Taped in Indianapolis, Indiana this is Smackdown for episode #862.
There was a video package about the Fastlane main event with Roman Reigns beating Brock Lesnar and Dean Ambrose to earn a shot at the WWE Title at WrestleMania. Read my review of that show right here.
The show begins with the entrance of the WWE World Heavyweight Champion Triple H. He doesn’t appear on Smackdown that much. He’s in a suit with the WWE Title on his shoulder. There was a stand in the ring as he placed the WWE Title on it to put it on display.
Triple H introduced himself to us. Really? Yes. They had some fake crowd noise booing him early in the promo. He said that if Roman Reigns forgot who he was, there’s no doubt that Reigns knows who he is now. A video package showed the ending of Monday Night Raw when Triple H destroyed Reigns and “broke” his nose leaving him a bloody mess. The blood was really just a blood capsule, but it looked good. My review of Raw is here in case you missed it.
Hunter talked about how Reigns had his shattered nose surgically repaired. They showed a pic of Roman post Raw with his nose taped up. He reportedly had legit nose surgery, but he’ll be back soon. Hunter spoke about how his corporate role can be confusing. He said make no mistake about it because he’s the law here. There was an audio crowd response due to the fake noise, but you could see the crowd didn’t care. Hunter said you can’t beat authority.
Hunter suggested people should have some courtesy and sympathy when they meet him or else he will lay your soul to waste. He said that Reigns wants to be WWE Champion more than anything in the world. He said he walked over a lot of people to get where he is. Hunter knows that Roman is good, but as far as the blood goes…then he showed a towel that had the blood on it. He tossed it down. Hunter bragged about how at WrestleMania in front of the “largest crowd history” (you wish) he will humble Reigns and he will get those tears. He reminded us that he’s the law, the authority, the Cerebral Assassin, the King of Kings and The Game and he’s the WWE World Heavyweight Champion. He forgot one more catchphrase, oh wait here it comes…he is that damn good.
Analysis: There was so much fake crowd noise in that promo that it was ridiculous. I get that they’re trying to get the storyline over with Hunter as the heel, but it’s not like the crowd cared. They weren’t reacting to anything. The promo went about ten minutes. There was nothing really new or different to it. The promo was fine. It was just really sad to see how much they had to pump in the crowd noise. I know that’s something that has happened on taped shows for decades and Smackdown is going on 17 years this year, but this was as bad as I can remember in terms of the fake noise.
The announce team of Mauro Ranallo, Jerry Lawler and Byron Saxton was at ringside. Ranallo was off last week due to the flu. Good to have him back.
A six man tag match is coming up later: Jericho, Styles and a partner vs. The New Day.
The Lucha Dragons, Dolph Ziggler & Neville vs. The League of Nations (Sheamus, Rusev, King Barrett & Rusev)
Good to see Barrett back in action after being out for a couple of months with an injury. No sign of Lana with Rusev, which has become the usual. There was a big brawl early on. The Dragons hit dives to the floor, but they fell victim to kicks from Rusev and Del Rio. Barrett nailed the Winds of Change side slam on Ziggler as they went to break a couple of minutes into the match.
Back from break, the heels were working over Ziggler to isolate him from his team. Rusev’s elbow drops made almost no contact. Nice suplex into a slam by Sheamus. The League of Nations kept doing this hand motion in a circle, so I guess that’s their thing. Ziggler nailed Sheamus with a superkick after some trash talk from Sheamus. Tag to Neville against Barrett with Neville hitting a forearm smash. Dropkick from Neville and then a kick in the corner. Neville went up, Sheamus ran up and Neville nailed a splash over him onto Barrett that was good for two because it was broken up. More action by the Lucha Dragons taking out Rusev out of the ring. Neville hit Red Arrow on Barrett while Sheamus distracted the ref and Del Rio nailed a standing side kick on Neville. Ziggler with a superkick on Del Rio. Barrett tagged in Sheamus, Neville was staggering around and Sheamus nailed a Brogue Kick to get the win for his team after 9 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: The League of Nations
Analysis: **1/2 A good win for the heel team that appears to be getting pushed towards the tag titles. It makes sense that they would get the win to try to get people to believe in them as a group again. The announcers talk about how they’re an elite group. I wouldn’t go that far, but it’s nice to see them booked in a good way. The face side was full of athletic guys that could be awesome if they teamed together more. I noticed Kalisto was barely involved even though he is the US Champion. I’m not sure what feud he might have going into WrestleMania, but I hope it’s something worthwhile.
