The Miz ambushes R-Truth from behind.
Great opening to the show that no longer made the WWE Championship feel like an afterthought. I enjoyed CM Punk's promo on how much his title win at MSG meant to him, giving me hope we might actually see him retain the belt up until WrestleMania. I'm not sure whether it's go-away or legitimate heat, but John Laurinaitis makes for a perfect heel authority figure to hate and rebel against. Expect the feud between these two to continue for quite some time.
Decent match from Alberto Del Rio and Zack Ryder, but I can only imagine they could have gone an extra five minutes to add more credibility to Ryder's obvious loss. Of course, this victory was needed for Del Rio going into his championship rematch, but the Long Island Iced Z was the last guy to take the loss after his stellar crowd reaction at Survivor Series.
Meaningless match between Sheamus and Jack Swagger, despite their potential to produce something much, much better. This bout was a bit better than their previous encounter on last week's Raw, but it's not worth watching if we can all easily predict Sheamus to emerge victorious most times he steps in the ring, especially if his opponent happens to be a credible heel treated like enhancement talent like Jack Swagger.
Another good promo from Kevin Nash that once again furthers his pending feud with the sidelined Triple H. Sure, it wasn't much different than his previous promos, but I like the fact that he was able to tie in a MSG reference as well as the Kliq to keep this rivalry relevant. It's only a matter of time before the Game reappears on Monday nights, so look for that to occur in coming weeks.
Quick, painless match with Intercontinental Champion Cody Rhodes defeating Santino Marella within minutes. However, more credible talent is required to face Rhodes in order to help build him as a top heel on SmackDown. As for his exchange with Booker after the match goes, I think this upcoming rivalry could do wonders for both men. First, it will thankfully get Booker T off of commentary and back in the ring where he belongs. Secondly, it will help reestablish the Intercontinental title as a prestigious belt if successfully defended a former World Champion such as Booker T. Additionally, I'd be psyched to see the returning Goldust involved in this program somehow down the line, seeing how he holds history with both men.
Cody Rhdoes splashes water in the face of Booker T.
Without a doubt, WWE Champion CM Punk vs. United States Champion Dolph Ziggler rightfully earned the title of Match of Night. Although Punk frowned upon the idea of this bout earlier in the night and failed to get fans excited for it, both Punk and Ziggler provided an extremely strong and exciting match-up that had many (myself included) questioning whether the bleached blonde Superstar would pick up the victory. It never ceases to amaze me as to why Ziggler has yet to put in the main event scene, but it's matches like these that are sure to impress officials backstage in finally giving him his chance to shine. Although the picture-perfect finish was botched a little, still expect this to be a top contender for one of the best bouts in the career of Dolph Ziggler.
Big Show's promo didn't do much for this viewer, but at least it provided some aftermath to his match last night against World Heavyweight Champion Mark Henry. Raw audience members could care less about this rivalry, but it was a smart move in providing some hype for this week's edition of SmackDown.
Solid match between former foes Wade Barrett and WWE Tag Team Champion Kofi Kingston that received great time and succeeded in further the feud between Barrett and Orton. It was painfully obvious Barrett was going over from the start, but more importantly continues Barrett's hot momentum. I'm looking forward to his program with Orton, just as long the Englishman isn't booked as a cowardly heel as he came off to be here.
Disappointing segment to conclude the show featuring John Cena, The Miz and R-Truth. Given how much they hyped Cena's thoughts on Survivor Series, they failed to deliver when Awesome Truth emerged. Originally, I felt as if they were foreshadowing a Cena heel turn with Miz and Truth stating how much the crowd dislikes him, only for Cena to fire back by stating no one cares about them. Now that may be true, but much like CM Punk, that certainly takes away from their heat as top heels. I'm not intrigued with the idea of turning R-Truth face, as he plays a heel much better as a psychotic person, but it makes sense given his recent suspension in order to write him off television for the time being. I'm not sure where this leaves Cena though, as he's used up every potential rivalry possible on Monday nights.
Overall, a good show that was a nice breather a night removed from Survivor Series, while also furthering a handful of potential rivalries. The action wasn't at it's best, but Punk vs. Ziggler saved it by being the highlight of the night. Additionally, I found the various vignettes extremely interesting, as they build suspense going into 2012. WWE once again not following through with Brodus Clay as well as advertised guest host Jonah Hill doesn't surprise me all that much given their lack of consistency in recent weeks, but that needs to change immediately if we are supposed to take anything they hype weeks prior seriously. With this being the first enjoyable Monday night show in a good while, I have my hopes that Creative keeps up the good booking for the remainder of the year.