So, we open our last SmackDown before the euro tour with a promise of a survivor series elimination match, and excited crowds. I’m going to try not to stress over Rollins’ injury, as I’ll cover that later, in another article, so for now, we’ll just enjoy the SmackDown taped on the Tuesday, before all of creative’s plans got scuppered.
We start with Zeb Colter in a bad mood, talking about MexAmerica, stating that haters are not allowed in MexAmerica, pointing them out in the crowd. Del Rio is looking as oily as ever, saying we need to take down the borders. The Colorado crowd are lovely as ever, chanting ‘USA’, but that’s to be expected. Neville comes out to face Del Rio, to a good crowd pop. I always enjoy watching Neville, as he’s a dynamic (Booker T said it, it must be true) high flyer, which is what I like to watch. The match starts off with Del Rio taking Neville down heavily, keeping him in the corner, but no one from Newcastle quits fighting easily. The first cover is kicked out at one, with Del Rio taking Neville back into the corner, but once he’s out, Neville gets Del Rio into a scissor takedown, and a lovely standing moonsault onto the mat.
It’s a great opportunity for Neville to show what he’s made of, while not giving Del Rio a credible threat to have to worry about, so it’s a match that works for both of them. Neville gets a beautiful moonsault from the top rope to hit Del Rio on the outside, showing off all his good moves, and for a moment it looks like Del Rio is struggling, but obviously he takes it back, leaving Neville flat on the mat. An interesting match, showcasing the young challenger, and making Del Rio look strong, as a champion needs to. Jack Swagger makes a surprise appearance, clearly upset that Colter has found someone new to mentor, and stops Del Rio from going back and taking it out on Neville.
The Ascension are facing The Usos, and it’s so nice to see them back, still. Odd not to see Stardust at ringside, cheering on his boys, but this promises to be an energetic match, and The Usos get a great pop from the crowd. The Uso chant carries on for a while at the start of the match, because the crowd have clearly missed them as much as I have. Commentary continues, with it proving that no one can tell which one is Jey and which one is Jimmy, which is frustrating to see. Connor botches a reaction, slowly going down when Jimmy gets a kick to him, and Jey gets a huge Samoan drop of Viktor, calling for the chant again. It’s a really wild match, all energy and showcasing The Usos now they’re back, proving how beloved they are. Jey takes the win easily, setting them up to be strong in the future now that they’re back, and to head into the tag team championships. It’s awesome to see how much they’re enjoying being back, too – their enthusiasm is always a beautiful thing to see.
Once more, we get a recap about how Bray Wyatt has apparently eaten some souls. It’s supposed to be an explanation, but we all know Bray is the master of Cryptic Nonsense, so it doesn’t really tell us anything – but it does it in a cool way, so we don’t really care. I’m a little worried that Bray Wyatt needs to stop posting to livejournal, because it’s not helping him, but I’m not his mum, so I’ll let him do what he thinks he needs to.
The Wyatts come down to the ring with Bray dressed like Roman Reigns gone goth, crossed with Maleficent. They’re soon joined by the Prime Time Players and Lucha Dragons, ready for a 4 vs 4 tag. Nice to see Darren Young back, against Rowan first, then Harper, before tagging in Titus O’Neil, flinging Harper around like there’s nothing of him. Tagging Young back in, he ends up against Bray, who’s starting to punish him a little, driving him into the Wyatt’s corner and swapping to Rowan. A bit of beard tugging later, and Young is flat out, against the ropes. It’s a punishing match for Young, the Wyatts taking him out first by taking him out cold. Titus goes to check on him, and Strowman takes him down, causing the ref to get involved, and Strowman being pulled back by Harper. After the commercial break, we find ourselves with O’Neil in the corner with the Wyatts, just taking him apart. Tagging in Sin Cara, we get a few legitimately cool flying spots from the Dragon, because his speed is a motion the Wyatts can’t match, but a clothesline from Harper takes out Sin Cara, Kalisto leaping in to take revenge, once more using speed and height to get the advantage, but he doesn’t keep it for long. Harper looks shattered, but there’s still Rowan back in, throwing the remaining Dragon around like he weighs nothing. There’s a mess in the ring of Wyatts, but Kalisto manages to clear the ring, however, O’Neil looks out of it, and Rowan’s back in, taking him in a full nelson slam and pinning him easily. O’Neil just gets himself to his feet, and now it’s 4-on-1, Titus O’Neil climbing slowly back into the ring to see the whole Wyatt family. Rowan goes for him again – he clearly getting a push now he’s back with the family – but O’Neil shows incredible strength in throwing the Wyatts around, between Harper and Rowan, Bray and Strowman staying on the sidelines. Nearly pinning Harper, O’Neil gets attacked by Bray and Rowan, and then it’s Strowman back in, taunting the other man, but O’Neil is determined to go down fighting. Strowman almost chokes him out, and Bray comes in for the Sister Abigail to finish him off for the end of the match.
Clearly this is meant to show the strength of the Wyatts, but it was a slow match, mostly showing how strong the Prime Time Players still are – the Lucha Dragons are tiny in comparison, so they were never going to get much of a foothold against the bigger men – and without many good spots from the Wyatts, with all of the work and effort coming from the other team.
