Welcome to a rare WWE SmackDown review by me. It's a show I watch every week, but we have my good friend Andrew Johnson review it here for us on TJRWrestling. Andrew couldn't make it this week because he's traveling and doesn't have time to do it this weekend. For my review, I'm going to write it in the style that I write my Raw & PPV reviews. I really like Andrew's Smacking of SmackDown format, but I want to leave that for him. It's his column and his style. I have my review style. Much like Andrew, I always get my point across when I write so you should be able to tell what I liked and didn't like.

Taped (on Sunday) from Washington, DC, this is WWE SmackDown.

The show opened with the video from Raw with Daniel Bryan saying he wanted to join the Wyatt Family.

Coming up on the show: Cody Rhodes & Goldust vs. The Wyatt Family for the tag team titles. The announcers for the show are Michael Cole and John Bradshaw Layfield. The Shield entered the ring to begin the show.

The Shield stood in the ring together for a promo. Dean Ambrose mentioned that people think The Shield isn't on the same page and is crumbling. He said "they" are dead wrong if they think that. He said The Shield cannot be conquered and divided, then he gave a long stare to Roman Reigns before handing him the microphone. Reigns said there is no weak link in The Shield, but he said it after a long stare at Ambrose. Seth Rollins talked about temporary setbacks and that in the end they will prevail. He said they'll come together and dominate. Believe in The Shield.

Analysis: Good promo. There was definitely a tease on there with Ambrose staring at Reigns while he was talking and then Reigns returned the favor. It's a subtle thing that will likely come to the forefront in the coming weeks and months.

The Usos vs. Roman Reigns & Seth Rollins

Dean Ambrose joined the commentary team. The Usos were aggressive early on with Ambrose saying The Shield is on the same page. He even mentioned going to bars in Singapore with them. Ambrose said there are setbacks, but they always overcome and prevail. He even mentioned the US Title that he rarely defends. The Usos cleared the ring of both Shield members by giving Rollins a back body drop over the top rope onto Reigns on the floor. There's your vintage floor to commercial break.

(Commercial)

Back from break, Reigns hit a back elbow to gain control for his team as they isolated Jey in their corner. Ambrose said everybody in The Shield has a big ego, but they can still succeed. Reigns and Rollins made a lot of quick tags while Ambrose was excellent on commentary getting over the storyline as a heel should. Nice Stun-Gun by Rollins. When Cole mentioned people thought of Reigns as the standout of The Shield, Ambrose said he knew that and didn't try to engage what Cole was getting at (that Reigns is better than Ambrose). Jey hit a nice uppercut to create some space and he made the hot tag while Rollins also tagged in. Jimmy was on fire with clotheslines and a Samoan Drop. Enziguiri kick by Jimmy on Reigns after he went into the ring. The Usos dumped Reigns outside the ring with Rollins. They went for a dive, but before they could make it, Ambrose tripped up one of them. The ref rang the bell for the DQ finish after 12 minutes.

Winners by Disqualification: The Usos

After the match, The Shield attacked The Usos. CM Punk made the save. He dumped Ambrose and Rollins while Reigns ducked out of the ring to escape an attack from The Usos. The Shield left through the crowd.

Analysis: **1/2 These teams have had better matches, but this wasn't a complete match because of the lack of the finish. The work was good for the time they were given as usual.

They showed some WWE talent giving their New Year's Resolutions. I don't feel like recapping that.

Smackdown GM Vickie Guerrero appeared at the top of the ramp with everybody still around ringside. They went to break there.

(Commercial)

During the break, Vickie made a six man tag between The Shield vs. The Usos & CM Punk.

Analysis: That was obvious. Typical WWE booking where something happens early in the show to set up a tag match for later. Teddy Long is proud of that one.

R-Truth (w/Xavier Woods) vs. Fandango (w/Summer Rae)

I like JBL as an announcer, but it's really annoying when he says "what's up" every time Truth asks for it. Xavier Woods joined the commentary team for the match. Fandango choked Truth along the top rope and hit a jumping side kick for two. The announcers were talking about Woods going for his PhD. Truth made a comeback with a jumping kick of his own. Truth charged in the corner, but Fandango got his boot up. Woods jumped on the table and called for the Funkadactyls, so the girls started dancing at the top of the ramp. Fandango was distracted. Truth hit the Little Jimmy neckbreaker to cover for the win after three minutes.

Winner by pinfall: R-Truth

Post match, Truth & Woods danced with the Funkadactyls.

Analysis: * Short match that saw the heel lose because the faces had a distraction, so I guess it doesn't hurt Fandango too much. I just hate it when they end a much because of somebody's theme song. It's one of the worst finishes WWE does along with the "heel walks out for the countout loss" that I also hate.

The Tribute to the Troops video aired.

Tag title match coming up soon.

(Commercial)

The lovely Renee Young interviewed Big E Langston, who spoke about Mark Henry getting attacked by Brock Lesnar on Raw. He said he wouldn't want to be Lesnar after what happened. Curtis Axel showed up to say he would beat Langston and he laughed about it. Langston told Renee that Axel won't be laughing after the match.

