WWE Smackdown on USA Network
Taped on Tuesday in Dayton, Ohio
[Q1] The show intro played and the announce crew plugged Dean Ambrose and Kevin Owens on MizTV, and the main event of Roman Reigns vs. The League of Nations in a handicap match. Chris Jericho’s music hit and the crowd got excited for his lite brite jacket. The announce team spoke about the Royal Rumble while Jericho finished his entrance and played to the crowd. He welcomed the crowd to Thursday Night Jericho, and said it was good to be back. He then went into hype mode for the Royal Rumble, and emphasized the stipulation that the WWE World Heavyweight Championship was on the line, and then aired a clip of the Highlight Reel from Monday that featured Brock Lesnar, Roman Reigns, The League of Nations, and eventually the Wyatt Family.
Jericho then said all hell broke loose, but what can you expect when you have all the favorites in the ring at the same time? Jericho then went into a tirade about being the savior of the WWE and claiming he will win the Royal Rumble, but he was interrupted by New Day. Big E shamed Jericho for calling himself a savior. He then chastised Jericho for destroying Francesca the trombone. Woods said it was like “Making a Brass Murderer”, but they didn’t need to plant any evidence. They mocked Jericho by calling him Cristoph, and said that he can only be reformed through the power of positivity.
Jericho responded and made up a Confucius quote about Unicorns and then quickly moved on to calling their Unicorn names stupid, and instead they should be called rooty, tooty, and booty. Jericho then continued and said he would ordinarily kick their ass right now, but they already had a scheduled six man tag match. He then threw to the Usos and Dolph Ziggler wearing Uso face paint..[c]
My Take: I was really hoping Jericho’s act was a bit and he was playing a wrestler that was out of touch and had lost his cool, but the longer it goes on the more I think that this is exactly what it appears to be. His banter with New Day was entertaining, but it’s hard to take seriously and so in Jericho at this point. The Tag Division has really taken a back seat since the show became primarily about getting Roman Reigns over, and it shows here.
[Q2] 1. The New Day vs. The Usos and Dolph Ziggler: Xavier Woods and Jimmy Uso started the match for their respective teams. There was a quick tag to Jey Uso and the Usos hit a double team elbow and Jey covered for a two count. Dolph then tagged in a moment later and mocked the Usos by stomping Woods to the beat of a “New Day Sucks” chant. Woods fired up and backed Ziggler into the heel corner and tagged in Big E. He hit a Big Splash for a near fall, and then tagged in Kofi.
We saw some quick tags from the heels at this point, as the kept Dolph Ziggler pinned down in their corner. Ziggler fired with a dropkick as Kofi flied off the top rope in order to get back into the match, Ziggler made a tag to Jimmy Uso, who continued to work over Kofi Kingston. He hit a corner butt butt, but Big E was able to use a distraction and hip toss Jimmy to the outside to turn the tide…[c]
New Day remained in control with the merry go round stomps in their corner on Jimmy Uso. Xavier Woods then hit a basement dropkick, which made enough time for New Day to celebrate as creepily as humanly possible. Jimmy attempted a sunset flip, but failed to notice a blind tag that allowed Big E to demolish him with a clothesline. Jimmy finally was able to make a hot tag to Ziggler, who hit a Rocker Dropper on Xavier Woods. Woods was able to recover and back body drop him out to the floor, and he hit the steps on the way down.
[Q2] The match broke down in chaos at this point, with Woods and Big E getting sent out of the ring. Jey Uso splashed them on the outside, and then the Usos and Dolph hit a triple Superkick on Xavier Woods to pick up a pinfall victory.
Dolph Ziggler and The Usos defeated New Day at 16:31.
The announce team put over the WWE Network and the main event. A video package for the Rumble match was plugged for next…[c]
My Take: A time filler if there ever was one, but it wasn’t a bad match by any means. The Usos and New Day feud feels like it started 8 years ago, so I hope Sunday is the blowoff and The Usos move out of the spotlight for a while. They haven’t added much to their act, even with an extended period of time away as a team, and I don’t think they make very good foils for New Day at this point.
Mauro threw to a Royal Rumble video package that included some statistics and a “Rumble by the Numbers” approach to how unlikely it is for Roman Reigns to retain his WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
Becky Lynch made her entrance and hyped up the crowd…[c]
[Q4] Footage was shown of Ric Flair accepting a title challenge on behalf of Charlotte on Monday. Alicia Fox was in the ring for a match. Ric and Charlotte were on commentary.
