Last week’s SmackDown wasn’t much, with three solid short matches combined with live cut-ins to WrestleMania 31’s festivities, it simply got people more hyped for WrestleMania. Now that post-WrestleMania chaos has arrived and spread over the company, we’ll see new NXT call-ups tonight, fallout from AJ Styles’ WWE World Heavyweight Championship #1 Contendership gain on RAW, plus a rematch between The Miz (new champion) and Zack Ryder for the Intercontinental Championship. All this … and more, on the A-show. Let’s get into said show.
Two intros kick off the show; one being a highlight reel of WrestleMania 32 and the typical SmackDown intro. Pyro always makes me happy. SmackDown emanates from Houston, Texas this week with Mauro Ranallo, Jerry Lawler, and Byron Saxton on commentary as per usual.
Roman Reigns kicked off the show to a massive boo/cheer reaction, a la Cena. I popped huge for a “Vancouver for WrestleMania” sign in the crowd. Reigns cut one of his best promos ever, it was short, clear, and concise. He explained it’s now One vs. All since he won the title and everybody wants it; and he’s on a mission to keep it – doing what he’s got to do to keep it. That involves beating new #1 Contender AJ Styles. Styles interrupted to a ridiculous pop. Just unreal to see this unwinding in 2016 and the fact that this is going to be a pay-per-view main event. AJ congratulated Roman, and the two shook hands, but AJ explained he had a HECK of a Monday Night Raw. If AJ has to beat “the guy,” then so be it. Roman explained that in order to be the champ, you need to be THE CHAMP, and need to beat THE GUY. “You’ll never beat me, and you never will,” complete with an arm pat from Roman Reigns. AJ Styles watch him walk away with a shit eating grin. This feud is electric already and I haven’t been this excited for a main event feud in forever. This is the best Roman has ever looked, he’s a complete dick, dismissing AJ, and it completely works with his short promo stints and douchebag demeanor.
Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens vs. AJ Styles and Cesaro was announced for tonight, and The Vaudevillains had a small vignette show to accompany their few-minutes-later debut.
Izzac and I talked about how weird it was that Kalisto got pinned in this match on the first episode of Izzac and Trask in a Flash. However, it’s even weirder that The Vaudevillains are on the main roster now. I don’t know how to feel about this debut. It feels like such a smaller, more intimate arena act (ie: Full Sail). It’s going to take a lot of work from all sides to get the Vaudevillains over on the main roster rather than just pinning Kalisto and making a statement that way. The match wasn’t too long, and was very standard for a tag. They were (sort of) heels in some ways, but all it was was minor mixed reaction from like the 30% of the arena that knew who they were. Kalisto got a huge hot tag but English saved Gotch. Sin Cara finally was able to hit a tope on English, as Gotch saved English from the tope earlier in the match. Sin Cara got dropkicked and then uppercutted into the barricade. Salida Del Sol was reversed and Whirling Dervish was hit for the win … on the United States Champion. The act looked awkward, definitely didn’t feel natural, needs some fine tuning, plus it doesn’t help that hardly anyone knows who they are. We’ll see what happens in the future.
A video package for Zack Ryder’s rematch tonight vs. The Miz aired. Also a recap of the horrendous women’s segment from Monday night.
Charlotte (w/Ric Flair) was on commentary for this one, to blatantly further the build to the Payback Women’s Championship match. Whoever was the agent for this match deserves an award. This was a great, short, TV squash. Summer Rae has improved immensely, and needs to be showcased on the mic more often. Natalya got in control to start but Summer turned the momentum into some nice looking work over including slapping Natalya out of a kip-up, doing a SNAP SUPLEX ON THE FLOOR, but when Summer went for her signature spinning heel kick, Natalya transitioned it right into a Sharpshooter for the win. Some tension was built post-match with Natalya staring down Charlotte in the Sharpshooter and afterwards as we got the typical “I’m the queen and I’m holding up the title for you to see” stuff.
More recap like Roman’s WrestleMania and the Fatal Four Way main event on RAW.
The new Miz and Maryse entrance gimmick is unreal. Maryse explained that behind every great man is a great woman, and that The Miz is the greatest husband in the world. This midcard power couple shtick is fantastic. Meltzer’s going to hate it.
What a match. These two tore it up in all the ways I’d expect them to. Maryse wasn’t overused at all but came in at the right times and was so hilarious as a valet. The story that was told was Ryder being so desperate to win back his title that he routed offense early on. However, Miz managed to fight back which produced a lengthy stretch of fantastic near falls and workhorse, C-show like wrestling. We got Miz countering Ryder’s leg drop with a SIT OUT POWERBOMB. This was from the top rope. Huge DDT kickout after Miz got his knees up for Ryder’s crossbody. The match spilled outside more than once, and Ryder even got out of the Skull Crushing Finale which led to a Broski Boot to the outside barricade! A perfectly timed near fall saw Miz kickout of the Elbro drop. Maryse threw in a turnbuckle pad which led to Ryder turning around only to be put into the Skull Crushing Finale. The Miz retains. Fantastic TV match and for sure Top 10 on programming thus far. Almost as good as Jericho vs. Styles II main event.
