01/28 Powell’s WWE Smackdown Live TV Review: The Highlight Reel with Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose, A.J. Styles in action

By Jason Powell

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WWE Smackdown on the USA Network
Taped on Tuesday Tampa, Florida

A recap of the Royal Ruble match opened the show… Mauro Ranallo, Jerry Lawler, and Byron Saxton were on commentary and they hyped the Highlight Reel segment and Kalisto vs. Neville for the U.S. Championship…

New Day made their entrance and highlights aired from their segment with The Rock on Raw. New Day complained that Rock compared their unicorn horns to something you can’t say on television. Xavier Woods noted that it’s a PG show. They were interrupted by The Miz, who headed to the ring with a mic in hand and complained about being insulted by The Rock on Raw.

The Uso Brothers came out and spoke briefly on the mic. New Day mocked them for being outnumbered and said their cousin Dewey was not going to come out and save them. Dolph Ziggler and then Titus O’Neil came out to even up the sides. They babyface foursome headed to the ring and fought with the heels heading into the break… [C]

Powell’s POV: A decent opening segment to set up the inevitable eight-man tag match. I must admit that I get a big kick out of Miz acting like his acting career is on par with The Rock’s film career. While it was nice to hear the Uso Brothers get some rare mic time, they still desperately need a chance to establish themselves as more than the fun loving Samoan tag team. It’s been how many years now and viewers who aren’t watching Total Divas know nothing more about them today than they did when they arrived in WWE. By the way, I’m filling in for Jake Barnett tonight, but he will be back with the WWE Smackdown Hit List on Friday, and he will return in this slot next week.

[Q2] Footage aired from a Titus O’Neil appearance at a Florida school…

1. The Uso Brothers, Titus O’Neil, and Dolph Ziggler vs. Kofi Kingston, Big E, Xavier Woods, and The Miz in an eight-man tag match. 

One of the Uso Brothers was down and being taunted in the corner of the heels when they cut to break. [C] In the end, Titus his finisher on Miz and pinned him clean…

The Uso Brothers, Titus O’Neil, and Dolph Ziggler beat Kofi Kingston, Big E, Xavier Woods, and The Miz in 12:00.

[Q3] After the match, Titus headed into the crowd and celebrated with the honor students featured in the pre-match charity video… [C]

Powell’s POV: This is the second week in a row that WWE has put their big time killing tag match early in the show. I like this approach more than what we see on Raw, where they often place the match later in the show at a time when viewers have already developed show fatigue. By the way, I’ve heard from more than one person in the Florida area that Titus goes above and beyond with his charitable efforts. He gets some credit on television, but I hear the guy is tireless when it comes to his charity work and what we hear about on television pales in comparison to how much he actually does. In other words, he’s a class act.

A graphic touted that Raw was the No. 1 show “socially” and listed the shows that it topped…

2. Kalisto vs. Neville for the U.S. Championship. Eden Stiles handled the in-ring introductions for the title match. Ranallo noted that Alberto Del Rio still has his rematch due to his rematch clause, and that Kalisto said he will face Del Rio whenever he wants the match. Lawler said there’s something about a luchador being U.S. Champ that doesn’t sit well with him. He also said he wishes that Saxton was a luchador so that he would wear a mask. Both men were down in the ring following an early exchange as they cut to break. [C]

[Q4] Late in the match, Neville caught Kalisto with a kick and went for what appeared to be a German suplex, but Kalisto countered into what Ranallo called a modified version of Salida del Sol for the clean win. Lawler pointed out that Del Rio is still waiting in the wings…

Kalisto beat Neville to retain the U.S. Title in 8:45.

The broadcast team hyped the Highlight Reel segment… [C]

Powell’s POV: A good U.S. Championship that should have been scripted to feel more important. The broadcast team did their part (though Mauro bringing up Dynamite Kid vs. Tiger Mask was a bit much), but throwing it on as the second match with no fanfare is hurts the prestige of the title. And, yes, I am making my regular pitch to have Kalisto defend the title in open challenges because it would make him look like a fighting champion, raise the prestige of the title, and lead to some entertaining scenarios because he’s cast as the vulnerable underdog champion.

