By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Daniel Bryan Interrupted WWE Champion Randy Orton
Orton's promo was as boring and monotone as one would expect, but it was thankfully kept brief before Bryan's interruption. It was encouraging to hear Bryan acknowledge the fact that Orton has yet to defeat him cleanly and that he should be first in line for a title shot after WWE TLC. He still my pick to win the Royal Rumble match next month. This segment set up the main event match between the two nicely.
Intercontinental Champion Big E Langston def. Fandango (Non-title)
These two worked a short and sweet match that was mostly designed to further Langston's recent momentum. It was a nice win for Langston, but Fandango hasn't mean much as of late. At least Langston didn't lost a non-title match as most mid-card champions do. It was good to hear the live crowd give him a favorable reaction, meaning he is getting over nicely. Additionally, Damien Sandow performed well on commentary and hyped his Intercontinental title match with Langston at WWE TLC.
Alberto Del Rio vs. Kofi Kingston Went to a No Contest
We have seen Del Rio and Kingston face off far too many times in the past, so I am glad that this match never actually come to fruition. It was effective in putting heat back on Del Rio after losing to Sin Cara on Raw this past week. Speaking of such, where was Sin Cara on this show? I am not exactly sure if the two will be feuding going forward, but it would only make sense in order to give Del Rio something to do for the foreseeable future.
Curtis Axel and Ryback def. WWE Tag Team Champions Cody Rhodes and Goldust (Non-title)
This was a decent tag team match with good offense from both teams. I still don't think Ryback and Axel have any chemistry together, but the Rhodes brothers pulled an exceptional match out of them. Axel and Ryback picking up the victory makes them the No. 1 contenders to the tag titles, so I assume the eventual championship match will go down at WWE TLC next Sunday.
CM Punk def. United States Champion Dean Ambrose (Non-title)
The match started off a bit slow, but they picked up the pace down the stretch for a fun final few minutes. I have been highly anticipating a match between these two for quite some time now, and while this bout didn't ultimately live up to my lofty expectations, I had the feeling that they were simply holding back. I don't like the fact that Ambrose lost yet another non-title match, but it was necessary to give Punk the momentum boost if The Shield goes over at TLC. I found the pre-match vignette featuring The Shield was intriguing in that it teased tension between Ambrose and Roman Reigns, which would explain why neither of The Shield members interfered in the match. Only time will tell as far as what this will end up leading to.
Natalya def. Tamina Snuka
This was slightly better than their minute match from a few weeks ago, but it wasn't a huge improvement. Needless to say, Natalya is a great wrestler and Tamina is more than capable of holding her own in the ring, so I don't understand why WWE doesn't give them some time to shine, especially on the so-called "wrestling" show SmackDown. AJ Lee helped hype her upcoming Divas title defense against Natalya on commentary.
Rey Mysterio and Big Show def. The Real Americans
I like the idea of Mysterio feuding with The Real Americans, but I pictured his tag partner being Sin Cara, not Big Show. Show is fresh off a run in the main event (albeit a terrible one), yet Creative can't find anything else for him to do except tag with Mysterio? I hope this more of a one-off pairing and not a regular thing. Anyway, there was nothing necessarily wrong with the match, but it was too formulaic for my liking.
WWE Champion Randy Orton def. Daniel Bryan (Non-title)
Bryan and Orton have had some great matches over the course of 2013, and this bout was no exception. We are all well aware that they have had better matches in the past, but this was very good for a TV main event that was given a substantial amount of time. The finish felt rushed, but at least Bryan was protected from the loss via The Wyatt Family's interference. Bray cut another captivating promo on the TitanTron. While I don't think Bryan will end up joining the clan, this feud has been enjoyable to watch unfold so far.
Similar to this week's Raw, there wasn't much about this show that was worth watching, but it was successful in building toward TLC next Sunday. Plenty of matches were hyped on this show, but no new ones were confirmed. If anything, the Punk vs. Ambrose and Bryan vs. Orton matches were enjoyable and helped make up for the lack of excitement on this edition of SmackDown.
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