The Social Outcasts did their GEEK~! shtick which led to Apollo Crews interrupting to a potentially very weird canned pop, depending if your ears heard the same thing as mine. Adam Rose chose to wear a blue feathery rope and it was awful.
“Apollo Crews remains in cruise control here in WWE.” -Mauro Ranallo
Just like the quote, Apollo Crews continues to dominate in sqashes like he did for the most part in NXT. It’s always fun to see Social Outcasts bump around for internet favorites (see: AJ Styles on way more than one occasion). Adam Rose took a lariat and backflipped onto the apron, it was glorious. As per usual the numbers game was played up but it never fully took effect. Axel kicked out of the moonsault press, and managed to work over Apollo. Axel was pushed into Heath and a Spinout Powerbomb was delivered for the Apollo victory. Heel Lawler nearly went all out on putting Apollo over, explaining he really was impressive. Yet he couldn’t do the same for AJ.
Greg Hamilton was with Baron Corbin. Baron big leagued Greg, explaining he’s had two matches, one where he won a trophy and one where he put a dent in the floor with Dolph Ziggler. The End of Days is already here. Such a quick promo and that is exactly what you want to do with someone like Corbin. In 5 years he’ll probably be opening RAW with 20 minute promos anyways though.
Renee Young was with Becky Lynch (and her horrid left eye). She delivered a stitches pin that got over, just the best. A FIRED UP babyface promo at its finest, just like Becky in the ring was went down here. She will be back in the title picture, and still she owes Charlotte for the screwed up eye anyways. Emma interrupted and explained she really liked what Charlotte did. THE SHOOTS. She went off, explaining she made it to WWE first, and she was sent to the back of the line [NXT], which is where Becky actually belongs. Becky threatened to do something similar to Emma’s eye since she liked it so much, and Emma comes back with a sarcastic pun explaining she better keep her eye out. This was fire emojis encapsulated in a backstage interview segment.
The same Primo and Epico vignette aired that was on RAW.
Very quick match. Breeze sold like hell for Ambrose. Ambrose hit the Lunatic Lariat. Ambrose got the win with Dirty Deeds. I love all these squash matches tonight. I wish we got more squashes on TV. “Breeze went down faster than Batman v. Superman in the box office.” I am dead thanks to Mauro Ranallo.
Jericho came out as Ambrose walked to the back. No coincidence. I expect a match at Payback between the two. Also, this was the planned WrestleMania program prior to AJ Styles heading to WWE.
Another Golden Truth segment backstage. R-Truth pretends to direct Goldust as he’s auditioning for Shattered Dreams II? Truth explained his mothers daddy’s brothers’ nephews’ cousin’s cat sitter knows a top Hollywood producer and he’s giving out auditions, and Truth has got the hookups. Take 2 happens and Truth wraps up the set. This was the best vignette so far, and so riduclous and out there; but actually makes sense as it sets up things for RAW from Los Angeles.
It’s the RAW main event split into teams. Especially with Cesaro and AJ Styles teaming, I welcomed this with open arms. This was a very solid main event tag. For the most part it was standard, but the finish nearly put it into great territory. Jericho got worked over and the faces had the advantage as the bridge into the first commercial break – Jericho and Owens threw a fit. Then Cesaro, god bless the man, came into the ring did his thing including a big uppercut, but he was isolated and the long build to the AJ hot tag was incredibly successful. In Revival-esque fashion, Jericho took Styles off the apron even though he was already out of the ring via Cesaro. This is where things really ramped up. Cesaro evaded the big boy senton, Ushirgoroshi to Jericho, sitout face buster kickout. Springboard missed and a KO superkick to Styles for a near fall. Jericho heeled it up, pushing Styles off the top rope but that wasn’t enough. Cesaro did a flying uppercut to Jericho sending both into the time-keepers area. Owens goes for the Pop Up Powerbomb on Styles but as he was about to chuck him SAMI ZAYN CAME DOWN THE RAMP. AJ Styles rolled up Owens for the win (which was fine, but a clean Styles Clash after distraction could have been a good finish too). The two brawled to end the show with Owens still standing over Zayn who had the momentum right then. The rivalry will never get old, and the two will literally fight forever.
Another great SmackDown. The only con here was the Vaudevillains debut, which was less than great; but still tolorable besides the booking decision of having them go over Kalisto. We got fantastic squash matches which need to happen more on modern wrestling television, Zack Ryder and The Miz tore the house down, the segments ruled with the opening with Styles and Reigns being the best Reigns has ever looked, Emma and Becky shot on each other and it was glorious, and Big Banter Corbin kept it short and sweet. The women’s division continues to find its way to the promise land, even with Charlotte still at the forefront. Also, in the main event, we got a completely fine old school tag, which led to the quick return of Sami Zayn playing into the finish, keeping Styles strong, and sending the wonderful feud we all love into new heights.