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SmackDown!: No dissension within the Shield... or is there?
By NICK TYLWALK - SLAM! Wrestling


Say it ain’t so! Has Daniel Bryan really joined the Wyatt Family? Maybe we’ll get some insight into that disturbing possibility tonight as SmackDown invades Washington, D.C. on SyFy.

According to the Shield, any attempts by CM Punk to divide and conquer the group aren’t going to work. After all, that only works when there’s a weak link to exploit, and the Shield doesn’t have one. They’re going to come together and dominate like they always do.

Match 1 - The Usos vs. The Shield (Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns)

Dean Ambrose joins Michael Cole and JBL at the announce table to address the rough week his unit had. He’s tired of hearing about not being on the same page with his teammates, and while he admits there are setbacks along the way, he says the Shield will always prevail. Meanwhile, the Usos are busy sending Rollins and Reigns out to the floor and ushering in a commercial break, The Shield has all the momentum after the ads, and just when it appears the Usos are going to change that equation, Ambrose jumps in and changes the odds. The match is thrown out, and Punk arrives to even things out and send the Shield running. The Usos officially get the win thanks to disqualification.

All night, we’re going to be hearing the New Year’s resolutions of the WWE superstars. First up, the Prime Time Players. Titus O’Neil has a somewhat serious goal for 2014. Darren Young? Not so much. On the WWE app, Vickie Guerrero apparently made a match between all three members of the Shield and the combined forces of Punk and the Usos.

Match 2 - Fandango vs. R-Truth

Looks like we’re going to have a guest commentator for every match. Xavier Woods does the honors this time, talking up the fact that he’s going to be getting his PhD while wrestling. Oh, and he doesn’t want to wait until the match is over to dance, so he summons the Funkadactyls and begins dancing on the announce table just as Truth hits his finisher to pin Fandango. More dancing ensues.

A video package replays the highlights from last week’s Tribute to the Troops show. And Batista’s January 20 return is played up once again.

Renee Young is backstage with Intercontinental Champion Big E Langston. A chuckling Curtis Axel interrupts his thoughts on Mark Henry and Brock Lesnar, but Big E vows he won’t be laughing after their match tonight. Next up: a review of this past Monday’s episode of Raw. How about you just read Dale Plummer’s report instead?

Damien Sandow isn’t going to be tricked into doing something as cliched as giving a resolution for the New Year. You're welcome.

Match 3 - Cody Rhodes and Goldust (champions) vs. Erick Rowan and Luke Harper (challengers) - WWE Tag Team Championship Match

Bray Wyatt and Daniel Bryan are nowhere to be found as the title match begins. My wife, not a regular WWE viewer, is surprised to see Goldust in such a prominent position in 2014. Yes, he’s had a pretty remarkable career comeback. He’s also in trouble at the hands of Rowan. Cody eventually tags in, hurling himself around and outside the ring until Harper drives him into the retaining wall and the steel steps. Time for more commercials. Now it’s Rhodes who needs some help, as Harper and Rowan keep him far from his corner. A power bomb from Harper forces a save from Goldust, and Rhodes eats a big boot to the face right after that. Cody finally gets close enough for his big brother to tag him, and since Rowan doesn’t see it, he’s surprised when Goldust rolls him up to get the three count.

The Miz makes a noble resolution to be a better person than he was the year before. That’s actually a good one.

Match 4 - Aksana vs. Nikki Bella

Aksana is rarely on Raw, so I haven’t seen her wrestle too often. She’s okay. Nikki actually pulls off some impressive moves, dropping Aksana down out of a Torture Rack to get the pin.

Hey, it’s a career retrospective of Randy Orton. I forgot he had actual hair in his younger days. It’s fun hearing J.R. and Taz in the old clips.

Match 5 - Big E Langston vs. Curtis Axel

A mid-air shoulder tackle finds Axel early, who grabs onto the ring skirt to avoid getting dragged into the center of the ring. Funny, that. Cole calls Axel the “grandfather” of Larry “The Axe” Hennig; I think he meant something else there. Langston whips out repeated clotheslines, a belly-to-belly suplex and a big splash. Axel grabs the ropes to avoid the Big Ending, but only for a second as Langston finishes off a dominant victory.

A video package shows the return of Brock Lesnar (and Paul Heyman) this past Monday. He said it was to become champion again, but he sure seems set for a feud with Mark Henry first. Or maybe it’s already over after he gave Henry an F-5 on the floor. Cole also sat down with Heyman to get a little more insight, and Paul reinforced the idea that it was all about the belt. But he also name drops Batista, so who knows? Out in the arena, Bad News Barrett asks for some decorum. Tonight’s bad news is that all of the people in D.C. will be just as unhealthy and unproductive at this time next year.

Main Event - CM Punk and The Usos vs. The Shield

Punk and Ambrose go head to head to lead things off. Everyone else gets involved quickly except for Reigns, who finally gets tagged in before we head out for one last set of commercials. The Shield’s powerhouse turns things in his team’s favor, and Rollins helps wear down and isolate Jimmy Uso. Punk’s inevitable return to the match gets the fans excited as he takes it to Rollins. Ambrose knocks him off the top rope though, allowing Rollins to deliver a high cross body. Punk rolls through it and administers the Anaconda Vice, Ambrose makes a save, and Punk briefly finds himself with no one to tag thanks to Reigns. Ambrose gets a near fall on Punk but ignores Reigns’ pleas to tag him back in. Reigns eats kicks from everyone before being sent to the floor with Rolins, where both are the victims of the Usos’ dives. Punk finishes Ambrose with the GTS, and SmackDown ends with a win for the good guys.

Wait, we’re not quite finished. Bray Wyatt has something to say, apparently about Bryan joining the Wyatt Family. He says Bryan now only hears “his truth,” which seems ominous, to say the least. See you in seven (or three, for Raw!).

Nick Tylwalk usually handles Raw but pulled the old switcheroo with Dale Plummer this week. Follow him on Twitter or Google+ or email him at ntylwalk7@yahoo.com.