Taped from the Cajundome in Lafayette, Louisiana this is Smackdown.
The Smackdown intro song played. No Raw replay. That’s a surprise.
Matches to come in what they are calling a Triple Main Event: Dudley Boyz vs. Wyatt Family in a Tables Match, Kalisto vs. Alberto Del Rio for the United States Title and Dean Ambrose/Neville vs. Kevin Owens/Sheamus.
The lovely Renee Young was backstage awaiting the arrival of IC Champ Dean Ambrose. Ambrose arrived in a car with him in the passenger seat. Uber? I don’t know. He got out, told Renee he has something to say to Owens and walked to the ring for a promo.
Analysis: I find it silly that they book things like that where the guy just arrives and walks to the ring like that, but they always do things that way.
They showed replays of Ambrose/Owens issues. The announce team of Mauro Ranallo, Byron Saxton and Jerry Lawler welcomed us to the show.
Ambrose said he has an announcement, then he asked for a drumroll, was surprised he got one and said wait because he needs Kevin Owens out there. Owens didn’t come out, so Ambrose said he’s going to challenge Owens (with a drumroll) to a Last Man Standing match at the Royal Rumble.
Sheamus interrupted the promo. He said Ambrose must feel so excited, but just like a little kid, Ambrose is annoying him and all the other adults. Sheamus told Dean he lived in a fantasy world. Ambrose mocked him because he said Sheamus formed the League of Nations “treehouse fantasy club.” Sheamus mentioned Roman Reigns stealing the WWE Title from him and now Sheamus has to be in the WWE Title match. Sheamus said he didn’t want to wait for their tag match later in the night. Ambrose told him to come to the ring until he makes Sheamus cry.
Kevin Owens music hit and Owens showed up on the stage as Sheamus was close to the ring. Owens said now there’s two of them against one of Ambrose. He told Ambrose that no matter what kind of match they have, Ambrose is not walking out of the Royal Rumble PPV as IC Champion or walking out period. Owens accepted the challenge for the Rumble.
Owens and Sheamus went after Ambrose, but Neville came out to support Ambrose. Neville sent Owens into the barricade while Ambrose gave Sheamus a clothesline over the top rope to the floor.
Analysis: They need to get rid of the show opening promos on both shows, but especially on Smackdown. Why not make it different? Start with a match right off the bat. They already announced this tag match as the main event, so did we really need a segment dedicated to it? It’s a waste of the first 15 minutes. Be different. Why not? It can’t hurt.
Tables match up next. They said it’s the first time there’s been a Tables match on Smackdown in four years.
The first of three “main event” matches is up next.
Tables Match: The Dudley Boyz vs. Erick Rowan & Luke Harper (w/Braun Strowman)
Harper and Rowan were in the ring right after the Wyatt Family logo went off the screen. No sign of Bray Wyatt with the heels. I guess he got the night off. Strowman had on a mask at ringside. It’s tornado tag rules, so nobody needs to tags. Rowan with a body slam on Bubba. Bubba came back with a back body drop to send Rowan to the floor and then a back body drop on Harper. D-Von hit the Whassup Drop headbutt off the top on Harper. Fans chanted for “tables” as D-Von grabbed one. Harper with a kick on D-Von and Rowan with a spin kick on Bubba led to a commercial break.
The heels were in control after the break. Harper/Rowan did a double suplex near a table, but Bubba moved it. The Dudleys cleaned house with some double team moves including a double suplex as well as a neckbreaker. Nice to hear Ranallo calling moves properly. Double clothesline spot by Bubba and Rowan. Strowman blocked D-Von from putting Harper through a table. Strowman brought a kendo stick into the ring, but Bubba got it and nailed Rowan with it a few times. Strowman was in the ring, missed a charge and went to the floor. Harper was on the top with D-Von. Rowan went crashing into the stairs. With Harper on the apron, Bubba shoved him off a table and it broke. The Dudleys won. The match went about 8 minutes.
