By Jason Powell
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WWE Smackdown on the USA Network
Taped on Tuesday in Boston, Massachusetts
[Q1] After the opening video aired, Mauro Ranallo welcomed viewers. He was joined on commentary by Jerry Lawler and Byron Saxton, and Becky Lynch sat in on commentary for the opening match…
Charlotte and Ric Flair delivered an in-ring promo. Charlotte spoke about how she was going to put an end to Lynch and Sasha Banks at WrestleMania. Charlotte still can’t “wooooo” well, but her dad helped out. Sasha made her entrance…
1. WWE Divas Champion Charlotte (w/Ric Flair) vs. Sasha Banks in a non-title match. Charlotte took an early powder and then took offensive control once both women returned to the ring. Sasha caught Charlotte with a nice knee to the head and got a two count shortly thereafter. Boht women fought to ringside where Charlotte shoved Sasha into Lynch.
Back inside the ring, Charlotte set up for the Figure Eight, but Sasha caught her with an inside cradle and scored the pin. After the match, Lynch entered the ring and performed back splashes on Banks and then Charlotte. As Lynch was walking backstage, Sasha performed the Backstabber on Charlotte and left her lying…
Sasha Banks beat Charlotte in a non-title match in 5:00.
Mauro hyped Brock Lensar for later in the show… Backstage, New Day clowned around and performed a slam dunk with their mini-hoop and ball… [C]
Powell’s POV: Solid build for to the Triple Threat match at WrestleMania. The match and post-match were well done. I would give the overall segment more than “solid” if the match had been hyped in advance. It should be a big deal that one of the challengers if facing the champion even in a non-title match. It really should have been hyped last week or on Raw at the very least. Instead, it just came out of nowhere, which doesn’t do the Divas Championship any favors.
[Q2] New Day made their entrance and said that League of Nations is like the Jar Jar Binks of WWE, and the Michael Jordan of baseball. League of Nations made their entrance and then Eden Stiles introduced the match…
2. Kofi Kingston (w/Big E, Xavier Woods) vs. Shemaus (w/King Barrett, Rusev). Alberto Del Rio did not accompany his stablemates. They cut to break after some back and forth action. [C]
[Q3] Late in the match, Kingston caught Sheamus with a spin kick and then covered him. Rusev placed Sheamus’s leg on the ropes. The other New Day members chased Rusev up the ramp. Meanwhile, Barrett distracted Kingston briefly, and then Sheamus caught Kingston with a Brogue Kick and pinned him. After the match, the League of Nations members took a mic and chanted “New Day Sucks” from the stage…
Sheamus beat Kofi Kingston in 13:20.
The broadcast team hyped the WWE Network highlights for WrestleMania weekend. Yes, NXT Takeover: Dallas (a/k/a the best show of the weekend) was included… Mauro hyped Sami Zayn and Dolph Ziggler vs. Kevin Owens and The Miz for later in the show… [C]
Powell’s POV: Good action from Kingston and Sheamus with the overly used WWE distraction finish.
3. Jimmy and Jey Uso vs. The Ascension. No televised entrance for The Ascension since this isn’t WWE Superstars or WWE Main Event. The Usos had a superkick party and one of them pinned Viktor to win the match. The Dudley Boyz were shown match the match on a backstage monitor. The Usos brought two tables inside the ring and performed top rope splashes that drove both Ascension members through the tables…
The Uso Brothers beat The Ascension in 1:25.
Afterward, Renee Young interviewed Bubba Ray and D-Von Dudley backstage. Bubba said the Usos are a good team and they won the tag titles twice, but they will never be the Dudleys. He said they beat up their father, and they would beat up the Wild Samoans if they were still wrestling today. Roman Reigns showed up and said Bubba was running his mouth just like Triple H. Roman said he would shut Hunter’s mouth at WrestleMania and will shut Bubba’s mouth tonight. The Dudleys laughed at him. Reigns told Bubba he doesn’t want a match. He said they are in Boston so he wants a fight… [C]
Powell’s POV: Geez, what did the Ascension do to warrant the table treatment? Anyway, they are obviously trying to make the fans want to see Bubba Ray and D-Von go through the tables. I’m sure it will get a nice reaction at WrestleMania give the love that fans have for table spots. The post-match was clever. I like that Roman entered the picture after Bubba said they would beat up the Samoans if they were still wrestling. Roman was there to defend his father. By the way, would Roman be asking for a regular match if they were in Boise rather than Boston?
