Last week on the ‘Flips & Kliqs’ edition of SmackDown, featuring Skrong’s Scoops, a US title defense for Neville, the blue brand debut of AJ Styles, and a cluster of an 8 man tag; we got some good content. This week, SmackDown looks to continue to be the more efficient show with Mauro Ranello at the valet’s forefront.
Pyro yet again (probably regular now) as SmackDown comes to us from Memphis, TN tonight.
Roman Reigns kicks off the show…and he’s WRESTLING to open a WWE program for a change. Oh wait one second. I’m insane for not realizing until now that in my mind, this was the main event. We’re getting it early baby!
God fucking dammit. We got the SD special, which happens time, and time, and time again. After a really nice build (with resulted in no payoff because of DQ), Roman & Rusev brawly styled their way to my wrasslin’ heart but that heart got teared out of my chest via L.O.N. interference. Ambrose came down for the save but League of Nations isolated him after he accidentally hit Roman with an elbow. He was dragged back into the ring where he was placed in the Acolade — but Roman came back with a steel chair. I felt more heat the last time I was on a mountain in comparison to that babyface comeback post-match.
And of course, the main event is announced where Ambreigns (RAW callback, I swear) face Rusev & Alberto Del Rio.
Renee catches Dean backstage. She asks if that “mistake” was a preview of what he’s going to do to Roman Reigns at Fast Lane. When Dean comes after Roman, he’ll know it. Roman and him have an understanding, and they know the line is there to cross and not cross. Ambrose admits his timing was a bit off, but tonight him and Roman will be focusing on hitting other people…and those are the good times.
Kalisto vs. Alberto Del Rio for the United States Championship is announced for Fast Lane. Dolph Ziggler is on commentary for this match.
This is a non-title match. The Goliath encounters continue for Kalisto this week, as he faced Rusev on RAW. Good match, and I’ll accept the shady finish this time around as it worked. Owens was in control for a majority of the match (he works well vs. smaller talent, not as many rest holds) which allowed for Kalisto to route his comebacks complete with his breathtaking moveset (i.e. the corkscrew that everybody marks out for). Another good positive is the fact that the Salida del Sol didn’t need to be utilized. The whole point of the match was to put Owens over as a threat, but show that he’s more focused on Dolph Ziggler than he is on a potential win over the ‘smaller’ United States Champion. Owens powerbombed Kalisto into Ziggler outside, superkicked Dolph, and brought Kalisto back in the ring but Ziggler ran up to the apron which allowed for Kalisto to get the roll-up win. As soon as Kalisto won, Kevin Owens attacked from behind, but Ziggler got into the ring real quick. Good angle furthering and a solid match. No complaints here.
Jojo is with The Miz. He explains the case that he didn’t interrupt AJ at any point during MizTV. Santa’s Little Helper snubbed for an Academy award, then being snubbed for Grease Live because he was too good of an actor, and now blindslided on his own show by ‘The Phenomenal Coward’. He smartly notes that he guided Daniel Bryan in his early WWE days, and he ended up main eventing a WrestleMania. He says that there’s more to making it in the WWE than a Pele Kick. CHOW!
Thank the lord Ryback got rid of his old news singlet. He’s back to the trunks/Goldberg look; with Shibata gear except in the XL assortment. Short match. Semi-content with the match we got for the time it got. Some elements of hoss with a quick Rowan work over featuring the beautiful underrated Sgt. Slaughter two fist vice. The end of the match saw Ryback use Rowan as a battering ram to take Strowman off the apron, then hitting the Meathook Clothesline on Rowan for the win. Ryback is so much more entertaining to watch in this gear. I don’t exactly know why.
Renee Young is with Becky Lynch. Yay! They show the recap of Sasha & Becky awkwardly gluing together to face the force of Team B.A.D. (which I like). Renee asks why Becky would help Sasha. Before she could say anything, Sasha invades the set. She makes a Table For 3 joke then delivers a fire statement.
The two go back and forth regarding their feuds vs. Team B.A.D. Tension rises as they decide to work together vs. Team B.A.D. whilst still arguing. Alrighty then ladies, I’ll take it.
Jericho is on commentary for this one…
WWE TV MOTY. Absolutely incredible work for both men, and the best Miz match in ages — on the same level of the few times he’s torn it up with Ziggler. These two had excellent chemistry and the match went through a lot of phases I didn’t expect it to go through. AJ hit hard, Miz was right there, AJ was worked over without being worked over in a boring way. Mauro putting the match over as huge helped, Jericho countering Lawler’s burials with legitimacy was what was needed from a high point of authority not sitting at the desk every week, although Lawler kept going — burying Styles for doing a damn spinning backfist, comparing him to a circus. Besides the moronic heel shtick, it was a great environment, unique for sure, to be in in 2016. Heel Miz, which is a great act, elevating his in-ring to be a perfect matchup for AJ’s offense that morphed into a stronger style in the WWE format! AJ showed intensity that’s hard to match as it was paired with Mauro & Jericho shooting the shit with Byron playing little brother putting up with dad. Not only all this, but the match got a good amount of time, the longest AJ match so far to my knowledge (maybe Jericho on RAW beat it out) — and it was built so that the finish was exciting and mattered. The Styles Clash was teased again, but Miz caught AJ in a roll-up that was kicked out of. Then, AJ, for the first time in the WWE, locked-in what is now known as the Calf Crusher for the victory. Amazing TV content, especially something that helps re-elevate the image of SmackDown in my eyes. Fuck you Lawler. You know AJ is proving you wrong, but with the ear-piece, and your shitty gimmick; you’re the last tip of the burial iceberg that hasn’t melted yet, and when it does, AJ will be the biggest superstar in the company.
