Taped in Milwaukee, Wisconsin this is Smackdown for episode #864.
The Smackdown intro song played. We were told there’s a tag match coming up later with The Wyatt Family against Dean Ambrose, Dolph Ziggler and The Usos.
Miz TV With Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn
The Miz is in the ring for Miz TV. He’s in his weird ring gear, so of course it’s going to lead to a match soon. A clip aired showing Sami Zayn’s Raw debut (return?) as he saved Neville from Kevin Owens.
Sami Zayn entered first to a pretty good reaction. Of course there was some piped in crowd noise because it’s Smackdown, but it looked like the crowd was excited. Fans did the “Ole” chant for Zayn. The Miz talked about how Zayn’s journey is a great story, it would make a great movie and he’d call Seth Rogen for him. Zayn talked about how he’s been doing this for 14 years, been in NXT for a few years and Miz cut him off by asking him to talk about Owens. “Remember conflict and drama equals Miz TV.” Zayn said he started with Owens 13 years ago in Montreal. They relied on eachother whether they were partners or opponents. He said it was a brotherhood and Zayn was the best man at his wedding. Zayn told him he didn’t know what happened, but since he (Zayn) got to WWE first, Owens was jealous and the night Owens debuted was also the night Zayn won the NXT Title, which led to Owens attacking Zayn with a vicious powerbomb on the ring apron. Zayn said Owens caused a lot of the injuries that forced Zayn to miss seven months.
Analysis: That was a good promo from Zayn to explain the history for those that don’t watch NXT. Of course everybody should watch NXT, but some people don’t. They will need to have him explain the history on Raw as well.
The Miz transitioned to bringing out the Intercontinental Champion Kevin Owens. He didn’t come out when Miz called him right away, but then he did a second time. Owens said that what he did to Zayn in the past wasn’t personal – it was the best thing for his own career. Owens spoke about how Zayn was signed by WWE two years before Owens yet Owens debuted on Raw a year before him. That’s not totally true since Zayn did appear on Raw last year just like Owens, but he was hurt and only had the one appearance.
Owens got into the ring to say that what Zayn did to him at the Royal Rumble and on Raw was personal. Owens called himself the victim. Fake crowd noise was inserted there. Zayn told him he’s here to stay and the first thing he’s going to do is beat Owens for the IC Title. He said he’s going to do it at WrestleMania. Owens told Zayn that he’s nothing. Zayn tossed aside the chairs in the ring while telling Owens to prove how good he is right now. Fans chanted “yes” for that. Owens called him delusional and said he’s done here.
Neville showed up to prevent Owens from leaving. Neville told Owens they have some unfinished business and the IC Title would look fine around his waist. Miz told Neville he’s not a guest on his show. Miz said he deserves a IC Title shot because he’s a five-time IC Champion that main evented WrestleMania while those guys were main eventing bingo halls. Zayn told Miz that his years of headlining WrestleMania are far behind him. That's true! Miz attacked Zayn from behind. Zayn fought back and Miz left the ring. Time for a commercial.
Analysis: That was a good segment. I like that Zayn got to explain himself while Owens got to tell his side of the story even if the fans aren’t going to agree with him. There are reports that Owens is going to defend the IC Title against at least five guys possibly in a ladder match. It’s likely that Zayn, Neville and Miz will be in that match. Add Dolph Ziggler to it too. Then pick one more guy (perhaps Alberto Del Rio) and you’re all set with six guys. Is Owens still feuding with Big Show? I’m not sure. I would prefer Owens vs. Zayn in a singles match at WrestleMania, but it doesn’t look like we’ll get that. It’s typical of Smackdown (and Raw most weeks) to have an opening segment leading to a match either right away or for later in the show.
Sami Zayn & Neville vs. The Miz & Kevin Owens
This is Zayn’s first match on the main roster since May 2015 against John Cena on Raw. Neville and Zayn worked over Miz early on, but then Owens got in a kick against Owens. Jerry Lawler was ripping on Neville and Zayn a lot. Hurricanrana by Neville on Owens, then Zayn tagged in and Owens quickly tagged in Miz. Neville jumped off Zayn’s back leading to a corkscrew moonsault on Miz for two. That was a unique spot. Owens got in there against Neville. Miz held down the ropes, so Neville went over the top to the floor.
