Hello, my loyal readers. It’s time for another SmackDown Report, and this one comes off the heels of the biggest load of backpedalling I have seen in all of my days. Although, let me be clear, I am extremely happy that 1) we got to see Bryan vs. Rollins on Monday, because holy shit, 2) we’re seeing Reigns vs. Bryan in a few weeks and 3) there is the slightest possibility that we could see Bryan vs. Lesnar (shut up and let me dream). It’s just doing this good thing does not let the WWE off for the Bad Thing (‘The Bad Thing’ is now the official name for the Royal Rumble match).
We kick things off with a recap of basically what I was just talking about there. Also, how dumb is Triple H to stand on camera and talk about how he’s going to manipulate everyone? Surely people would start to get a little suspicious of someone who did that. I mean, I’m a little suspicious now…
SmackDown kicks off with an episode of Miz TV, and Miz actually is one of the better interviewers that the WWE has had, mainly because he actually interviews people and not every single one of his interviews ends in a brawl. Byron Saxton is sort of trying to establish himself as a heel commentator, but considering he’s disagreeing with King (who drops a Fifty Shades of Grey joke as I type this), I sort of side with him a lot of the time. Mizdow is doing the whole personal assistant thing, and have the WWE set things up so that we’re going to cheer a PA? Magnificent.
We’re welcomed to Miz TV, and immediately gets a thunderous Mizdow chant. Fair play to Miz, he is really good at reacting and responding to things like that. He introduces Daniel Bryan, who gets all of the cheers in his nice new t-shirt. Reigns doesn’t wait for Miz to announce him, and shows up to the ring. It’ll be interesting to see whether they can make him pissed off without throwing him into straight heel territory, but considering the crowd reactions in general, who the hell knows?
Roman Reigns then just Superman Punches the fuck out of Miz, out of nowhere, and Bryan doesn’t even try to step in to defend his mentor. And yes, WWE, that is the kind of thing you need Roman doing if you’re going to ride the Reigns Train to WrestleMania. Reigns then picks up the mic, and no, WWE, that is not the kind of thing you need Roman doing if you’re going to ride the Reigns Train to WrestleMania. Although his promo isn’t really that bad: it’s a fairly generic ‘I’m going to WrestleMania and winning the title’ spiel with the usual ‘I don’t want to wait until the PPV to fight you’ thrown in. Bryan seems amenable to fighting Reigns tonight, and they start dismantling the set.
Rollins then shows up, and that is just cock-blocking right there. He says he hates to be a lemon, but he has grievances to air. He calls Bryan out on his cheap win, and calls Reigns a ‘jerk’. Shit, Rollins, that’s sort of hardcore, isn’t it? He says Roman doesn’t have the guts to fight him one-on-one, and Seth is sort of a badass. Rollins tells Bryan that he has a match against Cruiserweight Security, and Seth Rollins. So…Bryan has a match against Seth Rollins. Plus, how is it that Rollins is suddenly announcing matches like this? Is he the closest thing to an authority figure we have here tonight? Is he Jon Snow?
Renee Young is backstage, and introduces Miz whilst trying not to laugh. Miz is pizzed, and says that Reigns doesn’t belong in the main event at WrestleMania. Wow, face turn.
Maybe Wearing Costumes And Doing Crack Wasn’t The Best Way To Be Better Brothers
Ah, it’s Goldust and Stardust in the ring, here to show us the latest step in the breakdown of their sibling closeness. And they’ll be facing Ryback and Dolph Ziggler, so I doubt that this will in any way help. We see Ziggler and Ryback talking about how the Authority has targeted them, what with putting them in high-profile matches, giving them both PPV paychecks and keeping them constantly relevant: those bastards.
Stardust starts things off against Ryback, getting headlocked. Ryback is shot off the ropes and knocks Rhodes down, then catches him and tags in Dolph to do a double-team atomic drop-dropkick: good move. Ziggler wrenches Stardust’s arm, stopping him from escaping, and then tags in Ryback. Bodyslam to Stardust, then a splash off the second rope as Stardust has yet to muster offence. Ziggler comes back in, and he and Ryback hit double back elbows to the costumed psychopath; Ziggler drops an elbow and Ryback hits a splash again before Stardust heads to the outside to regroup as we head to the break.
Back to the action, and the Dust Brothers have finally gotten their heads in the game, working Ryback over in the corner. Ryback manages to drive Goldust into the corner, but Stardust has made the tag, robbing Ryback of any advantage again. The Big Guy’s floored, and Goldust comes back in to latch on with a front facelock. Ryback fights back, actually knocking Stardust to the floor off an Irish whip, and then hits Goldust with an elbow. Goldust charges, but Ryback elevates him right out to the floor.
