Complete Report Card and Predictions Following WWE SmackDown for January 24

The Doctor Chris Mueller@@BR_DoctorFeatured ColumnistJanuary 26, 2014

Complete Report Card and Predictions Following WWE SmackDown for January 24

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    Every week here on Bleacher Report, I 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. I also provide some predictions on the direction of storylines.

    This was the final show before the Royal Rumble on Sunday, and WWE opted to cover every feud on the show, leaving little room for standout matches.

    Most of the night was filled with quick singles and tag matches, but the 10-man main event capped off the show nicely.

    Sunday is when the road to WrestleMania officially begins. One man will walk out of the 30-man battle royal with a guaranteed shot at the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania. This could be the chance for someone to get back to the top of the mountain or for a newcomer to cement his place in the main event.

    Let's get right into the show with the first match featuring Big Show and Rey Mysterio taking on The Real Americans.

The Real Americans vs. Big Show and Rey Mysterio

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    Zeb Colter was in a wheelchair because Big Show had hit him with the KO Punch. He showed a replay of said punch before he insulted Rey Mysterio and Big Show.

    Mysterio and Show came out and the match got going. This was a decent bout, but nothing special. Big Show and Rey got the predictable win after Show brought Rey in on his shoulders for a big splash.

    They got a decent amount of time to go back and forth, but it seemed like everyone was playing it safe to stay healthy for the Rumble.

    Paul Heyman came out after the match and did a great job selling the match between Big Show and Brock Lesnar.

    Grade: B-

    Some notes from the match:

    • I find it sad that nobody on commentary mentioned how Rey and Big Show are two of the last WCW Superstars active in WWE.
    • Between WCW and WWE, Big Show has held tag titles with eight different partners. That has to be close to some kind of record.
    • I would have liked to see Big Show get hit with the Cesaro Swing or Neutralizer, but I get why WWE wouldn't want to make him look weak before his match with Lesnar.
    • I am not sure if I have ever seen one man hip toss two people with one arm before Big Show did it in this match.

Miz vs. Brodus Clay

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    Before the match could even get started, we saw Bad News Barrett rise up next to the ring on his podium and bury Clay and Miz before they even got a chance to lock up.

    Barrett continued to insult the match as it happened, and the fact that he was mocking the contest made it seem impossible to like.

    Miz got a really quick win with a DDT out of nowhere. This was a big waste of time unless it leads to a match between Miz and Barrett down the line.

    Grade: C-

    Some notes from the match:

    • What was the point in breaking up Tensai and Clay if neither man was going to get a push?
    • Clay joined the 500-pound bench press club, according to Josh Mathews. That is one hell of an impressive feat.
    • WWE needs to give Barrett funnier material. This gimmick could be awesome if it had more laughs.

Cameron vs. AJ Lee

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    AJ picked up a quick win with a Shining Wizard. The camera angle of the kick saved it from looking pretty sloppy.

    There isn't much to say here. WWE keeps teasing a feud between AJ and Naomi for the title, but so far, nothing has been made official. Hopefully, they do eventually have a match because they could do a great job under the right circumstances.

    Cameron has made big improvements in the ring. She is more comfortable and clearly has the physicality to continue getting better.

    Grade: C-

    Some notes from the match:

    • I am a little surprised Josh Mathews acknowledged the real-life marriage of Naomi and Jon Uso.
    • Naomi's save after the match would have come off much better had she not tried to cover AJ for no reason.

Los Matadores vs. Rybaxel

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    This was about as average of a match as you could ask for. You had two heels take a quick loss from a babyface team meant to appeal to kids.

    El Torito did his usual post-match routine where he gets involved and makes someone much bigger than him look stupid.

    Both of these tag teams could be valuable to the division, but they need better booking.

    Grade: C-

    Some notes from the match:

    • The Goldberg chants are getting really old. I get that fans like to cling to something they find funny, but it has to be entertaining to have longevity.
    • Ryback is being noticeably more careful after he concussed Dolph Ziggler. His offense really seems less stiff.
    • One of the Matadores hit Axel with an interesting DDT that looked as awkward as it was impractical.

The Prime Time Players vs. Erick Rowan and Luke Harper

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    This was yet another quick match on a show filled with short bouts. PTP never even stood a chance in what was essentially a squash.

    Wyatt hit Darren Young with Sister Abigail after the match and then addressed his upcoming match with Daniel Bryan.

