2/11 Barnett's WWE Smackdown on USA Network Live Review: AJ Styles faces Chris Jericho, Sasha Banks vs Naomi, The Dudley Boys explain their heel turn, and more...
By Jake Barnett
WWE Smackdown on USA Network
Taped on Tuesday in Portland, OR
[Q1] The show opened and Mauro remarked that it has been an emotional week in WWE. Chris Jericho made his entrance and the announce team said the rematch between Jericho and AJ Styles would kick off Smackdown. Footage was shown of the MizTV Segment turned Highlight Reel from Monday's Raw with Styles and Jericho brawling with The Miz. Jericho said he was pumped for his rematch, because he realized on Monday that he respected AJ Styles, but he didn't like him. He didn't think AJ was phenomenal, because he hasn't earned it yet in WWE. Jericho said he has, because he had one of the best matches of his career in this building in Portland in 2008 with Shawn Michaels.
He told Styles that he was the best in the world at what he did, and that phenomenal is not good enough for him. Styles made his entrance, and just as the ref was about to ring the bell, the Social Outcasts interrupted and got boos. Slater said that they were about to take Smackdown viral. Slater mocked Jericho and AJ Styles and talked about Bo Dallas still being out starting his rap career. Axel and Rose wanted to name their tag team. Axel wanted to name their team "Axel Rose", and Rose wanted them to be the "Social Housecats" and did an annoying meow.
Eventually this got on Jericho's nerves and he told them all to shut up. They tried to beat down Jericho, but Styles stepped in and both he and Jericho cleared the outcasts from the ring. Jericho said they would still have a match later, but for right now they were going to kick the Social Outcasts asses.
My Take: This segment was a weird red herring. The Outcasts weren't really on their game here, either. The attempts at humor fell flat and Jericho could have cut them off much sooner than he did and the crowd wouldn't have minded.
1. AJ Styles and Chris Jericho vs. Adam Rose and Curtis Axel: Jericho had Curtis Axel in a chinlock as the show came back. Styles wanted in and hit a big dropkick and taunted Jericho. He wanted back in and hit a dropkick of his own. It then became a contest of one upping each other. Jericho hit a vertical suplex. Styles hit a snap suplex, and Jericho claimed that his was superior. They both then took turns chopping Axel, but he was able to make a tag and Jericho and Styles couldn't stop jawing with one another.
[Q2] Slater attacked Styles from behind and wore him down with strikes and holds. Axel tagged in and hit a rolling neck snap followed by a chin lock. Styles fired back with a pele kick and hit a flurry of strikes on Adam Rose. He then tagged in Jericho, who hit a Lionsault on Adam Rose after a brief sequence. Styles then tagged himself in to hit a big springboard elbow to get the win.
Jericho and Styles defeated Axel and Rose at 7:34.
After the match, Jericho surprised Styles with a Codebreaker as the ref raised their hands. The announce team discussed Daniel Bryan's retirement and showed some WWE Superstars comments and tweets about Bryan, and said he would say thank you to the WWE Universe later in the show. A Raw Rebound of the Fastlane contract signing was plugged for next...[c]
My Take: A nice setup match for their main event later in the show. I hope they are able to smooth out a couple of the rough edges from their already very good first encounter.
[Q3] The Raw Rebound from Monday's contract signing between Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, and Brock Lesnar was shown. It focused on Dean Ambrose being obsessed with getting a piece of Lesnar. Brock Lesnar was hyped for Smackdown next week, which should be interesting. The Dudley Boyz made their way to the ring and Bubba looked grumpier than usual...[c]
Footage was shown of The Dudley Boyz attacking The Usos after their match on Monday's Raw. Bubba said on Monday Night they made a statement, but it seems like the only thing "you people" want to talk about is Daniel Bryan. They said they are sick and tired of hearing about Daniel Bryan, and a lot of things around here. D-Von said that since they came back, people have looked at them like they were a nostalgia act, but people forgot they were the baddest tag team on the planet.
