It’s been seven days since I took a crowbar to the last SmackDown episode for being terrible and as I poured my morning coffee and took my resident seat on the sofa, I wasn’t really expecting this week to be any better.
Thankfully, like an RKO outta nowhere, I was slammed hard onto the mat by one of the best SmackDowns in recent history.
It wasn’t perfect, as you shall see, but there was far more good on offer this time out than there has been in what seems like a decade.
So with that in mind, it’s time to lace up our boots and head down to the ring.
Big E vs. John Morrison
Following on from the opening segment that saw Kane and Daniel Bryan ambush The Fiend, leading to Bryan challenging him to a strap match at the Royal Rumble, we got into the first action of the night.
The one thing that I will give the WWE is that over the past few weeks their opening bouts have been pretty damn electric, and this one was no exception.
There is a case to be made that this was just put out there as a showcase for Morrison’s move-set, reacquainting those who hadn’t followed his career after he left the company with just what he’s capable of, while at the same time introducing a new generation to the spectacular antics of the Shaman Of Sexy, but Big E played his part here to perfection.
He got in just enough offense to remind you that this wasn’t just a straight-forward squash before putting Morrison over without a second thought.
As for The Dirt Sheet member, he was on fire, hitting all those spots that we know and love and adding in a couple of new twists for extra flavor.
The spinning backward head kick thing that he delivered to Kofi on the outside was a serious “Holy Shit!” moment, and considering that Kingston has decided to stick an albino rat on his head, was well deserved.
The end would come with a slightly mistimed Starship Pain, that saw Morrison almost land on his ass, and if this doesn’t lead to a Tag Team Title match at the Royal Rumble, with The Miz and Morrison winning the straps, then I obviously know nothing about the sweet sport of grappling.
Winner: John Morrison
Tag Team Match: The Usos vs. The Revival
With Dash and Dawson on yet another losing streak and The Usos triumphant returning falling as flaccid as my libido after six double vodkas, I wasn’t holding out great hope for this match.
I expected it to degenerate into the pointless shenanigans that we had to suffer last time out, with Baron Corbin, Dolph Ziggler, Robert Roode, and Roman Reigns all getting involved, but in a swerve that even Vince Russo wouldn’t have seen coming, they actually allowed them to wrestle a whole match, without interference.
I am an unapologetic fan of both these teams. The Usos are always money when it comes to stepping through the ropes and The Revival are the most underutilized and underappreciated tag teams in the company today.
This was my Fight of the Night. Jimmy and Jay and Dash and Dawson ran through their greatest hits with the kind of precision that you’d expect from four men who have faced each other as much as these have and even though they claim that they’re “No Flips, Just Fists”, Wilder’s springboard over the top rope during the bout was a thing of beauty.
The Usos got the pin after Jimmy’s no-look Uso splash but The Revival proved, once again, that when they’re allowed to work, they’re one of the best in the business.
Winners: The Usos
Bayley vs. Lacey Evans
What should’ve been the long-awaited bout between Evans and Banks, was changed at the last minute due to The Southern Belle attacking both ladies during a backstage segment and injuring Sasha’s ankle.
I have no idea if this is an actual real problem that Banks is carrying or whether it’s just kayfabe, but it did mean that someone had to go out there in her place, and the former hugger was given the nod.
I have been quite vocal about both wrestlers involved here over recent weeks.
First off, I feel that the Bayley heel character is all wrong. Instead of making her the sneaky, whiny, sniveling heel they should’ve made her a badass, take no prisoners, bad guy/girl. They needed to get her as far away from her babyface persona as possible and that would’ve been the route to take. Instead, we have a character that’s just annoying to the point of distraction and that’s not a good look for her or anyone.
As for Lacey Evans, I don’t think she’s good enough to be on the main roster just yet, let alone in such a prominent position where she may actually walk away as SmackDown Woman’s Champion.
Having said all that, this was a bloody good match.
Credit where it’s due, both Evans and Bayley put on a good if not great performance. This might have been down to the fact that Bayley is superb and could carry anyone to a half-decent bout but I’m also starting to see signs of improvement from Evans that I didn’t think that I would for a few months yet, let alone over a few weeks.
