Sheamus takes Alberto Del Rio down with a headlock.
Decent segment featuring Teddy Long and John Laurinaitis to kick off the show. Nothing here was necessarily bad, but this whole story-line with Laurinaitis holding something over Long to keep him employed has been done so many times before that it just feels repetitive at this point. Do all angles in wrestling these days have to include families?
Quick handicap match with Mark Henry and David Otunga defeating R-Truth. This bout didn't accomplish much, unless it was foreshadowing a Henry face turn which would be an extremely bad move right now. On a lighter note, I'm glad to see Otunga improving each week and I wouldn't mind to see him eventually win the United States Championship.
Entertaining No Disqualification match between Randy Orton and Kane. As seen last Sunday, these two work very well together and made great use of the environment around them. However, my main issue with this match is that we saw an even better match on this show than we did at WrestleMania 28 five days ago, which isn't a smart booking decision. While we'll probably see the rubber match between Orton and Kane at Extreme Rules in a few weeks, there's no reason they couldn't have waited for this contest to take place then instead. Additionally, it was this same exact stipulation (No Holds Barred) that ignited this feud in the first place eight months ago, so I'm not too sure we saw the apparent pay-off on free television.
Impressive debut from Ryback. Being the huge Skip Sheffield fan that I am, I am absolutely thrilled he has finally returned to television looking better than ever. He made short work of his enhancement talent opponent and turned a few heads in the process. From the looks of it, he'll be a face going forward, but at least he will maintain his intense persona. But why were those lower mid-card talent laughing backstage during the course of this bout?
Strong promo from Daniel Bryan and AJ. Bryan showed pure fire in his words here, while AJ played her role very well and came off sympathetic, despite the live crowd not treating her as such. The dynamic between AJ and Bryan has been very enjoyable thus far, so I hope this isn't the end. Having Bryan shrug off the crowd's "YES!" chants and turn them against him was brilliant. Needless to say, this was the best promo we've seen from Bryan in his WWE career.
Ryback makes his anticipated debut.
Throwaway squash match with new Intercontinental Champion Big Show destroying Heath Slater. Cody Rhodes was suitable on commentary, but I don't see the point in continuing this feud. The outcome of this match was never in doubt, so this was just one giant waste of time.
Typical Divas match with Nikki Bella defeating Divas Champion Beth Phoenix in a bout under only a minute. I'm dreading the thought of another Phoenix vs. Kelly feud, as that has been beaten to death over the past six months. I'm not certain if Nikki is turning face or if she is now a legitimate challenger for the Divas title. Either way, this match felt meaningless and a step in the wrong direction.
Good match between World Heavyweight Champion Sheamus and Alberto Del to close the show. The action wasn't awe-inspiring, but decent enough that a rematch would not be of the question. While some may argue that the finish was terrible, I thought it was a nice ode to Eddie Guerrero since Del Rio is constantly being compared to him. It protects Sheamus while giving Del Rio a much-needed victory upon his return. Nicely done.
Overall, a decent show that wasn't very noteworthy, but it wasn't all that bad either. The action could have been better, but the Orton vs. Kane bout was certainly worth a second look. I'm excited to see where SmackDown progresses from here in the new year, so hopefully they can kill time before the annual WWE Draft comes along in a few weeks.
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