The first SmackDown of 2014 begins with a recap of RAW, just to put us all in our place. Washington DC seems pretty psyched for the Blue Crew. The Shield approach and subsequently enter the ring and Dean has the microphone: so far, so good. He discusses the rumours of dissention, which I was unaware of (I have been buried under an avalanche of deadlines as of late, and my viewing of RAW was unfortunately lost in the hellish shuffle). Reigns says that there is no weak link, and Rollins states that they will prevail and dominate. It’s probably me being British, but I feel like Anne Robinson could find the Weakest Link of the Shield given a good thirty minutes.
Here come the Usos to make the Shield put their money where their mouths are (which I believe used to be Ted DiBiase’s gimmick). Dean will be joining the commentary team, him being one of the people I’m always happy to see there. One day, God willing, both he and Wyatt will be on commentary together, the resultant awesomeness enough to slay Godzilla.
‘Shield vs. Usos’: The ‘Ziggler Vs. Kofi’ Of The Tag Team World
Jimmy and Reigns lock up (after I pause the show to watch the Godzilla 2014 trailer. Again.), and Roman tosses Jimmy from corner to corner. Tag to Rollins, he whips Jimmy into the corner but gets clotheslined. Jey tags in and hits a forearm and a back elbow, keeping Rollins away from the corner and tags in Jimmy. Double elbow gets two as Ambrose discusses closing down saloons with Roman Reigns. Do the Shield secretly report to Irwin R. Schyster? Are they in it together with the Wyatts? Is IRS the Higher Power? Rollins bashes Jimmy’s head off the turnbuckle, but this gives Jimmy Samoan Rage and he starts smacking the grease off of Rollins and backdrops him for two.
Tag to Jey, and he comes off the top rope with a forearm to Rollins and then armdrags him. Seth hits a jawbreaker and starts bringing the pain to Jey. Blind tag to Jimmy, who clotheslines Rollins out of the ring. Double kick to Roman, and they clothesline him out of the ring, followed by Rollins as we go to commercial.
Back from break, Jimmy has Rollins in an armlock, but Seth manages to make a tag and Reigns floors Jimmy with a hard elbow. Suplex to Jimmy, then a tag to Rollins, who comes off the top with a punch and tosses Jimmy shoulder-first into the corner. An innovative sleeper of sorts is locked in, but Jimmy rolls out of it, tries to make the tag but gets hangmanned on the top rope. Reigns gets the tag and keeps working the arm that Rollins started breaking down. Jimmy ducks a charge, low-bridging Roman and tries to reach the corner, landing a hard uppercut to Reigns to do it. Rollins and Jey both get the tag, and Jey knocks Seth all over the ring, hitting a hell of a Samoan Drop to do it. Jey charges, but Rollins escapes; Jey then hits a Dragon Whip on Reigns and both Shield members are out of the ring. The Usos go for a dive, but Ambrose trips them up for the DQ.
I liked that. These teams, like several right now, are just a joy to watch. I’m hoping that something good happens for the Usos; they’re exciting and have an extremely fun style. 2.5 Stars.
Shield beatdown begins, but Punk rushes down and he and the Usos clear the ring. Vickie comes out as we go to break (because download the fucking app, kids). She apparently made a match for the Shield vs the Usos and Punk.
Will Xavier Use His Woman-Summoning Abilities For Good…Or EVIL?
Fandango is in the ring, and apparently the consolation prize to the IC championship is a match with R-Truth. Golly. Xavier Woods is on commentary; shame Ambrose is such a tough act to follow. Are they fucking selfie-ing again? Fandango starts beating down Truth, but Truth counters with some dancing and an arm-drag and more dancing. Fandango hangs Truth up on the ropes and hits a kick before locking Truth in a chinlock. Truth manages to regain control with a calf kick and clotheslines, but Fandango comes back with a boot. Xavier then…extremely awkwardly summons the Funkadactyls to dance. In the confusion (and I’m somewhat confused), R-Truth hits the What’s Up for the win.
Well, I dislike Xavier Woods as a personality, so there’s that. There also wasn’t a great deal to this match, so there’s that too. Although I like that Fandango seems more aggressive here. 1. 5 Stars.
Truth is apparently totally cool with a tainted victory, as is everyone else, because objective moral standards are bullshit if you can dance.
We relive the last RAW of 2013, which means we’re literally recapping episodes of RAW from last year. It’s actually fairly awesome to see a guy the size of Bryan knocking someone like Harper the hell out; I regret not having seen RAW more with each recap.
