Randy Orton opens Smackdown and says he wants to be World Heavyweight Champion, and he says Smackdown was his show a long time ago. He announces his entry into the 2013 Royal Rumble. Sheamus’ music hits and down he comes to the ring. He also declares that he will enter the Royal Rumble match, and he thanks Orton for helping with the Shield on Raw. Orton says he wasn’t helping Sheamus; he says he was attacking the Shield for himself. They begin to argue until the Big Show interrupts and tells them he is the Champion whether they like it or not. Antonio Cesaro interrupts and calls them typical Americans arguing. Sheamus reminds him that he’s Irish. Cesaro continues on with his rant insulting the Americans until Orton offers to come RKO both Show and Cesaro right now. Booker T interrupts and books them all in a tag team match tonight.

^This was a good opening segment, and the Rumble match has some serious star power now that Sheamus, Orton, and Cena are confirmed for the match. This was also the typical Teddy Long “let’s book a tag team match” opener to set up the main event for the evening. I like the tension being built between Sheamus and Orton, and I hope it means one of them will turn heel for a long term rivalry over the World Heavyweight Championship.

The Miz goes one on one with Heath Slater with McIntyre and Mahal at ringside. The ref tells Slater and McIntyre to leave ringside after they get involved in the match. Miz hits a double ax handle from the top rope and then the skull crushing finale on Slater for the win.

^Miz and Slater worked a very impressive match. The storytelling was unique and solid, and I’ve been more and more impressed with Slater as of late. I never thought Heath Slater would be more than the midcard jobber, but I could see him having a good run with one of the midcard titles. The Miz on the other hand has more than proven that he’s ready to be in the World Title scene again, and his work in this match was just another example of his development.

Matt Striker interviews Wade Barrett(he’s holding the house show IC Title that Rhodes debuted in October of 2011 before they switched back to the original old school IC Title belt). Barrett says Kofi defeating him in the gauntlet showed Kofi’s true colors because he only did after Barrett defeated three other men. He says he will retain his title against Kofi tonight.

^Barrett has never been bad on the microphone, but I’d say he’s at the top of his game all around and has never been better at vocalizing his heelish anger than he has been since his return.

Khali, Hornswoggle, and Natalya defeat Primo, Epico, and Rosa in a six person tag match. Khali pins Epico after a chop to the head.

^This must’ve been WWE’s less-wrestling-more-entertainment portion of the show. I was less than impressed, and those Puerto Ricans are too talented for this crap(so is Natalya).

Kofi Kingston is interviewed next by Matt Striker. Kofi says this might be his last shot, but he’s had his back against the wall his entire life and he’s always come up fighting.

^Speaking of improving on mic skills, Kofi has really come into his own and could be destined for big things if he continues on this path of character development along with his consistently superior matches.

Wade Barrett defeats Kofi Kingston using the Bull Hammer to retain the IC Title. The match went just over thirteen minutes.

^This was much better than the match we saw on Raw, and the finish was exciting with Kofi bouncing off the top rope and falling into Barrett’s finisher. The Bull Hammer looks pretty damn impressive every time Barrett executes it. As much as I’ve enjoyed the matches from these two, I sincerely hope they both find new rivalries to freshen things up.

Tamina Snuka defeats Layla El with the superfly splash.

^Keeping the formula simple here and delivering us a solid match is just the way to keep the fan’s attention when it comes to the divas. Tamina could do big things with someone like Natalya if the rivalry were booked and given the proper attention, but we’ll just call than wishful thinking.

Randy Orton and Sheamus defeat Big Show and Cesaro. Sheamus pins Cesaro after Orton hits an RKO on him. Smackdown ends with Orton and Sheamus staring one another down.

^I love seeing Cesaro in the main event of Smackdown! The talent this guy possesses is extremely refreshing for someone with a bigger build(don’t screw this up just because he was an indy guy, Vince!). The Orton/Sheamus rivalry could go right through to WrestleMania and make for one of the best World Title matches in recent memory!

Smackdown was limited in terms of segments, used a simple formula to deliver a show full of wrestling, and delivered an exceptionally good show. My only complaint is that it would have been nice to see one or both of the Rhodes Scholars in action. Other than that, Smackdown shined!

Sadly, due to a conflicting schedule, I won’t have time anymore to do a full rundown, but I might start reviewing Ring Of Honor on a weekly basis again and have it posted on Saturday nights. Things can always change! Until next time, you’ve been ThunderStruck!

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