2/4 Barnett’s WWE Smackdown on USA Live Coverage: Roman Reigns, AJ Styles, Dean Ambrose, Kalisto, Kevin Owens, New Day, and more…

WWE Smackdown on USA Live Coverage
Taped on Tuesday in Memphis, TN

[Q1] The Smackdown introduction aired and the announce crew welcomed everyone to Memphis. They plugged Fastlane as Roman Reigns music hit and he headed towards the ring for the first match of the show. Footage was shown of The League of Nations taking out Roman Reigns at the Royal Rumble. Rusev then made his entrance with Alberto Del Rio and King Barrett. Footage was then shown of Rusev getting put through the announce table of Reigns and Ambrose.

1. Roman Reigns vs. Rusev: The action spilled outside almost immediately, with Reigns getting thrown into the steps. Back in the ring, things went back in forth, with Reigns going on offense once he was able to dodge Rusev and send him into the ring post. He followed up with a drive by and a clothesline. Reigns fired up and hit multiple clotheslines in the corner. He set up a Superman Punch, but King Barrett and Del Rio swarmed him for a DQ.

Roman Reigns defeated Rusev at 4:11.

Dean Ambrose ran in and saved Reigns after the DQ. Ambrose ended up flying into Reigns on accident, which led to the League of Nations members gaining the upper hand. Rusev applied the Accolade to Ambrose, at which point Roman grabbed a chair and the heels left up the ramp. The Miz vs. AJ Styles was hyped for later, and Kalisto vs. Kevin Owens was plugged for next…[c]

My Take: It seems like this is setting up the main event, which I guess is better than a long winded talking segment where everyone spins their wheels. The match itself was fine up until the DQ, but nothing special.

Hey, what do you know, a main event is announced between Reigns & Ambrose and The League of Nations. Backstage, Renee Young interviewed Ambrose and asked if that was a preview of what we can expect at Fastlane. Ambrose said he was off and got his wires crossed,and it was an accident that they collided out at the ring. He claimed he and Reigns have an understanding that sometimes they hit each other, and sometimes they hit other people, which is what they would be doing tonight.

[Q2] Kalisto made his entrance in the ring, followed by Kevin Owens. A picture in picture promo aired where Kalisto said he would defeat Kevin Owens tonight just like he will defeat Alberto Del Rio at Fastlane. Dolph Ziggler joined on commentary.

2. Kevin Owens vs. Kalisto: Owens started out hot, but Kalisto quickly turned the tables with a springboard kick and a suicide dive on Owens on the outside. They both re-entered the ring, and Owens fired right back with a big suplex…[c]

Owens continued the punishment with a running senton for a two count. Owens picked up Kalisto for a back suplex, but turned it into a gutbuster for a near fall. Kalisto fired back with a couple of kicks and corkscrew plancha. He then hit a spike rana for a two count of his own. Kalisto then hit a tornado DDT and covered for another near fall. Owens rolled to the outside to recover. Kalisto attempted a baseball slide, but Kalisto avoided him.
Owens tossed Kalisto onto the barricade and took apart the announce table. Owens then tossed Kalisto onto Dolph Ziggler and then superkicked him. Ziggler ran back towards the ring, providing a distraction for Kalisto to roll up Owens for the win.

Kalisto defeated Kevin Owens at 9:38.

[Q3] Owens slugged Kalisto after the bell and avoided Ziggler, who re-entered the ring to chase him down. Kalisto and Ziggler celebrated in the ring. Footage was then shown of The Miz verbally assaulting AJ Styles and then getting pummeled. Backstage, Jojo interviewed The Miz. He said that AJ blindsided him as he was offering him his expert advice. He called him a Southern Fried rookie, and said that AJ should take his advice just like Daniel Bryan. Ryback then made his entrance in the arena in all black tights and pads…[c]

My Take: Ryback looks much better without his singlet, but he does look a bit like a Goldberg. I’m sure those chants will start back up any time now. Kalisto and Owens was a fun match, but with Ziggler out there you were just waiting for the shenanigans. Owens vs. Ziggler is would be a lot more interesting to me a as a feud if Ziggler’s character wasn’t so awful.

