Brendo and Veronica are joined by Matt Benson as he makes his triumphant return to MBWS. They talk about Benson’s hiatus from watching wrestling, Benson and Brendo’s trip to WrestleMania 31, Apollo Crews, Sheamus, Zach Ryder, the food fight and other weird 4th of July RAW moments, the Cruiserweight Classic, Lucha Underground, the upcoming WWE draft and brand split, The Final Deletion, the returns of Brock Lesnar and Randy Orton, and lots more. Thanks for listening and tell your friends!
It’s the last show before the Royal Rumble so hopefully it will be a good one. The preview image on Hulu is Titus O’Neil pinning Stardust so I don’t know, you guys. Tonight we’re getting a MizTV with Dean Ambrose and Kevin Owens, which should be great. We’re also getting Roman Reigns vs. the entire League of Nations, which is not so great.
Y2J kicks off the show to a big pop from the crowd. He welcomes everyone to Thursday Night Jericho and hypes up the Royal Rumble. We’re shown clips from Monday’s Highlight Reel with Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns. Jericho starts to say he’s going to win the Rumble but is interrupted by The New Day. Big E calls Jericho “Christoph.” They admonish Jericho for murdering Francesca the trombone. Xavier calls Jericho “Cristal.” Kofi calls him “Christobal.” These guys are great. Jericho makes fun of their unicorn horns. I really want a New Day shirt. Jericho gets the crowd chanting “Rooty tooty booty” and the New Day enter the ring. Jericho says he would like to take them on but The New Day have a six-man tag match right now with The Usos and Dolph Ziggler.
The New Day vs. The Usos and Dolph Ziggler
Dolph is sporting Uso facepaint. Jimmy starts off with Kofi and they exchange holds. Some fast and crisp work from both of these guys. Jimmy tags in Jay and they hit a double elbow drop. Kofi manages to tag out to Xavier. Jay hits a nice arm drag followed by some strikes in the corner and tags out to Dolph. Dolph gets a “New Day Sucks” chant going. Xavier powers Dolph into the corner and tags out to Big E, who hits a big belly to belly suplex followed by a splash for a two count. Kofi tags in and hits a big dropkick. The New Day takes control on Dolph with quick tags and double team moves. Kofi goes for an attack off the top rope but is met with a beautifully timed dropkick by Dolph. Dolph makes a hot tag to Jimmy who hits a corner splash on Kofi and then a lariat to Xavier on the apron. Big E interferes and The New Day regains control. The work over Jimmy on the outside during the break.
Back in the ring they nail Jimmy with their triple team kick attack where they continuously tag in and out while stomping on Jimmy. Mauro tells us that JBL has dubbed this “The Unicorn Stampede.” Big E makes a blind tag and surprises Jimmy with a big clothesline. Jimmy is able to create some space and Ziggler gets the hot tag. He clears the ring and hits a Fameasser on Woods. Xavier manages to dump Ziggler over the top turnbuckle and Ziggler takes a crazy bump to the outside. Jimmy makes the tag and prevents Xavier from tagging out while taking out Kofi and Big E. Ziggler and the Usos then hit Xavier with a triple superkick and Jimmy gets the pin. This was a fun, fast paced match.
Becky Lynch vs. Alicia Fox
Becky is sporting a cool new jacket. Ric Flair and Charlotte are on commentary to hype up the title match between Charlotte and Becky on Sunday. Great offense right off the bat from Becky and she gets a two count after a leg drop. They brawl on the outside and Fox hits Becky with an awesome bridging Northern Lights Suplex. Back inside, Becky regains control and hits a series of clotheslines on Fox. She then hits a jumping sidekick in the corner followed by a suplex. Fox goes for a clothesline but Becky reverses it into the Disarmer and gets the submission. She and Charlotte stare each other down. Another good outing from Becky and Alicia Fox looked good as well. It’s a shame they seem to only use her as a Bella sidekick or as a crazy person.
