Hey hey. It’s your faithful SmackDown recapper David Spain here, and we are just days away from Elimination Chamber. Man, it seems like just two weeks ago that we were all getting ready for Payback…yeah, yeah, we’re all making that joke. Besides, considering that we all watch Elimination Chamber matches for the same reason (to see men literally shorten their careers and lower the quality of their own lives to try and win our approval), I don’t mind getting my annual botch-fest/snuff film a couple of weeks early.
That being said, I am actually looking forward to the Ambrose/Rollins fight, even if Dean’s got no chance of leaving with the title. I mean, I don’t even mind that: Rollins holding the belt for a while longer is a good move, and I’m getting a great filler match out of it. And the Tag Team Chamber match promises to be fucking hysterical, and I have no idea how much coke got snorted before that idea got put forward. So hey: c’est la vie. Or que sera sera. Or…YOLO?
SmackDown gets off to a flying start by reusing RAW‘s main event as its own, because if SmackDown could hunt down episodes of RAW, ritualistically murder them and make a suit out of their skins, it would.
We kick things off in the ring with Dean Ambrose, who apparently after being proven innocent of assault managed to sweet-talk the cops into handing over their van, uniform and weapons. I’m just amazed he managed to get arrested and freed by American police officers without being shot whilst handcuffed ‘in self-defence’.
Ambrose recaps his helter-skelter fortnight, and I love the fact that a match made under duress isn’t official, but when you sign a contract after assaulting the guy holding it, that’s all sweet and legal. Dean tells us that he used his one phone call to contact Roman Reigns, when he really should have called David Otunga, and I am having fun picturing Reigns at the police station, giving the cops all kinds of legal trouble.
Dean handwaves getting his hands on all of that stuff by saying ‘the cops are huge Dean Ambrose fans’. Honestly, that is not the least-likely explanation WWE has ever given me. Ambrose promises to end Seth Rollins at Elimination Chamber. He looks pretty damn intense right now, and he tells us that the Age of Ambrose will begin. Solid promo from a good talker.
Did you know that the Tanzanians make coffee? It’s not that bad.
When Are The Lumberjacks Going To Be Forced To Dress As Lumberjacks?
Looks like we’re having some kind of Lumberjack Match here, with the Prime Time Players, Los Matadores, the Ascension and the New Day as the Lumberjacks. That leaves Kidd and Cesaro facing the Lucha Dragons, which I can get all over. Even Kalisto’s entrance into the ring is the most ridiculously acrobatic thing I’ve ever seen; a match between him and Neville would probably destroy physics itself.
Sin Cara and Kidd lock up, exchanging some holds before Kidd uses the ropes to arm-drag Sin Cara out of the ring. Tyson tags in Cesaro, and the pair hit an uppercut into German Suplex: fucking beautiful. Cesaro ties up the leg of Sin Cara, but the masked man gets the advantage from a headscissors, with Kalisto tagging in to hurricanrana Cesaro out of the ring.
The Lumberjacks toss Cesaro back inside, and he manages to take Kalisto down. The Lucha attempts a sunset flip, but Cesaro pulls him up into a delayed vertical suplex, tagging in Tyson to hit almost the Doomsday Device version of a suplex. Kalisto manages to tag out, and Sin Cara comes in strong. Amazing double team from the Lucha Dragons: haven’t a clue what to call it (watch the damn match). Kalisto headscissors Kidd out of the ring, only to get thrown back in by the New Day. These Lumberjacks are seriously behaving themselves: usually getting sent out of the ring means a mugging.
Back from a commercial break, Cesaro has the advantage over Kalisto, but when he tags out, Kalisto does some amazing acrobatic evasion, managing to tag in Sin Cara. Headscissors to Tyson Kidd, then a moonsault off the ropes for a two count. Cesaro and Kidd use teamwork to headscissor Sin Cara, and now Cesaro’s throwing uppercuts! The Swiss Superman wants the Swing, but pauses in order to dropkick Kalisto in mid-air as the Lucha flies into the ring! Sin Cara almost rolls Cesaro up off the distraction, and then hits his headscissors-armbar takedown for two.
Kalisto’s in now, hitting a corkscrew crossbody off the ropes, then a springboard roundhouse kick to the face! I can only imagine that this is what watching Rey Mysterio in his prime was like. The kick gets a two, and Cesaro manages to power Kalisto into a suplex. Tyson Kidd tags in for his big elbow from the top, getting two. Kalisto reverses a suplex, turning a roll-up into a kick to the face. Sin Cara kicks Cesaro out of the ring when the Swiss Superman breaks up the pin, then Kalisto tries his hurricanrana, but Kidd turns it into the Sharpshooter!
