Hello! And welcome to the latest Smackdown review from yours truly, Taylor C. Mitchell.

We start off with a recap of Cena vs. Rollins this past Monday on Raw. This was a very nice highlight package that had their face to face pre-match confrontation with spliced in clips of their match that night. Of course it ends with the mega-hot Roman Reigns coming out to help Cena fight off Orton, Kane, and Rollins. This dude is on fire. I haven’t heard a crowd consistently get behind a “WWE made guy” like this since Cena was first embarking on his face run. Reigns could be a guy that could be the 1b to Cena’s 1a as the WWE’s top faces. Reigns has the hardcore audience and the WWE casuals behind him.

Of course once Reigns wins the WWE title and becomes the #1 face for a while the hardcore fans will turn on him for “being forced down their throat”. Ugh. Those fans bug me.

Rusev and Lana come out to kick of the episode! JBL throws out the line, paying homage to Gorilla Monsoon, that this is the “Immovable Object.” meeting the “Irresistible Force”. I still maintain that Lana gets NO HEAT, whatsoever. You could hear a pin drop during her promos until she says “VLADAMIR PUTIN!” and then you hear the “boo’s” reign in. It’s like the new “EXCUSE ME!” the ultimate cheap heat line.

Reigns comes out and we get a face to face stare down between Reigns and Rusev that gets the fans chanting “ROMAN REIGNS! ROMAN REIGNS!” Reigns gets on the mic and says this is his ring. Reigns asks Rusev if he actually thinks he can crush him. Lana tells Mr. Reigns to be careful what he wishes for. Reigns says he assesses the situation and attacks. Reigns says he needs a referee down here and he will put Rusev’s Putin kissing ass on the ground.

Li’l Naitch comes down and attempts to start the match until Lana says no, not on his terms. As Rusev and Lana leave the ring to add anticipation for the Smackdown main event tonight.

This “first time match” got a lot of crap on Twitter when it was announced during Raw for being “thrown away” on Smackdown. And even though I was stoked, because I am the Official Smackdown Reviewer for VoicesofWrestling.com, I agree that this should be a PPV main event down the road. HOWEVER! This was a really awesome segment to build this moment up for later tonight. They really made a big deal out of these two young studs who are about to destroy each other.

AJ comes out to wrestle Cameron as they show clips of the Funkadactyls EXPLODE storyline and the AJ Lee vs. Paige feud. I just love when Paige grabbed AJ by the hair and screamed “THIS IS MY HOUSE NOW!” and slammed her face on the mat. Paige is so good. And by the way, with the Battleground card stacking up the way it is, if Paige and AJ are given 15-20 minutes they could have the match of the night for the PPV which would be the first time the Divas match ever held that recognition.

Cameron vs. AJ Lee

Uhhh… wow. Who is this wrestling AJ Lee and what did she do with Cameron? Cameron works AJ over with some actually wrestling holds and then busts out the CATTLE MUTILATION! Holy SCHNIKES! Where did she learn that?

AJ Lee gains the advantage and Cameron rolls out of the ring to leave the match in a heelish way. Naomi runs down and throws Cameron back into the ring. AJ Lee hits Cameron with a Shining Wizard for the win. WOW! This match was way better than I ever expected. **3/4

Renee Young is in the back with Randy Orton. Young asks Orton how he feels about Kane declaring his hatred for Orton these days. Orton says in his generic CAW way that he could care less with Kane and what he says as long as he does what is best for business. Orton finishes off saying he is going to introduce Chris Jericho to the “legend killer” tonight.

Fandango w/ Layla vs.  Adam Rose w/ the Exotic Express

The Exotic Express’ budget has definitely been cut since Adam Rose has been demoted to Superstars. There are less of them, they are wearing fewer costumes, and now resemble more of the Godfather’s Ho Train than the original Exotic Express.

I suppose, it must be of note that Summer Rae is a member of the Exotic Express again tonight.

Early into the match Summer Rae and Layla get into it. This is three different Divas feuds going on right now. That has to be a record. Fandango goes to the outside to break up the fight between Summer and Layla. Fandango gets counted out. Fandango enters the ring furious. Adam Rose hits Fandango with the NXT Special that he calls the “Party Foul”. N/A

KENTA was signed today and everyone is wondering whether or not he will use the Go 2 Sleep as his finisher. If he goes to NXT it appears that he will have to succumb to using the same finisher everyone else uses coming out of NXT.

Which, by the way, that a joke. I ranted about this on Twitter today (@LuchaNerd). People need to stop with this “KENTA is going to be the next Yoshi Tatsu” nonsense. The WWE has done right by all of the independent talents they have signed over the last few years, (Chris Hero being the exception). KENTA is way better than Tatsu could ever dream of being. And the WWE has not made this big of a deal out of an international signing since Sin Cara came to America. And the Sin Cara experiment only bombed because of Sin Cara, not the WWE. Sin Cara was a HUGE financial success to start off with, and failed miserably because he refused to learn English and refused to adapt to the WWE style. Sin Cara could have easily taken Rey Mysterio’s job as the next Mexico ambassador of the WWE if he could have got his head out of his butt.