MizTV with Dean Ambrose and Kevin Owens
The Miz starts off by talking about how grueling a Last Man Standing match is and is interrupted by Ambrose. Ambrose and Miz have some good back and forth. The Miz gets upset, lets Dean take over, and sits in the corner. Ambrose compares the Last Man Standing match to an amusement park and highlights the various rides, such as the apron that Owens likes so much and the ring steps, which he calls “The Bear Trap,” since Kevin Owens kind of looks like a bear. He calls the announce table “Memory Lane” because he has great memories of both going through the table and putting people through it. Owens comes out and disses Ambrose’s amusement park analogy, saying he’s more of a zoo enthusiast. He tells Ambrose how he’s going to knock him out and regain the Intercontinental Title. Ambrose invites him to come to the ring but before Owens can do that, The Miz attacks Ambrose from behind. He invites Owens to come in and join him for the double team. Owens comes down to the ring and makes like he’s going to attack Ambrose but instead nails The Miz with a pop up powerbomb. He tries to do the same on Ambrose but Ambrose hits him with a crossbody. He goes for Dirty Deeds on Owens but Owens slips out of it and out of the ring. Ambrose hits Dirty Deeds on The Miz and counts to ten along with the crowd. This was a good buildup for Sunday.
Ryback vs. Bray Wyatt
The Wyatts are coming off their beatdown of Brock Lesnar in the final segment of RAW on Monday. Bray is being built up as a credible threat to win the Rumble and the title but I just don’t see that happening. Ryback gets the momentum early but Wyatt stops him with a big uppercut. Ryback counters with a Thesz press and slams Wyatt to the mat repeatedly. Wyatt rolls to the outside and then slams Ryback back first onto the apron. Wyatt has the momentum in the ring when we come back from the break but Ryback hits a huge powerbomb out of the corner and then hits Wyatt with a pretty sloppy looking superkick. Ryback goes for a splash off the top rope but Wyatt gets out of the way. Wyatt hits a slam on Ryback followed by a senton and gets a two count. Wyatt does his taunt in the corner and charges Ryback but Ryback counters with a spinebuster. He hits the Meathook clothesline and goes for the Shell Shock but Rowan pulls Wyatt off while Harper distracts the ref. Ryback goes after Wyatt on the outside and is met by Strowman who slams him into the ring steps. Bray pulls Ryback into the ring and hits him with Sister Abigail to get the pin. This was OK. I still don’t buy Bray as a potential Rumble winner but I do think it’s important to keep the Wyatts looking strong as a credible heel stable.
Titus O’Neil vs. Stardust
I’ve lost count of how many times we have seen this match. These guys do their best to keep things fresh and exciting but there’s just not really a story here. Titus hits his power moves and Stardust manages to get a comeback going after a DDT and a two count. He goes to top rope but Titus counters with the Clash of the Titus and gets the win yet again.
Before the break they show Kalisto getting ready for a promo. A woman is showing him what looks like a script. I really don’t see what the point of that is. After the break Kalisto is interviewed by Rene. He brings up his heroes such as Mil Mascaras and Rey Mysterio. He says he will regain the U.S. Title on Sunday. Alberto Del Rio interrupts and is joined by the League of Nations. They gang attack Kalisto and leave him laying on the floor as they head out to face Roman Reigns.
Roman Reigns vs. The League of Nations
Roman comes down first and delivers a promo about his upcoming title defense in the Royal Rumble match. This was all right. People trash Roman’s promo skills but I think he’s improving. Sheamus starts off for The League of Nations. He can’t get any headway against Reigns so he tags out to Rusev. Ranallo has again been doing a great job on commentary, actually calling the action and putting over all the wrestlers. The League of Nations takes control as Rusev gets Reigns into his corner and The League of Nations gangs up on Roman. Rusev tags back out to Sheamus, who continues to beat down Roman. Roman counters a running tackle attempt by Sheamus with a big clothesline. Sheamus manages to tag out to Rusev but Roman is building his comeback and manhandles Rusev with a series of clotheslines and a flying forearm. Roman goes for a Superman Punch but Sheamus, Del Rio, and Barrett grab him in the corner. The entire League of Nations gangs up on Roman and the ref rings the bell for the DQ.
