Mick Foley brings some holiday cheer to SmackDown.
Average opener to kick off the show. Mick Foley's love for Christmas didn't do much for me, but I did get a minor chuckle of Michael Cole's reindeer suit. The best thing about this segment was the involvement from Intercontinental Champion Cody Rhodes, who further explained as his actions as to why he despises Booker.
No words regarding the Divas Mistletoe on a Pole Match, as it was nothing out of the ordinary for the dying division. Why they were all brawling and not attempting the retrieve the mistletoe is beyond me.
Decent match from Justin Gabriel and Jinder Mahal, but it was nothing to what they can truly accomplish if they were given more time. As much as I love Gabriel picking up victories, Mahal really needed the win here if he's ever going to be taken seriously. At this point, the audience has been given no reason to care about this feud whatsoever.
The holiday party segments featured throughout the show were extremely cliche, as we've become accustomed to these pointless parties for years now. However, I was excited to see Goldust back, involved in a funny run-in with his father Dusty Rhodes no less.
Nicely done beat-down from Cody Rhodes backstage when he ambushed Booker T. It's too early in the feud for this match to take place, so I'm glad to see it being held back while giving Booker T a reason to get back in the ring with revenge on his mind.
John Cena appears as a guest on Piper's Pit.
Intense segment to kick off the show with "Rowdy" Roddy Piper calling out John Cena in the infamous Piper's Pit. I was a bit skeptical at the beginning that Piper was using his time to get himself over as well as kissing up to Cena much like Mick Foley did a few weeks back, but I these guys really impressed with the drama they incorporated into their promo. It's about damn time they started to acknowledge the massive boos Cena garners, and Piper did an excellent job by nearly pushing the Chain Gang Commander over the limit. One can only hope this whole story-line is being put in place to foreshadow the highly anticipated John Cena heel turn, something that has been long overdue for years on end.
Excellent choice in having The Miz be the one to end John Morrison's career with his contract expiring this week, as having Brodus Clay squash Morrison would not have been as effective. The Shaman of Sexy provided much more offense than I thought he would being "injured" and all, certainly looking impressive in his supposable last appearance for the company. It's also worth noting that this is the same exact match that we witnessed on the premiere episode of Raw in 2011, a true sense of symbolism. The Miz's promo that followed the contest was well done, as a new-found aggression for his character is needed if he expects to be taken seriously going back into the WWE Championship picture.
Throwaway Divas tag team match as always with it's two minute time limit, but not really surprising seeing it's been something on Raw we've been accustomed to for months. Honestly, I have absolutely no idea as to why the Divas of Doom were jogging around the ring, since I expected them to return after the bout and attack the babyfaces. Oddly booked indeed.
Yet another quality match between United States Champion Dolph Ziggler and Randy Orton, but nothing too outstanding since we've seen it all before in recent months. Wade Barrett did well on commentary, serving his purpose in getting his on-going rivalry with Orton across. I was pleasantly surprised to see Ziggler pick up the upset victory here, as this win does wonders for his future as a main event player on Monday nights.
Although Daniel Bryan's promo with Michael Cole and World Heavyweight Champion Mark Henry didn't set the world on fire, I'm loving the great hype Raw has been giving SmackDown lately. Daniel Bryan has significantly improved on the mic since his debut, and Cole played his role nicely by being the voice of reason as usual. I don't feel Bryan's cheap shot to Henry going back up the ramp was all that necessary, but at least Mr. Money in the Bank has been given an edge going into his upcoming World Championship match-up against Henry on SmackDown.
Daniel Bryan forces Cody Rhodes to submit.
Hot start to the show with Daniel Bryan coming close to capturing the World Heavyweight Championship. However, it was illogical in the sense that Bryan comes off as a hypocrite (as stated by Michael Cole) for not waiting until WrestleMania, as well as the fact that the Money in the Bank briefcase is applicable to any champion at any time, injured or not. Despite that, it succeeded is furthering the feud between Big Show and Henry in addition to setting up the main event nicely.
Fun match between Hunico and Justin Gabriel in the opening contest. They have great chemistry with both being adrenaline junkies inside the ring, so hopefully we see more from these two down the line. Although both Hunico and Gabriel need wins at this point to get over, it's important Hunico regains the heat he may have lost over the past few weeks.
Brief Divas tag team match with Divas Champion Beth Phoenix and Natalya quickly defeating AJ and Kaitlyn that served its purpose. Much like last week, AJ did most of the work for her team which made for some great offense while it lasted. There seems to be drama ensuing between AJ and Kaitlyn, which gives me hope they're finally doing something with the Divas on SmackDown. As much as I dislike the "cry time" the Divas of Doom provide after their matches, it at least is helping them regain momentum as the dominant forces in the Divas division.
