This week's SmackDown! features a “triple main event” as The Dudley Boyz take on The Wyatt Family in a Tables Match, Kalisto defends his newly-won United States Championship against Alberto Del Rio, and Dean Ambrose teams with Neville to take on Kevin Owens & Sheamus.
Commentators: Mauro Ranallo, Jerry Lawler, ands Byron Saxton
Promo Time: Dean Ambrose
Renee Young is waiting outside of the Cajundome as Dean Ambrose has apparently asked for some time. A car speeds and screeches to a halt, with Ambrose spilling out. He tells Young that he wants to say what he needs to say face-to-face and heads inside the arena as the camera follows. Ambrose has an announcement to make and asks for a drumroll, which he gets much to his surprise but stops and asks Kevin Owens to come out first. Owens doesn't so he goes forward with the announcement, drumroll back on: he is challenging Owens to a Last Man Standing match at the Royal Rumble. Sheamus interrupts the proceedings much to Ambrose's annoyance and says he doesn't like starting fights he doesn't get to finish, referencing their brawl on RAW a few nights prior, and heads to the ring. Ambrose is all about it but then finally Kevin Owens makes his way out. Owens accepts the Royal Rumble challenge then he and Sheamus go to double team Ambrose but out comes Neville to even the odds and scare the heels away. I feel like I've seen this opening on SmackDown! a billion times before, I half-expected Teddy Long to come out, but I enjoyed Ambrose's drumroll schtick so I was entertained well enough. Sometimes it doesn't take a lot.
The Dudley Boyz vs. Luke Harper & Erick Rowan
The Wyatt Family gets the ECW “lights out” entrance and attack the Dudleys from behind. Braun Strowman is shown at ringside, Bray Wyatt is apparently sitting this one out; they're in Layfette so maybe he just wanted to get some crawfish instead. The Wyatt Family send Devon to the floor and double team Bubba until Rowan is sent out to the floor. The Dudleys 'WASSUP' Harper then Bubba gets the crowd to call for a table...and then chant for tables...and then learn proper table etiquette. I made the last one up sadly, WWE doesn't care about salad forks. They set the table up in the ring but Harper drops Devon with a superkick and Rowan drops Bubba with a standing heel kick and the heels are in control as we go to commercial. Back from break The Wyatt Family try to double suplex Devon through the table in the ring but Bubba moves it so he hits canvas instead. The Dudleys hit an inverted 3D on Harper. Strowman gets involved by tossing a kendo stick in the ring but Bubba is the first to grab it and he tees off on Rowan. Strowman charges into the ring but goes shoulder-first into the steel post while Rowan charges at Bubba on the floor and eats nothing but steel steps. Devon dazes Harper on the apron and Bubba pushes him off the steps and through the table for the victory. Pretty tame for a tables match but that's WWE for you nowadays, and the finish was less than emphatic. Reminded me of when Sheamus won the WWE Championship by shoving John Cena off the turnbuckles. The feud that won't die continues. (5:06 shown)
Final Rating: *1/2
After the match The Wyatt Family set up two tables on the floor and double chokeslam Bubba through them from the announce table. Mauro Ranallo is still in-tact, thankfully.
JoJo is standing by with new United States Champion Kalisto. Kalisto talks about how inspirational the success of Eddie Guerrero and Rey Mysterio are to him and he vows to stay United States Champion. Man I hope so.
Goldust, Zack Ryder, Damien Sandow & Jack Swagger vs. The Social Outcasts
Damien Sandow lives...and he's in pink again! I thought the guy vanished into the ether of occasionally being on Xavier Woods' YouTube channel. He starts the match with Slater and gets the upper hand, forcing Slater to exit the ring in frustration. Dallas tells him not to get down and to do a lap and The Social Outcasts attempt to do a victory lap around the ring but are stopped by the opposing team. Why this doesn't make Goldust and crew the biggest heels on the planet I'll never know. The Outcasts work over Goldust for awhile until Goldust gets in a powerslam on Rose and tags out to Swagger. Swagger works over Dallas for a bit and slaps on the Ankle Lock to no avail. Ryder tags in and gets his missile dropkick and Broski Boot spots in. Dallas awkwardly floats over Ryder in the corner then hits the Bo-Dog, using the back of Slater's head as a catapult, for the 1...2...3! Way too short for anything deep but I'm loving both The Social Outcasts and the fact we got to see some underutilized guys get some screen time. Mostly I'm just happy to see Sandow again though if I start thinking about the many ways WWE has dropped the ball on him over the years I'm going to go from happy to angry in short order. (3:40)
Final Rating: **
Ranallo and crew give us a brief update on John Cena's shoulder surgery. Cena has vowed to be back in no time and started rehab almost immediately after being discharged. Cena is inhuman.
Renee Young catches up with Alberto Del Rio, who vows to crush the “little mosquito” Kalisto and reclaim his United States Championship. Man I hope not.
WWE United States Championship
Kalisto (c) vs. Alberto Del Rio
Del Rio is looking crazy in-shape. Too bad that doesn't make up for the lackluster stuff he's been doing since returning to WWE. Del Rio is all offense right away, fighting off Kalisto's attempts at offense with relative ease as Lawler lays into Kalisto on commentary, making fun of him for being short. Lawler is trying to do heel stuff again which is cool but it doesn't really seem like his heart is all that into it. Del Rio hits an armbreaker from the middle turnbuckle on Kalisto's left arm, giving him a limb to zero in on. Kalisto manages a crossbody but then gets sent shoulder-first into the steel post and Del Rio is back in control as we go to commercial.