The Usos come out to make the save but The League continues to overpower them. Roman comes back and takes out Rusev with a Superman Punch and hits a spear on Sheamus. The Wyatts then appear and surround Roman in the ring. Roman tries to fight them off, taking out Harper and Rowan. Strowman throws Roman outside the ring and Roman is double teamed by Harper and Rowan. They toss Roman back in the ring and Strowman hits a big slam. Bray hits Sister Abigail on Roman and we end the show with The Wyatts standing tall yet again.
This episode of Smackdown wasn’t as good as the previous two weeks overall but I thought the end was a pretty good way to finish off before The Rumble as we saw most of the big names duke it out. They are really pushing The Wyatts heading into this but I think it’s a bit too little, too late. We’ll see what happens on Sunday!
Last week’s Smackdown was pretty great and there are some big matches on the card tonight so hopefully the trend will continue. We’re in the Cajun Dome in Lafayette, Louisiana. I went to my first (and only) Smackdown taping here 2 years ago when I was in town for WrestleMania 30.
We start off with Rene waiting outside for Dean Ambrose, who arrives as a passenger in a pickup truck I am going to assume he hijacked as it speeds off the second he gets out. Ambrose says he’s headed to the ring and he hopes Kevin Owens will join him. He comes out to the ring to a pretty huge pop. We are then brought up to speed with clips from their brawls on Smackdown last week and RAW this week. Dean says he has an announcement and asks for a drumroll, which he is surprised to actually get. He interrupts it to ask for Owens to come down but Owens doesn’t come out. He then resumes the drumroll and announces a Last Man Standing match at Royal Rumble against Owens for the title. Nice. Sheamus then interrupts and jokes about Ambrose’s “Cajun Uber” he took to get here. That’s pretty funny. Ambrose then makes fun of his “League of Nations Treehouse Fun Club.”
Sheamus is angry that Reigns stole his WWE title from him and is also mad he didn’t get to finish his fight with Ambrose on Monday. He’s sporting a nice gash on his forehead from that match. See, guys, blood can be useful to build feuds when used correctly. It looks like Sheamus and Dean are going to fight but Owens then comes out to accept Dean’s challenge at Rumble. Great mic work from all of these guys as Owens and Sheamus attack Ambrose. Neville comes in to help Ambrose and they clear the ring. Neville and Ambrose will be teaming up against Owens and Sheamus later tonight and this did a good job of building that match.
The Dudleys vs. The Wyatts (Tables Match)
I was just talking to someone this weekend who thought the Dudleys were being misused in WWE. I then reminded him of the stinker of a match they had against the New Day at Hell in a Cell. They are fun to watch, they get a good response from the crowd. They’re just not very consistent in the ring a lot of the time. I think they’re doing a fine job of putting over younger guys and having decent matches. So far they are doing great against Harper and Rowan. We get a Wassup shortly after the bell rings and Bubba asks for the tables but the Wyatts manage to regain control.They go for a double suplex through a table on D-Von but Bubba pulls the table away. They then hit a suplex-neck breaker combo on Harper and the fight goes to the outside. Strohman is at ringside and distracts D-Von who is then attacked by Rowan. Strohman tries to give Rowan a cane but Bubba grabs it and cleans house. He then throws Harper off the steps and through a table to get the win for the Dudleys. Pretty fun, quick match.
Strohman attacks the Dudleys after the bell. He throws D-Von through a table in the corner and then picks him up and throws him through another table in the opposite corner. Harper and Rowan double team Bubba on the outside and then double chokeslam him through a table. Looks like this feud isn’t over.
JoJo interviews Kalisto, who is having the best week of his career as he beat ADR on RAW for the U.S. Championship in a great match. He mentions Eddie and Rey as inspirations during his career and says he is plans to stay the U.S. Champion.