Owens worked over Neville as Ranallo said that he was treating him like Nate Diaz treated Justin Bieber on Instagram. Funny pop culture reference there. The heels worked over Neville in their corner. Miz yanked Neville down by the hair to prevent a tag. Miz nailed his backbreaker/neckbreaker combo for two. Lawler agreed with Owens that the count was slow. Miz nailed a clothesline. Neville dumped Miz to make the floor. Zayn got the hot tag. He unloaded on Miz with kicks and a cross body block off the top. Owens avoided an attack. Zayn nailed ten punches in the corner followed by an incredible Tornado DDT. Miz rolled to his corner. Owens could have tagged in, but instead he chose to just walk away. Miz got in a rollup as Owens was booed by the crowd. Zayn nailed an overhead suplex into the corner and then the Helluva Kick in the corner for the win after about ten minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Sami Zayn & Neville
Analysis: *** It was a very good ten-minute tag with a nice story involved since Owens didn’t want Zayn to get his hands on him. It’s a good way to build up to a moment in the future where Zayn does get a chance to be in the ring with Owens. Good finish by Zayn to win the match. The Neville/Zayn team is awesome and would be something that WWE could rely on later in the year if they feel like they need a team to boost the tag division. However, that’s something for down the road. Keep them focused as singles wrestlers for now. I’m just saying they have great chemistry as a team.
There were plugs for things coming up later.
Goldust was shown in the bathroom looking for some toilet paper. R-Truth wondered if he needed a helping hand. Goldust wondered what kind of weirdo followed somebody into the bathroom. What about the camera guy? Truth had the toilet paper for Goldust and Goldust told him the answer was no.
Analysis: It’s been ten weeks since these skits started. I don’t remember a build to a tag team going longer than this. It’s not like they are going to get pushed as a serious team either. Just get on with it. Maybe they'll be in the battle royal at WrestleMania, they'll work together to do a couple of eliminations and then realize they are good together. That's probably the direction.
The “Raw Rebound” video aired showing Dean Ambrose’s night on Raw leading to Roadblock this Saturday against Triple H. Later on Smackdown, Ambrose is in an eight-man tag match.
Brie Bella made her entrance. Oh no the Brie Mode song! My ears! Good God almighty, please make it stop! Thank you commercial.
The Ravishing Russian Lana was sitting on the announce table in front of Mauro Ranallo, Jerry Lawler and Byron Saxton. She had a headset on so she’s on commentary for the next match.
Brie Bella vs. Summer Rae
Summer dumped Brie to the floor. Back in the ring, chinlock city by Summer. Lana’s definition of a true woman is “look at me.” She kept telling Saxton to “ssshhh” because she’s watching the match. Brie made a comeback with some yes kicks followed by a dropkick. She missed her running knee. Summer rolled over for a nearfall and then Brie countered to a rollup of her own. Brie applied the Yes Lock and Summer tapped out. They got about three minutes.
Winner by submission: Brie Bella
Analysis: 1/2* A short match just like the match they had on Raw. The 50/50 booking strikes again as Brie gets the win back after losing to Summer on Raw.
Post match, Lana taunted Brie. Lana tried a cheapshot, but Brie nailed her with a forearm. Brie nailed a running knee attack against the ropes. Lana went into the ring, kicked Brie and nailed a Bella Buster. Lana did a “yes” celebration. Summer was confused by all of this as Lana left.
Analysis: The rumor is that there will be some diva tag match at WrestleMania where Brie will be on one side and Lana will have her debut match there. I’m not sure if it will be 3 on 3 or 4 on 4, but it’s probably going to happen at the pre-show at WrestleMania.
There was a video package of Shane McMahon’s history in WWE. Same one that aired on Raw. Later on Smackdown, a recap of Shane and Vince talking on Raw.
Chris Jericho is up next to explain his actions on Raw.
Chris Jericho Explains His Actions
Jericho walked out in his street clothes, which includes a jacket, a scarf and one of those Y2AJ shirts that could only be considered a collector’s item now. A video showed the heel turn of Jericho on AJ Styles on Raw.
Jericho placed the shirt on a garbage can in the ring. He complained about how the fans chose AJ Styles over him. He told the fans to stop chanting for AJ Styles because it made him feel like a piece of trash in that garbage can right now. Jericho talked about how he’s the best in the world because he does it all. If you need him to be World Champion he excels, need him to be in the opening match and he does that. He mentioned the Money in the Bank briefcase was his idea (true story) and then said that in 17 years he’s never been hurt. That’s true although he wasn’t there for the entire 17 years. He said he was too busy winning championships to get hurt. He told the fans that chant for Styles to go to hell. Even after one of the greatest matches in history on Raw, the fans chanted for Styles even though he delivered classic matches for 17 years. Jericho spoke about people that come into WWE with all this hype, but they don’t excel. He referred to himself as the best again. Jericho mentioned that the fans chose Styles over him. He’s going to stand here watching Styles fade away because he’s nothing and he’s a bum.
