I know. I’m VERY late, but like aplenty folk like to say … “better late than never.” With that being said, as I type this on a Saturday night, it’s time for this week’s SmackDown which is the WWE go-home program for this Sunday’s Payback pay-per-view. Last week saw an average show in London, with split crews as the house show loop was ongoing at the same time. Let’s get into the show.
SmackDown comes to us from Manchester, NH this week. Mauro Ranallo, Jerry Lawler, and Byron Saxton are on the call as per usual. Roman Reigns kicked off the show, playing detective, running the #1 Contender down with facts. The fans know the history of the trio in question, and so does Roman. Styles apparently isn’t fooling anyone. SURPRISE MIZ. “That must make you the Warden, Roman.” Miz cut a Shawshank Redemption promo, intertwining references and straight fire. He said Styles will become champion on Sunday, and that he deserves recognition for being the first one to point out the Bullet Club trio.
Except, it was just a clean(er) house moment where Miz was shoved. That set up tonight’s main event. These two are creating iconic SmackDown opening segment near shoot style classic moments. Quote that exact sentence when referencing this review.
The League of Nations were with Renee Young. “At WrestleMania, we proved that no three people could beat us,” Sheamus exclaimed, although they were stomped, clawed, and Stunned to death by a certain legends pack. That was about all.
What an insane match this was on paper. A solid match. There were two stories intercepting. Insert face in peril vs. League of Nations’ disintegrating teamwork. What started out hot ended hot between the now ex-teammates. The way the breakup was executed a lot to be desired, but Kalisto, Sami Zayn and Cesaro were teaming up so it’s okay! Rusev was excellent in the match, playing a variety of roles. He bullied Kalisto, bumped for Zayn, and was the middle-man in the League’s fall apart. Kalisto got a hot tag and then came more fired up than ever Cesaro, who’s less than a minute in ring was better than most matches. Things like shaking will make you look even more like a superman. Del Rio walked out, Rusev left after a shove match with Sheamus, and Sheamus escaped the swing only to go to the back; the faces win via countout. Not bad, and a few highlights from the all-star trios lineup.
The League of Nations’ breakup spilled backstage, where Del Rio was smashed into a door, Rusev went down, and Sheamus yelled “it’s over” leaving the push-shove scene.
The AMAZING Kevin Owens/Sami Zayn video package aired. You need to see this before 5 o’clock hits on Sunday night.
I shamefully admit that this went longer than I thought it would, like a minute and a half maybe? Sandow bumped and sold well for Big Banter, as I, along with the fans ate up all the TV time Sandow could possibly get. There were “Let’s go Sandow” chants to back up such a claim. However, after being tossed and beaten around, End of Days hit and Sandow fades into obscurity for a long while. He could be a midcard champion right now and it would seem normal. He’s such a versatile dude that WWE’s completely dropped the ball on.
Renee Young caught AJ Styles backstage. This was a very good promo, in which AJ’s changed the pace of his character and gerenal promo. He was extremely cocky, noting that even though Roman might still have doubts about Bullet Club, HE thinks he’s taking the title from him on Sunday. Blah blah and more build to the main.
Dean Ambrose came out for a promo and an Ambrose Asylum segment. I do not care whatsoever for the Ambrose/Jericho match on Payback, but this was a good promo to hype the match up. I like how Dean ‘changed hats’ from lunatic promo to talk show host, with TicTacs and all.
Ric Flair told Natalya to “kill herself,” during the taping; but it was obviously edited out in time for airing. Such bullshit on Ric’s behalf.
This was awful. It’s something I forgot I saw 10 minutes after watching, and was a waste of a segment. It’s nothing but stating facts for an “OHHHHH, she said such, my goodness,” typical back and forth battle; capped off with a cheesy Ambrose reaction in the corner to everything going on. Ric’s line being edited out was obviously apart of a larger promo addition that was completely taken out anyways. Natalya wasn’t impressive, just stating Bret will be there and Charlotte will tap out again. Ric got more word in and nothing special happened. That was literally it. That’s the snooze button on SmackDown’s custom alarm.
Enzo and Cass time~! New Day wagging their arms to the entrance was incredible. New Day on commentary for this was also incredible. It was literally just them sitting down. Byron had to sit cross-legged ringside. Enzo kept it simple, as muscles marinara is gonna swing wit’ da sauce.
This was wacky for the few minutes it lasted. Between New Day sharing commentary duties, with notable lines such as “it’s lit, baby!” they made for a perfect compliment to the car wreck. Enzo bumped a bit, and the Outcasts provided yet another entertaining squash. Cassady big booted Slater off the apron and he dolphin dived onto the announce table to oversell it. Amazing. Bo was cleared off the slate and Axel was hit with the assisted splash as Amore and Cassady win a tune-up prior to their match vs. The Vaudevillains on Sunday.
More Golden Truth (lightly used at this point: build). The two apparently loved dancing last week, and Truth has found a counter partner for Goldust’s evasion last time. Tyler Breeze. They’re going to call themselves Gorgeous Truth. Fandango entered the frame to hang with Goldust and support him.
A nightclub inspired Primo and Epico vignette aired. It’s about time they debut.
A rematch of their match from RAW in which Crews looked at least tolerable in terms of a still new/green to WWE TV worker. It was a good short match! Alright quicky. Apollo was in peril after the left leg was targeted for a good chunk of the match. Stardust stuck to it and Crews eventually just shrugged off the damage. Whatever. It was a squash anyways. Crews hit two step-up enzuigiri’s and delivered the spin-out powerbomb for the win. I like that combination. Why is Stardust still Stardust again?
A recap of the Shane and Stephanie situation, more specifically developments from RAW was aired, with a reminder of the Vince McMahon decision happening on Sunday.
AJ Styles was out for this one. It’s a shame when WWE labels these as “champion vs. champion” because it devalues the actual stipulation of both belts being on the line. Mauro calling this a dream match was god level hyperbole. This was match of the night, which isn’t saying much, but it was a fun swift job done by both guys; with added layers of distraction via Maryse and AJ Styles ringside. A few things felt off, but the structure of the match fit the time they were given. It was either Roman dominating with those beautiful working punches or Miz squeaking out with advantages. He got lucky a few times, such as Maryse pulling Miz out of the ring which lead to him awkwardly dropkicking the steps which, at least, in turn, Roman sold the impact well. Both guys felt natural with their bumps, very crisp defensive wrestling. We got a late near fall with Roman getting planted by a DDT, as well as Roman’s leg being worked over and targeted. However, Miz ate a spear and Roman remained on a winning path headed into Payback.
Post-match Gallows and Anderson laid waste to Reigns, and The Usos came out to compromise. AJ got hit with an uppercut, but came back with a pele kick and a MISSED phenomenal forearm; which led to Roman hitting Gallows with a spear. STYLES CLASH TEASE but Styles evaded a superman punch directed towards the apron. I cannot wait for the six man tags, great teases and ending for a skippable yet passable go-home edition of SmackDown as we inch towards Payback. Until next time.