Jericho gets on the mic post-match after observing this entire time. He puts over AJ for the performance. He’s impressed with AJ, and he says he’s proving to the world how good AJ is. He wouldn’t have been in the WWE if he weren’t good. If AJ weren’t good, he wouldn’t have beaten Jericho. But is he great? More rambling about WWE Champ material, being good enough, having what it takes to win in a rematch, etc. Jericho proposes that they have a rematch next week on SmackDown. AJ shakes Jericho’s hand. It’s on.
Jojo is with Roman Reigns. Roman says that they’re in the same book, but not on the same page. He explains that accidents happen on the Road to WrestleMania. Fast Lane won’t be an accident, and tonight the brotherhood rides together and wins together.
As usual, New Day get on the mics before their match. They would like to (pause for boos,) talk to us about something important. They brag about their gold. They go on a tangent about descriptives of gold and what it means in comparison to Booty-O’s, butterflies, etc. This gold is not like one of those participation trophies, ohhhh noooo~! If ya ain’t first, ya last. As Ricky Bobby once famously said, New Day Rocks. Amazing.
Social Outcasts interrupt. What a time to be alive. Bo Rida isn’t with them tonight because he’s still in the studio laying down tracks for the S.C. gold album. Rose says New Day’s titles are bronze. They banter about touchings of waists and grabbing of titles. They make fun of their horns. LOL @ Axel purposely mis-prouncing Rhinoceroses until he simply had to say Rhinos.
One thing I noticed is that this show continues to get better and better tonight. Reason? Variety. These guys had an ok match leading up to god knows what — until came the gate. That glorious gate that opened up for myself to mark-out upon entrance. These fellas worked a Dragon Gate sprint finish and it was beauty to my eyes and ears. Royal Rumble blitz over-the-top eliminations happening, Big E smashing into someone on the outside, Kofi & Axel having a 15 second duck-miss sequence. I loved every second of the closing stretch. Some awesome heel work of Xavier to pull the feet of Axel off the ropes as he was trying to roll-up Kofi, but the reverse happened for the finish as Kofi got his feet on the ropes to pin Axel! Love, love, love it.
This match got ugly real quick, but it transitioned into a decent short encounter — due to Alicia Fox bringing out her fantastic as well as consistent tilt-a-whirl backbreaker and northern lights suplex. Also, in a really unique counter, Alicia bridged back on Charlotte’s leg-lock for a roll-up attempt. Aside from that, when the match came out of the gates, there was miscommunication and an awkwardness to the vibe of the match. Then eventually came the finish where Charlotte chop blocked Alicia’s leg and locked-in the Figure 8. Just like that, another win for the Divas Champ, in front of Brie Bella to boot — who upset her on RAW.
Alicia freaked out with Brie post-match as Flair celebrates with his daughter up the ramp.
Another Golden Truth vignette. This time, Truth is at a hotel, questioning the charges for his movies he rented. Goldust, dressed as a valet, asks if Truth needs any help. Goldust is getting more sick of being rejected than ever, and the two argued and put their hands on Truth’s luggage. Goldust threatened to have Truth removed from the hotel, and as that happened, the briefcase exploded. Of course, in a WWE style gag, Truth’s flower underwear was left back with Goldust. Goldy said if it doesn’t fit Truth it will fit him. Eh.
OK main event tag. Not the worst formulaic tag as it got better down the stretch. Still short clocking in at less than 10 minutes. The flow went from Roman being worked over which originated from a fantastic KO roundhouse kick from Rusev that needs to be used more often. Roman fought through the pain to get the Ambrose tag, and Ambrose went through the process, and eventually had a sick sequence with Rusev; as I notice those two have really solid chemistry. Roman back in, clearing house on Del Rio and Barrett, but after hitting the superman punch things went south again. Del Rio pulled him back out, and Ambrose went for his dive but instead hit Reigns yet again — but Reigns caught him. After a staredown/discussion, Reigns still hit a superman punch on Rusev, and brought him back into the ring to give him a spear for the win. I enjoyed the closing stretch and the continuity as the team isn’t magically perfect together for a SmackDown main event. Faces stand tall to end the show.
After a better than usual SmackDown filled with angle builders, fun variety, and most importantly, AJ Styles becoming the workhorse of the show; with Mauro in the production workhorse role, all I can say is…