WWE Smackdown
January 22, 2015
University of Texas

Prelude: We get a recap of John Cena continuing his unprecedented streak of winning handicapped matches as well as the major Monday Night RAW debut of Sting.

Introduction: Welcome to another Smackdown review from Taylor C. Mitchell — you can follow me on Twitter @MrTCMitchell.

We start of the show with Michael Cole saying “Hook ‘em Horns!”. Then Mr. Thursday Night, Daniel Bryan, makes his way to the ring to talk about the Fast Lane to WrestleMania. Daniel Bryan says he “could” start off by talking about how he is going to defeat Kane tonight to keep his spot in the Royal Rumble Match. He “could” talk about how he wants to win back his WWE Championship that he had to forfeit. He “could” talk about Sting’s RAW debut. He “could” talk about how the Authority sucks. Instead, Daniel Bryan says he has something more important to talk about and invites the three newly hired, formerly fired RyZiggOwan to the ring.

Ryback starts off on the mic relates his firing to Daniel Bryan having to sit at home out of action. Ryback says this has been his dream since he was 12 and “NO ONE CAN TAKE THAT AWAY FROM ME!” As if HE had anything to do with getting his job back. Oh wait, then he thanks John Cena.

Rowan takes off his sheep mask and talks about how he used to be a different person. He was naïve. He was somebody’s puppet. In these last few weeks he has seen himself in a new light. He then says “We know who I really am.” as he talks to the sheep mask. Is he the new Al Snow?

Ziggler then says he ate Stuffed Crust Pizza and watched Triple H and Stephanie McMahon’s Fitness DVD’s. DBryan asks him “Really?”, then Ziggler says “HELL NO!” and in a fired up promo Ziggler talks about how this is what he lives for and delivers the jab at one CM Punk of:

“I’d rather sit here in this ring and face any punishment they give me, every day for the rest of my life than sit on some couch complaining on some podcast!”

Seth Rollins comes out with J&J Security, Kane, and Big Show. Ziggler tells Rollins that he does recognize him without his nose in the Authority’s backside. Ziggler then challenges Rollins to come down here right now.

Rollins tells Ziggler that he has more important things to worry about like beating John Cena and Brock Lesnar. Rollins then tells Ziggler that Triple H and Stephanie’s DVDs are actually really good and he should try them .

Kane then tells Ziggler that since he was fired he was put back at the bottom rung and has to work his way back up, but right now he will face the man who beat him in his last match. Bad News Barrett then enters the arena.

This whole segment piqued at the end of Ziggler’s initial promo. It was easily the best promo he has ever delivered on TV. It showed passion. It didn’t consist of “I try to show off and steal the show” which are the biggest gripes I have with the typical Ziggler promo. Don’t TELL us you are trying to steal the show. Just steal it. Your goal as a professional wrestler should be to win championships. I was critical of the CM Punk jab on Twitter (again @MrTCMitchell) once I saw the memes come out about it, but it added some fire to Ziggler that his character so desperately needs. The rest of this segment was the usual shtick from any Authority segment you ever see with the only standout being Seth Rollins continued work as the greatest heel in the biz.

If Ziggler wins he will be entered into the Royal Rumble – Bad News Barrett vs. Dolph Ziggler: First thing that I noticed was that both men are wearing all black. Black elbows pads, black trunks, black knee pads, and black boots with white taped fists. I may be in the minority on this, but these aesthetic things in pro wrestling are important to me. The two wrestlers in the ring should look as different as possible. And babyfaces wearing all black should have died when Stone Cold retired. Too many guys in the WWE wear black gear.

These two have had much better matches. Once Barrett went for the Bull Hammer (the BEST and most protected finisher in the WWE) Ziggler countered with a dropkick and Zig Zag for the win and entrance into the Royal Rumble. **

Post-match Ziggler walks over to the Bingo roller and draws his entry number for the Rumble match. He smirks at the number he draws and walks confidently up the ramp. Okay this post-match stuff never happened. But it should have! The WWE needs to bring back the drawing Rumble number vignettes back. They were always entertaining.

Ascension vs. AARP and Alcoholics Protection Anonymous Members: This has been a hot topic on the internet over the WWE’s handling of the Ascension. The concept of a throwback Demolition/Powers of Pain/Legion of Doom tag team excites me to no end. I love characters in wrestling. The problem is the guys the WWE chose to carry it out. Konnor and Viktor are not big enough, talented enough or stiff enough to carry out the memory of those classic teams. Joe Lanza was spot on with his prediction of the Ascension becoming a comedy act. This fits in line perfectly with what Dylan Hales said on an episode of Shake Them Ropes when he pegged the WWE Tag Division as a comedy division. Look at it. Every team has some sort of quirky comedic aspect of their team.

Roman Reigns weekly self-burial with Renee Young: Renee starts off by showing Roman a video clip of what happened on RAW when Big Show knocked out the Nature Boy until Roman knocked Show out of the ring.

Roman then talks about how Andre the Giant never needed to tell people that he was a giant. Roman continues that Big Show is an insecure little man trapped in a giant’s body. Roman then goes into this kind of Will Smith fast talking/calm/cool/collected routine about the Royal Rumble match and says he will have his fist “cocked, locked, and ready to rock.” Awkward. But, do you know what wasn’t awkward? His delivery. Roman’s slowly  improving in his delivery on the microphone. He appears more comfortable. The scripts that are written for Roman are still lame.

