3/12 WWE Smackdown on SyFy Live Review: More build for WrestleMania including Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler, Ryback, Seth Rollins, Cesaro and Kidd, and more...
By Jake Barnett
WWE Smackdown on SyFy Live Review
Taped on Tuesday in Detroit, Michigan
[Q1] The Smackdown intro played, after which Michael Cole welcomed us all to the arena and said something cringeworthy. Daniel Bryan's music hit and he made his entrance and looks to have trimmed the beard a bit compared to when it was most unruly. Before Bryan spoke, video was shown of the Intercontinental cluster and how R-Truth keeps stealing the belt as stereotypically as possible.
Bryan said that ever since Fastlane he has come out to the ring, and he has tried to ignore that sign (WrestleMania sign). He said the door to repeating his run to the main event at WrestleMania has closed, but another door opens. He stood in the ring the past weeks with some of the best WWE has to offer fighting over the Intercontinental Championship, and it reminded him of some of his heroes. He name dropped Randy Savage, Ricky Steamboat, Mr. Perfect, Bret Hart, and Shawn Michaels. He said when they were competing for the Intercontinental Championship, it was always more exciting than what was happening for the World Heavyweight Championship.
Bryan then said he made a request, and he was entered into the Intercontinental Ladder Match at WrestleMania. The crowd went crazy, and Wade Barrett interrupted. He said despite what some people think, he was still the Intercontinental Champion, and he still would be after WrestleMania. He then said that would technically make him Bryan hero. Dolph Ziggler then interrupted and said that how is Barrett going to stay champion at WrestleMania with six guys fighting on ladders, if he can't even hold onto it now?
Luke Harper made his own entrance and said that he wants his WrestleMania moment. He glared at Daniel Bryan and then stared him down. Dean Ambrose then made his way down to the ring, and told everybody to hold on a second. He said if they thought they could get away with throwing punches and knocking teeth out without him, they should all be locked up for observation. As he got in the ring, Stardust made his way to ringside and freaked out. He demanded to know where the Intercontinental Championship was, and even the other crazy characters looked at him like he was crazy.
R-Truth finally made his way down with the Championship Belt and talked to it like it was a person. He said even though he's scared of heights, he would climb the ladder at WrestleMania. Barrett told him he wouldn't get to the second rung before he pulled him to the ground. Truth invited him to come get it, and a brawl broke out. The heels were quickly cleared from the ring and then everybody stared at one another awkwardly. A Randy Orton interview was plugged for later. Backstage, Cesaro and Kidd were shown backstage. Byron Saxton said they would be in an 8-man tag next...[c]
My Take: This was another parade of who gives a shit. I like Bryan a lot, they have to find a way to convey that these guys don't like each other without resorting to some comedy or nonsense. With Ambrose, Stardust, Harper, and Truth all trying to out crazy one another, it seems that Bryan and Ziggler have to carry that load along with current Champ Barrett. Can they convince us that Bryan and Ziggler don't like one another and still have it make any sense at all?
[Q2] Los Matadores and New Day were already in the ring. The Usos and Cesaro and Kidd made entrances. Los Matadores cut a PIP Promo about claiming their WrestleMania moment.
1. Cesaro and Kidd and Los Matadores vs. The Usos and New Day: Fernando and Xavier started the match. They traded offense about 50/50 until Diego and Jimmy Uso were tagged in. Diego got a distraction from Fernando from the outside and knocked Jimmy out to the floor...[c]
Fernando and Jimmy brawled in the ring until Fernando tagged in Kidd. Jimmy hit a Samoan Drop and a superkick on Kidd, and then Kofi tagged himself in. Things broke down briefly here, as Jimmy Uso dived on some of the heels at ringside and we had rapid fire pinfalls inside the ring. Kofi hit Trouble in Paradise on Diego in the ring, but the ref was distracted by action outside the ring and Los Matadores pulled a switcheroo. Fernando got the pin on Kofi after a neckbreaker.
Kidd and Cesaro and Los Matadores defeated New Day and The Usos at 8:21.
The video of Sting from Monday with the modulated narrator voice was shown....[c]
My Take: Two weeks before WrestleMania, WWE is investing time and energy into rebuilding Los Matadores as credible threats. Ooooookaaaay.