Kevin Owens did an earlier today backstage interview with Renee Young. He spoke about how he was inspired on Raw by Dean Ambrose fighting back against Brock Lesnar. He sarcastically said that it showed heart and he wanted to offer Ambrose his rematch for the IC Title. Renee informed him that Ambrose isn’t here. Owens said he’s pretty much beaten everybody, so he guesses he gets a night off. Big Show walked up to him to say that Owens hasn’t beaten him. Owens said this is the road to #KOMania and Show is looking for the road to retirement. Show wondered if he can “KO” KO and he found out he has a match with Owens later.
Analysis: That’s a new match. Show is right about that.
The Dudley Boyz made their entrance. A replay was shown of their heel turn against The Usos three weeks ago. The Usos made their entrance.
The Dudleys had microphones to do a pre-match promo. Bubba said he knows the people want him to pull out a table and for them to put somebody through it. He said they’re not getting that. Bubba said they’re not a nostalgia act; they’re the 9-time Tag Team Champions which means they’re better than every single one of you. D-Von said they do what they do for them. D-Von said they’re the best tag team ever whether you like it or not. Bubba said you can take your tables and take your chants and you can shove it.
Analysis: A pretty basic heel promo to get the crowd against them.
Jimmy Uso (w/Jey Uso) vs. D-Von Dudley (w/Bubba Ray Dudley)
Jimmy was in control early with kick to the gut, a punch and an enziguri kick to the head. Superkick by Jimmy. He went up top, Bubba grabbed a table, Jey went after him, Bubba went to the other side of the ring, shook the ropes and Jimmy was crotched. D-Von did a ROLLUP OF DEATH~! and that was enough to win the match in about one minute.
Winner by pinfall: D-Von Dudley
Analysis: DUD That was one of the shortest TV matches you’re ever going to see. Less than one minute. The dreaded ROLLUP OF DEATH~! strikes again. Gets cheap heat on the Dudleys. Not much else to it.
Later it’s Owens vs. Show and up next is a recap of Shane McMahon’s return on Raw.
There was a video package about Shane McMahon’s return on Raw. The video ran about three minutes long. That pop by Shane was massive and it’s a return that won’t be forgotten any time soon.
Chris Jericho and AJ Styles were shown talking in the locker room. Jericho said that he’s been tag team champion in WWE five times with five different partners. Jericho said that they could go so far as a team. Styles wanted that WrestleMania moment and suggested being Tag Team Champions with Jericho. Jericho said if they can beat them tonight then it puts them at the top of the list. Styles mentioned they needed a partner. Jericho wondered if he had Funaki’s number. Mark Henry showed up to suggest that he become their partner. He said that New Day were clowns. He shook Jericho’s hand with Jericho noting it was a strong grip. Jericho said they would be honored to team with him. Then Henry hit the shoulder of Styles in a friendly way and Styles sold it as if he was pain while wondering if Henry always hit that hard.
Analysis: I’m not sure how far the Jericho/Styles team is going to go. It feels like there will be a heel turn by Jericho at some point to set them up for a WrestleMania match. Maybe they’ll win the tag titles first, but I have my doubts about that.
Big Show made his entrance.
There was a mention of The Godfather as part of WWE’s Hall of Fame this year. He doesn’t get a video package again just like on Raw. Most people do.