Social Outcasts vs. Damien Sandow, Zack Ryder, Goldust, and Jack Swagger
No entrances or anything for this match. That’s kind of a bummer. The Outcasts start running around the ring but Ryder grabs Slater and throws him into the ring. Slater and Goldust square off. Slater hits a great looking kick on Goldust and tags Axel in. Axel gets in some decent offense and tags in Rose. Goldust still looks pretty great in the ring. Bo and Swagger get tagged in. Ranallo is doing a good job of putting all of these guys over. Swagger gets Bo in the Patriot Lock but Axel breaks it up. Ryder comes in and gets some good offense in on Bo including a Broski Boot for a near fall. Slater distracts Ryder in the corner and Bo hits him with the Running Bo-dog and gets the pin. Bo also takes out Slater with the move but a win is a win for the Social Outcasts and this was pretty fun.
We get the obligatory RAW recap and Lawler is continuing to work heel a bit, siding with McMahon in the feud with Reigns. I enjoy seeing this return to classic Lawler and hopefully it will continue. People might complain about RAW recaps on Smackdown but at least it’s not the airing of entire RAW matches we were getting a year ago. Smackdown has slowly come back to building storylines and having unique matches and this is definitely a good thing.
Rene interviews Del Rio backstage. Del Rio gives another great heel promo, promising he will crush “that little mosquito” Kalisto.
Kalisto vs. Alberto Del Rio (U.S. Championship Match)
Mauro continues to do a great job on commentary, reminding us that ADR is a Royal Rumble winner and won MITB the same year. Lots of heat on Del Rio and the crowd seems pretty behind Kalisto but it’s always hard to tell how much of that is real as they do pipe in crowd noise on Smackdown. My one problem with this is sometimes it is the same exact crowd noise from the WWE video games. There’s some specific crowd yells that always take me out of things when I hear them during Smackdown because I’ve heard them a million times playing the games.
Strong offense from Del Rio to start the match. He goes after the mask and this seems to energize Kalisto who hits ADR with a big missile dropkick. ADR regains control and hits him with a forearm smash from the top rope and gets a two count. Del Rio hits a brutal looking double knee to Kalisto’s arm off the turnbuckle. Kalisto is doing a great job selling the arm as Del Rio continues to wear it down, setting up his finisher. Ranallo reminds us of ADR’s MMA and amateur wrestling background. Lawler has gone full heel on commentary and I am digging it.
Big cross body and a head scissors from Kalisto gets the crowd pumped but Del Rio slams him into the corner and continues to work the arm to regain control.
Wade Barrett is now at ringside to cheer on Del Rio. Del Rio goes for his stomp off the top but Kalisto counters with a head scissors. He then hits a springboard senton but Del Rio dodges a corkscrew and hits a head kick for a near fall. Kalisto reverses an armbreaker attempt with a hurricanrana for a near fall of his own, then hits the corkscrew off the ropes for another near fall. Kalisto continues to sell the arm as he and Del Rio go back and forth. Barrett distracts Kalisto and ADR gets him in the cross armbreaker. Kalisto manages to get his foot on the ropes. Del Rio goes through the ropes as he goes for an attack on Kalisto but Kalisto can’t capitalize as he misses a big dive to the outside as Barrett pushes ADR out of the way. Del Rio tosses Kalisto back in the ring and locks him the Cross Armbreaker again. Kalisto quickly taps out and we have a new champion. People might question this quick exchange of the title but I think it did a good job of putting Kalisto over as a legitimate singles wrestler while Del Rio still looks good as a heel champion. This was a really good match.
We get another great Hall of Fame video for Sting. Rene is backstage with Becky Lynch and we see clips from Becky’s great ongoing feud with Charlotte. Becky says she is still hurt from Charlotte’s betrayal. We then get a clip from RAW where Becky attacked Charlotte before Charlotte’s match with Brie Bella. Becky tells us she is going to stay fired up until she beats Charlotte for the title. She challenges Charlotte for a title match at the Royal Rumble.