Kalisto’s in agony, with Kidd dragging him to the centre of the ring, but Sin Cara breaks things up with a springboard. Cesaro superkicks Sin Cara, because literally nobody in the WWE cannot do that move now, but gets elevated over the top rope onto the Lumberjacks. OhShitSon.jpg. Sin Cara gets sent out of the ring as well, and it’s just Kalisto and Kidd left. Xavier Woods distracts Kidd long enough for Kalisto to hit a standing shiranui, getting three.
Phenomenal match, with the action not ever really stopping. Quite glad they kept any interference from the lumberjacks to a low, as the match didn’t need anything extra. Every participant did great. 4 Stars.
The New Day seems smug, despite the fact it didn’t really matter to them who won. I guess they’re just dicks.
Backstage, Kane is taking a phonecall, but finishes up so Seth can come in and Rollins up the place. Jamie delivers some classic hillbilly comedy, which makes me wonder why they don’t let him talk more. There has to be more to be mined from these two than short-guy jokes. Rollins is a little antsy about Ambrose getting steadily more nuts, but Kane seems pretty confident: apparently he’s got a plan.
How Long Until Wade Stops Having To Pretend To Be Royalty?
Oh thank God, it’s R-Truth. I was worried that SmackDown was being too…good? We get a little interview video with Truth, who seems to be trying to act more serious and intimidating, but that’s sort of at odds with him rapping away happily as he makes his entrance. Shit, just play a video about how he used to deal drugs and went to prison: that’s pretty intimidating. It’s like they never remind us that Orton once spent time in a military prison: I wouldn’t mess with someone who’d been through that experience.
He’s facing Wade Barrett, and the commentators make no reference to his having possibly killed a man in Budapest which, again, would intimidate the bejesus, bemary and bejoseph out of me. I wouldn’t even laugh at his shitty costume, and that costume is the most absurd thing ever.
Barrett starts off with a big boot, then shoves R-Truth shoulder-first into the steel post. I can empathise with the man. Neckbreaker to R-Truth, but he comes back with some fists before Barrett kicks him again, taking him down. Snap suplex to Truth, and Barrett wants a Bullhammer. Truth ducks, rolling Barrett up for two, then hits the Lie Detector…for three?
Nice to see that King of the Ring accolade is doing wonders for Barrett. 2 Stars.
Sheamus appears in order to Brogue Kick the fuck out of R-Truth, which I can’t really be mad at him for. Sheamus then delives the Kick to Barrett as well, and I’m hoping like hell that means there’s going to be a goddamn brawl between these two in the Chamber.
Lana’s backstage, and she apparently has a prepared statement for us. If it’s going to be all about Rusev’s weird fetishes and tiny genitalia, then that’s some realism from WWE. Also, Rusev’s impersonation of the worst boyfriend ever on Monday was pretty wonderful: I can’t believe he managed to get through it without corpsing.
When we come back, Renee is there to interview Lana. Lana gives a fairly empowered (in the WWE’s world) interview, saying how she’s no man’s property. Honestly, I’m amazed that McMahon’s come this far. Renee then asks Lana what’s going on with her and Ziggler, which seems like an odd response to Lana being strong and independent. Lana says she has no relationship with Ziggler, probably because Dolph’s like the locker room bicycle.
Rusev shows up, and Lana gets pissed. Also, I think getting dumped has improved Rusev’s English accent: pain only makes him greater! Rusev says he’s not jealous; he’s just going to murder Ziggler with his bare hands. Seems like a fair reaction.
Rusev Should Make Out With Ryback To Make Lana Jealous
Ryback makes his way to the ring, ready to add physical torment to Rusev’s emotional pain. I guess I’d be a little nervous about going into a barely-clothed, highly physical situation with a guy who recently lost his sexual partner. I mean…there’s got to be some frustration there. King supports Lana’s emancipation, which makes it seem wrong just because he says it. That’s right: Jerry Lawler can make feminism itself seem sleazy. Rusev shows up, furious on the outside but crying on the inside.
The bell rings, and the two big men lock up. Neither one can move the other, so Ryback gets a waistlock, holding onto Rusev. Rusev reaches the ropes twice, but Ryback forces him away. Finally Rusev reverses, getting a waistlock of his own. Reversal from Ryback, into an armlock, which is turned into a headlock from Rusev.
Ryback shoots Rusev off the top, and the two men collide, both remaining on their feet. This happens again and again, until Ryback takes it to Rusev with his fists, then chops him in the corner. Rusev comes back with some clubbing strikes of his own, then attempts a suplex. Ryback blocks it, and hits a suplex of his own. Snapmare to Rusev, the Big Guy is firmly in control, keeping Rusev on the ropes.