Kevin Owens vs. Big Show
This is not for KO’s IC Title. Owens was able to take down Show a couple of times with some nice kicks including an enziguri. Show nailed Owens with some hard chops to the chest. Show nailed a Chokeslam. Owens rolled out to the floor to avoid being pinned. Show slowly brought Owens back in. Show climbed the top rope, he didn’t get very far because Owens stopped him and then they did a spot where Owens crotched Show on the top rope. Ranallo: “Anybody up for scrambled eggs?” That was a funny line. Show was outside the ring for a ten count, so Owens won by countout after about four minutes.
Winner by countout: Kevin Owens
Analysis: *1/2 It was just a short match to have Owens outsmart Show as a way to win without pinning him. I really hope that this isn’t leading to Owens vs. Show for the IC Title at WrestleMania, but they might go that route as a way to give Owens a win. If they were to put Owens against Styles like I wanted then that might mean a loss for Owens. Show is a guy that Owens can beat, so that’s why they might do it. They will probably debut Sami Zayn on the Raw after WrestleMania, so it’s better to keep the title on Owens at WM.
Becky Lynch vs. Natalya up next.
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Becky Lynch vs. Natalya
There was a handshake because they are both faces. They each tried to get the advantage early with Natalya getting a shoulder block and then Lynch nailed a dropkick. Lynch missed a leg drop, so Natalya capitalized with a release German Suplex. Naomi and Tamina showed up at ringside while Natalya and Lynch were there. Natalya rolled Lynch back into the ring. Naomi attacked Natalya with a punch and then Tamina nailed Natalya with a kick. The match was done in under two minutes.
Winner by disqualification: Natalya
Post match, Sasha Banks made the save for Lynch and the faces quickly tossed the heels out of the ring.
Analysis: * It was just a short match to lead to the interference with Banks making the save. Nothing more than that. I’d love to see Natalya in a lengthy match with Lynch because they have a lot of history pre-WWE and they could probably have a memorable match if they are given a chance.
The Divas Champion Charlotte showed up with her father Ric Flair on the stage. Charlotte said she found out the number one contender’s match is Monday on Raw when it’s Banks vs. Lynch. Charlotte will be ringside to watch it. She wished them both the best of luck. Woo!
Analysis: It’s either going to be a draw or a win for Banks. I just think Lynch deserves to be a part of it at WrestleMania, so I’d be fine with a triple threat. Either way is cool with me.
The Social Outcasts foursome made an entrance with Heath Slater set for a match. He’s against R-Truth. Before the match could start, Goldust showed up to support R-Truth for this match. He told Goldust to go in the neutral corner as the crowd chanted “Golden Truth” for them.
Heath Slater (w/Bo Dallas, Curtis Axel & Adam Rose) vs. R-Truth
Truth nailed some punches, but then Slater came back with a running knee to knock him down. Truth came back with a jumping kick to the head. Front suplex by Truth to Slater. The other Outcasts were on the apron arguing about things, so Truth went for a backslide and Goldust nailed a punch on Slater to make the backslide work better. Slater wasn’t able to kick out, so Truth got the win with a backslide. The match went three minutes.
Winner by pinfall: R-Truth
Post match, R-Truth seemed happy about the win even after seeing the replay.
Analysis: * It was just a short match that meant nothing except giving Truth the win. This is what I wrote in my Raw Deal review on Monday: “They’ll probably do something soon where Goldust helps Truth win a match and that leads to Truth trusting him more.” Called it. They’ve done angles like this before, so it’s just a repeat of stuff they’ve done in the past.
Recap of Lesnar and Ambrose’s story up next.
There was a three-minute video about Brock Lesnar’s story with Dean Ambrose at Raw. They’re in a No Holds Barred Street Fight at WrestleMania. Great angle and storyline.
