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.