Smackdown – January 15, 2015

Smackdown
Date:
January 15, 2015
Location:
Baton Rouge River Center, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Commentators:
Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler, Byron Saxton
Reviewed by Tommy Hall

Smackdown
is back on Thursday nights in its original time slot, which might
mean WWE will put a fresh focus on it instead of just using it as a
dumping ground for whatever they can’t fit on Raw. The big story
tonight is Daniel Bryan’s return to the ring for the first time since
his neck surgery in May. Let’s get to it.

Opening
sequence.
Here’s
Daniel Bryan (with a fresh set of name graphics) for an in ring chat.
Daniel says he should be in good spirits because he’s back home
where he belongs, in front of these great people, wearing his gear
and ready to fight. Saxton shows him a clip of Kane tombstoning
Bryan on everything he could find and Bryan looks a bit shaken. He
talks about being Kane’s partner and brother, but then Kane stabbed
everyone in the back by trading in the mask for a suit.
Doctor
after doctor has told him that he would never wrestle again but now
he’s ready. Of course he’s worried about his neck but tonight he’s
going to prove himself by fighting Kane, winning the Royal Rumble and
then getting his title back at Wrestlemania. Now some people think
that’s just a pipe dream, but YES he thinks he can do it. This
brings out the Authority who actually doesn’t have anything to say
before the match starts.
Daniel
Bryan vs. Kane
Bryan
charges right at him to start but Kane takes him down with a single
forearm to the back. They head to the corner where Bryan smartens up
and goes after the knee. As usual though, Kane doesn’t seem
interested in selling and takes Daniel down with a pair of
neckbreakers. A cravate doesn’t last long so Kane kicks him in the
head for two. I know I rip on Kane a lot but at least he’s smart
enough to go after the obvious body part. A neck crank has Bryan in
even more trouble but he’s able to kick Kane to the floor.
Kane
is staggered up against the barricade but not staggered enough to let
Bryan hit a flying knee from the apron as he punches Daniel out of
the air. Back from a break with Kane holding a chinlock, followed by
a running DDT for two. Off to the chinlock as the Authority plays
cheerleader. For some reason the Noble seems like he would be very
enthusiastic in that role. Kane loads up a superplex but gets shoved
down and dropkicked for two. The kicks to the chest get the same but
the Stooges come in to break up the YES Lock for the DQ at 11:41.
Rating:
C-. If there isn’t something
else later in the night, I’m sending WWE a bill for the injuries
suffered from my eyes rolling that hard. There is no way WWE doesn’t
let Bryan get a clean win in his big comeback match against Kane.
Bryan looked fine but there’s only so much you can tell in a match
that didn’t even get eight minutes of TV time. I did like Kane going
after the neck and setting up the tombstone. It never ceases to
amaze me when you have someone coming back off an injury and their
opponent goes after a different body part. Even
Shawn did that once when HHH had a bandaged leg.
Bryan
fights back and finally runs away from the numbers advantage. The
Authority stays after him but Reigns and Ambrose come out to stand
next to them. HHH makes a six man with those three against Kane, Big
Show and Rollins later tonight.
Randy
Savage Hall of Fame video. I’m
very worried about Hogan turning the induction speech into a way to
talk about how great he was.
Bray
Wyatt is not a human being but for thousands of years, society has
labeled people like him a threat. At some point, his poison starts
to seep out of the cracks. All those people over the years have been
right, and it’s going to be too late to run after he wins the Royal
Rumble.
Usos/Naomi
vs. Damien Mizdow/Miz/Alicia Fox
Miz/Mizdow
vs. Usos for the titles is official for the Rumble. Mizdow
gets a huge ovation as he’s on the apron and watching Miz start with
Jimmy. The brothers elbow
Miz down for the double team elbow, followed by a nice suicide dive
from Jey. Mizdow finally gets the tag but Fox tags herself in.
That’s fine with Naomi, who goes off on Fox for taking her spot on
Total Divas. Pay no attention to Naomi still being on the show of
course. A cross body gets
two on Fox and it’s already back to Miz vs. Jimmy.
The
Reality Check is broken up and a double clothesline puts both guys
down. The ice cold tag
brings in Jey for a Samoan drop, followed by a Whisper in the Wind.
Fox makes the save, only to
have Jimmy throw Naomi at her for a cool looking spot. Mizdow tries
to come in but takes a superkick to the hands (clearly didn’t get
close to his face). The distraction works though, allowing Miz to
hit the Skull Crushing Finale for the pin on Jimmy at 4:50.
Rating:
D+. Cool Naomi throwing spot
aside, this feud is really getting dry. The
Naomi Goes Hollywood part has been completely dropped, which you
almost had to expect because it was actually interesting. That
basically leaves Miz fighting the Usos in a handicap feud as we wait
on Mizdow to finally break off on his own, even though they passed
his peak about a month ago. At
least the girls were there to keep this from being the champions
losing in another non-title match.