The Tag Team Champions The New Day made their entrance for the main event. Xavier Woods called the League of Nations the League of Booty, but maybe after Fastlane they learned their lesson of not messing with The New Day. Kofi Kingston mocked Mark Henry for believing he is still the World’s Strongest Man. He said he knew a man in the ring that would beg to differ, so Woods did some muscle poses. They plugged Booty O’s cereal: They make sure you ain’t Booty. Woods said they ride together, they eat together, they train together – “we take baths together” and then Big E and Kofi were confused. They said “New Day Rocks” to end it.
Analysis: A good job of talking trash and mixing in comedy. Big E didn’t get to talk enough this time, though.
This week on Raw, The Undertaker returns in Nashville.
The intros for Chris Jericho, AJ Styles and Mark Henry took place. They keep pushing the “Y2AJ” name for Jericho and Styles. I don’t think it works that well, but WWE seems to like it.
AJ Styles, Chris Jericho & Mark Henry vs. The New Day
The New Day yelled at Saxton before the match as Lawler wondered why everybody dislikes Saxton. Big E did a running shoulder block on Jericho, so Henry stepped in for his team against Big E in a big man showdown. Henry with a boot to the face on E and then a double clothesline to both Kingston and Woods. Jericho and Styles did slingshot pescados (thanks Mauro for the name) to take out both guys on the floor. Jericho, Styles and Henry did some New Day like dancing as the show went to break.
The faces were in control after the break. That’s a bit of a surprise because usually the heels are in control at that point. Jericho with a springboard dropkick on Kingston, clothesline to Woods and then Big E slammed Jericho face first into the turnbuckle. That led to New Day working over Jericho in their corner with their Unicorn Stampede stomps. Woods played the trombone while others were dancing and Jericho was on the floor after a dropkick from Kingston. More teamwork by New Day isolated Jericho with Woods hitting a legdrop at the same time as a great Big E splash. Jericho nailed an enziguri kick on Big E to break free.
AJ Styles received the hot tag against Woods. He was on fire with a clotheslines and a running forearm smash. Styles did an amazing back flip into a reverse DDT for a two count. That looked awesome. Henry took down Big E while Kingston went for Trouble in Paradise, but Jericho pushed Styles out of the way and Jericho got nailed with it. That looked nasty. Styles was back in there against Woods with Woods nailing a forearm shot. Styles was able to apply the Calf Crusher submission move and Woods tapped out quickly. It went 12 minutes.
Winners by submission: AJ Styles, Chris Jericho & Mark Henry
Analysis: **1/2 A clean win for the faces against the tag champs although in a six man tag it’s different than if it was a regular tag. The key story point in the match was when Jericho shoved Styles out of the way to protect him from that Kingston kick and then Jericho took the kick. Henry really didn’t do much in the match, which is certainly fine with me. Styles was awesome after the hot tag. It was a pretty basic tag match.
To end the show, Styles, Jericho and Henry posed in the ring to celebrate the win. Ranallo plugged Undertaker on Raw and that’s how it ended.
Here’s a pic of Jericho from his Instagram account to show the black eye he got from that Kingston kick.
Three Stars of the Show
1. AJ Styles
2. Chris Jericho
3. Kevin Owens
Really tough to pick people for this. Not a good show in terms of having guys stand out.
4.5 out of 10
Last week: 6
Last 5 Weeks: 6, 6.5, 7, 5.5, 4
2016 High: 7 (Jan. 7/Feb. 4)
2016 Low: 4 (Jan. 21)
It gets a 4.5 out of 10 from me.
A below average show this week. They had some poor match finishes all night long. Plenty of short matches too. It was hard to really get into anything. The main event was fine, but was a match that probably shouldn’t be the main event. It would have worked better elsewhere in the show. There was some star power missing due to no Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose, so that’s part of it too.
I’ll be back next week for the Raw Deal. It should be interesting with Undertaker there.
John Canton –firstname.lastname@example.org