Fandango draws his number for the Royal Rumble: HEY! Its back! For real this time! Fandango draws his number and then awkwardly makes out with Rosa Mendes to celebrate his good fortune. Dean Ambrose then draws a number behind Fandango’s back and switches his ball for Fandango’s. OOO! I can’t wait to see what number Ambrose SHOULD HAVE come out as.

If Ryback wins he will be entered into the Royal Rumble – Ryback vs. Rusev: It isn’t as problem that WWE put this high profile match on Smackdown as they are trying to improve the status of Smackdown, but it is a MAJOR problem that this match wasn’t advertised prior to this broadcast. This match should be a BIG deal.

This was a #HOSSBATTLE for sure! This is the best WWE Match of 2015 so far. Ryback manhandled Rusev like no one else has been able to do since Rusev’s debut. Ryback suplexed Rusev all over the ring and broke out of the Accolade. Rusev then escapes the ring to gather himself. Ryback goes out of the ring and starts slinging Rusev back and forth between the barricades and ground and pounds Rusev UFC style until the ref counts to 9 and Ryback rolls into the ring for the win. ***3/4

This match was fantastic! Go watch this! Post-match Rusev attacks Ryback, but Ryback gets Rusev up for the Shell Shock only to have Rusev break loose and escape. Gimme a rematch! That was so good.

Naomi vs. Brie Bella w/ Nikki Bella: Paige and Natalya are on commentary for this match as they prepare for their tag team match against the Bella Twins at the Royal Rumble. They spend the match bickering. Paige calls Tyson Kidd an idiot and Natalya is offended, but loves her cats. Who knows…

Brie Bella wins with the X-Factor. Since when is that her finisher? This match was eh. Every time I watch Naomi wrestle I want to see her wrestle the NXT Divas. I can never tell if she is talented or not…

Luke Harper from an undisclosed location: Luke tells us that monsters live in his head and that the WWE can send anyone they want to the ring in the Rumble match, but don’t send anyone they want back.

Stardust and Goldust draw their Rumble entries: I love these guys. They’re such Super Villains, I just wish they did more to draw heat. The only heel in this company trying to draw heat is Seth Rollins. They both draw their numbers and hide them from each other as they say “Every man for himself.” And then hissed at each other. Neither gave an indication to if their number was good or bad, which is the best part of these segments. It’s always fun to see if their reactions hold up.

If Rowan wins he will be entered into the Rumble – Erick Rowan vs. Luke Harper: #HOSSBATTLE number two tonight! If we compare Erick Rowan and Roman Reigns as the two greenest wrestlers in their respective trio stables then it would appear that Rowan garnered more improvement from an in-ring standpoint than Reigns. Which is interesting considering the Shield had two seasoned veterans to learn from (Ambrose and Rollins) whereas The Wyatt Family really only had one REALLY talented fellow in Harper.

These two have a really good match just traded #HOSSBATTLE blows and Harper picks up the win with a Texas Tornado Clothesline in tribute to the Texas Tornado Kerry Von Erich.

Royal Rumble “By the Numbers” Video: Kane has 38 all-time eliminations which is one shy of Shawn Michaels’ record. I hope this plays into the match Sunday. The Royal Rumble match is the most fun and exciting match to watch that the WWE puts together every year. I am excited to be a part of the Round Table Review for Voices of Wrestling this Sunday night.

Mizdow brings Miz a PSL: Mizdow brings Miz a Pumpkin Spice Latte to make amends for taking the spotlight off of the Miz. The Miz then tells Mizdow that the crowd is never cheering for him they are cheer for the Miz. The Miz walks away disgusted at the lack of froth in his PSL. The Uso’s then appear and try to talk sense into Mizdow about needing to throw the Miz out of the Rumble match if the chance arises. They harken back to almost throwing each other out last year because it would mean a chance to main event WrestleMania. These are the conversations that should be happening the entire month of January on WWE TV. I don’t care that Jimmy Uso will never main event WrestleMania, I still want to hear him talk about how that’s his goal. Also, who the Hell is drinking Pumpkin Spice Latte’s in January?

No Disqualification Match with Daniel Bryan’s Royal Rumble Entry on the Line – Daniel Bryan vs. Kane w/ J&J Security: It is interesting that Kane has had the best singles matches of his career against Daniel Bryan while Daniel Bryan has had some of the worst matches of his career against Kane. AKA Daniel Bryan rules. He makes everyone he wrestles better and Kane stinks.

This was the best the WWE has made Daniel Bryan look since he has become a top star. There were no farm animal comments from the commentary booth. DBryan handedly took out J&J Security when they interfered and he knocked Kane out with the Busaiku Knee for the win. This was a great performance from DBryan, but Kane dragged it down to a mediocre  **1/2 match.

Post-match Big Show comes out and knocks DBryan out and the ring quickly fills up with the typical Royal Rumble go home melee to “preview the action we will see at the Royal Rumble.” Ambrose and Reigns get music with their entrances into this fray.

Final Thoughts:

This was another excellent episode of Smackdown. The promising thing is that it truly doesn’t have much to do with “WrestleMania Hype Season.” It is just WWE giving us good matches with short, yet entertaining, segments in between. Storylines are being branched together and RAW recaps are being kept to a minimum. This new era of Smackdown is starting off really well.