"Then. Now. Forever." The WWE video leads us into the show.
A video package replays The Shield's vicious attack on The Rock on this past Monday's Raw. CM Punk watched the whole thing from a luxury suite in the arena. Tonight, he has to answer to the WWE Universe in the ring after Mr. McMahon gave him an ultimatum: if The Shield interferes on Sunday, he'll be stripped of the title. They also show some highlights of the build-up to the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match at Royal Rumble.
Kane's pyro hits, and Team Hell No makes their way to the ring. Daniel Bryan covers his ears as Kane does the ring post pyro. They then show a replay of their graduation from Dr. Shelby's anger management program from Raw. On Sunday, they'll defend their titles against Team Rhodes Scholars and participate in the Royal Rumble. The crowd chants "Yes" but Bryan waves them off. Kane says they're out to address the rumors that they have somehow gone soft because they've learned to channel their anger. Bryan says nothing could be further from the truth. Kane says to watch the Royal Rumble on Sunday because after the defeat Team Rhodes Scholars and retain their titles, he's going to go on to throw twenty-nine other superstars over the top rope and go on to WrestleMania. Bryan doesn't like that statement. Kane says that he's been in thirteen Rumble matches, the most ever. In one match, he eliminated eleven superstars, the most ever. Bryan says he's never won one, though. That's exactly what he'll do on Sunday. Kane says he's going to win, and Bryan says he is. They go back and forth with that.
Big Show's music hits, and the number one contender to the WWE World Heavyweight Championship makes his way to the ring. Big Show says no one cares about their plans. They have a one in thirty chance in winning, while he has a one hundred per cent chance at reclaiming his championship from Alberto Del Rio. The only plans they should make are retirement plans if they consider making a career suicide choice at facing him at WrestleMania. Bryan reminds him that he beat him for the title last year. Big Show says he's not taking any crap from Bryan tonight. Del Rio stole his title from him. He crawled into the title picture like a cockroach sneaking across the border. This Sunday, he'll squish the bug. If they don't get out of his ring right now, he'll squish the both of them. Kane says they're not a couple of bugs. They are the Tag Team Champions, and they are not going anywhere. Bryan says, "In other words, NO! NO! NO!"
Team Rhodes Scholars makes their way to the ring. Damien Sandow says Team Hell No is making a critical error by putting the cart before the horse, or in this case, goat. They should be more concerned with their title match this Sunday against them. Just as Goliath underestimated David, they are underestimating them. This Sunday at the Royal Rumble, their destruction of them will be of biblical proportions. Cody Rhodes says he's wasting his breath. He's going to put this in a language the simpletons can understand. Team Rhodes Scholars will take the championships of Team Hell No. Sandow then suggests an alliance with Big Show. Since they'll all be champions next week, they should make an example by decimating Team Hell No post haste.
Alberto Del Rio's music hits, and he makes his way to the ring with Ricardo Rodriguez. The sides are all even now. Del Rio and Big Show talk some trash to one another.
Booker T's music hits, and the General Manager comes out to the stage. Booker says he appreciates their passion to come out and fight since that's what we do on Smackdown. In saying that, let's make this fight official. Booker T says tonight's main event will be as follows: Team Rhodes Scholars will team with the Big Show to take on the team of Team Hell No and Alberto Del Rio. There will be a stipulation. It'll be a six-man elimination tag team match. Now can you dig that, SUCKA?
Team Rhodes Scholars leaves the ring. Big Show tries to sneak attack Del Rio, but he sidesteps him. Del Rio and Team Hell No back Big Show into a corner, so he leaves the ring. Big Show knocks over the ring steps in anger.
Still to come, CM Punk will call out The Shield. The Rock will also comment on The Shield's attack. Sheamus will take on Wade Barrett, next.
They show footage of Sheamus missing out on winning the Beat the Clock Challenge by mere seconds.
