4/21 Barnett’s WWE Smackdown Live Review: AJ Styles on Miz TV, Sami Zayn and Dean Ambrose vs. Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho


By Jake Barnett

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WWE Smackdown on the USA Network
Taped on Tuesday in London, England

[Q1] The show opened up with a Roman Reigns and AJ Styles video package that included some clips of former Bullet Club members Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows and the conspiracy around their attacks on the Usos and Roman Reigns.

The show opened directly to MizTV. Maryse did her obsequious entrance for the Miz, who then welcomed the crowd to MizTV. He said his guest insists that he had nothing to do with his friends Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows attacking Roman Reigns, but they would find out the real answer. He then introduced AJ Styles, who made his entrance. At this point, the announce crew chimed in with the standard show opening salutations.

The Miz recalled the Bullet Club’s run through 2014 and 2015 in NJPW and how he was thick as thieves with Anderson and Gallows. Styles denied that he knew anything about the attack once again. Miz asked whether he ever told them not to attack Reigns, and Styles sort of muttered a no. Miz alleged that Styles inaction led to the attack and spoke louder than words about his intention.

Styles said he wasn’t their father and didn’t tell them what to do. He didn’t appreciate their attack and he doesn’t need anyone’s help to beat Roman Reigns, and he would prove it without a shadow of a doubt at Payback. Miz said this was a pretty good plan, but he needed Gallows and Anderson because while Styles was a better wrassler, he wasn’t big enough and strong enough to defeat Reigns by himself. Styles took umbridge, and Miz mimiced A Few Good Men by saying he could handle the truth and demanded Styles gave it to him. He then took a break to reflect on his awesomeness to make out with Maryse, and when he turned back to Styles he got a punch in the mouth.

Styles walked away after sucker punching Miz and headed up the ramp. The announce team plugged Dean Ambrose and Sami Zayn vs. Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens. Kalisto and Ryback were shown heading towards the ring next…[c]

My Take: This was a very good segment until the non-sequitur at the end. Just as The Miz was getting to the heard of his alleged conspiracy, he turned his attention to his wife and got punched in the mouth. This was a good use of The Miz but I don’t think Maryse really added anything to the segment other than standing there looking attractive.

[Q2] Styles vs. The Miz was announced for later. Kalisto made his entrance in the arena, followed by Ryback.

1. Kalisto vs. Ryback: Ryback immediately went on the attack with strikes, and then chucked Kalisto across the ring. Kalisto returned fire with some leg kicks, but Ryback picked him up and hit a military press slam, and then threw him shoulder first into the ring post…[c]

Ryback placed Kalisto on the top turnbuckle and positioned himself for a superplex. He hit a hanging vertical superplex and covered for a near fall. Ryback then tied Kalisto in the Tree of Woe and stomped away at him until the ref pulled him off. He then backed up and charged at Kalisto, who sat up and sent Ryback crashing into the post and out to the floor. Kalisto hit a top rope leg drop to the back of Ryback’s neck as he got back in the ring. He then hit a seated dropkick and a flying corkscrew. Kalisto favored his left shoulder as he hit some kicks and an enziguri to a kneeling Ryback.

Kalisto got a near fall after a spike rana. He then hit the ropes again, but Ryback caught him with a lariat. Ryback then went for Shellshocked, but Kalisto reversed into a DDT. Kalisto hit a spinning back kick and went for Salida Del Sol, but Ryback reversed into Shellshocked for the victory.

Ryback defeated Kalisto

After the match, Ryback paced and raised the United States Championship before draping it over a prone Kalisto.The main event was hyped for later…[c]

My Take: This match wasn’t just kind of there. It did nothing to make me dislike it, but nothign to stand out either. I’m not really invested in either character or their feud, and I think that is the biggest issue here.

[Q3] Dolph Ziggler made his ring entrance, and you’re not going to believe this, but Baron Corbin attacked him from behind. He tossed Ziggler into the barricades and the ring steps. He then hit End of Days out on the floor. Eventually, refs showed up to run Corbin off. Those guys are always a day late and a dollar short. He was asked on the ramp why he continues to attack Dolph Ziggler, and he replied “Because I can…” and walked away. Styles vs. The Miz was hyped for next…[c]

My Take: Corbin is doing a fine job, but I couldn’t care less about his feud with Ziggler. His character has been so bad that watching him get beat up draws zero reaction from me. It would mean more if Ziggler wasn’t completely unlikable as a babyface.