    Daniel Bryan's music hit to a huge pop, and he came out to talk about how the support of the people will help him win.

    The post-match exchange between Wyatt and Bryan was better than the match that proceeded it and saved the segment from being a total wash.

    Grade: C+

    Some notes from the match:

    • I will never not be amazed at how Bryan can get an entire arena on its feet chanting "Yes."
    • I hope 2014 is a better year for PTP because they deserve a chance to lead the division.

Kofi Kingston vs. Fandango

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    This is like a feud without being a feud. These two have faced off several times in recent weeks, but they never seem to have any kind of real progression.

    They trade wins and nobody ever ends up coming away looking any better than he did coming into the match.

    Kofi and Fandango did a decent job with the time they had, but they were more victims of an overbooked show with another short match.

    Grade: C+

    Some notes from the match:

    • Emma was shown in the crowd again. I still don't get how this is supposed to help with her debut, but I am excited to see what she brings to the table.
    • Kofi Kingston really needs a gimmick change. He has gone as far as he can as the happy-go-lucky babyface.
    • Trouble in Paradise also needs to go. It never looks like a convincing enough finisher unless he hits the person way too hard.

Non-Wrestling Segments

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    The Shield gave a backstage promo that seemed to indicate they are all cool with Roman Reigns claiming he will win the whole Rumble match.

    The Shield have always been good in these short segments, and this was no exception. Dean Ambrose began as the mouthpiece for the group, but now all three men are able to carry a promo.

    Grade: B

    CM Punk came out and gave a promo talking about how Kane chokeslammed him and put him first in the Royal Rumble match.

    Punk is good at keeping your attention for a long time, but the storyline with him and The Authority feels too much like a rehash of past feuds, and therefore feels forced.

    Kane came out and gave some fake statistic about how Punk has no chance of winning the Rumble match. Punk fired back and said he would win because he is the best. This was all average and predictable, but it did what it was supposed to.

    Grade: B

The Shield and New Age Outlaws vs. Big E Langston, Usos and Brotherhood

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    It probably comes as no surprise to anyone that this ended up being the match of the night. Ten-man tag matches are usually a big cluster of everyone trying to get in one good move, but this match was well-timed and let everyone share a little bit of the spotlight.

    The end of the match was easy to see coming. All hell broke lose and eventually the bell was called for. A handful of Superstars came out from the back to join in on the fun, including CM Punk.

    The show ended with everyone brawling in the ring to hammer home the image of the fight we are used to seeing at the Royal Rumble.

    Grade: B+

    Some notes from the match:

    • Goldust got the biggest pop out of anyone when he was tagged in.
    • Seth Rollins looked like he nearly broke Goldust's nose with the knee from the top rope.
    • Billy Gunn and Dolph Ziggler need to have a match eventually. The similarities between them and their skills are too great not to show them off.

Final Thoughts and Predictions

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    This episode of SmackDown was average as a whole, but the main event was fun and every major program was addressed in the final show before the Royal Rumble PPV.

    As expected, the night was filled with video packages and quick matches. A lot of the bouts were the same matches we have been seeing for weeks, so the show felt like one long replay at times.

    Since Sunday is the Royal Rumble, this week's predictions will revolve around the PPV.


    • The New Age Outlaws will win the Tag Team Championships.
    • Brock Lesnar will defeat Big Show with at least two F-5s and kick out of a KO Punch.
    • Daniel Bryan will defeat Bray Wyatt, but he will be attacked after the match.
    • Randy Orton will retain the WWE World Championship.
    • Batista, Roman Reigns or CM Punk will win the Rumble match.
    • At least two Hall of Famers will appear in the Rumble match.
    • One member of The Shield will eliminate one or both of the other members.
    • At least one announcer will be in the Rumble match.
    • MVP, RVD or another Superstar with three initials will return for the Rumble match.
    • Sheamus, Evan Bourne or Chris Jericho will return during the Rumble match.
    • El Torito and Hornswoggle will have a faceoff during the Rumble match, then Ryback will eliminate both of them.

    What was your favorite part of SmackDown, and what are your Royal Rumble predictions? Join me Sunday here on Bleacher Report for live coverage of the 2014 Royal Rumble.


    Thanks for reading, and follow me on Twitter @BR_Doctor. Use the hashtag #BRWWE on Sunday and your tweets could be featured on the live coverage!