Smackdown – April 14, 2016

Smackdown
Date: April 13, 2016
Location: Valley View Casino, San Diego, California
Commentators: Mauro Ranallo, Jerry Lawler, Byron Saxton

It’s going to be an interesting week as most of the roster is off on the international tour. However we have some fresh names tonight in the Vaudevillains who debuted last week and the even fresher team of Enzo and Big Cass, both of whom will be in the tag team tournament tonight. Let’s get to it.

Opening sequence.

Del Rio vs. Styles and Jericho vs. Zayn tonight, both for the first time ever.

Maryse introduces the Miz for MizTV. Miz calls her the love of his life and the only woman worthy of being his wife. It seems that Maryse is the guest this week as Miz asks what it’s like to be married to him. That would be perfection with Maryse calling Miz an a-lister and a role model for children around the world. Miz actually gets on his knee in front of her to promise holidays with Leo in St. Bart’s, which Maryse calls the real life People Magazine.

This leads to them making out, only to be interrupted by Zack Ryder because he doesn’t seem to get that it’s over. Ryder asks Maryse what it’s like to be married to someone who wears more makeup than her. Yeah the title might be gone but Ryder is looking forward to seeing Cesaro take the title from Miz at Payback. This sets up a challenge for a title match right now but apparently Ryder already has a match tonight. For some reason Miz knows this and Ryder doesn’t.

Zack Ryder vs. Baron Corbin

Corbin throws Ryder around like the jobber that he is to start before sending him out to the apron. Whatever springboard move Ryder was trying is knocked out of the air with a single punch as the announcers put Corbin’s battle royal win over very hard. We hit the chinlock on Ryder, followed by a northern lariat (correctly called by Ranallo). Zack gets in a middle rope dropkick for his hope spot but the Broski Boot doesn’t work. Instead the End of Days puts Ryder away at 3:12.

Rating: D+. Well it was nice while it lasted Zack but we’re back to reality now. This was the same squash that it would have been even if Ryder never won the title in the first place, which makes that whole thing feel even less important. Corbin has a good presence to him and the finish still looks good but he’ll need to go somewhere else before this gets tiresome.

Post match Corbin goes after Ryder again but Dolph Ziggler runs out for the save. I’m assuming that’s Corbin’s first major win.

Kevin Owens mocks Renee Young and threatens to get involved in Zayn vs. Jericho. His advice is to have Renee go ask Sami if there’s any insight as to what’s going to happen in the main event.

Emma vs. Paige

Paige gets a jobber entrance. The announcers make various unfunny jokes and puns as Paige takes Emma into the corner to start, only to get caught in a rollup to send her head first into the bottom buckle. Emma stomps away in the corner and we hit a seated full nelson as Ranallo actually brings up the Fabulous Kangaroos. Paige kicks away and gets two off a running knee to the chest. Some right hands in the corner are broken up with Emma dropping Paige face first onto the top turnbuckle…..for the pin at 3:16.

Rating: C. Well it was no NXT classic but they did enough to make Emma look more like a player on the main roster. It’s a shame how badly they screwed her up a few years back but it’s nice to see that things could turn around for her. There’s potential there and if they’re going to set up something with this division, they’ll need all the help they can get.

We recap the first two tournament matches and the debut of Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows.

We look back at Bray Wyatt teaming with Roman Reigns on Monday. I guess we can call that the first shovel of dirt out of Bray’s grave after Rock buried him eight days prior. You know, because he totally did and when you’re buried, it’s because your career is over. Like, totally over and there’s no recovery ever.

Tag Team Tournament First Round: Enzo Amore/Colin Cassady vs. Ascension

Enzo and Cass are WAY over here, as you would expect. Before the match, Enzo talks about how tough a neighborhood they grew up in. It was so tough that they almost got sent to live with their auntie and uncle in Bel-Air. He could think of a million bad things to say about the Ascension but the worst of all is that they’re the Ascension. Cass promises to win the titles and declares all of their opponents to be SAWFT.

Enzo and Konnor get things going with a hard shoulder dropping Amore. It’s off to Viktor who is quickly sent into the wrong corner, allowing the tag to Big Cass. Enzo gets slammed onto Viktor for two but Konnor knocks Amore off the apron and into the barricade to take over. Back in and Viktor slaps on a chinlock for a bit before avoiding a charge to send Konnor into the post. The hot tag brings in Cass for the house cleaning, including the Empire Elbow to Viktor. Everything breaks down and Konnor gets kicked in the face, followed by the East River Crossing and Rocket Launcher for the pin on Viktor at 4:33.

Rating: C. Nothing for the wrestling but the important thing here is how Enzo and Cass know how to work the formula. Cass is great at coming in and cleaning house after the smaller Enzo takes a big beating. There’s a great history of big guy/small guy teams and these two have more than enough charisma to go around, meaning they could have a nice future ahead of them.