The Miz made his entrance with Maryse, followed by AJ Styles.

[Q4] 2. AJ Styles vs. The Miz: Both men went back and forth early on. Styles hit a knee drop for a two count. Styles then applied a Muta Lock (Inverted STF) and Miz escaped and rolled to the outside holding his back. After things moved back to the ring Styles hit a nice dropkick, but couldn’t capitalize on it. Miz went for a back suplex, but Styles flipped out of it and hit a spinning heel kick. Miz retreated to the outside and hid behind Maryse, which allowed him to get a cheap shot in on Styles and toss him into the barricade…[c]

The Miz hit a corner clothesline and a double axehandle from the top for a near fall. He pounced on Styles with mounted punches. Styles fired back with some chops, but it didn’t last as Miz hit a side kick. He placed Styles on the top rope and climbed up for a superplex. Styles send him back with a couple of headbutts, but got crotched as he got to his feet. Both men collided when they attempted simultaneous cross body blocks mid ring. Styles hit a pumphandle into a gutbuster and covered for two. He then setup for a Styles Clash, but Miz backed him into a corner.

Miz hit a DDT and got a near fall of his own. He signaled for a Skull Crushing Finale, but Styles escaped and hit an Ushigoroshi. Styles climbed to the second rope and jumped right into an atomic drop. Miz then applied the Figure Four, which Styles reversed fairly quickly. He then applied the Calf Crusher, but Miz was able to reach the ropes to get a break.

[Q5] Miz grabbed a full nelson and lifted Styles up for a slam, but Styles reversed into rollup for a near fall. Styles hit a pele kick and set up for the phenomenal forearm, but Miz rolled out of the ring and tried to leave. Gallows and Anderson showed up and Miz was forced to turn back to the ring, but when he did he ate a forearm from Styles as he launched himself to ringside. He then hit a another Phenomenal Forearm back in the ring and covered for the win.

AJ Styles defeated The Miz

Footage was aired of the Ambrose Asylum segment from Monday that set up Owens vs. Zayn and Jericho vs. Ambrose for Payback. Backstage, Sami Zayn and Dean Ambrose were interviewed. Ambrose said Jericho and Owens are dirty rotten scoundrels. He claimed Jericho is the best in the world at sneaking up on him and cheap shotting him. Zayn said they’ve been jerking them around for a long enough and it needed stop. He then chided Ambrose for not having developed a cool team name. He said Ambrose had rejected Sambrose and Ska Madness. Ambrose said Zayn didn’t like the beefeaters or the Rough Riders. Zayn said he wasn’t a fan of beef and Rough Riders was too sexual. They argued a bit and Ambrose said they should just go kick some ass…[c]

My Take: Zayn played a good straight man there for the manic Ambrose. They have good comedic chemistry together. Styles vs. The Miz was a good time killer, but I can’t say it was any better than their previous encounters. The involvement from Anderson and Gallows was predictable and continues the conspiracy story. For what it’s worth, I don’t think Styles will be aligned with them when this is said and done, and I expect a swerve at Payback.

Gallows and Anderson were interviewed backstage. They said Styles can take care of himself, and they were just there to make an impact. They said they would make their in ring debut at Monday’s Raw against the Uso’s. In the arena, Natalya made her entrance, followed by Paige. Team Bad was already in the ring.

3. Team Bad vs. Nattie & Paige: Tamina and Nattie started the match. Tamina controlled the early going her power and tossed Nattie to the mat before tagging out to Naomi. Naomi got in a few strikes before running into a drop toe hold. Paige tagged in and they made a wish with Naomi. Nattie tagged back in and hit a seated dropkick. She then attempted the sharpshooter, but Naomi escaped to the outside. Naomi hit a high kick as Nattie approached the apron, and then hit a leg drop. Tamina tagged in and continued to isolate Nattie in the corner. Paige tried to interfere to stop a double team, but the ref backed her into her corner.

[Q6] Tamina hit a snap mare and attempted a knee drop, but Nattie got out of the way and made a tag. Paige entered and hit kicks on both Tamina and Naomi. She then hit a Rampaige on Naomi and covered, but Tamina made the save. Eventually, Nattie and Paige applied their submissions, and Naomi tapped to Paige. Tamina was in the Sharpshooter but wasn’t legal.

Paige & Nattie defeated Team Bad

R-Truth vs. Fandango was hyped for next, with Goldust as the special ref…[c]

My Take: The match didn’t do much to establish Nattie as a threat to Charlotte, but it was a decent time filler. I’m not sure how much of a fan I am of Gallows and Anderson competing so quickly, but I guess we’ll see where it goes.

