- They went inside the arena, where Booker T’s music played. He walked to the ring while Josh Mathews said rumors were swirling about an announcement Booker had to make about the World Title. Booker wanted to start 2013 off with a bang and said whatever Raw can do, Smackdown can do better. Why does it even matter at this point? Booker said Raw gave us John Cena vs. Dolph Ziggler while Smackdown will be giving us Antonio Cesaro vs. Randy Orton. Lots of overdubbing and editing in this segment already. Booker also said he’d be giving us The Rock inside “this very ring.” He also made Show vs. Alberto Del Rio in a World Title, Last Man Standing Match. While Booker announced that, a graphic was shown for that match.
As Booker finished up, Big Show walked to the ring in a huff, with no music even, clearly upset that he’ll be defending his title on the show. Booker and Show argued off-mic until Show finally retrieved a mic from one of the layabouts at ringside. He accused Booker of being jealous of his success. He said Booker is hoping the Latino fans get behind Alberto Del Rio. There wasn’t much of a positive reaction upon Del Rio’s name being mentioned by Show. Show said there are no Latino or Irish heroes that are going to stop him. Show quietly told Booker that he needs to make a good decision and change his mind. He grabbed Booker by the throat and backed him into a corner. Del Rio’s music hit and he ran out to make the save. Enziguiri in the corner by Del Rio, then a dropkick that knocked Show out of the ring. Booker held Del Rio back as the fans chanted his name. He backed away up the aisle while Show stewed at ringside.
- Some of the Rock’s Smackdown highlights will be shown tonight in anticipation of his return. The first, from September 13, 2001, with Rock challenging anyone to fight. Shawn Stasiak of all people answered and yes, Rock won in convincing fashion.
- Tonight, in addition to The Rock’s return, we’ll hear what C.M. Punk had to say to Rock Monday night.
- For the first time ever, Orton vs. Cesaro, and it’s next.
- The exterior of the American Airlines Arena in Miami was shown.
1 – RANDY ORTON vs. ANTONIO CESARO
During Cesaro’s entrance, they showed an inset interview with him where he formally announced his entrance in the Royal Rumble match. Ceasro was dumped to ringside within the first minute, and Orton felled him with a clothesline. Orton was back in the ring awaiting his opponent’s recovery as they went to break at 1:18 of the contest.
Back at 5:14 of the match with Cesaro in control. Cesaro showed off his strength, suplexing Orton for a two-count. Orton made his comeback just shy of the eight-minute mark, but Cesaro landed his trademark European uppercut after tossing Orton in mid-air. It got him a near-fall, and he went back into a rest-hold. Back-breaker by Orton, then the vintage Orton DDT. Orton set up for the RKO when The Shield ran in to draw the disqualification.
WINNER: Orton, via DQ, at 9:39. Felt like these guys were holding a little back, but there was enough there to see that they could have a stellar match together.
The Shield’s beat-down finished with their emphatic powerbomb. They posed over Orton’s prone body as the show cut to break.
- A replay of The Shield’s attack aired.
- Mathews and JBL were shown on-camera, and they argued about what just took place.
- Still to come, a Last Man Standing Match for the World Title, featuring Big Show vs. Alberto Del Rio.
- 3MB was backstage with Matt Striker. They talked about being in the Rumble this year. Heath Slater said his mom said they have a 10% chance of winning the Rumble. They turned their attention to Sheamus and said they’d beat him like an Irish drum for what he did to them on Raw.
- A graphic was shown for Punk vs. The Rock at the Rumble for the WWE Championship.
- A previously recorded video aired with Punk and Paul Heyman. It was filmed at Sun Life Stadium earlier in the day: The place where Rock had his last WWE match and in the city where he played as part of the Miami Hurricanes. Punk said he’s a fan of the Rock’s, including his college football career. Punk had Rock’s Hurricanes jersey and put it on. Punk acknowledged that Rock played his college football games at the Orange Bowl, which is no longer. Punk said that’s an apt metaphor for the current structure of WWE, where Rock is no longer needed. Punk said WWE is trumpeting that Rock will be on Smackdown for the first time in ten years and while Rock can come back to Miami, he can never go home.
- Dolph Ziggler, Big E. Langston and A.J. Lee came out. As they did, clips of the end of the Ziggler vs. Cena match from Raw aired. Ziggler and A.J. are in mixed-tag action next.
