Smackdown – February 25, 2016

Smackdown
Date: February 25, 2016
Location: Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Indiana
Commentators: Mauro Ranallo, Jerry Lawler, Byron Saxton

We’re getting close to Wrestlemania in a hurry and things are really starting to change. This past Monday saw the return of Shane McMahon and the announcement of his match against Undertaker of all people inside the Cell at the biggest show of the year. Other than that we have what seems like the face HHH vs. the heel Roman Reigns for the World Title coming up. Let’s get to it.

We open with a recap of the main event of Fastlane and the post match staredown with Reigns vs. HHH.

Here’s HHH for a rare Smackdown appearance to open things up. He gets things going by quoting some Rolling Stones with a little Sympathy for the Devil. HHH talks about how Monday left no doubt in Roman Reigns’ mind about what’s coming for him at Wrestlemania and we see a long clip of the attack on Reigns to end the show.

We see a picture of Reigns after his surgery, which HHH says is a man who has been humbled. You see HHH in a suit right now but make no mistake about it: he is the authority. Everyone wants to rebel and HHH has even been there himself but there’s no point to it. Instead you bow your head and you go to work to do your job. Either accept the authority or let your soul go to waste.

HHH has had to walk over a lot of people to get where he is. Reigns has the sweat part down and HHH knows Roman is good. He saw the blood on Monday, which just leaves the tears. HHH will save those for Wrestlemania when he humbles Roman once and for all because he’s the Game and that’s what he does as the Game, the Cerebral Assassin and the WWE World Heavyweight Champion. This didn’t fix everything but it’s the best promo these guys have done for their match so far.

League of Nations vs. Lucha Dragons/Neville/Dolph Ziggler

Ziggler and Barrett get things going with the King making his first actual in ring appearance in weeks. Everything breaks down less than a minute in with the Dragons diving on Del Rio and Rusev. Alberto kicks them both down as Ziggler DDT’s Barrett, only to get taken down by Sheamus and Rusev as we take a break.

Back with Del Rio giving Ziggler a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for two. Rusev mocks Ziggler’s attempts to tag his partners before bringing Sheamus back in for a suplex. Ziggler comes back with a superkick (of course) and Lawler is suddenly a League fan. The hot tag brings in Neville to clean house with a running clothesline and a basement dropkick to Barrett before heading up top. Sheamus tries to make a save so Neville dives over him with a 450 for a near fall. The Dragons take out Rusev as Neville hits a Red Arrow on Barrett. Del Rio makes the save but eats a superkick, followed by the Brogue Kick to put Neville away at 8:22.

Rating: C+. I liked this because they didn’t bother stretching the match out for the sake of stretching it out. That’s something you see so often on Raw and it makes matches feel longer and longer every single week. This was just as long as it needed to be and didn’t feel like it was missing anything they would have done in a match five minutes longer. Good little match here and it’s nice to see Barrett back in the ring.

Kevin Owens talks about seeing Dean Ambrose take a beating on Monday and then come back to face Brock Lesnar again. It inspired him so much that Ambrose deserves an Intercontinental Title shot. However, Ambrose isn’t here tonight so that’s just too bad. There’s no one left for Owens to beat so he has the night off, which brings in Big Show. Owens makes some retirement jokes until Show grabs him by the shirt and threatens to KO KO.

D-Von Dudley vs. Jimmy Uso

Before the match, Bubba goes on his same rant about not being a nostalgia act because they’re the nine time WWE Tag Team Champions. D-Von promises that they’ll be doing whatever they have to do to prove that they’re the greatest tag team of all time whether you like it or not. Jimmy starts fast with a series of kicks before going up top. Bubba distracts the referee with a table though, allowing him to shove Jimmy off the top. D-Von gets a rollup for the pin at 53 seconds in a storyline segment.

Long recap of Shane McMahon returning on Monday.

Undertaker will be on Raw to address everything.

Chris Jericho talks to AJ Styles about being being partners and potentially Tag Team Champions. They need a third man for a six man tag against New Day later, so here’s Mark Henry to say he’d love to teach those three clowns a lesson.

Godfather Hall of Fame announcement.

Video of Ryback walking out on his partners on Monday, saying it was time for things to be about him.

Big Show vs. Kevin Owens

Non-title. Owens goes right after him to start and is promptly knocked into the corner. A shot to the throat puts Show down and the backsplash gets two. The near fall ticks Show off and he chops away in the corner, sending Owens out to the floor for a breather. Back in and a chokeslam sends Kevin right back to the floor. For some reason Show goes up, only to get crotched out to the floor for a countout at 3:05.