Roman
Reigns is with Renee Young (who has chopped off a lot of her hair)
and says his partners would be in big trouble if this was the Royal
Rumble. However, Dean is his boy and he has no issue with Bryan. On
the other hand, he has a problem with the Authority and their giant
crybaby Big Show. When it comes to the Royal Rumble, it’s one vs.
all. Dean and Bryan are part of the all, and that leaves him as the
one. This felt a lot more natural from Reigns and it worked better
than his usual stuff. The lack of fairy tales or Looney Tunes lines
helped too.
Here’s
a ticked off Heyman with something to say. We
look back at Rollins laying out Lesnar to end Raw and standing tall
over the champion. Heyman says he’s afraid for the first time
because there’s a threat to Lesnar. Brock has conquered everyone and
everything because he can. When he beat up the Undertaker and broke
the Streak or suplexed John Cena 16 times, it was all because he
could and felt like doing it because
he didn’t have anything else to do on a Sunday night.
Now
his purpose is to F5 the future of the WWE back into the past, but
here are Rollins and the Stooges to interrupt. Seth
is sick and tired of hearing about how awesome Brock Lesnar is and
accusing him of hiding behind the Authority. He isn’t afraid of
Brock Lesnar and is going to cash in right now. Let’s give the fans
a treat for the show being back on Thursdays and have Brock Lesnar
vs. Seth Rollins right now….but Brock isn’t here.
Rollins
isn’t cool with that and threatens to curb stomp Heyman if he can’t
curb stomp Lesnar. Heyman tells Rollins to be original because
everyone threatens to beat him up when Lesnar isn’t around. Seth
is right in his face and says he’s going to curb stomp Heyman and
take away Lesnar’s greatest asset. Then
at the Royal Rumble, it’s Rollins vs. all brawn and no brains,
leaving Brock as nothing more than a 300lb mass of muscle that he can
run circles around.
The
facts are that he’s curb stomped Lesnar twice now and he’s going to
do it again at the Royal Rumble, so why shouldn’t he knock Heyman out
right now? Paul says the
Authority has been removed from power once so what makes Rollins
think they can’t be removed again by hook, crook, or by Vince
McMahon’s whims?
He’s
gained power every single day since he returned to the WWE and
been by Brock Lesnar’s side.
Brock Lesnar has a death grip on the WWE Championship and he will
control it as long as he likes. He
can control that title by either defending the title or protecting
the new champion when Heyman decides that the future is now. Paul
drops the mic and leaves Rollins with a lot to think about.
This
story has gone from another dull title match to one of the better
stories around the title in a good while. Rollins is looking like a
monster on equal footing with Lesnar and Cena in the span of a week.
There’s always the chance that this is the annual Royal Rumble
challenger who goes nowhere after, but I’m totally buying into
Rollins as a main event player. After the year he’s had, there’s a
real argument to be made for him to win the title and defend it at
Wrestlemania. I’d love to see him stop being the Authority’s lap dog
if nothing else.
Natalya
vs. Nikki Bella
Non-title
and Paige
is here to counteract Brie. Natalya
goes for the leg to start but gets taken down by a flying armbar of
all things. She actually
stays on the arm instead of yelling at the crowd but Natalya lifts
Nikki into the air to break up a short arm scissors. Back
up and Natalya steps onto Nikki’s back before to drive her face first
into the mat, followed by a running dropkick to the face.
Brie
gets on the apron for a distraction, accidentally allowing Paige to
slap Nikki. I’m sure they’ll argue about it and then forget it a
month later with no resolution. The
Sharpshooter makes Nikki tap at 2:40. This
would be their third match
since December 29 now. Well
that settles it. We MUST
continue this feud at the Rumble.
I for one couldn’t survive without the thrilling end to this saga.
Big
Show cuts Renee off and brags about knocking out Cena and Reigns this
past Monday. Tonight he’ll knock out all three but more importantly
he’s entering the Royal Rumble. That’s
where he dominates because no one can throw him over the top. Kane
comes up and says he’s in the Rumble as well.
Intercontinental
Title: Sin Cara vs. Bad News Barrett
Rematch
after last week where Sin Cara beat Barrett in a non-title match.
Cara gets two off a rollup
just after the bell and hits an enziguri from the apron to stagger
Bad News. Barrett has had
enough of that though and hammers Cara down before whipping him hard
into the corner for two.
We
hit the chinlock for a few moments before Cara hits a springboard
spinning cross body for two. The announcers actually bring up
Barrett’s past troubles against Cara for some context. The Winds of
Change lays Cara out but the Bull Hammer is countered into a rollup
into a powerbomb. Cara misses the Swanton though and the Bull Hammer
retains the title at 2:51. I’m so glad they had the champ get pinned
clean to set up this epic showdown. To
be fair though this was fun while it lasted.