Erick Rowan made his entrance with Braun Strowman.

3. Erick Rowan vs. Ryback: Both guys traded punches to start. Rowan took over on offense after a big shoulder tackle that nearly sent Ryback out to ringside. He then put Ryback in a head vise, and hit a knee lift when Ryback tried to fight to his feet. Ryback hit a missile dropkick from the second rope and a step up knee in the corner. He then set up for the meat hook clothesline, but Strowman jumped up on the apron. He threw Rowan into Strowman, and then hit the meathook and covered for the win.

Ryback defeated Erick Rowan at 3:23.

[Q4] Strowman leveled Ryback after the match, but Ryback was able to roll out of the ring and head up the ramp to avoid any further punishment. Ryback celebrated a bit as Strowman and Rowan grimaced in the ring.

My Take: This was short, but better than I would have expected from these two. Ryback showed some agility, as did Rowan, and we got to avoid another interference rollup on this show.

Renee Young interviewed Becky Lynch backstage, and aired some footage from the Team Bad implosion on Monday. Becky started to explain why she helped Sasha on Monday, when Sasha herself interrupted. Sasha said she wouldn’t help Becky if her life depended on it, and Becky said that when she sees people in trouble she helps them. They argued back and forth a bit and eventually decided they would help each other to fend off Naomi and Tamina, but neither of them would like it. In the arena, Chris Jericho made his entrance, followed by The Miz…[c]

My Take: The Becky and Sasha promo was humorous. I’m not sure if I like them both being kept away from Charlotte to take on Naomi and Tamina, but we’ll see how it goes.

AJ Styles made his entrance. Footage was shown of AJ vs. Chris Jericho from Raw a few weeks ago. Chris Jericho put AJ over on commentary.

4. AJ Styles vs. The Miz: Styles hit a clothesline and a snap suplex. Mauro Ranallo kept referring to AJ Styles as a pitbull, which I guess is WWE’s new marketing for him. The match spilled outside as Miz pulled Styles off the apron. He then tossed AJ back first into the barricade.

[Q5] Back in the ring, Miz took over and ground on Styles with holds and strikes. This continued for several minutes, and the crowd booed loudly. Styles avoided a kick and rolled up Miz for a two count. He then hit some quick strikes and a spinning backfist, but ended up caught in a double clothesline when both men hit the ropes…[c]

Miz attempted a skull crushing finale, but Styles broke the hold and hit a Pele kick. He then set up for the Styles Clash, but Miz broke free. Miz attempted an awesome clothesline in the corner, but he missed and Styles fired back with a springboard flying forearm. Miz avoided the Styles Clash into a rollup attempt, but Styles kicked out and rolled up Miz into a calf crusher for the win.

AJ Styles defeated The Miz at 11:39.

After the match, Jericho walked into the ring and told Styles that everyone knows he’s good, but asked if he’s great. He asked if he had what it takes to beat him twice, and then challenged him to a rematch of their Raw match next week on Smackdown. Styles eventually shook his hand, and they pulled each other close for the always awkward wrestling intimidation staredown.

Backstage, Jojo interviewed Roman Reigns. She asked about the elbow he took from Ambrose earlier. Reigns acknowledged what happened earlier was an accident, but what will happen at Fastlane won’t be. He said later they will fight together and win together, believe that. In the arena, New Day made their entrance hopped backward down to the ring. A booty entrance? I guess.

My Take: I liked the Styles vs. Miz match. I don’t think I would have had Miz in control of the match with rest holds and the occasional punch like they did. It didn’t en up ruining the fun though, and the end result was AJ debuting a submission and making what should be an exciting main event next week for Smackdown. I can’t even remember the last time they booked a Smackdown main event a week in advance with an angle like this. It’s nice to see.