Chris Jericho made his entrance and hosted The Highlight Reel segment. He say the Royal Rumble was on of the best in history. He said he may have lasted over 50 minutes, but Triple H came out on top. He also called his Raw match against AJ Styles “one for the ages” and then hyped the Fastlane main event. There was some serious piped in crowd noise at various points.

Jericho introduced Dean Ambrose as the first of his two guests. Ambrose brought a plant to the ring with him. Jericho introduced Roman Reigns as his second guest, and Reigns entered through the crowd. Dean’s plant was placed on the Jericho set stool. Jericho whether being in the same match was cauising issues between them.

[Q5] Ambrose and Reigns joked around about being in the match together. Jericho brought up Brock Lesnar being the third man in the Triple Threat match. He said his ear is still ringing from the shot that Lesnar took at him. Jericho said Reigns knows what it’s all about, but he noted that Ambrose has never been in the ring with him. Reigns told Ambrose that he doesn’t understand, Lesnar is a beast.

Ambrose told Reigns that technically he doesn’t have to beat Lesnar, he just has to be Reigns. Roman said it would be the first time because Ambrose has never beat him before. The Wyatt video flashed and the group appeared together on the stage. Bray Wyatt spoke and then Reigns said he’s doing it again, “we don’t know what you’re talking about.” Reigns invited him to join them in the ring. Wyatt laughed and told him patience is a virtue. Wyatt said he and two of his brothers would put the three of them down forever…

The broadcast team hyped AJ Styles making his Smackdown debut coming up after the break… [C]

Powell’s POV: I’m not spoiling anything when I say that the Wyatt Family are not going to put Reigns, Ambrose, and Jericho down forever. Honestly, I don’t even remember which trio won the match on Tuesday. The point is that Wyatt shouldn’t be making grandiose claims that the average viewer rolls his/her eyes at. On the plus side, I did enjoy the way things started to get a little tense between Ambrose and Reigns. I assume the tension will continue to build heading into Fastlane, as that’s a great hook for a match that most viewers assume has an obvious outcome in Reigns going over to set up a WrestleMania match with Triple H.

Ranallo said the Reigns, Ambrose, and Jericho vs. Wyatt, Luke Harper, and Erick Rowan was made official as the main event during the break…

The Social Outcasts stood in the ring and took turns talking. Heath Slater said they should have been the talking point coming out of Raw. Bo Dallas said Curtis Axel’s run in the Royal Rumble match finally came to an end. Axel said he was in for 364 days, three minutes, and 23 seconds. He said Styles eliminated him from behind unlike a real man. Axel challenged him to a match…

3. AJ Styles vs. Curtis Axel (w/Adam Rose, Heath Slater, Bo Dallas). Lawler said he won more championships than anyone before he got to WWE, but he doesn’t go around bragging about it because it doesn’t go around bragging about it before it happened before he got to WWE. He said the thought in WWE is that if it didn’t happen in WWE then it didn’t happen. Saxton defended Styles by saying he knows this is new. Mauro also praised Styles for lasting as long as he did in the Rumble match.

[Q6] Rose tries to interfere, but Styles avoided him and dove onto Slater and Dallas on the floor. Styles went for a springboard move, but Axel cut him off. Styles performed a Pele Kick on Axel and then followed up with the Styles Clash for the win. The other Social Outcasts went after Styles, but he dodged them and left the ring with his win…

AJ Styles defeated Curtis Axel in 3:30.

A shot aired of Charlotte and Ric Flair walking backstage together… [C]

Powell’s POV: After two nights of buildup, we saw the Styles Clash. I thought it would have been positioned stronger given that wait, but it was treated like any other finisher. I did like the way Lawler heelishly went after Styles pre-WWE career, as it gave Ranallo and Saxton a chance to sing his praises. It is puzzling that WWE didn’t hype Styles’ Smackdown debut on Raw as a hook along with the Highlight Reel segment, but it’s also very possible that they hadn’t planned that far ahead.