- Matt Striker approached Alberto Del Rio and Ricardo Rodriguez in the locker room backstage. Del Rio called Show the most insecure person in the world, first bullying Rodriguez then running down his “people.” He said Show has no idea with the Latino community is all about. Del Rio said he’ll be the new World Champion. The tonal shift in Del Rio’s character, with no explanation whatsoever, is jarring.
2 – DOLPH ZIGGLER & A.J. LEE vs. THE GREAT KHALI & NATALYA – MIXED TAG-TEAM MATCH
Khali and Ziggler started it off, with a couple chops to the chest from Khali. Clothesline from Khali, but Ziggler backed away from a chop and tagged A.J. Before Khali could leave, A.J. skipped around him, then jumped on his back. Natalya took A.J. down and gave her a spinning clothesline. Lee avoided a Sharpshooter by biting the knee of Nattie. She covered herself while Natalya attacked her in the corner. A.J. then bit Natalya’s ear. Sliced bread by A.J. for the win.
WINNERS: A.J and Ziggler, at 2:44. Even Natalya didn’t look great in there. Khali’s workrate must be rubbing off on her.
Big E. Langston entered the ring and knocked Khali down with a clothesline. Ziggler gave him an ugly fameasser (thanks to Khali). Hornswoggle was left in the ring. He came down with Natalya and Khali, I guess. Langston lifted Hornswoggle and gave him his finisher.
- Another Punk/Heyman video aired, again from Sun Life Stadium, and Punk still in The Rock’s uniform. Punk said Rock thinks he can save the people, but the people don’t deserve to be saved. He said he’s better than the people and better than The Rock. Heyman spoke, saying Rock isn’t as talented as Punk; in fact, no one is. He said Punk made a career of stomping people’s dreams, and in the era of C.M. Punk, it doesn’t matter what Rock’s vision is. Punk took off the jersey and let it drop to the turf.
- The Rock returns to Smackdown next.
- Another Rock on Smackdown moment: The Rock & Sock Connection, in 1999. Various snippets were shown.
- Out of break, The Rock’s music played and he made his long-awaited Smackdown return. After posing on the turnbuckles, he took the mic in the ring. “Finally, The Rock has come back…home.” Rock had one request to start, and he acknowledged Miami’s own Flo Rida in the front row. Some boos, some cheers. Rock said he’s back on a show named for him, in his hometown. Rock talked about the disappointment he felt in learning C.M. Punk decided not to show up. “Cookie Puss” chant for Punk. Rock reminisced about his days at The U, and name-dropped Warren Sapp and Ray Lewis. He said everything he’s accomplished started in Miami. He talked about beating Punk’s “Cookie Puss ass” and becoming WWE Champion.
Rock wanted to have fun, but before he could go any further, Damien Sandow’s music interrupted, and he walked out with Cody Rhodes. Sandow introduced himself and Rhodes. Rhodes talked about their chances of winning the tag titles and he said Rock doesn’t deserve this TV time. Rock went after Sandow and Rhodes in a cadence that encouraged fans to chant “what?” He even referred to Rhodes’s mustache as him having a “dead caterpillar” on his lip. Sandow discussed his search for an apprentice and asked Rock if he could answer three questions to stay in the ring. Rock told him to “just bring it.”
Question One: Who was the 19th President of the United States. Rock said his answer is one that will never have been uttered in the history of Smackdown: “Rutherford B. Hayes, bitch.” Sandow regrettably said Rock was correct, so Rock made fun of Sandow’s beard, saying Sandow looks like the son of Abraham Lincoln and a gremlin. The next question, from Rhodes: Which film won an Academy Award for Best Picture in 1993. It was Schindler’s List. Rock said Cody should know something about lists, as it looks like Cody spends 20 hours a day on Craigslist. I don’t even know what that means.
Before the final question, Rock asked if HE could ask the final question. “What happens if you combine a geological aggregate of minerals with its lowest form.” Sandow conferred with Rhodes and proudly said, you get “rock bottom.” “Exactly,” replied the Rock, who gave Sandow the Rock Bottom. That was clever. Rock eyed Rhodes, who looked like he wanted to fight. He even took off his cape, but he ran into a spinebuster, which then turned into a People’s Elbow. “If ya smell….what the Rock….is cookin’.” Nice interaction with Rhodes and Sandow there.
- Big Show vs. Alberto Del Rio in a Last Man Standing Match for the World Title is the main event.
- More exterior shots of the American Airlines Arena.
