WWE Smackdown
January 29th, 2015
Hartford, CT

Prelude: (Follow me on Twitter: MrTCMitchell) No Raw recap to start the show, because this past Monday’s Raw was preempted by the Westminster Snow Show weather. That means this will be a LIVE episode of Smackdown and be the first televised arena show since the controversial Royal Rumble PPV! What?! An episode of Smackdown with some actual importance?!

Introduction: Mrs. Stardust invites the C.O.O. Triple H down to the ring to start the show. Triple H starts off with “Welcome to Monday Night RAAWW!!!……..Oh wait…It’s been a wacky week hasn’t it?” Triple H then babbles about the one million subscriber number to the WWE Network. Then Triple H turns into NXT Triple H for a second and welcomes everyone to “THURSDAY NIGHT SMACKDOOWWWWNN!”

Triple H then equates the Royal Rumble controversy to the Deflate Gate controversy of the New England Patriots. Triple H goes into DX Triple H mode and makes jokes about Roger Goodell liking his balls to be old and soft. Triple H then pitches “Fast Lane” and his in-ring pow wow with “a man called Sting”.

Triple H then goes on about how great of a match the Triple Threat Match was at the Royal Rumble. (In which you will be lucky enough to read a review of that match from yours truly for the VOW January Match of the Month column) Triple H then goes into how the building was shaking after the Royal Rumble match and how ESPN, Time, etc. were talking about it. Triple H then pitches to a video clip of the fans booing Roman Reigns. Well, actually Michael Cole narrated very loudly over the boos. Triple H, back in the ring, stands there as the crowd mildly boos. Triple H then announces that this coming Monday he will put an end to this controversy as he is going to make an announcement that will likely shake the WWE to its core. Roman Reigns’ music hits.

As Roman makes his way to the ring Michael Cole runs down Roman’s interview on Raw addressing people feeling like he is “handpicked.” Roman gets on the mic and gets booed pretty loudly. Roman tells Triple H that there is no controversy. Triple H replies “Indeed you did win that match. Let’s see if you win this one.” Triple H quickly exits the ring leaving this big controversy busting announcement in the air of mystery.

Roman Reigns vs. The Big Show: It is interesting that they are showcasing this match here on Smackdown as opposed to having these two wrestle at Fast Lane. Roman IS going to wrestle at Fast Lane right?

Roman starts off the match with a necessary intensity to win the fans over. If Roman wants the fans to accept him he is going to have to focus on his cardio/endurance. Some fans are booing and some fans are chanting “Let’s go Roman!” Sound familiar?

Roman ends up winning after hitting Show with TWO Superman punches. *1/4

Roman NEEDS to work on his cardio if the WWE plans to give him a lengthy run with the WWE title. He is destined for some stinkers for main events at the rate he is going. It would certainly help him if they aligned him with some work horses and not guys like Big Show.

Awkward Vince McMahon segment: Mr. McMahon is shown on screen in a pre-taped announcement about the WWE Network being free for the month of February. Vince appears to be a robot in this segment. Maybe that’s his goal. When he inevitably passes he wants Stephanie and Triple H to create a robot with his DNA and face.

Arnold Schwarzenegger Inductee for WWE Hall of Fame: This is what it is. I’ll never understand why people get bent out of shape when the WWE inducts celebrities into their Hall of Fame. 1. Their Hall of Fame has no credentials, merit, or criteria. (Unless you count the super powers Abyss received from Hogan’s ring). 2. There is a celebrity wing of this invisible Hall of Fame. They aren’t actually in the same wing as the Hogan’s and Hart’s and B. Ware’s. So why get worked up: “Maaaaannn! Can you believe Drew Carrey was in the Hall of Fame before Randy Savage?!!”

Seth Rollins Proves that he is good by losing in the biggest match of his career: Rollins comes out and tells the WWE Universe that he told us so. Rollins claims he was ONE SECOND AWAY from winning the WWE title. Rollins says that even though he lost he still has the future firmly in his hands (cue the holding up of the MitB briefcase). Seth then sends out an open challenge to anyone who has the guts to test him. Ryback is hungry and Tyler Blackened Chicken is on the menu. J&J Security jump on Ryback. Rowan’s Deliverance Music hits and he runs down to the ring to make Seth Rollins squeal like a piggy. Dolph Ziggler then comes out to even the odds. Rollins and his stooges run off like the cowardly heels they are. This segment was pretty pointless and might have been Rollins worst work in a while on the microphone and he is a guy I’ve been praising to the moon. The dude is on point with his heel work.

Kane is the new Ghost Writer for Daniel Bryan’s upcoming Auto Biography: Kane is backstage with a casket telling Daniel Bryan he is going to write the final chapter of Daniel Bryan’s story. Something about Daniel Bryan suffocating in the casket. Casket matches really lost their luster in the 90’s with the Undertaker. And Kane is not going to kill Daniel Bryan. It’s wrestling promo 101. Don’t make threats that can’t and won’t happen. It takes away your heat. As if Kane had any to begin with.

Jey Uso w/ Jimmy Uso and Naomi vs. Tyson Kidd w/ Natalya and Cesaro: If you love Samoan pro wrestlers and the family lineage that goes along with it, then go watch the Uso’s special on the WWE Network. Give these mixed trios 20 minutes and they could make this really good.

