Hey there, guys. This is Spain’s SmackDown Report, nary a few days from 2016’s Royal Rumble PPV.
We kick things off with the man they call Y2J, Chris Jericho, who makes his way down to the ring and grabs himself a microphone. Some chant-love for Chris as he gets down to business: the most important Royal Rumble ever is in three days time. We recap the Highlight Reel from Monday (DRINK…wait, what?).
I was pretty pleasantly surprised by what a difference nine or so months makes: Reigns actually doesn’t look that out of place in a brawl against Lesnar, for one. I also sort of marked out for Reigns’ savviness: why try and fight something like Lesnar fairly when you can surprise-spear the guy and then beat the dazed mass you’re left with into a concussion? And even though I rolled my eyes a little when they showed up, even the Wyatts looked like major players in that segment. And, let’s face it, that’s the kind of resurrection I like to see. Even if all it leads to is Lesnar beating the unholy fuck out of the four of them at either Rumble or WrestleMania: this was better than anything else the Family’s been doing for almost a year.
Jericho is still trying to sell himself as ‘our saviour’ and ‘future World Champion’, and that’s almost sad to have to sit through. He’s interrupted by the people who actually deserve the title ‘saviour’: the New Day. They shame him for both destroying Francesca, and not showing any remorse for the loss of a beautiful trombone. But even the most heinous of criminals can be rehabilitated, so the New Day are going to offer him a second chance.
The New Day ask for everyone to bow their heads in a moment of silence. Jericho, predictably, would rather just make fun of the New Day. And that would work, if it wasn’t for the unfortunate truth that the New Day are actually the more entertaining of these guys right now. He tries to push his ‘Rooty Tooty Booty’ chant, because apparently that’s a thing we’re fucking doing now.
The New Day don’t take too kindly to this bullshit, and get themselves into the ring, but Jericho informs them that they already have a six-man tag match tonight, and points to the entrance ramp. First out are the Usos, which definitely sets a quality bottom-line for the approaching match. They are teamed with Dolph Ziggler, and I was worried that the bottom-line was about to be teamed up with a glass ceiling, but this actually looks pretty good.
It’s not the same without the trombone
When we come back from a commercial break, the match still has yet to get underway. Dolph has his face painted up like the Usos, and it’s hard enough to tell the two of them apart already, asshole. Apparently it’s something that, once again, spiralled out of social media. God, is there any end to this appalling symbiotic relationship? Oh, and with seemingly no fanfare at all, the Usos are going to get a Tag Team Championship opportunity at the Rumble. Sounds good, and I’m in favour of good matches, but I hope to hell they leave themselves enough time for the Rumble match itself.
Kofi and Jimmy start things off, with Jimmy wrenching the arm. Kofi cartwheels and flips his way out of it, smacking the back of Jimmy’s head off the mat. Big chop from the Uso, staggering Kofi, who reverses an Irish whip and eats a big uppercut. Jey tags in, and the twins hit a pair of double elbows before Kofi tags out. Xavier Woods comes in, takes an armdrag and has his arm locked at the shoulder. Bodyslam from Jey, and Woods is deep in the face corner.
Dolph Ziggler tags himself in, setting up a perfect dropkick from the Show-Off for two. Another wrench of the arm to Woods, and Ziggler mocks the New Day by stamping out a ‘New Day Sucks’ chant. Neckbreaker, then a big elbow to Woods, who manages to drive Ziggler into the corner, tagging in Big E. Langston hits the belly-to-belly, scores with a splash and gets two. Kofi Kingston tags in, hitting a beautiful dropkick of his own. He then holds Ziggler so that Woods can hit another dropkick, then hit Dolph with a clothesline.
Kofi has Ziggler in a sleeper; Dolph tries to fight out, but gets beaten down in the corner by Kingston. Kofi misses a leapfrog; he tries to springboard back at Ziggler, but leaps right into a dropkick! Ziggler crawls across the ring, and here’s Jimmy Uso with the tag! Jimmy smacks Kofi in the face, comes off the ropes with a headbutt, hits a splash in the corner, then a dropkick in the opposite corner before scoring with the Samoan Wrecking Ball! Jimmy clotheslines Woods off the apron, but Xavier is able to distract the ref enough for Langston to hip-toss Jimmy out of the ring! Jimmy is in bad shape as we head to another commercial break.
