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The Rock returns home, new champion crowned on Smackdown

By Arda Ocal

10:05 PM EST, January 11, 2013

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WWE posted an article last Tuesday night announcing that Alberto Del Rio had won the World Heavyweight Championship from the Big Show at that week’s Smackdown tapings. Revealing a title change isn't uncommon as of late. With so many fans reading spoilers anyway, why wouldn’t WWE bring that traffic to their own platforms?

That’s not the most interesting part of the scenario. What’s interesting to me is the timing. With Friday being the first Smackdown after the holiday season, and The Rock in the building, this was already projected to be a highly watched episode. So, why not take the opportunity to give the program a shakeup? That’s exactly what happened.

“Shakeup” in this case is twofold: Not only did Alberto Del Rio win the World Heavyweight title, but he did so as a “Latino Hero,” as Big Show called him, making the transition from heel to babyface. Now, suddenly Del Rio is the good guy, poster boy for the blue brand.

The mannerisms are different. He’s smiling, he’s throwing drop kicks, Ricardo Rodriguez is his “amigo” (side note: Ricardo is absolutely doing his part in the process to a T with his facial expressions). Dolph Ziggler still has the Money in the Bank briefcase only for a World Heavyweight title match, which is now held by a good guy. Though I still feel like the “Show Off” should hold off and want to steal the show on the grandest stage of them all, I do think the time may be right for a cash in. Either way, the clock’s ticking for that briefcase.

Another interesting scenario was The Rock’s return to Smackdown for the first time in over a decade. Perhaps the most interesting part was that “The Great One” was actually in the building in Miami, while his opponent, for a change, was “via satellite.” CM Punk was at Sun Life Stadium, mocking The Rock and his college football roots in a promo that was par for the course for the champ (read: very good). The Rock seemed to be having fun on the show that was named after him, including with Team Rhodes Scholars.

QUICK HITS

** Antonio Cesaro waving the American Flag and getting heat for it is a huge win in my book.

** The main event was just over two full segments long. I’m a big fan of longer matches on TV and am glad we also see it here on Smackdown.

** Not feeling the Natalya / Great Khali / Hornswoggle marriage right now. I do like the idea of Natalya getting TV time, but I don’t see this union lasting very long.

** If Khali/Swoggle become tag champs, I feel that would derail the division’s progress.

** The Shield attacked Randy Orton. I think it’s time for another “reveal” about The Shield. Hopefully by Rumble time we will know more backstory on this crew. Weekly beatings have hit a plateau.