Goldust slides into the ring before Ryback can reach Ziggler, tagging in Stardust, who immediately heads up to the top rope. He leaps right into a fist to the gut from Ryback, who tags in Dolph Ziggler. Stinger Splash, then a neckbreaker, then a shot to Goldust and an elbow to Stardust. Ziggler looks for the superkick, but Stardust catches the foot, tries to hit a back suplex, but Dolph rolls out. Stardust ducks a Fameasser, but then eats Ziggler’s DDT for two. Zig-Zag is countered via the ropes, and Stardust wrecks Dolph with the Disaster Kick. Goldust calls for the tag, but uses the Name-Which-Must-Not-Be-Named, and Stardust tags him in with a chop across the chest before walking out. Dust Senior looks perplexed, and then eats a superkick before Ryback finishes things with Shell Shocked.
Good match. I don’t yet understand why the name ‘Cody’ is such a berserk button for Stardust; maybe he feels like his brother is ungrateful for him descending into Stardust-y madness in order to be a better tag team partner. Yeah, remember how that started? I barely do. Dolph was certainly the highlight here, although Ryback’s dominance was entertaining as well. 3 Stars.
WWE does their Black History Month thing by telling us about Ernie ‘The Cat’ Ladd, who I think I remember vaguely from Bret Hart’s autobiography. Seems like he had a damned busy life: two Hall of Fames and civil rights activism.
Here’s Curtis Axel in the ring, and he’s still saying that he deserves a shot at the title at WrestleMania. And the thing is, if everyone at WWE Headquarters got absolutely off-the-planet high and booked that match, I’d watch it. If it was just Axel getting ragdolled for a solid twenty minutes, I’d watch the hell out of it. The crowd chants ‘you’re not perfect’, and I don’t know if they mean in general or that he’s not his dead father. He wants us to hashtag ‘Axelmania’, and that’s better than most of the things Michael Cole tells us to hashtag.
Ambrose shows up to the ring, and Axel flings his shirt at him to gain an advantage, but Ambrose quickly recovers, beating the hell out of Axel in the corner, then crossbodies him off the ropes before dropping his elbow on him. Curtis reverses an Irish whip, sending Ambrose into the corner, then holds him against the ropes and clubs him across the back of the head. He rains down some more blows, and then throws Ambrose out of the ring.
Axel follows Dean out, laying a beatdown on him against the announce table, and gets in Michael’s face a little. But Michael Motherfucking Cole used to be a war journalist, and Curtis Axel is…Curtis Axel, so Michael just asks him why he’s eyeballing him. Ambrose catches Axel with a clothesline, levelling him.
Back in the ring, Ambrose hits a running bulldog before coming off the top rope and getting caught with a boot. Axel nearly hits the Perfectplex; Ambrose reverses it, comes off the ropes with this Pendulum Clothesline, and then hits Dirty Deeds to end it.
Not a bad match. I was surprised at Axel’s offence, but then again, Dean is very good at getting beaten up: why not? 2.5 Stars.
Bad News Barrett shows up on the titantron, pretending to be a newsreader, and tells Ambrose that crazy people don’t get title opportunities. His newsfeed tickertape along the bottom is both depressing and seriously funny. My personal favourite: ‘local man accepts lot in life’.
Goddamned Incredible Cleavage On Fandango
Um…why is Fandango on my television screen? And…Adam Rose is facing him? Wow, this is the meeting of two of the WWE’s worst ideas. Apparently Fandango talked shit about the people Rose forces to live in his dystopian world of fear, so they’re having a match. The Rosebuds then drop Rose during the trust fall which, as my drama teacher once informed me, is exactly the wrong thing to do whilst doing a trust fall, and stop laughing, David; you could have seriously injured Freddy. Adam Rose then starts beating the shit out of his Rosebuds, and…it really looks like I ducked some karma in high school.
Fandango apparently objects to this treatment of the costumed masses, and brings Adam Rose into the ring the hard way. Good God, that is a glorious pecs-curtain on Fandango’s shirt. He tackles Rose and hits him with chops in the corner, then hits a back elbow. Rose reverses an Irish whip and beats Fandango down in the corner before hitting a clothesline. Fandango stands on the apron and gets booted, and then Rose back-suplexes him onto the apron. Adam Rosebud: ‘Stupid Rosebods! Moronic Rosebuds!’ I know them feels, brah. Fandango nearly rolls him up for the win, then hits a spinning heel kick and his leg drop for the win.
Whoa, Fandango actually won. Is it because he looks pimp in his new shirt? I think it’s because he looks pimp in his new shirt. 2 Stars.