[Q6] Xavier Woods said he wanted to talk about something that everyone wants but few people have, and that’s gold. They talked about their gold not being like the participation trophies you give little leaguers, as their gold is only for winners. The Social Outcasts interrupted them (sans Bo Dallas) and said that they are idiots because they don’t have gold, their belts are bronze. They called them wannabe Rhinos, and said they would take the bronze from around their waists. New Day said they wouldn’t touch anything on their waists, and that they were of course unicorns.

5. New Day vs. Social Outcasts: A clothesline sent both Xavier Woods and Heath Slater to the floor, where both teams had to be separated…[c]

New Day took control as they hit their revolving door stomps in the corner. Xavier Woods hit a sick looking tornado DDT, but then jumped right into an Adam Rose spinebuster that led to a tag for both teams. Kofi and Curtis Axel jockeyed for position, with Axel taking control with a running knee. the match broke down a bit, with everyone but Woods and Kofi ending up on the outside. Woods broke up a rope leverage pin attempt from Axel, and then Kofi used the ropes to pin Axel a moment later.

New Day defeated The Social Outcasts at 8:22.

The New Day celebrated on the ramp and pointed The Social Outcasts in the general direction of their booty. Charlotte and Ric Flair were shown backstage…[c]

My Take: The Social Outcasts have a better dynamic with New Day than any other team in the division at this point. I wouldn’t have minded seeing them get a victory here to set up a title match.

[Q7] Charlotte made her way to the ring with Ric. Alicia Fox then made her entrance with Brie Bella.

6. Brie Bella vs. Alicia Fox: Charlotte started out on offense and sent Alicia out to the floor. She then shoved her into the apron and then back into the ring right in front of Brie. Back in the ring Alicia hit a sunset flip for a near fall. They both then collided mid ring with a double big boot. Both women answered the count and Alicia took over on offense. She hit a nice tilt-a-whirl back breaker and a northern lights suplex with a bridge for a near fall. Charlotte hit a chop block, and then applied a figure eight and got a quick tapout victory.

Charlotte defeated Alicia Fox at 3:11.

Alicia Fox freaked out in anger after the match. We got a video from earlier today in a hotel. Goldust confronted R-Truth at a hotel and pretended to a bellhop. They opened up his suitcase in a struggle over it and Truth’s underwear went everywhere. He still refused to be Goldust’s partner.

My Take: Charlotte gets a win after a noteworthy loss to Brie Bella on Monday. Does this mean we’re going to get two Divas matches at Fastlane, given that it seems Becky will be tied up with the members of the recently fractured Team BAD?

[Q8] Dean Ambrose made his entrance in the arena. Footage was then aired of the accidental elbow from earlier in the show. Roman Reigns then followed with his entrance…[c]

The League of Nations (sans Sheamus) made their entrance.

7. Rusev and Del Rio vs. Reigns and Ambrose: Rusev hit a roundhouse kick on Reigns early that got him a near fall. Del Rio tagged in a worked over Reigns briefly before tagging out. Rusev ground on Rusev with holds and strikes, and then sent Ambrose off the apron. Reigns surprised Rusev with a Samoan Drop, and then made a tag to Ambrose. Ambrose hit a bulldog and a double leg missile dropkick. He then low bridged Rusev to the outside and hit a dive onto Rusev near the announce table. Ambrose rolled up Rusev for a near fall. Rusev fired back with a big kick, and Ambrose hit a rebound clothesline in response.

Reigns tagged in and he and Del Rio ended up slugging it out on the outside. Reigns went to dive on Del Rio, but he got out of the way and Reigns had to catch Ambrose. Reigns looked at him skeptically as if it may not have been an accident. Reigns hit a spear on Rusev mid ring and pinned him for the victory. Ambrose and Reigns continued to talk mid ring, but they were all smiles.

Reigns and Ambrose defeated The League of Nations at 8:41.

My Take: A predictable outcome given that it’s a bit too early to have Reigns and Ambrose completely implode. That feud would be best reserved for a singles feud down the road. These tag match endings to Smackdown will be interrupted next week by Styles and Jericho, and I couldn’t be happier about it. It seems like it’s been an eternity since Smackdown didn’t end with some convoluted multi-man match that ultimately meant nothing.

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