Jericho put some lighter fluid in the garbage can. Jericho said that Y2AJ was ruined by Styles. The fans ruined it because they chose Styles over him. His fault too because he allowed Styles to be his partner – then he called Styles a rookie again. Jericho said that he never should have let Styles be his partner. He claimed that Style burned him and now Jericho will burn him. Jericho had a lighter that he used to light the bottom of the shirt. Jericho tossed the shirt into the trash can. He said that Y2AJ is officially over and now Styles’ career is going to go up in flames. Jericho said he’s going to be the one that lights the fire. He did some mock “AJ Styles” chants to end it.
Analysis: Really good promo by Jericho, who I think is better as a talker as a heel. He’s a very good talker as a face, but when he’s able to cut loose as a heel he reminds us that he’s really one of the best promo men of the last 20 years. I’m glad that they kept Sytles off the show in order to let Jericho get this promo across. They can save the confrontation for Monday’s Raw or maybe at Roadblock. They’ll probably announce a WrestleMania match on Monday.
Also, Jericho posted this graphic on Facebook this week. I think the Bon Jovi and Billy Ray Cyrus looks are pretty damn close to Y2AJ lol.
More plugs for things to come later.
There were some members of the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks at ringside include the Greek Freak Giannis Antetokounmpo. He’s going to be an All-Star for years to come. The other guys were Greivis Vasquez and Miles Plumlee.
The announcers mentioned the next WWE Hall of Famer: Big Boss Man. His theme song was so catchy. A shame that he won’t be there since he passed away in 2004.
The League of Nations’ Sheamus & King Barrett (w/Rusev) vs. Lucha Dragons (Kalisto & Sin Cara)
This Saturday at Roadblock it’s New Day vs. Sheamus/Barrett for the Tag Titles. Sheamus started for his team as the quicker Dragons used their speed to take Sheamus down a few times including a spot where Cara gave Kalisto onto Sheamus for a splash. Ryback was shown watching backstage since he’s targeting Kalisto. Barrett distracted Kalisto, so Sheamus nailed a forearm to the back that sent him to the floor. Time for a break.
Back from break, the heels were in control of Kalisto. Barrett nailed a huge kick to the ribs when Kalisto tried to get on offense. Sheamus took over with a knee lift, then a “This is Sparta” slam. I guess he likes the movie 300. I do too. Lawler kept calling the heels “The Lads” because they do it on Twitter all the time. Sheamus missed a corner charge, hit the post and Kalisto got the hot tag to Sin Cara against Barrett. Springboard cross body by Sin Cara, then a back elbow and low bridge on the apron sends Barrett to the floor. Suicide dive by Cara. Moonsault in ring by Cara gets two after Sheamus broke it up. Kalisto hit a dive over the top (aided by Cara) to take out Sheamus. Sin Cara with a kick on Barrett. The ref checks on Barrett even though there was no reason to, so that set up Rusev to shove Cara off the top. Barrett hit the Bull Hammer elbow on Sin Cara for the pinfall win after about 10 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Sheamus & King Barrett
Post match, the League of Nations did some over the top celebrations. Ryback was shown looking at the monitor backstage.
Analysis: **1/2 A solid tag match to give the heels the win as they head into Roadblock on Saturday. Since the Lucha Dragons really aren’t getting pushed that much as a team, they put the right team over. It sucks for Kalisto as the US Champion because he has lost a lot of the momentum he had. Since Barrett was out of action for a couple of months, I can’t remember the last time I saw him win with the Bull Hammer. Good to see him back in action. I think WWE has booked the LON much better in the last month. Too bad they were booked like idiots that got beat up by Roman Reigns every week when they first formed.
Ryback was interviewed by Jojo. He said the two little guys put up a fight. He spoke about how from a physical and genetic standpoint, not all men are created equal. That was it.
A WrestleMania 32 video featuring The Rock aired showing that it was 24 days until WrestleMania.
Another Raw replay segment aired, this time with Vince McMahon trash talking Shane including when Vince broke a framed picture and Shane beat up some security guys.
The Usos were interviewed by the lovely Renee Young. They didn’t know why The Dudleys target them, but the Dudleys were doing that 20 years ago when The Usos were just 10 years old. Usos said they had no respect for the Dudleys. Dolph Ziggler and Dean Ambrose showed up. Ziggler spoke about how there will always be repercussions for him when she mentioned Stephanie McMahon talking to him last week. Ambrose spoke about how on Saturday he’s going to take the WWE Title from Triple H or die trying. He said that’s in the future and tonight they’re ready. Off they went.
