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In the first SmackDown of 2014, The Best in the World CM Punk and the high-octane Usos reigned supreme over a Shield trio who couldn’t seem to get on the same page. Plus, WWE Tag Team Champions Cody Rhodes & Goldust withstood the formidable challenge of The Wyatt Family and Bray Wyatt himself delivered a creepy message about Daniel Bryan joining the fold.

At the opening of SmackDown, United States Champion Dean Ambrose addressed recent speculation about possible dissention in the ranks of The Hounds of Justice – informing CM Punk, in particular, that he couldn’t divide and conquer them. Roman Reigns added that there was no weak link to divide and Seth Rollins said that any setbacks they had were temporary, since in the end, they would do what they do best – come together and dominate.

Ambrose then joined the SmackDown announce team as his cohorts battled The Usos. However, when it looked as if Jimmy & Jey might close the door on their black-clad adversaries, Ambrose intervened – bringing an abrupt end to the match by disqualification.

The Shield’s post-match attack would be thwarted when The Straight Edge Superstar emerged to even the odds and helped to send the Hounds packing. SmackDown General Manager Vickie Guerrero would then create a huge SmackDown main event showdown on the WWE App: Ambrose, Reigns & Rollins vs. Punk & the Samoan warriors!

CM Punk & The Usos def. The Shield

With an absence of teamwork and apparent communication problems between The Shield in the final moments of a huge SmackDown main event, The Usos helped CM Punk take down Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns. This cleared the way for The Best in the World to overcome Dean Ambrose with the GTS for the victory.

Debbie Jan 4, 2014
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The Shield confronted CM Punk

There’s something to be said for finishing a year off as strong as you started it. And for CM Punk, who began 2013 as WWE Champion with The Brahma Bull himself in his sights, nothing would do for a curtain call than calling out the biggest, baddest dogs in the yard: The Shield. Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns – light years beyond the wild newcomers they were 12 months ago – were, of course, all too eager to take out the proverbial thorn in their collective paws. So much so, in fact, that the three Hounds of Justice nearly got into it with each other over who was the unit’s strongest link and therefore worthiest to face Punk. Thanks to a timely appearance by Raw GM Brad Maddox, though, The Shield’s tumult was quelled and Seth Rollins was selected as the lucky Superstar who would battle The Best in the World.

CM Punk def. Seth Rollins

The heightened expectation of being CM Punk’s handpicked opponent certainly didn’t slow Seth Rollins down in the former Tag Team Champion’s first one-on-one tilt against The Straight Edge Superstar. If anything, getting a crack at The Shield’s personal Kryptonite energized the wild man into one of his strongest efforts yet. And yet, even with bragging rights on the line, it wasn’t enough to stop the surging Punk from handing The Shield another humiliation.

Punk played fast and loose with Rollins while Ambrose and Reigns prowled the outside, improvising submission holds with the ropes as leverage and attempting a Go to Sleep only seconds into the contest. Rollins took control by throwing Punk into the turnbuckle, but his arms – to borrow a phrase – proved too short to box with God. Capitalizing on Ambrose’s distraction of the referee, Punk kicked out of Rollins’ strongest moves, sent the strategist flying into his fellow Shield-mates and finally reversed a springboard strike into a match-ending Go to Sleep.

Debbie Jan 1, 2014