Following a successful USA Network debut last week, SmackDown rolled into Lafayette, LA with a triple main event on the card. Kalisto would defend his newly won United States Championship against Alberto Del Rio, the Dudleys would take on the Wyatts in a tables match and Kevin Owens teamed with Sheamus to battle Dean Ambrose and Neville. It’s the SmackDown Report…
1. Dean Ambrose Announcement
Renee Young opened the show, stating that she was waiting for the arrival of Dean Ambrose, who had requested interview time. A car screeched into the parking lot and the Lunatic Fringe emerged. He, however, made a beeline past Young, declaring that he wanted to make his announcement in the ring. As his music hit, he strode through the arena Goldberg-style in a nice touch. Kevin Owens, unsurprisingly, didn’t make his way to the ring after Ambrose challenged him to a Last Man Standing match at Royal Rumble. It was Sheamus who interrupted, vowing that he and Ambrose had a brawl to finish after he was left bloodied on Raw. Owens arrived before the pair could brawl and accepted the challenge. They tried for a two-on-one assault, but Neville arrived to make the save ahead of the tag team match in the main event.
This was a solid opening segment that hyped the main event of SmackDown and set up a major match for the Royal Rumble event. It didn’t outstay its welcome and made the four performers seem like a big deal.
2. Tables Match: Dudley Boyz vs. Luke Harper and Erick Rowan
WWE seems to have put the Wyatts into something of a holding pattern on the way to the Royal Rumble, so their long-finished feud with the Dudleys was reignited on SmackDown. This was a brief, largely unexciting tables match that culminated in Luke Harper crashing through a ringside table after being shoved off the steel steps by Bubba Ray Dudley. Braun Strowman exploded into the ring after the bell, chucking D-Von Dudley through a table set up in the corner. Bubba Ray became the Wyatts’ next victim, taking a double chokeslam through two tables from the announce table. This was a poor match, but the post-bell shenanigans were entertaining and made the Wyatts look formidable, even without their patriarch.
Kalisto was interviewed backstage and spoke about how he was inspired towards greatness by the successes of smaller performers like Eddie Guerrero and Rey Mysterio over the years. It was a great promo that was seriously undercut by what would happen later in the show.
3. Social Outcasts vs. Goldust, Damien Sandow, Jack Swagger and Zack Ryder
It’s hilarious that anyone thought this match was worth putting on television. It was, however, nice at least to see Damien Sandow get some time on television after what feels like forever. The match was an absolute mess, plagued by everyone’s frenetic desire to cram their stuff in at every possible opportunity. Bo Dallas hit the running Bo-Dog on Ryder for the pinfall victory. WWE may or may not have plans for the Outcasts, but this sort of stuff is not going to get them over.
Alberto Del Rio was interviewed and was an intense ball of rage after being upset by Kalisto on Raw to lose his title. He vowed to squash Kalisto and win back his belt.
4. United States Championship: Kalisto (c) vs. Alberto Del Rio
Baffling booking here marred what was a very good wrestling match. Del Rio and Kalisto told a really intriguing story, with the heel challenger ruthlessly going after the left arm of the champion. The action went back and forth in entertaining fashion, but the mid-match arrival of League of Nations member King Barrett at ringside proved to be the X-factor. First, a distraction from Barrett allowed Del Rio to lock the cross armbreaker on Kalisto for at least a minute before he could fight to the ropes. After a brief offensive flurry from the champion, Barrett pulled Del Rio out of the path of a suicide dive, stunning the champion with a nasty bump on the floor. This allowed Del Rio to once again lock on the armbreaker to regain his championship. Kalisto’s title win was a major pleasant surprise, but this match undercut everything. Unless there’s a long-term plan here, this brief reign will do the lucha star more harm than good.
Becky Lynch was interviewed backstage about the recent actions of her former friend Charlotte. Lynch asked for another title shot at Royal Rumble and vowed that she was ready for any interference from Ric Flair.
5. Becky Lynch vs. Brie Bella
This was a brief contest, in which Brie Bella didn’t stand a chance. After a brief spell of heat for the heel, Lynch was able to lock on the Disarmer for the submission victory. It was odd not to see Charlotte make her presence felt, but anything that sees Becky Lynch winning cleanly on television is positive.
6. Dean Ambrose and Neville vs. Kevin Owens and Sheamus
This was a really solid tag team match, helped by the immense talent of all four men in the ring. Neville, in particular, proved that he could hang in the main event world, producing many of the match’s best moments in his exchanges with Owens. Ambrose eventually got the hot tag and set the match on fire with his signature onslaught of unorthodox moves. Eventually, he and Sheamus ended up on the outside and brawled against the steps. Owens clocked Ambrose with part of the announce table, causing the bell to ring for a disqualification. It was the babyfaces who ultimately came out on top, with both hitting their finishers on Owens in the ring. This was a hot ending to the show.
SmackDown continued to outshine Raw this week, with a strong show. The US Title match was excellent, with the exception of its silly result and the main event provided some impressive in-ring action. The announce team continued to be a welcome antidote to Cole and JBL’s tired shtick and it was pleasant to see the spotlight fall on someone other than Roman Reigns.
Tom Beasley – Follow me on Twitter for movies, wrestling and jokes about David Cameron.