Punk Plays Mind Games with The Shield
CM Punk kicked off the evening's show by addressing the crowd in Richmond and running down his 2013.
He admitted that it was not his finest year because he did not improve upon his great 2012, but he did say the year belonged to The Shield. This brought Roman Reigns, Rollins and United States champion Dean Ambrose to the ring to confront the Best in the World.
Punk eventually issued a challenge to "the best member" of the group, and that is when the segment excelled past that of a normal, predictable show-starting promo.
Punk's declaration caused dissension within the group as Rollins, Reigns and Ambrose argued over who the best wrestler among them was.
Brad Maddox interrupted and announced that Punk would face Rollins, marking the first time in WWE history that the two former Ring of Honor champions have competed against each other on national television.
The segment was the latest chapter in the impending implosion of The Shield and further established Punk as one of the most cerebral Superstars on the WWE roster.
Great booking all around.
The Intercontinental Championship Means Something
It was nice to see Fandango defeat Ziggler and earn a shot at the Intercontinental Championship on last week's Raw Christmas show. It was rare that the company would do any advance build for the secondary title, so that should have been an indication that the championship would take center stage on this week's show.
With Big E Langston and Fandango in the ring, Justin Roberts did the big championship introductions, immediately adding prestige and importance to the title and the match.
For years, the title was the goal of every midcard Superstar looking to climb the ranks in WWE. It was also the title that was the so-called "wrestler's title" in that it was fought for in outstanding matches between some of the most talented workers in the industry.
In recent years, it has been traded among Superstars with nothing else better to do. It has been a prop in the midcard, a reason for two guys to wrestle when the creative team could not be bothered to come up with anything better.
To see the company treat it with respect on Monday night's show, not to mention giving Langston and Fandango a good bit of time, was a nice departure from the way things were typically booked in 2013.
The fact that champion and challenger had a really good, solid match only helped make it that much more of a success.