The Rock returns home to Miami on Friday Night SmackDown.
Mediocre opening segment featuring SmackDown General Manager Booker T, World Heavyweight Champion Big Show and Alberto Del Rio. I appreciated the effort in hyping the night's big matches and segments, but some of it felt like it was heavily edited, especially the announcement of the World Championship match. That felt completely random, and Show taking verbal shots at Latinos in order to get Del Rio over with the fans was a weak effort. There are better ways to establish Del Rio as a fan favorite than taking the racist route and hoping he garners a positive reaction from the crowd that way.
Good match between Randy Orton and United States Champion Antonio Cesaro. It made for a great opening bout and it was very well wrestled as well. As expected, their styles meshed nicely and they managed to create some excellent chemistry. Having The Shield interfere and cause the contest to go to a disqualification was smart booking since it saves the finish of the Orton-Cesaro match for a later date and furthers Shield's feud with the Viper.
Fine mixed tag team match with Dolph Ziggler and AJ Lee defeating The Great Khali and Natalya. The match basically consisted of Khali dominating Ziggler before Lee tagged in and scored the pin-fall victory over Natalya moments later. I enjoyed AJ's absurd antics (as well as her apparent wardrobe malfunction) in this bout, but the best part came when Big E Langston hit his finisher on Hornswoggle. That was definitely devastating, and I was one of those sadistic fans loving every second of it.
Great video packages featuring WWE Champion CM Punk and Paul Heyman that aired throughout the night. It didn't sound forced nor did he didn't take shots at The Rock, but rather he explained why he'll be the victory at the Royal Rumble event and what he's indeed the best in the world. His delivery of every line was excellently executed and the same goes for Heyman as well. It was very fitting given the fact they were in Rock's hometown, so here's hoping Punk continues to keep up the strong mic work as his feud with Rock progresses.
Big Show sends Del Rio spiraling through the table.
Extremely entertaining segment featuring The Rock and Team Rhodes Scholars. WWE made Rock's return to SmackDown feel special with the various videos that aired over the course of the evening reliving his most monumental moments on the blue brand. It wasn't until the point where Rhodes Scholars interrupted that this segment became ten times more awesome, as all three had fantastic chemistry on the mic. I was laughing hysterically the entire time and both Sandow and Rhodes got nice rub from being in there with Rock. The Great One delivering his two patented finishers on the two gave the Miami crowd what they wanted and was the perfect way to conclude one of the most fun segments in recent memory.
Meaningless match with Sheamus defeating 3MB in a Handicap match. The match was only a mere minute and consisted of Sheamus practically burying the entire group. Granted, 3MB didn't have much credibility to begin with, but this felt like a complete waste of time. I understand they have time to kill between now and the Royal Rumble, but they are better ways to go about it.
Brief match with WWE Tag Team Champions Team Hell No defeating Prime Time Players. This was yet another filler matchup, but at least it featured some good action. We've seen this match a handful of times, so I guess it was best to keep it under a few minutes instead of dragging it on given the fact the outcome was never in doubt.
Enjoyable Last Man Standing match with Alberto Del Rio defeating Big Show to win the World Heavyweight Championship. These two haven't had the most exciting matches in the past, so my expectations were high going into this bout, but they certainly exceeded them. Most of the near-finishes weren't believable to those watching at home given the fact the title change was already spoiled, but the live crowd's ecstatic reaction made up for it and made it feel special. Sure, putting the title on Del Rio may seem a bit strange at the moment, but I'll give it some more time before I officially deem it a failure or a success. My only complaint is the fact that hardly anything has changed about Del Rio now that he's face, but maybe that will develop over time.
Overall, a great show that featured some nice action and memorable moments. I was throughly entertained the full two hours and enjoyed a majority of what was provided. The live Miami crowd was also very response as well and made for a fun environment. This was easily the best edition of SmackDown in quite some time, so here's hoping Friday nights continue to be this good as we quickly approach the road to WrestleMania.