Winners: The Dudley Boyz
Analysis: ** The result was a little surprising because the Wyatt Family has beat the Dudleys so many times in the last few months. I get why they did it because the Dudleys need wins against these guys and they can say it’s the Dudleys winning their specialty match. It was effective in that sense. The action was just okay, but nothing special.
Post match, Strowman nailed a double clothesline to knock both Dudleys down. The Wyatt Family set up tables in the ring by propping them up against the turnbuckle. Strowman threw D-Von through one table. Then Strowman threw D-Von through the other table. The heels cleared off the announce table and set up another table outside the ring as they beat up Bubba as well. Harper and Rowan gave Bubba a double Chokeslam off the announce table onto two tables that were side by side. Ranallo did a great job of yelling while saying there was a sick thud.
Analysis: All of a sudden the win by the Dudleys didn’t matter. It was about putting over the Wyatt Family as a dominant group that caused a lot of pain on their rivals. It’s way to make the Wyatt Family look tough even after a loss.
A replay aired of Kalisto’s US Title win on Raw.
Kalisto was interviewed backstage by Jojo. He mentioned the success of Eddie Guerrero and Rey Mysterio getting to the top of WWE. He said it changed him forever because it gave him fight and hope. Now he’s the US Champion and he plans to stay that way.
Analysis: It was a good babyface promo by mentioning some of the most popular underdog faces that there have ever been.
The Social Outcasts (Heath Slater, Adam Rose, Curtis Axel & Bo Dallas) vs. Damien Sandow, Goldust, Zack Ryder & Jack Swagger
The heels are the Social Outcasts. The faces are below them I guess since they are barely on television. Sandow’s got the pink tights and purple boots. Slater nailed a kick on Goldust as the heels isolated him. Axel did an over the top celebration after a dropkick. Goldust nailed a slam on Rose leading to a hot tag after one minute to Swagger against Dallas. Swagger nailed clotheslines on Dallas and the crowd barely reacted. Patriot Lock by Swagger on Dallas leads to Axel breaking it up. Ryder was against Dallas, Ryder nailed a dropkick, forearm shot and Broski Boot for two. Slater got in a cheap shot on Ryder. Dallas nailed the Running Bodog on Ryder where he accidentally kicked Slater and that was good enough for the win. It was done in a comedic way.
Winners by pinfall: The Social Outcasts
Analysis: *1/2 A short match to put over the new heel comedy group over faces that are below them on the totem pole. Even the finish was a joke. I read somewhere earlier in the week that this was Sandow’s first match on Raw or Smackdown since May. He hasn’t been injured at all. There’s no explanation for it other than bad booking.
A recap of John Cena undergoing shoulder surgery was shown.
A video recapped the main event segment of Raw where it was Roman Reigns in a One Versus All match ending with Brock Lesnar standing tall.
Alberto Del Rio was interviewed by Renee Young. He just said he’ll take back the US Championship. There wasn’t much to it.
The new US Champion Kalisto entered for the title rematch. Heel Lawler said he never really liked short people.
Del Rio made his entrance for the US Title match. Kalisto beat him last week on Smackdown, then he won the US Title on Raw and here is Del Rio’s rematch for the title.
United States Championship: Alberto Del Rio vs. Kalisto
Del Rio was aggressive early on by pounding him down and nailing a suplex. Ranallo mentioned Del Rio’s credentials while headlining a Pride event in Japan 12 years ago that Ranallo was the announcer for. Lawler was making short jokes while calling Kalisto a shrimp. Kalisto made a comeback with a headscissors move that sent Del Rio into the ring post. Kalisto hit a kick, but Del Rio slowed him down by giving Kalisto an armbreaker off the ropes by driving his two knees into the arm. Del Rio slammed the left arm of Kalisto into the steps a few times. When Del Rio nailed a backbreaker, Lawler was laughing about how this is great. Kalisto got some quick offense in, but it was brief because he missed a corner attack and Del Rio sent him into the ring post. Kalisto rolled out to the floor grabbing his shoulder as they went to break.