3 – 3MB vs. SHEAMUS – 3-ON-1 HANDICAP MATCH
No entrance for 3MB. JBL said there was no call for this handicap match….and that 3MB needs more guys out there. 3MB tried to take a walk before any physicality even occurred. They then charged the ring, with only Heath Slater entering, and he fell victim to a Brogue Kick. The others looked on, but didn’t enter the ring to oppose Sheamus. That allowed Sheamus to make the cover for the win.
WINNER: Sheamus, at :45. Not sure why this needed to be a handicap match.
- After a replay of the finish, a graphic aired for WWE Tag Team Champions, in action next.
4 – THE PRIME TIME PLAYERS vs. TEAM HELL NO
No entrance for the PTP’ers. During Team Hell No’s entrance, they showed Team Rhodes Scholars picking up the win in a non-title match on Monday night. Darren Young and Titus O’Neil worked over Daniel Bryan’s knee, which was tweaked on Raw. O’Neil was unsuccessful in a corner charge though, and Bryan tagged Kane. Kane fended off both men until Young and O’Neil got the upper-hand. It was momentary, however, as Bryan knocked O’Neil out so Kane could chokeslam and pin Young.
WINNERS: Team Hell No, at 2:19. Just a quick win to get their heat back after Monday’s loss.
The finish was replayed after the match.
- Coming up next, the World Title Last Man Standing Match
- Monday night, Eve faces Kaitlyn for the Diva’s Championship.
- Earlier tonight, Big Show threatened Booker T. after the announcement of his impending title defense. Del Rio made the save.
- Big Show made his entrance for the main event, which will begin on the other side of the break.
- After Del Rio’s entrance, Ricardo Rodriguez and Lilian Garcia handled formal ring introductions.
5 – THE BIG SHOW vs. ALBERTO DEL RIO – LAST MAN STANDING MATCH FOR THE WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
Show took Del Rio down and told him it would be a long night (did he mockingly call him “Pedro”?). Hard slap by Del Rio. Show went under the ring and set up a table. Show slammed Del Rio through the table at the 1:43 mark of the match. The count was on, and referee Mike Chioda reached six before Del Rio got to his feet. This time, Show got a chair. Before he could use it, Del Rio kicked Show in the mid-section and bopped him in the back with the chair. One more shot took Show down to one knee. A third and he was down to two knees. He tried the cross arm-breaker, but Show simply picked him up and tried to dump him to ringside. Instead, Del Rio held onto the rope and locked in the move while in the ropes. Show broke it by slamming Del Rio’s back onto the apron. Both men were in recovering mode as the ref began counting Del Rio down. I thought they were going to go to break with Del Rio being counted down. Wisely, they waited ‘til he got up, then went to commercial at 4:50.
Out of break, Show was still on offense, though selling the arm injury as well. Another table was brought into the ring by the champion. Del Rio desperately fought back with rights and headbutts. A dropkick sent Show through the table, which he had set up in the corner. Show was up at the count of seven. A sleeper was attempted by the challenger. Show tossed Del Rio off of him, but Del Rio gave Show a superkick. Running clotheslines had little effect. Del Rio jumped off the second rope, but right into a chokeslam. Del Rio reached his feet at the count of eight. Show deposited Del Rio to ringside once again. Show charged at Del Rio and speared him into the timekeeper’s area. JBL wrote off Del Rio at this point. He did make it up at nine. Show rolled Del Rio into the ring and set up for the WMD. It connected. If you didn’t read the spoilers, you probably thought it’d be over there. Del Rio stirred at five and rolled to ringside, where he just happened to land on his feet. He soon crumpled to the arena floor. JBL implored Rodriguez to throw in the towel. Show grabbed the top of the ring steps and lined up a shot at Del Rio, but Del Rio dropkicked his knees and Show’s head went into the steps. I thought Rodriguez was going to take the proverbial bullet for his man there. He was still standing and Del Rio took the steps and bashed Show in the shoulder with them. Two more shots and finally Show was knocked off his feet behind the announce desk. Del Rio pushed over the announce desk and buried Show under it. Show couldn’t answer the count.
WINNER: Del Rio, at 17:54.
Del Rio and Rodriguez celebrated in the ring with the title. The WMD and Del Rio leaving the ring but landing on his feet after the move was shown, as was the blow that knocked out Show and Del Rio turning the desk over onto Show. Del Rio, now mysteriously a man of the people, celebrated his win amongst the fans.
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