4. Divas Champion Charlotte (w/Ric Flair) vs. Natalya in a non-title match. Before the match, still shots aired from the Diva Championship match that included Sasha Banks attacking both women afterward. A Natalya promo aired as he walked to the ring. She said there’s nothing worse than being injured, then said you can’t keep a Hart family member down. Natalya got off to a flashy start, then Charlotte came back with a big boot to the face.

Later, Natalya had the advantage at ringside, but she became distracted by Flair woooing at her. Charlotte took advantage of the distraction as Natalya returned to the ring. Charlotte applied the Figure Eight for the win. Charlotte applied the hold afterward until Becky Lynch ran out, causing Charlotte to release the hold and flee the ring…

Charlotte beat Natalya in a non-title match in 4:00.

The broadcast team hyped the main event… [C]

Powell’s POV: Even Lawler was essentially mocking the idea of Natalya being distracted by Flair woooing at her. There was nothing wrong with this match considering the time they were given. There was everything wrong about the time they were given when you consider how great Charlotte’s breakout match with Natalya was on one of the early NXT live specials. I will be truly sad if Charlotte’s title reign ends before these women are given a chance to recreate that magic on the main roster.

[Q7] Video footage of Goldust and R-Truth out running together. R-Truth wore a “WrestleMania 32 Texas” t-shirt, so the number is still alive. There were Goldust deep stretching jokes. Goldust asked Truth if he thought about what he told him on Monday. Truth said he doesn’t swing like that, but Goldust can swing on. Goldust clarified that he wants to form the Golden Truth tag team. Goldust went back to stretching and said it was hard in the groin. He asked R-Truth to help him up because he was stuck. Truth said that was the oldest trick in the book…

The Wyatt Family made their entrance for the main event… A WrestleMania video aired. We are 66 days away… [C]

5. Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, and Chris Jericho vs. Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper, and Erick Rowan (w/Braun Strowman). The babyface trio worked over Rowan in their corner to start the match.

[Q8] The Wyatts came back and Harper was getting the better of Jericho heading into the break. [C] The Wyatts continued to isolate Jericho coming out of the break. Ambrose took the tag and had a run of offense on all three opponents, including a suicide dive onto Rowan. Ambrose rolled him back in the ring and went for a move off the top rope, but Rowan knocked him down with a spinning kick and got a two count. Wyatt tagged in and Ambrose caught him with his teetering clothesline before making the hot tag to Reigns.

Roman worked over Harper, who also tagged in. Reigns through ten clotheslines in the corner. Jericho and Ambrose fought off Wyatt and Rowan and performed simultaneous planchas onto both men on the floor. Strowman distracted Reigns briefly, and eventually pulled Reigns off of a pinned Harper for the DQ.

Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, and Chris Jericho beat Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper, and Erick Rowan by DQ in 13:30.

After the match, all four Wyatt Family members put the boots to Reigns. Big Show’s music played and he came out and fought off the Wyatts until he and Strowman came face to face. The staredown ended when the other family members attacked Show from behind. Reigns recovered and went for a Superman Punch, but Strowman grabbed him by the throat.

Show grabbed Strowman by the throat and pushed him over the top rope. Wyatt went for his finisher on Reigns, who fought him off and took him out with a Superman Punch. Jericho and Ambrose threw Rowan over the top rope. Show ran Harper into a Reigns’ spear, then Roman’s music played as the babyfaces celebrated. Ranallo closed out the show by hyping Brock Lesnar returning on Monday’s Raw…

Powell’s POV: Did WWE’s contract with USA Network require DQ finishes in the main event matches? We did learn that Big Show is officially a babyface. It looked that way recently even though there wasn’t a real turn. Apparently, they are setting up Show vs. Strowman, which leaves me fearful that they intend to build up Strowman for a WrestleMania match against Undertaker, which no one wants to see. Overall, this was another week of Smackdown that was decent if you watched, yet nothing you would regret missing if you did skipped it. The idea that Smackdown would be more meaningful now that it’s on USA Network lasted the same few weeks that the buzz over WWE placing a renewed emphasis on Smackdown did when the show moved back to Thursday nights after its run on Friday nights. It’s very much a B-Show with a good broadcast team.

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