The
announcers plug the WWE Network launching in the UK, which went live
a few days earlier than planned.
Dean
Ambrose is in a dimly lit room and says he was the one you avoided on
the playground. His report card always said he was disruptive in
class, but that works really well for him in the Royal Rumble. The
winner of the match isn’t going to care about friendships or their
own well being. Don’t count him out, because you should be counting
him in. His partners
tonight have one big thing in common: they all detest the Authority.
Kane/Big
Show/Seth Rollins vs. Daniel Bryan/Roman Reigns/Dean Ambrose
Seth
and Dean get things going with Ambrose slamming him face first into
the buckle. He rips at
Seth’s hair and stomps at
the ribs before bringing in Reigns for a nice suplex. Roman
starts working on the arm but lets Rollins go for a tag to Kane.
Reigns throws the big bald
around for a bit before tagging Bryan in for the rapid fire kicks in
the corner. A big uppercut
finally puts Bryan down but Ambrose is right there to stop the
Stooges from getting involved.
Everything
breaks down in a fight on the floor and the good guys stand tall in
the ring (not as tall as Big Show and Kane but still tall) as we take
a break. Back with Ambrose stomping Rollins in the corner and
hitting his dropkick up against the ropes for two. Seth
finally sends him into the corner and ties Dean in the Tree of Woe to
work on the injured knee.
Off
to Big Show for something like an ankle lock but pushing forward on
the shin instead of the foot. Rollins
gets two off a running forearm in the corner and we hit the chinlock.
Again I wonder why you
would do that when you should know it’s going to lead to a comeback.
Back to Big Show as the
Authority keeps things slow, hopefully leading to the hot tag to
Bryan. I’ll settle for one
to Reigns as long as we don’t hear another scripted promo.
Show
hooks that same leg lock before Kane comes in and keeps up his good
psychology by cranking on the knee. Seth
comes back in and talks a lot of trash, earning him a slap in the
face. The rebound
clothesline finally puts Kane down but Rollins breaks up another tag.
Dean sends him to the floor
but everything breaks down on the floor. With everyone else
fighting, Ambrose dives over for the hot tag to Bryan. Daniel
cleans house and hits the Flying Goat on Kane and a top rope
hurricanrana for two on Seth.
Kane
comes back in with a chokeslam for two with Reigns having to make the
save. Show loads up the
announcers’ table but Reigns jumps him to put both guys down. The
YES Lock goes on Kane but Rollins makes a save. Dean’s
standing elbow takes out Rollins and the Stooges on the floor,
leaving Bryan to escape the tombstone and hit the running knee for
the pin on Kane at 17:48.
Rating:
B+. This got a lot better as
things went on and the slow build worked well here. I’m
really glad Bryan won in the end and thankfully they kept the focus
off Reigns vs. Big Show. At the end of the day, there just isn’t
enough interest in that feud to validate giving it the attention
here. Ambrose selling a knee injury is a good way to keep him from
100% and makes the losses a bit easier to sit through. Really solid
main event here though and a good main event for the first show back
on the old night.
Post
match HHH comes out and says Bryan’s luck is running out. Next week
on Smackdown, Kane is getting a rematch against Bryan and if Kane
wins, Daniel is out of the Rumble.
Overall
Rating:
B-. The show was good
but there’s one thing I liked more than anything (well anything other
than the main event): HHH making Kane vs. Bryan for next week. It’s
not the biggest match in the world, but it’s a match being announced
in advanced for Smackdown with a week’s notice. If you’re lucky
you’ll get a match announced four days in advance, but this feels
like a match for Smackdown, not a match that happens as a result of
something on Raw. It’s like they’re treating Smackdown as a show
that matters, even if it’s just a bit at first. That’s something
this show has been lacking for years now.
The
rest of the show felt like a regular episode, meaning the wrestling
was good to decent and mostly skippable. The main event was really
good though and worth seeing, but most important of all is how they
put a match on this show that people would want to see and it was
given the time to stand out. If this were on Raw, they would have
had to squeeze it in around a twenty minute promo, the New Day and
Adam Rose beating up the Bunny for the 19th
time. Hopefully Smackdown gets some more attention and is able to
take some of the pressure off Raw, which would help both shows and
the TV product as a whole.
Results
Daniel
Bryan b. Kane via DQ when Jamie Noble and Joey Mercury interfered
Miz/Damien
Mizdow/Alicia Fox b. Usos/Naomi – Skull Crushing Finale to Jimmy
Natalya
b. Nikki Bella – Sharpshooter
Bad
News Barrett b. Sin Cara – Bull Hammer
Daniel
Bryan/Roman Reigns/Dean Ambrose b. Kane/Big Show/Seth Rollins –
Running knee to Kane

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