When we come back, Big E has Jimmy in an abdominal stretch, working the upper body. Unicorn Stampede in the corner, beating Jimmy Uso to a pulp before hitting the running dropkick. Woods pounds on Jimmy, hitting a running reverse STO for two. Jimmy tries to fight his way clear of Xavier, hitting all of the New Day, rolling Woods up, but Langston tags in and shuts him right down again.
Big E sets Jimmy up in the corner, then gets him up in the Electric Chair position. Jimmy fights out, kicking Langston in the face and hitting a corkscrew moonsault! Ziggler gets the tag and starts taking it to Woods: splash, neckbreaker, elbow and then a Fameasser! Ziggler charges at Woods again, getting elevated out of the ring, and he smashes his face off the steel steps on impact: I’m not sure if that was a botch or not, but it looked nasty as hell.
Jey Uso managed to get the tag during Ziggler’s plunge, and he heads up to the top, hitting a flying crossbody to Woods, then a superkick, following it up with a right hand. Woods rolls out of a back suplex, eating a running dropkick. Xavier dodges a Samoan Wrecking Ball, but takes a Samoan Drop. Jimmy Uso is in now, clearing away an interfering Langston with a superkick; he dodges Trouble in Paradise and hits a Dragon Kick! Jimmy dives out onto Kofi and Big E, whilst Ziggler tags himself into the match. All three of them hit simultaneous superkicks to Xavier Woods, and that gets the pin.
Good match, even with the high quality its participants promised. Nice advert for the title match, and for Ziggler’s appearance in the Rumble. Great start to the night. 3 Stars.
We get the Rumble’s ‘Numbers’ presentation: I always enjoy this, as it does add a lot of interesting perspectives to the match. Also, glad to see that they’re still showing the London/Snitsky ‘Sick As Fuck’ elimination. Although they really shouldn’t have put as much focus on Reigns’ first Rumble victory: if Creative wants to actually take pride in that night, then there’s nothing on earth one could punish them with.
Those marble-statue things look fucking frightening
Here’s Becky Lynch, wearing a…well, sort of a bird suit? Aztec/Mayan/Incan-esque bird suit? I’ve never been one to claim any sort of expertise in women’s fashion, but even I figure that’s a bit of an avant-garde choice. Charlotte and Ric are on commentary, and I’m just as surprised as BD that Ric managed to proxy-accept Becky’s challenge on Monday without blading and flinging blood at the audience/Becky/JBL. I also love that Becky’s strategy involved a knowledge of and reliance on Flair’s lack of logic and common sense.
Becky is facing Alicia Fox, and the two Divas lock up. Becky applies a headlock; Alicia rolls her off, and now Alicia locks the arm, sends Becky into the corner, ducks under a leapfrog and takes a dropkick. Leg drop from Becky to Fox, then another, with Lynch getting two. Alicia bails, clutching her nose, as Becky follows her out. Alicia catches her with a kick to the chest, then hits a Northern Lights suplex on the outside!
Back in the ring, Fox hits a bodyslam, and can anyone really understand every word Flair says? I mean, I get enough to guess the general gist, but I feel like some of his vocabulary is totally lost on me. Becky rolls Fox over her, then rolls her up for two. Both Lynch and Fox slug away at each other, with Becky gaining the upper hand with clothesline. Forearm to the face from Becky, and then an exploder suplex out of the corner for two!
The action is coming hard and fast, with Becky running into a boot. Fox attempts another bodyslam, but Becky sandbags her, turning the attempt into a Disarmer for the submission victory!
Intense match: reminiscent of some of Paige’s more fast-paced bouts. Camera kept cutting across to the Flairs, which was a little annoying, but it didn’t detract much. 2.5 Stars.
