Another show, another light roster due to the WWE Holiday Tour that swept the country, and part of Canada, this past week.
Unlike Monday's Raw, this week's SmackDown definitely suffered from a lack of star power and really felt like a placeholder show until the rosters are back together next week.
The CM Punk-Shield conflict continued, this time with the Usos involved.
While the followup to the Daniel Bryan angle that closed the show was rather lackluster, the Wyatt Family was involved in a phenomenal tag match with WWE Tag Team champions Cody Rhodes and Goldust. Would Luke Harper and Erick Rowan be able to follow up the moral victory from Monday night with a championship win?
Fresh off a great performance against Fandango on Raw, Intercontinental champion Big E Langston squared off against the man he defeated to win the title, Curtis Axel.
Some of WWE's top young stars were on display Friday night. Who left the so-called "blue show" riding a wave of momentum into Monday night's "Old School" edition of Raw?
Let's find out now.
This is the Good, the Great and the Awesome for the January 3 episode of Friday Night SmackDown.
Bray Wyatt Promo
As usual, Bray Wyatt was outstanding in his promo work Friday night. The video package that aired—with Bray Wyatt discussing Daniel Bryan and his allegiance with the Wyatt Family—was another example of WWE's stellar production team's work.
With that said, the disjointed television tapings, which saw SmackDown taped before Monday's Raw, did not allow for better follow-up to the angle, and it was definitely disappointing for fans waiting to see what was next in the Bryan saga.
The promo was good, but the segment as the only follow-up to the angle from Raw was a letdown.
The Usos vs. The Shield
It is fair to say that, at this point, these two teams could have really good matches against each other while sleeping, if asked to.
The Usos and the Shield have been two of the best tag teams in professional wrestling for the last year and the chemistry they have with each other has produced some of the best tag matches of 2013.
They picked up in 2014 where they left off last year, kicking this week's show off with another really good match.
Unfortunately, interference set up a repetitive six-man tag match for later in the show, rather than giving fans a satisfying conclusion to the basic tag match.
CM Punk and The Usos vs. The Shield
The six-man tag team matches in 2013 were outstanding bouts that the creative team could book for any Raw or SmackDown and almost guarantee a crowd-pleasing main event.
As this new year kicks into gear, it feels as though those six-man tag matches have become a bit stale.
That is taking nothing away from Punk, the Usos or the Shield, all of whom were very good Friday night and once again delivered a thrilling contest. That is why it lands in the "Great" section of this week's show.
Unfortunately, everything that happened in the match has been watered down so significantly because the fans have become somewhat desensitized to the multi-man tag bouts. They still react for the action but the special feeling surrounding the early Shield matches is almost nonexistent, thanks to the creative team's heavy reliance on them throughout last year.
A really good match, as one would expect, but one that felt more like a cheap booking decision than anything remotely special.
Big E Langston Dominates
The Intercontinental champion's dominant victory over Curtis Axel Friday night is exactly the type of win a physical specimen like Langston should be picking up. The company clearly expects big things from the former bodybuilder and bowling over the competition would help him get over and stay over, something he is clearly having a difficult time doing if crowd reaction is to be believed.
Axel is dead in the water at this point. Any momentum he had this past summer is completely gone. He made the perfect prey for Langston tonight and should settle into the role of solid midcard star who loses more than he wins in 2014.
Goldust & Cody Rhodes vs. The Wyatt Family
It is becoming more and more apparent that the current WWE Tag Team champions could get a great match out of anyone based on sheer willpower.
It is much easier when the opposition is two fairly talented big men who are among the hottest acts in all professional wrestling, as Luke Harper and Erick Rowan are.
This week's match was an exhibition in excellent tag team wrestling.
The brothers Rhodes are so far ahead of any other team when it comes to the babyface-in-peril storytelling, as both Cody and Goldust fill that role and elicit such sympathy that it adds to the emotion and drama of the match.
The transitional wrestling and counter maneuvers were all strong.
Most importantly, the finish was brilliant as Harper whipped Cody into the ropes and caught him with a big back body drop. What he missed, however, was that Cody had tagged his brother into the match as he was running the ropes. The moment Rowan dropped Cody, Goldust rolled him up and shocked the big man with a three-count for the win.
The matches between these two teams are getting progressively better, and every one has been different from the one before it, a testament to all four men involved.