Daniel Bryan’s Heel Tactics: Not Showing Up
The tag team champs and the Wyatts get to the ring, but there’s no Bray Wyatt. But there is a rocking chair, which seems superfluous under our Bray-less circumstances. Michael mentions Brie Bella, which makes me realise that she is either the most emotionally-distant or understanding fiancé ever in the context of this story. Anyway, Goldust and Harper start, and Harper uses his power to gain control early, hitting a hard shoulder block to Goldust. Goldust gets a front-facelock on Harper, tags in Cody and they double-suplex Harper. Cody dropkick’s Harper’s knee and tags in Goldust. Harper gets back in control, then tags in Rowan. Rowan hits some clubbing blows, driving Goldust into the Wyatts’ corner, tagging in Harper. Goldust hits a flying clothesline and the Rhodes Uppercut, attacks an interfering Rowan and Harper levels Goldust with a straight punch.
Rowan comes back in; apparently he’s ‘the loner of the Wyatt Family’, which is a tough pill to swallow as he is constantly in the company of two other men. He starts laying the heel beatdown on Goldust, choking him on the ropes and hitting forearms and headbutts. Tag to Harper, who hits an uppercut and puts Dust in a chinlock. According to the Handkerchief Code, that black bandanna indicates that Harper prefers to be dominant in the field of S&M: no wonder Rowan’s a loner.
Goldust hits some stomach blows and manages to sunset flip-powerbomb Harper before tagging in Cody. Cody’s full of beans, knocking Harper around and out of the ring. He hits Rowan with the Disaster Kick and throws himself off the top rope onto Harper. Harper responds by flinging Rhodes into the barricade and then the steel steps. Goldust tries to get to Cody, but the Wyatts block him.
Tag to Rowan, and he heads out to drive Cody back-first into the steel post. They come back into the ring and Erick starts driving his fists into Cody’s head before mangling his face. He puts Cody in a chinlock before tossing him up high and just pancaking him. Cody flips out of a back suplex, but Rowan is all over him, beating him in the corner. Harper tags in to get in on this, putting Cody through the Gator Roll and into a headlock. Cody eventually manages to come back with a clothesline, but a tagged-in Rowan manages to stop him from reaching Goldust. Cody low-bridges Rowan, but Harper tosses him back in the ring, tags himself in and knocks Goldust off the apron. He plants Cody with a powerbomb, but Goldust breaks up the pin and clotheslines Rowan out of the ring; Harper dumps him out after him.
Cody rolls Harper up, but Harper kicks out and boots Rhodes in the face. In the corner, Cody manages to daze Harper enough to hit his moonsault and both men are down. Rowan tries to stop Cody, but Goldust gets the blind tag and rolls up Rowan for the win!
Nice match, and a smart finish. We need more title defences; that atmosphere was exciting all the way through. Harper and Rowan, as usual, looked like big fish in this tag game with their domination of the match, and the champs looked like intelligent, wily wrestlers. I’m both pleased and surprised that the Rhodeses got the straight win. 3 Stars.
Renee is in the back with Langston, who is all heat up at the thought of Brock Lesnar…wait… Axel appears, giggling at my inability to write about muscular men grappling each other without drifting into innuendo. I presume. Also Renee’s ‘for fuck’s sake’ look at Axel’s arrival was just…goddamn epic. Axel is a douchey-douche-douche and Langston walks off looking pissy. Plus, wait, Lesnar’s back? What the hell happened on RAW?
WWE’s New Year’s Resolution: Reasons For The Divas To Fight
Well, Aksana’s in the ring, following her victory over Nikki on Monday. And speak of the Diva, and she will appear: Nikki will hope to avenge her loss against Aksana tonight. They lock up, and Nikki fires up in the face of Aksana prodding her, hip-tossing and bodyslamming her. Nikki then drives Aksana into the corner and suplexes her for a two-count before Aksana rolls out of the ring. Aksana manages to smash Nikki’s head and arm against the ringpost, and is firmly in control when she gets in the ring, attacking the left arm of Nikki Bella. Sidewalk slam to Nikki, followed by a kick to the arm and an armlock. Nikki manages to escape, however, and monkey flips Aksana, trips her up onto the ropes and hits clotheslines, dropkicks and a bulldog. Nikki delivers the Torture Rack to Aksana and gets the win.
Pretty violent for a Divas match, but I’m not complaining. Nikki pulled out some good moves there, and I wonder if this is indicating greater things for the Bella Twin. Here’s hoping 2014’s a good year to be a WWE Diva. 2 Stars.
We get a look at the career of Randy Orton. He just got skinnier and more orange through that whole thing, although I’ll admit that it was a very nice presentation.
In Which Axel Learns Not To Laugh At Lesnar-Related Matters
Langston’s in the ring, and Axel looks pumped up for a guy so obviously about to get the shit kicked out of him. Big E immediately starts out strong, just tossing Axel around and mauling the poor bastard. Axel manages to get a boot up in the face of Langston, comes off the second rope…and hits the pissed-off wall that is Langston. Axel manages to take Langston down with a shot to the knee and a clothesline to the back of the head. He chokes Big E with his foot and then wrenches the arm. Langston battles out, throwing Axel off him. Axel gets hammered with clotheslines and then eats a belly-to-belly suplex and a Warrior Splash. Big Ending…gets countered as Axel gets foot on the ropes, but another clothesline and the Big Ending gets Langston the victory.