Analysis: Just a basic promo to show that the faces were ready for the main event.
The Wyatt Family foursome of Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper, Erick Rowan & Braun Strowman made their entrance. The announcers mentioned Wyatt vs. Lesnar at Roadblock on Saturday in Toronto.
The face team of The Usos, Dolph Ziggler and Dean Ambrose made their entrances.
Dean Ambrose, Dolph Ziggler & The Usos vs. Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper, Braun Strowman & Erick Rowan
The faces worked over Harper early on with Ziggler nailing a big dropkick. Harper hit a huge forearm shot on Jimmy. Then he left the ring and they went to break about two minutes into it.
Back from break, to nobody’s surprise the Wyatt Family were in control with Harper nailing a chop to the chest on Jey Uso. Tag to Ziggler with another perfect dropkick on Harper, Stinger Splash (Ranallo called it right) and then Rowan got in a cheap shot clothesline behind the ref’s back. Wyatt with a hard whip into the corner leading to Ziggler doing a Bret Hart-like sternum bump. Strowman got in a few shots on Ziggler as the heels did some quick tags. Harper drove Ziggler neck first into the bottom rope in a whiplash like move. Sunset flip powerbomb by Ziggler on Harper gets two and then a leaping DDT by Ziggler on Harper. Jey Uso hot tag leads to clothesline, kick to the gut and a Samoan Drop by Jey on Harper. Rowan in the ring, so Jimmy superkicked him. Both Usos hit running butt splashes in the corner. Usos hit dives to take out Harper and Rowan on opposite sides of the ring. Jey went for a splash on Harper in the ring, but Harper got the knees up.
Ambrose got the hot tag against Rowan. Ambrose with a cross body block, forearm shot, running bulldog and a neckbreaker gets two. Flying elbow attack by Ambrose gets two as Harper broke up the pin. Jimmy with a kick to Harper. Wyatt with a uranage suplex on Jimmy, then Ziggler kicked Wyatt out of the ring. Ziggler with a kick on Strowman, but that didn’t work as Strowman knocked Ziggler down. Strowman bearhug on Jey. Ambrose breaks that up, Strowman hits the ring post after a corner charge and it’s back to Ambrose dealing with Rowan in the ring. Ambrose ducked a spinning back kick, kick to the gut and the Dirty Deeds hits for the pinfall win for Ambrose after 13 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Dean Ambrose, Dolph Ziggler & The Usos
Analysis: *** That was the right finish to a good tag match that really ended on a high note after Ambrose got the hot tag. Most tag matches follow the same formula after the hot tag with some nearfalls, everybody going in the ring to hit their finishers and a wild ending to the match. It’s no surprise that Ambrose got the win since he’s going for the WWE Title on Saturday. The negative about a match like this is that WWE continues to book The Wyatt Family in a way that doesn’t really make them look strong or like the dominant unit that they should be. Bray was barely in the ring for this match. He’s really just another guy at this point, which is a shame.
They aired replays of the finish. There was a hard sell for Roadblock this Saturday with Ambrose challenging Triple H for the WWE Title. The camera focused on Ambrose without showing the others on his team. That was the end of Smackdown.
Analysis: Smart to keep the focus on Ambrose. Gives him the momentum going into Saturday’s Roadblock show. He looked strong to end Raw and strong here. Doesn’t mean he’s going to win the WWE Title, but pushing that idea is smart.
Three Stars of the Show
1. Sami Zayn
2. Dean Ambrose
3. Kevin Owens
6 out of 10
Last week: 7.5
Last 5 Weeks: 7.5, 4.5, 6, 6.5, 7
2016 High: 7.5 (Mar. 3)
2016 Low: 4 (Jan. 21)
It gets a 6 out of 10 from me. That’s my average score for the year and this was an average show, so the score fits.
Four matches in two hours and one of them was a three minute divas special. No singles matches for the guys. Just three tag matches. The problem with doing three tag matches on the show is they all follow the same formula, so it feels like you’re watching a replay. That’s why you need singles matches or something else to change up the format of the show.
This show definitely had a “B Show” feel to it with two replays from key Raw segments, plus the airing of the Shane McMahon highlight video that was on Raw as well. I guess the positive about the replay segments is that you can fast forward and get done this show quicker if you recorded it.
I’ll be back on Saturday night for a live review of WWE Roadblock on TJRWrestling.net, then on Monday for a live Raw Deal on TJRWrestling.net and posted on Tuesday on other sites. Have a great weekend.
John Canton – firstname.lastname@example.org