Brie Bella vs. Becky Lynch
Brie starts off with some aggressive offense and hits a dropkick from the top rope. Brie isn’t the best but she has shown quite a bit of improvement over the last couple years especially with her strikes. Becky hits some great looking forearms and then some clotheslines. She then hits an exploder suplex out of the corner and gets a two count. After a bit of back and forth Becky gets Brie in the Disarmer for the submission victory. This was a little too quick for my tastes but both Becky and Brie looked pretty good and it got the job done building Becky up for her challenge for the title.
Sheamus and Kevin Owens vs. Dean Ambrose and Neville
Neville and Owens still have a feud going after Neville snagged a win over Owens on RAW and Owens attacked Neville after the match. Neville and Sheamus start off the match. Neville gets control early and tags in Ambrose. Ambrose clotheslines Sheamus out of the ring and then hits a crossbody on Owens. He’s blindsided by a lariat from Sheamus as we cut to commercial.
When we come back Owens is back in the ring working over Ambrose. He taunts the crowd and Ambrose in his usual awesome way. We see some quick tags between Owens and Sheamus. Ambrose tags in Neville who hits a big springboard DDT on Owens. Owens manages to tag out to Sheamus, who is greeted with a big kick by Neville. Neville goes for the Red Arrow on Sheamus but misses as Sheamus rolls out of the way and tags Owens back in. Owens taunts Ranallo, calling him “four eyes.” Nicely done. He tags out to Sheamus who works over Neville and then gets him in a chin lock. Neville tries to power out of it but Sheamus hits a big knee lift and tags out to Owens. Owens goes for his cannonball splash but Neville dodges it and hits Owens with a beautiful German suplex. Both competitors manage to tag out. Ambrose hits Sheamus with a tornado DDT and a big elbow drop from the top rope for a two count. Owens breaks it up and Sheamus takes control, hitting White Noise for a two count. He then tags in Owens who goes for a Pop Up Powerbomb but Ambrose counters with a hurricanrana and hits his rebound forearm smash. Owens falls to the outside. Ambrose goes for a dive but Sheamus nails him and Owens and Sheamus double team Ambrose on the outside, slamming him into the announce table and the ref rings the bell to end the match.
Neville hits a big corkscrew plancha on Owens and Sheamus. Owens gets tossed into the ring and Ambrose hits him with Dirty Deeds. He then takes a Red Arrow from Neville to finish him off. This was a good way to end the show and to build to the big Intercontinental Title match at Royal Rumble. Sheamus and Neville both looked good as well. This was another great Smackdown with lots of great action and excellent commentary from Mauro Ranallo and a now fully heel Jerry Lawler with Saxton supporting them. Kalisto and Del Rio had the match of the night for the second show in a row.
I’ve decided to try and actively watch things more instead of having my phone out or playing Pokemon Shuffle. I figured a good way to do that is to have my laptop open and write about what I’m watching. We’ll see how it goes. I think this would make a good addition to the MBWS site since the podcast is in a holding pattern. I’m working on re-launching that but it might take some time. Benson is a busy guy these days and I still have doubts about having a show where it’s just two dudes talking about wrestling since there are a ton of those shows. Talking to the wrestlers at MWE was something that separated us and without it the show just felt lacking. Our awesome listeners have responded otherwise so if you guys want it, I’ll do my best to give you something worthwhile. Until then, let’s watch RAW!
We start with a recap of Roman and Steph from last week. I know why they have to do these constant recaps but it still kind of drives me crazy. Man, it is still nuts to see how ripped Vince still is. I don’t know a lot about bodybuilding, but that can’t be natural, can it? But then again, the guy has been hitting the weights his entire life and that probably can do a lot for you. I have no idea.
