Cesaro vs. Randy Orton
For all of the heat he gets, Randy Orton has shown a willingness to put young, up-and-coming talent over throughout his career. Men like Cody Rhodes and Wade Barrett have benefited from feuding with Orton because they scored wins over him that other stars in The Viper's position simply were not willing to give them.
Orton continued that tradition by putting over Cesaro in the main event of this week's SmackDown.
Cesaro caught Orton off-guard early in the match and had the WWE champion reeling early. But like the veteran he is, Orton overcame the early onslaught and took control of the match.
The trading of uppercuts by the Superstars was fun to watch as a fan but could not have been fun to be on the receiving end of.
The Cesaro Swing was incredibly over with the audience, and to his credit, Orton did a tremendous job putting the move over, his facial expressions really telling the story of the effectiveness of the move.
The finishing sequence, which saw Cesaro deliver the sunset flip powerbomb out of the corner, followed by a running uppercut and, finally, the Neutralizer, was outstanding.
Not the best match on the card, and not even as good as Orton-Cena from Raw, but a really hard-fought wrestling match that saw Orton do a ton of great little things while delivering his best performance in weeks.
Daniel Bryan, Sheamus and Christian vs. The Shield
Anytime six individuals with the talent of Bryan, Sheamus, Christian and The Shield are involved in the same match, said match is almost always guaranteed to be a show-stealing one. That was the case Friday night as they kicked off the broadcast and delivered on the expectations a fan would naturally have leading into the bout.
Sheamus serving as the face-in-peril, as well as the hot tag to Christian, was unexpected and helped bring a bit of uniqueness to the match rather than the expected Bryan onslaught late.
The miscommunication between Sheamus and Christian could serve as the emphasis for a rivalry between the two in the coming weeks.
The Shield's victory was exactly what Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins needed heading into the Elimination Chamber show. The only surprise was that there was no post-match promo from Bray Wyatt and The Wyatt Family.
Number one contender's match
Jack Swagger's win over Kofi Kingston, Rey Mysterio and Mark Henry to become the No. 1 contender to the Intercontinental Championship was awesome for a number of reasons.
One, it restored some legitimacy to Swagger following a losing streak. A year ago at this time, he was in the middle of his second big main event push. After it petered out, his momentum stalled, and throughout his team with Cesaro, he has always been looked at as the weak link.
Two, it brought attention to the criminally undervalued intercontinental title, held by Big E. The title was once the measuring stick for young stars hoping to move up the card. It was also the worker's title as the best wrestlers on the roster held the championship,
Three, it let four completely different workers deliver a fun, exciting and awesome match that felt completely fresh and was interesting.
Swagger's win gives him a shot at Big E's title come February 23 and restores prestige to the Intercontinental Championship.
A very effective match.