Alberto Del Rio comes face-to-face with CM Punk.
By Graham "GSM" Matthews
World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio Interrupted CM Punk
It's always a rare occurrence for CM Punk to appear on SmackDown, so it was smart to have him kick off the show. He explained his face turn while also exposing Del Rio for the phony scoundrel that he is. Del Rio continues to produce some of the best mic work of his career, and Punk only enhanced that. It was obvious they would be colliding in the main event, but it gave viewers something to look forward to for the rest of the evening.
The Usos def. Team Rhodes Scholars
The match definitely needed more time in order to be memorable, but it was successful for a number of reasons. Firstly, it gave The Usos a big victory over two notable names, making them even more of a threat to WWE Tag Team Champions The Shield at Money in the Bank. Secondly, it teased tension between Damien Sandow and Cody Rhodes. It's only a matter of time before the two split up, so having them go against each other in the Money in the Bank Ladder match is brilliant.
Alicia Fox def. Kaitlyn
These two collided earlier this week on Raw, so the in-ring action was no different than it was in their initial encounter. AJ Lee's interference was logical and furthered her feud with Kaitlyn without having to resort to silly antics. However, I still have one question: What purpose does Layla serve at ringside if she essentially does nothing? I assume it sets up a heel turn for her down the line, but as of now, it's just strange.
Randy Orton def. Christian
I was a huge fan of the Randy Orton vs. Christian rivalry from the summer of 2011 and was extremely excited to find out this match would be taking place. Sure enough, it definitely didn't disappoint. They have such great chemistry together that they're simply incapable of having a bad match. They were given a substantial amount of time and the false finishes toward the end were very suspenseful. I look forward to these two clashing again in the All-Stars Money in the Bank Ladder match.
Dolph Ziggler def. Drew McIntyre
Ziggler's pre-match promo was excellently executed and did a nice job of establishing him as a babyface. McIntyre got in enough offense that it wasn't a basic squash match, but the bout was fine while it lasted. The contest, as well as the post-match attack from 3MB, was mainly used to showcase Ziggler, so at least it was successful in that aspect.
Fandango def. Justin Gabriel
Similar to the previous match, this was nothing more than a glorified squash match for Fandango. He had a weak return against Sheamus on Raw this week, so at least this made up for it. He'll be a participant in the World Heavyweight Championship Contract Money in the Bank Ladder match next Sunday, so it was important for him to gain some momentum going into the event. On a side note, it was nice to see Gabriel receive a full entrance for once. Sometimes it's the little things that matter.
World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio vs. CM Punk Ended in a No Contest (Non-title)
Punk and Del Rio always deliver quality matches and this was no exception. Punk sold nicely for Del Rio's offense and came back strongly at the end. The double count-out made sense in protecting both guys while also managing to further Punk's on-going storyline with Paul Heyman. Closing the show with Punk standing tall was a cool image and it got he and Heyman on the same page for the time being.
This was yet another solid edition of SmackDown that featured a little bit of everything. The opening segment was a good opening. The subsequent matches were a bit shorter than I would have hoped, but they served a purpose and featured fun action. The match between Christian and Randy Orton as well as the main event made this show worth watching, especially for the progression of storylines involving CM Punk, Dolph Ziggler, Alberto Del Rio and others. The hype for the Money in the Bank pay-per-view has been sporadic in recent weeks, but it's been built strongly enough that I'm still highly anticipating the event.
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