We see the wonder that is Renee Young, chatting to Dean Ambrose, before Kevin Owens interrupts and says Dean’s annoying Renee. Dean reminds Kevin that he’d have to pin Kevin, like he did on Monday, after Kevin says that Dean knows nothing about being a champion. Personally, I always love seeing Renee and Dean interact, because she can’t quite keep the smile off her face that says ‘my boyfriend is a huge dork’ and it’s adorable.
King Barrett enters the ring to the classic heel heat, like he should have, vs Ryback, who’s once more dressed like a toddler in heavy snows with his cute little hat. It makes his head look tiny, and I find it very, very strange. We see a promo with plenty of king and food puns. The size of Ryback against Barrett is mildly ridiculous, and Barrett gets him out of the ring as soon as he can, flinging Ryback into the ring post. Barrett’s been looking strong recently, whereas Ryback has been losing a lot. However, even after Barrett gets two covers, Ryback gets the pin very quickly, after commentary mostly focus on being in Manchester for Raw on Monday 9th.
We get a recap of Team BAD vs Natalya, before the girls are talking to Renee, who doesn’t seem that impressed with the way the team dynamics are working out. Nattie’s called out ‘the leader of team BAD’, which I’m hoping means we’re going to split that team, too, and the women can go back to having their own personalities, instead of having to amalgamate into teams again. As they come down to the ring, Sasha and Naomi look like they’re fighting over who their leader is, but they hold the ropes open for Tamina to take her space against Nattie. Nice to see Nattie back, still, and she’s got some good moves, but Tamina’s a powerhouse, and it’s wonderful to watch her in action. The ‘we want Sasha’ chants rise, and Tamina shouts ‘you can’t have her’ and Sasha defers to Tamina. It’s her girl’s night, not hers.
Tamina gets a lot of help with the distractions from her other teammates outside the ring, and goes for a splash off the top rope, but Nattie gets the pin eventually, surprising even herself by the looks of it. It’s nice to see Nattie demolishing the divas she set up and created, showing them that no matter how big for their boots they get, she can still take them all down. I’m hoping this brings us more matches where the women split up their groups and become individuals.
Ore recap from Raw, with that gorgeous and exciting 5 vs 5 match, where we got shades of the Shield breakup, with Rollins with the chair, leaving Ambrose and Reigns alone in the ring. All of this is obviously teasing for Survivor Series, with the Reigns vs Rollins match which was scheduled to take place. With what we now know to have happened with Seth’s knee, as they inform us, he’ll be out for 6-9 months, and so we’ll have to see where creative take this. For the moment, we know we’re getting a 4-man match for the title at Survivor Series, so we’ll get more info on that on Monday’s Raw, once creative have worked out what they’re going to do.
Our main event starts us – Dean Ambrose vs Kevin Owens – Ownes gets to grabbing the ropes early, and Ambrose pats him on the head like he’s a puppy, clearly not happy with the way things are going. Owens is trying a few good ways to get out of the ring and stop Ambrose going too hard on him, even stopping to shout at commentary when they describe him as ‘on the run’. After commercials, we’re back in the ring, with Dean having Owens in a couple of painful grips. Owens comes back after him with strong chops, taunting him and trash talking. Ambrose gets him to the mat, and a big clothesline takes him down outside, but Ambrose decides he hasn’t had enough and sends him into the barricades. Dean gets him back in the ring, but KO is back, throwing him out and flinging him into the barricades twice, just for good measure. Ambrose gets back into the ring for the six count, and lays Dean out flat with a short-arm clothesline onto the mat.
Owens is clearly willing to take any advantage, using the hair, being willing to choke Dean out, crying out ‘Who’s crazy now’, but Ambrose gets back to his feet only to get back into a big knee from Owens. Owens tries to go to the top rope, but in turning to shout at Lawler, Ambrose gets the jump on him and takes him down for a superplex off the second rope. Another good plant off the second rope, and Dean gets a cover for the two count. Dean goes for an elbow drop off the second rope, and again, KO gets the kick out at two. Dean’s caught and planted by KO, but it’s Ambrose’s turn to kick out at two this time. Getting a dazed Dean to the top rope, Owens tells Ambrose it’s the audience’s fault, but Ambrose gets a headbutt in and then a missile kick from Ambrose to KO’s face.
Owens bounces Ambrose into the ropes, Dean goes over the pop-up powerbomb, gets hit with a superkick, but takes down KO easily. Ambrose gets a foot to the gut, and KO acts like it’s a low blow, getting the win via disqualification, leaving a frustrated Dean in the ring. When the official spots the fakery, Ambrose flies over the ropes twice, hitting KO and sending him out into the stands. Dean shakes his head like he can’t believe what he’s just been a part of, and SmackDown is over.
A good match, and setting up for a strong feud in a later situation, which could be really interesting for us to watch. KO is a natural heel, and gets all the heat that we’d expect him to, whereas Dean Ambrose is a wonderful anti-hero, beloved by the crowd.
SmackDown was a little dull this week, because all the big names were out resting up for Europe, so it was a little bit of a mid-card battle royal, but good to see The Usos and Prime Time Players, as well as a small appearance for Swagger. There were some hard-fought performances from a number of stars, and lovely to see them putting the effort in.