[Q3] The announce team plugged a match between Ambrose, Ziggler, and Bryan vs. Stardust, Harper, and Barrett for the main event. Cole introduced video of John Cena and Rusev's feud from Monday. Rusev and Cena for the US Championship was plugged for WrestleMania, and Ryback made his way to the ring in the arena....[c]
[Q4] Cole hyped Connor the Crusher's Warrior Award induction. The Miz was interviewed backstage by Renee Young, and he declared himself the odds on favorite to win the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. Mizdow tried to talk sense to Miz about his match with Ryback, and Miz told him that he could beat him without any help. Miz called Ryback brainless and witless and dismissed Mizdow. He then made his ring entrance.
2. The Miz vs. Ryback: Miz got in some early offense, but Ryback shut him down quickly with a delayed vertical suplex. Miz bailed to the outside to regroup and choked Ryback on the second rope to take over on offense. Ryback caught a kick and hit a spinebuster on Miz, and called for the meat hook. He landed the clothesline, and hit Shellshock for the win.
Ryback defeated The Miz at 3:58.
Ryback celebrated and the announcers hyped the Main Event...[c]
My Take: Ok match for Ryback, but the Miz and Mizdow drama feels like it's cooling off rather than heating up. This whole thing building to an elimination in a Battle Royal is kind of a bummer considering how hot it was not that long ago.
[Q5] Roman Reigns made his ring entrance. A bit of Paul Heyman's promo from Monday was shown on the tron. Reigns said that week after week Paul Heyman is running his mouth and disrespecting his family, and tell him him that he can't. Who says that? He then said that those are the two things he can't stand, and at WrestleMania he will prove him wrong and represent his Samoan Blood and you can believe...Mark Henry interrupted.
Mark Henry said that he's been hit with too many coconuts. Henry told him that he's letting Paul Heyman get under his skin. Henry said he has an identity and he knows who he is, and that's more than he can say for Reigns. He told Reigns that he isn't prepared for Brock Lesnar to break his arm or F5 him on the floor. Reigns started to say "with all due respect", and Henry interrupted and asked him if he thinks Brock Lesnar respects him?
Do you think these fans respect you? Do the boys in the back? He then said that one out of three isn't bad. Reigns went to leave, but Henry wouldn't let him and asked where he was going. Henry went off on young bucks not having a clue and thinking they know everything. He told Reigns that he hadn't been anywhere yet. He then shoved Reigns against the ropes, and got a Superman Punch on the way back.
Henry reeled out to the floor, where Reigns speared Henry through the barricade on the outside. Reigns climbed on top of the announce table and said "can't" about 10 times and said that he's done hearing it. He can and he will defeat Brock Lesnar at WresteMania.
Footage of the ongoing Bray Wyatt/Undertaker saga aired from Monday. The ongoing saga of the Undertaker and Johnny Cash continues as well, with the reference to the song "The Man Comes Around".
My Take: Great work by Mark Henry, as the trend of Roman Reigns saying as little as humanly possible continues, and for good reason. You'd think that somebody would have recognized that he wasn't quite ready for this position yet, but my guess is Vince is going to burn through the credibility of every veteran on the roster in an attempt to say in denial. His delivery when talking about Paul Heyman did not convey much confidence.
AJ Lee made her ring entrance, followed by Page. The team of Cameron, Summer Rae and Eva Marie were already in the ring. The Bellas joined on commentary.
[Q6] 3. Page and AJ vs. Cameron and Summer Rae w/Eva Marie: Page kicked Cameron and tagged out to AJ immediately. AJ hit an avalanche in the corner and a neckbreaker on Cameron. After a distraction by Summer Rae, Cameron hit an awkward seated dropkick for a two count. Summer tagged in and she and Cameron hit a double team arm twist. Summer knocked Page off the apron and applied a chin lock. AJ fought her way out and made a tag. Page knocked Cameron off the apron and applied the PTO to Summer. She tapped pretty much immediately.
AJ and Page defeated The Bellas at 2:58.
Page and AJ walked over to the Bellas and Page wanted to get in their face. AJ prevented a fight and Page just walked off with Nikki's half coat. Footage of Mark Henry's confrontation with Roman Reigns was repeated, in case you missed the last segment.
Backstage, Renee Young interviewed Mark Henry. He said that he pushed Reigns on purpose, and he pushed back. He found out what he had, and Reigns made a believer out of him tonight. He doesn't know if he can beat Brock Lesnar, but he knows he can honor the guys that came before him to try...[c]
My Take: Apparently AJ and Page are not frenemies anymore, as they are getting along swimmingly. Hopefully they can actually build to a real personal conflict here, because the superficial nature of the feud is really all that's holding them back at this point.