2. Alicia Fox vs. Becky Lynch: Becky dominated the early going as Charlotte said she wanted the match at the Royal Rumble, her facial expression was shock at how Becky spoke to her father.
Alicia hit a beautiful Northern Light Suplex on the outside, and bridged even though there was no opportunity for a pinfall. Becky fired back up and hit an exploder suplex, but only got a two count. She then reversed a body slam attempt into a disarmer and forced Alicia Fox to tap out.
Becky Lynch defeated Alicia Fox at 3:02.
The announce team plugged MizTV for next…[c]
My Take: Not much of a match to talk about here. It did give Becky another win and The Flair’s a chance to explain away what happened on Monday, but it didn’t really advance the story in any way. I’m looking forward to seeing what Charlotte and Becky can put together for the Rumble. I hope they get more than 10 minutes, otherwise it will feel like a let down.
The Miz welcomed everyone to MizTV, and explained the Last Man Standing rules for the match between Kevin Owens and Dean Ambrose for the Royal Rumble PPV. Dean Ambrose interrupted him before he could get completely finished, and headed to the ring.
[Q5] Ambrose thanked The Miz for the introduction, but said he would take it from there. He and Ambrose argued about control of the segment. The Miz polled the crowd about whether or not Dean could run the show better than him, and they thought he could. He then sat in the corner and threw it over to Ambrose.
Dean called a Last Man Standing match an amusement park of pain, and then walked around the ring showcasing different parts of the ring and the ringside area explaining how he would use them to injure Owens. He said he was busting at the seams to get his hands on Kevin Owens. He got fired up about putting Owens through the announce table, and said he would leave the Rumble as always the Last Man Standing.
Kevin Owens interrupted and walked out on stage. He said it seems like Dean put a lot of thought into his amusement park thing, but it means nothing to him, as he’s more of a Zoo enthusiast. Owens then said that Ambrose might be insane, but he’s obsessed, and his obsession is the Intercontinental Championship. He said he would stop at nothing to take back what is his, and on Sunday, when Ambrose woke up, he would be standing over him once again the Intercontinental Championship.
Ambrose said they didn’t have to wait until Sunday, and then Miz attacked Ambrose from behind. Miz sauntered down to the ring slowly and gave The Miz a pop up Powerbomb. He told Ambrose that Sunday will be the Kevin Owens show, and tossed Ambrose into the ropes. Dean fired off the ropes and tackled Owens that threw some punches. Owens managed to escape and talked some more trash as he headed up the ramp. Ambrose hit The Miz with Dirty Deeds and counted to ten.
Backstage, The Wyatt Family did a “We’re Here” segment….[c]
My Take: I liked this segment. It gave both guys ample breathing room to get their message across without giving too much away for Sunday. Miz had to be the odd man out to sell a beating from both guys, but it worked. I’m hoping we see Owens win on Sunday, because I don’t think another month of a heel chasing after Ambrose will work.
The Wyatt Family made their entrance with their creepy lantern. Video was shown of the Wyatt attack on Brock Lesnar from Monday, and Byron made point to say that Brock Lesnar has never appeared more vulnerable. Ryback was already in the ring.
[Q6] 3. Ryback vs. Bray Wyatt: Ryback hit a flying crossbody early on and a shoulder block, but he wasn’t able to keep Wyatt down. Wyatt took things to the outside and slammed Ryback into the ring apron with a modified Uranage…[c]
Wyatt mounted Ryback in a corner, but the tables quickly turned as Ryback walked out of the corner with Wyatt and hit a Tiger Bomb. Ryback then hit a superkick and a big splash for a near fall. He then went up top, but missed a big splash, which allowed Wyatt to hit another Uranage followed by a running senton for a near fall of his own. Wyatt hung upside down from the corner and then ran into spinebuster. Ryback covered for another near fall.
Ryback hit a meathook clothesline, and then set up for Shellshock, but Luke Harper offered a distraction and Erick Rowan broke the move up. Wyatt pushed Ryback to the outside where Braun Strowman shoved him into the steps. Wyatt then hit Sister Abigail for the win.
Bray Wyatt defeated Ryback at 8:47.
After the match, Bray Wyatt spoke without a microphone to the camera. He said they were famine, pestilince, war, and death, and on Monday they slew the beast Brock Lesnar. At the Royal Rumble, they would slay the rest of them. The Apocalypse is here…[c]
My Take: A predictable outcome considering where they seem to be going with Wyatt and Lesnar. I could be very wrong about that, but the sudden resurgence in importance of Bray Wyatt seems to indicate that WWE’s injury bug has them counting on him once again in a major spot. The match itself was enjoyable, but the winner never seemed in doubt based on the storytelling.