It is really good to get the Uso’s in these singles matches. It keeps the spotlight on them and allows them to work out new wrinkles in their games. Tyson Kidd wins here in a short match after some limb work on Jey’s hurt knee. **

Rusev in the ring with Lana preparing to take the Fast Lane to Cena Squashville: Rusev is livid about the result of the Royal Rumble match. Rusev continues to make improvements in his promo game and his overall character work. John Cena comes out for a rare Smackdown appearance to put over Rusev for be an undefeated monster. John Cena cuts one of his great passionate promo about who he is. And how whether we like it or not he is the face of this place. Cena did make a crack at Lana referring to her as “Hoe-sie O’Donnell” and told her to go back to Tinder. I wonder how that is different than Bray Wyatt referring to Cena’s main squeeze as plastic.

Cena then tells Rusev he is going to beat him at Fast Lane and “THE CHAMP IS HEEEERRREEE!” What championship does he hold exactly? This match is certainly not for the US title right?

The Bella’s with the blood sucking vampire: The Bella’s bully Paige backstage making fun of her pale complexion and the fact that she doesn’t like the sun. Paige then gives Brie a stiff Forearm Smash and then the Bella’s beat Paige down.

Gold and Stardust vs. The Ascension (Konnor and Viktor): As the Ascension makes their entrance we get a box-in-box promo about their defeat of the New Age Outlaws and how they are going to take “Oldust and his Cosmic Freak Brother” to the Waste Land. This promo wasn’t too shabby. The idea of a throwback Demolition team is a great idea. These are just the wrong two for the job, but they seem to be finding themselves in this role. They may have been in the WWE system seemingly since Sexton Hardcastle was training in developmental, but they haven’t been in this role, really, but for a month. This isn’t what the Ascension was really about in NXT necessarily.

The biggest thing working about the Ascension is their size. If they were wrestling on the Indies against much smaller opponents then maybe they could pull it off, but they even sell like they are much smaller. You would never see Demolition selling the way these guys sell. If these guys are going to portray these large men that will beat you down and make you beg for mercy then they need to PLAY to that size and they don’t even TRY to look large. Ascension wins with the Fall of Man. *1/2

A Magician with jobbers: Some magician that has a show on the SyFy channel is showing R-Truth, Zack Ryder, Alicia Foxx, and Summer Rae a magic trick. The Mizzes come in and make fun of his magic tricks and then the magician smashes an egg on the Miz’s head.

Speaking of magicians/Bray Wyatt tries to find someone’s smile: The Cajun Warlock (Copyright Joe M. Lanza) is trying to find out what makes someone smile. Undertaker? Waylon Mercy? Shawn Michaels? Bozo the Clown? Bill Nye the Science Guy? Abraham Lincoln? Who knows…. Better yet, who cares?

Casket Match -Daniel Bryan vs. Kane: Daniel Bryan comes out wearing his Bruiser Brody Tribute Boots that he wore at WrestleMania. He must only pull those bad boys out for big matches. Daniel Bryan continues his streak of giving Kane the best matches of Kane’s career whereas Kane gives Daniel Bryan the worst matches of his. This might be the best Casket Match I’ve ever seen, but let’s think about that and rate all of the previous Casket Matches. Do any of them rank higher than 2 – 2 ½ stars? This match really succeeded with the drama that Daniel Bryan creates and his ability to carry a wet paper bag to a decent match. ***

Final Thoughts:

This was the worst Smackdown of the new Thursday era, but it was still a decent watch. It didn’t quite have the pizzazz that you would hope with the magnitude of this being the first live arena show since Royal Rumble.

As far as the damage control the WWE needs to do with the Royal Rumble controversy, here’s my fantasy booking idea. Have Daniel Bryan come out on Monday and address the fact that he never lost the WWE title. Have DBryan challenge Roman Reigns. Put Daniel Bryan’s rematch (it’s in the rematch clause of losing a WWE title, right?) against Roman Reigns’ #1 contendership from winning the Royal Rumble at Fast Lane. Normally the idea of defending a Royal Rumble victory is lame, but this is “damage control” remember?

Have Daniel Bryan carry Roman Reigns to an excellent 20-minute match. Have Reigns go over, so Vince can still follow through with his plan, then have Daniel Bryan endorse Reigns after the match as the better man. The next week have Daniel Bryan come out and announce that he is going down to work at NXT because he doesn’t feel he is 100% after sitting out for 9 months with his neck injury. Have Daniel Bryan wrestle down at NXT through the summer. Keep his presence on WWE TV though. Have some Michel Cole sit-down interviews with him discussing his progress and whatnot and you can announce on Raw certain big matches of his for upcoming episodes of NXT.

This accomplishes the following:

  1. With DBryan’s endorsement of Roman it will hopefully get some heat off of him.
  2. Increases Network subs by making DBryan Network exclusive
  3. DBryan can work with the NXT guys and help them adapt to the WWE system. Hideo Itami and the Shoot Nation guys come to mind immediately.
  4. Tells a great story of building DBryan back up.

Of course in my dream world, this ends with DBryan winning the King of the Ring tournament (yea, we are bring that back in this scenario!) and challenging Roman Reigns for the WWE Title at Summerslam! BOOK IT!