I’ve got to stop writing things like that: Rusev just levelled Ryback with a clothesline and is now on the offensive. Ryback’s getting beaten down in the corners, with Rusev’s own power allowing him to run roughshod over him. ‘We Want Lana’ chants from the crowd, because you’ll forgive any enemy of America as long as they’re hot. Ryback has a rally, managing to elevate Rusev over the top rope. He heads out after the Bulgarian, but that’s a bad decision, as Rusev hits a fallaway slam onto the floor.
Back from a commercial break, Rusev is firmly in control, holding Ryback as the Big Guy tries to fight his way out. Rusev shuts him down, but then runs right into a shoulder tackle from Ryback. Rusev runs into an elbow, then a boot. Ryback tries a bodyslam, but Rusev slides out of it, only for his ankle to give out from under him; he slides out of the ring. Ryback follows him out, and gets his head rocked off the steel post. Fuck’s sake, Ryback. And then…Rusev gets disqualified? For a fucking steel post shot?! What the hell, WWE? Since when was that a DQ offence?
I was quite impressed with how that match was built, as it made both guys look strong. But the ending just ruined that. Jesus, there are far better ways for Rusev to lose: this wasn’t even lazy writing; this was ‘what the fuck were you thinking?’ writing. 2 Stars.
Being From Norwich, Paige Is Used To Getting Beaten Up
Here’s Paige, ready to try and take revenge on Naomi for forcing her to go and shoot a goddamn movie. These two, plus Nikki Bella, will meet at Elimination Chamber in a Triple Threat match for the Divas Title, and it’s an interesting insight into Nikki’s progress that the last time she was in a Triple Threat with two very talented Divas, I wanted her out of it. This time? Intrigued to see what she could add.
Naomi shows up to the ring, plus Tamina. Jesus, we’re doing a lot of mid-entrance interviews in this show. We get it: you didn’t leave yourselves enough time to build up to this PPV.
Bell rings, and Naomi keeps trying to irritate Paige and run away. Wow, she’s the female Xavier Woods. They finally lock up, and Paige backs Naomi into the corner, then beats her down. Naomi leaves the ring, only to get beaten up some more, but she manages to slam Paige’s arm into the steel post. For some mad fucking reason, the referee does not stop the match and DQ/suspend Naomi, the psychopath.
Naomi, now with the advantage, starts beating on Paige, targeting the arm with every single move. Goddamn nice leather jacket Tamina’s got, I keep noticing. I do love me a leather jacket. Paige manages to make a comeback, hitting a superkick to Naomi and taking out Tamina at ringside, before hitting the Rampaige for three.
Over faster than I would have thought. Hopefully Naomi will get some more offence in during the PPV match. Still pretty hard-hitting. 2.5 Stars.
The Bellas show up on the entrance ramp to applaud and not attack anyone (because they’re somehow faces now).
Michael Cole’s in the ring, even though we at SmackDown need our space after he left us. Oh wow, and here’s Kevin Owens. Well, he’s already got my support for actually bothering to show up on SmackDown. You hear that, Cena? Also, for a guy who’s apparently worked in the industry for fifteen years, he’s remarkably fresh-faced. Like…I’d mistake him for a guy in his mid-twenties.
Owens says that he’s going to dominate Cena, and when Cole tries to tell him that John Cena is JesusSonGokuSuperman, but Owens says ‘yeah, I’m still going to kick his ass’. This is rather refreshing, and there’s something about Owens which puts him on my ‘people I want to face Brock Lesnar’ list. I actually have that list.
Owens keeps refusing to let Michael Cole talk, which I’m sort of on board with. He shows us what he did to Sami Zayn, and says that he did that to his best friend; what’s he going to do to Cena? He uses this threat against Cena’s person to plug Elimination Chamber, but at least he doesn’t say ‘9.99’.
As Owens is leaving, Ambrose shows up, but Dean doesn’t even acknowledge Owens, or Owens’ attempt at a staredown. Possible tease? Is Owens going to interfere in the title match? Who can say?
It Rubs The Lotion On Its Skin Or Else It Gets The Hose Again
All other participants make their way down to the ring, and we’ve got a match. Kane starts things off against Reigns, but Mercury distracts Ambrose so that Rollins can shove him off the apron: literally the first move of this match was interference, and I think Rollins’ cheating is reaching critical mass.
Kane beats down Rollins, then tags in Seth to do his jackal act. Kane comes back in and takes a back suplex from Reigns, and Ambrose tags in. Kane reverses an Irish whip, runs into a boot and takes a dropkick from the top rope. Bulldog to Kane, then Ambrose nearly catches an interfering Rollins with Dirty Deeds; Seth escapes as we go to a break.
As we come back, J and J are beating Ambrose up on the outside, and I swear this is meant to be a parody of a regular Rollins match. Is this what happens if you play as him in the licensed games? Ambrose is sent back into the ring, and takes his lumps from Kane: now the legal man. Kane seems to be applying a Vulcan Grip to Ambrose, who breaks out of that geeky bullshit, heading up to the top rope, but gets pulled down to the ground.