It’s Miz TV, and the Miz is out here to explain the rules of the Last Man Standing match to us. Because the clue’s not in the name or anything. Thankfully, Ambrose’s music cuts him off before things get too patronising, and Dean makes his way to the ring. Oh, and now he’s going to explain the match to us? But hey, if this is the price I have to pay to see Ambrose vs. Owens in a Last Man Standing match, I’ll sit through it.
Miz gets pissy at Dean’s interruption, and Dean implies a general desire to murder he Miz and bathe in his various bodily fluids. Like I say: implies. Miz is so tired of this bullshit that he actually quits on his own show: this is now Dean TV. Dean continues to expand on his plans of murder and mayhem on Sunday for a few minutes, until Kevin Owens mercifully interrupts him.
Kev says that nothing Ambrose has said means anything to him. He’s obsessed with the Intercontinental Championship, and whilst Dean’s insanity might keep him up, Kevin’s obsession is going to make him attack Dean until he can’t stand up anymore. Ambrose makes the standard ‘let’s do this right now’ suggestion, but he suddenly gets jumped by Miz, who has apparently suffered one interruption too many.
Miz attacks Dean for a while, then calls Owens to the ring. Owens arrives, but then hits Miz with a Pop-Up Powerbomb, because Miz is just that annoying. He then turns on Dean, but Ambrose crossbodies him, pounding him until Kev hightails it. Ambrose turns to the Miz, hitting Dirty Deeds, and then counts to ten as he stares at Owens. Roll on Sunday.
Braun Stroman exists only to take an F-5 this Sunday
The Wyatts’ interference flashes up, and Bray shows up to tell us that they’re here. Ryback makes his way to the ring. The Wyatt Family follows him, as we relive their assault on Reigns and Lesnar. Bray will be facing Ryback, and let’s see how he’s going to be billed moving on.
Ryback pounds on Bray, then comes off the ropes with a crossbody, and then a shoulder tackle. Bray hits a big uppercut, gaining the advantage, and then hits a couple of shots before running into a Thesz press. Wyatt shoves Ryback away, rolling out of the ring. When Ryback follows, Bray hits a ura-nage onto the apron; we go to a commercial break.
When we come back, Bray charges at a cornered Ryback, but gets caught for a big powerbomb. Running knee lift to Ryback, then a superkick and a big splash to Wyatt. Ryback climbs up to the top rope, and then misses a splash. Another ura-nage to Ryback from Bray, then a quick back senton for two. Bray waits on Ryback, but runs right into a spinebuster for a near-fall. Meathook clothesline drops the fuck out of Wyatt, but when Ryback goes for Shell-Shocked, Harper distracts the referee so that Rowan can make the save.
Bray shoves Ryback out of the ring, and Stroman forces him into the steel steps. Ryback is hustled back into the ring, and takes a Sister Abigail for the win.
I’d have been absolutely fine with Wyatt beating Ryback clean, but I guess they’re trying to sell the Family as opposed to just Bray for the Rumble. Very, very back-and-forth match. 2 Stars.
Wyatt drops some Four Horseman hints in his post-match raving, which is something to think about moving forward.
The feud that no-one cares about
It’s Stardust vs. Titus O’Neil, and I don’t think I could be less enthusiastic. Stardust immediately bails when the bell rings, then comes back inside. Titus grabs him, smacking him around in the corner. Stardust is hurled across the ring, and takes a slap in the other corner, rolling out of the ring again. O’Neil follows, and is driven into the steel post. Stardust stays on Titus, hitting a knee and then tossing him into the barricade.
Back in the ring, Stardust, locks in a sleeper. Titus powers out with an elbow, then knocks Stardust down with a couple of shoulder tackles and then a clothesline. Stardust catches Titus with a kick, and then immediately eats a boot before getting squashed in the corner. Stardust counters, cat-quick, with a DDT, and climbs to the top rope. Titus, in an unusual move for a face, knocks the ropes, crotching Stardust, and then hits Clash of the Titus for the three.
My life is exactly the same as it would be if I hadn’t watched this. So…whatever. 2 Stars.
