April 2, 2015
After a wild and crazy WrestleMania 31 and post-Mania Raw, WWE brings you Smackdown! WrestleMania was a fantastic PPV, with an excellent main event of which I rated FIVE STARS. Yes, that is including the Money in the Bank Cash In/ Stipulation change from 1-vs-1 to a 1-vs-1 vs-1 scenario. Lesnar, Reigns, and Rollins all played their roles perfectly. Roman Reigns continues to play the “action movie hero” part to a tee. The booking of Seth Rollins winning the WWE championship was beautifully done. Brock Lesnar, Roman Reigns, and Randy Orton all have claims to being #1 contender. This blew the main event picture of WWE wide open. When has the WWE championship picture been this exciting and left us wondering where it is going?
Monday Night Raw was completely written to cater to the audience in attendance for the Post-WrestleMania Raw, which is comprised of the most ardent and hardcore WWE fans that exist. This meant a memorable and exciting episode of Monday Night Raw. The thing that Vince McMahon doesn’t realize is that if EVERY episode of Raw was catered to this crowd than more people would gravitate to the product and those hardcore fans would bring their casual fan friends with them.
State of the NEW WWE Champion Address: New WWE champion, Seth Rollins, comes out accompanied by J&J Security, the Big Show, and Corporate Kane. Tom Phillips joins Byron Saxton and Jerry Lawler on commentary. Phillips is replacing Michael Cole after the injury Cole suffered from Brock Lesnar on Raw.
Rollins starts off telling the story of how he cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase and became WWE Champion. Rollins then goes on to include the story of him flying from San Francisco to New York to San Jose after WrestleMania to be on the Today Show then to make it to Monday Night Raw.
Seth then trolls Brock Lesnar saying that Monday just wasn’t his night. Rollins then blames Lesnar for not being able to have the rematch on Smackdown saying that Lesnar went insane by attacking innocent civilians.
Randy Orton’s music hits as the new elbow pad wearing viper interrupts the guy he defeated at WrestleMania. Randy says he remembers being Curb Stomped through stairs, playing the Authority like a fiddle, and almost ripping Rollins head off with an RKO. Randy then claims how he should be #1 contender for the WWE championship.
Rollins comes back saying that he decides when and where he defends his WWE Championship. Corporate Kane chimes in saying that if Randy Orton defeats the winner of the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal (Big Show) tonight then MAYBE, just maybe he will consider giving Randy Orton a title shot. And that match starts RIGHT NOW!
This explains why Randy Orton never wears pants. In the WWE matches are always started “RIGHT NOW”.
Randy Orton vs. The Big Show w/ J&J Security, Seth Rollins, and Corporate Kane: This match lasted all of two minutes. Orton was making quick work of Show even doing the Hangman DDT over the top rope and setting him up for the RKO. The Authority then runs into the ring to attack Orton. Ryback makes his way to the ring to help Orton. Orton and Ryback deliver their finishers to every member of the Authority except Rollins who managed to escape like the sniveling heel he is. *1/2
Natalya vs. Naomi: The Bella Twins are on commentary for this match. Naomi cuts a box-in-box promo about how her pinning Nikki Bella on Raw was not a fluke and how she is going to be Divas champion. This was not a good promo by wrestler’s standards, but it was very genuine if you’ve ever watch Naomi on Total Divas you know this is how she is every day.
Brie’s major point on commentary was “Naomi might be married to a twin. And she might think she knows twins, but she doesn’t know these twins.” Huh? Naomi picks up the win in a short match that included some good chain wrestling. **
Kane is serious, silly, and smelly: Rollins thanks Kane for taking an RKO and also making Orton think he could be the #1 contender for the WWE title. Kane then is bearer of bad news and tells Rollins that he is considering making Orton the #1 contender. Seth’s response? “This stinks.” Kane then explains to Rollins why he is considering doing this and Seth replies “No, Kane. This office. It stinks.”
A toilet then flushes as Ambrose comes out holding a newspaper. Ambrose compliments Kane on his “executive” bathroom. Kane then punishes Ambrose for using said bathroom by putting Ambrose in a match tonight with the very man who put Ambrose through a ladder at WrestleMania, Luke Harper.
Saxton Sit-down with Reigns: Saxton asks Reigns what it was like to be in the ring with a Beast. Reigns then talks about how visited every borough of Suplex City. Reigns talks about how he survived Suplex City. Reigns says he is thinking about buying a condo in Suplex City. Reigns mentions how he permanently changed Lesnar’s face with his fist. Saxton asks Reigns about why he smiled during the match. Reigns talks about how that fight changed his life and change Lesnar’s life. Reigns mentions how neither of them will be the same again.
Saxton asks Reigns about his thoughts as Rollins was cashing in the Money in the Bank contract. Reigns says he felt what it was like to be on top of the mountain and Rollins ripped him right off that mountain. Reigns commends Rollins for taking the opportunity. Reigns says he was so close to defeating the beast mentioning that he just needed another 30 seconds and he would have won the match.
Reigns mentions having defeated Rollins before and how he can. He has. And he will defeat Rollins again.