Even more surprising was that Evans got the win, and it was clean.
As Bayley came off the ropes she landed a devastating looking Women’s Right before getting the 1-2-3, and in the process making me wonder if putting the belt on her might not be such a bad idea after all.
I guess time will tell.
Winner: Lacey Evans
Vince McMahon Bull-Honky Alert
While searching for a photo to add to this entry for the Sonya Deville vs. Alexa Bliss bout that, kind of, took place on SmackDown, this was all I could find.
Which should be enough to tell you just how over the moon the WWE is about this angle right now.
I, on the other hand, hate it.
I hate everything about it.
I hate that this has Vince McMahon’s sweaty palm prints all over it. I hate that it’s dragging wrestlers like Alexa Bliss and Sonya Deville down with it. I hate that it’s being used to drive a wedge between Fire and Desire instead of them actually coming up with a legitimate reason for the two to pursue solo careers. I hate that it’s taking Heavy Machinery out of a tag team division that is in desperate need of quality teams to make the titles feel legitimate again. And I hate the fact that this shit is going to roll on until Wrestlemania.
By which time I very well may have gouged out my own eyes with a rusty spoon, instead of having to watch another segment where a fat guy tries to impress a woman who’s supposed to be out of his league.
Winner: Who F*cking Cares?
Tables Match: Robert Roode vs. Roman Reigns
If you had told me this time last week that I’d be glad to see Robert Roode and Roman Reigns go toe to toe after the way SmackDown had just finished, I’d have called you a dirty liar and asked how you’d gotten into my house.
Yet here we are and Roode and Reigns should be lauded for putting on such a good match in the face of such little expectation.
Yes, there was the usual interference from the likes of Corbin and Ziggler, that was always on the cards, but the fact is that this match actually benefited from it as opposed to having the life sucked out of the arena.
On a personal note, I’m glad that The big Dog is getting the love and respect that he deserves from the WWE Universe these days. I’ve always liked Reigns and though I kind of understand the fan’s anger towards him when he was being chosen over Daniel Bryan I’m not quite sure what they expected him to do it that situation.
Say “Thanks for the offer Vince, but no”
He’s a good wrestler and though he might have John Cena’s five moves of doom syndrome, there should be no taking away from what he can actually do in the ring.
It’s just a shame that he had to get ill again for people to understand this.
He’d pick up the win here after The Usos came down for the save, and put Dolph Ziggler through the announce table is the most spectacular fashion, and in doing so got to choose the stipulation for his Royal Rumble match against Corbin.
It’s going to be Fall’s Count Anywhere and I, for one, can’t wait.
Winner: Roman Reigns
This week’s episode of SmackDown was proof that when they want to, the WWE can put on a good show.
With hardly any of the soap opera bullshit, that has crept more and more into the product of late, this wrestling show let the wrestling do the talking and it spoke loudly about what can happen when they take the breaks off.
It also said “Hey, when we go back to our usual crap, ain’t you going to be annoyed” but for this review, I’m just going to revel in the knowledge that for two glorious hours the WWE let their performers perform and their fans, er, fan.
There is no getting away from the fact that I want to see the whole Mandy Rose/Otis program taken out the back and have a bullet put in its head, but outside of that, I have no complaints.
With only one RAW and one SmackDown left to go before the Royal Rumble, there’s still time for the company to spring a couple of surprises, but overall I think the majority of the card is now set in stone and this is a good thing.
Here at 25YL Wrestling, we’re going to be trying our hand at calling the winner of each match at the Royal Rumble in our first ever Prediction Showdown. And if you think you know better than us, then feel free to let us know who you think will win each bout and the big one itself, either in the comments here or you can find me over on Twitter @TerrorCarnival.
This is your chance to show your stuff and if you win, you’ll get a shout out from me as well as bragging rights over everyone who’s knowledge of Pro-Wrestling pales in comparison to yours.
Think of the glory.
Think of the fame.
Think of being able to tell the wrestling staff of 25YL that they have no idea what they’re talking about and having the score to back it up.
So tell me, are you Tough Enough?