[Q4] Mauro announced Reigns vs. Bubba for later in the show… A Shane McMahon video package aired with various legends talking about how amazing Shane is… Ring introductions for the previously announced tag match took place. Sami is back to wearing his hat and jacket to the ring… [C]
4. Dolph Ziggler and Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens and The Miz. The babyfaces both got the better of Miz early.
[Q5] Miz tagged in Owens, who then dropped off the apron and grabbed his title belt with the intention of leaving. Miz wasn’t happy and went to ringside to bicker with Owens. Legal man Zayn ran out and ran out and knocked Miz into Owens, then threw punches at Owens and rolled him back inside the ring. Owens eventually got the better of Zayn, who tagged in Ziggler. Miz clotheslined Ziggler on the top rope, then Owens clotheslined him and performed a senton before tagging in Miz, who catapulted Ziggler to ringside heading into the break. [C]
Zayn hit the Blue Thunder powerbomb on Miz and had him pinned, but Owens broke it up. Later, Miz tried to tag in Owens, who dropped off the apron and grabbed his title belt again with the intention of leaving. However, Zack Ryder, Sin Cara, and Stardust came out and blocked his path. Miz attacked Owens from behind and then rolled him back inside the ring. Owens punched Miz, but then ate a superkick from Ziggler. Miz performed a Skull Crushing Finale on Owens and jawed at him. Ziggler caught Miz with a superkick, then Zayn hit him with the Hulluva Kick and pinned him.
Dolph Ziggler and Sami Zayn beat Kevin Owens and The Miz.
After the match, Stardust attacked both babyfaces. Sin Cara performed a springboard moonsault on Stardust. Ryder went after Sin Cara, who dumped him to ringside. Ziggler superkicked Sin Cara, then took a Popup Powerbomb from Owens, who yelled KO Mania. Ryder caught Owens with a Rough Ryder and pointed to the WrestleMania sign to close the segment…
Powell’s POV: A good match followed by good hype for the Intercontinental Title match at WrestleMania. Sure, it’s too late to make Ryder, Sin Cara, and Stardust feel like they truly belong in the match, but this was a nice showcase of the type of strong action that fans can expect from the ladder match. In other words, the build to the match was disappointing, but the match itself should be a lot of fun.
[Q6] A video package recapped the Roman Reigns, Triple H, and Stephanie McMahon segments from Monday’s Raw… Roman Reigns made his entrance for his match against Bubba Ray Dudley… [C] Mauro hyped that Fifth Harmony will be performing “America the Beautiful” at WrestleMania… Bubba made his entrance for his match with Reigns…
Powell’s POV: Wait, Fifth Harmony isn’t an awful boy band? They’re an attractive female equivalent of a boy band? Sweet.
5. Roman Reigns vs. Bubba Ray Dudley. Reigns was disqualified when he slammed the head of Bubba into the broadcast team’s table repeatedly and blew off the referee. D-Von ran out to help, but Reigns put him down with a Superman Punch and then slammed the ring steps onto him. Reigns returned to the ring and speared Bubba…
Bubba Ray Dudley beat Roman Reigns by DQ in 1:40.
Ranallo hyped Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman for later in the show… [C]
Powell’s POV: The big question is whether we will look back on this as Reigns being the intense babyface or a guy who was foreshadowing heelish tendencies heading into a turn. I must admit that it did make me a little sad to think about what might have been while watching Reigns face former TNA Champion Bully Ray.