Sheamus vs. Wade Barrett
Barrett kicks and clubs Sheamus down. Sheamus comes back with some nasty punches in the corner. Barrett punches back and sends him to the ropes. Sheamus counters a hip toss with a short-arm clothesline for a one count. Sheamus punches him back to the corner, and Barrett sucker punches him. Barrett dropkicks him down for a one count. Barrett kicks him down, but Sheamus kicks right back. Sheamus drops a knee and applies a chin lock. Barrett fights up and kicks him in the face. Barrett hits the ropes, but quickly bails from the ring as Sheamus threatens a Brogue Kick. Sheamus motions that he was close.
Barrett pulls Sheamus out of the ring, but Sheamus punches right at him. Sheamus gets on the apron, and he clubs at Barrett's chest. Barrett finds a way to kick him in the knee before big booting him off the apron.
We come back from the break to see Sheamus fighting up from a chin lock. Sheamus fights out, hits the ropes, and Barrett clotheslines him over the top rope. Barrett gloats to the crowd as the referee begins to count Sheamus out. Sheamus gets in at eight. Barrett chokes him on the ropes before kneeing him in the body a few times. Barrett backs up, and Sheamus takes him down with a slingshot shoulder block.
Sheamus comes back with a pair of Irish hammers. Sheamus shoulders him in the corner, but he misses a knee lift. Barrett charges, but Sheamus throws him over the top rope. Barrett quickly gets on the apron, and Sheamus catches him with his vicious clubs. Sheamus puts him on his shoulders and hits the rolling fireman's carry for a near fall. Barrett blocks the Irish Curse and kicks him in the midsection. Sheamus counters a kick with a school body for a near fall. Sheamus hits the Irish Curse for a near fall. Sheamus goes for White Noise, but Barrett counters by tossing him to the apron. Sheamus fights him back and goes to the top rope, but Barrett rips him off.
Barrett kicks Sheamus in the face for a near fall! Barrett can't believe it. Barrett gets on the second rope and jumps, but Sheamus counters. Sheamus goes for the Cloverleaf, but Barrett counters into a roll-up for a near fall. Sheamus quickly pops up and hits White Noise. Barrett immediately clutches his shoulder. Sheamus signals for the end. Barrett slowly gets up and eats a Brogue Kick. Sheamus picks up the big win!
Winner by Pinfall: Sheamus
Match Rating: ** 1/4
Tonight's main event will see Alberto Del Rio team with Team Hell No to take on Big Show and Team Rhodes Scholars. Coming up next, we'll see a replay of The Shield's attack from Raw.
The Raw Rebound airs with The Shield's attack on The Rock that left him broken and bleeding in the ring.
The Rock is here on Smackdown tonight, and he'll comment on the attack.
CM Punk is seen backstage with Paul Heyman. He'll call The Shield out tonight.
The Great Khali's music hits, and he comes out with Natalya and Hornswoggle. Natalya is the one who will be in action, and it will be next.
The Great Khali and Hornswoggle are on commentary along with Primo and Epico.
Natalya vs. Rosa Mendes
They lock up, and Natalya takes her down with a headlock takeover. Mendes gets out with a head-scissor. Natalya kips up and shows off a bit. Mendes blocks a kick, but Natalya counters into a death-lock. Mendes comes back with a chin lock. Natalya elbows out, but Mendes kicks her in the face and takes her down by the hair for a two count. Mendes applies a modified chin lock. Natalya gets out and hits the discus clothesline for a near fall. Mendes rolls her up, but Natalya rolls through and goes for a Sharpshooter, but Mendes gets to the ropes.
Mendes clotheslines her down and bounces her head off the mat. Mendes does her little dance, so Hornswoggle gets on the table and mocks her. Mendes flips out, so Natalya responds to the distraction by applying a Sharpshooter for the win.
Winner by Submission: Natalya
Match Rating: 1/4 *
The Rock will be on Smackdown to respond to The Shield's attack later tonight. CM Punk will call them out, next.
CM Punk's music hits, and the WWE Champion comes out to the ring with his manager Paul Heyman in tow. Punk sarcastically says that he is scared. He's so frightened that he can't sleep at night. What he's afraid of is his own potential. 432 days as WWE Champion. Everything you see on the screen is surface he's just begun to scratch at. One thing jeopardizes 432 days of unparalleled brilliance. One thing can make those 432 days go up in smoke. The crowd chants "Rocky" but Punk says it’s not him. The Rock is a man, and he's breakable. What he's talking about is The Shield. Because of The Shield and their independent actions, a stipulation has been put in place, made official by a letter from the Chairman of the WWE himself.