Rating: C. I liked this far better than I was expecting as they actually packed some good intensity into a short match. Show can work quite well in a role like this instead of being in main events over and over. It’s also nice to see Owens winning again instead of losing matches to schnooks like Dolph Ziggler.

Natalya vs. Becky Lynch

They shake hands to start and Natalya takes her down with a headlock. Becky fights up with a dropkick but she misses the spinning legdrop. A suplex sends Becky outside but here are Naomi and Tamina to lay Natalya out for the DQ at 1:58.

Sasha Banks runs out for the save and the villains are cleared out. Cue Charlotte to laugh about Becky vs. Sasha for the #1 contendership taking place on Monday. She’ll be in the front row and wishes both of them the best of luck.

R-Truth vs. Heath Slater

Before the match, Goldust comes out to stand in a neutral corner despite the GOLDEN TRUTH chants. They start with some basic stuff until Truth puts the brakes on and thrusts his hips. Some forearms give Truth the first advantage but Slater comes back with a running knee. Truth gets pulled to the mat by the hair, only to catch Slater with a jumping side kick to the head. Dallas offers a quick distraction but Goldust punches Slater into a backslide to give Truth the pin at 3:10.

Rating: D. Nothing to see here but I’m still hoping they don’t go with Golden Truth. There’s a better story with Truth rejecting him and Goldust not reacting well instead of “yeah sure let’s just be a team.” The segments have been fun but the story doesn’t do much for me if it’s the same thing Goldust did back in 2002.

Post match Truth still doesn’t want help but is a bit nicer about it.

Video on Brock and Ambrose from Raw.

New Day vs. Mark Henry/AJ Styles/Chris Jericho

Before the match, New Day rips on the League of Nations a bit more but then switches over to Y2AJ. As for tonight though, Kofi is stunned that Mark Henry still thinks he’s the World’s Strongest Man. They jump back to insulting Jericho and Styles, who will never be the WWE Tag Team Champions (dance time) because NEW DAY ROCKS.

Big E. shoulders Jericho down to start but it’s quickly off to Henry for a staredown. Some headbutts stagger Big E. and a shoulder puts him down. Henry clotheslines Woods and Kingston out to the floor and his partners add dives. The heroes dance (nice to see AJ getting to show some personality) and we take a break.

Back with Jericho chopping Woods to draw some screams. AJ hits a backbreaker and brings Jericho in again for the springboard dropkick. The distraction lets Big E. take over though as he drops Jericho face first onto the buckle for two. The Unicorn Stampede sets up some tromboning and we get a dance from Big E. Saxton: “When Big E. dances it looks like a penguin in a hula hoop contest.”

Kofi puts Jericho in a chinlock and avoids a dropkick to keep Chris in trouble. Big E.’s Warrior Splash and a Woods legdrop get two, followed by the abdominal stretch. The Big Ending doesn’t work though and Jericho makes the tag to Styles as everything speeds up. The moonsault into the reverse DDT (still botched a bit but it was closer this time) drops Woods and everything breaks down. Trouble in Paradise hits Henry but Jericho takes a bullet for AJ in a nice moment of friendship. AJ grabs the Calf Crusher to make Woods tap at 11:19.

Rating: C-. Standard six man Smackdown main event here but it was little more than a way to set up Jericho and Styles as a regular team. Henry could have been anyone else here and the story would have been the same. AJ and Jericho were the stars here and it’s pretty clear that we’re going to see the two of them getting a shot at the belts in Dallas.

Overall Rating: C-. This was far more about the video packages than anything else and you can almost guarantee that is the norm going into Wrestlemania season. The wrestling was nothing to see here but we got some decent storyline development. Above all else it’s nice to see the stories flow from Raw to Smackdown and then back to Raw instead of Raw, then Smackdown as bonus material before we get back to Monday. Not a good show or anything here but it got some stuff done.

Results

League of Nations b. Lucha Dragons/Neville/Dolph Ziggler – Brogue Kick to Neville

D-Von Dudley b. Jimmy Uso – Rollup

Kevin Owens b. Big Show via countout

Natalya b. Becky Lynch via DQ when Tamina and Naomi interfered

R-Truth b. Heath Slater – Backslide

AJ Styles/Chris Jericho/Mark Henry b. New Day – Calf Crusher to Woods

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