A Randy Orton interview aired, and at first he was asked about being excommunicated from The Authority. Orton said something changed in him, and he had his blinders on for Seth Rollins. He took his time and he got his revenge the right way, by earning the Authority's trust and biding his time. Cole asked why he helped Rollins defeated Roman Reigns, and Orton replied that he used Reigns like he would use anybody else. He called what he did on Monday reverse psychology, and that the look in his eyes when Seth saw he was joking was priceless.
[Q7] Orton said once he had him alone on Monday, he saw fear in his eyes. He then said he enjoyed beating the hell out of him, and that when he put him through that table he let out all of his frustration at once. Cole asked him what he's going to do when he gets to the arena on Monday, and he said he would spit in his face and challenge him to a match at WrestleMania. In the arena, Daniel Bryan made his entrance...[c]
My Take: That Orton promo made zero sense. Orton trying to explain his reverse psychology was laugh out loud funny, and leaving out how fortuitous Stephanie McMahon sending away Kane and Show ended up being was convenient. I don't mind Orton still acting like a heel, since he's far better at it than when he tries to fight his instincts, but it came across a little silly. The booking for this feud has been ham fisted and ridiculous, and Orton acted like he had just orchestrated a plot straight from a Tarantino revenge film.
4. Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler and Dean Ambrose vs. Stardust, Luke Harper and Wade Barrett: The match began with Barrett and Ambrose, but both teams cycled through tags quickly and no one dominated the offense. Daniel Bryan hit a nice hurricanrana off the top rope on Stardust, and nearly hit a running knee until Stardust was warned to roll to the outside...[c]
Harper covered Bryan and got a two count as the show came back. He then gator rolled him a bit and applied a chin lock. Bryan eventually tagged out to Ambrose after escaping the chin lock, who also tagged out to Stardust. Ambrose hit a suplex into facebuster that I can't remember the name ofl, and sent Stardust to the outside. Ambrose followed and Harper and Barrett gave him an assist to stop the rally from the babyfaces...[c]
Barrett applied a chin lock on Ambrose, and hit him with a big boot after he rallied to his feet. Stardust tagged in and stomped on the fingers of Ambrose. He then put him up top and set up for a Superplex. Ambrose blocked and then threw Stardust to the mat in facebuster position. Ambrose then hit a flying elbow and made a hot tag to Ziggler. Stardust tagged out to Luke Harper. Ziggler knocked Barrett off the apron and hit a Fameasser for a two count.
Harper attempted a schoolboy off a distraction and got a two count. Eventually the match broke down and Ambrose and Bryan splashed Stardust and Barrett on the outside. Harper hit a big boot and a sit out powerbomb in the ring. He went for a torture rack, but Ziggler slipped out and hit a Zig Zag. He then made a tag to Bryan, who hit a running knee, and covered for the victory.
Daniel Bryan, Dean Ambrose, and Dolph Ziggler defeated Luke Harper, Wade Barrett and Stardust at 16:32.
After the match, Ziggler thanked Bryan for stealing the match from him. He said last year Bryan had lady luck on his side, but this year he'll be out there, so remember that. Ambrose then grabbed the mic and said that he wanted to get in on the professional jealousy and say that Ziggler has an inferiority complex about not being as good as Daniel Bryan. He then said that there is this general idea floating around that Bryan is a great guy, but he and others in the locker room know the turth. Ambrose then called him a turd. Bryan looked confused more than anything. Ziggler grabbed the mic again and said he doesn't agree with Ambrose on a lot, but Bryan is a turd. He then walked off.
My Take: Bryan is a turd? That's the best they could come up with? I know they have a couple of weeks to elaborate on this story, but at first blush it seems like a last minute storyline changed pulled out of someone's ass. Maybe that will end up being a good thing for Bryan and the match, but for now I'm just as confused as the crowd was in the arena who had no idea how to react. There weren't any seeds planted for Ambrose and Ziggler to talk about some secret Bryan persona that is only known to people backstage. For that matter, the references to "the boys" in the back is something that has overstayed it's welcome. Triple H referenced the reality era and how sometimes stories have to be written in layers to be the most effective. I agreed with him on that statement, but this story is wafer thin, and now you're adding a second layer on top of it that is not supported by anything Bryan has done on screen for any WWE Product, even the Total Divas reality show. That leaves this story moving forward on flimsy fabricated evidence, and I'm dreading the possibility of hastily edited together video packages or cringeworthy photoshops for promos going forward.
Overall, this episode of Smackdown was totally missable. No action really stood out, the storyline advances were far more frustrating than fulfilling, and it continued the trend of WWE cutting off it's nose to spite it's face.
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