Brendo and Keith went to some shows last weekend and there’s lots to talk about. There’s also the finest meds from Real Kind Meds to try and discuss! They talk about Brendo’s excursion to RISE and Keith’s two trips to EWF, NJPW Global Wars UK, Shawn’s birthday, the latest CWFH shows, Total Divas, Great Muta coming to PCW in January, Broken/Woken Matt Hardy, RAW, Smackdown, NXT, AWS and PCW results, upcoming Santino Bros, and more SoCal indie discussion. Thanks for listening and tell your friends!
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.
It’s the first new NXT of 2016 as we had a Best Of episode last week. Time to get hyped! The Full Sail crowd is loud as always and we have Corey Graves and Tom Phillips on commentary. William Regal comes out to kick off the show. He is looking good after neck surgery. He announces that tonight’s main event is a women’s battle royale for a shot at the NXT Women’s Championship. He then introduces Sami Zayn.
It’s the first time Sami Zayn has been at Full Sail in several months and he looks happy to be there. Given the current WWE roster situation his stay might be brief! Big Ole chants for Sami as he hypes the crowd and the NXT roster. He says Full Sail is his home. He also says he came here to make a proclamation: That he will be the first two time NXT Champion. Samoa Joe comes out to respond. He says it is good to have Sami back but he doesn’t deserve a title shot, that the last time Sami fought for the title Joe had to come out and save his life. He tells Sami to walk away as they stare down. Corbin interrupts. He says he agrees with Joe that Sami’s place is at the back of the line. He reminds everyone that he won his match at Takeover: London and that Joe lost his. Dude has a point. Corbin’s mic skills have improved quite a bit. Joe responds by saying Corbin doesn’t even belong in the conversation. As Sami is yelling at Joe, Corbin attacks him from behind but Sami responds with a big Heluva Kick. He and Joe then face off but Joe leaves the ring.
Bayley is interviewed by Rich and she says she’s not even sure how she made it out of London with the belt but she’s ready to take on the winner of the Battle Royale. She ends the interview by giving Rich a hug. Nice.
The NXT year end awards are announced. Enzo & Cass win tag team of the year. Bayley wins Female Competitor of the year. Finn Balor wins Male Competitor of the Year. NXT Takeover Brooklyn wins Takeover of the Year. Bayley vs. Sasha Banks from Takeover Brooklyn is the Match of the Year. Finn Balor wins Overall Competitor of the Year. I liked those awards because they were quick and pretty on point.
Tomasso Ciampa vs. Danny Burch
I don’t think I’ve seen Burch before. It’s great to see Ciampa back in NXT. Remember when all the “insiders” said he wasn’t coming back because he was too stiff with Tyler Breeze? Since I heard that he’s been back at least twice. Silly dirtsheets. Burch hits a pretty good looking missile dropkick. The commentators remind me that Burch has appeared before so I guess I was wrong. Ciampa hits Burch with some fierce forearms followed by a face first slam off the ropes that looked great. Burch gets a near fall off a stiff right hand on Ciampa and then goes for a deadlift suplex but Ciampa gets out of it and hits him with a kick. Burch is looking pretty good here as he goes for a backslide but Ciampa reverses it into an armbar and gets the submission. Both of these guys looked good in this one with some strong strikes from both. Here’s hoping we’ll see more Ciampa in 2016.
Backstage promo with Enzo and Cass as they let Dash & Dawson know they are coming for them after the loss in London. These guys are so great, they don’t need the titles but I’m pretty sure we’ll see them with the straps sooner rather than later.
We get some promos for the Women’s Battle Royale including new gals Billie Kaye and Deonna Purrazzo as well as Emma. Regal is in his office and announces that there will be a match between Sami Zayn, Samoa Joe, and Baron Corbin for the #1 Contender spot in two weeks.
Dash & Dawson vs. The Ascension
The NXT tag champs had a huge last half of 2015. Let’s see if they can take that momentum into 2016. I dig the whole 80’s NWA no-nonsense gimmick. When The Ascension are in Full Sail you kind of forget how much they’ve flopped on the main roster. I’m sure they miss those “Yah” chants as opposed to the crickets they hear normally. Victor is all over Dash to start the match but Dash hits him with a strong clothesline to take control and tags to Dawson. More aggressive offense and strong tag work for the champs. Victor finally hits a power move to create some space and make the tag to Connor. He starts wailing on Dawson as the crowd chants along. Dash manages to distract Connor and Victor gets dumped to outside. Dash and Dawson then hit their finisher on Connor for the victory. This wasn’t anything special but it made the champs look good.
Regal is in the trainer’s room with Nia Jax and Eva Marie. Nia Jax is not medically cleared for the Battle Royale as she suffered a kayfabe injury at the hands of Bayley’s submission at Takeover London. This makes sense as there is no way Nia Jax wouldn’t win that Battle Royale and it seems like they are going to keep her and Bayley apart for awhile to build to a rematch.
Elias Samson vs. Corey Hollis
They are pushing “The Drifter” pretty hard. I’m not really sold on the gimmick yet. He hits a big kick on Hollis and casually goes for the pinfall for a two count. He punches him a bit then shushes him as he gives Hollis his swinging neckbreaker finisher for the win. Nothing too exciting. He then brings his guitar into the ring and tells the crowd “What this place needs is what I am.” OK.
They play some highlights from the great Joe vs. Balor match at Takeover London. Rich then interviews Balor to get his comments on Joe and the triple threat match in two weeks for a shot at his belt. He comments on each challenger and tells us that regardless of their strengths the NXT championship is staying with him. Nicely done.
Cameron is here, you guys. And she’s going to be in the Battle Royale. We also get a promo from the debuting Aliyah who we met on Breaking Ground. The final promo from is from Asuka who has got to be the heavy fave and I am eagerly awaiting her getting a shot at Bayley.
Women’s Battle Royale
Alexa Bliss, Emma, Carmella, Eva Marie, and Asuka all get entrances. Asuka is by far the most popular and shoves Eva Marie out of the way to the great enjoyment of the crowd. “Asuka’s gonna kill you” chants to start and a vicious kick from Asuka to Eva Marie the second the bell rings. Aliyah is the first to be eliminated. Cameron does the honors. Cameron then ducks an attack from Deanna, who goes flying over the top rope. Liv Morgan then tries to powerbomb Cameron out of the ring but Alexa Bliss dumps them both over. I must have missed Eva Marie getting eliminated but that’s not a surprise. Emma eliminates Alex Bliss but is then eliminated by Asuka. Billie Kaye and Peyton Royce attempt to double team Asuka but she manages to slide back in the ring. Asuka then eliminates both of the rookies but Eva, who it turns out was hiding outside the ring, comes from behind to eliminate Asuka. Doh. However, Carmela was also hanging around the outside because she was injured and turns the tables on Eva Marie to win the Battle Royale. Bayley comes out to congratulate Carmela. I think these two friends are going to have a great match as the slow build to Bayley vs. Asuka continues.
There was nothing terribly exciting about this episode of NXT but it was a very solid show, as always. This is episode wrestling television done right, building storylines and wrestlers. We got a little bit of everything this week and the Main Event was entertaining and not too drawn out. We’ll probably get to see Asuka get her revenge on Eva Marie sometime soon and Carmela vs. Bayley for the title is a solid matchup. On the men’s side we saw a heartfelt return to Full Sail by Sami Zayn who will take on Samoa Joe and Baron Corbin in two weeks leading to a big title match. I am definitely looking forward to the coming weeks in NXT as we will hopefully see more new faces.