[Q7] The WrestleMania video featuring The Rock aired. We are ten days away… Backstage, Goldust was painting when R-Truth entered the picture and said he wanted to be Goldust’s partner. Goldust said they are not partners. Truth asked him why he tried to help. Goldust said he had latex pajamas under the ring, then said he felt bad for Truth. Goldust took his paintbrush and wrote ‘NO” on Truth’s head. Truth looked in the mirror and thought it read “on” and said, “That means it’s on, y’alll”…
Backstage, Kalisto spoke with Sin Cara about their title matches and how they would both leave as champions. Kalisto told him to focus on the biggest challenge of his life, Ryback. After Sin Cara left, Kallisto bumped into Ryback, who said he outweighs him by 160 pounds. Kalisto guaranteed that “this little guy will beat this big guy”… A shot aired of AJ Styles walking backstage as Ranallo hyped him for a singles match after the break… [C]
Powell’s POV: Reminder, Kalisto pinned Ryback clean in the championship tournament. They wisely keep “forgetting” to mention that.
6. AJ Styles vs. Tyler Breeze. Mauro pimped the WWE live event at MSG for tomorrow night. Styles performed the Phenomenal Forearm and got the clean pin…
AJ Style beat Tyler Breeze in 2:00.
Powell’s POV: Just a quick showcase win for Styles. It will be interesting to see what the MSG attendance turns out to be. Pushing live events during television shows should be the norm, but in WWE it is usually a sign of slow ticket sales. I was hoping it was simply a case of WWE changing their ways when they pushed the Minneapolis show that I attended, but it turned out to be a poorly attended event due in part to a hockey tournament that was taking place in St. Paul.
[Q8] [C] Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman made their entrance while the broadcast team hyped Lensar vs. Dean Ambrose for WrestleMania. Heyman delivered his in-ring introduction and said “this is your main event of the evening.” Heyman explained that a no holds barred street fight means Ambrose can use anything he can get his hands on. He mentioned chairs, crowbars, and kendo sticks as examples of what Ambrose could use and noted that it would all be legal.
Heyman mentioned Mick Foley and Terry Funk giving Lesnar a barbwire baseball bat and a chainsaw. “Shooting from the hip, the only reason that Terry Funk and Mick Foley are still alive today is because God refuses to answer my prayers on a daily basis,” Heyman said. Awesome. Heyman said Funk, Foley, and members of the Asylum should be praying for Ambrose’s wellbeing. Heyman explained that anything that Ambrose can use as a weapon, Lesnar can also use. Heyman said everyone will learn that the most dangerous weapon that can be used in a match is Lesnar himself.
Heyman said he finished speaking early. He said his client is a little bit itchy. Heyman called out Dean Ambrose, saying Lesnar wants to fight tonight. The Wyatt Family’s entrance theme played instead. Bray Wyatt, Braun Strowman, and Erick Rowan walked to the ring (the absence of the injured Luke Harper was not acknowledged by the broadcast team).
The Wyatt trio surrounded the ring and Wyatt gave the sign for them to all stand on the apron. Ambrose’s music played. Rowan charged Lesnar, only to take a German suplex. Strowman clotheslined Lesnar, who came back quickly and executed a German suplex on him as well. Ambrose entered the ring and struck Lesnar with a kendo stick repeatedly.
Lesnar recovered and put Ambrose down with a clothesline. Lesnar struck Ambrose with a pair of kendo stick shots, broke the stick over his knee, and then put Ambrose down with an F5. Lensar’s music played as they got a shot of the WrestleMania sign over Brock’s shoulder. Lesnar looked up at the sign. Lesnar and Heyman headed up the ramp while Ambrose struggled in the ring to close the show…
Powell’s POV: This segment left me even more fearful that the Wyatt Family will play a big part in the Ambrose vs. Lesnar match. It’s WrestleMania and fans deserve a real finish in the top three matches, but I fear that we’re going to get a copout with the Wyatts’ involvement leading to the finish. I hope I’m wrong. Overall, though, Smackdown did a decent job of delivering hype to the WrestleMania matches that were spotlighted. This wasn’t the glorified informercial that last week’s video package filled show felt like. Thanks for watching along with me tonight. Jake Barnett will be by on Friday with the WWE Smackdown Hit List.
The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Ricky Starks on his NWA run, doing enhancement work for WWE, leaving NOLA due to Hurricane Katrina, the January 24 NWA Hard Times PPV on FITE.TV, his relationship with Nick Aldis, and much more...