Dolph Ziggler: Was a Present on a Pole match Vince McMahon's way of wishing Vince Russo happy holidays? The last two matches between Fandango and Ziggler were disappointing enough, and this match didn't help matters. I have no desire to see Fandango contend for the Intercontinental Championship, and Ziggler's career has officially hit rock bottom with his latest loss to the ballroom dancer.
Mark Henry vs. Damien Sandow: Remember the days when Henry was a force to be reckoned with in WWE and he was inducting people left and right into his Hall of Pain? Now he is dressing up as Santa Claus and facing an equally irrelevant Superstar in Sandow. Both guys are in desperate need of direction, and fighting in holiday hardcore matches won't help solve that.
Los Matadores vs. The Real Americans: The match was decent enough, but I can't get past the fact that Los Matadores picked up yet another win over The Real Americans. Perhaps it was because it was a holiday show and I am probably just overthinking it, but The Real Americans have far more lasting power and potential than Los Matadores right now.
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Graham Mirmina, a.k.a. Graham "GSM" Matthews, is a journalism major at Endicott College. Visit his website at Next Era Wrestling and "like" his official Facebook page to continue the conversation on all things wrestling.