Del Rio was still in control as he did a suplex on the arm. King Barrett walked down to ringside to support his League of Nations ally. Barrett was in his ring gear even though he’s not in a match. Del Rio set up Kalisto for the double knee attack, but Kalisto countered with a hurricanrana. That was sweet looking. Kalisto hit a springboard senton, but he missed a corkscrew attack as Del Rio moved. Standing side kick by Del Rio for two. Really good nearfall. Kalisto nailed a hurricanrana into a pin for two. Corkscrew body attack by Kalisto and then a snap hurricanrana gets two. Another awesome nearfall. Kalisto did a jawbreaker and nailed a stiff kick to the head. Both guys were down. They got to their feet, Barrett distracted Kalisto briefly, Del Rio took him down and Del Rio applied the Cross Armbreaker. Kalisto tried to fight it off and he got to the ropes to break it. Del Rio missed a running attack and landed on the floor. Kalisto went for a dive, but Barrett moved Del Rio out of the way. The ref was looking right at it and did nothing. Back in the ring, Del Rio with the Cross Armbreaker and Kalisto taps out. Del Rio wins after 14 minutes.
Winner by pinfall and New United States Champion: Alberto Del Rio
Analysis: ***1/4 That was another really good match between these guys. It’s the third match of theirs that I’ve reviewed in the last week. The finish was good with Kalisto tapping out quick because Del Rio worked on the arm all match long. If you used logic, the ref should have disqualified Del Rio since Barrett helped him, but he did nothing. I think the match on Raw was the best of the three, but all of them were above average while telling a good story. They know what they’re doing in terms of putting the match together because Kalisto’s perfect in the underdog role while Del Rio is so aggressive as the experienced heel. They’ve developed some outstanding chemistry. The question becomes why do title changes on back to back shows? I would assume it’s done as a way to show the fans that WWE is more willing to book title changes on TV than they were in the past. This is the third one in less than a month counting Roman Reigns’ WWE Title win in late December. They’ll probably do a title match at the Royal Rumble since Kalisto gets his rematch after this loss. I wouldn’t do the title change, but I get why they did it since it makes this show feel more important.
Post match, Del Rio celebrated with the US Title while Barrett was there with him. Kalisto slowly went up the ramp with the referee.
Main event tag match still to come.
A video aired about Sting going into WWE’s Hall of Fame in 2016. Same video that was on Raw. It’s pretty rare to see a guy go into WWE’s Hall of Fame with no PPV wins in WWE, but in this case it’s understandable since he’s arguably the greatest star in WCW history. Too bad he didn’t come to WWE when he was younger.
Becky Lynch was interviewed by Renee Young. Becky was sad that her best friend Charlotte attacked her after she beat her a few weeks ago. Lynch said she’ll be fired up until she beats Charlotte at the Royal Rumble. That’s her official challenge.
Analysis: It makes sense to do Charlotte/Becky again at the Royal Rumble. If they put a stipulation on the match it might help it, but it will still be good as long as they get 10-15 minutes.
Total Divas is back next week. It’s the only way I can see my favorite wrestlers Daniel Bryan and Tyson Kidd.
Oh no it’s another show with the Brie Mode song! My ears can’t take it. I guess Team Bella is still a thing because Alicia Fox with a funky hairdo is with her.
Becky Lynch vs. Brie Bella (w/Alicia Fox)
Brie was aggressive because Lynch interfered before the Brie/Charlotte match on Raw. Brie hit a dropkick off the middle ropes. Brie nailed some kicks, but Lynch came back by sending her face first into the turnbuckle. Clotheslines by Lynch, forearm to the face, kick to the face and an Exploder Suplex gets two. The crowd isn’t into this at all. Lynch took her down with a leg takedown and then the Disarmer submission ends it for Lynch after about four minutes.