Heyman reads the letter: "As per the Chairman of WWE, if The Shield gets involved in the WWE Championship match at the Royal Rumble, you, CM Punk, will officially be stripped of the championship."
432 days and now because of The Shield, the toupee wearing promoter Vince McMahon wants to swoop in and do what no man could do - take his WWE Championship. "Take" doesn't really fit the bill. Steal! Vince McMahon wants to steal the WWE Championship from him. It looks like the champ has a problem, but he's going to fix it. He's going to do what no one in the company has had the stones to do since they debuted on the scene. Punk goes to ringside, and he says he wants The Shield out here right now. Punk takes a steel chair and says he won't leave until they come out. Punk sets the chair up to stage a "sit in."
The Shield's music hits, and the trio of Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, and Roman Reigns make their way to the ring through the crowd. They surround the ring, and Punk holds a chair to possibly fend them off. Punk says he can only explain himself in the simplest of ways. He never asked them to attack The Rock. He never asked them to attack Ryback in the TLC match. He's never asked them for anything in his life. He tells them to understand when he says, "Stay out of my way." They look at him menacingly. Punk asks if they truly fight for justice. Punk says the greatest injustice in the history of WWE would be if his historic title reign ends because of their interference. In two days at the Royal Rumble, he fights The Rock, and he promises that he will beat him. It’s the biggest victory of his career, and he's going to do it by himself. He never asked for their help because he doesn't want their help because he doesn't need their help. He's the best in the world. If justice is what they stand for then they never have to cross paths again.
The Shield does nothing but stand there for a few moments. They then get off the apron and leave through the crowd. Punk talks over what just happened with Heyman. Punk then says that's how the champ takes care of business. He doesn't whine and cry like everyone else. He meets the problem head on and tackles it because he's the best in the world. At the Royal Rumble in Phoenix, Arizona in two days, The Rock is "The Great One," and he's "The Best in the World." The Rock is like everyone else when it comes to him - he's inferior. In two days, The Rock's inferiority meets true greatness when he steps in the ring with the best in the world. He'll prove that he's not only the best in the world - he's the greatest of all time. Punk then gets on the turnbuckle and repeats it.
The Rock's music hits, and he comes out to the stage to a great reception. Punk holds his title up and mocks him. The Rock walks right by him and goes to the other turnbuckle to pose. Punk holds the title out for him to take. The crowd chants "Rocky." The Rock says he's going to put an end to Punk's garbage right now. The Rock's gut says Punk is a liar and is working with The Shield. The Rock's heart says, despite that, he just doesn't give a damn because The Rock's boot says this Sunday it's getting shoved right up his candy ass!
The crowd continues to chant "Rocky." The Rock says Punk's walls are closing in. This Sunday in their match, Punk is going to panic and crack. When that happens, he's going to hook him for the Rock Bottom, launch him in the air, and when he's up there time will stand still. He'll have one thought in his mind. In this moment, his final thought will be, "It's over." Rock promises, like he promised the world, he will become the WWE Champion. He'll pin him and it'll be over. The Rock then quietly says, "If you smell what The Rock is cookin'." The Rock throws the microphone down and immediately leaves the ring.
Tonight, we'll see an elimination six-man tag team match in the main event. Randy Orton will be in action, next.
Drew McIntyre w/ 3MB vs. Randy Orton
McIntyre kicks and punches Orton back to the corner. McIntyre stomps him down, screams "3MB," throws his bandanna at Orton, and sends him to the corner. Orton explodes out with a pair of clotheslines and a powerslam. Orton runs into a back elbow, ducks a clothesline, and hits his patented backbreaker. Orton goes for a hanging DDT, but Jinder Mahal runs in. The referee calls for a disqualification despite no contact being made.