I Think McMahon Just Handed Roman Back His Balls
Miz strides angrily to the ring, and yells as Mizdow to ‘sit in your seat!’, like Mizdow is Carrie or something. Mizdow then brings him a microphone, which gets the pop of the night. He calls out Reigns, making that the second dumbest thing he’s done, after Marine IV. Roman shows up, and Miz blindsides him as he tries to get into the ring, hurling Reigns into the steps. Holy fucking shit, did the Miz just get dangerous? Roman gets into the ring, says that he’s okay to continue, and the bell rings.
Miz immediately goes on the offence, keeping Reigns in the corner with hard and fast strikes. He Irish whips Reigns, but Reigns just beheads him with a clothesline and stops the shit out of him. Headbutt to the Miz, who manages to hit a kick before Roman shoulder-tackles him out of the ring. Byron says that the Authority didn’t manipulate Reigns, even though the Authority said, on-camera, that they manipulated Reigns. Another clothesline to Miz on the outside, and Roman throws him into the ring, kicking him in the face whilst still on the apron. But Miz still manages to boot Roman back into the face, and then does it again for a one-count.
Miz wrenches the face of Reigns, who breaks out of it, but Miz hits his backbreaker-neckbreaker to keep him grounded, and then chokes him on the ropes. Apparently Lawler thinks that the story of Roman’s dad casually trying to drown him as a child is inspirational, which is another reason not to let Lawler near anyone under a certain age. Michael then says ‘sounds like you have some personal issues’, which makes him MVP of tonight. Roman fires up a little, but runs into a knee from the Miz, who then runs into a massive clothesline from Reigns.
Roman squashes Miz in the corner a few times, then clotheslines him again. But Miz almost gains the upperhand, only for Reigns to block his DDT and flapjack him! Superman Punch hits Miz, then Reigns roars and hits the spear for the win.
I liked this. Miz reasserted what he did through his tag-team feud with the Usos: he can go in the ring. He needs to get pissed off more often; this was far different than what I thought it was going to be. But the real thing to praise here was Reigns: he was on point here, and it was because he was furious as well. If Reigns retains the attitude he displayed in this match – the hard-hitting, the roaring, the fury – then I would be okay with him facing Lesnar. An insanely angry Reigns will actually look like he has a hope in hell. Plus, when’s the last time we saw someone face Lesnar whilst murderously pissed at him? 2.5 Stars.
Monty Brown Lives On
Rusev and Lana approach the ring, and we recap his beatdown on Rowan, which was a good move. And apparently Rowan saw the Miz earlier tonight and thought: ‘that’s how I want to die’, because he’s having a rematch. Rusev and Rowan pound each other, before Rowan boots Rusev in the face, then runs his face off the turnbuckle and…and hits the Pounce? Shades of Marcus Cor Von! Rusev tries to run off, but Erick catches him, throwing him back into the ring. I actually took a five minute break there to watch a ‘Pounce’ compilation. Rowan squashes Rusev in the corner, but then runs right into a spinning heel kick.
Rusev locks on some kind of choke, but Rowan gets out of it, throwing the big Bulgarian into the turnbuckle before hitting a big double axe-handle. Big elbow from the second rope to Rusev, and then Rowan squashes him in the corner before laying on the punches. Rusev manages to recover, kicking the legs out from under Rowan, sending him falling to the floor. A kick to the face and the Accolade finishes things.
Decent. Seems like a night for guys to get seriously pissy and give out more offence than you’d think. An extra 0.5 stars for THE POUNCE. 2.5 Stars.
Apparently the Rusev/Cena match at Fast Lane is for the United States Title, and I swear you could not give the result away any more clearly than that.
Paige Celebrates Black History Month By Beating Up A Black Woman
We recap the Bella Twins forming the new NWO/trying to make Paige a racist during Black History Month. Renee is backstage with Paige, who I don’t think has actually watched her stomach. Paige says that she was embarrassed, and she should at least say ‘I have less risk of getting skin cancer’. She then heads out to the ring for a match with Alicia Fox. Also…did she not wash the paint off her stomach? I mean…I get not being ashamed, but that’s just unhygienic.
Paige jumps the hell out of Fox, kicking her in the face before Alicia shuts her down with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker, and then just throws her right out of the ring: damn, that looked hardcore. Paige makes it back into the ring at eight, and eats a Northern Lights suplex. Paige fires up, hitting a hell of a lot of clotheslines, then a dropkick, and then a boot to the face. PTO is locked in, and Fox taps out.
So many people are angry tonight; now that Roman’s the Royal Rumble winner, does that mean the entire locker room has synchronised their periods with his? This match was always going to be good, considering who it involved, and the anger from Paige just made it better. 2.5 Stars.
We get a video message from Bray Wyatt, and I think he’s wearing a sleeveless leather trenchcoat. I don’t have to listen to someone dressed like that. Plus, I know that this sort of thing would work great in some kind of horror movie context, but at this point Bray is just saying creepy stuff into a camera without any sign of an endgame. I mean…I could do that.
