3/31 Barnett’s WWE Smackdown Live Review: Dean Ambrose vs. Erick Rowan, the final push for WrestleMania 32

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WWE Smackdown on the USA Network
Taped on Monday in Brooklyn, New York at Barclays Center

AJ Styles opened the show and made his ring entrance. Styles vs. Jericho was plugged by Mauro and Lawler. The Social Outcasts then made their entrance, with Heath Slater competing. Slater opened up on the microphone and declared the Social Outcasts to be the future winners of the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. They all teased AJ Styles for being phenomenal, and said he was only one man and they were four. Bo Dallas said they should show him they are “Fournominal”. Nobody cared about any of this.

1. Heath Slater vs. AJ Styles: A Styles chant started early in the match. He threw an early drop kick and followed up with a knee drop for a two count. Axel interfered as AJ tried to climb out on the apron, which led to Slater hitting a running kick that sent him out to the floor. Slater threw him into the steps and back in the ring for a two count cover.

Slater kept Styles grounded with a headlock for an extended period of time. When he broke out, Styles got dumped to the outside, where he got assaulted by the other Social Outcasts. Styles fired up back in the ring with a flurry of strikes and a couple of running clotheslines. Styles hit a pele kick on the rest of the Outcasts, and hit a ushigoroshi on Slater. He followed up with the Phenomenal Forearm for the win.

AJ Styles defeated Health Slater.

The announce team threw to Dallas, where Renee Young and Byron Saxton. They plugged a first look at the preparations inside AT&T Stadium for next…[c]

My Take: This was a passable effort from both men. Slater is one of the best jobbers on the WWE Roster and Styles has enough flashy offense to keep any crowd entertained. Personally I think Slater got a little bit too much offense, but it’s a small quibble.

[Q2] Renee and Byron hyped up Wrestlemania. They spent a few minutes explaining Shane McMahon’s return from obscurity and the legacy of the McMahon family. They then threw to footage of Shane McMahon’s return last month on Raw with commentary from various WWE Superstars. After the video, Renee and Byron talked about the Usos vs. The Dudleys, and Dean Ambrose vs. Brock Lesnar. They plugged Dean Ambrose vs. Erick Rowan and Jey Uso vs. D-Von Dudley for later…[c]

[Q3] Renee and Byron returned to talk about the 100k people they expect at WrestleMania, and then threw to a video package for Brock Lesnar and Dean Ambrose’s feud. The voice over for the video was pretty good in this case, and the video was well done. After the video, they talked about some of the lower card matches that will be featured on the pre-show like the Ten Diva Tag Match and The Usos vs. The Dudleys…[c]

My Take: This is a full frontal assault of video packages.

We came back to more Byron and Renee, and I began openly weeping. Ok, not really, but they talked briefly about Triple H and then threw footage to Triple H assaulting Roman Reigns backstage on Monday with the assist from the Dudleys. We then continued to another video from the Raw overrun. The segment still didn’t make any sense this time around. Byron and Renee threw to commercial after the series of videos…[c]

My Take: Send help. I’m dying over here.

[Q4] Renee and Byron welcomed us back to hell. They said they needed to have a chit chat. They spoke about Snoop Dogg, and they both sang embarrassing versions of some of his lyrics. We then got a celebrity video package that made a point to mention Donald Trump and then followed up with a Snoop Dogg video. Despite the camp in the video package, I expect Snoop to be highly entertaining on Saturday. The HOF 2016 class was featured in a photo. Jey Uso vs. D-Von Dudley was hyped for next, and I’ve never been happier to hear a lower card match plugged in my life….[c]

Renee Young plugged Fifth Harmony singing America the Beautiful. Back in the arena, The Usos made their entrance, followed by the Dudleys.

[Q5] 2. Jey Uso vs. D-Von Dudley: Jey lit him up early with an uppercut, and then pummeled him in the corner. Jey clotheslined D-Von to the outside and used a shoulder charge to send him into the apron. D-Von avoided a shoulder tackle in the corner, and Bubba punched Jey in the head as the ref was distracted by D-Von.

