This week presented the final episode of SmackDown for the year. In an interesting twist, each member of the Shield had an opportunity to showcase their talent in individual matches. The midcard champions Big E. Langston and Dean Ambrose competed against each other again, while Mark Henry competed against Roman Reigns and John Cena competed against Seth Rollins.
Rowan/Harper vs. Usos
I was a bit surprised that this match was a relative squash. The Usos have been instrumental in reviving the tag title scene, and they need to look good as a team, even if they lose to keep the overall division healthy. These two teams have put together good matches before, and beating the Usos in quick fashion does not do much to increase the stock of Luke Harper and Erick Rowan.
Antonio Cesaro vs. Cody Rhodes
I have made this point before, and it merits repetition; the WWE is making a major mistake by continuing to have the tag team champions lose matches. Whether it is clean loses against the Real Americans, Wyatt Family, Ryback/Curtis Axel, Rey Mysterio/Big Show, or singles matches, the red-hot momentum of Cody Rhodes and Goldust is fading fast. Not because of their performances, but because of their push becoming larger than the company. As a result, time to bring them down a few notches. Yes, Goldust defeated Jack Swagger this week. However, that should not automatically constitute Cody Rhodes losing to Antonio Cesaro. Especially when the Real Americans still can't get past Los Matadores.
Zeb Colter (@WWEZeb) December 28, 2013
Prime Time Players vs. Ryback/Curtis Axel
Decent tag team match here, and the more teams showcased the better. It could have went either way, and a win from the Prime Time Players helps them since they are not one of the top teams on the radar for a title shot. Ryback and Curtis Axel are in a better spot as a tag team then they would be as individual competitors, but that still is not saying much for their overall positions in the company.
Randy Orton vs. Dolph Ziggler
This match could have been much better than what was presented. The match was not bad, and Dolph Ziggler showed that he could put on a good championship match, but matches like these it what you use to main event a non-taped event. Dolph Ziggler has the ability to sell two-counts well enough that the reality of him losing can be suspended for a moment. This could have been build as the main event of Raw for the first show of the year, and the match could have be so good that people—if only for a split second—would actually believe that Ziggler has a chance of winning the title. Instead, Ziggler puts up a valiant effort, but gets buried after the match via a meaningless Randy Orton beatdown. Ziggler's career is going backwards every week, and the latter half of 2013 has been extremely rough for him. Sadly, his pink hair is a more important topic than he is.
Daniel Bryan vs. Damien Sandow
Any win is good for Daniel Bryan right now. He needs to be built up for a good WrestleMania spot as early as possible, seeing how his feud with the Wyatt Family is not helping much. Hopefully this feud ends before the Royal Rumble, because it would be such a waste for Bryan to compete against any member of the group and not be in the Royal Rumble. The only way that would be acceptable would be if Bryan competes against Bray Wyatt at the Royal Rumble, but does not lose his opportunity to compete in the actual match. Either way, Bryan needs to quickly gain some steam.
Big E. Langston vs. Dean Ambrose
Good win for Langston. His push from an individual standpoint is more of an investment than Dean Ambrose, so a clean win was necessary. This slow build for Langston is going well, and he is getting more and more fan support to help along the way.
Mark Henry vs. Roman Reigns
Conversely, Romans Reigns is more highlighted individually than Ambrose, so it made sense for him to pick up the win. It was quite obvious that it would be a 1-1 split going into the third match, so this was the right call. Moreover, Reigns defeating people like a returning, more mean and dominate looking Mark Henry looks good on his resume to become a top star in the near future.
John Cena vs. Seth Rollins
This was the best night of Seth Rollins's WWE career. Not from the perspective of achievement, but from viewpoint of him finally getting an opportunity to showcase his individual talent on a main event level. Many people do not realize how good he was in ROH as Tyler Black, and it is clear that, at least before this night, he was #3 on the Shield totem pole. I highly doubt that this showing will substantially help him get an individual push when the Shield finally breaks up, but at least he now has a strong argument that he can get the job done. The match was well-constructed, and a great way to close the final SmackDown of the year.
How does Seth Rollins's match against John Cena help him for the future? Sound off below.