Bryan vs. Rollins And Nobody Else
Main event time, and Bryan rocks up to the ring, followed by Seth Rollins and his bitches. Man, did these guys not have enough notice to pick up some ring gear? Like, you know, their own ring gear they used to wear? Also, those three bumped forearms instead of high-fiving, and I’m getting increasingly suspicious that these guys aren’t protecting Rollins so much as he is caring for them and stopping them from running whilst holding sharp objects.
Mercury starts out against Bryan, and I know it’s futile, but I would like to be reminded that Joey was once a tag team champion and a member of the Straight Edge Society. But no, he locks up with Bryan before trying to drag him over to Seth and Jamie. German suplex to Mercury, who begs off. Great. Tag to Noble, and he gets his arm wrenched and gets kicked around before running into a knee. Just to rub salt in the wound, Michael then reminisces about the pasts of Noble and Mercury. I mean, surely this is easy for Bryan: all he has to do is not let Noble tag out and kick him into unconsciousness; we’ve established that any fighting back will be minimal. Bryan is just working the arm, which I think qualifies Noble as ‘crippled’. Noble tags out, and from this camera angle it looked like he was hugging Rollins. Man, I might actually roll with this ‘Rollins is Cruiserweight Security’s carer’ theory.
Seth and Daniel face each other down, and either kiss or lock up, fellas. Bryan wrenches Rollins’ arm behind his back; Seth elbows his way out and then runs into a dropkick. Rollins drives Bryan into the corner, but is smart enough not to tag out. Neckbreaker to Bryan and forget what I just said: Noble tags in, and quickly is at Bryan’s mercy as the former champ kicks him in the corner. Seth pulls Jamie out of the way of Bryan’s dropkick, causing Daniel to crash and burn, and then hurls Bryan into the barricade on the outside as we go to break.
Back to the action as Seth hits a German suplex to Bryan and then mocks Lesnar. Wow, that is like two things you don’t do. Another German suplex, and then Mercury tags in, hitting on stomp before tagging in Noble. Jamie hits some forearms, and just pull out the Tiger suplex, damn it. Dropkick from Mercury: thank you. Rollins comes back in and hits both boots to Bryan’s foot, then wrenches back on Bryan’s head, which has to be the worst thing you can do to a guy with a neck injury. Bryan breaks out and both men hit each other with a crossbody, both going down. They replay the collision in slow motion, and I was feeling awesome about how good I’ve been looking lately until I see how firm Seth’s body is: thanks, Rollins.
Both guys find their feet, but Seth cuts off Bryan’s punches, throwing him face-first into the turnbuckle and stomping him. He then tags Noble in again, who tags in Mercury for a triple-team. They set Bryan up for Seth to powerbomb him from the top rope, but Bryan hurricanranas Seth down to the mat instead. Bryan takes out Noble, then dives out of the ring onto Seth before hanging Mercury up on the top rope and hitting a flying double dropkick to both members of Cruiserweight Security. He kicks both men some more, until Rollins ambushes him, going for another German suplex; Bryan lands on his feet and sends Rollins and Noble out of the ring! He kicks Mercury in the stomach, knocks Rollins off the apron and turns Mercury’s roll-up attempt into the Yes-Lock for the submission!
Another fun match: I’d have loved to see some old classic moves from Mercury and Noble, but I guess you can’t have everything. Maybe it has been too long: who’s to say? Anyway, that was a good one. 3 Stars.
Bryan bails as Seth comes after him, retreating up the ramp, and then Kane attacks him. Seriously, Kane? It’s over. Let it go. Let it go…I am one with the wind and stop it! Stop it! Kane sends Bryan back into the ring and chokeslams him twice. Okay, so does this Authority opposition mean that Bryan’s the guy? Or is this meant to set up Bryan and Rollins at WrestleMania? Time will tell. Curbstomp ends our night.
This was a really good show. The matches were pretty great, and the emotion running over the night seriously helped. If they keep Reigns the way he was during this show, I could absolutely go with him facing Lesnar. Just keep a gun trained on Vince until WrestleMania’s over. Tonight gets a nine.
David’s Movie Recommendation: I’m going to go some way back with this next suggestion, mainly because I ended up watching the whole thing through last night: The Great Escape. Amazing music, some great moments throughout the movie and with, of course, the famous motorbike chase. I love this film now as much as I did when I was a kid.
Tags: Adam Rose, alicia fox, Brie Bella, byron saxton, Curtis Axel, Daniel Bryan, dean ambrose, Dolph Ziggler, Erick Rowan, Fandango, Goldust, Jamie Noble, joey mercury, Kane, Lana, miz, Mizdow, Nikki Bella, Paige, Renee Young, Roman Reigns, Rosa Mendes, rusev, ryback, seth rollins, smackdown, Stardust