So whoever wins the Royal Rumble will be the champion. The only other time the title has been at stake in the Rumble it was vacant so this is a first. It looks like a huge chunk of the Rumble entrants are on stage as Vince and Steph come out to hype up the Rumble. I am so disappointed that Sandow is just back to his old gimmick. They really blew that whole opportunity. The Wyatts interrupt. He continues with the “Anyone but you, Roman” rhetoric. I can dig it. Vince teases Brock but then Roman interrupts to what sounds like a decent pop. Vince announces a One Vs. All match pitting Roman against an untold amount of opponents. Stardust is rocking Bowie face paint and it’s awesome. Sheamus attacks Ambrose to start the first match of the evening.
Sheamus vs. Dean Ambrose
Sheamus is just kind of there for me. I don’t particularly dislike him or like him. I like the mohawk and beard, unlike most people. I think it makes gives him some much needed personality and solidifies his image. Like it or not, he’s the top heel right now and he’s doing the best he can. Hopefully Owens can rise to that top heel spot soon because he’s a million times better than Sheamus. Good brawling between Sheamus and Ambrose. Those announce tables seem to be getting more and more solid as it showed no give whatsoever when Sheamus slammed Ambrose on to it. Ambrose’s forearms are looking a lot better lately. Sometimes it looks like they don’t even connect. Some good near falls making this a pretty exciting match. Ambrose counters White Noise with his rebound clothesline, knocking Sheamus out of the ring. This leads to more brawling which is what these guys are good at. They end up getting counted out and Sheamus is busted open. That’s not something you see every day on RAW. Ambrose teases slamming Sheamus onto the announce table but is attacked by Owens. These guys have been doing a great job building this feud. Owens manages to get past all the refs to put the boots to Ambrose. He finally heads to the back and does it in the usual great Owens way.
We get a tease for tonight’s Highlight Reel with Jericho and The New Day. This should be great. We also get a shot of Bourbon Street as we are in New Orleans tonight. Crazy it’s been almost 2 years since I was there for WrestleMania 30. Rene interviews Ambrose and Ambrose assures us he’s still alive and ready to take on Owens. Ambrose is always great on the mic. Steph and Vince run into Paul Heyman backstage. Heyman always does a great job selling whatever needs to be sold, hyping up tonight’s One Vs. All Match and of course his client, Brock Lesnar. Heyman tries to sell Lesnar as the challenger to the title at WrestleMania. Vince doesn’t like it.
Stardust vs. Titus O’Neil
Stardust’s Bowie homage is great. Drew Brees is in the house with his Cena fan sons. Poor kids. Stardust is one of my favorite wrestlers. O’ Neil has a lot of upside and charisma. I think these guys work well together. They go back and forth with Stardust showing a necessary aggressive side against Titus.The whole back of Titus’ head is covered in silver paint after a Stardust sleeper hold. Pretty funny. Stardust gets a nearfall after a well executed counter but then walks into the Clash of the Titus after a miss off the top rope for the loss. He then attacks Titus after the bell from behind so it looks like this feud will continue. I think in the right circumstances Cody could finally rise to the top of the roster but it doesn’t seem like that is happening any time soon.
Highlight Reel with The New Day
Jericho is wearing some goofy scarf thing and no shirt under his glow jacket and vest. I guess it fits his rockstar persona. I loved Jericho’s segment with New Day last week so hopefully we’ll get more of that tonight. Jericho is going to be in the Rumble so that should be cool. Jericho comparing his return to Star Wars and Guns N’ Roses. As he is telling the crowd how he’s walking out of the Rumble champion, The New Day interrupts. Those Unicorn horns are silly but part of me wants one. These guys are so good on the mic and pairing them with Jericho just makes sense. Rooty Tooty Booty indeed. They are still hurt they didn’t win Tag Team of The Year Slammy. I don’t blame them. The Uso’s come out with their Slammys to taunt The New Day. Jericho proposes match between Kofi and Big E vs. The Usos and he’ll be in their corner.
