4/29 Barnett’s Belated WWE Smackdown Coverage: Final Hype for WWE Payback, plus Roman Reigns in action, Enzo and Cass, and Charlotte and Natalya on the Ambrose Asylum

By Jake Barnett

WWE Smackdown on SyFy
Taped on Tuesday in Manchester, NH

A video package detailed the events between Roman Reigns and the former members of Bullet Club from Raw. They pyro went off in the arena after the video and Maruro welcomed us to the show. Roman Reign’s music hit and he headed to the ring. Reigns talked about Superman Punching Styles on Monday, and said he would do it again at Payback. He said he did it because he doesn’t believe he’s not working together with Gallows and Anderson, and said he wasn’t fooling anyone. He demanded he man up and come out and tell the truth.

The Miz’s music hit instead, and Maryse led the way before she and Miz walked to the ring together. Miz said Roman couldn’t have thought that AJ was coming out, right? He introduced Maryse and claimed that he was the first to declare that AJ was working with his friends, and made a Shawshank Redemption reference comparing Roman to The Warden. He claimed he would be left with nothing when this was over, and he deserved recognition for being the first to recognize it.

Roman popped Miz in the mouth and then clotheslined him out of the ring. Roman gave Maryse the Intercontinental Championship and then held the World Heavyweight Championship above his head to celebrate. The announce team plugged League of Nations would face mystery opponents and that Dean Ambrose would have Natalya and Charlotte on the Ambrose Asylum…[c]

My Take: A decent opener that didn’t expose Reigns any further on the microphone, and continued to focus on the mystery of AJ Styles’ involvement with his boys. The Miz continues to be put in prominent roles, so we’ll see if his status expands beyond being used situationally to pester the babyfaces.

Renee Young interviewed the League of Nations backstage. She said they were stronger than ever after excommunicating Wade Barrett. They played up an over exaggerated sense of unity by being screaming and yelling about how united they are. It was essentially a coked out promo from the 1980s, but without the added level of intensity offered by drugs.

The League made their ring entrance. Kalisto was the first mystery opponent, followed by Sami Zayn and Cesaro. I bet Cesaro would have gotten stuffed into the doomed League of Nations faction if he had been healthy throughout 2015.

1. The League of Nations vs. Kalisto & Sami Zayn & Cesaro: The League fought over who would start the match out of the gate before Sheamus asserted himself. Kalisto started for his team. The League took control early with quick tags, with each member of the League taking shots at Kalisto. Rusev dropped a running elbow and then applied a bear hug. Kalisto made an escape and tagged in Sami Zayn, who hit a headscissors. Rusev fired back with roundhouse kick that got a near fall…[c]

Sheamus hit a leg drop on Zayn for another two count. The League continued using quick tags to stay fresh and keep Sami away from his corner. Sami got in a brief spat of offense, but Del Rio quickly hit a backstabber to reassert control. The League got into an argument about strategy and Del Rio walked out and left the match. Rusev and Sheamus tried a double team move, but Sami ended up escaping and Sheamus hit a big forearm smash off the top onto Rusev. They argued and Sheamus was left alone.

Sami made a tag to Kaliso, who hit a springboard hurricanrana and a springboard corkscrew crossbody. Cesaro tagged in and hit a running uppercut and a flying crossbody for a near fall. He followed up with more European Uppercuts and a huge dropkick. Sheamus was able to avoid the Cesaro Swing, and attempted to bail up the ramp. Eventually he was counted out by the ref and the match was called.

Kalisto & Sami Zayn & Cesaro defeated The League of Nations via Countout

Natalya and Charlotte on the Ambrose Asylum was hyped for later in the show…

My Take: I can’t say I’m sad to see the League of Nations implode. It felt like it was rushed together and then never amounted to anything. I don’t know why The League couldn’t take a loss here, but I guess they have more story to tell on Monday.

The Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens video package from Raw. After the video, Baron Corbin made his entrance…[c]

Footage was shown of Dolph Ziggler attacking Baron Corbin from Monday. The Payback match between Ziggler and Corbin was plugged. Damien Sandow was in the ring for a match.

2. Damien Sandow vs. Dolph Ziggler: Corbin dominated Sandow and sent him out to the floor. He dropped elbows and forearms on him and then punished him in a corner when the action moved back in the ring. Corbin hung Sandow out to dry on the top rope and delivered an elbow to the back of the neck. He then catapulted Sandow’s throat into the bottom rope, and hit End of Days for the quick win.

Baron Corbin defeated Damien Sandow

Backstage, AJ Styles was interviewed by Renee Young. She asked for his reactions to the rumors about him and Gallows & Anderson. Styles said he doesn’t care about rumors, and that he would step on Reigns’ cape whenever he wanted to. In fact, he would do it tonight, because he would be out for Roman’s match.

My Take: Total squash, but I can’t really say I’d expect Sandow to be competitive with anyone at this point. AJ’s interview was good, and it’s nice that they are keeping his promos limited. Styles is a guy who has a lot of things going for him, but his weaknesses start to show when he’s given a long leash on the microphone.

Dean Ambrose made his way out to the ring for the Ambrose Asylum. Video was shown of the segment between Jericho and Ambrose from Monday. Ambrose stood by the announce table and leaned on it and spoke about being in the Walls of Jericho on the announce table on Monday. He said Jericho’s biggest mistake was letting him go, because he doesn’t let go. Crowbars and refs can’t keep him off Chris Jericho at Payback. Ambrose said underneath his bad haircut Jericho is a bad dude and one of the best of all time, but on Sunday that won’t matter because he’s going to plant his head in the center of the ring and pin him.

Ambrose switched hats awkwardly and popped some tic tacs in order to welcome people to the Ambrose Asylum. He then welcomed his first guest Natalya. She said the show looked great, especially his plant. Ambrose threw to a video of Natalya getting hosed by Ric Flair in her title opportunity three weeks ago. Ambrose said Charlotte was tapping, but the deciding factor was her Dad. Ambrose asked Natalya how it would be any different on Sunday.

Natalya said she had Bret Hart in her corner, and said his catchphrase. This was Charlotte’s queue to make her entrance. She walked to the ring with Ric. Ambrose mentioned Bret Hart and Charlotte said it was disturbing. Charlotte said it was disturbing that after all Bret Hart had been through, that Natalya would parade him around. Natalya told her to look in the mirror, and called Ric Flair a lying, cheating, creepy old man that knows his daughter needs to cheat to win. She said Bret would be there to stop him on Sunday and she would tap again.

Ric grabbed the mic and said that he beat Bret Hart in the WWE and in WCW, and if Vince said the moon he would beat him on the moon. Natalya told Ric to settle his tea kettle, and that at Payback the fans would get the champion they deserve.

Miz vs Roman Reigns was hyped for the main event…[c]

My Take: A good segment that set up what I hope will be a one off match. The segment felt a little edited, which make sense given what Ric was reported to have said, but it didn’t suffer from it too much. This might have been Natalya’s best performance in the microphone that I can remember. She didn’t come across nearly as cornball as usual.

New Day made their entrance and kicked the announce team away from the booth. They said they were taking over. The Social Outcasts were in the ring, and Enzo and Cass made their ring entrance and ran through their shtick. Enzo said Big Cass and Muscles Marinara are about to go upside your head with the sauce. Then he said they would be the next World Tag Team Champions.

3. Enzo & Cass vs. The Social Outcasts: Big E did a nerdy indy announcer voice as Enzo and Cass put a beating on Bo Dallas. Curtis Axel got a quick tag after a back elbow and hit a running forearm on Enzo. The Vaudevillians walked out at the top of the stage. Bo tagged back in and whiffed on a spear and flew to the outside. Big Cass then tagged in and killed the Social Outcasts on the apron and hit a Bossman Slam. He then tagged Enzo and hit the Rocket Launcher for the win.