Analysis: They taped this before Raw, so when spoilers came out on Sunday night we knew Lesnar would be on Raw. They could have taped it, but not shown it to the audience on Sunday. I guess WWE didn't care about that spoiler.

There was a video package showing the key highlights from Raw when Daniel Bryan elected to join the Wyatt Family. I don't think he'll be a heel. It's just a tease for now. Let the story develop, I say.

Cody Rhodes and Goldust entered for their tag title match.

(Commercial)

There was no Bray Wyatt at ringside. His rocking chair was there, but he wasn't in it. Instead of the typical Wyatt Family entrance with Wyatt saying "we're here" the lights went out and Rowan & Harper were suddenly in the ring. The announcers figured Wyatt was somewhere with Daniel Bryan. According to Brie Bella (Bryan's fiancée), Bryan is okay and that's all she knows.

Tag Team Championship: Cody Rhodes & Goldust vs. Luke Harper & Erick Rowan

The faces got in some offense on Harper while Rowan had his sheep mask. When Rowan tagged in he took off the mask. Goldust was in control, but when he went after Rowan on the apron, Harper destroyed him with a forearm shot. I'm such a fan of Harper's offense. Goldust tried to break fee with a sunset flip into a powerbomb and he tagged in Cody, who hit a missile dropkick on Harper. Cody sent Harper out of the ring, gave a Disaster Kick to Rowan and then went to the top rope to hit a cross body block on Harper outside the ring. That was an impressive sequence from Cody. That didn't last because Harper threw him into the barricade and then into the steel steps. The show went to break with Cody on the floor.

(Commercial)

Harper & Rowan isolated Cody in their corner. Cole said it was "ugly but effective" by the Wyatt Family. Rowan applied The Claw - love that classic move. Cody came back with a clothesline. That was a spot his buddy Ted Dibiase used to do where he would bounce off the ropes with a clothesline as his opponent did the same thing. That didn't lead to the hot tag, but he pulled down the ropes leading to Rowan landing on the floor. Harper tagged in with a punch on Goldust and then a sitout Powerbomb on Cody. Goldust saved his brother from the pinfall. Goldust cleared Rowan from the ring and Cody got a nearfall rollup. Harper hit a boot to the face of Cody. Harper set up Cody on the top rope, but Cody came back with a moonsault press off the top. Rowan tagged in and as Cody ran the ropes, Goldust tagged his back. Rowan never saw the tag as he gave Cody a back body drop while Goldust went into the ring, rolled up Rowan using the ropes as leverage and that was good enough for the pinfall win after 14 minutes.

Winners by pinfall: Cody Rhodes & Goldust

Analysis: *** Very good tag match that went by the book in the sense that the heels isolated one of the faces (actually both of them at various points) and the comeback was well done. I absolutely loved the finish of the match. It was brilliant. Rowan had no idea that Goldust tagged in, so Goldust capitalized with the rollup. It makes sense for Goldust to win that way as a veteran performer. It also doesn't hurt Harper & Rowan by losing because it was done in such a sudden way. The tag team division in WWE continues to be one of the biggest bright spots in the company.

The six man tag main event is coming up later.

(Commercial)

More New Year's Resolution this time from The Miz. I didn't pay attention.

Aksana vs. Nikki Bella

No Brie with Nikki because apparently she's concerned about her fiancé Daniel Bryan. Nikki hit some slams and a suplex for two. Aksana slammed Nikki's arm into the steel ring post. Side slam by Aksana. Nikki made her comeback with a clothesline, dropkick and running bulldog for two. Aksana missed a corner charge. Nikki put Aksana on her shoulders and dropped her with a Torture Rack into a backbreaker for the win after 4 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Nikki Bella

Analysis: * There wasn't much to this match. Aksana got that win on Monday, which is probably why she lost here. That's how WWE books these things. Nikki has definitely improved since she came back from her injury. Her and Brie have both put the work in. It's showing.

The Royal Rumble will feature Randy Orton vs. John Cena for Orton's WWE World Heavyweight Championship. They aired the same Orton video package that aired on Raw. It was well done.

Big E Langston was shown backstage in preparation for his match.

(Commercial)

Big E Langston vs. Curtis Axel

This is not for Langston's IC Title. Langston was dominant early with clotheslines, shoulderblocks and a shoulder tackle after Axel leaped off the middle rope. Axel kicked Langston in the knee followed by a clothesline to the back of the head to give him control. Axel used the top rope to stun Langston, but Langston quickly came back with a hard clothesline. The Big Ending ended it for Langston after 4 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Big E Langston

Analysis: * It was a dominant win to put over Langston as a force to be reckoned with as the IC Champion. Wins like this help fans buy into him as a big deal. It's good to see Langston not lose a non-title match like WWE does far too often. Wins certainly help a guy like him.

After the break, a video about Brock Lesnar's return.

