3/17 Barnett’s WWE Smackdown Live Review: Kevin Owens vs. AJ Styles, Charlotte, Sasha Banks, and Becky Lynch “face to face to face” segment

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WWE Smackdown on the USA Network
Taped on Tuesday in Cincinnati, Ohio

A video package aired that showed the brawl between Triple H and Roman Reigns from RAW.

Roman Reigns made his entrance to open the show. He postured and looked to the WrestleMania sign as the announce team hyped up WrestleMania. Lots of canned cheering was piped in as Reigns paced around the ring. Reigns opened up and said that we had already seen the footage and saw what happens when you run your mouth. He’s Triple H wouldn’t be there, but he knew he was watching. He told Triple H he was going to be in his ring, in his arena, eating catering on his dime waiting for a chance to be in the same area code as him again, and then he was going to beat his ass again. He would do it because he was the man, and because he can.

Video was shown of Chris Jericho talking smack to AJ Styles on Smackdown last week, and AJ hitting the Phenomenal Forearm to Jericho on Monday. Backstage, AJ was interviewed by Renee Young. He said the WWE Universe can chant whatever it wants, and that Chris Jericho had made it personal. Kevin Owens interrupted and told him that he sounds a lot like Sami Zayn. Complaining about friendship and betrayal, because they were both too stupid to realize that friendship doesn’t matter in the WWE and gold does. Styles told Owens that he reminded him of Chris Jericho, because he was smug and arrogant. Owens said they’re also both Canadian. Styles reminded Owens they had a match later, and said he would shut his big mouth. Owens told Styles and Renee Young they had the same haircut and walked away.

Dolph Ziggler made his entrance in the arena…[c]

My Take: WWE pretty much entirely cut out the boos that were supposedly all over the arena when this show was taped for Roman Reigns. It also seemed like either they cut his promo short or he did because it ended pretty abruptly and he spent most of it coming across as a heel. Reigns is in the same boat as Shane McMahon in that he doesn’t quite seem to know what fans want from his character.

The Miz made his entrance for the first match of the show.

[Q2] 1. The Miz vs. Dolph Ziggler: The match began with some chain wrestling until the ref broke them up at the ropes. Miz took a cheap shot through the ref and took control with a headlock. Ziggler then turned the tables with a couple of side headlock takeovers. Ziggler went for a dropkick off an Irish Whip but Miz caught him and sent him over the top rope. Ziggler skinned the cat and surprised Miz to regain control. After a Ziggler dropkick, the Miz sent Ziggler into the corner and hit his signature jumping corner clothesline. He then hit a baseball slide dropkick to push Ziggler out to the floor…[c]

Miz remained in control and grabbed a body scissors. The got to their feet and the Miz hit a knee to the body and big boot for a near fall. He then applied a figure four, and Miz clawed his way to the ropes. Ziggler hit a big Superkick after the ref pulled Miz off of him, and pinned mean clean.

Dolph Ziggler defeated The Miz.

Video was shown of the recent League of Nations vs. New Day feud. Kofi vs. King Barrett was hyped for later in the show. Charlotte, Sasha, and Becky were going to be in a face to face interview later on as well…[c]

My Take: This match filled some time, but wasn’t particularly satisfying. It’s hard to get fired up about WWE’s midcard at the moment, given how they just trade wins and nobody ever gets real traction.

[Q3] Footage was shown of Ryback challenging Kalisto for WrestleMania for the US Championship, as well as Kalisto’s acceptance of the challenge in a WWE.com interview with Michael Cole. The show then cut to more video, with clips from Raw of Dean Ambrose’s confrontation with Brock Lesnar, and his gift from Mick Foley. Dean Ambrose was shown cutting a promo while overlooking downtown Cincinnati from a River Bluff. He said that Brock Lesnar has trained for everything professionally. He trained for the NCAA, he trained for the UFC, and he trained for WWE, but Amborse had learned everything via the streets of Cincinatti. He said Lesnar would learn about the streets and WrestleMania, and nothing hurts quite like an education.

The Dudleys made their entrance, and Bubba would be wrestling a singles match…[c]

The announce team covered Jacqueline’s induction into the WWE Hall of Fame. Goldust made his entrance in the arena for the next match.

2. Goldust vs. Bubba Ray Dudley: Bubba talked trash while punching Goldust, and called him a freak and other nonsense. Bubba hit a neckbreaker, and then took a break to have a chat with Devon. Goldust hit mounted punches in the corner, and followed up with a bulldog for a two count.

[Q4] Bubba escaped to the outside and ran away from Goldust, who gave chase. Bubba hit a big boot to Goldust as he got back in the ring, and made a quick cover to get the win.

Bubba Ray Dudley defeated Goldust.

After the match, The Dudleys further beat down Goldust. R-Truth attempted to make a save, but got beat down for his trouble. The Usos eventually ran down and cleared The Dudleys from ringside….[c]

My Take: Meh. This program has no juice. I like both teams but it feels like nothing new is being brought to the table here.

Charlotte made her way to the ring with Ric. She grabbed a microphone to start the segment. Charlotte began by saying that her match in two weeks at WrestleMania is with two women she’s known almost her entire adult life. She said honestly, she wouldn’t be standing where she was if it wasn’t for the two of them, and asked them out to the ring.

Becky made her way out and Charlotte asked her where her BFF was. Becky said she doesn’t do best friends anymore, since the last one didn’t work out. Charlotte said she came, and that she could always count on her. Becky said she could count on her to take her Title at WrestleMania. Sasha made her way out. Charlotte gave her a snarky comment about being late, and Sasha said she was the boss and she doesn’t tell her when to show up anywhere.