Del Rio continues to lay waste to Kalisto's left arm as King Barrett materializes out of nowhere at ringisde. Oh no, oh no. Del Rio traps Kalisto in the Tree of Woe and climbs the buckles but Kalisto takes him down with a hurricanrana. However once again his offense is short-lived and Del Rio dodges a corkscrew and takes Kalisto's head off with a superkick for a very close two-count. Kalisto manages to hit the corkscrew the second time around and plants Del Rio's head into the canvas with a rana but still can't get the pinfall. Kalisto goes for the Salina Del Sol but Barrett distracts him and Del Rio traps him in the Cross Armbreaker instead, wrenching back until a rope break. Kalisto sends Del Rio to the floor but misses a suicida and lands on his shoulder after Barrett pulls Del Rio out of the way. Oh no. Back in the ring Del Rio slaps on the Cross Armbreaker once more and Kalisto immediately taps, giving Del Rio his second reign as United States Champion.
I've got a lot of emotions about this. The match itself was pretty damn good and fun to watch but that finish...ugh. Kalisto just won the championship like three days ago, why cut him off so quickly? Barrett being there to be the cause of the loss is all well and good but it still takes a lot of wind out of the sails of Kalisto. Unless he's going to emphatically overcome the odds at Royal Rumble or something this was a dumb move. A dumb, dumb move. (11:33 shown)
Final Rating: ***
Renee Young is standing by with Becky Lynch. They watch footage of Charlotte attacking her last week on SmackDown! As well as Lynch's counterattack on RAW then Lynch challenges Charlotte for the Divas Championship at Royal Rumble. Nice to see Lynch getting something worthwhile to do after being the mute during that whole 'Diva's Revolution' debacle last year.
Becky Lynch vs. Brie Bella
Alicia Fox is in the corner of Brie. This match exists because Brie was supposed to face Charlotte on RAW before Lynch attacked her, so she wants revenge. I dig the continuity. Brie has the early advantage until Lynch catches a kick and sends her crashing face-first into the middle turnbuckle. Lynch lays into Brie with clotheslines and an Exploder Suplex, and slaps on the Dis-Arm-Her for the tapout victory. A quick squash to keep Lynch's momentum going, nothing more and nothing less. Way to stand by and let your friend lose, Alicia Fox. (2:34)
Final Rating: N/R
Dean Ambrose & Neville vs. Kevin Owens & Sheamus
Owens has no desire to really team with Sheamus and it's beautiful; first he brushed him off during the opening show promo and now he pokes at Sheamus' forehead scar from Monday. Beautiful. Neville and Ambrose are in control in the early moments until Ambrose loses his cool and hits a slingshot splash on Owens on the floor. This allows Sheamus to attack from behind and we go to a commercial break. Back live Owens works over Ambrose a bit then tags in Sheamus so he can get his licks in. Owens tags back in and blocks a Tornado DDT but falls victim to a swinging neckbreaker instead. Neville gets the tag and hits a series of spin kicks and a step-up enzuigiri on Owens. Sheamus tags in and almost falls victim to a Shooting Star Press but he rolls out of the way. Neville rolls through the attempt right into a cheap shot from Owens. Owens rules. The heels work over Neville for a bit until Neville manages a German suplex on Owens. Ambrose gets the hot tag as Sheamus tags in as well but it's the former who is all offense with a series of chops and jabs and a stage dive elbow followed by a pinfall attempt which Owens breaks up. Ambrose tries his rebound lariat but Owens kicks him in the head and Sheamus connects with White Noise for only a two-count. Ambrose is more successful the second time with the rebound lariat on Owens and goes for Dirty Deeds but Owens bails to the floor. Ambrose hits him with a suicida but Sheamus comes from behind and tosses him repeatedly into the steel steps. Owens rips the top off the announce table and drops it on Ambrose and the bell rings. Formulaic wheel-spinning tag team match but it was fun for what it was. Owens if off the charts great as a character, his mannerisms and reactions alone are worth checking out. (9:19 shown)
Final Rating: **1/2
Owens wants to put Ambrose through the announce table after the match but Neville saves him via running splash to both heels. Ambrose throws Owens back into the ring and hits Dirty Deeds then lets a pleading Neville finish him off with the Red Arrow as the faces stand tall to end the episode.
THE SMACKDOWN RECAP:
Most Entertaining: Hard toss-up between Kevin Owens and The Social Outcasts. Owens is next-level when it comes to his character work and even on a B-show designed to spin wheels instead of move storylines he did some fun stuff in the main event as well as in his interactions with his tag team partner for the night Sheamus. The Social Outcasts were fun on this show as well and while the joke will likely run thin soon enough I'm happy to see them whenever they show up.
Least Entertaining: The Dudley Boyz. I was over their schtick years over and they do nothing for me, especially when they win Tables Matches by pushing someone. I really hate to admit this but Bubba Ray was better off TNA; sure the nostalgia run is probably fun and good for the bank account but he was infinitely better as a performer and had more to chew on in TNA.
Match of the Night: Kalisto Vs. Alberto Del Rio, bar the finish.
Summary: A totally harmless and often times entertaining episode of SmackDown! this week. The show just blew by and there was nothing inherently offensive plus there was two solid worthwhile matches to boot (Kalisto/Del Rio, Ambrose/Neville Vs. Owens/Sheamus). Del Rio winning the United States Championship back that quickly is a bummer though and something that shouldn't have happened unless, like I stated earlier, this is part of the endgame of Kalisto getting an emphatic victory and the championship back. Couple that with just how amazing Ranallo is on commentary and you've got a worthwhile show to check out, despite it mostly spinning plates instead of pushing anything along.