Bubba said they came back to add to their legacy. He then addressed all the tables that were set up all around the ring, and asked the crowd to take a good look at them because it would be the last time they'd ever see them. He and D-Von then demanded the ring crew remove them all. Bubba went on and said that tables did not win them Tag Team Championships, and that people should be chanting for them instead of tables. There was one table left in the ring, and Bubba said it was the last one. He told D-Von to get the .....and they both dropped their mics. They folded up the table and walked away. Becky Lynch made an entrance and Mauro said she would join on commentary next...[c]
My Take: There were rumors floating around that WWE was toying with the idea of using the Bully Ray character in some fashion, but that definitely wasn't it. I like the heel turn a lot for the booking possibilities, but I'm pretty sure this gimmick about them refusing to use tables is recycled. I don't hate it but it doesn't really thrill me at the same time.
[Q4] Sasha Banks made her entrance for a Divas Match. Footage was shown of the Becky vs. Tamina match getting out of control on Monday's Raw. Becky was on commentary and was asked about helping her new ally. She said she and Sasha weren't friends but when somebody gets cheap shotted from behind she's going to do the ring thing.
2. Sasha Banks vs. Naomi: Sasha hit a Thesz Press and did some ground and pound to start the match. She hit a slap in the face and went for a cover that got a two count. They traded some offense back and forth and then Sasha hit double knees in the corner. Naomi rolled outside...[c]
Naomi bridged out of a pin into a backslide that got a two count. They then traded various pinning predicaments with the same results. Naomi got sent out to the floor, and Sasha got out on the apron. Thanks to a distraction from Tamina, Naomi pulled Sasha and she landed back first on the apron in a nasty looking spot. Naomi then sent her into the apron again, and brought her into the ring for a pin and a near fall.
She followed up with a back suplex, and then stepped on Sasha's had to add insult to injury. Naomi hit rapid kicks followed by an enziguri that the announce team flipped out for but didn't really look that great on TV. Sasha was able to buy herself some time with a flying head scissors reversal. She then hit a series of forearms and clotheslines, followed by another head scissors. She hit double knees in the corner again and covered for a two count. Tamina interfered and tripped up Sasha, and Naomi hit a headscissors driver for a close near fall.
[Q5] Tamina brawled with Becky Lynch on the outside, and Becky got the worst of it until Sasha came outside and destroyed her with a front kick. Sasha got back in the ring and got rolled up by Naomi, but Sasha reversed into a Bank Statement for the tap out win.
Sasha Banks defeated Naomi at 13:22.
Backstage, AJ Styles was interviewed by Jojo. He addressed being called a redneck rookie by saying he's proud to be a redneck, but he's no rookie. He said he sees through Chris Jericho's mind games and would show him later tonight why they call him The Phenomenal One. The show cut to whatever spooky equipment room The Wyatt's hang out in and Bray Wyatt said we're here...[c]
My Take: A very good match between Naomi and Tamina. They are developing an interesting dynamic between Sasha and Becky, with Sasha getting the win and taking care of both Tamina and Naomi. The look on Becky's face when it was over was one of jealousy. We'll see how it develops at the PPV when these four have a tag match.
The Wyatt Family made their entrance. A video package that showed various Wyatt Family beat down was shown set to some hard rock music. The arena remained dark and spotlights lit up Wyatt in the ring. Wyatt referenced ancient greek mythology and the battle of the titans. In the end, the Titans were conquered by Zeus. Wyatt claimed that now he was the King of the Gods, and said the family were his army.
[Q6] They have already begun ridding WWE of it's titans, and that it was long past overdue that people worshipped a new set of gods. Each member of the family recited a sentence. Harper talked about titans cowering in their presents. Rowan said that resistance is pointless. Strowman said that the apocalypse is now. Wyatt then ranted about being the eater of worlds, and that the war has just begun.
Neville and The Lucha Dragons vs. Stardust and The Ascension was hyped for next...[c]
My Take: This promo would have been cool about two years ago. It was a fine performance from everyone involved, but you're asking a lot from people to follow along with metaphors from mythology, especially from a character that has shown himself ill equipped to deliver on any of his grandiose schemes.