Winner by Disqualification: Randy Orton
Match Rating: 1/4 *
Orton immediately catches Mahal with an RKO before drilling McIntyre's skull into the mat with a hanging DDT. Orton gets the crowd into it, ducks a Heath Slater clothesline, and drops him with an RKO. Orton then stalks McIntyre as he struggles to get up. Orton then drops him with an RKO as well. Orton stands over the broken bodies of 3MB.
Alberto Del Rio will team with Team Hell No to take on Big Show and Team Rhodes Scholars in an elimination six-man tag team match.
Antonio Cesaro is on commentary. They replay Cesaro interrupting the Miz TV segment with Ric Flair as the guest. Flair and Miz attacked him, and Miz applied the Figure Four Leglock.
Darren Young vs. The Miz
Titus O'Neil quickly gets on the apron, so Miz scares him off. Young attacks him from behind and takes him down with a short-arm clothesline. Young drops an elbow for a two count. Young clubs away at his chest and applies a chin lock. Young punches him to the corner and talks some trash. Miz fights back with some punches and puts him in the corner. Miz viciously punches him down. Miz backs up and hits his patented corner clothesline. Miz kicks O'Neil down, goes to the top rope, and hits Young with an axe handle. Miz goes for the Skull Crushing Finale, but Young gets out. Miz kicks him down and applies the Figure Four Leglock for the win!
Winner by Submission: The Miz
Match Rating: 1/4 *
The Miz immediately looks at Antonio Cesaro, who is standing on the commentary table waving the American Flag.
They replay The Rock's statements to CM Punk from earlier in the night.
Our main event is coming up soon.
They play the Royal Rumble "Numbers" video.
Ricardo Rodriguez introduces Alberto Del Rio to the ring for the main event. It's coming up, next.
Alberto Del Rio and Team Hell No vs. Team Rhodes Scholars and Big Show
Del Rio will start against Rhodes. They lock up, and Rhodes wrenches the arm. Del Rio flips out of it and takes him down with an arm wrench. Rhodes punches him to the corner and sends him to the opposite side. Del Rio hits him with a back elbow, jumps to the second rope, and comes off with a head-scissor takeover. Del Rio hits a big flapjack and a kick to the temple for a near fall. Del Rio applies an arm lock, but Rhodes is able to tag in Damien Sandow. Daniel Bryan is tagged in as well.
They lock up, and Sandow knees him before hitting a snapmare. Sandow charges, but Bryan hits a drop-toe-hold into the corner. Bryan kicks away at his chest a bunch of times while screaming "No!" Kane is tagged in, and he hits a low dropkick to Sandow. Kane scares Rhodes off the apron, and Sandow dropkicks him in the knee. Sandow kicks him in the face before running into a Chokeslam! Kane covers him for the elimination!
Damien Sandow has been eliminated from the match.
Big Show comes in the ring to replace Sandow. Kane ducks a punch, and he punches Big Show to the corner. Kane clotheslines him a few times in the corner. Big Show sends him to the ropes, and Kane hits a big DDT for a near fall. Kane goes to the top rope and hits his flying lariat. Kane then hits a clothesline over the top rope that takes him out as well. Kane gets up and charges Big Show, but he's hit with the Knockout Punch! The referee counts Kane out!
Kane has been eliminated from the match.
We come back from the break to see Bryan fighting up from a Cody Rhodes chin lock. Bryan hits the ropes, and Rhodes turns him inside out with a knee to the midsection for a two count. Rhodes digs a knee in the back and applies a modified surfboard stretch. Bryan fights up and kicks. They hit the ropes and take one another out with dual cross-body blocks.
Big Show is tagged in. Big Show lets Bryan climb up on him and goes for a Chokeslam, but Bryan fights back with kicks. Big Show shoves him to the corner and hits a running butt bump. Big Show quickly hits the ropes, but Bryan flips him over with a dropkick to the knee! Bryan goes to the top rope and jump into a chop to the chest. Big Show throws him over the top rope, but Bryan skins the cat. Big Show then hits the Knockout Punch, and Bryan falls out of the ring! He gets counted out.
Daniel Bryan has been eliminated from the match.