[Q7] Stardust was in the ring. Titus O’Neill then made his entrance. A picture in picture promo of Titus aired where he explained that Sunday would be his National Championship….his Superbowl.
4. Stardust vs. Titus O’Neill: Titus fired up early and took it to Stardust with punches and a body slam. Stardust took things out to the floor and tossed Titus into the ring apron, and then the barricade. He quickly brought Titus back in the ring to make a cover for a two count. Titus took over and worked power for a bit, until Stardust was able to counter out of a fallaway slam into a DDT. Stardust went up top, but Titus was able to crotch him. He then grabbed Stardust off the ropes and hit Clash of the Titus for the win.
Titus O’Neill defeated Stardust at 3:37.
Kalisto was shown backstage…[c]
My Take: Stardust is so underutilized it’s a shame. I get why some people in WWE would be high in Titus, but I can’t get over how they have missed the boat with Stardust and Cody Rhodes in general.
Renee Young interviewed Kalisto backstage. She asked him if he was mentally prepared for one of the biggest moments of his career. Kalisto said that in Mexico, Alberto Del Rio is among the ranks of Mil Mascaras, Rey Mysterio, and Eddie Guerrero. He’s someone to look up to. Kalisto then said that he has been playing David all his life, and he’s used to facing Goliaths. At The Royal Rumble, he would beat Alberto Del Rio one more time. Del Rio then walked up and said that his victories were a fluke, and on Sunday he would prove it. The rest of the League appeared behind Kalisto and they shoved him around and Sheamus took a shot at him. They left him laying backstage and Sheamus said that now they had to go take out Roman Reigns.
[Q8] Roman made his entrance in the arena and sarcastically said he was shocked when Vince McMahon said he was number one in the Rumble. He then acknowledged that Vince was stacking the odds like he always does. Roman said that he was the Champion going in and he believes when he says he will be the Champion coming out. He said the odds weren’t in his favor on Sunday, but he liked his odds a lot better tonight. He then called out The League of Nations to come out because he didn’t have all night…[c]
My Take: Roman managed to come across completely unconcerned with having to fight all four members of the League of Nations, which says everything there is to know about that faction. WWE has managed to keep Triple H’s name completely off television other than foreshadowing him extracting his revenge when Reigns would least expect it, which I hope leads to a good crowd reaction on Sunday.
5. Roman Reigns vs. The League of Nations: Reigns started out with Sheamus, who quickly tagged out to Rusev. The match spilled outside briefly, where Reigns sent Rusev into the barricade. Back in the ring, Reigns continued to dominate until The League provided enough of a distraction to allow Rusev to get back into the match. Rusev methodically began to work over Reigns at that point, and each time the ref’s attention was drawn away a member of the League would take a cheap shot or choke Reigns on the ropes.
Sheamus tagged in and hit a shoulder block in the corner, but Reigns fired back with a running clothesline. As soon as it appeared that Reigns was in position to put Sheamus away, The League interfered and the match was called as a DQ.
Roman Reigns defeated The League of Nations by DQ at 5:12.
The League of Nations continued to attack Reigns. Rusev hit a superkick, and that caused The Usos to run down and try and close the odds gap. They were ineffective, but they did buy enough time for Reigns to recover and hit some Superman Punches on Sheamus and Rusev. The Wyatt Family then appeared and surrounded the ring. Reigns fought them at first, but Strowman was immovable and that led to Harper and Rowan taking him out with some nasty kicks. Strowman then picked up Wyatt and slammed him with his over the shoulder sideslam, and Bray Wyatt finally hit Sister Abigail to close the show.
My Take: Wyatt continues to look like a Monster heading into the Royal Rumble, which isn’t all bad, but it did come at the expense of Reigns and Lesnar. I’m not sure how much that matters in the long run, but it really did feel out of place given that the Wyatt’s were struggling to put away the reanimated corpse of ECW just a bit ago. I’m intrigued about where they go on Sunday, and I’m hoping for some surprises. This week in WWE TV felt a bit like limping into the Rumble finish line, so I’m hoping that Sunday can make me forget about it. This wasn’t a bad show, but if you don’t devote two hours to it you really didn’t miss much.
The Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Frank Zarrillo discussing his film "The Wrestler: A QT Marshall Story", which includes appearances by Matt Riddle, Damian Priest, Gerald Brisco, Kevin Kelly, Steve Corino, and many more, the involvement of Marshall's wife and mother, and much more. Stick around after the interview for Powell's audio review of Wednesday's AEW Dynamite television show...