Come August/September NXT will have KENTA, Prince Devitt, Kevin Steen, El Generico, Sami Callihan, Samuray Del Sol, and PAC all on their roster. This is what we hardcore fans have been dreaming of for years! We get to see Bryan Danielson, Tyler Black, Jon Moxley, and Claudio Castagnoli on TV every week! Why are you guys such sour grapes?! This is awesome stuff we are getting! Enjoy it while it lasts, because the NXT and WWE Performance Center are going to eventually kill the independent scene as you know it anyways.

Ps. the general consensus is that KENTA should be paired up with Paul Heyman as a mouthpiece. What a great idea. I’m thinking Gary Hart and The Great Muta here. It has potential to be really, really good stuff.

But, I digress. Back to Smackdown. Chris Jericho is in the back with Renee Young. Renee asks Jericho how he feels about wrestling Bray Wyatt at Battleground. Jericho sells the match as best he can as being this a big deal. I hope Jericho can take Wyatt and carry him to a good match. I appreciate Jericho and everything he does these days. He totally puts over all of these young guys and is trying to leave the industry in a better place than when he entered it. Good on him.

The Uso’s (Jimmy and Jey Uso) vs. Slater and the Gator (Heath Slater and Titus O’Neil)

WHAT?! Slater and O’Neil have joined forces after dropping their inferior tag team partners. What a rag tag thrown together team. Makes zero sense. By the way, JBL called them “Slater and the Gator”, so I am rolling with it. JBL has yet to annoy me on this episode. Surprisingly.

The Uso’s make quick work for Slater and the Gator here. This match was not a good debut for this newly formed……uh….team. N/A

Byron Saxton joins the Uso’s in the ring to ask them how they feel about taking on the Wyatt family in a two out of three falls match at Battleground.

The Uso’s cut a typically goofy promo with some play by play scenario of how they are going to defeat the Wyatt family.

I personally love two out of three falls tag team matches. Think back to the great matches between the Hart Foundation and British Bulldogs or the Hart Foundation vs. The Rockers. Or Demolition and the Brain Busters. Man, the late 80’s WWE Tag division was untouchable.

Chris Jericho vs. Randy Orton

Jericho made his way to the ring and then Bray Wyatt appears on the titan Tron and sings “He’s got the whole world in his hands” to Jericho. This is just annoying. Heels shouldn’t have catch phrases or sing a longs. I believe heels shouldn’t even really have merchandise, and I know that financially for the superstars not having merch hurts their paycheck a lot, but it’s troubling to see fans in the crowd wearing heels shirts and whatnot when they should be booing these guys.

JBL bills this as the first Undisputed Champion vs the first Unified Champion. How confusing and stupid.

Jericho is selling his butt off in this match to make the CAW- Randy Orton look good. Jericho takes a nasty spill to the outside of the ring and then gets side suplexed on the guard rail.

Randy Orton’s clothesline looks a lot like Hulk Hogan’s. They both just kind of stick their arm out and have you run into it. No motion from the giver.

Orton goes for the RKO; Jericho shoves him off and hits the Lionsault. Wyatt makes the lights go out for a second as the screen flashes and then the lights come back on and Orton hits an RKO for the win. **

Summer Rae vs. Layla w/ Fandango as the Special Guest Referee

What’s this? Weren’t these three already out here tonight? Wasn’t this EXACT match on the Money in the Bank PPV received a “DUD” score from every reviewer except for yours truly (Don’t worry. I gave it ¼*. I struggle giving any match a ‘DUD’ rating as much as I struggle to give a match *****)

Layla kisses Fandango. Summer kisses Fandango. Fandango dances between the two Divas. Layla and Summer Rae swerve everyone by joining forces and beating Fandango down. Fandango escapes up the ramp. Layla and Summer set off in an impromptu dance competition in the middle of the ring against one another. Summer Rae reaches her hand out. Layla and Summer Rae proceed to dance together. This segment was stupid and I feel like I just wasted my time both watching it and typing up these last two paragraphs. N/A

Goldust w/ Stardust vs. Curtis Axel w/ Ryback

Stardust spends the match on the guard rail trying to rally the fans up. Goldust makes quick work of Curtis Axel. Ryback runs into the ring and attempts give Goldust the Shellshock. Stardust runs in and blows some stardust into the eyes of Ryback. The Dust Busters celebrate the win together. N/A

Roman Reigns vs. Rusev w/ Lana

As Reigns makes his entrance we get a recap of the Raw segment between Kane and Reigns. It was a really great segment with all of the road agents making their way to the ring to break up the fight between the two superstars. Jamie Noble and Fit Finlay take some solid bumps here.