Stardust and The Ascension made their entrance, followed by Neville and The Lucha Dragons.
3. Neville and The Lucha Dragons vs. Stardust and The Ascension: Stardust and The Ascension assaulted Neville and The Lucha Dragons before the bell. Neville was staggered and the Dragons were sent into the apron at ringside. The heels worked over Neville as he bell rang. He was able to get back into the match with an enziguri and tagged out to Kalisto. Kalisto hit some rapid fire offense on Konnor, and then the Dragon's hit simultaneous Tope's on Viktor and Stardust. In the ring, Kalisto hit Salida Del Sol on Konnor, Sin Cara hit a swanton, and Neville hit a Red Arrow for the win.
Neville and The Lucha Dragons defeated Stardust and The Ascension at 3:32.
AJ Styles vs. Jericho was hyped for later, and The Daniel Bryan retirement speech was set for next...[c]
My Take: I wasn't expecting a long match there, but it fell far short of the usual six man formula. We essentially got about 2 minutes of action before they headed towards the typical match breakdown into a finish. It wasn't bad, just too short for anything to have any meaning.
[Q7] More tweets from wrestlers were shown regarding Daniel Bryan's retirement. News clips were shown from major news outlets that covered the story. Clips from his speech were shown that focused on gratitude and were interspersed with clips from various moments from his career. A Daniel Bryan's greatest moments collection was mentioned by the announce team for tomorrow on the WWE Network.
Chris Jericho made his ring entrance for the main event, and went full lite brite mode. AJ Styles followed...[c]
My Take: WWE put together a great video package for Bryan's retirement. I'm also looking forward to his greatest moments special on the WWE Network. If the bear wrestling segment isn't in there, I hope Bryan demands it gets edited in after the fact.
4. AJ Styles vs. Chris Jericho: Styles hit a nice dropkick early and followed up with a snap suplex. They worked in some rapid fire reversals with led to Styles hit a headscissors. Jericho ducked a clothesline from Styles, who was out on the apron, and followed up with a springboard dropkick that sent AJ crashing to the floor...[c]
Jericho was in control while footage showed him sending Styles into the barricade on the outside during the break. Jericho went for a bulldog, but ended up flying into the corner. It looked rather poor on TV because Styles didn't look like he pushed him off. Styles followed up with a diving forearm covered for a two count.
Jericho grabbed a butterfly into a backbreaker. He then went for the Walls of Jericho but Styles spun out of it. Jericho got back on track with an enziguri, and then climbed up to the top rope. Styles got to his feet and dropkicked Jericho on the way down. Styled missed a second dropkick a moment later, and Jericho it a lionsault for a near fall. Jericho took a run at Styles, who lifted him up into a Fireman's Carry and then flipped him into a neckbreaker. Styles then went for the Styles Clash, but Jericho reversed into the Walls of Jericho.
After a struggle, Styles reversed out of the hold and applied the calf crusher. Jericho nearly tapped, but eventually twisted himself far enough to reach the ropes. The Calf Crusher was not applied particularly well. Styles hit a baseball slide that sent Jericho out to the floor, and then hit a slingshot forearm to the outside. Styles went for a springboard back into the ring, but Jericho tripped him up. He then tossed him into the turnbuckle and hit a Codebreaker on the rebound for the win.
Chris Jericho defeated AJ Styles at 15:31.
The announce team said the series was tied at one win a piece. Brock Lesnar was hyped again for next week's Smackdown. Jericho celebrated to close the show.
My Take: This was a far better match than their first encounter on Raw. I recommend everyone who missed the show go back and see it. They paced out the offense well and both men sold exceptionally well for each other. There were a few kludgy spots here and there, but for the most part everything was crisp and the finish was not at all telegraphed. I look forward to a PPV match between the two where they can get another five minutes more than they got here. Overall, this show was light on action, but what we got was pretty good. Sasha Banks performance and the main event are definitely worth checking out.
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