Winner by submission: Becky Lynch
Analysis: * A short match to just put over Lynch. I’m not sure if Brie is a face or heel at this point and I can’t say I care either. Remember how the “divas revolution” meant that the girls got more than 10 minutes in matches? This felt like the days before that where they were only given about three minutes to rush through a match.
The main event tag team match is up next.
The entrances for the main event went like this: Sheamus and Kevin Owens were out first followed by Neville and Dean Ambrose.
Dean Ambrose & Neville vs. Sheamus & Kevin Owens
There’s a nice “Mauro Rules” sign in the crowd. I agree. Ambrose sent Sheamus out of the ring with a clothesline and then went after Owens, but Sheamus nailed a clothesline to knock Ambrose down. They went to break about two minutes into the match.
Owens was working on Ambrose as the match returned from the break. The crowd was chanting for Ambrose as the heels made some quick tags. Ambrose nailed a swinging neckbreaker on Owens to get some momentum. Neville tagged in, nailed an enziguiri on Owens and Owens was able to tag out. Sheamus walked right into a Neville superkick. Sheamus avoided an attack and Owens hit a cheap punch to knock down Neville. The heels isolated Neville. Owens was yelling at Mauro to learn something. Double axe by Sheamus knocked down Neville again. Owens aggressively went after Neville with a release German suplex. Owens missed a corner charge and then Neville nailed a release German suplex on him. Ambrose made the hot tag while Sheamus also tagged in with Ambrose doing a great job. Ambrose nailed a Tornado DDT out of the corner. Flying elbow attack by Ambrose off the top for two as Owens broke up the pin. White Noise by Sheamus after Owens kicked Ambrose in the back. Ambrose countered the Powerbomb with the hurricanrana and the bounce off the ropes clothesline that Ranallo called the Lunatic Lariat – good name. Ambrose hit a suicide dive on Owens. Sheamus tossed Ambrose into the steel steps twice. Owens tossed the cover of the announce table on Ambrose. The ref called for the disqualification after 13 minutes.
Winners: Dean Ambrose & Neville by disqualification
Analysis: **1/2 It was an okay tag match, but nothing out of the ordinary. It feels like we get these kinds of tag matches every week especially on Smackdown with different combinations of guys. They followed the tag match formula with the heels working over Neville for much of it. Ambrose did a good job with the hot tag. I thought they might do something where Neville was the one that got pinned, but they opted for the DQ instead. That seems to be a go to finish of late. It’s really not that interesting when they do it so many times.
Post match, Sheamus and Owens cleaned off the announce table. Owens wanted a Powerbomb, but Neville jumped over the top rope to the floor to take out Owens and Sheamus. Back in the ring, Ambrose nailed his Dirty Deeds DDT on Owens. Neville followed it up with a Red Arrow splash on Owens.
The show ended with Ambrose and Neville celebrating in the ring.
Analysis: The heels cheated to lose and the faces got their revenge to end the show. That’s straight out of the “send the fans home happy” playbook. It’s fine, but not the kind of thing that is going to get viewers excited because we see it all the time.
Three Stars of the Show
1. Alberto Del Rio
3. Kevin Owens
6 out of 10
Last week: 7
– The best part of the show was the Del Rio/Kalisto match even with the cheap ending. With that said, seeing them wrestle on three straight shows is a little much and it probably shouldn’t happen again next week. Doing the match again at the Royal Rumble would be fine.
– That Tables Match really wasn’t like a main event despite the hype for it. It was one of the most forgettable Tables Matches that I’ve ever seen, but at least the post match attack was good.
– It’s the second straight week where Roman Reigns wasn’t on the show. The reason why he wasn’t there is because he flew to India for WWE live events there, but I wonder if they will keep him off Smackdown in the future. I’m fine with it because it allows other people to get more time for matches and promos.
– The commentary team did well again. Ranallo actually calls all the moves while Lawler is much more tolerable in the heel role. Saxton doesn’t help or hurt much.
That’s all for me. Next show review is a live Raw Deal on Monday night.
Thanks for reading. Go Toronto Raptors.
John Canton – [email protected]