Enzo and Cass defeated the Social Outcasts

The Vaudevillians gave a golf clap. The New Day were complimentary of Enzo and Cass on commentary. They called Enzo and Cass sawft and then stared down New Day.

Backstage, Goldust told R-Truth that something felt right when they were in the ring together. Truth prompted Tyler Breeze into the frame and said he was his new tag partner as Gorgeous Truth. Fandango walked in as Truth and Breeze walked out, and he and Goldust practiced their creepy dance moves. Apollo Crews made his way to the ring in the arena…[c]

My Take: I liked the Tag Team segment a lot. The New Day were very good on commentary and it was a nice way to get all three teams on TV and highlight them all in a way that fit their characters. Sunday should be interesting, because I don’t think it’s a given that Enzo and Cass come away with a win.

4. Stardust vs. Apollo Crews:
They brawled early in and out of the ring. Stardust slowed down the action with a dragon screw leg whip, and then continued to work the leg. After working over the leg, Stardust applied a submission briefly, but Crews powered free. Fortunes reversed as Crews hit a pumphandle powerslam for a two count. Stardust fired back with a low dropkick to the knee, but it didn’t last as Crews hit two enziguris and his spinout powerbomb finish for the win.

Apollo Crews defeated Stardust

A video for the McMahon power struggle was hyped for next…[c]

My Take: Easy match for Crews. I liked the attempt to work the leg but it made no difference in what moves Crews could perform so I have to wonder why they spent so much time on it.

A Raw Rebound for Shane and Stephanie’s Raw segment was shown from Monday’s Raw. After the video, AJ Styles made an entrance to sit in on the main event…[c]

The Miz made his ring entrance, followed by Roman Reigns.

5. Roman Reigns vs. The Miz: Collar and Elbow to start, which makes no sense in the context of Reigns wanting to get his hands on Miz. Miz got a few shots in, but Reigns clotheslined him over the top and hit a drive by out on the apron. Reigns and Styles had a brief staredown, which let the Miz slam Reigns into the announce table and back into the ring post. He quickly got Roman back in the ring for a cover, but only got two…[c]

Miz hit a corner clothesline and a double axehandle off the top for a near fall. Miz hit knees to the back of a seated Reigns, followed by a running kick for a near fall. Reigns bought himself some time with a Samoan drop, and both men remained down for a six count. Miz charged at Reigns and got a back elbow. Reigns followed up with lariats and multiple clubs in the corner. Reigns set up for a Superman Punch, and Maryse pulled Miz out of the ring. Reigns tried to follow, but Miz kicked the stairs into his knees and hit a chop block.

Back in the ring, Miz hit a DDT on a kneeling Reigns for a near fall. Miz setup for the Skull Crushing Finale, but Reigns escaped and hit a spear for the win.

Roman Reigns defeated The Miz

AJ Styles entered the ring and had a staredown with Reigns. They jawed briefly until Gallows and Anderson walked down the ramp and assaulted Reigns. Styles remained in the ring and did nothing. Eventually, the Usos came out and battled Gallows and Anderson, but Styles didn’t do anything until he was attacked by Jimmy Uso. Gallows saved AJ by eating a spear, and AJ got out of the way of a Superman Punch to close the show. Styles and Reigns jawed with each other as Reigns layed out the belt in front of Styles…

My Take: This was a better show than Raw, in my estimation. It had better pacing and avoided having any segments feel like they dragged on forever. The mystery around Styles, Gallows and Anderson is interesting and WWE has left the door open to a lot of potential options. I hope they don’t go down the obvious road and give us more mystery that can be paid off at Extreme Rules, which has a short turnaround for a WWE PPV.

The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Major League Wrestling voice Rich Bocchini discussing the company's upcoming return, new streaming partnerships, working with AJ Kirsch on color commentary, working in Mexico early in the pandemic, and more...

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