Strong tag team match with Zack Ryder and Sheamus defeating the dynamic duo of United States Champion Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger. It received suitable time, while Ryder continues to impress me with how much the crowd is really getting behind him during his matches. The on-going program between Ryder and Ziggler continues with the U.S. Champ once again taking the pin, but Ziggler really needs to start picking up victories to avoid becoming a weak champion that only wins when the title is on the line.
The Miz ambushes R-Truth from behind.
Great opening to the show that no longer made the WWE Championship feel like an afterthought. I enjoyed CM Punk's promo on how much his title win at MSG meant to him, giving me hope we might actually see him retain the belt up until WrestleMania. I'm not sure whether it's go-away or legitimate heat, but John Laurinaitis makes for a perfect heel authority figure to hate and rebel against. Expect the feud between these two to continue for quite some time.
Decent match from Alberto Del Rio and Zack Ryder, but I can only imagine they could have gone an extra five minutes to add more credibility to Ryder's obvious loss. Of course, this victory was needed for Del Rio going into his championship rematch, but the Long Island Iced Z was the last guy to take the loss after his stellar crowd reaction at Survivor Series.
Meaningless match between Sheamus and Jack Swagger, despite their potential to produce something much, much better. This bout was a bit better than their previous encounter on last week's Raw, but it's not worth watching if we can all easily predict Sheamus to emerge victorious most times he steps in the ring, especially if his opponent happens to be a credible heel treated like enhancement talent like Jack Swagger.
Another good promo from Kevin Nash that once again furthers his pending feud with the sidelined Triple H. Sure, it wasn't much different than his previous promos, but I like the fact that he was able to tie in a MSG reference as well as the Kliq to keep this rivalry relevant. It's only a matter of time before the Game reappears on Monday nights, so look for that to occur in coming weeks.
Quick, painless match with Intercontinental Champion Cody Rhodes defeating Santino Marella within minutes. However, more credible talent is required to face Rhodes in order to help build him as a top heel on SmackDown. As for his exchange with Booker after the match goes, I think this upcoming rivalry could do wonders for both men. First, it will thankfully get Booker T off of commentary and back in the ring where he belongs. Secondly, it will help reestablish the Intercontinental title as a prestigious belt if successfully defended a former World Champion such as Booker T. Additionally, I'd be psyched to see the returning Goldust involved in this program somehow down the line, seeing how he holds history with both men.
Wade Barrett delivers a Wasteland to Randy Orton.
Unsurprisingly great match between United States Champion Dolph Ziggler and John Morrison given their excellent chemistry in the ring. The crowd hating on John Morrison did no favors for the Shaman of Sexy in this contest, but it just goes to show how over Ryder is now as compared to six months ago. Smart move in having Ziggler retain the belt here and cut a nicely done promo, only for the New York native Zack Ryder to interrupt his celebration ceremony and get the better of the U.S. Champ. After that huge reaction Ryder received at the start of the show, they must fully capitalize on his popularity now more than ever by giving him the United States Championship.
Although it wasn't as great as their previous encounter at Vengeance last month, Divas Champion Beth Phoenix and Eve still provided a brief, painless match. The crowd wasn't buying into either Diva, but the extremely awesome finish with Beth Phoenix Glam-Slamming Eve off the top rope saved this contest for sure. The Lumberjills at ring-side didn't do much besides provide eye candy for those in the front seats, but at least they avoided a usual over-booked finish. More importantly, Phoenix once again successfully retains the strap going into WrestleMania.
Fun promo from The Rock that was mainly used to kill time, but also kept the hot crowd on their feet. It didn't do much for this viewer, but it's miles better than the "via satellite" promos we've been accustomed to over the past few months. It's segments like these that exemplify why the Rock the best talker in the history of the business.
Extremely enjoyable Survivor Series tag team elimination match that saw everyone receive their respective moment to shine. Aside from Sin Cara's unexpected injury early on, the story-telling aspect of this bout was at its highest, with the the survival stipulation making every elimination much more suspenseful. I was pleasantly surprised to see Wade Barrett and Cody Rhodes pick up the victory here, as it's pretty rare to see Orton ever take a pin-fall, but the commentators covered it nicely with Sheamus's disqualification and the numbers game coming into play at the end. Bonus points go to the Intercontinental Champion for finally giving in to the various requests by deeming the knee-pads that were so long overdue. The reactions both Rhodes and Barrett received during the match get them over in a huge way, and it's only a matter of time before both of these strong heels are placed in the World Championship picture.
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