Langston looked intense here, but it was nice to see that Axel didn’t get no offence in whatsoever. 2.5 Stars.
We see the aftermath that is Lesnar’s return, AKA mass carnage. Apparently Brock’s been called back by the lure of title gold. I want this to be a thing, but my faith in the collaboration of Lesnar and WWE has been through some serious abuse.
Bad News Barrett tells us that we won’t keep to our New Year’s Resolutions. Does that mean that guy at my work isn’t going to show up nude every day? Because I was invested in that. And yes, that was a genuine conversation that happened today.
More Samoans Than The All-Blacks Squad
Your main event competitors make their way to the ring, and this is a continuation from the match earlier this evening, with the addition of Dean Ambrose and CM Punk. Speaking of Punk and Ambrose, they will be starting the match. They tie up and Ambrose rains punches down on Punk, but Punk gives it right back to him with kicks and chops. Back elbow to Ambrose, and CM Punk tosses him into the Shield’s corner. Rollins gets the tag and has to restrain a pissed-off Ambrose. Rollins locks Punk’s arm; Punk turns it into a headlock and knocks Seth down with a shoulder block and hits a neckbreaker.
Jey gets the tag, and Cole keeps spotting that tattoo way faster than I do. Jimmy is tagged in and the Usos hit a Boston crab/leg drop combination. Rollins fights his way back into control, but Jimmy knocks him back down with a kick. Jey gets the tag and hits another kick. Rollins tosses him into the corner and hits shoulder thrusts, but Jey is irrepressible, and clotheslines Rollins out of the ring. He goes to dive out on him, but Reigns calmly stops him and looks like a total badass in doing so.
On the outside, Rollins jumps Jey and drives him into the ring apron. He goes up to the top rope, and jumps right into an uppercut. Punk gets the tag and laces Rollins with kicks and suplexes him, getting two. Rollins manages to tag Ambrose; Punk dropkicks both men and tags in Jimmy. Ambrose hits a bodyslam on him and tries to go up high, but Jimmy brings him down the hard way for two. Ambrose rallies, hitting Jimmy with a knee to the gut and brings in Reigns. Reigns immediately takes control, hitting a big clothesline and tagging Seth. Rollins drops elbows and wrenches Jimmy’s head. Jimmy reverses an Irish whip from Rollins, but Ambrose gets tagged in and keeps the Uso isolated with a sleeper. Jimmy tries to fight back, but Ambrose clotheslines him. Reigns comes in and Jimmy hits him with a spinning corkscrew moonsault, making the tag despite Rollin’s best intentions. Punk comes in like a house on fire, hitting kicks and a neckbreaker to Rollins, following this with a high knee and a clothesline. He goes up high, but Ambrose creates a distraction enough for Rollins to bring him down.
Now it’s Rollins’ turn to climb up; a crossbody is rolled-through by Punk, turning it into the Anaconda Vice, but Ambrose breaks it up. Jey comes in, taking Ambrose down, but Reigns blasts him with the Superman Punch. Rollins and Punk are still legal, and Rollins tags in Ambrose. Dean takes Punk up to the second rope, and brings him down with a double underhook suplex, with Punk just barely kicking out. Ambrose is incredulous, and a ready Reigns calls for him to tag out, but is ignored. Punk manages to blast Ambrose with a kick to the head; he gets him up for the Go 2 Sleep; Reigns nearly spears Ambrose, but gets kicked by Punk, then the Usos, and knocked from the ring. Rollins is tossed out after him, and the Usos follow by their own free will and make mattresses of Reigns and Rollins. Go 2 Sleep connects on Ambrose, and that’s all she wrote.
Considering it was almost a repeat of an earlier match, that was an impressive job. Everyone performed extremely well, and the psychology of the Shield’s break-up is actually pretty well done here; it’s unlike WWE to go for subtle. Thoroughly good match. 3.5 Stars.
We get a promo from Bray, showing that they’ve caught Daniel Bryan, without even using a Master Ball. That leather apron’s a creepy touch on Bray Wyatt, but that might be my terrible, terrible imagination.
All in all, a fair way to kick off the 2014 of SmackDown. I look forward to more shows like this. Seven out of ten.
Tags: aksana, big e langston, Bray Wyatt, Brock Lesnar, Cameron, cm punk, Cody Rhodes, Curtis Axel, Daniel Bryan, dean ambrose, Erick Rowan, Fandango, Funkadactyls, goldust, jey uso, jimmy uso, Luke Harper, Mark Henry, naomi, R-Truth, Renee Young, Roman Reigns, seth rollins, Smackdown, Summer Rae, The Shield, the usos, The Wyatt Family, WWE