The Miz vs. R-Truth: R-Truth comes to the ring with a cell phone hooked to his belt, which begs to question who would be calling R-Truth while he is at work. Who knows? Maybe he wants somebody to call his momma. Wait, that’s a different silly gimmick.
This was a short match. R-Truth got in some of his signature spots until Miz hit Truth with the Skull Crushing Finale. After the match Damien Mizdow comes down to the ring to attack the Miz and steal the Miz’s sunglasses much to the adulation of the crowd. *1/4
The Champ Is Here… like actually here and present on Smackdown. Not in a sit down interview: John Cena makes his way to the ring holding up the United States Championship in celebration. There is a lot to be said that John Cena has yet to look awkward holding the US title. Cena is really making it look like he WANTS to the US Title.
Cena gets on the mic and says finally the US title will get the respect it deserves. Cena then puts over Rusev as a premiere athlete, but Rusev holding the US title made him sick. Cena then repeats Triple H’s speech about Arnold Schwarzenegger being the American Dream only inserting Rusev. Cena then says he is proud of the Unites States of America and the Unites States Championship.
Cena continues that America is the land of opportunity. Cena says the US title for now on represents opportunity. Cena says bring me your underdogs, B+ players, your outcasts, your bushwhackers and Brock Lesnars. Cena says he will give them an opportunity. John Cena then says that EVERY week on Raw he will hold an open challenge for the US title.
Rusev then interrupts with Lana. Lana stands on the top of the stage and says that what happened at WrestleMania was not an opportunity, it was a travesty. Lana says that Cena is half the man that Rusev is, but Rusev only has half the brain that Cena does. (Okay that last part wasn’t true, but it would have been hilarious.) Rusev then claims that he did not lose at WrestleMania and that he is still America’s champion. Rusev then tells Cena that he is not a hero, that Cena is a coward like everyone in the audience. Rusev then says “THIS IS RUSEV COUNTRY! THIS IS RUSEV WORLD!” Rusev then tells Cena that he will crush Cena at Extreme Rules.
Cena then tells Rusev that he is going to give him some Truth Serum to wash down the Vodka Rusev has been throwing back. Is Truth Serum something R-Truth concocted? Rusev then tells Cena he is going to see death! Rusev calls for the massive Russian flag to be displayed above the ring. When the flag doesn’t appear Rusev grows frustrated and Cena then says “You mean, this?!” And the American flag appears.
This promo exchange was goofy/silly Cena making a mockery of Rusev. Not as bad as Cena has been at times, but it was still too silly for my liking. The idea of Cena having an open challenge on a weekly basis is great. This opens up all kinds of new match ups and really adds some importance to the United States Championship. It also adds some intrigue to watch Raw on a weekly basis. If I know every Monday I am going to get the chance to watch John Cena wrestle a meaningful match that isn’t some thrown together handicap match of no consequence than sign me up!
Dean Ambrose vs. Luke Harper: Byron Saxton describes this match as “Chaos and Anarchy on a blind date”. Jerry Lawler describes Luke Harper as “Instead of cleanliness is next to Godliness, for Harper its cleanliness is next to impossible!”
This was a great brawl from these two. Ambrose and Harper are the two best brawlers in WWE and this makes for an interesting/fresh feud. Harper eventually goes nuts and viciously Power Bombs Ambrose through the commentator’s table a la the vicious way he Power Bombed Ambrose through the ladder at WrestleMania.
Prime Time Players bury New Day: The PTP’ers are shown on the Titan Tron as they run down every member of the New Day. This was very amusing and showed the charisma of both O’Neil and Young. PTP should definitely be in the tag team title hunt.
Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan: Sheamus debuts his new entrance music. It’s similar to the music we heard during his “Sheamus Returns” vignettes. The music has bag pipes and drums in kind of a bad ass marching theme. This is the best WWE created theme in a long, long time.
Sheamus cuts a promo before the match stating he is going to take out all of our precious underdogs. Is Sheamus taking the Samoa Joe of the X-division role here?
Bad News Barrett is on commentary for this match. Barrett is so good on commentary. WWE should sign this guy to a life time contract. Barrett could be the best heel commentator since Jesse Ventura and that is not hyperbole. The guy just gets how to be a heel, while still putting over every guy in the ring. No silly jokes, no belittling what the athletes in the ring are doing, just focused analysis.
Anytime Daniel Bryan and Sheamus wrestle each other you can expect something pretty great. These two guys don’t mind stiffing each other and getting beat up. This match was the match of the night and delivered for a TV match.
Daniel Bryan got busted open after being thrown to the announce table head first. Daniel Bryan stands up on his feet dazed and Barrett quickly throws his headset down and hits DBryan with the Bullhammer knocking Bryan out cold. The doctors tend to the bloody and knocked out DBryan as the referee counts to 10 giving Sheamus the victory. ***1/4
Final Thoughts: This was an excellent episode of Smackdown, a show which has quietly become an entertaining weekly event. It operates how a weekly wrestling TV show should. Smackdown gives you one, maybe two, really solid matches, while the rest of the matches are kept short. Matches are utilized to continue feuds, as are the promos, but all-in-all not too much is given away that it makes you not want to see the PPV being built. The same can’t be said for Raw on a weekly basis.