Rusev and Reigns start off locking up, no dramatic stare down to build up for the crowd. Rusev squares up with some Muay Thai kicks to Reigns. Reigns fights back with some punches. Reigns punches Rusev out of the ring and Rusev is an uncontrollable beast ready to rush back into the ring as Lana stops him to regroup for a commercial break.

After the break we have Rusev in the ring with the dreaded nerve hold on Reigns. Rusev then hits a vicious spinning heel kick on Rusev. Rusev is a vicious monster. Stop with the comparisons to Vladimir Koslov. This guy has already surpassed Koslov in talent in his short WWE career.

Rusev continues to square up and beat down Reigns. Rusev starts talking some Bulgarian trash to Reigns and Reigns delivers some head butts to shut up the Bulgarian Brute. Reigns his comeback and knocks back the Muay Thai monster until finally knocking Rusev down. Reigns hits Rusev with the awesome apron drop kick and the Superman punch. Reigns sets up for the spear until Randy Orton interferes to cause the DQ. Reigns hits Orton with a Superman punch as Rusev hits Reigns with the superkick. Instead of Lana calling for “Rusev CRUSH!” Lana orders Rusev to leave the ring. ***1/2

This match was awesome! Everyone needs to stop with “Reigns can’t carry a match on his own”. He has only truly had ONE bad singles match and that was vs. Bray Wyatt who hasn’t had a good singles match with anyone this year except the wunderkind, Daniel Bryan. Don’t get me wrong, Reigns isn’t “great” in the ring and he isn’t ready to carry the main event scene on his back. But, he is way better as a singles competitor than anyone gives him credit for. The WWE is doing a great job protecting him also. This Fatal Fourway match at Battleground is another example of that. The concept is stupid. And the way the match came about was stupid. But, it lends Reigns an opportunity to shine without hurting his cred or leaning too much on him to show any inferiority his may still have at this point.

Overall thoughts:

This was another good episode of Smackdown. Smackdown has really improved in recent months. It has gone from filler, filler, RAW recap, filler, filler, and filler to some really pretty enjoyable matches here and there and some storylines being extended and continued.

Here is the debut of the newest segment on The Lucha Nerd’s Smackdown Review:

The Lucha Nerd’s Official FAVE FIVE of WWE Superstars Week 1:

1. Dean Ambrose: No one has been better on the mic and in the ring than this guy lately. I feel alone, but I think the WWE has done a great job booking all three Shield members post-break up. Ambrose is one of them that has really shined. Ambrose is proving to everyone he is not only a great heel, but he can be a really, really great babyface. The fans are behind him like no other. His facial expressions and body language in the ring, during his promos, and during his segments is on a whole other level than anyone else in the WWE.

  1. Roman Reigns: This guy has been on fire since the breakup of the Shield. Reigns has the absolute best come backs in his matches since Daniel Bryan was lighting up Monday Night Raw on a weekly basis. Like I said earlier in the review, Reigns is the first guy in the past decade to truly have a shot at being the 1b babyface to John Cena’s 1a.

3. Seth Rollins: What’s that? A Shield top 3? Rollins has been great as a heel. I feel like I’m in the minority here with this. But, Rollins promos have been night and date compared to his Tyler Black days. His Tyler Black promos were horrendous. They were so choppy, forced, and unbelievable. And maybe I am overrating his promos today as Seth Rollins because of my super low expectations. I don’t know. But, I do know I’ve been entertained and this is my fave five. Oh yea, and the dude is amazing in the ring.

4. Sheamus: This guy has been the most consistent and the best in-ring performer the WWE has had in 2014 so far. Sheamus has cut out a lot of his goofy non sense in his promos and has just a bad ass that brutally beats up all of his opponents. I have called him the Tomohiro Ishii of the WWE. He is going to stiff up and beat you up in his matches and he wants you to return the favor.

5. Alberto Del Rio: I know for sure I am in the minority with this guy. And I’ll never understand why. I am thoroughly convinced that in 5 year people will look back and regret not appreciating that talent this guy has. ADR is the Bret Hart of the WWE today. His match at a first and far away glance don’t appear super exciting and flashy, but if you pay attention ADR is a great wrestler psychologically. He has multiple signature moves that he weaves in and out of all of his matches in different way lending avenues to his opponent to reverse them. ADR works the majority of his matches around his opponents arm to set up for his finisher the Cross Arm breaker. Which I appreciate because I feel like that is a lost art in the WWE. How many guys with submission finishers work over a certain body part that is going to weaken their opponent setting up for their finisher? In my book, no one by ADR.

That is it for this week! Give me a follow on Twitter @LuchaNerd and join in me as I live tweet any wrestling that I watch and tell me what you think of my FAVE FIVE this week and who YOU would put in YOUR FAVE FIVE!