The Sheild team up once again to take on Sheamus and Big Show in a match no one could possibly care about, we get a Raw re-match and the debut of Team BAD – it’s this week’s Smackdown report…
With Battleground, and his clash with the Eater of Worlds, looming on the horizon, Smackdown began with the Samoan-powerhouse Roman Reigns talking in-ring. The Samoan was in a focused mood, claiming that Bray Wyatt has failed to get inside his head. Wyatt interrupted Roman’s motivational battle-cry, saying that Roman is the “unattainable” good. An odd hammer metaphor then flew between the two men before Wyatt claimed that their game had “only just begun”, teasing an anticipated SummerSlam match between the pair.
1. Lucha Dragons vs. The New Day
With the PTP on commentary, this was a final push to make the Tag Team rematch slightly more interesting. With Kofi and Sin Cara beginning the bout, action was fast and flippy. Yet, the Lucha Dragon’s entertaining offense cannot totally hide their lack of personality. The Lucha Dragons pushed the former champs all the way but thanks to a Woods distraction, they fell short once again. The New Day cut a promo at the Prime Time about the power of positivity. A “New Tag Champs” chant angered the current champs, but just bored me.
Backstage, we got a segment with Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns spitting heat about Wyatt, before teasing the main event.
2. King Barrett vs. Jack Swagger
Jobbing to the pre-show royalty? Oh how the former world champion has fallen. Though Swagger started on top and got a couple of “We The People” chants going, a stiff kick to the midsection halted the all the American’s early momentum. A Bull-Hammer was never far away. As the King gloated, the fake King further degraded himself, coming out with another plunger. Barrett retaliated to the interruption berating Truth for making a mockery of the King of the Ring institution, in a surprisingly adept attack. Barrett deserves more than this.
A Seth Rollins vs. Brock Lesnar recap followed, chronicling their rivalry in huge detail. We’ll see this several times on Sunday evening, or for us Brits, Monday morning. We all know the story so this will be a perfect toilet break.
3. Rusev vs. Cesaro
Before the match, Owens wished Cesaro “luck” in the backstage area. It didn’t seem particularly sincere. The match, however, is unsurprisingly excellent. A back and forth power battle, this match was full of entertaining and inventive offense. For two of the strongest men in the business, their agility is really something to be admired. Cesaro goes to the well one too many times though, trying to fly through the ropes, allowing Rusev to counter. A spinning heel kick nearly ended Cesaro, whilst the Accolade is reversed. As Rusev became frustrated, he heads up top to finish Cesaro with a flying headbutt. Cesaro catches the Bulgarian with an uppercut in mid air, before hitting him with the Neutralizer. A first pinfall loss on WWE television followed in a result that left me jaw-to-the-floor. A huge result for the King of Swing and one, after all his hard work, he sorely deserved. It also serves to make Rusev more real, and his rivalries more scope. Simply, this was an excellent TV bout.
Backstage, Sheamus tells Rich Brennan all about how the WWE universe will “be entertained” at Battleground.
4. Neville vs. Stardust
A comic-book superhero rematch from Raw follows. The match had a comic-book video package to begin in a very interesting turn. All I know is Stardust looks much more intimidating than Apocalypse (see here). Two matches on Smackdown worth watching, and we’re not even at the main event yet? I wouldn’t have believed me either. Stardust is the perfect antithesis to Neville’s crowd-pleasing gravity-defying, but couldn’t get the job done against the hero of this story. As Stardust tried to cheat to another victory, Neville rolled up the Cosmic Villain quicker than The Flash for the 1-2-3. Brennan caught up with Neville after the match, which gave Stardust opportunity to sneak-attack. After hitting Neville over the head, Stardust cackled “Altitude Era? Well buckle up, there’s gonna be turbulence!” Though this match was cut short with another roll-up, more quality matches between the pair await.
We were then taken back to the Divas segment from Raw that some people loved and some, including our Luke Owen who analysed the segment here, didn’t. At least it ensures that the division more interesting from here on out. Jojo catches up with Naomi, Tamina and a championship-belt-toting Sasha Banks, who claim it is their time to take over the division. Naomi lays it out simple: “we BAD: Best At Dominating.”
As the main event begins, we are told that Ryback will not be a part of Battleground due to injury. WWE.com had this to say: WWE.com has learned that Ryback was diagnosed with a staph infection following Monday Night Raw. He was admitted to a medical facility, where he is currently undergoing treatment. Though the infection is severe and will be keeping him out of action this Sunday, he is expected to make a full recovery in the coming weeks.
5. Dean Ambrose & Roman Reigns vs. Sheamus and Big Show
After Sheamus and Show dominated Ambrose early on, a hot tag gave Reigns control. The match sped up with all four men involved. Ambrose tried to hit Big Show through the ropes but he was caught by the World’s Largest Athlete. Show attempted to ChokeSlam Ambrose through the announcer’s table, but the Lunatic reversed it into a DDT. It is a pretty awesome spot. Reigns hit the Superman Punch to Sheamus inside the ring, leading to a Wyatt interruption. A Sister Abigail is reversed into another Superman Punch, sending Wyatt out the ring. Reigns then gets the better of Mr. Money in the Bank again, dodging his advances, before hitting a Spear.
At the end of the show, Reigns stands tall, with Sheamus, Ambrose and Show all worse for wear and Wyatt questioning his choices. This was a much better Smackdown than we are used to, with three entertaining matches and more time dedicated to each Battleground rivalry focused upon. All in all, this is a very watchable Smackdown, which is more than I can usually conclude.