(Commercial)

We saw the highlights of Brock Lesnar's return where he attacked Mark Henry. I guess you could say somebody got their ass kicked and their wig split too. It's a catchy tune.

A clip aired of Paul Heyman's WWE.com interview with Michael Cole. Heyman said that the reason Lesnar came back now is because there's only one World Champion in WWE now and Lesnar wants to be that guy. Heyman confirmed that Lesnar would be on Old School Raw Monday in Baltimore by saying Lesnar wanted to do something "old school" on Raw.

Analysis: There's speculation that Lesnar may go after Big Show because they had a feud over ten years ago. I'm not sure what will happen, but I think WWE TV is better when Lesnar and Heyman are on it. I'm glad they are back. I hope Lesnar works more dates than he has in the past.

Wade Barrett showed up for his Bad News Barrett segment. His bad news is that the fans won't be able to stick to their resolutions. He guarantees that this time next year they will all be fat, unhealthy and unproductive as they are now.

CM Punk made his entrance for the main event. Just a reminder that it's Punk vs. Reigns this Monday on Raw. That should be good.

(Commercial)

CM Punk & The Usos vs. The Shield

We saw this match on the December 16th edition of Raw. How about one more time? I don't mind. I'm a fan of these guys. Punk started with Ambrose, then Rollins tagged in after Ambrose couldn't get anything going. Nice Boston Crab into a legdrop spot by the Usos on Rollins. Jimmy hit a dropkick on Rollins. Jey gave Rollins a clothesline that sent him out of the ring, but Reigns stood on the apron to prevent a dive by Jey.

(Commercial)

Back from break, The Shield isolated Jimmy in their corner with Reigns hitting a jumping clothesline. Rollins tagged in, got some offense in, Jimmy almost broke free, but Ambrose tagged in to prevent a tag. Jimmy hit a jawbreaker. Ambrose came back with a clothesline. Reigns tagged in. Jimmy was on the top rope and hit a spinning corkscrew cross body block to knock him down. Rollins tagged in, but Jimmy tagged in Punk. Punk cleaned house with a jumping side kick and neckbreaker on Rollins. Running knee in the corner by Punk followed by a clothesline. Punk went to the top, but Ambrose distracted and that led to Rollins tripping up Punk on the top rope, so Punk was down in the ring.  Rollins hit a cross body block. Punk rolled through into the Anaconda Vice. Ambrose saved Rollins. Reigns went into the ring and hit a Superman Punch on one of the Usos - love that move. Ambrose tagged in, talked trash and hit a butterfly suplex off the top rope. Reigns wanted a tag. Ambrose wouldn't do it. Punk hit a roundhouse kick on Ambrose. Reigns saved him, but Punk ended up kicking Reigns and the Usos hit a double superkick on Reigns to send him outside the ring. Punk gave Rollins a back body drop outside the ring. The Usos hit dives over the top at the same time onto Rollins and Reigns. In the ring, Punk hit the GTS on Ambrose to win the match after 14 minutes.

Winners by pinfall: CM Punk & The Usos

The replays focused on the big moments in the match including the Ambrose/Reigns miscommunication.

Analysis: ***1/2 That was a very good six man tag match as we're used to seeing from all of these performers. The finish was outstanding. Once Punk tagged in the pace really picked  up and you could see the chemistry of the six guys because they hit everything perfectly at the right time. The story is that The Shield might be having issues and they obviously had some missteps in the match since Ambrose was too selfish to tag out. That's likely the angle they're going with in the future where Ambrose has too big of an ego, so it will lead to Reigns going face. Perhaps Rollins will go face too, but that's something to think about down the line.

Bray Wyatt appeared for a promo telling us about the good news. He said the human race is a bacteria that infects and destroys. "He needed me" (they showed clips of Daniel Bryan). Wyatt said he was lost. "She always gets her way." Wyatt said now he (Bryan) is home and your words mean nothing to him. Now he has a home. That ended it.

Analysis: Creepy promo from Wyatt to end the show. I like the way they're going with the angle. As I said after Raw I think it will lead to Bryan pretending like he's with Wyatt, but come the Rumble or sooner he'll end up a babyface again.

Here's the promo.

Final Thoughts

The babyfaces won every match, so it was a pretty basic show almost like a house show.

It wasn't a show that was about storyline advancement too much aside from teasing dissension within The Shield. It was more of a feel good type of show that didn't have a full roster because half of the crew was at a house show.

Was it the kind of show that I would consider to be "can't miss" at any point? Not really. I didn't mind any of it, though. It's just that there wasn't anything major that happened. Things should get better now that the road to the Royal Rumble is here.

---------

I had a good time filling in. There were some great matches to write about. Andrew should be back next week with his Smacking of Smackdown column.

The TJRWrestling staff predictions for 2014 column will be posted on Monday. I'll also be back for the Raw Deal likely on Tuesday because I expect to be out of the house watching the NCAA football championship game on Monday.

Have a great weekend.

John Canton - mrjohncanton@gmail.com

Twitter @johnreport

Personal Facebook and TJRWrestling.com on Facebook