The Usos vs. Big E and Kofi Kingston
The Usos are all right but I am a huge New Day fan both in and out of the ring. Usos are great in the ring but I feel like The New Day are more versatile. I can’t tell the Usos apart but one of them had a funny dance spot to antagonize Big E after smashing him in the corner. The crowd dug it. Kofi launches Jimmy off the top rope to the outside and here comes Xavier with the trombone. Jericho chases him off. Jimmy goes for the hot tag to Jay but Big E pulls Jay off the apron. Great teamwork from New Day, as always. More dancing from Jay as The Usos regain momentum and a dive to the outside followed by a good looking crossbody from the top turnbuckle. Big E regains control though and the straps are down. Jay counters the Big Ending with a Superkick but Big E manages to tag to Kofi who gets a Superkick as well. Xavier distracts the ref but Jericho is right there and smashes the trombone. This makes the second trombone casualty. Xavier is inconsolable over the loss and the Usos take advantage and win with a rollup on Kofi.
Michael Cole discusses Cena’s shoulder surgery and we see some pictures of the surgery. This is the worst possible time for Cena to be out but it is also exciting to see who is going to step up especially with the potential Bullet Club and Nakamura signings.
Steph has a heated discussion with Heyman. Heyman says Lesnar says no to competing in the Royal Rumble. Steph informs Heyman that Brock will compete or he will be fired. JBL is in the ring to announce Sting’s induction into the Hall of Fame. This is definitely deserved I am just a little sad that it likely means we won’t be seeing him in the ring again and that his recent neck injury is indeed career ending. I was hoping for one more Wrestlemania match but as any wrestling fan knows too well, you can’t always get what you want. Great video package highlighting his legendary career. For me Sting was WCW, the only reason I ever watched when I was a kid and the main reason I flipped back and forth during the Monday Night Wars.
The Wyatts vs. The Social Outcasts
While the Wyatts come down they hype a tables match between the Dudleys and The Wyatts on Smackdown on Thursday. It looks like they really are serious about elevating Smackdown. Last week’s show was great especially with the introduction of Mauro Ranallo on commentary. As Bray grabs the mic they are interrupted by the introduction of The Social Outcasts, my new favorite stable. They now have matching shirts with their names on them so that’s a good sign that this might be around for awhile. Strohman starts off getting the best of both Rose and Dallas, Axel comes in and has a little bit more luck but is then brought down by a fierce shoulder tackle. Bray tags in and before he gets to do anything Ryback comes out. He takes out the Wyatts with the assistance of The Social Outcasts. I guess this was all just to build the Ryback/Wyatts feud.
Next is a clip from Smackdown where Kalisto got a win over U.S. Champ Alberto Del Rio which earns him a title shot against ADR tonight. Sin Cara getting injured might be the best thing that’s ever happened for Kalisto as he can finally show his singles prowess that any follower of the Indies knows he has. He gives a good interview with Rene to show he is ready and game for tonight’s match.
Alberto Del Rio vs. Kalisto (U.S. Title Match)
Alberto taunts the crowd saying John Cena is not there tonight because of him. Heel ADR is great. I don’t understand the detractors. He has looked great since his return aside from that silly MexAmerica thing which quickly got dropped. Sad for Zeb though as I am a huge Zeb fan. Hopefully they’ll find something else for him to do. Kalisto does a pretty good job getting the crowd hyped up. Hopefully this will be a big match for him. They’re definitely giving it the Big Match treatment, which is good. Del Rio starts right in with some crisp, fierce offense. He tosses Kalisto to the outside and does a great job taunting the crowd. Kalisto finally manages to fight back and hits a senton on ADR followed by a great corkscrew attack off the ropes. ADR quickly gets control back with a punishing sit-out powerbomb. ADR shuts down another Kalisto comeback with a vicious clothesline. This has been the story throughout the match so far. Really well done. Kalisto gets an opening and goes for a dive to the outside but ADR sniffs it out and smashes him into the barricade. Brutal. Kalisto is still fighting back though and showing a lot of fire. ADR keeps shutting him down though. Kalisto hits a hurricanrana from top rope and finally mounts an offense. He hits another great looking corkscrew off the ropes and then a DDT for a nearfall. ADR is right back on offense though, going for his big kick but Kalisto counters for another near fall. ADR counters a Salina Del Sol attempt by tossing Kalisto into the ropes. He then puts Kalisto in the tree of woe and goes for his big stomp finish, which Kalisto ducks out of and hits him with a head scissors for another near fall and the crowd is really into this match now. Another Salina Del Sol counter but Kalisto manages to counter a Del Rio suplex into a pinfall. New U.S. Champion! I wasn’t expecting that and the crowd is digging it. This is huge for Kalisto. Great match.
