We start SmackDown off with Ro’s Bros heading down to the ring to support Roman, who’s facing off against Del Rio, who’s brought the rest of the Euroboys down to the ring with him. We get a reminder about Del Rio dropping Swagger with a chair, and then tripping over Colter’s scooter, as the crowd enthusiastically boo the US champ. Well, good to keep that tradition going, at least.
There’s a ‘Roman’ chant that actually somewhat builds, at the start of the match, which is impressive when you think how long it’s taken Roman to get over with the crowd. Nice to see them on his side now, especially as he’s surely due to be the golden boy at some point. Roman’s fairly dominant towards the start, but it all starts to go downhill when Del Rio is out of the ring, and Roman gets stopped from bringing him back in by the rest of the Euroboys. Del Rio gets a boot to Roman’s back, and that’s where things start to go downhill.
Del Rio gets an arm breaker over the ropes, his whole weight on Roman’s left shoulder, which should be a deal breaker, but Roman’s right handed, so he’s still managing superman punches and a good Samoan drop, but it’s clear the tide has turned. Del Rio gets the backstabber and that’s the point where he starts to get some good pins on Roman, some with Sheamus’ help via distraction.
The Euroboys pull Del Rio out of the ring as Roman goes for the pin, ending in an all out brawl which looks and sounds like someone’s can of – whatever Mountain Dew awfulness they’re shilling this season – got crushed as Roman bounced Sheamus off the announce table. Bit of a sticky clean-up, I imagine. The Euroboys run for it, and Ro’s Bros stand in the ring looking menacing.
Tyler and Summer are in the ring, with Tyler looking even more like a peacock than usual in purple and green again. Tyler starts with the upper hand, and we cut to Summer every few minutes, to see her facial expressions, as they’re the freshest thing about this match up. Breeze dominates with kicks, rolls and holds, before he takes Dolph’s left knee to town, dragging and digging in, placing him in submission holds and bending his leg back.
Summer’s responses to commentary are the best part about this match, which pains me to say, because I find both of these men to be incredible wrestlers, and Lance Storm certainly does a great job at training heavy sellers who can do fast-paced work, but this is something like the tenth time we’ve seen this match, and there’s been no plot development at all. Just the same match, over and over and over. It’s not that the match is dull but without a story update, it just feels old and tired.
Dolph manages to get a leg free and smash Tyler’s face into the ring post, so a livid Tyler comes over the ropes from outside and walks straight into a superkick from Dolph, who puts him away for three, and then hobbles around for a celebration.
We get a recap of the feud coming over with Rusev and Ryback, in a set up for a later match with Ryback vs. The Ascension, before we’re into tag team action with the New Day and the Lucha Dragons. We learn, through this, that Big E can’t get a sound of a trombone, but this is just another nice set up for the ladder match at TLC. Kalisto gets the win with a salida del sol, and we’re all warmed up and ready for Sunday night, where the tag team titles are on the line.
We’re onto the IC title battle contract signing, where Dean discovers that Kevin Owens has sent an attorney, rather than coming himself. Dean is not a happy bunny, because back in his Moxley days, he loved a good brawl with equipment, and now he has to stand next to some guy in a suit. He says he feels underdressed and like he’s at a very adult moment in his life. To be fair, Dean, most moments are pretty adult once you get involved. The crowd are with Dean, as he goes to sign, and he spots Kevin Owens at the side of the ring. Owens drags him out of the ring and strips him of his jacket and tank top, because he knows how to give the WWE Universe what it wants, and we want more shirtless Dean. If he starts trying to strip Roman Reigns, too, then he’s got a tumblr, and he’s not afraid to use it. Dean clearly bites his cheek as he goes down, mouth bloody when he rises, and he throws KO around for a bit, before Owens clearly decides he’s had enough, and flings his attorney in the way of Ambrose, before high-tailing it out of the ring. Dean delivers dirty deeds to the attorney, causing KO to call him a bully – really? – before Dean signs the contract, and the stage is set for the fight at TLC.
Ryback vs The Ascension next, for no vaguely established reason, and Lana and Rusev are on commentary. Basically they couldn’t find anyone to fight Ryback for an actual plot reason, and the Ascension boys didn’t get their weekly walk with daddy Stardust on Raw, so out they trot to be fed to the big guy. Ryback’s still squeezed into that tiny hat that makes him look like a baby in winter. He gives it to a small child, who will later be able to use it as a tent. We get a ‘surprise’ announcement that Rusev will face Ryback at TLC, in case the teasers weren’t clue enough, as well, as Rusev tells commentary never to question his wife. She ain’t your wife yet, brute boy, not until the ceremony.
Ryback obviously dominates against the Ascension boys, taking then down easily. He goes to confront Rusev on commentary, but Rusev stands, letting Lana move into his arms, and place herself between him and Ryback. Ryback looks like he’s really lonely and would like a cuddle, but no one wants to give him any love. Poor Ryback. Maybe stop wearing that stupid hat.
Becky Lynch gets surprised by chairs on the way down to the ring, and she’s up against former best friend, Paige, because apparently there are only three Divas who matter, and they all say ‘sweetheart’ like it means ‘whore’. Paige’s hair extensions get more and more grey as she gets more and more ‘evil’, which is… something. Charlotte’s watching television at that weird 45-degree angle again, dressed half in her ring gear, even though she doesn’t have a match on the card tonight and so could totally be in jeans and a t-shirt. Maybe she always wears her ring gear everywhere, in case a fight breaks out.
It feels a little bit like the genuine animosity is gone, here, perhaps with Becky distracted. Paige has been giving her good advice lately, and she’s been getting nothing but trickery and tough love from Charlotte. Of course, Charlotte wanders down to the ring during the match, surprising no one, and distracts Paige enough that Becky gets the disarmer for the win. Once more, a match setting up for the TLC championship match on Sunday.
Finally, our main event match, which is another lacklustre TLC reminded of an 8-man tag of Euroboys vs Ro’s Bros. Booker T tells us how to tell the Usos apart with the very helpful ‘face paint: one has it on the left, one on the right’ but doesn’t tell us which wears which. For our reference, AGAIN, Jimmy has his on the right, Jey on the left. For a second, I thought Booker T was going to tell us something relevant; boy was I wrong. The Usos take the brunt of the punishment, to start with, from the Euroboys, then a change of pace pits Dean against Sheamus in a really exciting little bout where Dean has the upper hand until Barrett tugs on the ropes as he goes for a rebound. There’s a nice little delayed vertical suplex from Sheamus where Dean nearly takes his trunks down at the front, and Sheamus has to take a moment to readjust, lest we see his tater tots.
Dean finally escapes the punishment, sending Reigns in last to deliver a huge Samoan drop to Rusev. He’s dominant, the crowd cheering for him, and he eventually takes Rusev down with a spear for the win. The Usos come in, and Dean crawls in from wherever he’s been recovering on the floor, and the four Ro’s Bros hug and celebrate before TLC on Sunday. Roman’s smug grin is our last view as SmackDown closes out.