Alberto Del Rio is left to fight off Big Show and Cody Rhodes. Del Rio tries to kick away at him, but Big Show Chokeslams him down. Del Rio rolls out of the ring, and the referee begins to count him out as well. Del Rio is in at the count of nine. Del Rio rolls out again to recover some more.
Big Show follows him outside, and Del Rio punches him. Big Show staggers him before putting him in the ring. Big Show steps over the top rope, but Del Rio is able to kick the rope into his groin. Del Rio kicks him in the head a pair of times, and Big Show falls to the outside of the ring. The referee then counts Big Show out!
Big Show has been eliminated from the match.
Rhodes quickly school boys Del Rio for a near fall. Rhodes dropkicks him down and stomps away at him. Rhodes goes for the Disaster Kick, but Del Rio ducks. Del Rio hits a pair of clotheslines before dropping him with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Del Rio hits a sidekick to the temple for a near fall. Del Rio catches him with a step-up enzuigiri in the corner for the win.
Winners by Pinfall: Alberto Del Rio and Team Hell No
Match Rating: **
Del Rio celebrates until Big Show viciously spears him down. Big Show yells at Josh Mathews and JBL to move. Big Show rips Del Rio out of the ring, puts him by the commentary table, and hits the Knockout Punch. Big Show then struggles to tip the table over on top of Del Rio. Big Show then counts Del Rio down for ten. On Sunday, that would mean Big Show becomes the new champion. Big Show then counts to ten in Spanish before walking off.
Quick Match Results
Sheamus def. Wade Barrett
Natalya def. Rosa Mendes via Submission
Randy Orton def. Drew McIntyre via DQ
The Miz def. Darren Young via Submission
Alberto Del Rio and Team Hell No def. Team Rhodes Scholars and Big Show
Bump of the Night: Bryan being knocked out of the ring by Big Show!
Match of the Night: Wade Barrett vs. Sheamus ** 1/4
That opening segment was pretty much a carbon copy of last weeks opening segment, minus the mariachi band. The result was the same: a tag team match main event. It was your standard opener for Smackdown, but way more blah than normal. Luckily the Royal Rumble is this Sunday. That's when things begin to pick up again on Smackdown.
Sheamus and Wade Barrett had an excellent hard-hitting bout. These guys have had plenty of experience taking one another on so it should be at least good. Well, this one was great. I really enjoyed it. This is one you should go out of your way to see if you haven't already.
To borrow an old quote from my dear friend Dave Stephens, "Women wrestled."
That was a great segment from CM Punk and The Rock. Punk got it off to an intriguing start when he called out The Shield. Punk was great with his promo work, as always, and I enjoyed what The Shield did. It may not have seemed like much, but the facial expressions were money, particularly Dean Ambrose. You just didn't know what they were going to do. You can't glean from those expressions whose side they're really on or if they're even working for Punk. A lot got accomplished through not a lot of action. Then The Rock came out. It's good to see he still remembers how to do a final hard sell before a PPV. He did a great job putting the final emphasis on the match for this Sunday. I'm really looking forward to it. Everyone has played their parts well.
Randy Orton took care of business against 3MB. He even did his finisher set-up taunt and hit his finisher. That like never happens.
The Miz is really running with the Figure Four Leglock thing. Antonio Cesaro was pretty good on commentary for the short while he was on there. I'm really getting into this guy.
I really liked the main event tonight. At least they switched things up to an elimination tag to make the usual main event situation a little fresher. They did a good job with it. The count-out eliminations were well done. No one really looks bad in the loss here. The only person who doesn't look so hot is Del Rio. He seemed to get lost before he finished off Rhodes. His face turn was a little random so I don't think he's really comfortable with the face victory sequence. The crowd wasn't really cheering, and he didn't look like he knew what to really do. He's in a tough spot because he's the champion, and they probably expect him to be able to handle it better. At least The Miz got time to get comfortable with his face turn before getting involved in any programs. One other note - am I supposed to believe that the commentary table is all of a sudden a 1,000 pounds and even Big Show can't lift it? I was watching that like "What the...?"
Final Rating: ***
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Thanks for reading! Enjoy the Royal Rumble!