Renee Young is backstage with Kalisto, who will be challenging Del Rio to a rematch at the Royal Rumble. Kalisto talks up Alberto, whilst mentioning Rey Mysterio and Eddie Guerrero again: can we just fucking stop, please? But, whatever: he’s going to win the belt.
Del Rio then arrives, along with the Leauge of Nations, and they completely kick his ass. And, after that name-dropping bullshit, Kalisto fucking deserves it. Also, Rusev giggles in a surprisingly high-pitched way.
If anything, these guys are still more intimidating than the historical League of Nations
Roman Reigns arrives, ready for his four-on-one match against the League of Nations: proven on Monday to be the least-threatening faction in the Royal Rumble. Roman gets a microphone, laughing about how Vince is so worried about Reigns winning that he’s having to stack the odds ridiculously high. Roman can’t wait for this Sunday, because he loves a big fight. Compared to that, he says, the League of Nations is going to be a fucking cakewalk, so let’s get it on. God, and now with the diehard confidence? I love this Reigns.
The League shows up, and Roman waits, not seeming to give two fucks. Sheamus starts things off, and they lock up. Sheamus tries to drag Roman over to his corner, but Reins disengages, and again. Rusev tags in, gets headlocked, and then eats a shoulder tackle. Roman low-bridges the Bulgarian, then drives Rusev into the barricade. Rusev tries to tag out, but Reigns stops him. Sheamus interferes, distracting Roman, and Rusev is able to take advantage, charging into Roman in the corner.
Rusev hits a fallaway slam, and Sheamus tags back in. Suplex to Reigns, then Rusev comes back in, hitting a kick to Roman before choking him on the ropes. Tag to Sheamus again, and it does seem like Del Rio and Barrett are getting an easy night. Roman starts to rally, catching Sheamus off the ropes with a huge clothesline. Both men are down as the ref begins his count.
Roman reaches his feet as Sheamus tags in Rusev. The Bulgarian charges, but is met by clothesline after clothesline from Roman. More clotheslines in the corner, and Rusev is looking punch-drunk. Flying clothesline off the ropes, and Roman wants a Superman Punch. The League interferes, and that’s a DQ.
You’d think that the League might, you know, want an actual victory over Reigns, but maybe they’re more practical than that. Either way, this didn’t unfold as much as I thought it would, and I don’t know why Wade and Alberto did next-to-nothing. 2 Stars.
A beatdown commences, with Rusev hitting his…probably a bicycle kick? Yeah, sure. The Accolade is about to be locked in, but the Usos charge the ring, superkicking Rusev and Sheamus, but the League quickly takes control…until Reigns levels Rusev with a Superman Punch, and takes out Sheamus with a spear! Barrett and Del Rio still aren’t getting involved: what the actual fuck, guys?
Oh, and now the Wyatts make their presence felt. They’re surrounding the ring when the live feed returns, and Reigns looks fed the fuck up. He takes the attack to them, sending Harper and Rowan out of the ring! Stroman comes in, and run, Roman: that guy will injure you, and not in a storyline way. Stroman tosses Reigns out of the ring, and Harper and Rowan hit their kicks.
They send Roman back in the ring, and Stroman hits his botchtastic finisher before holding him up for Bray to hit Sister Abigail. We end the night with the Wyatts standing tall.
Mix of good and not-so-good matches there, but the entire night’s build was excellent. It really felt as though Sunday was this super-important thing, and that’s exactly how it should feel. On the strength of that, SmackDown gets 8/10. I’ll see you all post-Rumble!
Tags: Alberto Del Rio, alicia fox, Becky Lynch, Brie Bella, Brock Lesnar, byron saxton, charlotte, Chris Jericho, dean ambrose, Dolph Ziggler, Jerry Lawler, Kalisto, Kevin Owens, Mauro Ranallo, Renee Young, Ric Flair, Roman Reigns, rusev, Sheamus, smackdown, Stardust, The Miz, The New Day, the usos, The Wyatt Family, titus o'neil, VInce McMahon, Wade Barrett