We see highlights from last week’s match between Charlotte and Becky. I’m super happy this has turned into a real feud with a real story, something the Divas division desperately needs. JoJo interviews Charlotte and Ric Flair. Charlotte gives a good heel promo telling us she’s the best, that Becky is the real villain and she is the victim.
Brie Bella vs. Charlotte
I can never get tired of seeing Ric Flair strutting down that aisle. Never. Becky attacks Charlotte from out of nowhere as Charlotte does her splits entrance. This is great, building the feud. Becky has to be dragged out by the refs. Ric then says Charlotte is in no condition to wrestle tonight and it’s all Becky Lynch’s fault. Ric yells “What are you going to do about it fatboy?” to a guy at ringside. Still the best. No match occurred. JoJo interviews Becky backstage. Becky does a great job selling this rivalry, she feels betrayed. This is what Becky needs to get to that next level on the main roster.
Roman Reigns vs. Everybody
Vince and Stephanie come out to introduce the competitors which are basically all the heels on the roster. I don’t see Rusev though and Barrett is reportedly injured again. Kevin Owens starts off the match and the rest of the opponents are on the outside. Steph says Roman will battle all of these superstars until he can no longer move. Owens dominates early but Roman regains control and tosses Owens to the outside. Owens regains control after re-entering the ring and does a great job riling up the crowd. Stardust is sadly back to his normal face paint since most of his Bowie paint ended up on Titus’ head. Owens gets Roman in a chinlock and the crowd is firmly behind Reigns. Sheamus distracts Reigns and Owens hits him with a kick to knock him to the outside where he hits him with a senton. That always looks painful. Thankfully they showed what happened during the commercial as it turns out Owens hit a very impressive frog splash from the apron onto Reigns on the floor. Owens is one of the most agile guys on the roster, period. His weight is definitely not an issue and I think works in his favor. Beautiful Superkick from Owens results in another near fall. Reigns goes shoulder first into the steel post and Owens hits him with his cannon ball splash for yet another near fall. The crowd is chanting “Suplex City” as they clearly want Brock but I’m enjoying seeing Owens do his thing.
Roman starts building steam but Owens is holding his own. He goes for a Superman punch on Owens but the Ascension hop on the apron so he hits them with it. He then takes out Stardust and Tyler Breeze as well. Now all the heels are in the ring ganging up on Owens. The crowd is screaming for Brock. Del Rio hits him with his kick. Brogue Kick from Sheamus.
Brock’s music hits and the crowd goes nuts. New Day is in the ring to greet him and Brock takes them out. Suplex on Owens. He then takes out ADR. Sheamus gets the upper hand on him at first but then gets knocked to the ground. Suplexes on ADR and Sheamus. Brock stands tall in the ring over Roman, who he drags into the middle of the ring and then nails with the F5. His music hits as he exits the ring. He and Roman have a bit of a stare down to end the show.
Overall this was another solid RAW compared to some of the episodes we had to slog through in December. Some good matches with ADR vs. Kalisto definitely being the highlight but strong showings from Ambrose/Sheamus and New Day/Usos. I liked the fact that they gave the matches more time than it seems like they usually do. Hopefully this is a new trend. The closing segment did a good job building up the Royal Rumble match. Brock being in the Rumble makes it interesting and not as a sure thing as for Roman as some would think. Add to that the possibilities of AJ and NXT callups and hopefully we will have a much more exciting Rumble match this year.