The Good, the Great and the Awesome from SmackDown (1/24/14)
Gone are the days when the "go home" episode of SmackDown prior to a major pay-per-view event was littered with inconsequential matches and a number of video packages just so WWE could fill a two-hour television spot on a Friday night.
The January 24 episode of SmackDown featured a series of fun matches and two really strong promos, most of which hyped this Sunday night's Royal Rumble pay-per-view in a way that the company failed to do this past Monday.
CM Punk appeared and had words for The Authority's director of operations Kane. What would the Best in the World have to say to the former Big Red Monster after being "rewarded" the No. 1 spot in Sunday's Royal Rumble match? Would the interaction between the two future Hall of Famers turn physical, as it has in the past?
Speaking of Punk, five of his recent enemies partnered together for the night's main event, as the New Age Outlaws teamed with The Shield to take on the Usos, Cody Rhodes, Goldust and Big E Langston.
Just days from his colossal showdown against Brock Lesnar, Big Show was in action, teaming with Rey Mysterio to take on the Real Americans. Would Antonio Cesaro and Jack Swagger get a measure of revenge on Show for his assault on Zeb Colter a few weeks back, or would the World's Largest Athlete continue rolling en route to Pittsburgh for his bout with the Beast Incarnate?
After being betrayed by Daniel Bryan two weeks ago on Raw, Bray Wyatt vowed to destroy the goat-faced Superstar. Friday night, Luke Harper and Erick Rowan were in tag action against the Prime Time Players. Needless to say, it was not a good night for Titus O'Neil and Darren Young.
With only two days until the road to WrestleMania officially kicks off, find out what went down on this week's show and, more importantly, what was good, great and awesome about the January 24 episode of Friday Night SmackDown.
Big Show and Rey Mysterio vs. The Real Americans
SmackDown kicked off with the match advertised this past Monday on Raw, as Big Show teamed with Rey Mysterio to take on Jack Swagger and Antonio Cesaro.
It was a nice continuation of Big Show's side feud with the Real Americans, which began a few weeks back when he knocked out Zeb Colter. Mysterio, based on his Mexican heritage alone, makes for perfect opposition for the villains.
The match was nothing out of the ordinary, as it stuck to the basic tag formula, but it did accomplish what it set out to do—make Big Show look strong heading into his match against Brock Lesnar Sunday night at the Royal Rumble.
Nothing spectacular, just a really solid tag bout that did what it was meant to do.
Los Matadores vs. Curtis Axel and Ryback
As someone who despises the Los Matadores gimmick, it was very rewarding to see the team suffer a very rare loss Friday night to the team of former Intercontinental champion Curtis Axel and Ryback.
Neither of the former Heyman guys has been involved in anything meaningful since the rivalry with CM Punk wrapped up months ago, but they are still more valuable to the company than a kid-friendly gimmick like the Matadores and are at least part of Sunday's Rumble match.
No harm, no foul here, even if the match meant absolutely nothing in the long run.
Bad News Barrett
When the Bad New Barrett gimmick debuted on Raw, the performer looked stiff and uncomfortable, cutting a promo that ran down the city the show took place in for cheap heat.
As the weeks have progressed, however, he has loosened up considerably and now, Barrett appears to be having the most fun on his entire career. And it shows in his performances, especially as of late.
The manner in which he ran down The Miz and Brodus Clay, including calling their upcoming match one of the worst in history, may have been a bit harsh, but it sure was incredibly entertaining to watch.
Daniel Bryan and Bray Wyatt Promo
Following a dominant victory by Luke Harper and Erick Rowan over the Prime Time Players, Bray Wyatt took to the microphone to reiterate his desire and his promise to punish Daniel Bryan for his betrayal a few weeks back.
Bryan made an appearance and said that neither he nor the fans feared Wyatt or his threats. He finished by promising to show Wyatt who the monster really is.
It was a short but sweet promo that really sold the intensity of the rivalry and creates questions as to what lengths each Superstar will go to defeat the other Sunday night.
Probably the best Bryan promo in recent months, as well.
CM Punk Calls Out Kane
After being informed by director of operations Kane that he would be entering the Royal Rumble at No. 1, CM Punk appeared on SmackDown to address the Big Red Monster.
He discussed the fact that a Royal Rumble win is the one thing he does not have on his resume. Kane appeared and took great pride in telling Punk that his chances of winning had been incredibly diminished, even going as far as to run through the exact numbers, which I will spare you, the reader.
Punk responded by reiterating that he is the Best in the World and that, regardless of whether the odds were in his favor, he would win the Rumble just like other No. 1 entrants have in the past.
It was a really great promo from Punk that established the disadvantage he is at Sunday night but also showed his determination to accomplish the one goal he has been unable to accomplish to this point in his career.
10-Man Tag Team Match
The main event of SmackDown featured WWE Tag Team champions Cody Rhodes and Goldust, Intercontinental champion Big E Langston and the Usos teaming up to meet The Shield and the New Age Outlaws in 10-Man tag action.
The match was very old school in terms of the formula it followed, but the closing moments were incredibly hot and really did an excellent job of setting up Sunday's Royal Rumble.
The end of the show was great, as every Superstar involved in the Rumble match itself hit the ring and brawled with one another to really put over the chaotic nature of the annual over-the-top-rope Battle Royal.
Of course, Batista was missing from the fray, but the pop CM Punk received as he hit the ring indicates that the returning Animal may not be the people's choice to leave Pittsburgh with a guaranteed title shot.
A really great way to end SmackDown and leave the fans wanting more come Sunday evening.