We’re in San Diego, California. Hosts are Mauro Ranallo, Jerry Lawler and Byron Saxton. Since Smackdown headed onto the USA Network there has been a slight attempt from WWE to make it seem like a relevant show. They added Mauro to commentary, who’s been doing outstanding work, and things that begin on RAW also feature on Smackdown. This week two WWE Tag Team Championship #1 contender matches take place. They’re both really predictable and feature new call ups so they can edit out any mistakes they make but it’s still a continuation of a storyline that began on RAW. I also find Smackdown rather refreshing simply due to length. In that it’s a third shorter than RAW. A two-hour weekly show is far more palatable than a three-hour one.
Maryse feels the urge to bilingually introduce The Miz. I’m not sure why I should care that Maryse can speak French. Even though Maryse introduces Miz, she’s actually the guest on the show. The vomit inducing wannabe A-List drivel that pours forth from both superstars mouths provokes Zack Ryder into interrupting some tonsil hockey. Ryder doesn’t seem bothered that he has no rematch. The married douchebags dodge a rematch here by pointing out Ryder has Baron Corbin in a match instead.
Zack Ryder vs. Baron Corbin
I may have been a little over critical of Corbin’s push to the main card as he does carry himself like a legitimate superstar. His receding hairline needs sorting out, either minoxidil or a razor should fix it. Ryder gets a surprising percentage of the offence, as if briefly being IC champion has stopped him from being a total jobber, but then runs into End of Days in three minutes. The good Baron’s real fight is with Dolph Ziggler who runs down for a post match scrap. Poor Zack, an afterthought at best, despite getting his ‘WrestleMania moment’ this year. Normal service has been resumed. Woo. Woo. Oh.
Final Rating: ¾*
Video Control take us backstage where Kevin Owens vaguely threatens to interfere in tonight’s main event.
Paige vs. Emma
I’m pleased to see Emma back on WWE TV because her music is awesome but I miss Dana Brooke being her cheerleader. They’re even feuding Emma with Becky Lynch, so she’s booked as the star here over poor Paige. Not that Paige has been delivering in the ring to a degree where she should be pushed, which Emma has in NXT. I wonder if they’ll bring up that Becky, accidentally, lost her NXT farewell match to Emma*? Mauro references Outback Jack during a tribute to Australian grapplers and Lawler shoots it all down as meaningless. Ranallo adds so much to these broadcasts and Lawler adds nothing at all. In fact Byron doesn’t add much either. Mauro would be more entertaining by himself. Emma drops Paige on her nose for the win and there’s a weird moment where she’s looking for someone to raise her arm and Dana isn’t there. It makes me a little sad. Bad girl Emma will have to power on through by herself, awesome music included.
Final Rating: *1/2
*NXT #161. Becky was knocked goofy by Emma’s corner crossbody spot and failed to kick out. Thus reducing her final NXT match into a surprise Emma win.
Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady vs. The Ascension
Enzo & Cass are owning the catchphrases and are already the hottest tag team on the main roster, outside of the New Day. Being strong on the microphone is how you get over big time in WWE. These crazy kids are going to be just fine. Enzo even references Fresh Prince of Bell Air. “I can give you sound-bites and I can give you substance”. “The Ascension, the worst thing I can say about you is that you’re the Ascension…how you doin’”. The match is generic heat on Enzo until Cass comes in and crushes them. I’m reminded that the Ascension have never been much cop and this is pretty much the end for them because Konnor has gotten a 60-day suspension for Wellness. The way Cass squishes both of the Ascension like bugs about sums up their role on the main roster and lack of future. Rocket Launcher finishes. Enzo and Cass looked suitably motivated and energised.
Final Rating: *1/4
Video Control takes us backstage where Alberto Del Rio calls A.J. Styles “all hype”. Styles isn’t interested in chatting about it and they’ll sort out their business in the ring. Interesting to note that Del Rio once again brought up that Styles ‘doesn’t belong here’, which is the same weird ‘outsiders aren’t welcome’ mentality that prevailed during the Jericho feud. Despite the fact that Styles has been with the promotion for three months now and is firmly entrenched in the top half of the card.
A.J. Styles vs. Alberto Del Rio
“This should be a classic all right” says Lawler, not sure if he’s being sarcastic or not, before resorting to the same roll on deodorant gags he was using in 1993. Del Rio’s interest in wrestling has waned badly over the past couple of years and he’s not looked particularly interested since coming back to WWE. It’s hard to comprehend seeing as he went over Cena in his first match back. It’s nigh impossible to have a bad match with Styles though so this is solid. Even if WWE aren’t bothered about pushing Styles in the long run at least he has a bunch of ***+ matches in his locker against guys he’s never wrestled. Or maybe not as Del Rio drops Styles square on the top of his head with a reverse superplex, which could easily have been a career killer. A horribly sloppy move from Alberto. A.J. ends up countering out of a flying armbar into a pinfall. Obviously Styles is next up for Roman Reigns so he can’t be jobbing. Del Rio nearly killed him in this match. It’s astonishing he’d attempt something so foolhardy on a main event talent. As if the company hasn’t had enough injury woes of late. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Del Rio further relegated down the card for such a faux pas.
Final Rating: ***
Video Control takes us backstage where Goldust refuses to team with R-Truth in the tag tournament. Fandango dances in as a replacement.
The Vaudevillians vs. The Golden Dance
Fandango in a tournament, of sorts, what a time to be alive! The Vaudevillians would be fine if they could wrestle like their characters but they have these weird old timey characters and then they just work normally. They manage the odd spot but there are way too many spots that don’t do anything for me. Fandango tags in and the Whirling Dervish puts him away in about two minutes. Total squash. Interesting to note how over Enzo & Cass were compared to these guys. Although it’s hard to tell on Smackdown with the canned crowd noise you could see people jump up when Enzo & Cass were doing their thing.
Final Rating: ½*
Sami Zayn vs. Chris Jericho
I’m not sure why WWE think sticking hot new talent in with Jericho will do them a service of any kind but it’s been an ongoing booking trend. Maybe if Jericho was the same guy he was ten years ago it’d be a solid idea but he’s not. Kevin Owens comes out to be a dick about the Sami thing but Dean Ambrose shows up to offset that and flier his Ambrose Asylum show. Sticking a flier on Owens is inspired. Big Kev looks confused. Both Owens and Ambrose join commentary to remind me how great they both are. It is very distracting and takes away from Jericho working over Sami. As per usual Zayn gets some tidy hope spots but there’s so much going on, with a five man commentary team, that’s it’s all a little hard to take in. Both guest announcers get bumped and Owens takes exception to it, running in for the cheap DQ. The lack of finish and all the yacking, entertaining or not, took away from the actual core of the match. It was decent.
Final Rating: **3/4
THE SMACKDOWN RECAP:
Most Entertaining: Enzo & Big Cass. Seizing their opportunity with both hands.
Least Entertaining: Jerry Lawler. The retirement home is calling.
Match of the Night: A.J. Styles vs. Alberto Del Rio
Summary: While Smackdown has very little going on that has any long term, or even short term, importance it’s an easy show to watch if the wrestling is fine. Tonight it was fine. Two decent matches and a lot of easy to cope with squashes in between. Emma, Enzo and Big Cass all looked good and both Styles and Zayn looked at home. Not sure whether the Vaudevillians have a strong enough gimmick to be gimmick workers but time will tell on that. It’s refreshing to see so much new talent working these shows. Sometimes injuries create vacuums and nature abhors those. WWE is a force of nature.