AJ Styles talks about fighting everywhere to get to the top and now he has to fight Roman Reigns to get to the top of WWE. Alberto Del Rio comes in and says that Del Rio has been fighting for table scraps but tonight we’ll get to see if all that hype is real. Del Rio says AJ doesn’t belong here and AJ agrees. AJ: “I belong in the ring.”

AJ Styles vs. Alberto Del Rio

In a far too common theme tonight, Del Rio drives him into the corner to start as Ranallo compares AJ vs. Reigns to Muhammad Ali vs. Ken Norton. Well at least it’s not Scott Norton. The feeling out process sets up the dropdown into the dropkick, which you really should see coming if you’ve ever watched any AJ Styles match.

AJ fires off chops but gets kicked in the chest for two. A top rope ax handle gets two more before AJ sidesteps a charge to send Alberto’s shoulder into the post. The running enziguri knocks AJ off the apron and a big dropkicks ends AJ out to the floor again. Back from a break with AJ fighting out of a chinlock, as so often happens when we come back from a break.

The striking sequence drops Del Rio and AJ nips up, followed by the running clothesline in the corner. AJ loads up a pumphandle but gets countered into a Backstabber to leave his mouth hanging open. The low superkick misses though and AJ Pele’s him for two. Del Rio gets in a reverse superplex and thankfully doesn’t severely hurt AJ by dropping him on his head. Alberto misses the top rope double stomp but avoids the forearm. Instead it’s the armbreaker, which is quickly countered into a rollup for the pin on Alberto at 13:55.

Rating: B. They’re doing a good job of building AJ up as the guy who never gives up and fights until the end, especially against big names that are higher up on the food chain. It’s almost like they’re doing a good job of building up a challenger before a champion knocks him off in the title match. Good match here and the well booked story continues.

Goldust tells R-Truth that Golden Truth won’t be a thing tonight. Fandango comes in and announces himself as Goldust’s new partner, which means tandem gyrating. Truth doesn’t want to join them and looks flabbergasted.

Tag Team Tournament First Round: Vaudevillains vs. Goldust/Fandango

English stomps on Goldust to start and a double right hand puts him down. The snap powerslam gets Goldust out of trouble and it’s off to Fandango for a comeback that goes nowhere. Well other than into a Whirling Dervish to send the Vaudevillains to the semi-finals that is.

We look back at Dean Ambrose taking over the Highlight Reel and laying Jericho out.

Jericho says he’s been beating up amateurs since he got back because people like Styles and Ambrose have no respect for the veterans. He’s the greatest of all time and proved it right here in this dump (“Yeah it’s a dump!”) when he beat the Rock and Stone Cold in one night. Tonight he’ll make Zayn feel the pain because he’s the best in the world at what he does.

Greetings From Puerto Rico video.

Sami Zayn vs. Chris Jericho

Jericho poses to start so Sami rips the skin off his chest with a chop. That sends Jericho outside for a chair through….and here’s Kevin Owens. He doesn’t get very far down the ramp before Dean Ambrose comes out with fliers for the Ambrose Asylum before sitting in on commentary. Sami finally remembers that a match is going on and rolls Jericho up for two. Dean annoys Jericho with a flier and we take a break.

Back with Owens on commentary as well and actually complimenting Dean on the new show. Jericho knocks Zayn outside and poses a bit before a top rope back elbow gets two. We hit the ASK HIM chinlock as Dean and Owens get in a mini argument, resulting in Owens throwing away his flier. Sami gets a quick two off a high cross body and the climb up the corner tornado DDT gets the same. The Helluva Kick misses though and the Walls go on to put Sami in real trouble.

Ropes are of course reached but Sami’s springboard is broken up by a running forearm. Owens and Ambrose are now full on cheerleaders until Jericho runs Dean over and sends him into the barricade. Jericho dives at Sami but hits Owens by mistake before heading back inside. Chris yells at Sami a lot, earning himself an exploder suplex into the corner. The Helluva Kick is loaded up but Owens comes in for the DQ at 15:11.

Rating: B-. I liked AJ vs. Del Rio a little bit more but this also set up a few things down the road while also building up the two pay per view matches. Sami winning without getting the pin is a good idea as you can’t keep having him get pinned all the time. It’s not a great match or anything but at least it set some stuff up for the future.

Sami and Dean clean house to end the show and likely set up a tag match.

Overall Rating: B. Now that’s more like it. This was how you run a Smackdown as there was good wrestling to go along with some (basic) storyline advancement. It’s always nice to see them doing something interesting and important instead of just having matches for the sake of matches. The extra wrestling helped as well with the mostly empty roster helping more than it hurt, which was quite the surprise.

Results

Baron Corbin b. Zack Ryder – End of Days

Emma b. Paige – Emma pinned Paige after dropping her onto the top turnbuckle

Enzo Amore/Colin Cassady b. Ascension – Rocket Launcher to Viktor

AJ Styles b. Alberto Del Rio – Rollup

Vaudevillains b. Goldust/Fandango – Whirling Dervish to Fandango

Sami Zayn b. Chris Jericho via DQ when Kevin Owens interfered

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