R-Truth was completing his entrance as the show came back. Fandango was already in the ring. Footage from the Goldango tag team from last week was shown. Goldust then made his entrance.

4. R-Truth vs. Fandango with Goldust as Special Referee: Goldust wore a gold ref shirt, and called for the bell. Fandango hit a nice hip toss and decided that was a good time to gyrate. R-Truth returned the favor by hitting one himself and then pretending to be on a pogo stick or something. Eventually the math morphed into Fandango and Goldust gyrating for some reason, which made Truth jealous, and so he hit a Lie Detector and got the win.

R-Truth defeated Fandango

Truth did some B-Boy moves, which Goldust sold as too painful to try and walked away…[c]

My Take: This is for lovers of corny physical comedy. I laughed for a about 2 seconds before getting bored with it.

[Q7] Enzo and Cass made their entrance while footage was shown of their victory over The Dudleys from Monday. They went through their shtick and the crowd lit up. The Vaudevillians then interrupted and made their entrance. Aiden English had a microphone and said everyone was tired of the egomaniacal fool. He told Enzo he looked like a rat with mange. Enzo said they can keep reading books, and they’ll keep writing them. He said he has no idea what a rodent mage is. He said he’s the hybrid kid, and they couldn’t hit him if they were in a phone book.

Gotch said they may have cut their teeth in the same place, but this was a man’s world and not a place for childish rhymes. English said they were classless, and that the Vaudevillians would represent the titles with dignity. Gotch said they would help them with pronunciation, and asked “How are you doing?” Cass said they were doing fine, and would be even better when they become the number one contenders for the WWE Tag Team Championships. He then told them they are sawft.

My Take: This was a better promo than I expected. I think both teams came off well while staying true to their characters. I’m not convinced that the Vaudevillians are a gimmick destined for mainstream acceptance, but they carried themselves well here.

Chris Jericho made his entrance, followed by Kevin Owens and the babyface duo of Zayn and Ambrose.

[Q8] 5. Sami Zayn & Dean Ambrose vs. Kevin Owens & Chris Jericho: Jericho and Zayn started the match as Ole chants broke out in the arena. Jericho and Zayn traded holds to start, and then Zayn hit a series of arm drags. He then pulled Jericho over to his corner and tagged in Ambrose. Jericho grabbed a double leg takedown and went for the Walls of Jericho, but Dean slipped out and immediately grabbed a double underhook to set up for Dirty Deeds. Jericho quickly escaped and bailed to the outside to regroup with Owens…[c]

Jericho made a lazy cover on Ambrose for a one count. He then tagged in Owens, who took some shots at Ambrose before taunting Sami Zayn. They made rapid tags and kept Ambrose isolated in their half of the ring. It didn’t last, as Ambrose hit a back elbow on a charging Jericho and made a tag to Zayn. Sami knocked Owens to ringside and then hit a diving crossbody from the top on Jericho for a near fall. Zayn then launched himself to the outside and splashed Owens on the floor.

Zayn didn’t see Owens tagging Jericho, and was able to pull him out to the floor and deliver a beating while Ambrose looked on. Owens continued the assault on Zayn while talking trash to Zayn. Jericho tagged in and hit a snap mare and a head lock. He then hit a lionsault and covered for a near fall. Zayn fired back with a blue thunder bomb, but was too exhausted to make a cover. Both men made tags after crawling to their corners. Ambrose low bridged Owens to the outside and hit a tope out to the floor.

Jericho tried to get involved out on the floor, but ate a lariat for his trouble. In the ring, Ambrose ducked a clothesline and hit dirty deeds, but Jericho broke up a the tag. Zayn hit a Heluva Kick on Jericho that sent him to the outside. Owens sent Zayn to the outside while Ambrose climbed to the top rope. Jericho crotched Ambrose on the ropes from the outside, which allowed Owens to quickly cover and get the win.

Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho defeated Dean Ambrose and Sami Zayn

My Take: This match never quite got out of second gear for me. All four of these guys work well together, but the way this match was drawn up just wasn’t particularly exciting. I like that Jericho and Owens got the win, and Owens delight at getting a win over Ambrose at the end was absolutely hilarious. Overall this show went by pretty fast, so it’s worth a watch if you’ve got the time to invest, but I can’t recommend anything in particular that really stood out. It was a consistent show, but not a lot of flashy moments.


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