WWE’s slew of pre-taped holiday shows is coming to a close, with the Christmas and New Year’s week editions of “Raw” and “SmackDown” finishing with Friday’s show. The Jan. 4 episode of “SmackDown” was filmed on Sunday, and featured a returning Randy Orton joining with Sheamus in a tag team main event, according to Bleacher Report.
Tag team main events have become something of a joke among wrestling fans, and this week the punchline was delivered by Randy Orton and Sheamus, who defeated Big Show and Antonio Cesaro. The Giant and the Swiss Superstar were on the losing side, even though they hold the World Heavyweight and United States Championships, respectively.
This is Orton's first "SmackDown" appearance since being attacked by The Shield.
Bleacher Report described this week’s “SmackDown” as the calm before the storm, alluding to the Jan. 7 “RAW” that will return WWE programming to its usual pace, and lead into the Royal Rumble and ultimately WrestleMania XXIX.
WrestleMania season is typically the most exciting of the year, with the 30-man Royal Rumble match setting up WrestleMania feuds, and Elimination Chamber serving as the middle point between the two big shows.
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The end of WWE’s 2012 also includes Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett successfully defending his newly won title against former champion Kofi Kingston, The Miz beating Heath Slater, The Great Khali, Hornswoggle and Natalya winning a throwaway match against Primo, Epico and Rosa Mendes, and Tamina Snuka defeating Layla.
Small grumblings of WrestleMania season were heard during the show. Sheamus and Orton both announced that they would be participating in the Royal Rumble match on Jan. 27. That makes three men, after John Cena announced his entry into the match on “Raw” this past Monday.
The winner of the Rumble gets to face the World Champion of their choosing in a title match at WrestleMania XXIX. In a two World Title WWE, whichever champion is not chosen by the Royal Rumble winner will face the victor of the Elimination Chamber match in February.