Rollins tags himself in, mocking Ambrose until he takes a massive punch to the mouth. Rollins reels, but then knocks Reigns off the apron and takes down Ambrose; as Reigns gets angry with the ref, Kane and Rollins beat the hell out of Ambrose. Seriously: is anyone surprised that Rollins couldn’t not cheat on his girlfriend?
Kane comes in and hits a dropkick to the face of Ambrose as Rollins holds him. The referee from the Rusev/Ryback match would have DQ’d this entire arena by this point. Rollins is in now, hitting his running forearm into Ambrose’s face, then he locks in a chinlock.
The crowd’s behind Dean as he works his way to his feet, and then chops his way clear of Seth, only to run into a strike and get thrown out of the ring. J and J are on him like guys who Ambrose keeps bullying, but Dean clotheslines the pair of them over the announce table, but turns around just in time to eat a pair of boots from Rollins.
Back in the ring, Seth pounds on Ambrose in the corner, then takes him up to the top rope for a superplex. Dean’s got some other ideas, however, and beats Seth away. Rollins makes the tag to Kane, who heads up after Ambrose, gets knocked away, and then takes a tornado DDT!
Ambrose crawls across the ring, and tags in Reigns; Seth comes in as well and gets fucking mauled. Considering that Reigns is, in the absence of Brock Lesnar, the closest thing we have to an omnipotent force, I love the fact that he’s not directly involved in any immediate feud and is just taking some time out to beat people up as a form of R&R. Roman gets caught by the throat by Kane, but Ambrose flies from the top rope, levelling the Big Red Machine with an elbow. Kane flees from the ring, but Ambrose dives on him before he can get too far.
Back in the ring, Seth is distracted by Kane’s predicament, but also probably laughing at it as well, because Seth Rollins is what every troll aspires to be. But behind him lurks Roman Reigns, Superman Punch cocked and loaded. Rollins manages to turn it into a roll-up attempt, but Reigns rolls through, blocks the superkick and tries to powerbomb Seth!
Rollins leaps out of the powerbomb, gets the beard uppercutted off him, then superkicks Roman in the face. He tries a powerbomb himself, but gets flipped over Reigns, lands on his feet and eats a Superman Punch! Reigns wants a pin, but J and J refuse to view the Superman Punch as a finishing move, and dive on him for the DQ.
This was a good match, and a nice appetite-whetter. During the last flurry of that match, Rollins showed what he could be: a freaking badass. I seriously wish he wasn’t hampered by this cowardly and inept heel character; just let him be an asshole who can actually beat faces on his level. 3 Stars.
Ambrose makes the save, sending, J, J and K out of the ring before diving onto them. Seth tries that himself, but leaps straight into a fist from Dean, who promptly begins to show Rollins what the wrong end of a holding-cell beating looks like (don’t tell me Ambrose didn’t get into at least one fight whilst incarcerated for half an hour).
Kane calls out the New Day, who you may recognise as the guys he tried to fuck over with ten-on-three odds this Monday. Not sure what Ambrose must have done to them, but I assume it involved the murder of close family members. Reigns ends this shit by leaping onto everyone, which is one way to end an argument. Or a business meeting. Or a wedding.
Xavier Woods managed to get inside the ring before Roman Airlines came crashing down, which is the kind of smarts studying for a PhD gets ya, but then gets jumped by Ambrose and takes Dirty Deeds, which is what happens when the Tag Team Champs try to do anything main-eventish. Langston tries to interfere and gets clotheslined, then Kofi gets Superman Punched out of the air by Reigns, who then spears Big E.
Kane comes back in and chokeslams Reigns; Ambrose takes issue, but Rollins and Kane deliver a beatdown. Seth sets up the Pedigree and, despite taking about thirty seconds to set it up and deliver it, he actually hits it. Rollins ends the night standing tall, but this isn’t RAW, so that has no bearing whatsoever on the PPV results.
This was a pretty good show. I’m still fuming about the Rusev/Ryback DQ, but the rest of it was honestly decent. Considering they have had, what, two weeks to build to Elimination Chamber, I don’t feel like they’ve done a terrible job. I mean, they had a month to build to Payback and didn’t really bother. See you on the other side of the PPV: tonight gets an Eight.
Tags: byron saxton, Cesaro, Cruiserweight Security, dean ambrose, Kane, Kevin Owens, King, Lana, Los Matadores, Lucha Dragons, Michael Cole, naomi, natalya neidhart, Paige, Prime Time Players, R-Truth, Roman Reigns, rusev, ryback, seth rollins, Sheamus, smackdown, Tamina Snuka, The Ascension, The New Day, Tom Philips, Tyson Kidd, Wade Barrett