Charlotte gave some background about how they became the Horsewomen in NXT. She attempted a fake apology to both Becky and Charlotte. She tried to sound sincere, but failed, and then apologized to her Dad for ever thinking they were worthy of being Horsewomen. Charlotte said she was embarrassed that her Dad’s faction was associated with women who didn’t deserve it.

Becky told her she was waiting for the real Charlotte to show up, and there she was. Becky said she can call her whatever she wants, but at WrestleMania, she would know her as Becky Lynch when she took off her arm and the Divas Championship. Sasha took umbridge and told her that she didn’t deserve to be in the match. She said she hasn’t been pinned since appearing on Raw and Smackdown, and that Becky had her chances and should get in the back of the line.

[Q5] Becky said that the only reason Charlotte still had her Championship is because Daddy dearest had to cheat to keep the title on his daughter, and said where she comes from you have to have something more than a self entitled ego and dollar store jewelry to be called the boss. Sasha and Becky got face to face, and Charlotte smiled because she had caused all the chaos. Sasha decked Charlotte, and Becky gave her an exploder suplex. Both Becky and Sasha stared down Charlotte as she retreated up the ramp…[c]

My Take: Easily the best segment on this show, and my favorite segment of the week. Great mic work from everyone here, and the callbacks to NXT were vague enough that people didn’t need to know everything to get where they were going. Becky was especially strong here, and she showed real babyface fire in comparison to Charlotte and Sasha’s entitled arrogance. These three should have a memorable encounter at WrestleMania, and I’m looking forward to it quite a bit.

New Day made their entrance while video was shown of their victory over the League of Nations on Monday.

New Day did a Booty O’s plug and then Big E cut a coked out 1980s promo about seeing The League of Nations at WrestleMania. It was tongue in cheek. They then ripped on League of Nations and said they were all hot garbage, and proceeded to kick four bags of garbage out of the ring and out to the floor, each one representing one of the League Members. They regrouped and did their New Day Rock shtick, which was interrupted by Wade Barrett and the League of Nations.

[Q6] 3. Kofi Kingston vs. Wade Barrett: Kofi got off to a hot start and cleared Barrett out to the floor…[c]

Rusev offered a distraction and Barrett hit a big boot that sent Kofi from the apron out to the floor. The rest of New Day and the League brawled on the outside, with distractions everywhere. After a spinning heel kick and a roll up, Kofi picked up a victory and New Day escaped with another win.

Kofi Kingston defeated New Day

The announce team plugged WrestleMania being free for new subscribers to the WWE Network. They then cut to another Dean Ambrose promo from Madonna’s Bar. He said that a bar likes this reminds you of all the fights you won and lost, and making it to the big stage. But, in the end, none of that matters, because it’s all about fighting for who you are and where you come from. He said Brock Lesnar doesn’t know what pain is, and doesn’t know what a street fight is yet, but he will at WrestleMania. He then toasted with the rest of the bar patrons. The announce team plugged video of the McMahon/Undertaker segment on Monday.

My Take: I like the Ambrose promos tonight. He isn’t trying to be funny or cute and it’s a better fit for him. He’s coming across like a blue collar hero and that’s exactly what he should be if WWE wants him to succeed beyond making angsty teenage girls squee at all of his bad jokes.

[Q7] We saw a video package of Monday’s Raw segment between Shane, Vince, and The Undertaker. It was better than the actual segment. The Social Outcasts were on the ring apron and Heath Slater told the crowd they were looking at top grade talent. Bo Dallas said they would be the first team to enter the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal and win together. Slater said he was their leader and would win by himself. They then argued about who would win until Dean Ambrose made his entrance and beat them all down with a Kendo Stick.

After clearing them all from the ring, Ambrose said he had heard a rumor that Brock Lesnar would be on Smackdown next week. He said Lesnar walked away from a fight with him on Monday, but said he would be waiting in the ring if he had the baseballs to step to the plate…[c]

My Take: Ambrose was very entertaining in his return to Cincinnati. The crowd ate it up and it’s very apparent he loves his home town. That said, Lesnar being on Smackdown next week will be great if it’s for more than a brief appearance at the end of the show.

[Q8] Kevin Owens made his entrance, followed by AJ Styles.

4. AJ Styles vs. Kevin Owens: Owens caught Styles off the top rope and hit a gutbuster to break up an early offensive flurry. He then booted Styles under the bottom rope and out to the floor…[c]

Styles sent Owens into the ringpost and out to the floor. Owens entered the ring and hit his signature strike combo that knocked Owens down, and then followed up with a running forearm to a seated Owens. He then hit another forearm and an Ushigoroshi. Owens attempted a package piledriver, but Styles escaped and hit an Enziguri. Owens fired back with a nasty lariat, and both men got up directly into a back and forth slugfest.

Owens avoided some Styles strikes and hit a Superkick. Styles fired back with a spin out powerbomb from a fireman’s carry. After more brawling, Styles climbed up to the top. Owens climbed up and tried to set up for a Fisherman’s Buster, but Styles knocked him down. Styles climbed to the top, but had to climb down after Owens got to his feet too quickly. Styles knocked Owens away and jumped out on the apron.

Chris Jericho’s pyro went off and he headed down the ramp. The distraction allowed KO to hit a kick to the gut and a Pop Up Powerbomb for the win.

Kevin Owens defeated AJ Styles

After the match, Jericho picked up Styles and hit a Codebreaker. He grabbed a microphone and mocked the crowd and Styles by incessantly chanting his name into the microphone to close the show.

My Take: A very good TV match. I want to see more of these two when they can get a considerable amount of time and a good build. There is definitely some magic there. Overall, aside from a few bright spots this was a completely missable show. Smackdown becomes a clip show this time of year and that’s what this felt like. Thankfully we got a good main event and a very good segment from Charlotte, Sasha, and Becky.

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