D-Von went on the offensive and Bubba talked Trash to Jimmy on the outside about how they used to beat up their Dad. D-Von hit a body slam and climbed up top for a diving headbutt, but missed when Jey moved out of the way. Jey responded with a clothesline and some showboating. He then hit a Samoan Drop and hip attack in the corner for a near fall.

Jey climbed up to the top with D-Von for a superplex, but D-Von turned the tables and hit his RDS (Ron Damn Simmons) Spinebuster and picked up the win.

D-Von Dudley defeated Jey Uso.

Byron plugged a look at the Divas Championship match after the break…[c]

My Take: This was a fun match. RDS is a great name for a Spinebuster. I wish this match felt more important for WrestleMania, but it just doesn’t.

Next, as promised, we got more of Byron and Renee. They talked about the Divas Revolution, and how the three hardest working women in the WWE were trying to change the landscape of the Divas division. They then threw to a video package that covered the changes in the video package. After the women’s video, they threw to a Shane vs. Undertaker commerical for WrestleMania…[c]

[Q6] We got a flashback to Daniel Bryan’s championship win at WrestleMania 30. Consequently, this was also the last time anybody felt any real sense of satisfaction with WWE’s main roster booking. Renee and Byron spoke a bit about Daniel Bryan’s documentary and the struggle he’s going through to adapt to his life away from the ring. They then threw to most of the Kofi Kingston vs. Alberto Del Rio match from Monday’s Raw, along with The Coach showing up at the end of the match. They hyped up The Usos vs. League of Nations for WrestleMania…[c]

My Take: More clip show stuff. League of Nations and New Day is going to be fun at WrestlMania, but it will have nothing to do with the build.

[Q3] The Andre the Giant Battle Royal was discussed briefly. They shifted gears to Triple H and Reigns again, and they framed the video package like it could be Roman Reign’s final opportunity to become a champion. We got a video package for Roman Reigns and Triple H. The voice over had Roman speaking in a way that sounded like he rehearsed it. Triple H’s audio clips were from his in ring promos. After the video, Renee and Byron discussed how Triple H was in some of the best shape of his career and wanted desperately to deny Roman Reigns at WrestleMania. Dean Ambrose and Erick Rowan was hyped for next…[c]

My Take: The video package for Triple H and Roman Reigns was peculiar. It’s clear that WWE really lost focus of the story in this match. Since Vince vs. Shane became the top McMahon Family feud, Triple H and Reigns has felt pretty directionless. Some of Roman’s best material was when he and Vince McMahon were at odds, and that has been completely missing from this build. They haven’t regained traction after Triple H won the championship.

Dean Ambrose made his way to the ring for the main event. Erick Rowan made his entrance with Bray Wyatt and Braun Strowman.

[Q8] 3. Erick Rowan vs. Dean Ambrose: Rowan hit a shoulder block, and then backed Ambrose into a corner. Ambrose punched his way out, but Rowan shoved him into the ropes and hit a back elbow. After some back and forth, Ambrose sent Rowan to the outside and followed up with a diving elbow off the apron…[c]

Rowan hit a spinning slam and then applied a chin lock. The match slowed way down while Rowan worked a methodic power style. Ambrose tried to fire up with punches, but ate a hard clothesline from Rowan in return for a two count. Rowan applied a vice to Ambrose’s head with his fists in the most comfortable manner possible, while Ambrose sold enthusiastically. Rowan hit a big back elbow, followed by a body slam. He climbed up to the top, but got caught for a Superplex by Ambrose.

Ambrose got crazy eyes and hit a double leg dropkick that sent Rowan to the floor. Mauro Ranallo made a very excited call for a Tope Suicida (Suicide Dive) from Ambrose. Ambrose them came off the top with an elbow to a standing Rowan for a two count. Rowan recovered and hit a big side slam and a standing spin kick, both for near falls. Ambrose snapped back with a rebound clothesline, followed by Dirty Deeds for the win.

Dean Ambrose defeated Erick Rowan.

My Take: A nice tune up win for Ambrose, who got a good match out of Erick Rowan. It was slow at times, but for the most part they kept it entertaining. Overall this show was a lot of WrestleMania promotion as you would expect, but nothing that furthered my interest in watching the show. It’s the same every year, so I don’t know why I hold out hope that the Smackdown before WrestleMania will actually contain some important information.

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