January 10th (Taped January 7th)
Wells Fargo Center (Philadelphia, PA)
Non-Title; Intercontinental Champion vs. WWE World Champion
The way this match was presented, it is clear that in light of the WWE and World Heavyweight championships being unified last December, the promotion still largely views the Intercontinental Championship in the same, unimportant light as before. Michael Cole commented early on that the match is a big one for Big E. because any chance to get into the ring with the World Champion could be a major opportunity. The presentation was more akin to any mid-carder wrestling the Champion rather than a big time champion vs. champion face-off.
Orton gives Langston quite a bit. The early portion of the match is Orton not being able to get anything going on Big E. before he bails out of the ring to regroup. A lengthy and effective stall commences, as Orton avoids going one on one with the IC Champion until he can figure out a better game plan. A complaint against Big E. is that he lacks charisma, but that might be unfair. He carries himself well and like a big deal athlete. It certainly didn’t look out of place having Orton struggle with him the same way it might if – to pick a “random name” – Kofi Kingston was treated similarly when matched up versus Orton.
The match was a fine Smackdown main event. Cole did a good job on commentary putting Langston over in a variety of ways from his athletic background to his dry sense of humor outside the ring. Langston is a decent power wrestler who is probably better suited for a tag team run or working short-ish matches in the mid-card, but he was also fine here. Orton is much better off as the insecure heel champion, although the booking might be going a little too far in that direction. With Langston only in the Rumble on the pay-per-view while Orton headlines the show, Orton rightfully goes over.
TV Match | Watchable | Booking